Prompt: You let Chanyeol cheat because you’re dying of an illness
Word Count: 2050
To Chanyeol, whom I love.
It’s a funny thing, or at least I find it funny, ironic even to begin an introduction with analyzing farewells. Please do not take this in an ominous way, I do not mean for that sort of tone. Just lighthearted pensivity that comes with being stuck in the same room everyday. A way to let go of my thoughts.
There are so, so many ways to say goodbye, have you thought about it? A simple, curt “bye.” If you repeat it, “bye-bye,” it’s childlike, cuter, friendly. Some dialects transform it to “buh-bye.”
Have a nice day, afternoon, evening: Friendly. Well wishing. Used in a slightly more formal context.
See you later: Casual, hopeful, cheery.
Farewell: Final, formal, tinged with emotion. Slightly outdated. Originating from “fare thee well,” meaning travel happily, safely.
Take care: A more modern version of “farewell.” Take care of yourself, while I’m gone. Take care of yourself while we are parted.
And finally, the root concept:
A parting with good feelings.
Often a formal way to verbally initiate a separation, and ironically, although the word itself uses “good,” it is often found in situations blanketed by negativity. Frustration with family members when you slam your room door as a child, or when you angrily press the red button to hang up. Breaking up. Believing you will never see someone again.
Knowing you won’t see them again.
Forgive me, Chanyeol. I didn’t want this to turn dark again. I meant to write this with the happiness of your smile, like the sun. The glow of your cheeks, like the full moon on a cloudless night. The twinkle in your eye like that of stars.
For the past seemingly endless months, I’ve been in countless rooms, all the same.
White. A color to symbolize purity. Cleanliness.
You get sick of it very quickly.
The walls are white, the curtains are white, the pillows, the blankets, the clothes are white. It’s to bring the facade of perfection though I am imperfect. I am not pure. I am not clean. I am riddled with spreading disease.
The paradox that many things change yet remain the same, and many things remain the same yet are changed. Different rooms, all the same. There’s always a doctor, though each room holds a different one.
Different rooms, different doctors, different facilities, different treatments, different results, different pains stretching over my body, fluctuating in intensity. All the same questions, the same procedures, the same pinch of the needle, the same emptiness inside, the same boredom, the same color, the same pain plaguing my mind. The same Chanyeol always by my side, holding my hands, kissing my cheeks, hugging me close, wary of the various tubes and machines.
The same Chanyeol.
I remember the first time walking into a hospital like this, as a patient. Tests and doctors and drawing blood and taking samples and scans and everything all at once. Professionally in order for them. Confusing and chaotic for us. You held my hand tightly.
I remember before the first surgery to get the growth, the t-word, to get it out. I was so scared. I was terrified for weeks. I cried so much. I was worried but I was hopeful. It was still shocking to think of myself having the c-word. I never imagined this. You kissed my cheeks, carrying my tears away.
I remember the day the doctor entered the room, coat as white, as clean, as pure as ever. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Both of you have been fighting so hard.” He looked at you, eyes forlorn. “You may want to sit down.”
They had spread to my lungs. They were eating, feasting away at my breath. I was in too much pain to cry. I was too numb from so much pain. All I could do was lay there, staring, listening to you cry out the pain for me. For us. You held me in your arms. You were broken, wary of the various tubes and machines that had become part of me.
The next morning, early afternoon, when we woke up, I said I still had time. Limited, but everyone has limited time. No one lives forever. Just some longer than others. I still had over a year left. A year and a half. I would lose my hair, and I would receive more scars, but I still had a year and a half with friends and family. A year and a half with you.
And now we are trapped in what seems like an endless cycle. A repeat of yesterday happened the day before and the day before that and before that and before that…Seemingly endless. But we both know how it ends. We both know when it will end.
We both know my days are numbered. I don’t know the number. Neither do you, nor the doctors and their white coats.
It is a number known only by God.
I believe I’ve given up on attempting to ward off tragedy. But I knew since the beginning of this letter that I would eventually succumb to it. After all, I am the one writing this.
You are still the same, but different. Still sleeping next to me, holding my hand. Still bringing me flowers and gifts and movies and affection and love. Thank you for staying the same.
The passcode to your phone has always been the same. It touches my heart that you trust me that much.
I’ve betrayed you.
You were sleeping, eyes puffy from crying with me. You always cried with me. I don’t know how many times you’ve cried alone, but you’ve always been there with me to kiss away my tears. How long have you stayed in this same white room with me? I apologize for taking away from your life. We’re both young, and you’ve spent so much time with me in the same white rooms that were always changing. But for the past year and a half, we’ve been living in one room, now. How nice.
I digress again.
Forgive me, my mind tends to wander along these walls I’ve memorized months and months and months ago.
You were sleeping beside me.
I was reading.
Your phone lit up.
There was a number unknown to me, and I was curious.
I’ve betrayed your trust. Please forgive me.
But as I betrayed your trust, it was also fed to me.
I was angry…no, that’s a childish word. Furious. Livid. Wrathful. I wanted to scream at you. I wanted to rip you from your dreams so you could see my shattered reality. I wanted to hurt you. The one place where I was barricaded from pain by your hands, your embrace, your kiss. It’s now broken.
For the first time, I cried by myself.
You were there, but I was alone.
My emotions whipped my mind into a maelstrom. My tears were silent as I read. I wanted to look away. I wanted to stop. I wanted to smash your phone into the white walls. Break a hole in the plaster. Create something new for me to look at.
My heart…it hurts more than my body.
She said that she loves you too.
I’m telling you this because in my rage I deleted her response. Her words for you. The response that she had stolen from my lips, from my heart. Those were supposed to be my words.
I wanted to delete the whole chain of messages. Your pain, her comfort, words of affection and love exchanged between you both. I wanted to erase them so you would know that I knew.
But then I realized that you would know. You would know that I found out.
My heart aches, for I am not something that will last for much longer.
If you knew that I knew, what kind of guilt would eat at your heart?
More than what you feel now is the correct answer.
You are the same Chanyeol that took me on sporadic trips. The same Chanyeol that wrote songs for me, about me, to me. The same Chanyeol that held my hand through all those tests, who kissed my frightened tears away, who held my painful body so delicately, so securely in your arms.
Yet you are a different person now.
I thought the look in your eye was because my time was drawing close. And it was, but it was more. It was guilt.
Did you curse yourself? Scream questions to yourself about how you could love two people at once?
It is possible. Like how a parent loves their children. Like how I would rather die for all of my friends rather than have to pick just one.
It is possible.
Set your mind at ease.
Set your heart at ease.
I want you to be free from this guilt. I won’t last much longer. It’s already too much for me to get out from under these white sheets and stretch my legs. It hurts too much. It’s too harsh on my lungs. My lungs that are being chewed away.
Don’t tell me not to say it, because it’s true and we need to face it like how we faced all those other tests, all those other trials.
My year and a half is over.
I’m going to die soon.
I can feel it.
I am not writing this to hurl you into more guilt, please, Chan. For months you’ve tried to hide yourself from me. But as much as it hurts, I wish I had known sooner. It brings me peace that you will be able to move on after a little bit of time. I know I still matter to you, that you still love me, that you will miss me when I’m gone, and that comforts me. But it brings me joy that she understands, that she loves you too, that she will wait for you to be ready to move on.
Take it Chanyeol.
Take your life back.
You are still young.
I’ve taken away years. You’ve been with me in plain white rooms for years, and I thank you beyond what words can ever say. But she can free you from these white walls. She can bring you to green grass and blue skies. Orange sunsets and pink sunrises. The velvety purple of dusk. The yellow sun. A silver moon. Twinkling stars, like your eyes when you smile.
You don’t smile much anymore. I miss it. But that’s ok, as long as you let yourself smile later with her.
With every bit of passion and care as you did with me and more.
I feel so happy, so secure because of you. Let her feel the same, please. Share it with her, your love. Don’t let guilt chain your warmth and smiles and kisses and hugs and laughter to a breathless body.
Don’t feel guilty, Chanyeol, I beg you.
You have so much to give, don’t waste it on someone who won’t be able to return it anymore.
Before the pain started, when we shared plans about the future. Vacations, pets, where to live, a home, how many kids, all the soft whispers, the promises. Make new ones with her. Move on when you’re ready, but don’t linger for too long. I want you to enjoy your life.
I wish I could’ve met her. I wish I could thank her for bringing you happiness during this time of sorrow and loss. I wish I could tell her all the things you like, all the things you don’t like. Your habits, the good ones and the bad ones and the annoying, trivial ones. I wish I could tell her everything I know about you.
But it would be more intimate for you both to figure it out together.
I want this letter to end with a beginning. My book has ended, but there’s a new chapter for you. Please continue to write in it. As you move on with your limited time, cherish life.
Take care of yourself, for I want you to be happy when I see you later.
Farewell. Travel safely and happily.
I love you, Chanyeol.
Let’s part with good feelings.