this was kinda a request, I just elaborated and added a bit more. Idk how I feel about this one, but I hope you guys like it!!
The Man Across The Street
The sun shone heavily on your back causing warmth to spread through your entire body. It felt nice after spending eight hours in your air conditioned office space on the twelfth floor. You gripped your briefcase tightly in one hand and stretched your neck side to side before settling in a consistent stride.
You focused on the ground in front of you, watching as your shadow mimicked your poor posture and flat feet, until something else caught your eye.
The man across the street walked at an almost identical pace. You recognized him immediately as the guy who held the elevator door for you just minutes prior. You’d seen him around the building other times, as well; in the hallways, on the stairs, by the coffee bar on the main floor. That bright pink hair was painstakingly recognizable.
You pretended to ignore him the entire way home, only throwing glances out of the corner of your eye, until you stopped in front of your building. You watched for a moment as he continued down the street, one hand in his pocket, the other clutching a beige bag, never looking up from his feet.
- - - - - -
The cool autumn air gave rise to goosebumps all over your body. You wrapped your sweater around yourself tighter and continued down the cobblestone sidewalk. You kept your head up, marveling at the infinite shades of golds and reds that had taken over the city.
Leaves crunched under your flats, making an auditory note of every step you took. It covered up the sound of your breathing, which had grown heavier from the cold air shocking your system.
The man across the street paid no attention to the crunching leaves beneath his feet. You watched briefly as he kicked a few of them around before continuing on his way.
His hair matched the pink sunset overhead, bright and bold and beautiful.
It was the last thing you noticed before walking into your apartment for the night.
- - - - - -
Heavy snow fell from the sky. The street lamps lit up the sidewalk, illuminating the thousands of large flakes around you. You made a mental note to start wearing heavier boots to work for nights like this.
You tucked your gloved hands underneath each of your armpits and trudged home, trying to pay attention to each step you took so as not to fall.
The man across the street had a scarf, hat, and mittens on. You were jealous of how prepared he seemed to be for this snow storm. You made another mental note for yourself to start checking the weather before leaving for work each morning.
The man walked faster than you. His winter boots clearly had better traction than your dressy ones. As he got further ahead, you noticed the back of his hair poking out. Except, it wasn’t pink, it was yellow.
You trudged on and used it as your guiding light through the storm the whole way home.
- - - - - -
Spring had always been your least favorite season. Snow and ice melted with no boundaries, leaving traces of mud all over the sidewalk. You stomped your bulky boots through scummy puddles and tried not to splash remnants of it everywhere.
It wasn’t dark yet, which made you feel hopeful that this dirty weather wouldn’t be around for long.
The man across the street walked without a hat for the first time in months. You smiled seeing his yellow hair in full for the first time. It was bright and flashy. The kind of thing that demanded attention. It reminded you of blooming flowers and sunshine, infinite growth and beauty.
You walked home, your strides aligned once again. And as the sound of snow melting from building tops covered up the sound of your boot’s heavy stomps, you couldn’t help but notice his bright hair out of the corner of your eye the entire way home.
- - - - - -
The first thing you noticed upon leaving work was how freeing it felt to be outside once again without a heavy jacket weighing you down. You had brought one, just in case, but it lingered in your arms, unneeded and more of a burden than anything as you started your walk home. Summer was just visible in the horizon, but the weather still fluctuated between sunny and warm and breezy and cool, so it was impossible to ever be fully prepared.
The second thing you noticed upon leaving work was that the man across the street wasn’t there.
He’d been particularly easy to spot in the last few months with his yellow hair, but as you scanned the other side of the road, up and down, he was no where to be found. Your heart sunk a little, which surprised you. But you justified your disappointment as normal. He had become a part of your routine, just like eating a peanut butter and fluff sandwich everyday was. Your heart would sink if you opened your lunchbox to bologna, just as it did in the man’s absence. Nothing strange or unusual about being effected by a disrupted routine.
You frowned slightly before deciding it was time to head home. You walked for less than a minute before you heard rapid footsteps behind you and felt someone grip your elbow.
“Hi honey, how was your day?” A man’s voice asked.
You instinctively tried to jerk your arm away, but the grip was too strong. When you turned to look at who was grabbing you, you were shocked to see the man with yellow hair.
He leans down, close enough so that you can smell him, and whispers in your ear, “Someone’s following you.”
Once he’s confident you’re not going to shove him away, the man loops his arm with yours, leading you down the road en route to your apartment. He casts a couple glances over his shoulder, subtly trying to see if the person following you had gone. On his second glance, he sighs a breathe of relief and loosens his grip on your arm.
“He turned around.”
You automatically let go of his arm.
“Who was it?” you ask.
“I didn’t recognize him, which is what made me nervous… I’d never seen him before.”
You nod, exhaling the anxiety that had been building up inside of you. “Well, thanks. I appreciate it”
You were relieved to see you apartment building just over the hill. You didn’t feel much like walking alone the rest of the night.
The man nodded and extended his hand, “I’m Josh, by the way.”
You smiled, taking his hand in yours and shaking it, “Y/N.” you introduced.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” he grinned.
You thought about his comment later that night as you laid in bed. You found yourself wondering if Josh had noticed your presence on the opposite side of the street as much as you’d noticed his.
- - - - - -
You felt slightly paranoid walking home the next day. You immediately noticed Josh across the way, which felt increasingly comforting, but you couldn’t help feel like someone was lingering behind you as you made your walk down the sidewalk.
You kept casting glances towards Josh. You found yourself wondering things about him, like which floor he worked on or what his inspiration for his sporadic hair colors were. Every time you would gaze for too long, he’d glance over and you’d quickly look away in response. You really had to work on your staring problem.
After three different occasions of awkward eye contact with Josh, you watched out of the corner of your eye as he looked both ways, then started jogging across the street.
“Hey,” he called, as he hurried to catch up to you. You stopped, of course, baffled and unsure as to whether or not he was talking to you. “Mind if I walk with you?”
You froze then, wondering immediately if the same person was following you again.
Josh noticed the fear on your face and put his hands up, “It’s okay to say no…” he says.
You lower your voice and try to whisper loud enough for just him to hear, “Are they following me again?”
“What?” Josh asks, confused momentarily before understanding what you were referencing, “Oh… no! No, no. I just thought maybe we could walk together tonight.”
You sigh a breathe of relief before smiling, “Yeah, that would be really nice. I’d like that.”
The two of you walked, side-by-side, step-by-step, all the way home.
You asked about his hair. The burning thought that had been on your mind for so long was finally set free. It turns out, Josh was bored by routines, but his hair was one thing he could be spontaneous about. The pink was an after-effect of a wild red. The yellow brightened his gloomy winter.
“What color is next?” you had asked.
“Only time will tell,” he says, his eyes shimmering.
Josh walked you right up to your apartment door before saying goodbye. You were so intrigued by everything he had to say, and had to admit you were disappointed to be at your doorstep. It was the first time you’d ever wished your walk home was longer.
- - - - - -
Every day in the weeks to follow, Josh was waiting outside of the building by the time you got out of work. His face always breaks into the same, huge smile when he sees you walking through the double doors, and you can never help but reciprocate.
You talk the entire way home, learning about each other. Likes, dislikes, pet peeves, funny childhood stories. Josh was a man of infinite laughter and curiosity. You looked forward to walking home with him daily. It was, often times, what got you through until five o’clock.
“How was work?” he asks, one evening, extending his arm for you to take.
You’re surprised by his gesture, but ultimately flattered. You latch on, and start walking with him down the cobblestone.
“It was long,” you respond. “How was yours?”
“Also long, equally boring. Why do we work these jobs?” he asks.
You shrug, “Gotta pay rent I guess.”
“I’m serious though— I mean. I hate my job, I don’t get why I do it.”
He’s silent for a moment, like he’s thinking hard. “What would you do—“ he finally says, “if you didn’t have to worry about rent or bills? If you could do anything?”
You furrow your brow, thinking about his question, “I suppose I’d travel.”
“Europe, I think.”
“Have you ever been?”
You shake your head. “No, I mean, I have work…”
“I think that’s a crime.”
You frown, “What do you mean?”
“That’s your dream, right? To go to Europe. And you’ve never been because of some dumb job you don’t even like.”
“Yeah,” you agree, “But I have responsibilities. I’m committed to my job. People count on me.”
“To what? Fax papers for them? It doesn’t really mean anything. Neither of our jobs do.”
You frown at Josh’s remark, offended by his blunt tone.
“I don’t understand what you’re getting at,” you say honestly.
He shakes his head, “Nothing. I’m just… bored.”
The two of you walk the rest of the way in silence.
- - - - - -
Josh isn’t waiting for you the next day. He’s not across the street either.
You walk the entirety of the way home without any pinks or yellows to brighten your day.
You hate how much it bothers you.
- - - - - -
You accept Josh’s outstretched arm, “Where were you yesterday?” you ask.
“Just a personal day,” he says. “Stayed home.”
“Oh… Well, I missed you.”
“Aw, you flatter me.”
“I mean it!” you say, “Walking home with you is my favorite part of the day.”
Josh stiffens beside you. You try to gage what he’s thinking by his face, but it’s too stoic.
“See?” he says, “How pathetic is it that a walk home with me is the highlight of your day?”
That was definitely not the reaction you were hoping for. You let go of his arm and step away from him.
You can’t really think of a response or defense, but it was clear that Josh didn’t feel the same way.
“Your life is boring. Just admit it! It has no meaning behind it. No passion. You do the same thing everyday, hoping that eventually, you’ll be happy. Or satisfied, or whatever it is. But you’re lying to yourself.”
“You don’t know anything about my life,” you say back sharply. “I like my job, and I like my life, just the way it is. Not all of us need radical hair colors and spontaneous life choices to be happy. Get off your high horse and don’t pretend like you know what’s good for me.”
Josh bites his lip, but has no response, so instead, you shake your head before picking up your pace, leaving him behind.
You ignore him as he calls after you.
- - - - - -
You make an effort to rush out of the building the next day, hopeful that you won’t run into Josh. Luckily, you’re out a solid ten minutes quicker than usual, and by the time you’re turning the corner on the cobblestone steps, he’s nowhere to be seen.
You walk the whole way home alone.
- - - - - -
This pattern continues until Friday when you’re forced to stay until five o’clock on the dot. You try not to think about seeing Josh outside as you ride the elevator down to the main floor, but as soon as you push through the double doors and look to the street, you see him. If he hadn’t been standing right by the lamp pole, you probably wouldn’t have recognized him. His hair was no longer bright or flashy. Instead, it was dulled down to an off-brown color. It didn’t catch your attention by any means and you frowned at the sight of it.
You almost skipped right over to him, before you remembered that you were mad for insulting your “boring life”. You huffed a little before walking down the steps and turning the corner, hoping to avoid his attention.
You should be so lucky,
“Hey!” he calls, rushing up behind you.
You ignore him and keep walking.
“Wait up!” he hollers. “Y/N, stop!”
“What do you want, Josh?” you snap, whipping around to face him.
He stops dead in his tracks, clearly taken aback by your harsh tone. The look on his face makes you feel slightly guilty for being to abrupt, but you hold your ground.
He scratches the back of his neck, looking anxious. He takes a deep breath before speaking.
“I just wanted to say goodbye.”
Your angry frown turns to confusion as his words sink in.
“Goodbye?” you ask, your tone civil again.
“Yeah, I quit.”
“You what?” you gasp.
“I quit my job. Just now actually.”
“Wh— what? Why?” you sputter.
“The only thing keeping me going, was the idea that everyone else was just as miserable as I was doing what I did. But not you. You’re happy. And you were right… I shouldn’t have judged you. I was wrong to assume that everyone was as depressed as me. But… I just.. It made me realize that I needed to get the hell out of here.”
You listen to his words, letting it sink in that he truly meant it. He was leaving. You shouldn’t be as upset as you were. Selfishly, you were mourning the infinite number of walks you thought the two of you had in the future. But hearing Josh admit to his misery made you logically ignore the voice in your head begging him to stay and instead ask him a question.
“What happened to your hair?”
He smiles, looking up to his forehead, as if he could see it in his peripherals.
“I don’t need interesting hair anymore, cause I’m going to have an interesting life.”
- - - - - -
Summer fades fast and the warm, humid air is replaced by a brisk breeze. You crossed your arms across your chest and shivered as the night set in. You were grateful to be wearing a hat on top of your head and a scarf around your neck. You let your eyes scan your surroundings, marveling at the infinite shades of golds and reds that had once again, taken over the city.
Leaves fell, crunching and blowing every which way, as autumn swept through, clearing out the old and making room for the new.
You stopped dead in your tracks at the turn with the cobblestone steps and gazed adoringly at the melted sunset in the horizon. The pouring pinks and blistering yellows caught your eye, reminding you of the man across the street and being your guiding light all the way home.
Q: what is the fluorescent pink and yellow bag that onew wears on his hip? only onew’s stands out.
A: the wireless receiver for his mic and his in ear monitor are inside. he wraps a belt with the bag attached to it around him. not only onew, but the other members used beige colored bags! usually its something you wrap directly on your skin, but onew wraps his around his blouse. the chords from the receiver also go directly on your skin, but taemin doesn’t like that so he doesn’t even use a belt. that’s why he encounters a lot of accidents. taemin doesn’t listen to what we say!