Saeran Choi: to break free.
I’m aware you’re probably a bit nervous at the moment… I mean, I also would be…
…Who I’m even lying to, you’re probably a nervous wreck right now. But I need you to read it before you do anything.
I wanted to say it for a long time.”
"Stupid! You’re both so stupid… Stay in there, Saeyoung… I’ll tie Saeran to this chair and you have to make sure he doesn’t escape, understood…?”
The woman’s words echoed in his head, making him flinch. He only got ready for the rope to wrap tightly around his ankle. It’d hurt, burn his skin. It’d make him unable to walk, even as close as to the toilet. His whole world would narrow to seventy centimeters, because that’s how much the rope would give him on average, depending on how tightly it was tied. But he’d still rather have a smaller range than be tied too tightly… It’s a small difference and his leg wouldn’t hurt so much… The last time she tied it so tightly, he couldn’t walk after anyway…
The woman would leave, and they knew she wouldn’t be back any time soon.
His brother would leave to visit that new place he talked about lately. He was brave enough to leave.
Saeran wouldn’t be able to leave. The rope was tight. His body ached too much to let him move.
Through the dirty glass of the window, he could see the clear sky. He could see it being here, as if the blueness was a part of this room. But even he knew that the sky he was staring at, was too far away to even care about the lonely, imprisoned boy like him.
His heart ached.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, you know… It hurts. It hurts so damn lot. I’m scared.
But I know now, that I need to move forward. And I’m unable to do it any other way.
It was hard to make this decision. It was damn difficult to get out of this cage. The cage we’ve been both imprisoned in. The cage I’ve been in later. The cage of your apartment we’ve been living in. But the most important, the cage of my own mind. And after all this time I already know that the last one was what kept me away from freedom.
We both need to understand it. And move forward.”
“Ray…? Why would you think about something like this… It’s a paradise, you don’t need anything else…”
The woman’s words were soothing and intimidating at the same time. She was firm, but seemed to believe in what she was saying. That’s why he believed it as well, not questioning it. She’d always tell him so: the world outside was bad.
It threw us away, she would say. We don’t need it.
And he believed her. After all, this was the only place he wasn’t unwelcomed in. Outside, they’d want to hurt him, to use him.
And he kept believing. His cage would grow smaller and smaller, its walls would grow thick, so thick he couldn’t see what’s outside anymore.
His heart would ache.
“For the whole time, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I got so used to the fact that I can’t live on my own. I would depend on you for the whole childhood, and hang onto this thought even after you left, only to change it into dependence on Mint Eye, and Rika. Everyone promised me freedom, and I really hoped to one day, find a paradise.
And when you came back, I thought I’d really find it. I never forgot you. Even at these moments when I was scared of you hating me, I wasn’t able to push away this thought. Mint Eye didn’t feel like something that’d last forever. I figured out that, for the whole time, I was only waiting for someone else. For you, to come and save me.
Only now, I can see how bad it was of me to think so.
“You want to go out?”
Saeyoung’s voice was what brought him back to reality. He stared at the sky for a few hours now, completely silent. Things would happen around him, and the people would pass by, but he just stared thoughtlessly at the white cotton candy lazily strolling through the sea of blueness.
“…No” he muttered.
He knew that if he said he does, his brother would put aside everything he’s been doing and just go out with him.
He knew that if he wished for anything, completely anything, Saeyoung would do it, without a question, in his helpless afford to make up for all these years they’ve spent away from each other.
His eyes were fixated on Saeran’s frame. The boy’s body was weakened, they both knew his kidneys could give up any moment after the amount of drugs he took in his life. He was skinny, because most of what he ate, he’d always throw up. And pale, because he’d never go out, so often getting sick and not moving at all from his little spot by the window.
He knew that Saeyoung would never leave him alone, even for a second. But it didn’t feel like the promised safety. It was yet another prison.
“You sure? We could get some ice cream…”
His breath hitched. He always liked ice cream.
But he didn’t feel even slightly hungry.
“I need to go out soon, though… MC will come and stay with you instead, okay?”
He only nodded.
And his heart still ached.
“That’s what I need to do now.
I don’t know if it’s convincing… But I know that all you’ve done was because you wanted the best for me. So I believe you’ll understand.
MC is a nice girl. I know that even if you start to panic, she’ll read this letter too and be able to bring you back to reality. You need her, maybe even more than you’re already aware. And she needs you too.
But just for now, there’s no place for me there.
One day, I will be able to come back there and feel like a part of this family, maybe. But right now, I’m nothing more than something that stands in between.
I can tell, you’d be great parents.
But it’s just time for me to grow up.”
His body would tremble as he stared up at the big board. The letters and numbers would change so quickly it was almost terrifying. He was so confused, trying to find the equivalent of the numbers he had on the paper in his hand.
“Sir, may I help you somehow?”
He jumped when he felt a brief touch on his arm, and turned around, trying to calm down his breath.
The girl took away her hand, sensing the nervousness. She glanced at the paper in his hand.
“Ah, Roma? I’m going there too. It’s your first time on a plane, isn’t it?”
She smiled cheerfully. He could swear he knew this smile.
“U-um, yeah” he stuttered, trying to recall how social interaction even was supposed to look like.
“The plane is to the right. Want me to guide you? First time are always a bit scary. You know, when it starts to shake, and you feel like you’re about to die…”
He could his face get even paler at the thought. He never considered that. What if he was scared of heights? He never had a chance to find out.
The girl glanced at him and her eyes widened.
“A-ah, sorry, sorry, I didn’t want to scare you! I-I was only joking!” she said quickly. “I-it does shake a little, but you won’t die, no worry, no worry!”
In his head, he could already see the plane go down and collide with the ground at its full speed. He forced away this thought.
“…So, where should I go?” he asked, full of hope that the girl would stop giving him heart attack opportunities.
“I-it’s over there! I will show you around! Nothing to be afraid of!”
He rolled his eyes. The girl was a bit awkward and he was glad that there was someone acting even weirder than him. It was a poor relief, but enough to help him not think about other people staring at him.
They passed through the crowds, getting to the door that would lead them towards the plane. The airport was huge and filled with lots of noises and things he didn’t understand. At that moment, he was glad the girl was here to help him.
In that moment, he did feel dependent. He only did as she told him, going where she said.
But in the plane, he was alone again. And yet, it didn’t feel that bad.
The whole machine shook while starting. There was a few free seats, including the one next to him; apparently, not many traveled at this time. He saw the girl on the other side of the plane, talking to another passenger. He wondered if after they finally landed, she’d remember him. He felt that he should thank her, he didn’t think about it before.
He held tightly onto the armrests, panicking a little as he noticed the airport and people getting smaller and smaller with every passing second.
Then the machine finally calmed down, and leaning against the backrest, he didn’t see the world underneath anymore.
He didn’t even notice when someone sat in the seat next to him.
“Hello there~” the girl hummed, bringing him back to reality.
“…Hi” he answered. It felt awkward, to greet her. They talked less than an hour ago, didn’t they?
“So, um. I brought gummy bears and you honestly seem like someone who really needs gummy bears right now. So, want some?”
She extended her hand to him and he stared at the pack in it awkwardly. Should he just, slip his hand in and take a bear? It was how people eat these, that much he knew. But should he take one? Or more? Wouldn’t she get mad if he took too many? Or disappointed if he took only one? What if he refused?
He awkwardly took two, praying so that they wouldn’t fall out of his fingers, because he tried to do it without moving the whole pack.
Well, that was weird. It’s been a while since the last time he ate gummy bears.
But he apparently did need it.
He nodded his head in a poor excuse of a ‘thank you’. The girl smiled happily.
“So, what’s your name?” she asked, feeling a bit bolder now. He glanced at her.
Should he tell her? Wouldn’t she use it against him? He knew very well how much of power a knowledge of one’s name could give you. If he knew her name, he could find her on every social media, find all the devices she used, find out where she was working, studying, living, everything… The same thing she could do to him…
He was aware of that, and yet…
“Saeran. My name is Saeran.”
“Nice to meet you, Saeran!” she beamed.
She smiled softly, tilting her head to the side.
“I think I know someone by this name already.”
“It must be a common name, right?”
He couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle.
“Nice to meet you too, then… MC.”
He glanced out the window, staring at the sky around.
In this one particular moment, he felt as if he was a part of it. Not just staring helplessly, as he used to.
It felt like a promise. Of his own paradise, that he would work hard to reach.
“At the moment when you’re reading this, I’m probably already on a plane. I’m not telling you where I’m going, because I know you’d follow me. I used false documents, so you won’t find me by my name either. I didn’t took my phone nor laptop. I borrowed some money from your new account, but I promise I will give it back when I find a job. I will need some time to settle in, but we both know this is a small waste comparing to all your savings. But I promise I will give it back.
I will try to send letters once a while. I know it’s hard to make it so that you won’t be able to track me, even traditional letters are trackable. So I will wait a bit, till things get calm over there and until I’m sure you’ve accepted it.
I’m going to start over from now on, and this time I will do it myself. I will find my own way, and when I go back, I will be who only I want to be, because I will earn it with my own hands.
Don’t worry about me. I know you will anyway, but I need to say that. Everything will be fine. I will be okay. After all this time, now I really believe in it. I will be okay.
See you soon, Saeyoung.
You loving brother,