He saw more than the vanishing colors, more than his emerging blindness.
Jungkook hailed from a family of perfumers, so he already had that innate knack for the fragrance of things––ylang ylang for peace, aldehydes for something more, roses for love, etc.
But Jimin, the blind florist, somehow knew the exact arrangements to mimic the smells of things that were more abstract than roses and daisies: the precious smell of spring, the precarious essence of wanderlust, the pretty scent of dreaming,
Life mimics life mimics life and on.
That’s what Jimin did.
The door’s bell jingled its soft chant when Jungkook walked in; Jimin smiled while arranging a recent bouquet––the customer, a young happy man who wanted to give his friend the stars and the memories of walking alone at night, had wanted a bouquet to reflect just that.
“How do you do that?” Jungkook’s visited so many times that he’s forgotten his manners, doesn’t really bother to say ‘hello’ anymore, just dives into conversation with Jimin, comfortably unrehearsed.
“Do what?” Jimin played along, patting the gypsophila and coaxing it to wrap around some similarly pale flowers.
Jungkook sniffed the air loudly and obnoxiously so Jimin would get the point, “That!”
Jimin finally turned around pointlessly, pausing his work to give Jungkook his full attention.
Jungkook continued, “You’ve got it! How! The moon’s miasma, the stars’ stench, the afterglow’s asthma, that nighttime smell! It smells like a nighttime chill and like a nighttime quietness––”
“––Both of which you are not .”
“I am chill and quiet!”
“Ah yes, and now the whole neighborhood knows, happy?” Jimin turned back to his flowers.
Jungkook squinted his eyes and crinkled his nose before speaking softer, so that just the two of them would know now. He studied the way Jimin arranged the rest of flowers, how he picked some dark lilies and checked their velvety petals.
“It’s just really cool how you do it so well. I could close my eyes and feel like I’m walking alone at night.”
“Thank you.” Jimin paused, recollecting thoughts. His words became careful. “You know, I wasn’t actually born blind.”
“But I was born to be blind.”
Jungkook stopped fiddling with the petals nearby. Wondered how many times Jimin said this sentence to someone else. Maybe Taehyung, that farmer who regularly helps Jimin stock his flower shop. Maybe Yoongi, that frequent customer who stares at the flowers without buying any. Maybe no one else, judging by the way Jimin’s voice sounded.
It wasn’t sad. And it wasn’t secretive. It was something sentimental.
Jimin’s voice was the telltale sound of opening up. Jungkook briefly wondered if Jimin ever made a bouquet smell like that: the soft happiness of trusting someone so much that you indulge them with a little bit of yourself, of your past (memories) of your future (dreams) of your present (habits).
And Jimin broke Jungkook’s mental reverie when he continued in that same voice, “I was born with my full eyesight, but…….things changed later on. Things got……..dimmer……..and dimmer…….and dimmer…...till it got dark.” Jimin paused. “But I’ve made my peace. I’m the blind florist. I’m fine with it.” His smile returned as he gestured to the flowers scattered about in his small shop. “The smell of flowers help me see.”
“So that’s why you’re good at it? Arranging flowers?”
Jimin laughed, “I wouldn’t really call myself ‘good at it’ and I don’t think I actually mean to be…”
“That’s such a lie.”
“Well,” Jimin was getting flustered and tried to brush it off. “Flowers just help me see the things I can’t. And it’s so comforting because of that.”
Jungkook was glad Jimin couldn’t see his face, his lovestruck face that said: you help me see the things I can’t. And you’re so comforting.
“Why would you walk in the rain without an umbrella?” Jungkook was nearly livid as he grabbed the nearest towel to dry Jimin off.
“It feels nice.”
“Hypothermia does not feel nice!”
Jimin rolled his eyes, “I’ll live.”
“Yeah, once I finish drying you off. Don’t you have a spare change of clothes nearby? You’re soaking wet.”
Jimin changed the subject, “Rain’s just one of those things you don’t really need to see to feel.”
Jungkook sighed, forcing the subject to return, “Please take care of yourself more.”
“I take care of myself just fine.”
“You walk in the rain, you forget to eat, you––”
Jimin repeated, a bit louder this time, “I take care of myself just fine! Why do you care so much?”
“Because I care!”
Jimin stopped. So did Jungkook.
“You do?” Jimin stared blankly.
The embarrassing words hung in the air, but they both smiled.
“I do too.”
“You’re a tattoo artist?”
For the first time, Jungkook decided to have Jimin visit his shop, which happened to be next door. That explained a lot of his sporadically constant visits.
Without seeing Jungkook’s tattoos and without Jungkook talking about tattoos, it never occurred to Jimin that Jungkook was a tattoo artist, that the shop next door was a tattoo shop.
Jimin sighed, “What else don’t I know?”
“That I actually have five eyes on my face.”
Jimin lightly hit Jungkook’s shoulder, smile returning, “Hey!”
But Jimin paused, considering a possibility.
“Wait. Do you?” He was a little quieter. “Sorry, that’s a really dumb question…” Jimin shuffled to find his coat and the exit.
“It’s okay,” Jungkook held Jimin’s hand, holding it carefully and delicately, like a book to be read or a kite to be flown. “It’s not your fault you don’t know.” Jungkook drew Jimin closer, away from the door. “It’s mine. I’m the one who never told you about myself. So I should be saying sorry, for not opening up when I should.”
Still holding Jimin’s hand, he led him to the sofa, where they sat.
Jungkook began, “Here. Let’s start here.”
And venturing with his words, he guided Jimin’s hand to his face, letting it land peacefully like a feather.
Jimin started with Jungkook’s eyes, gliding his fingers across his closed eyelids. It felt like paper, soft paper, maybe even satin. And then he moved to his lashes, feathery and soft too, but like moth wings. And then he found his forehead, hidden under bangs, bangs that felt like heather and hyacinth. They tickled his fingers. And then he moved his hand below his eyes, bumping into his mouth. Couldn’t help but run his finger over Jungkook’s lips, somewhat chapped but very endearing. Jimin smiled when he realized Jungkook was nervously biting his lips right now, smiled when he realized Jungkook had a nervous tic that involved chapped lips and lots of biting, smiled when he realized Jungkook was nervous for Jimin’s verdict.
“Don’t worry,” Jimin whispered, even though he knew it was just the two of them in Jungkook’s shop. “I like your face. It’s sincere and sweet.”
“Thanks.” Jimin laughed at how Jungkook tried to brush off his nervousness.
He continued, moving on from Jungkook’s mouth. Found his cheeks, smooth and warm, like they were reddening. Jimin didn’t say anything about that, keeping it to himself. His cheeks were probably reddening too. Found Jungkook’s jaw, found it like many of Jungkook’s other facial features, soft and perfect.
“Wow.” Jimin was smiling, turning from awestruck to playful when he pinched Jungkook’s nose. “No wonder you always rant on and on about my flowers and their fragrance.”
Jungkook retorted nasally, “Hey!”
Jimin giggled, satisfied with the way Jungkook’s face felt and drew hand back, “But you do have an oddly good sense of smell. Especially for a tattoo artist.”
“Well, I was born to a family of perfumers. But I wanted to be something else.”
“Like a tattoo artist?”
“Yeah,” Jungkook laughed a bit. “I mean, I never planned for it to be like this, but one thing led to another and before you know it, I found myself opening my own shop.”
“Next to me.”
Jimin ran his index finger over Jungkook’s hand before Jungkook smiled and took it in his own.
“Next to you.”
(his floral arrangement) mimics (the abstract) mimics (his memories) and on.
That’s what Jimin did.