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Skeleton Flower: Things That Have Been Released and Set Free - A Novel by Kim Jonghyun

Chapter Text

There was a strange habit to the man.

It was the habit of speaking in formal language to anyone, not caring for the other person’s age or the relationship between them, whenever he felt emotional.

 

“A person’s heart is truly deceitful, you know. While it does not belong to me, I long to own it, yet in reality, when I do get my hands on it, it starts to whiter like a plucked flower.”

 

The Olympic Road was rather quiet past rush hour. The woman had finished a warlike deadline and was heading home with the boyfriend who she had not seen in a while. The man sitting on the passenger seat had been silent the whole time until he finally started spouting some non-sensical talk. Which was, as well, in formal language.

The woman turned off the radio that had been soothing the silence within the car until he opened his mouth. Then, she averted her eyes and quietly watched him. Sensing there was a boring speech to come, she let out a soft sigh.

 

The following were the man’s words.

 

“Of course, it does seem plausible at that moment, while the flower is still stuck on the ground, to think of something – of making an ornament or setting up a bouquet. Then what can you do. If on the moment one has it in one’s hands, the flower that was once lively and the heart that was once warm both soon dry up and die.”

 

The expressionless woman took her gaze back and spoke dryly.

 

“What you trying to say?”

 

“I am saying that you and I are like this.”

 

As soon as she finished talking, the man cut in.

The woman thought for a moment, frowning.

 

‘What is he plotting again this time?’

 

The man smelled the stench of her displeasure but, being tactless as he was, did not mind at all as he continued to not look at the woman who glared at him.

 

“It often happens in the movies. The moment of meeting one’s destined love. Time slows down and the whole world turns black and white, except for the subjects of the fated love. ‘Oh, oh my God. Is what I’m seeing even human? I beg for her to be mine!!!’ They babble this sort of nonsense and even feel that it is romantic. It is extremely deplorable.”

 

“······.”

 

The car being driven by the woman was already entering a small alleyway.

 

“Still I admit, love has the power to turn anyone into a fool. Since I felt like that too when I first met you. The problem is that this power never lasts too long, you know. It differs from one individual to the other but, eventually, the high wears off and the moment the rose-colored lenses of love come off is when all hell breaks loose.”

 

Strangely, it seemed as though the man was almost excited.

At such image, the sensation that the man sitting by her side was a stranger started to set within the woman. It felt as if the boyfriend she loved had disappeared.

 

“Alright. Why don’t you stop with this pompous language? Enough of your grease.”

 

“Look at this. The language you found so endearing annoys you to death, the adorable image of them eating now looks like a pig, their cute charming feels only like bothersome nagging. There is no more vivacity when staring into each other’s eyes, holding hands is sweaty and gross, kissing turned into nothing more than a habit.”

 

The woman’s voice came out sharp as she could not take it anymore.

 

“Why are you saying these things? What answer to you want? Should I just keep sighing until you’re done?”

 

The man, who had been staring only forward before, finally turned his eyes towards the woman. An expression of full conviction. His gaze did not waver.

 

“It is extremely pitiful. We, who were once so hot, eventually ended up in a relationship which is far from warm – not quite lukewarm nor cold, but of a temperature only ambiguous enough to sting.”

 

Five years.

The time the two of them had been together.

 

Thrill became familiarity, familiarity became comfort, comfort became boredom, boredom became annoyance, and once again there is little time left until it becomes hate.

 

By the end of the man’s words, the car came to an abrupt halt.

 

They had arrived at their destination.

At that moment, living in the same neighborhood turned from the best dating scenario to the worst breakup situation.

 

“When we were at our peak, we could not understand other people who did not get over the period of ennui and broke up. But we are no different. Should I say it honestly? Our situation is even more serious. We are so tired of each other that we cannot even bother to try and become hot again, are we not?”

 

“Just skip to the ending. My head hurts.”

 

The woman searched inside her purse and pulled out some headache medicine.

 

“Now we shall break up due to the same reason as them.”

 

The woman gave no answer. She only grasped the pill case firmly.

Upon glancing at the woman’s state, the man carried on speaking.

 

“Do not force yourself to cry.”

 

The woman pushed two tablets in with water.

 

“You couldn’t make me cry.”

 

As if the first two were not enough, the woman swallowed one more pill as she answered, without any water.

 

“We will stop fronting over who will be the first to say goodbye, and each go our own separate way now. Lastly, I will whistle that tune you used to like. We will get out of the car heading opposite directions, and when you cannot hear that melancholic whistle anymore, then we shall be definitely over.”

 

With her headache blasting, the woman slowly lowered her head to rest on the steering wheel and did not move.

The man closed his mouth firmly shut as well and did not say any more strange things.

 

“You bloody romanticist······.”

 

Came the woman’s voice in a whisper.

 

How much time passes.

“Out.”

 

The woman said as she raised her head and slowly took out the ring on her fourth finger.

That ring was a gift from the man for their first anniversary, when they swore their eternal love to each other.

 

“······.”

 

“Get out. Go your way like you said.”

 

The man tried to say something before closing his mouth and opened the car door.

On a whim–

 

“Take care.”

 

As the man left the car and went his way, the woman simply watched his retreating backside.

 

Five years.

The time the two of them had been together.

 

Love is a clown changing its mask many times who had ample time to play with those two, but a simple “Take care” was enough to make 5 years disappear, words too short to settle such a period of time.

 

As such, she could do nothing but watch his back through the car window, because if she were to go out after him, grab his hand roughly and turn him around, the moment their gazes met, she would see nothing but conviction in his steady eyes. She knew in her heart that the memories of their moments together, falling as tears from her eyes, would not be able to change his mind.

 

She would not be able to read his thoughts by simply looking into his eyes, either, because even five years together gave them little psychic abilities. Even that was useless in that moment.

 

A quiet street at night. The sound of a whistle was heard even if you tried not to listen.

Whether it was cold or dispirited, sad or delighted, it was unclear as the woman mumbled to herself with a chuckle.

 

“This whistle······ I’m speechless.”

 

The woman used to love this sound that came from the man’s puckered lips. The man sometimes used to whistle it to her when they were sleeping together after a long day. Nestled in his arms listening to it, pecking those round lips, she could forget about all the rest of the world. Those magical moments were there were only them, leaning on each other······.

 

She could still hear the sound of the whistle as the man walked in a slow pace, and so hurried to press the button on the car radio to get herself out of their memories.

Doo– Doo–

 

A sound like a dial-up tone flowed out of the speakers and the woman leaned her body back on the seat, covering her face with both hands.

 

“Why, for God’s sake······.”