A Thousand Little Vases: We Will Mend These Cracks Together

August 24, 2015 in A Thousand Little Vases, moonrise31 by moonrise31

A metaphor I once heard: When a vase shatters, it doesn’t break into a thousand little vases.

In other words: Something that has been torn apart can never be returned to its original form.

But consider: This something, pieced together with tireless effort and unending care, can still become something beautiful.

We Will Mend These Cracks Together

Seohyun knew that she had to be strong.

She’d let herself fall, one time, her tears succumbing to gravity even as her song rose to the very top of Tokyo Dome. Their song, it should have been. Should be. Still is.

But after the eight of them had stepped off the stage, Tiffany had pulled her aside and given her a hug. And as much as Seohyun had needed it, she’d realized that Tiffany had needed it that much more.

She knew her unnies well — that sort of thing just came naturally with all of the time passed, all of the laughs shared, all of the muscles strained, all of the occasional tensions finally snapped and soothed.

So, Seohyun knew what it meant when Taeyeon withdrew even further into herself than usual, no longer bothering to hide her introverted tendencies from public eyes with carefully chosen words and self-forced outings. Seohyun knew what it meant when Sunny abruptly relinquished her “Aegyo Queen” title, even though no comment had been made about how the person who’d always complained the loudest was no longer around to hear it. Seohyun knew what it meant when Hyoyeon and Yuri started going out more, whether it was to work out or to go clubbing or to stuff their schedules with even more schedules. Seohyun knew what it meant when Sooyoung’s quick wit became even sharper, coming the closest to slicing their thickened skins since the first time her mindless jabs had smarted — and along with it, Sooyoung’s apologies became even more repentant, because there had never been a time she’d meant those insults any less.

Seohyun knew that all of this meant one thing: she had to be strong.

She had taken to sitting alone on the couch in the living room every night, steeling herself once more after the day had sapped her strength. This night, she’d just finished reading a message from Jessica — who was in Shanghai again — laughing about how she’d made a grammar mistake on her Weibo post. And really, all Seohyun could think was that Hyoyeon would have been able to catch it.

Seohyun didn’t really know if keeping up these daily texts hurt more than they helped. But her fingers moved over the keyboard regardless.

Then the door opened, Yoona slipping quietly inside. Most of the members had taken to staying at the dorm if their schedules ran too late — which coincidentally, was almost daily. After all, it didn’t make sense to return home and bother their families during the ungodly hours of the morning — never mind the fact that they’d been doing it for several years now. And even though Sunny complained loudly that she wasn’t looking forward to sharing a bed, much less a room, she always slept on the left side of the mattress so that Seohyun could always slip in on the right, after she was done remembering to breathe again.

“You’re still awake.”

Seohyun looked up and gave Yoona a smile. “It’s still early.”

“It’s past two,” Yoona corrected. “Your skin cells must be cursing you right now.”

“Let them.”

Yoona paused, already half-turned to sneak into the room she was sharing with Taeyeon (judging by the glow coming from under the door, the oldest was playing her cellphone game with the screen on full brightness again). “Juhyun?” she asked softly.

Seohyun met the other’s gaze, regretting it as the walls she’d been concentrating on fortifying began to crumble again. “Yes, unnie?”

“Are you…” Yoona stopped, lips pressed into a thin line. She made her way around the arm of the couch, opting to sit down beside Seohyun and open her arms instead of finishing the question that they both already knew the answer to.

“Unnie,” Seohyun whispered as she leaned into Yoona’s hug. “You should go to sleep. You’ve been working more than usual.”

Yoona laughed, but Seohyun didn’t hear her smile. “I haven’t added anything, actually. And we’ve all been busy anyway. Comeback and all.”

“Well.” Seohyun lifted her hands and clasped them together behind Yoona’s back. “Then, you look like you’ve been working more than usual. For once.”

Yoona rested her chin on Seohyun’s shoulder. “Can’t argue with that.”

“Unnie,” Seohyun said, staring at the curtains on the far wall that hung not fully closed — the moon was new, and the lights of Seoul drowned out the stars. “Unnie, I’m okay. Really.”

“Okay,” Yoona said. She tightened her hold.

“Really, unnie.” Seohyun clenched her jaw as the hitch in her voice echoed in her eardrums. “I’m — I’m — I’m really, definitely…”

“Seohyun.”

(Yoona had said her name, so so quietly. She knew she’d ruin it if she replied.)

“Seo Juhyun.”

(Every syllable hung warm in the air between them.)

“Juhyun.”

(A whisper.)

“Maknae.”

And then Seohyun broke.

She couldn’t stop them — again. Her sadness fell and fell and fell, drenching Yoona’s shoulder and leaving red marks through the other’s shirt where her fingers clawed against Yoona’s back. There: the only remnants of her strength, obliterated in the single breath she’d been trying to remember to take in order to keep it alive.

Finally, she managed to say that she was sorry.

Yoona straightened. “For what? Don’t you dare say that this is — ”

“I’m not blaming myself, unnie.” Seohyun pulled back as well, wiping her eyes on the back of her arm. “It’s not about that at this point. I just…” Her raised hand landed limply in her lap. “If I’m sad, then you unnies are sad, and we’re all sad enough already…”

“Then let us be sad.”

Seohyun’s head snapped up. “Unnie?”

“Let us be sad.” Yoona smiled. “Even Tiffany-unnie and Hyoyeon-unnie cry sometimes. And they’re the strongest people I know.” She brought the hand on Seohyun’s shoulder up to poke the latter’s cheek. “After you, of course.

“So don’t try to take care of all of us by yourself. Taeyeon-unnie gave up on that a long time ago.” Yoona winked. “Just remember to do what you need to do. Laugh if you need to laugh. Cry if you need to cry.” She pulled the sleeve of her cardigan over her thumb and wiped at the last bit of moisture at the corner of Seohyun’s eyes. Then she looked down at the smudge on her sleeve. “Although, if you need to cry, I’d suggest using waterproof mascara.” She yelped when Seohyun suddenly pulled her into a tight hug.

“Thank you, unnie,” Seohyun said, eyes squeezed shut, savoring the coolness left behind after the warm fabric had brushed across her temple.

Yoona closed her eyes, too. She slowly lifted her own arms, the corners of her lips following suit as she returned the hug. “Any time, maknae.

Any time.”