Bandages for Lonely Souls

May 12, 2013 in one-shots by Wasabi Warrior

Yesterday was a good day to die. Today was, too.

 

Miyoung picked up a pebble from the shore and tossed towards the river, watching it skip some before sinking into the water and disappearing forever.

 

She wished she could be like that too. No one would notice—there’d be no problems—and she’d be happy.

 

But for her mother, she needed to hold on. To make it easier, she counted it by day, falling into sadness each time she failed to die.

Miyoung stood up and slung her school bag over her shoulder. It was a long walk home. Yes, home.

It was fine, Miyoung thought. It had happened many times before—her feeling lonely. This night was just one of the thousand she had had, and one of the million more she would have.

The door slid open as Miyoung entered, dropping her bag down on the dusty ground. She crept down and felt around for the candle stick and matchbox she kept by the door.

Miyoung scraped the match stick across the phosphorous and watched as the flame streaked to life. It burned a beautiful tangerine amidst her abyss of a room. The way it swayed back and forth, and flickered from death to life was oh—so—familiar. Its radiance shone bright and lit much of what it could around it.

But the light in the dark wouldn’t stay like that forever. It couldn’t, as much as it wanted to.

The ember slowly ate away that wood, struggling to stay alive even if it meant quickening its imminent death.

That meant that it couldn’t live by itself because eventually its flames would die out and it would turn into the black nothingness that was swept away by the wind. There was no chance in solitude.

Miyoung raised the match stick up to the candle, holding it by its farthest tip and waiting—waiting for the light to pass on. But the candle—the candle, too, was incomplete, very much needing the fire from the match stick to have purpose.

But it is unfair like that. The match stick needs the candle to survive, and the candle needs the match stick for purpose. Miyoung wasn’t sure which weighs more: survival or purpose. Did one not equate to the other?  Was one not implicative of the next?

She wasn’t sure.

Miyoung blew the candle out. Match sticks and lights didn’t get to think. Whatever happened to them was only a result of things falling into place—or out of.

She sat in the dark, against the cold cement, between the comforting silence and vast emptiness of the room.

It had been years since her dad left and even longer since her mom died. Loneliness had become her best friend. In fact, she preferred it over anything else, because unlike everything else, loneliness never abandoned her, never gave her false hopes, never crushed her heart.

Ask her, and she would choose the company of loneliness over friends that were only there during the good times. In the company of herself—and herself alone, she didn’t need to pretend to be someone else, to shut up when she disagreed with what others said, to pretend to smile when she was actually breaking inside. Because even when she was with them, she was lonely.

Perhaps yesterday was a good day to die, and today even better.

She couldn’t stand to bear another lie—another disappointment. There had been times before when Miyoung thought she had finally fit in, that she had found the people with the same hobbies, that she found friends who would understand her. But they couldn’t—and who was to say there would ever be such people? They were lonely too, Miyoung felt. They wanted someone behind them, with them. But they hadn’t lost a mom. They hadn’t been left by a dad. They were too different.

And Miyoung was tired. She was tired of trying her best because no one really cared unless she was famous. Because fame meant everything—assured her classmates slots and got them short cuts. All Miyoung had was a rundown room paid for by her part-time job as a waitress and bruises all over her body—bruises no one cared for, bruises no one healed.

She wanted to rest, and loneliness gave her that. She slept for as long as she wanted and there was no one to interrupt with their selfishness. She was her own. She wanted to succumb to the night because she hated having to the dread the morning that came after.

Miyoung was sick—of getting hurt and failing. Of thinking there was a better tomorrow, when in fact, it was just yesterday on repeat. She breathed in, taking in a whiff of the candle scent that lingered in the air. She closed her eyes.

Solace in loneliness. This was home.

The floor and the walls felt colder. The hair by her nape stood and the back of her shoulders shuddered. Wind from the cracks in her house swept past. Her teeth chattered.

It was nice being alone, but on some days—days like today—everything she had tried to ignore, everything she had put up with, everything she thought was okay piled up. She was sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around her legs, but her knees buckled nonetheless. Palms set against the ground, Miyoung gasped for breath. For breaths.

Her ears twitched, her head shook, and her limbs quivered. It became a frantic storm from within. The energy departed from her lungs, faded from her system. She dropped to the ground and curled into a ball. Pulling her hair from its roots, Miyoung stared wide-eyed at the darkness waiting to consume.

This was loneliness—and she was burning out.

“K-Kim,” the word left her dried lips.

Panting, Miyoung pulled her legs closer. She remembered.

There was another girl across the river today. With her hair tied back, her forehead’s reflection glistened under the moon. She was eating kimbap from the convenience store. But perhaps

it was a day old, hard and cold. Just like her, the girl didn’t look up at the night sky everyone so swooned over. Maybe she also knew that was nothing there except a million dead stars. She would join them, soon.

She recognized the girl. It was Kim from the other class. She didn’t know what her first name was—no one in school did. The teachers and students alike just called her ‘Freak Kim’, just as Miyoung was coined ‘Loner Hwang’.

Kim was the other girl in gym class who took to the corners and watched as everyone played. Miyoung never talked to her about it, but they always ended in opposite ends of the room, like it was some unspoken rule by fate that outcasts needed to stay outcasts.

Kim was also the only girl who spent her lunch on the rooftop, with the storeroom roof belonging to Miyoung, and the rail bars to her. They saw each other on most days—exchanged a glare before looking away and trapping themselves in their own worlds, staring at the city spread out in front of them, which only functioned to swallow their kind.

She was probably the one on the adjacent bed, on the other side of the curtain in the infirmary whenever Miyoung was rushed there because the bleeding on her wrist had become too much to ignore. Miyoung never told her, but she found it amusing when she would see Kim’s silhouette rocking back and forth to fall asleep. They were alike that way.

With what they did and what they had—or didn’t—Miyoung wondered if they had already spoken through silence. Perhaps they had already shared all their stories about each other. In their minds, they were making new ones that no one else could understand because they were too concerned for themselves.

Maybe Kim’s hand would feel warm atop hers—because there was no way it would be able to fill the gaps between her fingers. Those gaps were too wide, too deep to ever be filled.

And if it would, Miyoung figured it wouldn’t count as depending on someone else again or as opening herself up. Indeed, there had too much of that, and too much scars. What they would be doing would merely be licking each other’s wounds.

There wouldn’t be a problem with that, right?

Miyoung would still have her space, but she wouldn’t feel as cold on days like these anymore.

She eased up on her legs and sprawled across the floor. She picked up the burnt match stick—ashen wood still intact—and raised it against the candle. What if the candle was a match stick and the match stick was a candle? They were both and themselves at the same time.

Miyoung had no problems with that. “Kim.”

Yesterday was a good day to die, and so was today. But at least she wasn’t alone in thinking that. Hopefully, when she did die, she wouldn’t be alone.