Skeleton Flower: Things That Have Been Released And Set Free
산하엽 - 흘러간, 놓아준 것들
Translation credit below to:
a bit of background information on the book: when asked during a fan meet in late november how long it took for him to write his novel jonghyun revealed that it took him over two years of writing memos on his phone to finish the novel. writing the draft copy took him around two weeks, and it took him another six to seven months to edit the rest of it.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
• the woman (여자) - a journalist who spends long hours at her job and most often prioritizes work before her own self. she struggles to move forward from her 5 year relationship with the man.
• the man (남자) - a writer. during their break up, the woman describes him contemptuously as a “goddamn romantic.” he was the first to both fall in, and out, of love in their relationship.
• dan, or danyi (단이) - the man’s welsh corgi, who facilitates the first meeting – and eventual romance – between the man and the woman. (note: danyi is named after hyangdan, a character from the korean folktale ‘chunhyang-jeon’ who performs a similar role.)
• the junior (후배) - the man’s junior from college, who makes an unexpected confession.
• the singer (가수) - a singer / radio dj who is interviewed by the woman in the second chapter. his voice appears in the story intermittently through his radio monologues, which act as a source of comfort and voice of reason for the main characters. (note: this character is explicitly modeled after jonghyun himself.)
....stories that have drawn near
it’s pitiable, in a way. when our passion was once so fiery,
how did our relationship become
so far from warmth – not lukewarm, or even cold
but an ambiguous temperature that’s just fit for souring?
- from the day of parting -
1. no more - after being together for five years, the man suddenly states to the woman that they should separate as they’ve both grown tired of each other.
2. the end of a day - the woman interviews a singer at work. he tells her how he deals with loneliness, which causes her to reflect on her own loneliness, exhaustion, and inability to move forward from her break up.
3. always there (honesty) - refreshed from her rest the night before, the woman decides to clean her house — only to rediscover an old letter sent to her by the man when they were still happy and in love.
4. leave me and go (better off) - after a brief period of enjoying his newfound freedom, the man begins to muse upon his loneliness — its causes, various forms, and desired remedies.
stories that have drifted away
he recited in a soft voice.
and for the first time in his life, he realized what a lovely sound the word “love” possessed.
- from the day of first acquaintance -
5. juliette - the story of how the man, his dog danyi, and the woman meet for the first time one rainy day by the han river.
6. lovesickness (symptoms) - the man confesses his feelings for the woman on the third day of knowing her, and is gently rejected. he leaves for a trip to south america on his own to reflect on and affirm his feelings.
7. u & i - anxious from being unable to contact the woman upon arriving back home, the man finally locates her apartment thanks to danyi — where he finds her burning up with fever.
stories that have been set free
even without my efforts, you’re already that much farther away.
i should have kept you a little longer by my side, back then. i should have given it more thought.
i should have gone through more suffering, become a little more helpless.
and i should have offered you first turn at words of parting.
- from the day of first longing -
8. alarm clock - the woman throws herself increasingly into her work to escape from the memories of her past relationship, and comes to the realization that she is still in love with the man.
9. i’m sorry - the man begins to drink more frequently to pacify his loneliness. though he’s certain he no longer loves the woman, he attempts to put a name to his emotions by writing a poem about her.
10. maybe tomorrow - little by little, the man’s image is finally beginning to fade from the woman’s heart, but she still suffers from frequent migraines and insomnia. one night, she finds comfort through a message on the radio.
11. red candle - the man’s junior abruptly confesses her feelings for him and begins to visit him every day to take care of him. eventually, they kiss — but their relationship remains one-sided.
12. skeleton flower - the season changes and the man sets off for aewol, jeju island, while the woman goes for a walk by the han river. individually, but simultaneously, the two of them decide to let each other go — and in their hearts, they embrace one another in final farewell.
CH. 2 - THE WOMAN INTERVIEWS THE SINGER (P. 36 - 37)
"the thing about loneliness is that, i don’t see it as something simple that will just disappear once it’s been appeased. you could say it’s like a shadow that walks with you for all your life. still, once in a while i feel the need for something to comfort me — but as the things i mentioned to you earlier are embracing me so fully*, i’m going through a healthy loneliness right now."
at his self-assured response, the woman stopped typing and looked up to meet his eyes.
eyes that, without a trace of wavering, showed only conviction. she kept seeing the image of another man overlap with the one before her. could that have been the reason? she wanted to find out more about what loneliness meant to people like them.
“a healthy loneliness, you say. that’s an interesting way to put it."
“is it? i think that sort of thing is necessary. a method of consoling yourself that only you can understand, and no one else. some days you feel lonely, some days you feel worn out, and some other days you might feel idiotic, or pathetic, even. though of course, there are also many days where you feel cheerful in between. the important thing is that since the remaining days of our lives stretch out so far that they seem to have no end, there needs to be something that can neutralize whatever emotion you might have. whether my day is a happy or sad one, i don’t filter any of them out. as my tumultuous emotions quietly subside, the graph of my condition for the day returns more or less to average, you see. i enjoy dramatic remedies, but the beginning and end would probably be better off as something neutral. for you, too — anything will do. it doesn’t have to be something complicated like mine. whatever the method, if you wrap up your day in a similar way each time, it will ease your mind.”
* [translator's note] “the things i mentioned to you earlier” is a reference to the things and people that comfort the singer, including his mother, sister, and pet dog.
CH. 9 - THE MAN WRITES IN HIS DIARY (P. 123 - 125)
even without trying, we’re already that much farther apart.
i came to know you later than anyone else
and we’ve come to the point where
it wouldn’t even be embarrassing if we were to pass by each other
the day my intuition warned me of our parting,
when we once thought we would last forever.
i thought the sky would split in two.
i thought the earth would collapse.
i thought i’d get trapped in the rift between
the sky torn in two
that i’d tumble into the collapsed earth
and miss you for a lifetime.
even if you didn’t love me
i thought you’d carry
your resentment and regret toward me
for a lifetime.
i really do
worry about the silliest things.
when memories of our time together would resurface,
in order to suppress them all
i went so far as to try to hate them.
in vain, i tore out the pages of a blameless book you’d given me, one by one
and tried to throw out the gifts i’d never had the chance to deliver.
though, i couldn’t bring myself to do it in the end
and hid them all behind a mirror.
even still, i was left with such lingering feelings
that i took out the ring
that when we’d been together, i’d said was too bothersome to wear
and began to wear it, at last.
i really do
behave in the most foolish ways.
even without trying, you’re already that much farther away.
i should have kept you by my side a little longer, back then. i should have given it more thought.
i should have gone through more suffering, become even more helpless.
and i should have offered you first turn at words of parting.
i really do
have the most senseless regrets.
!bonus! translation! of a section tweeted by jonghyun himself.
when you come to see me, don’t wear too many clothes.
don’t even wear a single tee shirt,
because even one millimeter of distance between us is too much.
if it happens to be too cold, climb into my clothes;
my body heat, the scent of my breath;
listen to the sound of my beating heart.
i’ll infect you with my love fever so that, as i recover, you fall ill.
and, as you recover, i will become infected again.
climb into my clothes and become infected with the fever of love.
and re-infect me, infect only me.