chapter 11: red candle
The woman was edging away from the shadow of the break-up, as the man was also going on with daily life as usual. Even though his days of drinking had increased, unable to escape his guilty conscience and longing for his past self. The man was drinking with a friend that had been going out with him often as of lately. And as always, it came all of sudden.
“Senior······. To be frank, watching you with your girlfriend during all this time was very difficult for me. I couldn’t have said it, but when you told me you were tired after the honeymoon phase, I thought maybe you’d realize······. Couldn’t it be me? Is it not enough for me to be by your side?”
He was disconcerted. His loneliness grew day after day, but he was not certain that a new love would be able to free him from this loneliness and solitude. And in that moment, he was suddenly confessed to the least expected person. Not knowing how he should answer, the man only downed another shot.
“You don’t have to answer right away. It’s that I’m upset seeing you down lately, you know. I’m just trying to help.”
The man thought of how he must have had done something big in his past life to deserve so many people who love him. And all of those who loved him also seemed to feel responsible for his unhappiness. From that day on, the junior started to come by the man’s home office daily, to look after him by cooking or cleaning. At first, that attitude was awkward and annoying, but nevertheless, the man became gradually used to the non-stopping footsteps of his junior.
Eventually it was not uncomfortable to be alone with each other in the office anymore, and by the time the man had become closer his junior, they kissed. He was not sure if he really loved the junior. At one moment, their gazes crossed and they just embraced each other with no hesitation. Still, their relationship had not changed since that day.
One given night, the man had lit a candle as he waited for his friend, when suddenly the thought came to him that the candle reminded him of the junior. Then, he held the pen and slowly started writing.
Sounds the burning of the candle’s wood wick.
Wood wick candles always burn up so loudly.
In my dark and silent room, the frail flame of the candle and the pitiful crackling of the wood wick are all there is.
Is devotion, perhaps, that which fills the candle?
To be so willing to burn for me.
Such flimsy wick’s fire that ought not shine very long,
Speaks to me in an ardent voice.
'Are you warm?’
I couldn’t lie and say I was warm, when it burned up so eagerly.
I couldn’t even embrace it, in fear my flesh would burn.
A child that willingly burned itself into black.
All this time, a poor child calling out to me.
A child who loved me.
I couldn’t so much as sigh in fear that I’d extinguish you.
While writing with the junior in his mind, the man reached his certain conclusion. He didn’t love the junior. What he felt was a mixture of gratefulness and sorry ness and the fear of losing someone else — a feeling with a color quite different from love.
“Senior, have you been waiting? I came.”
“······ Starting tomorrow, you don’t need to come anymore.”
“You have your own life to take care of······. I can cook and clean up for myself. Don’t come here anymore.”
“······ Alright. But since I came today, let’s get something to eat together.”
The reply from the junior was calmer than the man expected and it stilled him as he thought that was rather fortunate. Then, the junior went back to eating without another word. That night. The man felt a sense of regret that contradicted his actions, and he slept with Dani in his arms and a troubled heart.
The next day, the junior came back to the man’s office at the exact same hour again. As if nothing had happened. When he saw the junior, the man was overcome with relief that he did not see coming, and their relationship remained unchanged.
It’s so hot within your embrace, that it feels like I might melt
FOR ALWAYS JONGHYUN
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