chapter 12: Diphylleia grayi
The seasons had changed and now it was distinctly spring. A warm spring shower was raining down.
The man had been staring vacantly out of the window when he suddenly started packing up.
“Where are you going?”
Asked the junior, hands wiping on the apron after finishing with the dinner’s dirty dishes.
“Ah······ I’ll spend some time in Jeju Island.”
“Jeju? Why this so suddenly?”
“Just ‘cause. I gotta do something there.”
The unknown island of Jeju.
An isolated place surrounded by water on all sides.
But not a lonely place.
The man went to visit Jeju from time to time. And he would go alone, leave his time and memories buried in that island and come back. The reason that place is not lonely must be because of all the past he has left scattered around there.
“Do you have good memories from there? For a guy who hates going out, you sure travel a lot.”
Lightly spoke the junior, hands still shaking around to dry. No, he was not going due to good memories or something to celebrate. He went there because it was a place with no memories at all. One should let memorable places remain beautiful, not soil it with a mess of memories and time.
“It should be three or four days at most. Only until Sunday maximum. I’ll let you know when I arrive. Don’t worry.”
Regarding him carefully, the junior felt that the man’s aura was heavier than usual, and spoke:
“Alright. Then, leave Dan in my care.”
“I was gonna ask you exactly that. Thank you.”
He took his luggage and headed to the airport.
The rain had stopped before he knew it.
At that moment, the woman was barely holding her eyes open.
The previous day, she had been up all night organizing her news reports and thus switched night for day. Since even with her passionate cramming through the night the manuscript had still not been completed, she woke up little by little, washed up, and gave a late start to her day. She had sat in front of the computer with the resolution of finishing the manuscript until eleven o’clock in the night, but of course it ended up completed much later than planned. Her initial plan of wrapping up early and catching a movie had been greedy.
‘Why am I like this. At least it’s all done now.’
She stretched out her stiff body after slaving away sitting in front of the computer for so long. Then, she put on her cardigan, grabbed her phone and earbuds and walked out of home. She stuffed in her earbuds as she walked in the direction of the Han river. It had been so long since she last took a night stroll. The woman relaxed with big breaths. It was getting a bit moist. The pleasant spring air flowed into her.
The man landed on Jeju in the last plane. The weather there was clear. As soon as he arrived, he rented a car and drove to watch the sea in the night of Aewol. It had been a while since he last drove around. It was a little awkward, after his body had been so used to the passenger seat for many years. The man drove slowly as he had no companion or plans to follow on this trip. A perfectly empty road in the late hour. The man turned on the radio as he thought some music could lift up his cold spirit. In the absence of any of the programs he used to listen to, he raised the volume of whatever was tuned in.
You’re a flower, turning transparent as it wets
The regret drenches through the white petals between us
Invisible, but not disappearing
At least it doesn’t hurt when I can’t see it
That seemed like a program which recited poems. Since he had only turned on the radio for his discomfort with silence, the man figured anything was good as long as it was not too noisy, and left the channel unchanged.
Same time, Seoul.
Thanks to the warm spring weather, quite a few people were out at the Han river despite the later hour. The woman sat down on a bench after her walk. She felt the spring air while listening to the radio she had come to follow at this time of the day for a while now.
There’s a flower named ‘Diphylleia Grayi’.
It’s a tiny white flower whose petals turn transparent when it gets wet from the rain or dew.
Incredible, right? A while ago I wanted to express the meaning of our lives as a flower,
I wanted a pretty or cool flower, but while looking for it, I came to learn about this dreamy flower.
‘It really is a dreamlike flower. If its petals turn invisible.
She sharpened her ears to his voice.
Throughout our lives, there are things so glaring that we can’t avoid them.
And there are also those which aren’t visible to the eye, but are always with us.
Like the petals of this flower.
He came back to her mind all at once. But it did not squeeze up her chest in pain like before. This time, the thought of him was even a little bearable. It was just stifling, only a little suffocating. She was suddenly curious. What would he be doing now?
The man arrived in Aewol by night. He had parked on a spot where the sea was visible and was listening to the radio on maximum volume. The waves rolled back and forth in the dark ocean.
‘I can’t avoid you. ······ Even as our love got cold and we broke up, you’re still with me. That’s why I’m coming here······.’
To the man, Jeju Island was the place he came to leave behind his secrets. He came this far to lay the memories of the past five years with her into the sea. If the desire to go back to the island and regain those memories ever comes, they will already have been broken down and washed away by the waves, never to be fully found again. And as such these times and memories would remain fragmented, scattered somewhere on the island, scattered somewhere on the sand, and he would have to remember her bit by bit if he was to come back.
He was suddenly curious. What would she be doing now?
Life is drenched with emotion: we are dipped in each other’s colors, only to dry up again --
Isn’t that so? In fact, the world is fluctuating as it always does,
I think it’s only me who’s changed the most.
To understand and humbly accept this change.
I try to believe that this is the base for happiness.
Five years ago, the man and the women were so drenched in each other’s love, flowing so transparent as to forget the limit between one and the other; their pain and their love slowly dried up back to what it was before they were together. That beautiful era had passed and nothing that belonged to it existed anymore.¹
The man and the woman thought of how they wanted to be happy, and realized that for that to happen, it was time to let each other go.
Please listen to today’s final song, ‘Diphylleia Grayi’. Come and rest again tomorrow.
As if proof of fate, the two of them in different places and at the same time, decided to release each other, set free the warm love they once had. As the song played, the man and the woman shed tears to their definitive farewell, hugging each other close and unseen. Only then did they truly tell each other goodbye.
And they promised that when they remember each other from time to time, they will hurt just a little bit, and miss each other very, very much.
On the next day,
he went home with five years of time and memory drained out of him,
and she started an ordinary, although slightly disappointing day.
FOR ALWAYS JONGHYUN
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