This isn't music; these distortion of sounds will never be music to Jooheon. His beloved piano is being destroyed right in front of him, his father is smashing it with a sledgehammer and ripping it apart with his bare hands. What a monster.
Jooheon would surely miss the melodies and tunes that that instrument could make; he'd miss the way his fingers pushed the keys down; he'd miss the aching of his wrists and the slight dizziness from looking left and right over and over again; he'd miss the feeling of joy and completion from slaving to get a piece perfect. But right now, he feels anger, sadness, and pain. How dare he. How dare that fucker destroy the only thing that's been making him happy.
The piano is a wreckage—strings unwound, keys ripped out, legs broken—the piano now lies on the carpet, that beautiful, oriental carpet that his mother had found in an antique shop. That carpet has served its purpose for almost a decade: to look pretty. But now, viscous liquid stains the fabric. Blood pours out of his mother, whose mouth is hung open, eyes wide, and skull, gaping at him and puking red. Her body rests on the beautiful carpet alongside the piano.
There are no scalding hot tears pouring out of his eyes, only menacing thoughts in his head. How would his father feel if he were to rip him apart limb by limb, to be eviscerated, and to have his blood stain that carpet that he had slaved to get money to pay for that shit. Jooheon doesn't attack him, instead, he heads upstairs.
Jooheon slams the door behind him when he enters his room and screams into his palms. Still, there are no tears. He loved that piano more than he had loved his mother. It's ironic because she was the one who got him that when he was thirteen; it was his reward for graduating with honours. His father, however, got him nothing. His father didn't give a damn, he never did until Jooheon’s love for music got stronger, he even confessed to both parties that he might pursue it, but along with this was the growing disappointment from his father.
Five years, Jooheon thinks. That piano has been with him for five years—it's almost like losing a child. Jooheon growls and rubs his face, he then rests his elbows on his knees and carries his head on his palms. He looks around, and at the corner of his room is his guitar. It is nothing compared to his piano but Jooheon walks over to it anyway and lets his fingers dance to a tune that he creates as he plays. He stops when he hears sirens from a distance; the ear-bleeding sounds get louder and louder within every second. Suddenly, the volume remains constant when he counts until three. Three seconds, and every second within those three seconds is the same pitch, the same pattern, and the same volume of the sirens. Jooheon is not surprised. They're here for his father, his mother, and him. He laughs. It's funny how fucked up his life is because all he ever wanted to do was play music. He was the perfect boy, he was an excellent student, an excellent son, and an excellent musician, but his parents aren't like him. They do not possess the same amount of excellence, the same amount of perfection, but they do, however, possess the same amount of fucked up.
Jooheon feels detached from the world when his aunt takes him in as her own and away from the remains of his beloved instrument. His love for his piano was immense. That piano was all that he has ever loved, his parents could never compare to that instrument. His piano was addictive. His aunt tells him that they could buy another piano but Jooheon just groans, stomps off to the back door, and heads outside where he's then faced by trees. His aunt should be ashamed of herself. Buy another piano? Ridiculous. To buy another piano is betrayal to his beloved. It’s like having one’s lover die, and someone tells him to get a new one, but it’s not the same. It never will be.
He will wake up in the middle of every night just thinking of his former love, he will feel these moments of regret and betrayal; he will pretend that he loves his newfound lover. He will try to love them more than he had ever loved, but he will fail. The longing for the dead one will be the reason for the pills in his throat and the rope around his neck.
Exaggerating, that’s what Jooheon’s good at. Profound is what he thinks he is.
Jooheon jumps off to the other side of the short fence and walks into the forest. It is an hour before evening, the sun is setting and oftentimes, people wouldn't go out and into a forest at this hour. But when Jooheon looks up, he sees a dash of yellow, a dash of orange, pink, and red, with a side of the silhouettes of the trees. He thinks it's beautiful, cruel, and unfair that the sky remains beautiful despite all that it's been through. He thinks about it as the crunches of the leaves echo under the soles of his worn out shoes, and walks deeper into the forest, where the possibility of decayed bodies lie under its roots, and where the birds crow loudly as they scavenge for their next corpse; they scurry off to the opposite direction of wherever he's heading.
A well. Jooheon stops when he spots a well. Said well looks to be constructed carefully but seems to be of old age, said well is covered in moss and grime, said well seems to give off the warning 'keep away from me'. All that aside, curiosity kills the cat. Jooheon approaches the well in the same manner of how the protagonist of a thriller movie approaches a suspensive scenario. Jooheon reaches the rim of the well; at this point, he is anxious to look down. He respires and tries to calm himself. The sky is turning into a deep, dark pink so he lets out a forced huff and looks down. His eyes are met with darkness and emptiness, his ears are left with no partners, no sounds to dance with. Time stops, Jooheon stares. Nothing. He puckers his lips in disappointment and picks up a leaf, it's a dead leaf, drained to the color brown, and scattered with dirt and tiny webs. He drops the leaf into the well and watches it fall deeper into the void. Again, nothing happens.
"I'm going out," Jooheon announces as he puts on his shoes, ready to head outside. And by 'going out' he means 'into the forest where no one should go to because forests are supposed to be dangerous'. To make the scenario less dreadful, the sky is clear, the birds are chirping, and a gentle breeze blows once in a while; it is midday, the sun is up.
His aunt, seated comfortably on her baby blue, plush couch, looks up from the book she was reading, "Alright, Jooheon, just be safe and be home before six."
That being said, he nods and tightens his hold on the strap of his guitar case, a notebook is clutched in his other hand.
He then heads outside.
Jooheon sits on a small rock that keeps him slightly elevated from the dirt, his thick, leather notebook rests on his lap and a pen remains still in his hand. Moments and scenarios linger in his mind and he tries to formulate those into words, into stories, into lyrics that hopefully weren't too easy to decipher.
He then gets his guitar and begins to play a melody.
Jooheon was sure that nobody, besides himself, was present in this particular area of the forest nor did he hear anyone approach the place. Slightly confused and a bit anxious, he looks behind him and to the well. Not only is the well still present but a young man sits on its rim. He is tall with black hair, and looks quite different and outdated in terms of clothing: a tie around the collar of his long-sleeved shirt, tucked under a vest, which overlaps his pinstripe slacks. Nonetheless, he looks handsome and seems to be roughly of the same age as Jooheon.
"It isn't?" Jooheon asks as he eyes the mysterious boy.
He nodded languidly and began to speak, "Never seen you here before. My name’s Minhyuk." He sticks out a hand and Jooheon takes it with his own. Minhyuk’s temperature feels off, or maybe it's just Jooheon and his superstitions due to Minhyuk’s obsolete fashion sense.
"I'm Jooheon. Just moved here yesterday, actually."
“I see,” Minhyuk points to his guitar. "So you play?"
"I see that you write as well."
"Play me something."
"Uh," Jooheon doesn't say anything articulate. Normal people would be cautious and afraid; Jooheon, however isn’t. After all, in the state that he’s in, everything was meaningless to him.
Minhyuk twirls a flower in between his slim fingers and examines it. "Go on," he says, then flicks the flower into the well. "For us," he mutters, thin lips forming into a tiny smirk.
Jooheon doesn't notice as his thoughts were preoccupied by Minhyuk’s enigmatic composure. He is quite odd.
"I'm going to leave now," Jooheon announces, and starts to pack his things up.
In a sultry voice, Minhyuk says, "But you just got here, Jooheon." He tilts his head, "Stay."
And at that moment, Jooheon knew to never gaze into someone's eyes, especially if that someone is Minhyuk. In the sunlight, they're like crystallized honey. They're shiny and brown, golden and soft, beautiful but dire. Captivated, he was. Luckily, he does not fall.
Jooheon finishes packing and so he says, "See you around, I guess."
But nobody answers.
Jooheon thinks that he's going insane.
"—abolishment of the Lee farm as it is still government property—"
Jooheon stares at the television, eyelids drooping as he eats his cereal slowly and sloppily.
"Can you believe that?" His aunt asks, surprise evident in her tone. She then takes the remote and switches the television off.
He doesn't answer.
"That farm has been there for years, 'twas here even before grandma!"
Again, he does not care. Jooheon swirls his spoon around the milk, poking at the cereal bits.
"Was one of the best farms, they said. Last generation died in the mid 1940s, they said."
"What else did they say?" Jooheon asked, boredly.
His aunt shrugs, "said that they were murdered by the father, ‘twas just a rumour though.”
The farm will be demolished by the next week. Jooheon, bored, and new to the area, decided to explore some more. Leaving his aunt in her home for the third time in a row, he delves into the forest once again, although this time, he does not stop at the well. Instead, he keeps moving forward until he reaches the old farm. He stops when he arrives at his destination; his hand digs into his pocket to bring out his phone, no reception, 4 PM.
No other animals were present except for the birds. No other human sets foot on this property at this very moment besides Jooheon. The atmosphere is creepy, the farm is rotten, the ground is dead and a house is present. The Lee household, established in the 1800s. It isn't very grandiose but it's not that unimpressive either. Even after all these years, the house still seemed to have kept its stability and elegance; cement doused with grime and the consequences of age; glass, showing off its own wrinkles, the spider web like cracks decorating its corners; stone, washed, cleansed and destroyed by acid rain. A lovely house, indeed, it is.
Beside the house, a barn is present as well. Jooheon chooses to enter the house as he is more drawn to it and would much rather not see stacks of hay. He lets his legs move him to the direction of the haunted looking structure, and stops when reaches the front door. How ridiculous would it be to abide by etiquette, to bring a hand up and to enclose it on the knocker, to swing it back and forth, to knock on the door of an abandoned house where people have been murdered. Perhaps blood has stained their carpet as well.
Concluding that knocking would seem ludicrous, he enters the house. How strange, Jooheon was expecting a much more dramatic and eerie setting, he was expecting the place to be trashed, instead, he gets something that's more akin to normal, if ignoring the dried blood counts.
He was not scared for some reason, maybe it was all too familiar to him, maybe he was just used to the fucked up world, the fucked up life he had that the like would seem completely normal to him. However, something destroys the similitude of their situations. Yes, blood had stained their carpets, yes, people have died in both places, yes, both fathers are guilty, but Jooheon acclaims Mr. Lee. Good sir hasn't destroyed the piano that sits near the corner of their living room by the large window.
It's not the same as Jooheon’s, of course it isn't, but he ignores it to prevent getting upset. Before he plays, he lets his eyes bear into the picture frame atop the piano; inside the frame is a photograph of a man and a woman, presumably Mr. and Mrs. Lee, both are wearing stoic expressions as they pose in front of a farm— their farm. The mother looks pregnant. Jooheon looks around him, the room is void of pictures of their child—or children, he does not know. Peculiar, it was, but Jooheon would much rather think that the aforementioned pictures would be present in the other rooms.
He abandons those thoughts and sits on the piano stool, it's quite uncomfortable, much to his dismay. Jooheon lets his fingers rest on the keys, he then closes his eyes, and with a huff, he begins to play. What's dumbfounding about Jooheon is that even though his feelings have been put into something and has left him empty, he has the ability to adapt, to get lost in the moment and forget the past for just a short while, a moment that would soon be long forgotten when the time comes. A sense of solitude washes over him, it swallows him whole, so he plays like tomorrow will never come. At this very moment, it's like he's back home again and it's strange because Jooheon’s only felt like this when it's his beloved piano that he's playing. Perhaps this piano has a certain charm to it that gets anyone in a trance.
The sounds that the piano produces is amazing, it fills Jooheon with pride. But then confusion takes over him, his moment doesn't seem to be his anymore. A new set of tunes come in, the piece has been enhanced by these different notes. As beautiful as it may sound, as much as he wants to continue, to be captivated, he stops playing.
When Jooheon opens his eyes and turns to his right, Minhyuk is there. He too has stopped, his long fingers hover above the keys, and his eyes are focused on Jooheon.
"What are you doing here?" Jooheon asks the boy. He is a bit suspicious of Minhyuk, and he was sure that something wasn't right.
Minhyuk laughs dryly, "Aren't I supposed to be asking you that?"
"Stop beating around the bush, Minhyuk."
The other boy only stares at the photograph, ignoring Jooheon’s order. "Well, aren't they lovely."
Jooheon, too, looks at the photograph. He's already seen it before he'd started to play, and it didn't really interest him. He still isn't interested.
"You're pretty odd," Jooheon says, out of the blue.
Minhyuk shrugs. "I won't argue with you on that," he then smirks and walks to the front door. "I think it would be best if you go home now."
"But it's only—" so he thought that it was still day, but he was wrong. The sun had completely set, the trees are no longer visible; everything has blended to form darkness, blinding darkness. "Shit," Jooheon cursed.
When he looks for Minhyuk, he has long gone.
Jooheon bursts into the Lee household the next day; he calls for Minhyuk but there was no reply. Still calling for him, Jooheon sprints his way to the different rooms, surveying each one briefly. When he woke up this morning, he was doused with realization. It all made sense—his situation with Minhyuk. It was daunting, this realization, it scared him. The experience was all too vivid to him, he could still feel the prickling sensation of his skin as his hairs stood up, the bone-chilling sense of shock and something like delirium, his inability to maneuver his limbs, to breath without shaking. Minhyuk is dead.
No, no, no, it didn’t seem right, this wasn't supposed to happen to Jooheon. He was not supposed to go crazy, he was supposed to compose music, to live freely, to be normal. He's checked quite a number of rooms already and, still, no pictures of Minhyuk. Jooheon couldn't decide which was crazier, more horrific: the possible fact that Minhyuk was probably made up in his head, or that Minhyuk really was dead and that Jooheon could see dead people. Either way, the effect was the same, Jooheon was freaked.
Maybe he wasn't their son, maybe he was still alive and just acted strange. Eccentric, yes, that's what he is! Jooheon tries to convince himself that he wasn't insane.
"Fuck," Jooheon growls, his fist moves and collides with the wall. No, he was not going to cry. No, no, no.
At that very moment, Jooheon believed that he was crying pathetically. Lying to himself was the only available option at the moment; it was the only option that can save him from his insanity, from his possible breakdown. He cannot give up, not until it's been proven, but, for now, it is important to stay calm.
Perhaps lying wasn't such a bad thing after all.
Jooheon wipes his tears away and stomps off to the front door, not noticing Minhyuk watching him.
"Where the fuck were you yesterday?" Jooheon asks Minhyuk the next day once he sees the boy on the same spot they met: the well.
Minhyuk’s eyes narrow as he rubs his arm, “What does it matter where I was?”
“There’s just something off about you,” Jooheon shivers and wraps his arms around himself. Minhyuk takes a step closer, and so does Jooheon. “Who are you?”
His lips curve, “What does it matter who I am?” Minhyuk tilts his head. At this point, Jooheon’s paralyzed and he takes advantage of this and circles the poor boy, he then looks him in the eyes and says, “You’re just like all of them, my dear Jooheonnie,”
Minhyuk grabs Jooheon by the wrist.
“Don’t fucking touch me!” Jooheon shouts and stumbles forward, not taking his eyes off of Minhyuk’s while the latter slowly moves toward him.
“Misunderstood…” step .
“Lonely…” step .
“Beautiful…” step .
“Addictive.” Jooheon’s back hits something hard—the well. He grasps onto its rim tightly and glares at Minhyuk.
The odd boy laughs and Jooheon hates himself for thinking that that was one of the most beautiful sounds he’s ever heard in his whole existence, and that Minhyuk was one of the most beautiful people to have ever set foot on this rotten ground, if not, the most beautiful. Even at this very moment, Minhyuk looks stunning and it shakes every fiber of Jooheon’s being. Jooheon’s upset at how malleable he’s become under Minhyuk’s sharp gaze.
They are a few inches apart at this very moment. The scenery has gotten dreary as the sun has started to set, painting the sky with warm reds and yellows, and cool purples and violets. Dusk bathes this intimate second in time between the young men, one allurer and one allured. One predator and one prey.
Minhyuk closes his eyes and inhales deeply. He opens them to greet the clouds surrounding him, the scenery greatly affecting his emotions, something inside of him shifts. When he looks back at Jooheon, his eyes soften, “The well really got us, huh?”
Jooheon furrows his brows, “What do you mean?”
Minhyuk takes Jooheon’s hands in his, “We did not have to meet like this, I really wish we didn’t. But we couldn’t have.” He looks to the ground and continues, “I’m glad to have met you though I have succumbed to this tragedy.”
Jooheon’s heart shatters when Minhyuk looks up at him again with crystal eyes and wet lashes. “I wasn’t let down the same way as I’m doing to you right now, but I promise, I’m sorry,” Jooheon’s shoulders feel heavy due to Minhyuk’s hands on them. “This will be our last meeting.”
“Then let me at least kiss you,” Jooheon says rather boldly. He notices the redness spread across the other’s cheeks as he bites his lower lip, “I’ve never been kissed before.”
“So have I.” Jooheon looks him in the eye and brings up a hand to cup Minhyuk’s cheek.
And they do kiss; it lingers but it’s soft, it’s passionate but it’s chaste. Jooheon feels a comfortable warmth swell from the inside of his chest. He brings a hand to the back of Minhyuk’s neck, the latter’s hand on his shoulder and the other hand in his hair. They lock eyes for a moment, letting the silence encapsulate them.
And it’s back. Time stops, his ears are left with no sounds to dance with. Jooheon blinks and when he opens his eyes, Minhyuk’s gone.
Jooheon sits up from the well, and just as he was about to leave, a hand holds his. It feels familiar to Jooheon, and when he turns, the hand pulls him into the well. The last thing Jooheon sees are crystallized brown eyes framed by black hair, drowning in complete darkness.
One allurer and one allured. One predator and one prey.
Two victims at this very moment,
But many in the vast expanse of time.