Alone. That's all that Dongju felt at the moment.
The sound of the energetic street below him brought a sense of comfort yet distraught. He was relaxing on top of his apartment complex, legs dangling over the ledge. The frigid wind harshly nipped at his cheeks and arms, and he soon regretted not bringing his jacket with him.
He had always gone out during the evening, cars speeding to get home to their families and the streets aligned with people. You never knew where they were going, and Dongju liked that mystery. He would often make up explanations to where the anonymous people would be heading. One day it may be someone going to the local coffee shop for a date, or perhaps a student walking to the library to study. It distracted him from his own life, which hadn't been going so well recently. He often had thoughts that lingered at the back of his mind, threatening to come out whenever he thought about it, so he used the roof as a pastime, not wanting to face the troubling thoughts.
He regularly spent his evenings up there, and it came to the point where you could see the imprint in the pool of pebbles that blanketed the roof where he would set his backpack on. Dongju often brought his dinner he microwaved from his apartment and enjoyed his food as he looked out, examining the city and its wonders. The roof comforted him, although well aware of the dangers of sitting on the ledge of the roof, but it didn't matter to him.
He would sit there until the busy streets died down and no more strangers roamed the trashed streets. Nobody knew of this habit of his, and it was his little secret. He would breathe in the not-so-fresh air of the city and stare off into the sunset, drawn with all the colours of the rainbow.
Today was different, though.
Everything didn't go the way that he had planned.
He had made plans to go out for breakfast with his friend Youngjo, a musician who had been busy recently as he was helping write lyrics for the band under the company he worked at. Dongju had spent the night prior giddy and restless, thinking about what he would wear to show off his new style. He had always been drawn to more feminine clothing but didn't get the courage to go out and buy himself some new clothes. After numerous breakdowns, he impulsively went online to his favourite clothing store and purchased the items that were in his cart, which had been there for months as he had always found an excuse not to buy them. Not to forget the braids that he would put in his hair to show his friend how long it had gotten. He had recently dyed the ends of his hair purple, and Dongju wanted to show it off to all his friends.
It wasn't until that morning where he had received the text saying that Youngjo couldn't go with him for breakfast but never told Dongju why. Dongju's mood only went downhill from then because it was the only event he was looking forward to in his life for a while, reminding himself whenever he was upset that he would be able to see Youngjo again soon, but that didn't happen.
Spending the rest of his morning in his bed sulking over how he couldn't meet with his friend, he forced himself out of bed and got ready for his job. Dongju didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, often dismissing it as something he would figure out later. In reality, Dongju never saw a future for himself, which led him to pick up some random office job only to support himself and be able to afford rent at his shitty and worn-down apartment.
On his way to work, he could only worry why Youngjo would cancel the plans, biting at his nails, a nasty habit he picked up recently due to the amount of stress and anxiety he had been under. Nothing was out of the ordinary while he was at work until he started thinking about Youngjo once again. Almost in a daze, he went to grab a sip of his coffee until he accidentally knocked over the mug, spilling the liquid all over his desk and papers. His boss, who, by fate, was standing near Dongju, came over after hearing the commotion and started to scold Dongju for making a mess out of his workstation. Dongju spent the rest of his time at work frustrated, clacking away at his keyboards until they hurt his fingers.
He drove back home after his long tiring day at work, clutching onto the steering wheel, still relatively not over the events that occurred at work. Parking his car, he barely avoided scratching someone else's car who parked incorrectly. Lazily making his way up the countless flights of stairs to his small apartment on the highest level, he got to his door, opened it, and made his way to the kitchen for some dinner. As Dongju waited by the microwave for his cold leftover pizza to reheat, he went on his phone and checked his Instagram feed to see what his friends were up to.
Everything was normal until he came across a post from his best friend, Hwanwoong, who had posted a selfie of him and Youngjo at a restaurant that morning. He stared at their faces until he suddenly slammed his phone against the counter and fell to the ground crying, ignoring the sound of the microwave signalling his pizza was ready. Tears spilled out of his eyes at a pace that they never had before. His anxious thoughts clouded his brain, desperately trying to figure out what happened.
'Did Youngjo cancel on me to go with Hwanwoong?'
'Did Youngjo not want to hang out with me that much?'
'Am I that annoying?'
'Am I not enough?'
'Am I not that entertaining?'
Thoughts ran through his mind, one after the other, vicious words and questions only directed at himself. He sat on the cold floor, legs to his chest. He rocked himself back and forth for any bit of comfort he could get as he wept.
Bzz… bzz… bzz… bzz…
His phone rang from on top of the counter where he had thrown it previously. He gathered up the strength and got up from his position on the floor. Wiping away his tears, he straightened out his shirt, grabbed his phone from the marble counter, and glanced at the caller ID.
Seoho 💞 is calling…
He quickly wiped at his eyes once again, trying to hide all evidence of his prior breakdown. Dongju promptly accepted the call from his friend and adjusted his phone so that the camera would face him correctly.
He was met with Seoho, who only smiled at him, looking to be outside walking somewhere. "Hey, Dongju! I-" he started. "Dude, you look like shit!" Seoho snickered, his free hand shooting up to his mouth to conceal any more laughter that might have escaped. Dongju slightly grimaced at his friend's comment, not in the right headspace to be teased about how he looked.
"What do you want?" He sputtered out, throat dry from sobbing.
"Nothing, I wanted to see if you wanted to join me on a walk, but after seeing you, I don't think that'd be a good idea." He beamed. His tone was sarcastic and playful, but Dongju was not having it at the moment. He wanted to be left alone.
"Okay." He softly whispered before he pressed the x button, which ended the short call. He knew Seoho was only joking, but it only made him feel worse than before. Walking over to the bathroom to freshen up, he was faced with the mirror, and he could see what his friend was talking about when he said that Dongju looked like shit. His eyes were red and puffy, his cheeks and nose painted with a red flush, and his long hair messy and out of place.
He would chuckle at his messy appearance any other day and dismiss it as having an off day, but today was different. He looked at his reflection staring back at him, and it was almost mocking. Eyes wandered around his face and body, and he picked at everything he didn't like about himself.
'My nose is too big.'
'My skin is horrible.'
'My hair looks like shit.'
'I'm so ugly.'
His overthinking began again, poking at his face in utter disgust. All he could do is stand there and stare at his reflection and question every single detail about him. He soon saw his reflection starting to cry, only to quickly realize he was the reason. Snapping out of his trance of hatred, he rubbed at his sore eyes again, tired of seeing how pathetic he looked while crying all the time.
Everything was going wrong. But it would only get worse.
Frozen for a second, he rushed to fix his appearance and made his way to the front door. He wanted nothing more than to be alone and to sulk, but the world was against him.
Slowly opening the door, he was met by one of his other friends, Keonhee, looking nervous. Dongju raised his eyebrows slightly, giving him a "What do you want?" look. Keonhee's eyes darted around, never looking Dongju straight in the eye.
"I came here to return your sweatshirt." He gulped. "But, something happened…" His head down in shame, he fiddled with the hem of his shirt with one hand as one hand clutched onto the purple sweatshirt.
"W...What happened?" Dongju stuttered, confused as to what his friend's words meant.
Keonhee looked up timidly, and he handed over his pastel purple sweatshirt Dongju loved so much. "I ripped it as I was taking it off…" he nervously laughed, unable to figure out how the younger one was feeling by looking at his expressions.
Dongju took the sweatshirt from Keonhee's hands, gave Keonhee a forced smile, and closed the door after.
He didn't care that it was rude of him to close the door in Keonhee's face without saying goodbye or thanking him for returning the sweatshirt, but he had enough. Dongju tossed his favourite sweatshirt, which he lent to Keonhee for an event previously to the side of the room. Grabbing his phone off the counter where he had hung up on Seoho, he made his way to his small bedroom and grabbed the already pre-packed backpack off his chair, which was covered in dirty clothing. His room was littered with garbage, Dongju never having the motivation to clean it up or take care of it.
Tripping on a soda can on the bedroom floor, Dongju made it back to the front door, grabbed his keys off the rack and went outside. He didn't bother to lock his apartment; he walked over to the end of the hallway and was met with the familiar words "Stairs to Roof" on a large door. The landlord never locked the doors as he didn't care if anybody went up, so it allowed Dongju to push the doors open with no hesitation. Quickly scrambling over himself up the stairs, he pushed open the doors at the top of the staircase and was hit with the cool breeze of winter.
There was not any snow, thankfully, but it was notably chilly. He let out the breath he didn't even know he was holding and made his way to the spot he always sat in whenever he came up to the roof. Only then did the tears start coming again. He didn't bother to look down at the strangers walking and play the little games he was accustomed to. Dongju only stared off into the distance, hiccuping every so often and wiping away at his snot with his hands as tears streamed down his face.
"I don't get it. Why is this happening to me?" he said out loud to himself, a question he was met with many answers, almost as if he had offended his brain for asking such a stupid question.
'Because you deserve it.'
'Because you are a horrible person.'
'Because you can't do anything right.'
Tears only ran down his cheeks as he could only sit there and listen to his thoughts bring him down as they had been recently. Lungs were burning like they had been set on fire, nose numb and eyes hurting from all the tears. For the first time since he had been sitting there, he looked down at the street below him. Whether he accidentally slipped and fell off or came back to his apartment unharmed, it didn't matter to him anymore. Nothing mattered to him anymore. The world around him came crashing down.
It didn't matter that Youngjo cancelled on him, it didn't matter that Seoho made fun of him, it didn't matter that Hwanwoong went out with Youngjo, and it didn't matter that Keonhee ripped his sweater. He could have handled those things with ease before, but not anymore.
Too many different days.
This was only his breaking point. Countless days prior of sobbing without anyone there to hear his pleas and begging for everything to stop. Days filled with no motivation to live on, he often found himself stuck in bed for days on end, not even getting up to eat or use the restroom. Days where only harshly blamed himself for the troubles of others, taking on the burden of helping the ones around him when he could barely help himself. He was a lost cause. He had no hopes for his future or the life he lived now.
His eyes scanned the area below him, becoming hyper-aware of how it would only take a push to send him flying over the edge to his death.
He didn't want to die; he just didn't want to deal with this any longer. He felt lonely and unloved.
'Would it even matter if I died?'
'Would my friend even care?'
'Would they be better off without me?'
The thoughts came back again; feeling dizzy and faint, he gripped onto the edge of the roof for any support he could get. Feeling heavy, he looked around at his surroundings one more time and looked back below him. His brain only cheered him on, all his thoughts pressuring him to go through with it and push himself off the ledge. He had been thinking about this moment the past few days but never entirely pushing himself to do it until now.
He took a deep breath.
'I love you guys.' he whispered out, knowing it was useless and that they wouldn't be able to hear him.
A notification from his phone caught his attention, distracting him from going through with his plans. He reached over to fetch the phone and looked at the notification. A text from his friend Geonhak. He clicked on the notification, which led him to the chat that they had both shared.
"Hey Dongju, want to go watch a movie?"
Another text appeared right after.
"I know you've been meaning to watch the newest Disney movie <3."
Dongju could only stare at the text for a minute, unable to move his fingers to respond to his friend, shaking from the cold winter air. A small smile crept upon his face as he got a new text message.
"I am going to assume that is a yes. I'm on my way :)."