Jonghyun spent his weekends either cooped up in his room or cooped up in the library or cooped up in either Minho or Kibum’s house. In the evenings, he would read to kids at the orphan home close to his house. That Saturday, much to his parents’ wonder, he took a stroll in the park. Sitting on the bench, he looked around and tried what Jinki told him. He noticed a woman sitting on a picnic blanket reading a book.
“You look like you’re trying to poop” Jinki sat down startling Jonghyun out of concentration. “I went by your house and your mom said I’ll find you here. She didn’t know who I was and looked genuinely surprised when I told her I was your friend. Man you really don’t hang out with anyone apart from Minho and Kibum, do you?”
“Woah woah you went to my house? Why? You could’ve just called. Plus why are you here? I thought we were meeting in the evening?”
“Would you believe me if I told you that I couldn’t wait to see you” he winked, a mischievous twinkle in his lips.
Jonghyun scoffed and lightly hit Jinki’s thigh only for the other to take the opportunity and intertwine their fingers. Jonghyun fell back on the bench and Jinki nuzzled against him. It had been less than 24 hours but something about this just felt so right and perfect that Jonghyun pushed the tiny streak of scepticism to the back of his mind.
“So what were you trying to do if not poop in your pants?”
“Trying to build a story around the woman there but I can’t come up with anything”
“What have you built?”
“Oh it’s nothing. It’s really stupid anyway”
“I’ll be the judge of that. Let me hear what you got” Jinki egged.
“Well, she seems like she enjoys reading and spends time at the park a lot and-” Jinki stopped him midsentence.
“Don’t build a story on what she seems like. Tell me what you’d like her to be.”
“I’d like for her to be an artist. Someone who sees the beauty in the hues and shades of human emotions. Someone who appreciates and understands the sensitivity that goes behind art. She’s just finished a painting that she’s proud and content of so she’s taking a day off to bask in the satisfaction of completion. She’s probably meeting her mother for lunch and thinking of buying her nephew a tiny canvas because she’s seen his interest in the colours” he looked towards Jinki hopeful.
Jonghyun had come home, doll under arm, a smile wide as the Atlantic Ocean plastered across his face only to find Minho pacing across the room and Kibum sitting on the chair, arms folded, eyes narrowed and legs crossed.
“So where were you? You told us the library got a new Julian Barnes book and you wanted to be the first one to read it but how come when Minho and I went there, we found you hadn’t even gone to the library. Then we came here because we were concerned you’d be sick, because you missing your precious library time is as rare as Minho talking in class. But your mum tells us you went to the park and a friend came here asking about you. Minho and I spend the rest of the night worrying which friend cause you have only the two of us, unless you made some secret friend that you didn’t bother telling us. Then Minho remembers the ‘letter dude’ and starts hyperventilating that you may be getting raped and in you walk, looking dandier than a sunflower and blushing like the Red Sea!” he exhaled loudly.
Jonghyun was standing opposite his friends, trying very hard to not giggle. He was so happy that any amount of ‘yelling’ that Kibum or Minho did wasn’t going to dampen his spirits.
It was the first time that Minho and Kibum had kept quiet through anything Jonghyun had said. When he was done, there was an eerie silence in the room.
Jonghyun raised his eyebrows, “You guys don’t have anything to say?”
“Jonghyun, I know you think Jinki is a really nice guy and you clearly seem to like him. A lot. But its Jinki, love. Are you sure about this?” Kibum spoke worry lines clear in his voice. He looked towards Minho in support
“What Kibum is saying is… well... You know what kind of a guy Jinki is. We all do. For him to suddenly take an interest in you after so many years and open up to someone he’s never spoken too just seems a little fishy. We may be completely wrong and I hope to god we are and that Jinki is every bit of the nice man you’re painting out to be but we’re just not completely sure about this. Kibum and I can see how smitten you are by him and we just don’t want you to get hurt.”
“What are you trying to say” Jonghyun’s voice trembled.
Jonghyun sat on his bed, fidgety and restless. After his friends had left, he had tried reading a book to forget everything but the words would swarm into nothingness and an intense pain would erupt at the bridge of his nose. He tried falling asleep but couldn’t find the perfect spot. He tried watching some TV but had seen it all on Netflix. So there he was, walking up and down his room, unable to sleep, with a lot of time on his hands, nothing to do and a worry cloud the size of an elephant weighing down on him. Groaning he saw that it was only 10pm.
After Jinki had told him about the sudden change of plans, they had sat at the park weaving stories around a few people. When Jinki’s tummy had given a loud enough rumble, Jonghyun had dragged him to his favourite sushi place. They walked around town after that, arms connected sharing laughs and cotton candy.
They were walking on the street, Jonghyun trying to persuade Jinki to stop pretending to be a bully when Jinki suddenly stopped. He was looking through the window of a music store, staring longingly at a beautiful acoustic guitar. Jonghyun knew the look. It was the same look he’d get in his eyes when he’d walk by a bookstore and gaze at the books knowing he couldn’t buy any cause he had spent all his pocket money buying other books. He dragged Jinki into the store and soon the whole place was engulfed with Jinki’s smoky voice and the cascading tones of the guitar.
Jonghyun stood in his room, mentally picturing himself at that moment. Jinki had been a little reluctant but the minute he sat on that stool and strummed the guitar, it was like the world around him had disappeared. Jonghyun couldn’t find the perfect words to describe Jinki’s voice. At first it sounded like sipping hot chocolate on a cold, dark evening but then as the voice grew deeper and more soulful, it felt like waking up on a Sunday morning enveloped by warm hands, wrapped in a blanket, sharing a kiss.
Jinki had left Jonghyun at the orphanage with a small Tigger doll they had won at the arcade and a yellow note with Jonghyun’s favourite quote from his favourite book.