156 Mortality of Man Pt.1

    A soft wind whispered past her, forcing the wildflower peeking out of her robe from its hiding place. Gyuri abandoned the wet laundry in her hands to give chase. Through the jungle of billowing sheets, she bolted after it, a breath of relief escaping her lips when the flower was within her grasp again.

    Gyuri cursed under her breath as she inspected its bruised petals. She gently rolled her fingers across its stem, making the camellia twirl like a morose ballerina. A familiar heaviness crept into her chest as she recalled the events that occurred only yesterday...

    \"What is it?\" Gyuri had worriedly asked Zeren as the door to the sanatorium closed behind them. \"Did something happen to Chim Chim?\"

    Zeren's lips formed into a grim line. \"Chim's fine,\" he reassured but the strain in his voice told Gyuri otherwise. He searched his sleeves and produced a pink camellia. \"For you.\"

    Puzzled, Gyuri hesitantly accepted it. \"What's this for?\"

    \"Chim he...\" Zeren's voice wavered, \"he wanted you to have it.\"

    Gyuri peered at the camellia, its petals crumpled from being in the guard's sleeve. Remembering Jimin's heart-felt words, she blushed. Is this his idea of charming me? \"Where is he?\" Gyuri asked, half-expecting Jimin to appear around the corner. She searched the civilians passing by as if one of them could be the imperial guard in disguise.

    Zeren took a deep breath.

    \"Is he here? Zeren, where is he-?\"

    \"He's engaged...\"

    Gyuri was immediately wide-eyed.

    \"...with other matters,\" he quickly finished. Zeren's features morphed into a conflicted expression. He stared at Gyuri as if waiting for her to say something. When she didn't, he elaborated, \"Chim's gone. He's- he's been relocated to a different post outside the capital. It was very sudden, that's why he couldn't say goodbye in person.\"

    \"Oh,\" Gyuri managed a squeak. She blinked several times, her mind working hard to comprehend. He's... gone?

    \"When- when does he return?\"

    \"Gyuri...\" Zeren's eyes were doleful, \"he's been relocated for good.\"

    Gyuri's grip on the flower tightened. \"So, Chim Chim is-?\"

    \"Never coming back,\" Zeren said with finality. He watched as Gyuri studied the pitiful flower, a poor substitute to the friend that should be present. He spoke softly, \"He told me to tell you he's sorry.\"

    Gyuri made the flower spin with her thumb and forefinger. With each twirl the thought of not seeing Jimin again sank deeper, overwhelming her with a heaviness that she couldn't quite place. Whether it was the sadness of not seeing him again or disappointment of never knowing what could have been, Gyuri didn't know.

    \"He really wanted to see you today,\" Zeren muttered, briefly interrupting Gyuri's brewing gloom. \"There was something important he wanted to tell you.\"

    Gyuri immediately looked up. \"What is it? What did he want to tell me?\"

    The same conflicted expression crossed Zeren's features again. \"I... I don't know,\" he forcibly answered.

    Gyuri's shoulders slumped. \"Do you know where he went? Where is he stationed now?\"

    Zeren shook his head. \"He didn't mention any specifics. We only had a few minutes before he left and all he talked about was... was you.\"

    Heat rushed to Gyuri's cheeks. \"I'm- I'm sorry.\" She hurriedly looked away when she found Zeren studying her with hawk-like eyes.

    \"Huh? Why?\"

    \"Well, because-\"

    \"No, don't,\" Zeren snapped, making Gyuri flinch. \"I'm the one who should be apologising.\" His face darkened as he growled, \"Had I realised it sooner... Had I done more... We wouldn't be having this conversation right now. Things could've been different.\"

    \"What do you mean?\"

    \"I tried to stop him, but he had already made his decision.\" Zeren averted his gaze. \"And I could do nothing but respect that.\"

    Gyuri watched as Zeren stared murderously at the ground. His words still baffled her but what puzzled her more was the blame in his voice.

    Why does Zeren think he's responsible for Chim Chim's departure?

    \"I'm sorry,\" Zeren eventually murmured, catching Gyuri by surprise. \"He should be here. You must've had something you wanted to tell him.\"

    Gyuri's eyes rose to meet his.

    For the past five days, Gyuri had agonised over what to say to Jimin that she had lost sleep every night. If I accept his feelings, what will happen next? Will we start dating? Will I eventually grow to like him? What if I'm not good enough? So many questions had crossed her mind that she had unknowingly formed expectations: she had welcomed the possibility of being in a relationship with Jimin. And because of that, she had momentarily forgotten her goal of returning to her time.

    Gyuri realised she had been a fool for entertaining a future that could never be.

    She peered down at the flower wistfully, a vision of Jimin's expectant gaze etched in her mind's eye. Had she known it was their last time seeing each other, she would have done all she could to give him an answer.

    \"There is something.\"

    Zeren's ears pricked with interest. \"What is it?\" He observed as Gyuri played with the camellia, a woeful smile gracing her lips.

    \"That awkward potato... I think I'm going to miss him.\"
Previous Index Next