song: "Your Letter" - 112
I like to pride myself in having a memory slightly better than everyone else. I can remember license plates in a glance, I can remember what I did three Tuesdays ago and - if I truly, truly tried - I could probably tell you what colour of socks I wore when Super Junior debuted. Also, it was my acute memory for detail which helped - helped? - me remember that day so vividly.
The weeks and days leading up to ‘that day’ had been warm. Autumn in Seoul was not often warm. It was crisp and windy, filled with cloudy skies and the occasional rainy day. Before ‘that day’ however, it was anything but. The days were sunny and warm and the skies constantly clear with the sun always shining. It had been an impossibly warm autumn and only in November had it begun to cool down.
‘That day’, as I recall, had been cooler than all the other days. The sky was overcast in the way where you couldn’t see the clouds, but the sky was just an endless grey. The wind was gentle but icy and, before anyone realized it, the skies had opened and the first snow of the season had begun. It was that calming sort of snow, the kind that rode the breeze, swirling and swirling like little icicle dancers towards the ground. I love winter. Something about warm sweaters, hot cocoa and catching snowflakes on your tongue makes the season so loveable.
I was walking from the staff car to the apartment building when I felt something cold on my nose. I looked up at the sky and grinned. I instinctively tilted my face to the grey sky, opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue as more and more snowflakes drifted from heaven. I felt a hand clap on my shoulder and I looked over to find Donghae standing beside me,
“C’mon Sungmin, we’re not even wearing sweaters,” Donghae grinned.
Nodding slowly, I followed him into the building, “I’m going to go out on the balcony to get more snowflakes.”
“You do love winter,” He chuckled softly as we entered the lobby and made our way to the elevators,
“I do!” I agreed as we stepped into the elevators with our manager hyungs, “And you know, it’s been so warm this fall, I just can’t help but think that something good will happen today. I mean, I love winter, it just started snowing - that can only signify something good!”
Donghae gave him a lop-sided grin, “Then all the luck to you, hyung.”
When the elevator got to my floor, I said goodbye to Donghae, who would continue to the next floor above to the dorm he resided in. I entered the dorm and it was relatively quiet. Yesung and Ryeowook were watching a movie in the living room and, as I got closer to the bedroom I shared with Kyuhyun, I could hear the softest whisper of music coming from Eunhyuk’s room.
Entering the bedroom caused a lot of chaos centered around a small area. Kyuhyun had been sitting at his desk, which was directly beside my own. Upon opening the door, he had practically thrown his arms across what he was doing, wildly looking at me.
“Kyu?” I tilted my head in confusion,
“Ah, you and Donghae-hyung are back from your schedule?” He asked, shifting the papers beneath his arms,
I nodded before prompting, “Is… Is something wrong?” I inquired, trying not to allow my gaze to drift to the papers beneath his thrown arms.
“Can… can you give me a few minutes hyung?” Kyuhyun asked.
After a moment, I nodded and walked backwards out into the hall, closing the door behind me. It must have been three to five minutes before the bedroom door opened. I had been leaning against the wall, idly trying to remember the order of our members from eldest to youngest when Kyuhyun emerged from the room. He glanced at me once and that’s all it took for me to see the light in his eyes, the slight tinge of pink in his cheeks.
“Is everything alright?” I inquired as I moved towards the door,
“Yeah, yeah, I’m going to go hang out with Donghae-hyung,” he said absentmindedly. He took a step away, then paused. I watched him curiously as he turned back and looked at me, “Oh, hyung, I left something for you in the room.”
I raised an eyebrow and remembered how he had practically thrown himself on his desk when I had entered a few moments ago, “Oh?”
He nodded, “Yeah,” and then, he added with one of those smiles that seem to brighten up everything, “I hope… I hope you like it.”
Then, I watched as he walked towards the door, scrambled for his shoes and left the dorm with a firm shut of the door.
I went into the room and shut the door behind me. I immediately walked over to my dresser to find a sweater so I could go out to the balcony and watch the snow fall. I had just turned away from the dresser, my arms lodged into the sleeves when I noticed a piece of paper which must have fallen off my desk. Picking it up, I unfolded it and read the top line.
I moved over to my bed, plopped down as I slipped my arms out of the sweater and tossed it to the other end of my bed. I moved onto my bed until my back was against the wall, crossing my legs as I did so.
“So, this is what Kyuhyun must’ve been doing… and what he left for me,” I murmured to myself as I pushed away the thoughts of why he didn’t just give it to me himself. Getting settled in on my bed, I slowly began to read his letter.
We’ve known each other for years now. When I first joined Super Junior, I had so many worries. The group was already a debuted force and I always worried what people would think when I joined so late. Everyone made me feel welcome into the group and I will always appreciate the eager welcome. One of my earliest memories in Super Junior was when we were all at the dance studio practicing for ‘U’. I kept messing up my timing and you were one of the first people to offer me help during break.
I could actually remember what he was referring to. He had been struggling during practice and once we all broke for a snack, I approached him. While everyone was grabbing snacks and water, Kyuhyun was still by the mirrored wall in the dance studio. He kept practicing, keeping count out loud and instead of joining Shindong to grab a soda from the machines down the hall, I went over to him. I offered to help practice with him and he had tentatively accepted.
Kyuhyun has two different smiles. He has that small, shy, reserved smile that he often uses. It’s hesitant, it’s sweet and it’s probably what first attracted me to him. Then, he has that big smile. The smile that stretches his mouth, shows his teeth and livens up his entire face. I’ll never say it aloud, but I swear that smile could rival even Kibum’s best.
It was the former of those smiles that he used that day. Before we began, Donghae had come over and offered to keep time so Kyuhyun could concentrate on steps instead of both steps and time. We worked hard during the break and when everyone regrouped to keep practicing, he was still awkward, but he had vastly improved. By the end of practice that day, his small smile had grown to one of his bigger smiles.
One of the most vulnerable times in my life was when I had the accident with the other hyungs. You had visited me and when I was finally able to leave the hospital, you did anything and everything to make life easy once I was out of the hospital. When we were filming Exploration of the Human Body it was difficult because I couldn’t always do everything with everyone else. You tried to stay by me as much as possible and between shoots, you would do everything for me just so I could stay resting and sit. You made me feel like I wasn’t holding the team back during those months.
I remember when he had come to film for the first time with us. He was shy around the staff and quieter than I had ever seen him in the year he had been with the group. When we weren’t filming, I wanted to assure he was sitting, resting – anything to help him keep his strength. I had approached the other members and told them to do the same, that if he had any needs to just bring them to me and I’d help him. They agreed with my method and helped me keep Kyuhyun safe.
I had enlisted the help of the other members because I didn’t want Kyuhyun to suspect anything. By that point Kyuhyun had already become a very important dongsaeng to me. His smiles had already become very precious to me; I was constantly looking for his company and I wanted no one else but him. I didn’t want Kyuhyun to guess at what I felt, scared that things would become awkward between us and I would lose him. So, when he was recovering, I asked the others to help me.
I was worried at first that he would be upset. I was worried that catering to him while filming would make him grow restless. However, I recall one time when we were filming outside in the snow. We were warm enough in the gear the staff had given us, but I was still worried about Kyuhyun nonetheless. I understood some people couldn’t stand how cold it gets in the winter, so I had gotten a cup of hot chocolate for Kyuhyun. One of the manager hyungs had to speak to me, so I asked one of the other members to give it to him for me. When Kyuhyun took his first sip of the hot chocolate, he had smiled so brightly… all of my worries were washed away in that moment and it had become a very dear memory of mine.
When it was decided I would join Super Junior-M, I was both excited and nervous. When it finally dawned upon me that SJ-M would be doing promotions in China, I was scared. I was scared of a new country, of leaving everything and everyone I knew behind. I don’t know how, but you knew how I felt. You told me that I could talk to you whenever I wanted - that if I was ever having any worries or problems that you would always be there for me, regardless of where I was. I never told you how much I appreciated your words for me and in that moment, I realized how much more you meant to me than the other hyungs.
I can still remember the coldness I felt when I heard Kyuhyun would be leaving. I felt as if all strength had left me, as if my heart refused to beat. It had gotten hard to breathe and for the rest of the day, I could say nothing. If I did, if I allowed myself to speak to him that day, I would’ve either spilled out all my feelings or I would’ve cried. Either way would not have stopped Kyuhyun from getting on that plane with the other members and leaving me behind.
I wasn’t able to speak to Kyuhyun until later that evening. We were sitting in our room on our own beds and he was very quiet. When he finally disclosed his misgivings, I reassured him as best I could without hinting at my feelings. I told him whenever he needed someone to talk to, that he could just call me. He admitted he had heard that earlier that day, but hearing it again, hearing it from me reassured him. I was tempted then, sorely tempted to tell him everything, but he was leaving and I wouldn’t be able to take it if I told him how much I loved him at that point and then I would have to watch him leave. When he had come back from China with the other members… I still can’t begin to describe the elation and pure joy I felt that day.
For so long, I had kept my feelings to myself. However, if this letter was any indication, if the last line I had read was any indication, Kyuhyun felt the same way and for almost as long as me. Not for a moment, not ever, did I ever think – hope – that Kyuhyun would ever feel the same way. I was scared, petrified that he would never return my feelings or, worse, he would find out and our friendship would be ruined. But now… now I felt a hope I never dared to feel. Now I felt better than I had in so long.
I wanted to read more; there was still a paragraph left to go, but by then, it was clear what Kyuhyun was trying to tell me. It wasn’t until a knock was on the bedroom door, that I realized I was clutching the letter against my chest. Yesung called to ask if I wanted to go out for dinner with them. So, shoving the letter beneath my pillow, I jumped from the bed and left. I would leave the rest of the letter for that evening; I wanted to savour the feelings longer, let them stretch for awhile more. I wanted to finish the letter when I could take my time and explore his feelings and how much they meant to me.
That evening, it wasn’t until the other members were asleep, until Kyuhyun was asleep, that I sat on my bed and took out the letter. I turned on the lamp on my side of the room and settled in to finish the letter. I knew I didn’t have to wait to read the letter but considering Kyuhyun put all his feelings into the letter, he wouldn't feel comfortable with being around while I read the letter, read the words he painstakingly used to convey those feelings. Besides, even though Kyuhyun was pouring himself into the letter, if he saw me reading it, saw my reactions… despite knowing how Kyuhyun felt about me, I was still scared to put myself out there, scared to express myself and expose myself. It proved how much my beloved dongsaeng had grown, that he was able to confess his feelings to me. It gave me another reason to love Kyuhyun.
I found the spot where I had left off and continued reading.
Through the years, you have been very important to me; a constant source of support and reliability and friendship. Through the years, you had grown to become more than just a friend, a companion, another member. I didn’t know how to tell you all of this; scared of what you’d say. However, I’ve gone for so long hiding all of this and I couldn’t keep it in anymore; I had to tell you. I care for you deeply and have been for some time now. I understand if you do not reciprocate my feelings, but I hope this doesn’t change things between us because that is the last thing I would’ve wanted. I’m not asking for anything in return, I just wanted to tell you how I feel. So here it is if I didn’t make myself clear: I love you, Donghae.
My heart had risen and was floating and I felt as if there could not be another happier day than that day. However, as the name which appeared at the end of the letter sunk in, everything was washed away. I felt cold and empty. My heart hurt – oh God, how much my heart hurt. It was so painful, throbbing with each beat as if it were pumping jagged pieces of glass through my body. I wished I could have ripped out my heart just to stop it from hurting. However, with the letter in my hand, Kyuhyun asleep across the room from me and Donghae’s name fresh in my mind, I knew that I couldn’t rip out my heart if I wanted to; it was already lying on the ground in a million pieces.
Suddenly, I went back to those memories. I remembered them and remembered them in a different light. That day in the studio, Donghae had been with us practicing during break. During filming, I had given the hot chocolate to Donghae to give to Kyuhyun. After the announcement of SJ-M, Kyuhyun had said someone had mirrored my sentiments earlier that day; it must’ve been Donghae. Donghae, Donghae, Donghae… not Sungmin… not me.
The tears came before I could even begin to contemplate to stop them. They stung my eyes like little flames and slipped down my cheeks like pieces of ice. I was shaking at that point. I tried to breathe, tried to fill my lungs, but they couldn’t expand fast enough, couldn’t fill up enough. My entire body felt as if it was encased in ice and I couldn’t get warm enough. The hollowness I felt in my chest made me feel so cold, so empty…
Why, why, why, WHY? Why had I allowed myself to hope? Why had I allowed myself to even believe that he harboured the same feelings I did? Of course he loved someone else, of course he didn’t love me… life couldn’t be so easy, so simple, so happy…
I was punching the mattress now, burying my face in my pillow in an attempt to stifle the screams that wanted to rip through my body. Maybe… maybe I had read wrong? Maybe… I stared down at the letter in the soft glow of my lamp. Donghae’s name glared up at me, each fine stroke of Kyuhyun’s writing like another stroke through my already deadened heart. Suddenly, the ink started to run and I realized my tears were staining the letter. In one aspect, I was glad – glad I had ruined the letter. In another, I was scared. It was obvious I had misunderstood and read a letter I never should have. I didn’t want Kyuhyun to think I did it on purpose. Worse, I didn’t want Kyuhyun to know how the letter got ruined.
Somehow, I’m still not sure how, but somehow I managed to crawl out of bed and walk over to my desk. I pushed aside a notebook that had been lying on my desk and grabbed a fresh sheet of paper from one of my drawers. Grabbing a pen with the same thickness as the one Kyuhyun had used, I laid the letter beside the blank piece of paper and began.
I had to work steadily and slowly, assuring each stroke, each letter resembled, if not mirrored the way Kyuhyun had written it in the original letter. I didn’t think I could hurt more than when I read the end of Kyuhyun’s letter. However, I was proven wrong. What hurt more than realizing Kyuhyun’s letter and confession was for another man, was when I had to sit there and meticulously rewrite Kyuhyun’s letter and confession for another man.
Once a heart is dead, one would think you could no longer feel it. Well, one is wrong. I could damn well feel my heart as I rewrote that blasted letter. It clenched and twisted painfully as each word written was another word branded on my heart, burning it until it was nothing but ashes. It hurt so damn much that I had to keep stopping, else I ruin this letter again with my tears. A letter which should’ve taken maybe half an hour to write – a letter I should never have had to write – was now taking hours because of my shaking hand, tear-filled eyes and massacred heart.
The night was breaking into dawn when somehow – somehow – I managed to write Donghae’s name with a steady hand. I signed Kyuhyun’s name and dropped the pen as if it had burned me, had been burning me for the past few hours. I jumped to my feet, no longer able to sit there for much longer. I took the new letter, folded it and practically threw it onto Kyuhyun’s desk beside my own. Hand clasped over my mouth, I stared at the new letter. When I first read Kyuhyun’s letter, I had dedicated each word to memory. When I had to write Kyuhyun’s letter, however, I regretted that I couldn’t forget even a single word.
I heard Kyuhyun murmur something incomprehensible and I knew I had to get away. Dressed in just my pyjamas, I grabbed the original letter and bolted from the room. I escaped onto the balcony and leaned my forearms onto the railing. I breathed deeply, the cold air warming my body. As snow continued to drift down from the pale, morning sky, I never thought I could feel colder than winter.
As the sun streaked soft yellow rays against the pale, grey sky, I slowly – ever so slowly – lowered my gaze to the now almost-illegible letter in my hand. I had to get rid of it, had to destroy the evidence of my turmoil… the cause of my turmoil. I slackened my hand and the thin sheet of paper slowly slid from my cold, shaking fingers as a light breeze embraced me. I watched as the paper slowly drifted, slowly danced with the snowflakes I loved so much.
The door behind me slid open and before I even saw him, I knew who it was. Kyuhyun was a warm presence beside me out in the cold morning. He handed me a sweater as he leaned against the railing. I only managed to shove my arms into the sleeves before I lost all will to do anything else. I wanted to tell him to leave me alone and at the same time, I had no strength to say the words. I wanted him to leave and at the same time, I wanted to hold onto him and never let him go, never let him leave, never let him see Donghae.
“Did you like your present?” Kyuhyun asked sleepily as he leaned his head on his folded arms, turning his head to look up at me.
I blinked at him and somehow managed to say, “I didn’t see it.”
“The notebook on your desk,” Kyuhyun frowned slightly, “I got it for you so you could write lyrics in it… I thought you’d like it.”
I forced whatever strength left in me to smile, but it felt hollow, felt fake and made me feel colder than I already did, “Sorry, I never saw it… when I come into the room I don’t necessarily look at the desks first.”
“Ah, true, true,” he nodded as he turned his head to look out at the quiet city, “Just as well… you could’ve seen my letter and… it’s pretty embarrassing.”
Embarrassing? How about painful? How about heartbreaking? How about the very thing that killed me, my heart and my soul? Who knew such a small piece of paper could cause so much damn pain!? I stared at Kyuhyun quietly, no longer able to speak. Heck, I’m not even sure I was breathing anymore.
“It’s a pretty important letter,” Kyuhyun confessed quietly, a small smile on his lips, “For… for someone that’s very important to me.”
Why, oh why did he have to smile like that? Why did he have to use that smile when he talked of Donghae, thought of Donghae? Didn’t he know it was that smile that made me fall in love with him?
With everything I had, I made the final blow against my heart as I choked out, “You should give it to that person. If they mean a lot to you, you shouldn’t waste a single moment without them.”
Kyuhyun straightened and nodded. He blessed – cursed… damned? – me with one of his bright, brilliant smiles. I watched, unmoving, as he slipped back into the dorm, the door closing quietly and firmly between us. I practically collapsed against the railing once I was alone.
I like to pride myself in having a memory slightly better than everyone else. I can remember the steps of every dance Super Junior does, I can remember the smile a mug of hot chocolate can give a person, I can remember the comfort my words have given a person and – even when I truly, truly try to forget – I can tell you the exact moment all happiness left my life. I can recall the exact second when my heart broke and died. It was my acute memory for detail which stops – absolutely, completely and irrevocably – me from forgetting that day.
It is a day I will always remember. It is a letter I wish I could forget.