Summary: He's a dreamer so all he has are hopes and wishes. And there's the busy, hectic guy, that never has time to watch the world that passes by him.
White paper cranes ( part II)
The dim autumn sun made its way through the curtains, bringing with it the morning. The time when everyone woke up, either with quick moves, going for their early jogging or preferred to lay down for another half an hour in their comfy, warm bed enjoying the effects of sleep and how tranquilizing it was for their body and psychic.
Minho wasn’t like that though, when autumn came he used to do only one thing in the morning. He stood still and looked outside the window.
The season brought with it warm, beautiful colors, that were all over the place, from shades or deep bright red, to the light brown. But with each passing day everything was fading, from the falling leaves that left their home, the trees, leaving them in a lonesome despair. If you just stood still for a moment, you could hear through the breeze sighs of grief. Everything was dying slowly, or you could say it was just a short parting until they will meet again. We all must part eventually, even so, now, at this moment, the nature itself echoed with sadness. Everything would go eventually in a deep slumber when winter will come.
Minho got up slowly from his bed. He had his own house now, it was big but at these early hours it seemed a little bit too big. The room was neatly decorated in a warm comforting blue, which stimulated his daydreaming state, wherever he felt like falling back from reality. A huge bed with dazzling white sheets occupied the room, there were two night tables on each side of the bed with two white swam like lights. On one of them there was a book and a pair of glasses due to the late night reading and beside those items there was a small origami figure, a bird, a white paper crane.
Minho finally stood up from the bed, touched the wings of the crane gently, as if he was caressing them, stroking them. His lips curled into a warm smile filled with nostalgia, he took the folded paper in his palm and went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.
The machine was the only sound that echoed throughout the entire house, that’s one of the reasons Minho disliked being awake at 6 in the morning. Everything was still, motionless, filled by an overwhelming silence. He dismissed it, his hands and eyes too occupied with the crane. That plain piece of paper held unforgotten memories, of sorrow and grief, of happiness and friendship.
A small drop of water made Minho turn his gaze to the window. The sky had a beautiful, mellow shade of grey and deep blue, taking over the light. It was a calming morning scenery. The leaves were flying, taken by the powerful wind, as if they were preparing for a chaotic dance, held in the middle of the storm.
As the coffee was made, with precise moves Minho took his cup, poured the liquid in as the warm scent of the coffee bens filled his senses, waking him up from slumber but deepening him into his morning reverie. His feet walked forward to the big windowsill from the bedroom. He placed the cup on the small table and took a seat, gazing at the view.
The silence was filled with the enchanting sounds of the storm. Rain drops hit the window; the wind was blowing harshly, the creaking branches moved up and down dancing with colorful leaves. They were swinging back and forth, up and down, each one of them fallowing the other, not even once making a mistake. They were blown by the wind who was the leader of the entire waltz.
Minho watched the beauty of nature in awe, everything was so enchanting, so surreal, reminding him of old unforgotten memories. His fingers played with the paper crane, the cup of coffee resting beside him.
He remembered clearly what happened 10 years ago, after he met the fairy from the forgotten park, on an autumn exactly like this one, in a rainy day…
10 years ago
Since that day, they committed to meet every morning when the sun rose and every afternoon when Minho’s classes would end, enjoying every second with each other. It wasn’t love, although Taemin’s heart skipped a beat sometimes when Minho slightly touched his bangs moving them out of his eyes, or when Minho smiled widely, grabbing him by the waist to keep him warm, burring his face into his neck.
They became more and more attached to each other, talking about reality and the imaginary worlds that surrounded them. To Taemin the outside world seemed magical, imagines materializing in front of his eyes as Minho described vehemently night bars, clubs, his high school, teachers, class mates. For the one who was talking everything seemed dull and boring.
“ Are you sure you’re not faking interest?”
“ It’s like I’m listening to a new story from The Grimm Brothers in a Korean version’ Taemin said excited, a wide smile on his face. “ Why did you stop? Continue!”
In those moments he looked like a small child, eyes bright, his teeth were white, as he clutched on Minho’s arm, laughing, chuckling.
“ You know… you’re weird” Minho said in an afternoon, as they stayed in silence, admiring the sunset.
“ Nothing new in that” Taemin replied, leaning into Minho’s shoulder, seeking for warmth.
“ No… I didn’t mean in that way. It’s just that… were you serious when you said you never went to a public nor private school before? “
The latter nodded his head.
“ Why would I lie? Your world seems so interesting, you’re lucky to have the chance to live in it. It’s enchanting, exactly like Anderson’s stories. ”
“ It’s not my world, you live in it too. If you would just leave this park and explore a little bit.” Minho patted the boy’s caramel hair.
The slim one stood up from the bench and started to swirl, eyes flying loosely around his body, eyes closed, enjoying the feeling of freedom.
“ I have everything I ever wanted here, and so much more. I don’t think the trees would let me leave them. “ he stopped, looking at Minho, hands in his pockets. “ Can’t you hear the echo of the wind? It’s talking… I wouldn’t give this up. The stories that this park holds are far more precious to me. “ He smiled, that charming smile that no one could resist.
“ See you tomorrow! Same hour, same place!” Taemin shouted running, stopping at a large distance, his silhouette could still be seen, waving his thin arms as the large, long jacked hanged loosely around his slim body.
“ Did he lost weight?” was Minho’s thought. But he dismissed it shortly, throwing it in a forgotten corner of his mind, waving goodbye to the last ray of sunshine that disappeared from his sight.
Minho wasn’t the only one who talked on their meeting. In spite of Taemin’s almost nonexistent social life, he was an amazing story teller. He loved to create, to imagine, and so every word that left his lips entangled itself with the one before, creating enchanting sceneries, of battles between trolls, and wizards, witches and eerie creatures. He could describe so easily each hideout of every single being that lurked around the park, and in his mind everything became bigger that it surpassed the sky itself. From small tiny people, so small that even the ants were 10 times bigger then them.
“ How can you see them then?” Minho inquired.
“ You must want from the bottom of your heart to see them, and they will show themselves to you. “ Taemin responded.
He talked about dragons, elves, brownies, pixies, fairies, spirits, doves and Gods. The last two of them seemed the most strangest to Minho since they were the only one’s that still had a string that held them to reality.
“ How do you know they exist?” the boy interrupted the building of a sky castle, while the 2 millions soldieries were working vehemently at the king’s orders. The oak tree in front of them looked indeed as if it could touch the sky and even surpass it, but it wasn’t a castle, it was in the end just a plain, old oak tree and it didn’t have the power to metamorphosis. It would just remain like that until its death.
“You just have to believe they exist and they do” Taemin scoffed. “Can’t you see the soldiers? Their pain and sorrow, oh look, one of them injured his arm! But no one looks at him, they continue to do their job… “
“ They’re just ants Taemin” Minho replied.
“ He looks pitiful.” the latter rose and helped the ant with its crumb of bread, placing it on its back. “ Have you ever wondered why are people so cruel? Why do they look only at their own path, too afraid to help anyone, to act for themselves, to think on their own? I think ants resemble us in all the ways. “
It was sunset again, shadows lurking slowly into the park, making their way in front of every living or unliving soul that held a material form and had a purpose on earth. In the dim light of the fading sun and the trickery shadows, why did Taemin look like the only thing that didn’t held a shadow? He turned on his feet slowly, the same fake smile plastered on his face. But something was wrong, something was going on. Yet he didn’t ask, he thought he was being skeptic. The same moves and words as the days before were exchanged.
Waking back home, Minho looked at his right and saw his own shadow that was fallowing him like a watch dog.
The darkness played its games while the light slowly faded in the horizon.
In the next day Minho came earlier then he planned. Sleep wasn’t on his side, so when the first rays of sunshine met his window; he decided it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he would go earlier. The boy even stopped at the shop, buying some colorful pieces of paper, since he observed that Taemin loved to fold gooses, just like his mother. But all of them were white; the color was so pure and innocent, untamed yet why did it seemed so pitiful and sorrowful? He was hiding something, that snow white paper held something within its wings, it flew with uncertainty, but to what? What purpose did it have?
Minho couldn’t understand…
A lopsided smile appeared on his face as he entered the park, the rusting leaves with their bright yet fading colors were Minho’s favorite. It was a paradox if you would think about it, they were colorful, full of life and beauty, each of them had its own personality, yet all of them were actually fading, at their glory death was nearer then anything else. Wasn’t it sad? To die when you’ve just reached what you’ve wished for your whole life? It wasn’t as if they could do something, yet in their laughter and chattering, Minho couldn’t help but pity them and feel sad because everything was fading.
He got distracted from the leaves when, at their bench a small snow white creature was hooting, flapping its wings unsuccessfully. The boy got to the new visitor hurriedly. It was a dove, but what was a bird like this doing in the freezing weather of late autumn? It should have migrated to the warmer places of Earth at the end of summer. Yet, here it was, more real then ever, a dove with a red bow and a small golden bell tied to its neck.
This day was definitely strange.
When Taemin came he understood that something was wrong, since Minho didn’t greet him as usual. Minho wasn’t there in the first place. Maybe the boy overslept, he guessed, so he decided to wait. Yet the colorful pieces of paper that were left on their bench didn’t help to sustain his theory. It was 7 in the morning, who would leave these at this ungodly hour? Yet what could he do in this situation?
So he just sat down and started to fold.
It looked weird when the first one was finished. It was made from a bright red, which color held other significations then what he was looking for. It didn’t feel right, he couldn’t let this color in his life. It actually horrified him. Red was the color of love and of death, the color of blood. It scared Taemin to the point that he threw it away frightened. It was like a sword with two blades, you’ll be at the verge of Death when you’ll finally think you’re at the top of the world. Red scared Taemin, so he took out from his jacked white sheets of paper neatly tucked and started the fold them like he always did. In spite of his wish, white made him feel safe, secure, he should be the only one who’s suffering.
Taemin didn’t scream, nor threw a fit when Minho didn’t came when the clock hit 8 a.m, nor in the hours after. The boy was obviously at school so he couldn’t come. Taemin wasn’t going to be unrealistic or ridiculous, but he guessed that Minho would come and spend some time with him when the school ended, yet that didn’t happen. Wasn’t this his usual route to go home? Did Taemin do something to him yesterday that upset him? If so wouldn’t it be mature to talk about it and not hide and avoid him? It was stupid honestly.
He was a little bit frustrated yet this whole thing shouldn’t bother him. Why should it? After all Minho was just a stranger, or... maybe something more, he was just someone whom he was used to spent two or three hours of the day with, but that was all. Or was it? Well… maybe Taemin considered him as a friend. But what was a friend? Someone who you just hang out with… weren’t friends the ones that would let you down when you needed them the most? So what good are friends then? No, Minho wasn’t his friend, he shouldn’t think so highly of him. Why did he start to care for him in the first place? Taemin promised himself he wouldn’t get attached to anyone else and no one should start and care for him unconditionally, it was for their own good and for Taemin’s in the first place. Hearts are the one’s that heal the hardest after all.
When Minho came the next day, Taemin already decided to treat him coldly. But how could he do that when that was charming smile greeted him that made his heart skip a beat at the sight, or that husky deep voice that left those plump lips only for his ears to hear? Or when Minho pleaded to fallow him, pulling by his wrist, grabbing his waist in the end and carrying Taemin to the place he wanted.
“ I said I’m not coming Minho! I don’t want to go with you!”
“ You’ll definitely like it Taemin. Trust me, it’s worth it.”
“ I don’t want to! Just let me go already!”
“ What’s with the sudden change of mood? Are you depressive?” Minho asked in a laughable tone, caring Taemin on his back.
“ No, I’m bipolar and I’m about to turn schizophrenic if you don’t put me down this instant!” the small boy shouted which only made the latter laugh in mirth.
Taemin soon gave in and stopped his tantrum, his small fists didn’t seem to do Minho any harm, and it only injured himself in the end. His knuckles hurt, his throat was dry so Taemin leaned on Minho’s back pouting at which the latter couldn’t help but chuckle.
The small boy tried to ask where they were going, but the truth wasn’t revealed until they got to an apartment, he gulped as he was put down for Minho to get the keys out of his pocket.
“ Is this where you live?” asked in a stuttering manner.
“Maybe... Why are you asking?”
“ You’ve practically dragged me here!” he said in a preposterous tone. “How do I know you’re not a rapist or abductor, and you take children and then sell them? “
“ You know me better then that” he laughed, an incredulous laugh, filled with joy and happiness, he was always amused but the boy’s imagination. “Come on... I’m not going to rape you, just so you know”
Taemin walked in, puffing, as the latter leaded him to a room. He had time to analyze the apartment. It wasn’t too big; it consisted of a living room, decorated in an old fashioned way, with a big sofa, a TV in front, two armchairs and a glass coffee table. The windows were large, the sun making its way in without any difficulty, as the drapes were of a light blue, almost transparent. What he liked though was a big library that occupied half of that room; two of the walls were full of white shelves, which held many different books, from fantasy to child’s books they stood there proudly. Then kitchen was small and it didn’t seem as if it was used often. The next door was the bathroom fallowed by two dorms down the hall. One of it was entirely green, from the walls which had painted trees, flowers and animals to the bed sheets, stuffed animals like frogs, dinosaurs, and again a lot of frogs and tortoises, even the desk and pen holders were all in a light green. It reminded Taemin of a peaceful land, surrounded by grass, where you could feel the wind gusting in your hair and daffodils flying in the air. It calmed him; it resembled a piece of heaven.
Minho’s room was the last one on the small hall, it wasn’t as neatly decorated as the other one, it was quite messy, a pile of clothes thrown in a corner, the doors of the wardrobes were left unclosed yet it had that fresh smell of mint and rain lingering all around the room, Minho’s perfume. It comforted him, he could just be drawn in those big comfy, welcoming pillows and jump in the unmade bed, mattress half falling on the floor. Sleep suddenly crept to his eyes for no reason, wishing to creep in the bed and stay there until dusk.
Minho approached the veil that was covering a huge cage, to which Taemin didn’t give to much attention until then. His eyes widen with surprise, as tears were forming at the corner of his eyes. Face bright, a big smile stood on his face as he jumped and opened the door of the cage excited. The latter was glad to see that the boy enjoyed his present, yet the imap he didn’t expect to have such a big impact on him honestly, although he often talked about doves, he didn’t imagine he was so fond of this beautiful creatures.
“Where did you find her?” Taemin asked joyful. “ I’m happy to see you too Bell, I missed you so much “ he said as the bird showed the same gestures of happiness, leaning on Taemin’s touch, hooting and slowly biting his cheeks in a lovingly matter, not causing bruises or red marks to the latter.
“I found her in the park yesterday. She didn’t look to good, she was starving and her wing was injured so I took her to the vet. I’m sorry I didn’t come yesterday… the vet told me to keep a watch on her since it’s not normal for doves to be here now. “
“Is that so Bell? I’m glad then. Thank you Minho, I’m very grateful for your gesture. She means a lot to me”
“You owe me one, just so you know” Minho said grabbing his backpack.
“And there goes your image of a helpful person. I thought you did this because you like to do good deeds” Taemin said mockingly taking a seat on the bed.
“Not when I can get something I’ve always wanted with them”
“What can I give you then?”
“Oh, you’ve already given me so much I can’t even ask for more. I just wanted to give you something in return. I have a night shift tomorrow at work, I was wondering if you would want to come with me. I’ll walk you back home don’t worry, and I’ll ask my friend to come and keep you company too when I’ll be occupied. What do you say?” his tone was so shy, unlike the usual Minho.
Taemin laughed loudly, not managing to hold it any longer.
“Why are you laughing?”
‘Sorry... its just that… you were so... sorry. “He managed to get his composure thought. “ Does it count as a first date?”
“What…? Minho was taken aback; he didn’t actually feel something for Taemin in that way, he didn’t swing in that way. They were close, but he wouldn’t actually go to the extreme of being lovers, it would just be weird, what would society think of it? He just wanted Taemin to see the world he was in, yet he couldn’t break the chains that kept him locked in his small box.
“I was kidding. Well. I guess I could come; I have to thank you for saving Bell after all. But, don’t call your friends ok? I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll be fine by myself as long as you’re there.
Minho smiled and nodded, heading to the door.
“ Wait, where are you going?!” Taemin jumped, as the dove almost fell from his shoulder.
“School! I need someone to watch the bird, the doctor said not to leave it alone. Her pills are on the night table, give her one of each kind at 9 o’clock and change her bandages at 12, the ligament is beside the pills. “
“ I can’t stay here though…”
“Why not?” I’ll come back at 3 as I always do, I won’t leave you here. I don’t mind if you would take her to your home, but I don’t think it will do her any good, the air is quite cold, she might die.”
“ I couldn’t even if I wanted’ Taemin held his head down, as a hint of sadness could be sensed in his tone. Minho’s heart tightened, so he came close, stroking the boy’s hair, trying to lift his mood.
“ There’s plenty food in the fridge, Julie made yesterday some pancakes, there’s some left, you can heat them up. The TV is in the living room, you can take whichever book you want to read.
Taemin rose his head and couldn’t help but lean in the touch, as Minho’s hand was stroking his cheek, making him feel so warm inside, safe, secure, he nodded and smiled.
“Make yourself at home” were the last words the boy said, closing the door behind, already late for school.
He went to the window, chuckling when he saw Minho falling, rising up quickly and running as if he was at a marathon. Then he turned his back, and fell into the mattress, inhaling that intoxicating smell, falling asleep soon with Bell beside him.