002

Touching Beauty
Please Subscribe to read the full chapter

  002

“There are two people you’ll meet in your life. One will run a finger down the index of who you are and jump straight to the parts of you that pique their interest. The other will take his or her time reading through every one of your chapters and maybe fold corners of you that inspired them most. You will meet these two people; it is a given. It is the third that you’ll never see coming. That one person who not only finishes your sentences, but keeps the book.”

—Unknown

 

It’s a Friday evening, and to most people, it is not a common plan to spend this or the next evening in a bakery café. Even the regulars aren’t here since they’re out and about, making the most of the city that never sleeps. That certain population of New York City that is composed of party-goers, thrill-seekers, and more likely teenagers doesn’t—and can never—miss me like I miss them. While everyone else is doing something exciting, I’m leaning against the bar counter by the windows, idly waiting for anyone to come in. And since it’s usually just Joanne and me (and of course, Beau) on these quiet Friday evenings in Washington Heights, it’s hard to keep myself from nodding off in boredom. Sadly, Joanne makes me leave my headphones at home, so it’s not like I can submerge myself in audiobooks. Although, it’s quite hypocritical of her when the sound of her laughter at Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute on her phone echoes from the kitchen.

 

The bell on the door pops the bubble of quiet, and my back reflexively straightens, not wanting to look like a lazy employee.

 

“Welcome to Sentez-Le.” I face the direction of the door, but the customer can be very much elsewhere now. Beau shifts under my legs, and the next thing I know, someone’s touching my arm with their fingertips. They’re calloused, rough, and the texture is similar to maybe sandpaper, but nevertheless, they’re warm.

 

“Told you that you’d feel me again.” The smile in his voice is evident, and by then, I know exactly who this “customer” is.

 

“Junmyeon.” I force myself to turn wherever he may stand. It’s not hard to do this, however, since when he walks in, he brings in a draft of cold air with him, and it swirls around me in ghost-like breaths. “What are you doing here? Are you ordering brownies? Why do you need brownies on a Friday?”

 

“Actually, I’m not ordering brownies or anything for that matter. But what’s wrong with ordering them on a Friday?” he inquires with a small, breathy laugh at the end of his question, and it breezes by my arms. The seat to my right squeaks dissonantly as it gets pulled out from under the table. “In fact, isn’t Friday a good day for sweets?”

 

“Sure.” I fold my hands over each other and twiddle my thumbs, mentally pinching myself for being such an idiot. “So, why are you here if you’re not going to order anything?”

 

“Well, I kind of felt bad for not coming in for an entire week when I said I would. I got caught up in a lot of stuff.” Clothes shift, and he must be taking off his jacket. “And I, uh,” he coughs muffled coughs, and all traces of playfulness in his words run off the stage that is his voice, “it’s, um, well you see, I…” He trails off again, coughing and clearing his throat. “I, maybe, came over to, uh, you know, see you.” His voice is a low whisper by then, almost inaudible, but nevertheless it is a powerful statement, and my cheeks are cold, but they’re quickly rising in temperature. Before I can say something, however, Junmyeon speaks up again. “You know, I’m just going to, uh, go. I-I-I, um, you’re probably busy anyways.”

 

The chair where he sits makes a noise, and I rush to stop him.

 

“No, you can stay. I’m not doing anything.” My hand finds his wrist by chance, and I hold on to it tightly, cherishing the warmth of it—the way it first makes war and then diplomacy with the coldness of my hand. His wrist is too big for me, however, and I’m barely clinging onto him. My thumb and fingertip try to meet around the circumference, but they stand no chance, and it makes my heart overwork. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to, uh, touch you.”

 

I release him from my grasp, and a sudden atmosphere of quiet fills the bakery again.

 

“Sunhee,” Junmyeon’s voice is nearly inaudible again—but not with volume, but because of how low in pitch it is, “you don’t have to worry about that.”

 

“Oh, please.” I bite the inside of my cheek hoping to alleviate the embarrassment. “Touching people is just—it’s weird. God, I’m so sorry. I-I-I’m sorry for last time too. I didn’t mean to touch your arm and think it was bread. And-And when I nearly fell—” Before any further embarrassment can happen, I stop myself. “Sorry, again.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, remember?” Junmyeon reassures me, and his rough fingertips touch the back of my hand. “It’s hard enough being blind, but not being able to feel your surroundings is harder.”

 

“Yeah.” I sigh, thankful that Junmyeon isn’t one of those people who scoffs and smacks my hand away when I accidently touch them. “Thanks. It’s not often that I get a reaction like yours.”

 

“Well,” he draws his hand away, and the loss of contact equates to the addition of sadness, “you’re always free to touch me—oh god, no not like that.” He chuckles too forcedly, and his breath hitches. “No, forget that I said that. And actually, you know, can we, like, start over? I mean, god, I’m so—”

 

He takes a deep sigh, and my hair moves slightly with the air.

 

“Junmyeon,” I stifle back a laugh, “are you okay?”

 

“I’m fine. Great, actually.” He rushes his wording, and as a result, his syllables smash into each other.

 

“Are you nervous about something?” I venture. He does sound a lot like me when I get those moments of pure terror and embarrassment after accidently touching someone or mistaking someone for something else. “You really shouldn’t be. I mean, you’re not the one giving people unwarranted physical contact, right?” I laugh sheepishly, remembering all those times when I legitimately wanted to die on the spot. “Just remember, you’re not the person who mistook someone’s arm for bread.”

 

A joyous laughter forged from platinum overpowers the golden sound of smooth jazz, yet somehow, they still mingle together enough to create a harmony made of white gold. If that laughter can be kept and held, I know I would keep it by my bedside to touch and hold just before getting ready for the day. Or perhaps in my pocket. Yes, my pocket, so it can be held at virtually any given time.

 

“That wasn’t that bad, I promise,” Junmyeon says after he’s calmed down enough. “Though it hurt to think that my arm was as soft as bread.”

 

“No,” I backtrack, remembering when he caught me just before I fell, “it’s not like that. It’s not like you’re not fit or something.” I scoff and memories of touching his particularly hard abdomen return—along with a fresh wave of heat on my cheeks. “I’m sure you’re fit and all, but it’s just…” I struggle to find the right words, but perhaps it’s better to say something than nothing at all. “You’re moisturized.” I blurt out.

 

This is the part where I cease to exist because how can anyone voluntarily wish to exist after they’ve said such a thing?

 

Perhaps it’s better to say nothing and ruin nothing than to say something and ruin everything.

 

“I’m moisturized?” Junmyeon doesn’t laugh, but I hear the smile in his voice. “Really? You think so?”

 

“Well, yeah.” I face straight ahead, not wanting him to see the blush surely adorning my cheeks. “You have soft skin.”

 

“You know,” the smile in his voice is still there, “you’re the first person whose first impression of me was ‘bread.’ And now, you’re the first person to say that I’m moisturized with soft skin.” He then chuckles, and the vibrations travel on the table—indicating that he’s leaning on it. “It’s different. It’s refreshing.”

 

“What do people usually think of you when they first meet you?” I ask to make conversation—to steer us away from my embarrassing remarks.

 

“Nice face.” The smile in his voice is no more, and it suddenly takes strength to breathe in the air, and to hold the atmosphere. “Fit body. Could be taller.” At this he laughs, but there is no emotion in it. It comes out as a forced wheeze—an obligatory reaction with no genuine intention. It is the type of laughter given when one would rather ridicule pain than feel it. I know because I do the same thing. “Looks like he enjoys playing with people. Screwing with girls. Pretty boy who gets discounts at the store. It ranges, usually, on how I look. If I’m lucky, people think I’m an . But there’s never anything on what I ‘feel’ like.

 

“I mean,” his light laugh is no longer platinum, but a lusterless silver, “never mind. This is really shallow. There are worse fates out there. Who am I to complain?”

 

The sadness of his voice is a poisonous that leaks into the air, and though it’s quite minute, it’s just as deadly and infiltrating.

 

What has happened to him has happened to me, and it’s impossible to withstand—judgment with its thesis centric to physicality.

 

What if there’s something more to me than how I have to my way around my own home? What if underneath this girl who can’t walk for more than a few feet outside without the accompaniment of her guide dog is a normal girl? A normal girl with normal aspirations? Then comes along those fake assurances of you’re so beautiful, so gorgeous, so it doesn’t matter that you’re blind. But yes, it does. What if I don’t want to be beautiful? What if I want to be seen as useful? What if I want to dice carrots without cutting a finger? What if I want to use measuring cups again? What if I want to walk to the store by myself?

 

What if I want to be seen for what I can still do rather than what I can’t?

 

However, those questions are pointless to ask—especially since people have the bad habit to see a person’s face or scars before their hearts and minds.

 

Take a man with an amputated leg. Let’s say he’s a veteran of war. You’ve done him absolutely no good because you think he pushes his wheelchair too slowly. Then you’re glad that no one can see how your mind twists in disgust when you see the dark scars lining what’s left of his leg. And then comes the pity that doesn’t rise out of sympathy or empathy, but rather because you’re oh so glad, you’re oh so “lucky” that man isn’t you, and you have your own legs. But because you see with your eyes, you tell the man he’s strong for fighting for your country, and if he ever needs anything, you’re “there” for him. This is your truest statement because yes, you’re there for him, but you’re not with him. He only catches your eye when you think his arms look tired, and he looks like he’s struggling to push himself forward. You want to think you’re a saint for helping him, but you’re a devil because you don’t see him as full person. You see him as someone who’s lost a part of themselves—someone below the ranks and deserving of pity.

 

What you don’t know is that this man wants to call you out as bull because he’s tired of people like you. What he wants is someone to ask him how his day went and not ask how he lost his leg. What he wants you to know that he is perfectly capable, and he has won a few medals of the Paralympics, and he doesn’t need your measly help with pushing himself on the upward slope of a ramp. What he wants you to see is he can play soccer with crutches and not the scars that pained him for so long. Of course, you only see with your eyes, and you see a liability before you see the man.

 

Yes, I’m blind, and yes, it’s hard to do anything like before, but no, screw you, I am capable enough not to be pitied.

 

But of course, I am just a girl whose eyes stare straight ahead.

 

And it is without a doubt that Junmyeon thinks of himself as just someone with a nice face. Sure, to others this may be no dilemma worth riling one’s self up for, but it’s a problem enough to feel as if one’s worth has no real value. I know this because I’ve felt it too.

 

Oh? You can actually cook? Why, yes, it’s always been my dream. There’s nothing else I’d rather—

 

Your future husband will be so lucky! To have a beautiful wife who can also cook.

 

Words are truly weapons, and hearts are never equipped with the proper defense mechanisms.

 

“If it’s any consolation,” my voice is only the mouthpiece—the representative—of my heart when this is said, “your presence feels like…” My hands grow clammy, and I have to remember that perhaps it’s better to say nothing and ruin nothing than to say something and ruin everything. So, I keep quiet. “Never mind.”

 

“No.” He nudges my arm, and his voices grows higher in pitch; he’s whining. “Tell me.”

 

Perhaps it’s better to say nothing and ruin nothing than to say something and ruin everything.

 

Perhaps it’s better to say nothing and ruin nothing than to say something and ruin everything.

 

Perhaps it’s better to say nothing and ruin nothing than to say something and ruin everything.

 

Sadly, in this world and every other existing one, saying nothing when your heart wants to give a speech is undoubtedly a mistake. And I’ve heard stories of people regretting the things they didn’t do more than the things that what they did do. So, perhaps it’s better to say something than to give your heart the burden of saying nothing.

 

“A doctor’s office,” I admit, and the urge to run away and hide is a tidal wave that deluges my body. Then the silence comes—or rather, the sound of smooth j

Please Subscribe to read the full chapter
Like this story? Give it an Upvote!
Thank you!
SkyeButterfly
Touching Beauty //
We got featured! Please leave a comment/upvote if you're a new reader! I'd appreciate everyone's thoughts ♥

Comments

You must be logged in to comment
Byul_99
#1
I remember reading this years ago… and now I’m rereading. It feels like one of the studio ghibli movies you know… all the softness and world building where each movement is felt? And your writing always amaze me
This story is so soft🥺❤️
sb1202 #2
Its been a while since I read this but I just wanted to comment on how beautiful this story is. Not only does it feature one of the less written about members, but it also touches on a more realistic relationship. From the first chapter, I fell in love with the characters and the setting of the story. Thank you for writing something so breathtaking ❤
SehunieNuna
#3
Chapter 7: 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

This is so freaking beautiful, fgs. I swear it’s so beautiful that it could be showed in the museum.

Despite their relationship, I LOVE LOVE that you do not left the other ones behind. The way you always give us what was going on in their life, how was Joanne love life, how Jongdae getting voice lesson and getting one step closer to his dream, how Sehun saved up and working his off for a revenge, how she developed her friendship with Sehun or how Sehun need to talk with Jongdae due to his complain. These detail I LOVE IT ALL.

Thank you for amazing story as always ❤️❤️❤️
SehunieNuna
#4
Chapter 5: I confess that I cracked at girl running to Jongdae asking for contour tip lol

but wow , that 'i'm blind and I can still see you shine' T---T you know what, I think the most adorable thing in this chapter is Junmyeon "still" explain to her how thing is going, including his blushing.

The friendship between those thee are also beautiful TT I hope everyone got friends like this ♥

but damn, I need to say this, you are such an amazing writer. Your style of writing suite the story so so well no matter what genre / vibe / feel it is.
SehunieNuna
#5
Chapter 4: Not only Junmyeon, this story is dangerous too.
If I had diabetes, I would end up at the hospital when I finished this
SehunieNuna
#6
Chapter 3: PLEASEEEEEE The way his describe kissing when he asked her 😭😭😭😭😭😭 and he was so polite. I didn’t expect him to ask at all

And the way she feels like dying over this 😭😭😭😭
SehunieNuna
#7
Chapter 1: WOW 😯 I regret that I come here so late.

Ok, this is my super first time reading the story that the main character is blind. I love that the idea is not what we can easily find, and her character is not in the dark mode. She is being.. accept(?) and positive with a tint of sarcasm that give her character more color and that is really amazing. Even we could not “see” Junmyeon (of course how could we, it’s her point of feeling - pof) i literally feel his struggle to make a conversation with the pretty cashier he found a t the bakery 😭 gosh, isn’t that cute?
LennoxKennedys
#8
Chapter 7: This story was so beautiful. Thank you for writing it!
danielaerimee #9
Chapter 5: Love the word reciprocity now. Thank you.
waee09 #10
Chapter 3: My heaaarttttttt. Omgggggg soooo beautifully writttennnn