Having a brother meant a lot of adventures, and with adventures, came injury. A lot of injuries. When he was five, he broke his wrist cycling around their neighbourhood. When he’s 8, he broke his nose after wrestling with their friends. When he’s 9, they played football with the same group of friends and the game got too rough. He got too excited, and that day, he came home with a broken leg.
The injury was nothing. Sure, he cried a little, but after a few days, the pain was very much nonexistent. A little uncomfortable, maybe, but it’s nothing that his old, young self couldn’t handle. The thing that got him the most, however, was loneliness.
He had to stay home for almost two months. He couldn’t go to school at all the first three weeks, couldn’t go out to play, couldn’t go with his brother anywhere, and it’s boring the hell out of him. He could only watched his brother went out to go to school or play and came back during sunset. He asked his brother about what he’s been doing, how’s everyone doing, what were they playing that day, but he got jealous every time his brother told him, so he stopped asking.
His brother was sweet. He slowly going out less and less, staying home, keeping him company, playing video games with him—and he was thankful. His brother still had to go to school, though, so he waited patiently every day, for his brother to come back, to play with him, to talk to him. He remembered being so happy when his brother walked into the house, for how could he not— his brother was his saviour, from being too lonely. His brother was his muse, no matter how much fun he had playing video games alone. And while his brother’s gone, he was sad.
Lately, his life felt like another version of that. Broken bone, lonely, alone, and had only one muse. Except now, it’s not broken bone, it’s a broken heart. Except now, the pain never went away like the pain of a broken bone would after some days, the pain of a broken heart stayed. And no matter how much fun he had doing his work, going to the gym, bench pressing, playing with dumbbells, doing cardio exercises or whatever, he could never forget about how fun being together with his muse.
And his muse— she never came ‘home’. Not since that fateful night, that night he broke his ‘bone’.
To be fair, it was him who kept the distance. He was the one who avoided her. He was the one who ran away from her.
He kept it professional in the office, though. He still sat with her in the same meeting table, talking to her, acknowledging her ideas, but when it’s lunch, it’s either he ate in his room or the pantry alone, or he joined the group but sat at the other side of the table, the farthest away from her as possible, not talking to her, not even looking at her intentionally.
Oh, of course, he still felt her presence. At the corner of his eyes, he still saw her smiling. Even when he was in his room, he sometimes heard her faint laughs. He acted like he didn’t see her, but he was so drawn to her and his body was so used to her, that no matter how hard he tried to ignore it, he could sense her every movement.
The way she tucked her hair behind her ear, the way sometimes her feet kept fidgeting below the meeting table, her in the pantry making tea, her speaking on the phone, her talks with Dong-hoon and Se-chan, the laughs she shared with Kwang-soo, her gossip sessions with So-min. How he used to look at all that, with interest, with wonder, with smiles across his face, but now, there’s only pain and he could only looked away.
Soon, she followed suit. She flinched too when she saw him. She hesitated to walk in a room when he’s there. She arrived early to avoid bumping into him in the pantry. She left early to not be in the office, with just few little people around when he’s there.
It’s even more painful, because all of this -like that time he played football and got too excited and broke his bone- were caused by him, as he got way too excited way too early, following his heart blindly, and broke his heart. Probably, hers too.
That day, he went home early from work. Dong-hoon, his ever so attentive junior, called out for him in front of them -her, included. He told them he’s worn out, he’s tired, he had been almost camping out in the office to finish the ‘greener office’ project that has been trusted upon him because he volunteered (because he needed a distraction), only went home just before midnight and now that the project was 85% done -the only thing left was to start implementing all the steps in the office- he just wanted to rest.
They wished him well, asked him to get enough rest and sleep and eat well, to which he smiled, but only he knew that even at home, he’s restless, he couldn’t sleep, so he just spent his time in the gym anyway and that’s what he was planning to do that day.
Before walking away, he glanced at her who was already looking at him. Their eyes met. She bowed a little, awkwardly, echoing the wishes from everyone. He didn’t look away —couldn’t look away— because she’s captivating in her white turtleneck and high-waisted skirt with dark red lips, but he didn’t smile either. He only nodded at her.
As he walked to the basement, to his car, the only thing on his mind was her and her wide eyes, staring into his, making him felt exposed, bare and vulnerable and how words couldn’t express how he missed her.
Oh, he missed her so much. He missed those thin arms linking around his. He missed those tiny hands between his hands, could easily be crushed by him but he didn’t because he adored them so much. He missed her reddened cheeks, her cheeky smiles, her snort, her laugh -quiet or loud. He missed her insults, her clever comebacks, her angry rants when she’s pissed off—he even missed her making him pissed off.
But the mistake he made that night was irreversible. Not only he outed his feeling without any warning, he even tried to K-word her. And he got rejected for it. And he made her felt guilty about it.
Worse, he couldn’t bring himself to face her, to say sorry to make things worse for her or sorry for the change in their dynamic that it even caused change in their group. He couldn’t even bring himself to apologise to her for being a coward.
He spent the rest of the evening at the gym as planned, grunting and groaning, bringing him