It all started when Sana announced she was dating Tzuyu. When everything started going downhill. To have a crush on your best friend is one thing, but to be in love with her? It's much worse.
I tried to accept it that she would never see me that way and move on but as weeks passed it only got worse. I began to fall for her harder than before. I tried hard to not cringe every time Sana showered Tzuyu with kisses and hugged her tight.
All the other members found them cute and would take pictures and ship the couple hard. I was happy that Sana was happy with Tzuyu.. And I loved Tzuyu too, so I tried to be cool with it. I made my mind that I would be happy even if I was breaking inside. This was because I'd heard about what happened to those who had a strong one sided love to a certain person. They developed the Hanahaki disease. I just wished I could move on from Sana before something like that happened to me. But no. As fate would have it, I couldn't move away from Sana. Her giggles, her squeals, her smiles, the way her eyes would twinkle when she looked at something she loved. Everything about her just made me want to go crazy and pull my hair out. It was a Friday when I first felt it. The pain in my chest. I'd instantly freaked out and had started to google it to find out if there was any way to recover from it once it manifested in you. But as my luck would have it, there were only two options : It ended when the beloved either returns my feelings, or when the victim dies.
I locked myself in my room and stared at my reflection in the mirror. One sided love. Pathetic huh? I knew there was no way Sana would ever return those feelings. She loved Tzuyu. And I didn't want to cause problems for them or any of the other members. I felt my eyes well up and felt the tears rolling down my face. I smiled at myself bitterly and wiped the tears. I'd thought about my death in many ways, but dying from a one sided love wasn't on my list. I looked up at the ceiling and sighed. If the pain I'd felt earlier was indeed the disease, then my time was up. My time in this world was coming to its end.
The next day, my suspicions were confirmed. The moment Sana entered the room I was in and hugged me the pain in my chest flared and I had to hold back a scream. But it gradually reduced and became a dull throbbing pain in my chest. I was in a sour mood the entire day and had even snapped at a couple of my members for having done nothing. Back at the dorm, I'd tried to read up more on the disease and began making notes on what I could do to slow the process down. That whole night I stayed up reading article after article and thinking about what was going to happen to me. I was scared. So terribly scared. But at the same time I loved Sana. I couldn't stop loving her. Even thinking about her hurt me now. I sniffed softly and stared at the moon thinking why I had to go through this. I wanted to tell someone but I didn't know who to go to. That's when I realized that there were therapists to help people suffering from this. To help ease the pain. You could never recover from this, but the least one could do was reduce the pain and maybe prolong your life by a few months if... If you moved on from the person you loved.
The following week, I began looking up therapists in Seoul and found a number of them close to where our dorm was. I booked myself an appointment and slowly started to avoid all my members. I managed to slip away after practice and was out of the dorm most nights camping at random places like a friend's house or a hotel or sneak back into my room when I was sure everyone was asleep. Throughout the month I kept visiting my new therapist. Her name was Sooyoung and she had been great.
But all this avoiding my members only made things worse. They all cornered me one day after practice wanting to know why the hell I was acting strangely these days. I'd tried to play it cool and say I was fine, but it didn't look like they were buying my story. In truth I wanted to get out of there since the burning pain in my chest was growing stronger and stronger. Sooyoung had said I was still in stage one and that there were 5 stages in total. The first one was only pain in the chest. The second one would include bouts of coughing along with the pain. The third stage would be when you begin to get out of breath easily and when your skin begins to scorch along with the usual chest pain and coughing. The fourth when you start to cough out buds and tiny leaves. This was the most painful stage. And then the fifth. The fifth stage was when you'd cough out flowers and blood. The pain of coughing these out was unbearable. Coming to this stage meant that your time was up and that you're life on this planet was going to end in a few weeks.
So, I tried to get out of the conversation. I told them that all the stress had been getting to me and that I just needed some time to myself so that I could calm down and do my best. I realized I'd said the wrong thing since Sana jumped up and pulled me into a hug. She hugged me tight and I closed my eyes and tried not to scream at the pain she was putting me through. Not that she knew of course... But my lungs were screaming at me. I forced a smile on my face as I slowly pushed her away. No one noticed that my smile was fake and they all seemed to buy my story on having been stressed.
The next appointment I had was when I'd already moved to stage two. I'd started to cough and it made me feel like someone had placed a scorching flame in my throat. The first few days were bad. I'd found it hard to even talk and my voice was gone. The others thought that I was sick and the cough just made them think I had a cold and that I needed some rest in the dorm. But that wasn't what I needed. No... What I needed was something I could never get. I clutched my chest in pain and curled up on my bed trying to forget the pain. Days passed and I thought I was getting better, but my feeling towards Sana never changed. I wondered why I even fell for her in the first place but how could anyone explain why you fell for your best friend? I was standing in the balcony staring up at the moon when I heard a sniffle from behind.
"Yeah?" I asked turning to Sana who was standing behind me with folded arms and teary eyes.
"Can I stay with you?" she mumbled in between sniffs.
"Sure" I answered as she came and stood next to me. Who could say no to a sad and crying Sana?
"Tzuyu and I fought" she mumbled and then began to sob. The pain in my lungs flared yet again and it felt like something in me was being ripped apart. But I took a breath trying to compose my self before pulling Sana into a hug. She put her arms around me and cried into my chest mumbling things about what she and Tzuyu fought about, but I couldn't really pay attention. I was busy focusing on my breathing and trying to not seem like I was in pain. I patted her back and waited till she finished crying. At some point of this whole thing she began to cry because of me. She started holding me tighter and yelling at me for pushing her away. I hadn't even realized I'd done that but now that she pointed it out, it turns out I had.. I had been trying to stay away from her as much as I could. But not because I wanted to.. But because I had to. But being away from her didn't stop me from admiring her from afar. But how would she know? I felt that cough building up in my throat and tried hard to supress it. But it didn't seem like I could. So I let go of Sana and turned aside and began to cough. She stopped her crying and asked if I was okay. I held out a hand amidst my coughing and showed her a thumbs up. She shook her head and went in to bring me a glass of water. The moment she left the pain died down a little and I slumped onto the ground with a hand on my chest. I stopped coughing and leaned against the wall. After a minute or two when I was sure I was fine I got up to see why Sana wasn't back yet. I slowly crept into the kitchen to find her against the wall kissing Tzuyu.
I smiled bitterly and went inside my room and locked the door. I slid down against the door and brought my knees to my chest and sobbed silently. When I made to wipe my eyes I noticed fading scorch marks at the places Sana had touched me. I gasped and took off my shirt to see my whole torso with red flaming skin. I'd thought that the burning I'd felt was just my lungs but no... It was my whole body... I was exhausted at this point. I wanted to give up this fight. I couldn't take it anymore. Practice as it is had become so much harder for me and this whole thing with Sana was driving me crazy. She was driving me crazy. She blamed me for forgetting her, but she did the same damn thing. Nayeon unnie, Mina, Jeong and even Dahyun had asked me if I was doing okay, but Sana? Not once had she even looked my way. It was as if she truly knew how pathetic I was, pining for her love even though I knew she was in a relationship. I decided that if this was to be my fate, I would go happily. I would spend time with my members and have fun till the last minute.
And that's what I did, I began to spend more time with other members and started to break the weird wall I'd constructed between myself and them. But soon it was gone and things were like it was before. Having had to break the wall meant I had to spend time with Sana too and she never left me alone. She always clung onto me during practices and held my had or back hugged me when learning a new choreo. But the one thing that had changed was me. I couldn't keep up with the others. I struggled to learn the choreo and do my best. I could no longer dance for very long since I started to get breathless and tired very fast and now in addition to that I had various scorch marks all over my body because of all the hugs Sana's given me. I would never blame her for it, but there was a small part of me that always thought what would happen if I told her about it. If I told her about my feelings.
It never happened though... I never told her. It was one day during break that when I began to cough that I noticed the buds and leaves. At that time it was still bearable. But the moment it started to happen a little more often, my head, my lungs and my whole body was as if it was on fire. My head was always throbbing and my lungs were always screaming and I was in terrible pain. Dr. Sooyoung had always been my one constant support. She knew what to tell me and help me calm down. She'd given me her number so that I could call her if I ever needed help. And I had to call her more often that I liked. Our new song had been released and we had shows to attend. And in many of these shows Sana would often playfully come and hug me. Since I was on camera, I would hold back everything for all our fans but once the cameras stopped rolling, I would run to the restroom after grabbing my phone from the table and start coughing out the buds. I'd always thought I'd done a great job hiding things from my family and members, but I soon found out that I had been sloppy and that some of them were really worried about me and had decided to observe me to find out what exactly was wrong with me. I'd left my phone on the counter and when I came out of the stall after having coughed out all the buds, I noticed I wasn't alone here. I looked up through my blurry eyes to find a frowning Nayeon unnie, Jeong and Mina. I looked at them and bit my lip. I really needed them to go away. I needed to call my doctor. I needed her right now. I rubbed my chest in hope to ease the pain when they started firing questions
"What's going on with you Momo?"
"Why are you coughing and tiring out this easily these days? Why do you always look sick and unhappy?"
"Why do you look like you're dying? There's no life in your eyes or anything! It hurts to see you this way!"
"What are you doing to yourself?"
"Why are you ignoring us?"
"We want to help you"
"We need you to talk to us if we can help you"
But I couldn't reply. My head was starting to get dizzy and I needed to call Dr. Sooyoung. If I didn't I would pass out and it would get messy. I stumbled over to the counter ignoring the three and fumbled with my fingers to unlock it. I groaned and let out a small whimper as I scrolled through my contacts to find her number. At this point I realized I'd fallen and Mina and Jeong were holding me up.
With shaking hands I called her and waited for her to pick up. She picked up after four rings and I began to sob. My members were shocked and immediately pulled me into a hug. The doctor began to get me to focus on my breathing and did the things she always did to help me. When she was done she asked if I was okay. I knew my members were still beside me but I decided to screw it and tell them that I was going to die.
"I'm at the end" I mumbled unable to hold back the tears that fell from my eyes.
"You... You're sure you don't want to tell anyone about it?" Sooyoung asked.
"I can't hide it anymore" I got out and she hummed in response telling me she would call me later when I regain my energy.
I opened my eyes and looked at the three shocked people around me, who were already crying
"I'm sick" I told them and bit their wobbly lips. I smiled at them softly and took their hands in mine. I knew by doing so they'd see my scorch marks, but right now I didn't care. I heard their gasps as they saw my hand.
"I'm sick" I repeated and let out a humourless laugh when they hugged me.
"Why...why did you not tell us?" Mina asked between sobs
"I didn't know how to" I admitted and they shook their heads.
"I-" I started but I saw Mina's phone ringing. It was Sana. She answered the call and put it on speaker.
"Yaa! Tzuyu! How dare you steal your girlfriends Ice cream?" we heard her through the phone.
"Sana? Why'd you call?" Mina interrupted her since she wasn't in the mood to play with Sana's antics. Not when I'd just told her something much more serious
"Mina! You spoilt all the fun! Ugh.." Sana said and Tzuyu just giggled.
"Sana, I'm a little busy so can I please get back to you later?" Mina snapped and ended the call before Sana could even reply.
"Sorry about that.. You were saying?" she asked me. I smiled softly and pointed to my phone. They picked it up and began to read through all the files I'd saved, the articles I'd been reading, all the information and medication list that I had to help me when I reached this stage. The last stage.
"Mo- What is this?" Unnie asked shaking
"I have the Hanahaki disease unnie.. I have had it for a long while now" I said and smiled bitterly.
"Momo... I- I don't know what to say! I..... This can't be true Momo!" Jeong got out panicking. I shook my head explaining to them everything I'd learnt about this disease. All three of them were shocked and it took us a long time to get out of the restroom and drive back to the dorm. The drive back was quiet and gloomy. Mina was busy searching up herself about my situation while Nayeon unnie and Jeong were mumbling something about me amongst themselves. I paid them no attention and tried to sleep. To say I was used to being in constant pain was an understatement. I had no idea how to put it across, but I decided that it was time to write my goodbye letters for all those who'd been by my side all this time.
And so I did. For the next few days, I began writing heartfelt letters to my family, my members, my trainers, our fans and one letter to the person who would never reciprocate these feelings and to the person I'd never give this letter to. I didn't want to die and make Sana or Tzuyu think that it was their fault that I was gone. It wasn't anyone's fault but mine.
Nayeon unnie, Jeong and Mina were always by my side after I'd told them about my condition. Jihyo'd found one of my books and had come in when I was coughing out blood and flowers. Mina was by my side rubbing my back and soothing me while Jihyo was getting an explanation from Nayeon unnie. Soon Chaeyoung, Dahyun and even Tzuyu found out. And when they did find out, I knew I was almost at the end. I could feel it. The pain had started to cause me to get up at nights yelling and screaming. I would cough up blood more and more. The last day that I lived was nothing special. I was in our dorm with the other members. I knew I'd have to tell Sana so I went up to her with wobbly steps and asked Mina to speak since my voice was gone and I couldn't speak without coughing blood. Her eyes widened on hearing Mina's story and she began to cry yelling at me as to why I never told her and why I didn't want anyone's help. I smiled at all of them and thanked them trying not to cough but unfortunately I couldn't stop this time. Flowers of all kinds began to come out from my lungs. Roses of various colours, Orchids, Pansies, Lilies, Tulips, Daisies and many more. Everyone gasped and surrounded around me and I smiled at them one last time through the pain before coughing up the last flower - a sweet pea flower.
And that's it... I hope you enjoyed reading this story.. I don't really know what I really wanted to write, but I just ended up writing this..
Do check out some of my other works:
Queen - A MiMo story
Me and You - A SaMo story
Monster - A SaMo story
Behind The Mask - A NaMo story
Perfect - A NaMo oneshot