Chapter FiveShriveled Raisin
“You are completely alright,” a reassuring voice filled the cold room, followed by the sound of flipped papers. “Paranoid, yes. But not ill.”
“But, why do I keep on seeing him? My neighbours can’t see him and now they call me crazy,” Yunho complained, sounding desperate.
“Maybe you are just tired, Yunho. You need some rest,” the same voice replied.
Yunho had been attending health check appointments for the past several weeks. Maybe it was luck, or a mere fated coincidence, one day he stumbled upon an old acquaintance from high school. Both men weren’t that close but at least they knew one another enough to remember their names and each other’s classes. Yunho found out that his old friend was now a doctor and while the men had their drinks at a café before, Yunho admitted he spent half of the hour trying not to feel inferior simply because his companion was of a higher position than him, a doctor, and while he himself was a failed artist who barely made bucks for the month. He knew he shouldn’t let such negative thoughts luring him into a series of unproductive self-criticism, but at this point it was just a force of habit.
However, Yunho’s envy was soon replaced with a sense of guilt after knowing he would be able to seek for help from his friend. Maybe a doctor wouldn’t label him as a maniac before diagnosing him first, right? Yunho tried his luck and shared the details of his current ‘issue’ to the acquaintance, assuming he was probably hallucinating and schizophrenic. And that was simply how Yunho found himself being arranged to several appointments and follow-ups. Maybe he was extremely lucky or perhaps he had used all of his luck, but his acquaintance was very willing to offer treatments at a cheaper cost, at a price that was affordable by Yunho.
Yunho spent few weeks walking in and out of the nearest hospital only to finally being told that he was completely fine. He had few issues here and there, but nothing connected to neither hallucinations nor schizophrenic symptoms.
It wasn’t because of the doctor didn’t trust his story of an angel who basically disturbed his life, no. In fact, his acquaintance was even interested in this tale as he stated it as a ‘unique case’. However, the doctor was just unable to completely diagnose Yunho to anything that could possibly cause him seeing things. The closest assumption the doctor could conclude was that Yunho suffered from exhaustion.
Yunho of course wasn’t buying that. But at the same time, he couldn’t explain exactly what he was facing either. No one came home only to be welcomed by an angel, a death angel specifically. The fact that Jaejoong was a literal death angel was enough to make the human anxious and always on edge wherever he went.
Sometimes he even refused to buy groceries simply because he feared going outside, wondering if any cars would hit him despite there had been zero accident for the years he lived in the neighbourhood. Yet, Yunho would end up buying some items from the usual convenience store, especially after Jaejoong lectured his arse to go out. There were days when Yunho thought he was really crazy, but no matter how hard he tried to ‘snap back to reality’, the death angel would still be there.
“Today will be your last appointment. However, if something gets worse, please do not hesitate to contact me,” the doctor advised with a warm comforting smile, his eyes never left the anxious man while his hand jotted down something on the paper he held.
Yunho chose to remain quiet, obviously unsatisfied with the result of his diagnosis. His brows furrowed in mild stress as he observed the current room he was in.
The cold temperature made him regretting not wearing his jacket before he left the apartment. It was a small room with the floor tiles and walls all bright white, almost blinding with the equally shining lights. A familiar scent diffused throughout the room. It was that one specific scent that was commonly smelled in hospitals and clinics. Yunho wasn’t sure what made hospitals shared almost the same smell. It could be the medicines, or the gloves doctors wore (he was uncertain as to why his focus fixated upon the gloves), but the familiar odour did surely trigger nostalgia, or trauma, based on how others view it. The doctor’s desk was topped by several scattered papers, a cup of pens and a small pot of fake plant which looked out of the place as it was the only source of green among the bright whites. There was a single bed at the back of the room behind the curtain, the blanket was neatly folded.
“Thank you,” Yunho finally said, in a defeated tone. He knew his acquaintance still did his best attempt at helping so he couldn’t really be mad at the undesired result of his health check-ups.
“It’s my pleasure,” the doctor responded, the sweet smile never left his mouth despite Yunho’s obvious discontent. He must had dealt with worse patients before this.
Standing up from his chair, Yunho bid farewell to his old high school friend before making his leave out of the cold room. Perhaps, the issue of facing a death angel was for him to solve on his own. Maybe… he was actually dying after all. The non-existent final date only caused his paranoia to worsen.
Once he left the hospital premise, Yunho meandered his way in between the lines of cars in the parking area before reaching to his own vehicle. He was lucky to find a good parking spot under the shade of a tree arch, alongside with 2 other lucky car owners. His initial assumption of a perfect parking spot to be his lucky charm indicator for the health check turned out to be a misconception. But thoughts aside, he swiftly entered the car and settled on the seat, his back resting against the leather as he breathed air.
His eyes watched as a family of four walked to their car, the two children were apparently racing each other to the vehicle while their mum seemed to be yelling something, perhaps telling the kids to be careful. Yunho changed his gaze to the left where he caught glances of two elderlies engaged in an animated conversation. He couldn’t read their facial expressions but the two looked like a pair of old friends catching up with time. Then, Yunho blinked once as he moved his sight to the right, and saw a lady standing against her car door, a lit cigarette in hand as she exhaled smoke. She appeared calm. Turning on the radio and tuning to a random music channel, Yunho began driving in a silence as his thoughts shuffled.
Jaejoong undeniably was a beautiful man. Even the name itself had such a unique attraction to it, that it was somehow addictive to be said, as if each syllable was lovely to be pronounced, like the word carved valuable meaning beneath. Yunho couldn’t pretend like it didn’t bug his mind. Frankly speaking, he appreciated Jaejoong’s existence in his apartment. When the angel cooked for him, pointed out his bad habits and mistakes, and when the angel was being generous and performed his ‘rare miracles’ of cleaning the apartment, Yunho was grateful to have someone who did mundane chores at home. It lessened his burdens, especially when he most likely wouldn’t have the energy to pick up the broom after work.
Despite how Jaejoong could be getting on his nerve most of the times, it was the angel’s pure flawless physical traits that stopped Yunho from becoming an erupting volcano. He had met with several men and women before this, shared random kisses with few, yet none of them had stunned Yunho as beautifully as Jaejoong did. The death angel’s charismatic feature was perhaps, the closest to the concept of gift from holy divinity. In other words, Jaejoong managed to fill that one empty spot within Yunho’s heart, the warm feeling of having someone to care for you back at home, something that was missing during his childhood.
However, Yunho couldn’t rest still with the idea of him living with a death angel. It sounded like someone’s daydream fantasy, written in a fiction novel. To put it simply, it just wasn’t believable enough. Yunho had been a skeptical man all these years, and he slowly became more cynical when his career as an artist failed. He had no time to believe in seeing angels despite praying for one. It was ironic, having a guardian angel was his prayer yet when his voice was heard, he began rejecting the gift.
In his defence though, Jaejoong was a death angel, and it was assumed no one would happily welcome anything death related inside their home, right? And to make things worse, Yunho couldn’t stay still after knowing that he was allegedly in his ‘final days’. Seeing Jaejoong kept on reminding him that he would be having his last breath soon, and this was one of the few reasons why nowadays he purposedly delayed his arrival at home by either visiting the convenience store or by driving at random spots in town. Having Jaejoong back at home was like wielding a double-edged sword; the angel’s presence could be both comforting and terrifying.
Yet one thing Yunho noticed though, Jaejoong never actually followed him outside of the apartment. The closest to being in the outdoor the angel had ever done was by walking to the narrow balcony, and that was it. It was as if the death angel was encaged inside the apartment. Yunho tended to find that it was quite odd, given how Jaejoong was basically able to teleport wherever he wished to. He assumed that perhaps the angel’s sole task was to stay at Yunho’s home? Yet regardless, Yunho didn’t actually mind that because that only meant he had free alone times when being outside of home, right?
Yet, speaking of the devil…
“Hey,” a familiar voice appeared.
“ARRGH!” and it turned out Yunho’s assumption was wrong after all.
When he quickly turned his head to the left, the once empty passenger seat was now throned by none other than Jaejoong who had obviously teleported right inside the moving car. Losing stabilised grip on the steering, the car swerved to the left side in a rapid pace, causing nearby alarmed drivers to slam their honks. When the car was inches away from the pedestrian path, Yunho managed to take control of the vehicle before repositioned it to the asphalt once again. The short incident didn’t traumatise him, but it did put him on full alert, causing his heart to beat rigorously.
“Do you want me to die early?!” Yunho couldn’t help but to yell at the angel next to him.
Jaejoong as usual gestured an idle shrug as he cracked a chuckle. “Your death isn’t coming sooner so why not make it faster?” he pointed out in a joking tone, as if the car nearly getting into an accident didn’t terrify him at all, which he did appear unaffected.
“Sometimes I can’t tell whether you want to make my last days better or worse…” deciding that it was useless to argue with a nonchalant angel, Yunho only breathed a heavy sigh. “And did you put the clothes in the laundry?”
“Yes, I did sir. I even finished the laundry. I wore clean clothes this time,” Jaejoong sounded proud as he patted his own chest to show the clothing.
“Good,” glancing at the angel, Yunho could easily tell the current white tee Jaejoong wore was indeed clean and bright. But he didn’t pay much attention to that when he made a turn on the road before entering a new junction.
Seemingly confused at the hasty change of direction, Jaejoong raised a brow. “Where are we going?” he asked, eyes wilding at multiple directions as he scanned the new area.
“Somewhere peaceful,” Yunho answered.
About half an hour driving and another half an hour jailed in a traffic jam, the silhouettes of a park eventually came to both men’s view. The horizon was dotted by the shapes of parked cars, and when they drove closer to the location, different families were seen strolling around the concrete path. Reducing the car speed, Yunho right away hunted for a comfortable parking spot. On the passenger seat though, Jaejoong appeared subtlety thrilled at the sight of a park as he leaned his body closer to the car window, his eyes watching the people walking in and out of the park entrance.
The day was a rather cloudy morning accompanied with enough sun rays to brighten the entire atmosphere. The weather wasn’t hot and not too chilling either, it was just the perfect temperature for a slow walk in the park. Maybe because it was just another Wednesday, less visitors were seen loitering in the area, which Yunho had preferred as he felt more at peace with less strangers around. The entire park was a complete contrast to the hectic life at the town and city. It was as if the world naturally came to a peaceful and stagnant state once someone stepped inside the compound of the park. The birds sang their song on the trees, the wind spiralled in waves, bringing the dried leaves to their slow-paced performances. The tufts of grass danced in harmony next to one another.
The park was a vast meadow of green, with few benches and barbeque spots located in a rather sporadic arrangement. There was a man-made pond at the very middle of the park. Ducks and fish alike could be seen under the translucent body of water. Some children were excited to throw in small pieces of bread into the pond and their parents had to monitor them, worrying they might fall off from the bridge bisecting the pond into two sides.
Some couples could be spotted walking aimlessly on the concrete pavement, hands interlocking with one another. There was a line of few stalls stood by the edge of the park, next to the two public toilets.
The only ‘unique’ attraction in the whole park was a huge rectangular black wall built diagonally in the middle of the park. The vertical height was of the similar length of the nearby trees, yet enough to appear as a mo