The boy had been walking for hours, simply following the snow-covered tracks as they led to nowhere.
He had been walking for hours, but he had been on the run for much longer.
Days? Weeks? Months?
He had simply lost track. Always on the move, running from his past.
It was a cold day today. It was winter after all. But the boy didn’t feel the cold as a winter wind tore through his thin coat. The boy had stopped feeling anything long ago - or maybe not too long ago. Time had slipped away from him, making it impossible for him to pinpoint how long ago it all started.
But he hadn’t forgotten why it started. He could never forget that.
Sometimes, when the sun was up, he could forget why he was running. What he was running from. But surely, as the sun set, the memories would assault him. Forcing him to relive the moment again, and again, and again, and again.
The boy was tired.
He just wanted it all to just stop.
The boy had left the city in the morning, suddenly deciding to follow the train tracks out. He didn’t know why he suddenly decided to leave. But this morning, when he was watching the trains roll in and out of the station, he suddenly got up and started to follow the trains as they left the city.
As the boy walked, the sounds of the city eventually faded and were replaced with the quietness of the countryside. Slowly the landscape became more and more desolate, until there were no signs of any human life, save the train tracks he was following.
That is, until he came across an old abandoned train station.
As the boy drew closer, he could see the station’s windows were covered in dust, and the wood of the platform was rotting.
Looking up at the decaying station reminded the boy of another building. A building he was trying to forget.
The boy slowly climbed the steps to the platform, carefully avoiding the holes where the wood had rotted through.
What had his life become? One quick decision, and now he was standing on a rotting train station’s platform in the middle of nowhere.
The boy let out a sigh, once again wishing for it all to just stop.
It was a quick decision that led the boy out to the middle of nowhere. It was another quick decision that led him to step off the platform and onto the tracks.
The boy slowly made his way across the snow-covered track, and knelt. He looked down the tracks towards where he had come, and slowly lowered his head, resting it on the rail.
The boy didn’t know when a train was coming, or even if one would, but he was ready for everything to stop. He was tired of running, tired of fighting his memories.
The boy closed his eyes and let the scene play out in his mind, this time not fighting it. He could feel the thickness of the blood as it coated his hands. He could hear the screams. And he could hear the sound of an approaching train.
He let out a breath. The boy was ready. This was the penance he was ready to pay. A punishment he deserved.
The boy listened as the sound of the train echoed through the valley, slowly getting louder.
Then he heard another sound.
It was the sound of boots crunching against the snow, then stopping right in front of where he knelt.
“Hello,” a voice said. If the boy had to guess, he would guess that the voice belonged to a boy around his age. If he could bother to lift his head from the tracks and open his eyes, he would see he would be right.
“Can I ask what you’re doing?” said the newcomer.
The boy somehow managed to find enough strength to mumble, “Why does it matter to you? You should leave now and forget about me.”
“I don’t think I can do that,” said the voice. “It would be pretty hard to forget about seeing you. I think I would spend the rest of my life wondering about what became of you if I left now.”
The boy said nothing, continuing to listen to the slowly approaching train.
“I know you must be hurting right now,” the voice said. “Why else would you be here if you weren’t? But whatever it is that’s causing you pain, don’t let this be the end. Not today.”
This was the first real conversation the boy had with anyone since he started running. No, longer. The boy couldn’t remember the last time he felt like someone actually saw him. That someone actually cared.
“But how could this person care?” the boy thought, “The only person who ever did care…”
The thought made tears well in his eyes as the memory flashed through his head again. Someone used to care about him. When did that change?
“Why do you care?” asked the boy, voicing his thoughts. “You don’t know me.”
“No, I don’t,” replied the voice. “But that doesn’t mean that I can’t care about what would happen to you. Please, come off the tracks. I know somewhere you can go. Somewhere safe. A place where you don’t have to run anymore.”
There was a moment of silence, then the boy whispered, “Maybe this is what I deserve.”
He said it so quietly that he wasn’t sure if the person in front of him actually heard the words. Once the words were out, tears begin to fall freely from the boy’s eyes.
“Whatever you did,” the voice said slowly, “I don’t think that this is the solution. You may have done something terrible, but this can’t be the solution. The solution is to fight for better days. Days where you can do better, and be better. Not erasing what happened –no, never forgetting, but fighting and hoping for those better days.”
There was the sound of snow crunching as the person in front of him knelt down in front of him. The voice was suddenly a lot closer when the boy heard, “Please stay a little longer.”
Tears were falling from the boy’s eyes as he slowly lifted his head off the tracks and opened his eyes, looking at the person in front of him.
The first thing the boy noticed was the other’s pink hair and a set of white shoes that hung around his neck. Then he registered the boy’s sad smile. This was someone who had experienced tragedy, you could see it in his eyes.
But the pink haired boy was still breathing, still fighting. If the pink haired boy could do it, then maybe, he could too.
The pink haired boy held out a hand and said, “You don’t have you fight alone anymore.”
It was a split decision that caused the boy to run, leading him to this abandoned train station. A split decision that led him to rest his head on the rails to wait for the end.
It was another split decision that lead the boy to take the pink haired boy’s hand, allowing himself to be pulled off the tracks just as the train came into view.
The pink haired boy pulled him away from the track as the train rolled past the abandoned station. Then the pink haired boy pulled him into a hug.
The boy normally didn’t like being touched, but for once he relished the embrace.
While in the hug, the pink haired boy whispered into the boy’s ear, “Thank you for staying.”
When they finally let go, the boy looked down at the snowy ground, and wiped away the tears from his eyes.
He felt the wind of the train traveling past him, and he suddenly felt scared. It had almost been the end. He had been ready, but he was now grateful for this stranger who had talked him off the tracks.
“Can I have a name?” Asked pink hair. “It doesn’t have to be your actual name. One of the guys back at the place, we call him Joonie. I don’t know why exactly because he wanted us to call him Rap Monster, but that’s kinda silly, especially since he refuses to actually rap for us. Sometimes we’ll call him Rap Mon, but I don’t really know how you get Joonie from Rap Monster, but we all took Jin’s lead on it. Really, it could be anything. Sorry, I’m rambling. Just, what can I call you?”
The boy thought for a moment, finding a great release in the idea that he wasn’t obligated to give his real name. He could become someone else, someone new. Maybe this would be a new start for him.
After thinking for a moment, the boy simply said, “V.”
“Alright V, I’m Jimin. I’ll take you to the others.”
V let himself be lead away from the abandoned train station asking, “Where are we going?”