When the gentle caress of a newly arrived breeze kissed Yoongi’s tiny limbs, he showed her his even tinier teeth. His eyes, black pearls shining just above a pink fringe over his nose caused by the absence of sunscreen a couple of days ago, wanted to remain closed, unrelated to anything that wasn’t the imaginary fireworks his own mind blasted when closing them too hard, wrinkling his whole face up (a gesture that made him look like a dumpling, his grandfather had told him, making him laugh so hard that a misplaced noodle had come out of his nose). Still, he opened them. Even though the sunlight was almost damaging, Yoongi soon got used to its intensity hugging him, being once again spoiled by the nature that encircled his grandfather’s garden.
Yoongi’s yellow shorts flapped with the breeze as his naked feet left clumsy footprints on the wet mud, the path leading to the most colorful part of the garden. Under the blinding sun, he had suddenly remembered it, and the thought wouldn’t stop nagging at him unless he did what he always did. As he got closer to the flowering shrubs, his feet moved slower, strands of his smooth dark hair giving a stop to their dance. Inside of him, however, another story unfolded: his heart pulsations accelerated, a silence so great he could even hear the soft thuds of the little thing inclined towards the left. This was his sanctuary, the most sacred place on earth, where time was manipulable and he could make it stay still for a while longer or just rewind it to memories that he didn’t even remember, not at all, but that re-emerged because of the magic.
When you had that kind of magic by your side, travelling to those times didn’t depend on the duty of a shooting star storing all the illusions and hopes of other million kids lurking on them or the lively fire that gathers around the blue striped candles of your birthday cake: Yoongi had that opportunity in the palm of his hand. And with his grandfather’s help, he made the magic come alive.
The first thing he saw when he arrived were the white daffodils peeking out from beside him, the first thing he did was bend down a little to touch them, and the first thing he remembered that day was his grandpa’s voice pointing them out. “These remind me of your mother’s favorite dress; daffodils are delicate flowers that blow in the wind, just like that pale lace used to do.” Yoongi smiled, keeping the new memory sheltered on the chest of his mind labeled with a childish mom.
He didn’t close it yet, though, for he saw the purple dahlias a couple of steps away. Yoongi bent down once again but this time he did something different, smelling the closest to him. A thought popped in his mind, the hurricane of deja vus on his mind stopping on a specific one regarding this exact smell: it was the same that he had smelled when opening an unknown box in the attic. There, an old-fashioned teddy bear laid alone, a coat of dust looking to overpower this forgotten thing. But the dahlia perfume, untouched, still remained. Yoongi liked to believe it belonged to his mom.
However, everything else disappeared when he spotted the winter jasmines between dark stems, yellow and subtle like lemon drops. Yoongi made his small body even smaller, crouching until sitting below them, not caring about the almost unnoticeable scratching on his back. He had hidden there before, what felt like ages ago, bottling up a noisy laugh under the grip of his pale hand so he wouldn’t be noticed by his mom but failing to realise that actually, the only thing giving him away was his feet standing out over that mix of grass and mud under the bush. Yoongi had lost that hide and seek, but as his strident laugh broke free from its prison due to a “punishment” full of meddlesome hands tickling at his stomach, neck, and armpits, and his eyes opened some times just for a few seconds, taking a peek of his mother’s white smile and her cheeks almost as rosy as his and the yellow flowers all around them, winning didn’t seem so rewarding.
Yoongi could stay there for minutes. Hours, even. He stayed there, hidden between the bushes, sometimes attentive to the sun’s awakening if it was early morning, a witness of its departure others if it was almost evening. Surrounded by flowers, leaves, bugs… it didn’t matter to him. He closed his eyes strongly, frowning, hoping that would make him remember, waiting for the memories to greet him like the tiny fish living in the lake, to blossom despite the passing of time like the winter jasmines blossomed throughout pale snow.
But they would never come. Occasionally, he would grasp a gist of them, just to realize it was only a cruel illusion, his mind mixing up his grandfather’s vague stories and the things he longed to discover.
However, Yoongi had never given up easily. Anyone who knew him was aware of that, it could almost be seen in his ambitious gaze, in the way his hands curled into fists when things didn’t go his way but he refused to stop, trying and trying until his grandfather told him to give it a rest. And this wasn't an exception; he wondered if the strong ants or the laborer bees were curious about him and his motives, why would a human so tiny stay hidden for so long, especially in their land? But they seemed to like him alright: he was almost sure a caterpillar had smiled to him once, even if his grandfather didn’t believe him.
Sometimes, he would end up falling asleep, the bushes behind him serving as pillows which didn’t feel as pointy as before, he had grown accustomed to their roughness, not so to his failures, only to wake up in his bed hours later, the familiar smell of the stew downstairs calling him to dinner. It made up a big part of the magic in being a child, didn’t it? Falling asleep and waking up wherever, as if one could violate the laws of space and just teleport. Yoongi liked the thrill of it, the uncertainty of not knowing what was your next destination. It was one of the many things he craved to keep, but some things were beyond our wishes, and this is a lesson he would learn the bad way in the later years, the miracle of childhood slipping up his fingers like pale, dried-up sand.
Some days, his grandfather took him home. Others, like that one, he didn’t even show up. “You’re not a kid anymore, Yoongi.” He would say to him, the ghost of anger hovering around his gaze. Yoongi was only seven years old, and he didn’t really know what that meant since the very few people he knew still called him kiddo. Where did you draw the line? Maybe he would call himself a grownup when his teeth grew again, his disrupted smile made him look a little bit childish, according to him.
As he didn’t come looking for him, he figured it was one of those bad days for him. Yoongi didn’t like those, so he stood up, wrinkling his nose a little as he came out of the bush. He wiggled his legs and flapped his shirt, tiny leaves and bits of twigs falling to the floor. Taking a last look at them, because he would never dare to tear them, to take them away from their family, he waved his hand goodbye. It was dumb, he knew, flowers wouldn’t possibly hear you even though they were alive (yes, he had seen it in a Biology book, and was completely shocked by it), but he’d been taught to always say hello and goodbye, and especially, Yoongi felt he owed them that.
He looked at the sky, now a fierce pink. That was good. It meant he still had time to be outside until the sky appeared as dark as his hair. Before beginning his journey to the lake, Yoongi took a look at his naked feet, now a mess full of wet mud. He grimaced… maybe he should have had taken his shoes with him. Well, he would! Next time. It was more fun this way.
It was kind of a long walk until arriving at the lake, but Yoongi had never been bothered by walking too much. One day, he remembered, he decided to follow his grandfather to the central market of the town, several kilometers away. “Are you sure?” He had asked him. And Yoongi answered, always so sure about being able to do things he’d never tried before, nodding his head fiercely. He couldn’t walk for two days after, the blisters on his feet too painful to let him, although he had been wearing his shoes. Being in bed for two days was the most horrifying experience for him, a soul accustomed to wander around, his heart beating fast every time he discovered something new, like last week, when he found out there was a beehive next to the fifth tree behind his house, or yesterday, when he met Mr. and Mrs. Kim new dog, big enough to carry him around.
Yoongi was heading there, actually. To the place he’d seen him yesterday, close to the blueberry fields they owned. Mr. and Mrs. Kim… he didn’t know what they were to him. He felt they lived too far to be considered neighbors (did anyone really had neighbors there?) and, in books, kids normally had friends their age, and Yoongi had no friends, so this wasn't an option either. Yoongi wished that was different, though. He wished he could call the flowers his friends, the bugs and bees along with them. He wished Mr. and Mrs. Kim dog could be his friend, too. But he felt as if the world was delimited by these weird grids, and if you stepped out of them, your foot tasting the edge of the thinnest line, you’d be called names. You’d be considered weird. Well, he felt that was weird. However, he wanted… no, craved to belong, despite the weird rules and its stiffness. It was, he bet, better than being alone.
So he walked. He walked until he saw the large piece of a land greener than the grass growing around it, blue dots hiding there in the distance. Then he ran to it, the blueberry field stretching just in front of him. It was almost like a maze. Yoongi thought it’d be fun to play hide and seek there someday.
His impatient fingers started to itch the minute he saw the blueberries, and he thought he had heard his stomach making monster noises, as he liked to call them, minutes before. He was hungry; he hadn’t had any lunch yet because he hadn’t really been home. His grandad would be, almost certainly, not happy with that. But Yoongi pushed the anxiety of what would happen when he got home away and convinced himself he deserved to have a couple of them, even if they were hard to eat undercover, the tip of his fingers and corner of his lips acquiring a bluish tone. He rubbed his fingers on his yellow shorts, now the host of a few more stains apart from the ones caused by the damp mud of the countryside.
As he watched the blueberries, Yoongi asked himself, for a moment, if his mom had done the same. But before answering that question, something inside of him shoved it away. Sometimes, he found it painful to think too much about her.
Besides, he didn’t got the time, for when the thought enlightened in his mind, he felt something big hitting him gently. He smiled, his few teeth barely stained by the blueberries, before shrinking and holding the dog’s face between his little hands. Yoongi didn’t know anything about dogs. In fact, he was sure of only having seen a couple of them throughout his whole life, so he couldn’t have known what type of dog it was. It was really big, though, with fur tones of black, brown and white, only thing pink being its snout. His cold hands suddenly became warmer, and although he tried to bottle up the laugh creeping from his throat when he felt the dog giving him little kisses, Yoongi found himself not only laughing but shouting of joy, something he hadn’t done in a long time.
Mr. and Mrs. Kim wouldn’t be mad at him for eating those blueberries, but still… He didn’t want to go home yet, so he tried to push the dog away carefully. “Hey, no, stop! They will find me, I—” He tried whispering, now feeling the grass on his back, but his voice had always been loud. His grandad could often hear him talking, even if he was hidden in the attic, or whispering sweet things to himself every time he tried to close his eyes and sleep, at night.
Sooner than later, though, the dog backed away, being distracted by trying to chase an orange butterfly. Yoongi stood up, his hair a black mess now exposing his forehead, back full of little bits of grass sticking to him. He had a smile on his face, though. Why couldn’t he be a dog, anyway? Or anything that didn’t have responsibilities or a part to play, expectations to be met? He frowned.
As he always did, he pushed the thought away.
He was really small, so sneaking away from the blueberry field wasn't difficult for him. Yoongi found himself standing on the left side of the wide, precarious dirt road. He crossed it, not before watching both sides, as he’d learned to do. One day, when he was even more little, and his hands weren’t as cold nor his mind as full of grey thoughts, he had made the mistake of not looking to his side before crossing the road, running through it because he was so excited for he had seen a deer! A real brown deer with cute pointed ears and white dots as in his picture books! If his grandfather hadn’t grabbed him by one of the straps of his overall, something very bad would’ve happened to him. He wasn't even sure he would be standing there now, a full seven years old boy (seven and a half, actually) with stained yellow shorts, red nose, and blueberry nails.
Yes, he could be absent-minded sometimes. He had hurt himself inadvertently on more than one occasion, and it almost always had to do with his excitement or happiness. Yoongi was a boy very driven by what his heart dictated; it was as if he didn’t control his own life, putting it on autopilot and letting his emotions wash over him, sometimes making him do stupid things and not thinking twice about almost any consequence.
Of course, this would change. Of course, a lot of things would, in the next few years.
But for now, he didn’t matter, for the most part. Or rather, not when it had to do with accidentally falling and scraping his knee, or that one time he’d read a book about magic being hidden within every child including him, so he’d tried to test his new magic powers with nothing more dangerous than… fire. He had bawled his eyes out, after, while his grandad bandaged the finger that had been kissed by a flame full of threatening reds and oranges.
He didn’t matter because physical pain never stayed for too long. They weren’t anything but tourists going for a stroll on his body. Not like the permanent guest that lived in him and didn’t let him sleep some nights. That was… a different kind of thing. Maybe a different kind of pain. Yoongi didn’t understand it.
But he kept pushing it all away. An instant reaction for a familiar feeling.
Yoongi walked again, his feet tracing the left side of the dirt road, while the sun stretched through the pink canvas that was the sky. He wasn't thinking about his destiny anymore; it was more automatic this time. He didn’t know where he was going. Although deep down, he knew. If his footprints from the day before or even prior to that hadn’t vanished away, victims of the passing of time, Yoongi would be walking all over them once again.
The lake had always been beautiful. Since Yoongi’s first memories, it had always been there, almost a paradise confined between the abysses of his childish mind. It was almost magical… However, he wasn't sure why. It was something about the water and its fragile reflection, such a vulnerable thing that anything would be able to shine through it and the rays of sunshine, he sometimes thought. It was something about the interesting animals making of it their habitat; koi fishes waving their colorful tails as if they were painting on the water, toads, and frogs that always caught his attention with the patterns on their backs, or if he was lucky enough, rare salamanders, he considered others. It was the sum of all of those things, and the contrast it made with the green hills hiding far, far away, and the flowers surrounding it, he finally agreed.
However, Yoongi discovered the lake changed every time, depending on nothing else but the colors of the sky. That day, when he arrived, the sky was already a mix between purples and blues, and the lake mimicked it in darker tones. He got closer to it, his callused feet now tasting the familiarity of damp grass, his white face and puffy cheeks almost a big moon in the middle of the crystalline water. He smiled quietly, koi fishes swimming between the tiny holes on his denture. It was starting to get colder every second now, though, so Yoongi backtracked just in case (he was prone to slipping everywhere, and he didn’t want to get wet and eventually sick) and headed to the lonely tire swing hanging from probably the oldest tree in all the countryside.
He sat there, balancing himself while holding on to the ropes at the sides because his body was still too tiny to try sitting on the tire and not falling through the hole in the middle. Yoongi looked at the lake, always a mirror of colors, then at the sky and the hills, now of dark green, behind. Yes, it was different than other days, when he had arrived earlier. The darkness of the sky made the place even more… lonely. The silence, if it weren’t because of the sudden crickets, would be almost consuming. There was no one beside him, and although there never really was, it was in those moments he felt it more. Like a creeping sensation slowly seeping from a narrow filter and pouring down on him. There, looking at the vast reality of it all, he really felt the ghost of loneliness hugging him from behind.
Yoongi was just a kid, though. He didn’t want to think about these things, nor should be thinking about them, because no kid should be alone, right? He liked to convince himself that no, he wasn't alone, he had his grandpa and Mr. and Mrs. Kim and their dog and it’s fine like that, isn’t it, Yoongi? Why would you want someone else here? but it was just a trick, the voice of his grandfather once again. He always nodded, but deep inside, he knew it was the part he had to play, orchestrating a parody of ever the blissful country boy.
There was beauty in it. Not in being alone, but in the landscape exposing before him; the colors weren’t as warm as in the afternoons or mornings, but they didn’t always have to be, and that didn’t mean it wasn't beautiful. So Yoongi decided to focus on that, rather than pulling from a string in his mind that was almost shredded.
Later, he decided to finally go home. Because his limbs were starting to feel numb from the cold, and because his heart had started to feel cold, in some way, too.
He got off the swing, jumping almost clumsily. When he felt the almost icy grass he winced, hoping he had only remembered to grab his worn-out shoes. He continued, although, always walking, stomping on the cold all the way from the lake, tracing the dirt road and passing by the blueberry fields, the magical garden full of flowers, to the lowliness of his home.
Hours later, he would find himself tucked under too many blankets, stomach full of hot soup and trembling legs because of the cold water of his shower. His grandfather had shouted at him, obviously angry, but Yoongi couldn’t recall anything about it. That happened sometimes, weirdly enough. He decided to push the memory away. Yoongi pushed and pushed, using more strength every time, ignoring that when you pushed too many things together at once, space soon became insufficient, pushing all those things in the opposite direction.
Through the left window on his bedroom, he could see the flowers he had visited earlier; especially the winter jasmines. He remembered his mom (did he, though? She was always there, even when unawareness didn’t let him see it), the angel watching him from above. Angels were supposed to grant wishes if you wished them hard enough, right? And because of the seeping feeling still present on the pit of his stomach, he closed his eyes almost fiercely, hoping his whispers would be heard despite the abysmal distance between heaven and earth.
Mom, if you’re listening up there… Please, just please, send me a friend. A kid like me. I don’t wanna feel alone anymore. Please, mom. I love you. I miss you and I feel alone. Please.
Eventually, between many pleases and I miss yous, Yoongi fell asleep.
And apparently, his mom had heard him. Because the next morning, when Yoongi was awoken by a knock on the door and had to jump through the stairs, his hair a black mess over his head and his eyelids still struggling to stay open because someone had knocked and his grandfather wasn't home and it probably was the milkman or the woman who offered fresh bread or Mr. or Mrs. Kim, he realized none of it could be true.
Because when he opened it, there he was, right on his doorstep. A kid with a heart-shaped smile.