I trudged along the hallways, my heart heavy as I wearily entered the practice room, breaking out in a yawn. My head felt as if it was going to explode with all of the negative thoughts I was trying to push out. Or etch deeper into my brain.
"Dongpyo~ our center!"
Hyeongjun cheerfully bounced up to me, smiling brightly but as soon as he saw my drained features, he gasped.
"Dongpyo-ah, are you alright? You look terrible, gosh."
Stretching, I lied right through my teeth, shrugging and getting to the point.
The whole 'Pretty Girl' team looked at me, baffled, but didn't protest to my request and we began practicing.
Get it together, Dongpyo. You're fake. You're not manly enough. You need to sing and dance better. You're too short. You need to lose weight. You don't deserve to be the center. I usually knew better than to pay attention to comments online, but I looked and they'd been circling in my head all day. Perhaps it's because deep down, it's true. It's so fucking true, I'm useless, I'm- SLAM. I'd lost my footing and slammed right onto the ground, my whole body protesting as pain shot through my limbs. Pathetic. Wonjin immediately rushed over, followed by the others.
"Oh my god, Dongpyo-ah, don't move. We'll get a paramedic."
I yelled, but then put on a brave stance and brushed it off with a cute smile.
"Really, hyung~? I'm fine! I'm Son Dongpyo! I'm too talented to be hurt, don't worry!~"
Wonjin frowned as I cradled my ribs slightly, but just about believed me.
"If you say so..don't overwork, okay?"
I nodded and excused myself to the solo practice room. "Yes~ I'm going to practice solo now!"
Weak. Again. Higher. Louder. Clearer. I pushed and pushed myself to sing the notes of 'Pretty Girl', hoping that a miracle would happen and I'd actually improve for once. I can't let my team down. My throat was parched, dry and sore from singing for over 7 hours straight, having missed lunch and dinner. My stomach rumbled as I finished the 200th round of practicing the song, but I ignored the hunger pangs and how thirsty I was, concentrating on improving. I tried to reach a high note but as soon as the chorus came around, I burst into a fit of coughing, collapsing to the ground. What would my team think of seeing me so weak, so frail, so pathetic and undeserving? What would Producers think? What would Seungwoo hyung think? Ah yes, Seungwoo hyung..he's kind, talented, sexy...he's perfect. And what am I? 'Cute' little Son Dongpyo who shouldn't have been the center. As I continued to belittle myself, my coughing eventually faded to hiccuping, tears falling freely.
I whispered to myself, wiping my tears and standing up to walk to the dance practice room again.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the choreography right. Not perfect enough. My head spun as my legs threatened to drop to the floor. My skull felt as if it was tearing apart, my lungs burned, and my stomach clawed at itself, hunger taking over my being yet again. I hunched over, wrapping my arms around my middle and sniffling quietly, trying to muffle my sobs. I need to be perfect...I have to...I have to....I have to....perfect....not deserving of the center. weak....pathetic...useless.. I have to be perfect.....perfect....perfect... Before I knew it, it was as if my lungs had stopped working properly as I had began to hyperventilate, the world spinning as I struggled to take in a full breath. I should have never joined Produce. I should have never become the center. I won't debut. Nausea creeped up in my throat and my stomach lurched, begging for me to allow myself to reject what little food I had consumed for breakfast. Wouldn't hurt, I need to lose weight anyway. The world seemed so far away, as I wobbled to the door, hearing faint footsteps from outside. Seungwoo.
I immediately collapsed in front of Seungwoo, my entire body shaking violently. He couldn't tell if i was sobbing, or coughing, or gagging. The tears streaking my cheeks seemed to be too plentiful to be just a result of the force of my heaves.
"I don't like it..."
I whispered, still swallowing rapidly; but then the feeling overwhelmed me as I heaved, the muscles in my abdomen pressing tightly upwards. I whimpered softly, wishing that this would all stop. The muscles contracted again, and it happened too quickly for me to fight it. A gush of liquid flowed up my throat and i jerked forwards, immediately vomiting onto the floor, pouring from my mouth, tears leaking from my eyes. I could feel Seungwoo's hand rubbing my back in an attempt to make me feel better, but it wasn't working. Once the vomiting had stopped, I took a few deep breaths in, trying to control my breathing.
I didn't know what to do. Dongpyo retched over the floor, unable to catch his breath. What was he doing practicing at this time?! I brought him into a hug as soon as the heaves stopped, planting small kisses to the boy's neck.
He was still shaking and crying, covering his mouth.
"Gosh, Dongpyo, what thoughts are going through your pretty mind, huh?"
Dongpyo laughed bitterly at such a word and faced me.
"Seungwoo hyung...please help me. I- I read comments about me...and I think they're true. How do I improve? How do I stop being so pathetic? How do I become perfect like you?"
I sat in awe at my baby's words. No...I realised that my poor baby, Son Dongpyo, who deserves the world, had been hated on so much that he'd been forced to overwork himself and believe those horrible things...it can't be true.
"Dongpyo-ah. It's going to be all right. Why would you think of yourself in that way? You're talented, handsome, and kind. Cheeky, fun, trustworthy. You're everything."
He sobbed in my arms, again, unable to break his self loathing cycle.
"Come on, up you go."
I picked the boy up, and he was surprisingly lighter than expected. What had he done to himself? He wrapped his arms and legs around me as i carried him to my dorm room, placing him on my bed. The others, who were asleep, didn't mind and most likely wouldn't mind if Dongpyo slept here.
"Baby, let's get your clothes off, hm?"
Dongpyo whined, sitting up as I took his sweaty t shirt off. I then got up to get him some water, lifting the cup to his dry lips. He took it gratefully, drinking every drop. Dongpyo's tummy gave a large groan, reminding me that the poor trainee hadn't eaten all day.
"Babyboy, we need to get some food into you. Can you manage some soup?"
I asked but got a moan in response as Dongpyo pulled the covers over himself.
"Mhm too tired, Seungwoo hyung....."
I sighed, hopping into the bed, clutching Dongpyo to my chest, wrapping my arms around his smaller frame and kissing his neck.
"Don't ever think badly of yourself, Pyo. Whatever you're going through, we can fix it. Just rest for now, yeah? Good baby."
Dongpyo yawned and began to slip into sleep, and I followed soon after, hoping that I would be able to help him in the morning.