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Fallen Leaves

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Sometimes, you may give your all but it won’t be enough. It will be too much and in the end you will have to let go.

***

Myungsoo sat on the park bench on a crisp, clear autumn day, tweaking the settings on his camera. It was a cool day with just the right amount of sun and breeze. Not too cold to wear a jacket but not too hot where one would simply wear a t-shirt.

It was simple and beautiful and Myungsoo loved every moment of it. That change in the weather, the colors of the leaves, bright greens turning to hues of orange and red. It was a season of change.

Kids were still running around and playing in the playground before it became too cold. Teenagers were lounging around the trees in circles talking, laughing and pushing each other around. Couples were everywhere. Walking around, hand in hand with fleeting smiles and twinkling eyes. It hurt to look at them.

Myungsoo didn’t know if his heart could take the pressure.

He stopped fidgeting with the camera in his hand and pulled it up to his face and looked through the lens. Yes, this was a better way to look at the world; a world that could fit in the palm of his hand. This was easier for him to understand, life in pictures. He snapped a couple of shots, taking a deep breath of the clear air. He didn't get enough fresh air often, working at the accounting firm. His office was suffocating, the air conditioning never worked regardless of how many times the manager said he would have someone come to take a look at it. Myungsoo could count the remaining days left till autumn came.

It was a crowded day at the park, oddly enough. Oh well. Just means more pictures for me. After a long week at work, his pictures gave him release. It helped him de-stress from looking at boring world of finances and taxes.

He picked himself off the bench, placed his camera bag on his shoulder and went on his way walking down the pathway of the park. 

He took photos of the sky, of the flowers, of the people. He snapped away at each second, looking away from the camera every other moment to save himself from the crashing into the occasional dog-walker and said dog.

***

An hour later, he was further in the park at a site where not many people walk by. He stopped walking the stone pathway a couple of minutes back and found himself in the midst of trees lining the way to a stone archway. It was grimy and old, nothing like the newer additions of the trail. Myungsoo enjoyed it. It was something out of a story book. The ground itself was lined with different shades of red, orange and green leaves He walked towards it, his fingers trailing the outer stones in a linear motion. He sighed and rested his head against the cool stone thinking back to when life was more colorful.

There was only so much that could distract him from thinking about Sungjong. Even if it was just a year ago, Myungsoo could feel his lack of presence, and it hurt. He understood, why Sungjong left. He really did but it doesn't mean that he had to like it. 

Lee Sungjong, the boy who had biggest smile in the world. Lee Sungjong the boy who could be innocent in one second and the complete devil in another. He completely flipped Myungsoo's world upside down. The same boy who helped him find the suit for his job interview. Although, he didn't ace the interview he did get the number of a very handsome employee on the receipt. From that point onward, Myungsoo found himself calling Sungjong and learning everything there was to know about him. Everything. Myungsoo was that type of person, he liked to know about everything. He had a lot of love in his heart and he simply wanted to give it all to Sungjong.

It was at that point when everything went downhill. Myungsoo was a bit drunk. Sungjong was bit late coming home. Myungsoo shouldn't have cared too much. Myungsoo knew that he went out to see his friends, but he was buzzed, and one thing led to another and Myungsoo was yelling and pleading. Sungjong had enough and told him that he was leaving. It was a thought that has been growing in his mind for the past few weeks.

He was being too restrictive, too suffocating. Myungsoo - who just wanted to give all his love to someone - was being too much. Sungjong still loved him, but not that way anymore. He just wanted Myungsoo to get counseling for his behaviour. He wanted Myungsoo to love in a different, a better way. But this was Myungsoo's way. This was Myungsoo's way, but Sungjong wouldn’t have it anymore.

That spring Sungjong may have left, but his memories were still etched into Myungsoo's heart. his first love it seems. Myungsoo didn't want to leave him, but for Sungjong to be his happiest, it was the only way possible.

Myungsoo took Sungjong's advice and found himself a way to curb his extreme emotions. He had to channel it in a different medium. One that allowed him to keep his world small and in his hand. That's when he found photography, a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. He took photos of everything in the beginning, when he first started, getting a feel for the device. 

He would push and click buttons, tweak settings, scream in frustration when the photos wouldn't be perfect. Later rather than sooner, he learned something within the first couple of months. A photo will capture everything whether you like it or not. People are flawed and with this device you capture those flaws. It would be better not to beat yourself with imperfect photos because every photo is just how its supposed to be in that exact moment.

He and his camera were inseparable now. It was an extended part of him and he liked it. He was in a better place than he was a year ago. He had to owe it to Sungjong forcing his hand. It was all due to Sungjong, so even with the pain Myungsoo can bear a smile when it comes to his first love.

***

Myungsoo's ears perked up when he heard the crunch of leaves behind him. "Sorry! I didn't know someone was here,” a voice from outside the arch spoke. 

Myungsoo looked in the direction of the voice, a man about his age it seemed with bright blonde hair and an apologetic smile. Myungsoo gave him a slight smile in hopes that the man didn't really regret disturbing him. "It’s okay. I wasn't doing anything special." He walked past the blonde man to sit on a boulder near the archway.

Myungsoo crossed his legs and flipped through the photos on his camera, deleting blurry photos and smiling at others. 

The sound of crunching leaves flew to his ears again. Myungsoo looked up from his camera to see the blonde man just staring him up and down a few feet away.

“Is something wrong?" the blonde pulled at something on his back and placed it by his side. It looked like an instrument?

"Nothing wrong persay, I just sing over here usually and I just-," motioning his hands to the airs and trees around them, "- didn't know if you were okay with that?"

Myungsoo looked him up and down, he didn't have the whole singer look, except for maybe the hair. Myungsoo shrugged, “I don’t care.”

"My name’s Woohyun, by the way. If we are sharing these woods, we should probably know each other’s names." Woohyun gave him what looked like a lazy smile.

Myungsoo scrunched up his eyebrows, not following with that logic because they were strangers and they really didn’t owe anything to each other, but to hell with it he thought.

"Myungsoo." Clear and cut that was the blonde – Woohyun wanted anyway.

Woohyun's smile brightened at that, and he started setting up his instrument, which was a guitar. How typical. He has the bleach blonde hair, the earrings, the perfect teeth. Myungsoo shook his head at that line of thought and continued going through his camera. "So Myungsoo was it, what are you doing here? I said was singing here. I usually do, because it’s so quiet here and really beautiful." Woohyun simply talked while moving around with his guitar. He filled the silence with his speech.

Myungsoo didn't come here to converse, he came to take pictures, for the same quiet that Woohyun seemed to be intent on disrupting. But Myungsoo couldn’t not reply, that would be rude, and Myungsoo was not rude. He may be quiet but he was not rude.

 "Pictures, thats all."

Woohyun bounced, "Oh wow really? Are you a photographer then? Thats so cool!" He showed such excitement, it was disarming. People, strangers especially never showed interest. Myungsoo was always behind the camera, especially for the last year or so.

Myungsoo looked up at him, wondering if this was just normal Woohyun, because this was not Myungsoo’s normal.

"Uh, not really. I just do it ‘cause it's nice. Not really a living for me." No more talking please because I don’t think I’ll be able to not reply. You’re contagious.

"Really? Thats such a nice camera though? It looks professional. What do you do then? I'm an elementary school teacher, believe it or not." He laughed at himself, as if he himself couldn't believe it. 

At this Myungsoo's eyebrow rose, a school teacher they let him in with piercings?  "Are you sure about that? They let you teach little kids looking like that?" 

"Like what?” after a moment, Woohyun continued, " like my devilishly handsome self." 

Myungsoo coughed on his own spit. Who is this man?

"I know i really am the devil you know." Woohyun laughed again, moving up and down.

"Anyway enough about that, you don't mind my playing here right? I kinda have to practice for a gig I have later tonight, and this place really just makes me happy. So..." he trailed off. 

Myungsoo shook his head, with a slight hint of a smile, "Go ahead,” moving his hand forward in a motion that meant the stage was his. 

Woohyun bowed his head, rearranged himself on his own boulder and fiddled around with his guitar chords.

Myungsoo allowed himself to grant Woohyun a wider smile, when the other started singing. He came in like a hurricane and Myungsoo couldn’t help it when he raised his camera lens to commemorate this moment in the park.

***

Sometimes letting go is what’s best. Let go and maybe just maybe something better will be on the way.