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the blues and the purple-pink skies

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pink

pink is the color of the pen joohyun is using to correct yerim’s mock test. she’s never seen so much of the color in her life.

after tonight, yerim doesn’t want to see it ever again.

joohyun had walked into her room a little while ago, drawn in by a dim glow shining out into the hallway from where she had left the door cracked open. it was late, closer to dawn than dusk, and they had a full day of training tomorrow, not to mention school in the morning for yerim. she had knocked softly on the door and let herself in, letting out a little sigh when yerim looked up at her with sleepy, half-lidded eyes from her hunched position at her desk. she thinks of yerim and thinks of tenacity, of a river carving its path through centuries-old bedrock. thinks of those personality tests that ask you to pick between three routes, and knows she’d choose this path a thousand times over.

she hands her the workbook back to her, eyes that are soft with sympathy but bright with amusement, too. yerim groans and drops her head down to the table, harder than she had meant to, and the resounding smack rings out around the room.

“stop, you’ll hurt yourself,” joohyun fusses, pulling her close to rub at the slightly red mark already starting to spread on her forehead.

“i’m never going to get any of this,” she mumbles, and there’s a heaviness behind her words that weighs more than just full marks on a math test.

“be gentle with yourself. you’re already doing so well,” she coos.

“what if i don’t? in the future, what if i don’t?”

“and what if you do?” she pauses to tuck a lock of yerim’s hair behind her ear. “there’s no use in worrying yourself sick over what-ifs, yerim-ah. the sun sets but it also rises, and that’s a new day. it never sets for long,” which is the truth.

“but what if it does?”

“oh, yerimie, it won’t. because i know you,” she says, because she does. and that’s the truth, too.

pink is the color of the blanket joohyun drapes around both of their shoulders, pulling yerim closer to share the warmth as she goes over the concepts on the page again.

pink is the color spreading across the sky when yerim finally, finally gets all the problems correct. it’s absent on paper but colors the soft blush blooming across her cheeks when joohyun praises her.

pink, a darker hue this time, is the sky when they walk home from the river, joohyun having snuck out with her after their schedules ended.

yerim thinks, pink’s not so bad if she’s got someone to share it with.


yellow

yellow is the color seulgi dips her paintbrush in and stretches over the canvas in front of her. she’s recreating a painting, one of van gogh’s sunflowers that yerim vaguely recognizes as she walks into her room.

it’s also the color that’s smudged across her cheekbone, but yerim keeps that to herself. what seulgi doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

she stretches herself across seulgi’s bed without a word. at seulgi’s questioning gaze, she shrugs and states simply, “i’m bored.”

seulgi holds up a clean paintbrush and asks, “wanna paint?”

yerim shakes her head.

the clock ticks by but neither of them take notice of its passing. somewhere along the line yerim rummages through seulgi’s vinyl collection and puts one on, the singer crooning jazz soft and sweet into the bubble of their company. her fairy lights twinkle in the background and if she squints, they could be stars. when the record ends, yerim decides against flipping it and lets the needle run through static instead. her eyes track seulgi’s form moving towards the record player, reaching for the off switch. she looks at yerim, who’s lying with her head hanging off the side of the bed, phone gripped loosely in one hand.

“let’s go out,” she suggests, because yerim’s in a mood even if she isn’t voicing it and seulgi understands all too well the necessity of doing when stagnation pools in your belly. after extensive convincing and mirrored pouts, they get their manager’s permission to go out alone, to some newly redesigned mall that’s been flooding their instagram feeds recently. they hop from store to store, trying on clothes and thumbing through random books for passages to read to each other. they end their day with food (of course), settling down in their seats with a newly found lightness in their chests.

yellow is the bouquet of sunflowers that yerim purchased from a stand in the middle of the mall, deciding on putting half of them on display in her room and drying the other half as a gift for seulgi.

yellow is the filter seulgi chooses for the photos she takes of yerim, the vintage feel somehow a promise that this story has been told before, is being told now, and will continue to be told, even in another time.

yellow is the color that’s still staining seulgi’s cheekbone when she catches sight of her reflection in a store window. she lets out a gasp and stops abruptly, rubbing furiously at her cheek. yerim, bent over and stumbling in laughter, only laughs harder when seulgi gives her a shove, letting out an indignant whine.

their merriment dances around the room like a pas de deux, and, in the spaces where they overlap, bathes the room in a light yellow glow.


blue

blue is the color of the sweater that seungwan’s wearing when yerim steps into the practice room. it’s huge—seungwan is practically drowning in it. it reminds her of the ocean, and yerim feels small.

seungwan looks up in response to the soft pitter-patter of her feet across linoleum and chirps, “hey, you,” watching as yerim positions herself in front of her, legs criss-crossed.

she had been doing another late night instagram live and yerim had watched her belt to an audience, unknown and unnamed, across the globe. for a second she had wondered if this was what it was like, to love for something from oceans away, and unconsciously reached for her phone to message seungwan. it’s hard for someone to feel far away when they’re right in front of you. seungwan had ended the live two songs later and texted her back, asking her to come over.

they watch each other for a few moments, head resting on their palms. then seungwan reaches over and taps yerim on the knee. breaks the silence. “what’s up?”

yerim reaches into her bag and pulls out her journal. “i was wondering if you could help me with some lyrics? i’m kind of stuck.”

“yeah, of course! you know you can come to me anytime,” seungwan responds, with so much enthusiasm that yerim forgets why she was so hesitant in the first place. she’s well aware that she can hold her own in the group and there’s never been any jealousy among the members. but when she’s watching the other girls practice—watching a voice erupt from seungwan’s tiny body and echo off empty stadium walls—well, anyone in her place would feel a little intimidated, too.

but seungwan never says things she doesn’t mean so when she tells her of her improvement as a vocalist and gushes over a particularly poignant new lyric, she believes it. because seungwan is honest and kind and lets herself be teased relentlessly and yerim marvels at how she pushes the limits of how much love a single body can hold.

a few hours and not one, but two finished songs later, they’re ready to head back to the dorms. they walk out on wobbly legs, numb from sitting, and lean on each other for support.

blue is the sky that greets them as they step outside. seungwan stretches her arms out, tilts her head back with closed eyes, and says something about how lucky they are to share such beauty. yerim cringes but when seungwan manhandles her into joining her, she doesn’t try too hard to shy away.

blue is the sweater that yerim is now wearing, practically forced over her head when her body shivered in the night air.

blue is the color of the figure who’s got seungwan tucked in close, keeping them both warm.

it’s the hue that surrounds the silhouettes of two girls making their way home, seemingly having all the time in the world.


green

green is the color of the ice cream that sooyoung’s digging into. it’s their day off and all the other members were out. it’s a rarity for them, and even rarer still that sooyoung and yerim were the only ones left at home. they’re on the living room couch watching some romance movie sooyoung’s only half paying attention to.

yerim, whose head is resting on her lap, turns so that she’s looking upwards. she pokes sooyoung in the stomach and points to herself, mouth dropping open and making an “ahh” sound.

“no, this one’s mine. get your own ice cream,” sooyoung replies, nonplussed.

yerim pokes her harder and opens her mouth again, “ahh” sound more urgent this time. sooyoung shakes her leg so that yerim’s head bounces off of her thigh and onto the couch. she laughs at the glare she gets and digs her spoon back into the pint.

rookie mistake.

yerim grabs sooyoung’s arm before the spoon reaches her mouth and forces it towards her. it’s here that sooyoung remembers how strong their youngest had become, but she’s not about to go down without a fight. they wrestle for a bit, movie forgotten, before they both realize what they’re fighting over is ice cream, and watch in horror as it slips slowly off of the spoon.

and onto the middle of yerim’s forehead.

she lets out a shriek as sooyoung throws herself backwards, shaking in silent laughter.

“help me!” she whines. her fingers hover by her head as she tries to figure out how to pick up the quickly melting dessert without further smearing it across her forehead. sooyoung stretches out from the prone position she’s curled up in, stomach contracting in pain from laughing so hard.

“i can lick it off for you if you want,” sooyoung teases. yerim shrinks into the couch and lets out another earsplitting shriek when sooyoung crawls over. she dips dangerously close to her forehead before redirecting towards the tissues next to the couch. she wipes off the sticky sweetness as best she can, nose wrinkling when she gets it on her fingers.

“okay, it’s gone, go shower,” she says, and sends her off with a loud, slobbery kiss to her forehead, dodging the kick yerim sends her way. when yerim returns to her room, sooyoung’s lying in her bed, book in her hands. yerim motions for her to scoot over, settling in besides her.

green is the cover of the book that she asks sooyoung to read out loud. it’s a murakami—norwegian wood—one that she knows yerim’s read a couple times already. but she indulges her anyways, because she misses being roommates with her, and today feels like a day where she gets to be nostalgic and mourn over the little things.

as sooyoung narrates, yerim feels her eyes drooping shut.

everything is green because sooyoung is everything.

green feels safe.


purple

purple are the flowers growing by the riverbank, swaying softly in the wind as they observe joohyun and yerim walk past, arm in arm.

purple is the fluorescent lighting coming from karaoke rooms yet to close, one that seulgi drags yerim into, where they sing until their voices are hoarse and their hearts are full.

purple is the new sweater that mysteriously shows up in seungwan’s room one day, folded neatly next to a note that says, “from yerimie.”

purple are the sheets that sooyoung and yerim fall asleep nestled into, sleep coming easily to them both.

purple is the ribbon that keeps them anchored, long and loose enough to drift and explore but strong enough to guide them back home.

purple is everywhere.


something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire

chains around my demons

wool to brave the seasons

one single thread of gold

tied me to you

- invisible string, taylor swift