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Sincerely, Kai: A Case Study

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The room was completely illuminated, awashed in an unnatural white too bright of a light. The window that almost stretched the entire length of the wall, looking out toward a Seoul that has long been abandoned by the sun, reflected only the contents inside of the room on its glass. Though the room was tiny by most standards, it was a space one could easily and quite happily call their own.

Two sets of bunk beds took up the majority of the available floor space, yet a small but sturdy wooden desk that was squeezed into one corner and a modular bookcase riddled with junk in another fought for the remaining floor space. There were clothes bursting from several duffel bags and more items were peeking out from half open suitcases that were haphazardly sticking out from under beds. The lack of unpacking was not due to the lack of space, it was just that everyday felt like it could be your last, so home no longer seemed so far away. Toiletries and knick-knacks were scattered on top of the bookcase and several cords for electronics crisscrossed the room. How one managed to get from one side of the room to the other without greeting the floor with their face remained a complete mystery.

And although the room was too small for four growing boys, one could easily tell that they had tried their best to create a sort of home away from home. There were pictures of smiling faces of who one can assume were those of parents, siblings, and friends from back home adorning every wall, frame, and shelf,  hung up to keep themselves from feeling too alone.

From an outsider’s perspective, the room smelled distinctly of male youth. The smell of sweat and clothes several days pass needing a wash, all enclosed in a fine layer of cheap cologne, permeated the space. To the boys, the room smelled like a dream. Well, one dream in particular, and maybe the biggest dream they had ever had—-the dream of debuting in one of Korea’s biggest entertainment companies. All of the boys had denounced a carefree and rambunctious youth for this dream. And as you can imagine, for a dream of this magnitude, their privacy was the least they could have offered to the company's alter as a sacrifice. At least that is what they had been told to tell themselves.

Four ambitious boys, among many others, chose to live in one of the dorm rooms the company leased out to their trainees. It wasn’t ideal, but the convenience of being close to the company’s training facilities outweighed the cons of cramming into a room made for one with four other strangers. It wasn’t so bad though. An empty dorm was not a rare occurrence and it was even encouraged because it meant that you’re dreaming and getting closer and closer to waking up and living it.

So, between school, training lessons, and part-time jobs, one usually only found themselves in the room when necessary, such as to sleep, and sometimes not even for that because most tended to pass out on the nearest sofa, wherever that might have been. Tonight, however, one of the dorm’s residents had chosen his bed. He was sitting upon said bed, one of two bottom bunks. He believed he was afforded the luxury of a bottom bunk because he happened to be skilled at rock, paper, scissors, but deep down he knew it all came down to luck. And still, he’d never consider himself lucky if you had asked him directly.

The covers on his bed were scattered about and there was a teddy bear tucked into one corner up against the wall. He didn’t have many pictures tacked on his wall space because he didn’t want to yearn too much, or have longing come and carry him back home. So, instead, he had posters of his favorite idols, like Michael Jackson, beside his head at night. He only wanted his dreams to fill his head as he fell asleep, and although being away from home became unbearable at times, he had, long ago, turned his back on the past in order to face the future.

The figure on the bed, composed of long limbs enhanced by sun-kissed skin, resembled that of poised exhaustion, as if he welcomed the pain and discomfort that came with a day of nonstop exertion. Lying in bed, he hid from the glaring light above, and he replayed in his head the actions of the day. He wore his hard work proudly, and the look of hidden determination adorned every feature on his face, from his big, almond shaped eyes with toasty brown orbs that shyly peered out from behind a curtain of long dark eyelashes, to the sharpest of jawlines, softened by a full set of pink lips, especially when stretched into a breathtaking smile.

The figure was not smiling though. His lips were set into the thinnest of lines. He was looking intensely at a fairly large, thick leather bound book, a journal of some sort. The journal looked heavy, stiff, intimidating, like it could hold the meaning of life within its very pages. It was made of soft black leather, but lacked the warmth and comfort that came from years of use. The book didn’t have any markings on its cover nor its spine, and a glint of silver that bound the front and back cover showed that the object was fitted with a lock of some sort, adding to its dark and mysterious origin.

The figure, hidden under the cover of shadow, flipped and turned the object about in his hands, seemingly pondering the journal’s very existence. Intensely, he stared the journal down, demanding it give him answers, but failing to realize that it had no answers he, himself, couldn’t provide.