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a supplementary study

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His favourite place was the ocean.

I remember it so clearly, the days we would spend running with sand flying about from the gaps between our toes. I remember the childlike glee I felt with him. I remember his pink lips, stretched into a wide smile, and his eyes glassy with tears.

I asked him if he was okay.

He said he was. He felt alive.

And hearing that, so was I.


 

Namjoon hyung hasn’t spoken to us in days.

He wouldn't answer our calls, he wouldn't open his door, he left Seokjin hyung with the laundry and stacks of leftover pastry in the fridge. It's growing molds.

So is Seokjin hyung.


 

Seokjin hyung looks like the only one who is not mourning.

It's terrifying how he functions as if we aren't lacking one of us, a chip off our hearts. It's terrifying how quickly he falls back into routine. How the laundry is off the floor, how the stairs are free of dust, how easily he walks about the house that once screamed, 'seven. Seven people live here and it is full and bursting but we love it, we love our home.'

He remains a light, sitting in the darkness of Namjoon's bare spot, our only reminder that despite, despite, despite -- this is still home and we still have each other. What's left of us.

It's a shot in the dark if his actions would be as loud as words. But we don't talk about it. No one does. It would make it real, wouldn't it? Set in stone our trying time, Seokjin hyung is our symbol now, in place, while Namjoon wanders at the loss, he tries to keep himself whole so we stay whole, but how are we so?

He wears the hat Taehyung wore when he left when he thinks we don't notice -- crying at the bottom of the staircase when he only hears five -- no, four -- no, three pairs of feet padding up the stairs, the bass of the band march of the bulletproof boy scouts cutting short, a sad silence even our little drummer boy Yoongi hyung cannot fix.

We're not so bulletproof after all.


 

All we have are his shoes.

They gave it to me, even if they were all mourning, because they know. They know. They know that whenever I looked at him it wasn't because he was my friend, but because everyone knew that my soul felt complete with him.


 

I must have failed.

He must not have felt complete with me.

Where is your soul?


Yoongi hyung has been swimming in his own laundry.

He hasn't left his studio in days, writing and creating and building worlds and verses and galaxis and parallel lines where he is still with us.

Was. Were. I'm not sure which tense to use. I'm not sure I can do anything for the tense shoulders and choked smiles on Yoongi hyung's pale face.


 

Jungkook has disappeared, gone. I just hope he and Namjoon hyung find each other.

Hoseok has recoiled. I do not know who he is anymore. He sits, all the time, on train tracks and abandoned trains of thought and makes paper planes and wipes everyone's tears away, strangely stoic for someone who isn't Yoongi hyung. Strangely strong and strangely unreadable. Maybe the lonely kisses he shares with Yoongi hyung transfer contagion, an exchange of disease: Yoongi hyung's indifference, Hoseok hyung's expressiveness.


 

I do not know where I am.

I've come to the edge of life and death, should I drown? Lost boys, in the middle of nowhere in Korea, a place of color and nature and the sublimity of life -- there is no life here. The colors have all turned dull.

They fade away, one by one, all of them, even the distinct darkness of Yoongi hyung's heart has turned grey. I've never seen Seokjin hyung wear pink anymore. Hoseok hyung's hair is a worn strawberry blonde, the beacon of orange long forgotten. Jungkook only wears white long sleeves I'm afraid of the strawberry-colored stains that might appear. My own lips are a pale blue.


 

His shoes are too big for me.

But I bring them everywhere I go.

I can't decide if I want to keep them with me.

I can't decide if I should let them go, give them to someone else who might need it. I know he would do something similar.

I can't decide if I want to walk a mile or more in these shoes. They might hurt too much.

Suddenly my own shoes feel too small.


 

Where do we go from here? Where do we go from the trains and the dormitories and the motel, the cakes and confetti and the crown on Namjoon hyung's head on his shoulder, a soft smile on his face as Seokjin hyung tells another tacky joke.

Where do we go from the piles of laundry, the lonely beach, Coney Island, the front door of the same motel gathering dust and snow, loud wails from Jungkook against my chest on the train track. I can't bear to hear purple.


The shoes are in my hand.

Namjoon hyung looks at me. Seokjin hyung places a firm hand on my back. Yoongi hyung walks in the very back, humming the beginnings of a song. Hoseok hyung stands beside me. Jungkook takes my hand. I look at the shoes.

Over us, a bare tree sways in the cold wind. It's a cold front, they say it will stay for three weeks. Beyond us an orange sky, as orange as his hair, and the damp land. It's been raining.

Life began here.

Life ended here.

But spring is coming.

And we won't leave.

We will go on.


 

"These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone.
They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas,
through the beautiful gates.
They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas.
Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. [...]
They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness,
and they do not come back.
The place they go towards is a place even less
imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness.
I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist.
But they seem to know where they are going,
the ones who walk away from Omelas."

-Ursula de Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"