Chapter 1:

Love (1)


You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

–––Albert Camus

   The sound of the wind. Yes, that’s where things started to change–––even if so slowly. I remember how painful it was, how badly it hurt. I’d taken a really good beating. But, thinking about it now I do think it made me more good than bad. It’s not a good memory per se, but it was only because of how much of an impact it had that it helped me change.

   A cold breeze traveled through my skin, it felt good, it made me calm–––so calm that I almost forgot how beaten my body was. I laid down on a grass field next to a river. The river carried this awful algae smell. I was looking upwards, as if I had no other choice. The clouds moved slowly, their shadow covering me. The sky gradually lost its blue, becoming orange-red. Not that much time was left before it turned dark, but once that time came I was sure that I would no longer be there writhing in pain.

   I closed my eyes and thought a little about what had happened. Why had I done what I had done–––what made me do what I did. The image of someone popped into my mind, enraging me. I was stupid, there really wasn’t any other word to describe my actions but childish-stupidity. I just had to accept it, yet I didn’t want to do it. I felt that If had been beaten for such a dumb reason that I could no longer look that person in the face–––or even talk to her. I did it because of love…. I liked her, so I didn’t do anything stupid, I told myself. Love had made me do it–––it was all to protect her, I kept telling myself. I had taken a mouthful of fists because of that. At the time it seemed more reasonable than just admitting that, like the baby that I was, I had a fit of rage.

   It was love. That was the reason why I jumped at him, threw my fist in his direction and got slammed to the ground just to be punched and stomped repeatedly by someone bigger and stronger than me (while being laughed at by his friends as they watched the one-sided brawl). Yes, much better making love the culprit than admitting that I was a kid. Love had made me act stupid—I wasn’t stupid….

   It was a miracle that I’d only gotten a nosebleed from that fight, from how much he punched my face I would’ve thought that some teeth would end up broken and at least one eye would’ve swollen.

   When I could no longer move from the pain, he got out of me and walked away, saying something before leaving that I couldn’t quite understand. I rolled my body around, turning my back to the ground, and looked at the sky—that’s how I’d ended up like that.

   I opened my eyes and gazed at the sky, I saw it change–––my mind blank. I felt the wind, I closed them again—nothing came. I was empty at the start and then when thoughts finally formed they were to put reason on my actions and distance myself from blame. It was embarrassing, I knew that. I wanted to escape from that feeling, but I couldn’t.

   “Jun! What happened?!” A soft, yet concerned voice that carried the key to switch something inside me. I knew from the moment those words came out of their mouth to whom they belonged.

   Her figure flashed through my mind. A girl that I had to look up to meet her eyes, with her hair caught in a ponytail and a smile in all of the images that the roll inside my brain chose to show me. She was also wearing the same clothes and carrying the same sports bag in most of them.

   I panicked. My heart started to beat nervously. My pain seemed to have vanished for a few seconds. I got up in a rush. It hurt, but I didn’t want to be there anymore. I turned my face to her, a single drop of blood falling from my chin, hitting the grass below. She had her hair down, I noticed right away.

   “You're bleeding!” She said, approaching me. “Did you get in a fight?!”

   I was surprised to see her, so surprised that I couldn't hide it. My face contorted, maybe she thought it was from the pain–––maybe it was from the pain. Her hand reached to me. As it got closer a variety of thoughts hit me, and as a response I hit her hand, slapping it away from me. I refused to look her in the face, but I couldn’t help myself from taking a glimpse. She was staring at me in surprise. She reached for her skirt’s pocket and took out a black and white handkerchief. Again she tried to help me–––and again I rejected that help.

   “Just tell me what happened.”

   I lowered my face and gritted my teeth. I felt something strange enveloping my face, hitting my throat—I was about to cry. My nose continued dripping blood and, without noticing, I had already stained the tip of my right shoe. She waited a little for my answer, but nothing came. I was stubborn. Even if I could I wouldn’t tell her what had happened—even if I could I wouldn’t tell her that I had fought because of her.

   A sigh escaped her mouth.

   Her hand reached to me, again. This time I didn’t move. I didn’t know what was left for me to do. A variety of emotions were conflicting inside me. Anger, sadness, discomfort, frustration—and all were directed at myself. She passed her handkerchief through my chin all the way to my bleeding nostril.

   Sorry…. I thought about saying, but the moment I tried to let out those words I stopped. I couldn’t do it. If I opened my mouth only cries would leave. I moved my face away, and without looking at her walked to the road. Children tend to be dramatic about certain things and I was no different. With my back to her and her image printed in my head, my vision worsened as I looked down at the asphalt road. Tears formed, but I wouldn’t let them leave. I tried to speak, but instead ran.

   I ran, as my body ached. I ran, as my nose bled. I ran, as tears finally escaped. I ran, as my mouth at last opened and cried—a silent cry that only my heart could hear.

   I reached my house and caught my breath. My body felt hot, it was hard to breathe. I used my forearm to wipe the still-dripping-blood from my nose and gazed at it for a while before heading inside. I rushed to my room, closed the door behind and let my body sink slowly. With my back to the door I hugged my knees and let out the rest of my tears. The unforgettable taste of blood reached my mouth, mixed with the liquid that came from my eyes and also my nose. I lowered my head as much as I could, covering it between my legs.

   Some time later I heard the doorbell and the sound of the front door being struck gently as if not to disturb anyone that may have been inside. My heart jumped. My eyes were red-swollen from the tears. The blood on my face and floor had already dried. I knew who was waiting for me on the other side. I remained still, waiting for her to go away.

   “Hey! You left your backpack on the riverbank!” She shouted from outside.

   My face got warmer. I looked at the closed window. She knew that I was there–––she knew!

   “I’m gonna leave your bag by the door!” She paused for a second, as if to let the words sink in, “So, come get it! See you tomorrow!”

  Slowly, I got up on my feet and walked to the window. I saw her walking away. She looked back, but didn’t raise her head. I couldn’t see her face, but she was probably disappointed. It was almost inevitable that tomorrow we would see each other again–––we were next door neighbors after all.

   Later I went to the door and retrieved my bag, then cleaned all the dry blood I could find and went to take a bath.

   “I’m stupid,” I said while gazing at the white ceiling of the bathroom, my body submerged to the neck.