Author: Desultory Speech
Genre: Horror, thriller, psychological, angst
Rating: Teen - 14A. Some parts may be rated for swearing, violence, gore, general uncomfortable subjects.
Synopsis: Recovering from a traumatic event, JaeJoong is forced to struggle to maintain who he is and used to be, all the while being re-instituted into public school. The struggles of adolescence, the woes of being socially awkward; JaeJoong fights them all whilst rediscovering his passion for art and expression.
Perhaps in the wrong ways.
Comments: I am in no way affiliated with DBSK, Super Junior or SM Entertainment, nor do I know or associate with any of the people in question. I'm not even Korean. This is a work of pure fiction; any similarities drawn between people, places and events are purely by coincidence. This is not meant to offend. The views and opinions in this story are not necessarily the views and opinions of the author. Directed at a mature youth audience. I apologize for grammar errors and spelling mistakes.
Poster credits go to bucket_of_tsuki, for being such a dear and putting up with me. ^^' Thank you, Jake-chan~
The still night’s seal of silence was broken abruptly as the figure in the bed heaved in his slumber, jutting forward to grasp onto his chest. The four walls that enclosed him gave off an echo of his gasp; it bounced off of the painted drywall and reached his ears in a high ringing sensation he couldn’t explain. In his room was a surrounding darkness that forcedly enwrapped him, and in each corner hid ghosts of his past, coming out when the sun set to tease and daunt him. Usually, these floggings came in the form of his reliving of that hellish day, one-summer years ago. The day he lost his innocence; that purity that came with being a child his age. The day he swore a part of him died; the day he changed and would never again be the same.
'That dream again,' his mind drawled as he flopped painfully back down onto the bed. 'No; that memory.'
That memory he relived so frequently that he was scared to close his eyes at night; petrified that it may come again. Each night he convinced himself he would have dreamless sleep, and each night, without fail, the nightmare would come.
His dark brown orbs sunk down from the ceiling to his alarm clock, that of which flashed brightly at him.
Rousing from his tired state, JaeJoong pushed the covers of warmth from him, his feet meeting the cool wooden floor of his room as he stretched and yawned. Another night with no sleep; he was exhausted, and it was all he could do to push himself out of bed. Desperate for slumber, he stood on his feet, wavering slightly as blood rushed to his head from the sudden movement. He stumbled as he walked, down the hall and into another room that was far more welcoming that his own.
Crawling into the large bed for two, JaeJoong placed his head on his mothers shoulder, snuggling closely into her. She mumbled him a greeting, her calloused fingers twisting through the forest of black hair, allowing him the safety he needed to sleep. It was the comfort of his mother that kept him sane these days, when his mind plagued him with thoughts of death and eternal loneliness. Closing his eyes, he hugged his mother tight, his grip never loosening as he drifted to sleep.
But JaeJoong’s mother would not sleep. Her mind was far to busy at the presence of her son, sure to tend to him incase he were to whimper in his sleep. So many times before he had awoken sweating bullets, his panting lungs begging for oxygen in it’s absence, his body burning from imagining the pain he had gone through once before. Though he had healed, he was mentally unwell. Physically he was healthy, youthful, but in his mind he was a tortured man, constantly tormented by memories. Even their house had caused him anguish, and in a loose attempt to free both him and herself from the torment, they had moved. Anything that brought any resemblance of his father – the man whose eyes were always crinkled with laughter – had to go.
She remembered so vividly when she had heard of the accident. She had been wondering what was taking them so long – they promised to be home by six, and, while being late by an hour was usual, being late by three was not. Stricken with worry, she had paced in the living room. It was unlike her husband to not phone if he were to take longer than expect. It was unlike her son to let her husband be the ignorant man he was and not phone. And then, the phone had rung, and she rushed to it.
But it was not the call she had wanted.
The worry in her throat fell and gathered in the pit of her stomach, her eyes collecting in anxiety as she listened to the sweet voiced receptionist talk. An accident; a terrible accident, involving three cars and seven people, five of which were dead. That left two to be alive, and she couldn’t help but hope it was her husband and son.
Stroking her son’s face, she sighed and placed a kiss onto his forehead. He stirred in his sleep, but did not wake, murmuring something as he nestled his nose into her shoulder. He was four years older now, and surely, she had thought, he would have moved on. She did, though it was difficult, and she had accepted that her husband was never coming back, but her son…
“Have you ever heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mrs. Cheun?”
HeeGo had pulled her lips to a thin line, staring tersely at the man. Though his appearance was crisp and clean-shaven, she saw garbage when she looked at him; pure and utter garbage.
“It’s Kim.” She corrected, to which the doctor bowed and apologized, saying that he had assumed that since her husband had died, she would go back to her maiden name. The idea disgusted her, and so she cut him off mid-sentence. “And no, I have not heard of it. Care to explain, Mr. Han?”
“Post traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, usually as a result from exposure to one or more terrifying events in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. It’s a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to extreme psychological trauma… I believe your son has PTSD, Mrs. Kim.”
Though it may have been considered the action of a foolish woman to question the authority of a professional, HeeGo raised her head and pursed her lips. “Is that so? What is the evidence of this in my son?”
The doctor had smiled at her incredulously, before twirling to the side in his swivel chair and sifting through his papers. “You mentioned something about him avoiding his past hobbies…” he drawled, looking for the sheet where he had doctumented her saying so. She nodded and sat before him in the patients chair, smacking her lips together to wet them.
“Yes, painting and fishing.”
“You also mention that he won’t go near vehicles?” He said it was an inquiring tone, looking up at her for affirmation.
She wasted no time getting to the point, hands clasping tightly to the candy pink purse in her lap. “Yes, I did.”
The doctor ‘hmm’ed and held up a sheet up paper, holding it an arms length away from himself and reading through it aloud. “‘He is emotionless, like a robot, and doesn’t sleep at night’” he quoted, looking over the brims of his glasses at her. “You said this?”
When she nodded, he let out a low sigh, nodding along with her. “And at school…?”
“He won’t talk to his friends.” HeeGo answered automatically. “I received complaints from their mothers… he blows them off, grunts when teachers ask him things. He was being bullied, so I withdrew him from his classes.” Her eyes glazed over as she said this, remeniscent to the time he had come home broken and bruised, just weeks after the accident. “Kids these days can be so cruel, Doctor Han.”
Without a glance, Han OkHyun furrowed his eyebrows in thought, answering just as she had thought he wouldn’t. “Though I do not believe withdrawing him from his classes was a good idea, I do agree. I’ve treated his wounds, I know how bad the bullying got; you don’t need to convince me.”
HeeGo nodded earnestly, glad she was finally making some headway. It seemed that just as she thought the man had been a pompous idiot, he said something meaningful. Maybe, just maybe, she wouldn’t have to change doctors again.
“However, without a proper education, it’s hard for a youth to further oneself… have you enrolled him in another school?” It wasn’t his place to ask, but he did anyways. He was concerned for the boy and his mother, whom seemed too frazzled to make any decisions for herself, little lone her son. HeeGo shook her head, but promptly thereafter explained herself.
“I’ve sent in an application for distance ed… I don't think you'll have any objections to my enrolling him in home schooling, will you, Doctor Han?” The way she said his name was to remind him of his place, and the icy stare she gave him as she clutched once more onto her purse persuaded him to leave the convertsation be.
Sensing that this conversation was not going to go far past what it had, OkHyun nodded. He was always a man who was willing to admit defeat, especially after being bluntly beaten at his game. “Well, that aside, I assure you your son does display many of the traits of a Shocked youth. I recommend you slowly start to ease him back into his old routine… that should do the trick nicely.” HeeGo nodded sharply, and stood up to leave. Unfinished, OkHyun stopped her. “Wait, Mrs. Kim.” She did, turning back and sitting down on the padded stool.
“You should do your research. This is not an illness that will leave easily. There are many different ways to deal with a Post Traumatic Youth, but first you need to understand what he may be going through. He’ll very likely develop depression; it’s something you’d do good to work to prevent. Educating him about the disease may be the first step of recovery. If not, cognitive and exposure therapy have worked wonders in their field, as have tricylcic antidepressants..”
Looking up sharply from her hands, HeeGo spoke in an icy tone, defending her son and the pride he was left with. “Under no circumstances am I giving anyone permission to medicate my son.”
Shifting uneasily under the gaze of the mother, OkHyun moved his eyes to meet hers. “Nothing can be done without both your and his consent. I just recommend you look into this before you do anything drastic.”
“I”- HeeGo started, only to be cut off as the professional continued.
“I believe we’d both like to nip this in the butt, Mrs. Kim, before it developes into something far more serious.”
Something far more serious…
Flicking off the alarm clock before it rang, HeeGo quickly rose from her bed, careful not to wake her son as he slumbered. It was rare that he slept as soundly as he was now, and she knew it was best not to wake him. Before leaving, she tucked him in tightly and pecked his forehead in a motherly manner, casting a glance his way before closing the bedroom door softly.
Four years ago, she would have been standing in his room, hands on hips, ordering him to get out of bed and ready for school.
‘Umma~’ he would have whined, ‘Why do I have to go today~ I want to stay home with Umma~’
‘Don’t even try that with me, mister; get up and get dressed. You have a science exam today.’
Smiling at the thought, HeeGo brought a thick red felt to her lips. She bit onto the end, pulled the marker away from the lid between her lips, and lifted her dainty arms to mark off another day on the calender. It was a long, slow life without her husband around, but she had managed to survive. Unbeknownst to many, she was still counting the days she woke without him. Their twenty year anniversary had been just last month, and she had celebrated it alone as her son remained locked in his room, doing what she assumed to have been his studies.
She managed to get him into a last minute homeschooling course, and he had been doing it faithfully each day for a good four hours. He was ahead last year, but must have seen that as a reason to slack this year. Looking at the untouched note book on his desk as she habitually tidied his room, it was easy for her to piece one and two together. He hadn’t been doing his school work – to be thorough, she had checked his binders, finding them blank. He was a grade ten student in all honours courses, and school had just barely began. He was giving up before he even started, which was something HeeGo had never wanted for him.
She hated to admit it, but she was starting to reconsider the option of public school for him. Though she refused to let him back into a school system that had denied any form of abuse, though the students had group teased and bullied him in such a fragile state, HeeGo had to do the motherly thing and rationalize. And, doing so, she knew that he wasn’t getting anywhere at the pace he was going now. True, it was only the first week of school, but she couldn’t baby him the rest of his life. He was fifteen, he needed to learn responsibility; he wasn’t learning that with mama always there to put up a fight for him. Though he was still emotionally weak, she knew that he wasn’t learning how to be a man.
It was times like these that HeeGo wished she would have accepted her daughters offer, when JaeHee had asked to move in and help around the house. Though HeeGo’s pride had then denied such a thing, it now looked like a good idea. JaeHee would have been wonderful around the house, and her morale support for JaeJoong would have worked wonders on him. The two had always been close, and HeeGo knew that JaeHee worried. She phoned frequently from Seoul to ask how the boy was doing, and each time HeeGo came up with something to make the silver lining look brighter.
Her thoughts were interrupted suddenly when a pair of pale arms wrapped tightly around her, and a tuff of black hair peeked over her shoulder. “Mama…” JaeJoong mumbled into her shoulder, drawing a long, slow breath. His voice was thick and groggy, and he rubbed his eyes with the back of his left hand tiredly before locking it with his other. “I’m hungry.”
Bidding herself a chuckle, JaeJoong’s mother patted his clasped hands. “I was just started breakfast, honey.”
Weak and tired, the lithe boy sat in the middle of his bed, his eyes boring into the walls before him. They were blank, white, depressing, and he hated that they were. Still, he was helpless when it came to their shade. He had submerged the urge to do anything creative so long ago that it seemed a given he did nothing. Staring up at the blank walls and ceiling, he pressed back the desire to fix the blankness of them. Bleak and hopeless, the reflected the way he often felt, and he didn’t want to even think of painting them…
He refused to even look at a brush; the small wooden frame was something he vowed to never touch again.
He was scared of what he would end up constructing, what with the depths of his mind never moving past that one point in his life where his heart glazed over like rapidly drying stone, and his body stopped living.
Part of him wanted to scream, but other part knew better; that, or it was just completely numb. Either way, it didn’t matter.
Nothing mattered; and if nothing did, then JaeJoong most certainly didn’t either.
Story © Cillisian Thatcher/Diese Stifte, July 3rd, 2008.