Protege

He is slumped on the chair, head resting on the dining table.  It was one of those nights, his first love made him feel  like a fool again.  You sat on the sofa by the living room, staring at him as he slept the alcohol off.   A tear rolls down your eye.  You stand up, to gather the empty beer cans and the half-empty bottle of wine.  Cleaning up after his mess. There were days and nights when he makes you feel like you are the world to him.  But there are also times when you felt as though you were just there to clean up after him. The mess that was his life. The mess that was his heart. The mess…

So, tonight, you felt a little more brave.  As you dumped the last garbage from this kind of night, you come to his side, occupying the chair next to him at the dining room.  You fix his arm, so it wouldn’t strain him when he wakes up minutes or maybe hours later.  You smooth the stray hairs covering his peaceful face. Funny, you seem peaceful only when you are in this state. You stood to leave for the night but his hand grabbed yours first.  He called your name.  Not anyone else’s. Yours.  But he still looked like he was sleeping.  You gathered your strength. Clearing your throat, you managed to ramble in whispers…

Who am I?  Thank you for helping me realize my worth.  It’s so funny isn’t it?  Because it really was my greatest dream to be guided by someone like you.  And I’m here.  About to realize my dreams.  So, thank you.  Yes, it is so funny.  Because as much as I feel all this gratitude. I try not to fall, but what do I do?  I try not to… Because every time you make me feel like the moon and stars are just at my feet, you also make me feel that the world is so far from my reach.  You have become my world.  And I am not yours.  I’m just your project. That’s it, just a project. 

You took a step away from him, carefully trying to not rouse him from his sleep.  Yet, his grasp was firm on your hands.  You did not want to believe that it was his attempt to not let you go.  But even in doubt, you tell him…

I won’t go.  You can still make me as you feel you need to make me. Make me into someone great. Make me into someone you want me to be.  I will try not to fail you.  Maybe my success, your success in my being your project will  make you learn to love me.

He loosened his grip on your hand.  And you stepped away, towards the door, scurrying with every step.  You were careful not to look back, just so maybe when you return on another day, you can still pretend everything was okay. Outside his house, into the empty night, your tears fell

***

You still remember that night like there was no alcohol in your system then.  It was so vivid, so crystal clear. The way her hands felt against your grip.  The pain in her whispers. Her breath shortening as she choked back her tears.  You knew she cried the moment she left your house.  She didn’t know that your tears also fell that night, finally.

She is standing on stage right now, with the spotlight on her innocent face.  Like a clarion or a nightingale, she sings her song.  The song you made for her. You smile, watching her in the dark. She had gone this far. You’ve always believed she will go this far.  With or without you.  It must be the purity of her heart.  It could be the steadfastness of her ambition. Or it could be the childish way she fights her own feelings so it will not get in the way of her dreams, or of yours.

She scans the crowd as she sings another song. It was an unfamiliar tune.  She scans the dark, for a glimpse of you.  Your eyes meet hers and she takes the song to a height you knew she couldn’t yet reach.  And she reaches it, not holding her gaze down.  You listen to the song in her eyes. You knew she got your message.

You had asked someone to give her your recorder before she comes on stage.  Last minute reminders, this was the excuse you told your messengers to give her.  In that little silver box was your heart. In it, it was her name you frequently mentioned.

That night you tried to change the game, I was really not sleeping.  I am sorry for not letting that on.  It was the night you broke my heart. Battle-weary fighting for you, I made the mistake of having a drink one too many.  I am sorry. But tonight, before you take the spotlight, you must know a few things.

I forgot how to feel until I met you.  The music made no sense until they came from your voice.  My dreams were lost until they found you.  So, thank you.

You trusted me with your dreams.  And, I’ve always felt I was not worthy.  Yet, knowing you will be beautiful tonight, I finally feel glad.  My dream has come true.  Through you.  My dream is you.

You, who have taught me how to fight for love.

You, who have taught me how to see beauty again.

You. Naturally wonderful. Born to be awesome. You.

So, please stop saying that you are my project.  Because with these things you’ve taught me. With the dreams you gave me. You prove that you are not my project, never just a project. It is actually the other way around.  With the ways you made me better, I was yours.

Both your eyes fill with tears.  You both had gone this far.  She sang to new heights, with a new song she made.  The perfect pact.  The perfect way to seal a promise.  Belonging never felt that good. She is yours. You are hers.

Comments

  1. jason

    So tricky to comment on this one, dongsaeng. This was one of your best ones. Is The Musical still inspiring more things like this? Because we sure do miss your voice…

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