His Voice, His Story
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His Voice, His Story

A short story of one man's voice telling another man's story

22
His Voice, His Story
Tiki Toki

Jimin was up on the roof of his parent’s house again. It wasn’t a strange occurrence for him to be seen laying above the open windows that supposedly led into the dining room. He occasionally went up there but there were periods of time that he would get so upset with his past life being slammed back into the current one that he would steer clear for a long time. This was the second night in a row I had watched from a distance as he shimmied up the back wall and crawled silently over the shingles to get to his usual spot. The first of this cycle started last night and I didn’t stay around long enough to see how when his breaking point for the evening was going to happen. I often thought he would fall asleep up there, no matter the weather or time of day, and imagined what it would be like living there again.

But he hardly ever opened up about his thoughts from coming down that dark tower. We often ran into one another after his visits; usually just me checking in on him when I figured he would be up there. And when he reached the limit of his cycle and would walk with me to wherever that day, he would spout off his rage about his family. About how much he hated them for yelling at his sister for not getting a good enough grade in school, knowing full well that she was the smartest person in that family. About how that day his parents were so proud that his brother was going to be a patroller along the border of Elysia and Tarta. Jimin was proud of him too, just concerned of how his brother’s sensitivity was going to handle seeing people want to lay their lives on the line to enter Elysia. Or the fact that they would talk so ill of the homeless network; the network of people that actually took in Jimin when his family threw him out on the streets. That tangent would go on for hours, which would eventually lead him to shutting down into silence after yelling for so long, and crashing on my living room floor because he was so weak and tired.

I hated thinking about him being in that kind of state because it reminded me of the story of his past life. Jimin was a product of the outcast views of societal standards and how no one cared about those who suffered mentally. Several times he tried to kill himself, never once coming close to achieving his goal. He had tried slitting his wrists and neck, poison, drowning, hanging, and even once tried to suffocate himself. No matter how many times he tried, nothing would work because he either didn’t do it right, was found in enough time to be saved, or because he couldn’t go all the way with it.

And the only reason why he kept trying to enter into the next life was because he believed that was some kind of monster inside of him. He believed that this thing lived within him and was tearing at him to enter this world to wreak havoc, and he thought by killing himself he would be able to save everyone from this thing. Strangely enough, he wasn’t the only who believed this Monster Theory and would end up committing suicide. Unlike him though, they would actually achieve their goal in completion. Others killed themselves because they believed that was the quickest and easiest way to get to Elysia, even though they could easily enter the realm of Tarta because suicide was thought of being something dirty and treacherous. Society looked harshly to the suicidal, no matter what their reasoning might be, and they would outcast said person. Society never believed in helping those who felt darkened by the Monster or had any mental ailment; they believed that they deserved to be unseen, pushed away, thrown out into the world and be labeled as maniacs. And if anyone housed a maniac, they were expected to throw the maniac onto the streets to die.

That’s precisely what Jimin’s family did to him. For the longest time, they tried to secretly help him but they were too caught up in the ways of society and saw him as a treacherous to their reputation. He would end up tainting their “good” name if anyone found out what they were housing or trying to do for him. So, that’s how he ended up on the street during a wicked storm, bleeding from the beating his father gave him after finding him with a razor in his hand, and was taken in by a by-standing homeless man. Jimin had always been grateful of that man for taking him into his little shack of nothing and teaching him the way of the homeless network. All of Jimin’s life he had been taught the homeless were nothing to this world because in the eyes of society, they were dead beings. No one looked their way, even if the homeless person looked them straight in their eyes. But Jimin found that they were the most kind and caring people in this world. They all had reasons for being there, some were even in the same state of mind that Jimin was in, and thus, he felt at home among them.

Ever since he had been taken in by that man, Jimin stopped having the greatest urge to kill himself. He still admits that he feels the monster gnawing at him and having the great need to expel it, but he no longer finds himself standing in front of a cracked mirror with a glass shard slicing into his neck or wrist, or even looking longingly at a rope and figure out the best noosed knot to go around his neck. He isn’t at peace with himself or the world, but he isn’t as bad off as he used to be, which is a small (or large) victory.

I shuttered from the thought of every losing Jimin in this life. He had become an integral part of my life and I hoped that I was one for him as well. I had often taken care of him, taking him off the street to feed him or even house him for a while, making sure that he was in a good state of being. Which would in turn help me figure out if I too was in a proper state of being.

And that was what I precisely doing tonight as I waited under a broken lamp light, watching him from a safe distance. Waiting for him to come off the roof at any time.

A few more minutes passed and I saw his dark being rise from the shingles and disappear off the edge. My heart rate picked up with the thought that he had decided to jump from the roof to harm himself, but I let out a breath of relief when I saw his grey head pop out from the corner. Unscathed and hunched over, bringing a cigarette to his mouth to light as he walked towards me.

“Those things will kill ya,” I say.

He smirked, making the cigarette bob up a little before he pulled it out of his mouth. He breathed out a breath of smoke while he says, “If only.”

A dark chuckle left me and I put my arm around his neck to saddle up next to him. Jimin put his arm around my waist before pushing me away with a little laugh. Thankfully today’s visit seemed to go well because his mood was on the brighter side of his grey spectrum of feelings. But tomorrow could be a different story; I could find him in a rage after leaving that house and having him just drop to my floor to sleep for hours on end. I hoped this cycle of good would continue.

“Jimin?” I ask while we walked down the dark street.

He murmurs in reply. Softly pulling drags off his cigarettes and keeping his eyes to the ground.

“Do you want to come over for dinner?”

He looks up at me with a glitter in his eyes. “Are you asking me over for a play date, Maxim?”

I roll my eyes at him. He winks at me with another smirk on his face.

“If that’s what you want to call spaghetti and philosophical talks, then yes.”

“Sounds tempting, let me check the time to see if I can fit it in,” he says sarcastically. He then pulls up his sleeve and pretends to check out his non-existent watch. I laugh at him but my eyes fall on the glittering scars across his wrist and the red jagged ones that go up his arm. A slight ping hits my gut but I just swallow the pity that wants to seep out of me. I’d do anything to protect this man from having those wounds open back. But this was his story and his world, the scars were just a part of the pathway and I was going to have to accept the fact that one day that there could be more alongside the old ones.

We eventually make it back to my place and Jimin immediately seems to unwind. His shoulders begin to fall from being up around his ears, his posture straightens, he flexes his fingers outside of his pockets where he had them clenched, and lets out a long sigh. I don’t ask any questions about why he would be so tense after seemingly having an okay “visit.” I know I am better off with waiting for him to just tell me his thoughts or just be comfortable with not knowing. Jimin was a hard person to follow at times, even after I had known him for a while, and he could be anyone at any point regardless of the situation. He would close himself off even when he was happy or angry. Although, he always seemed to be catatonic when he was sad; but even then, he would shut down completely.

I nudged him slightly while walking to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. Jimin stays silent, probably thinking. He does follow me in eventually and sits on the floor out of the way. I periodically glance at him to make sure he’s okay and at one point I catch him watching me with a smile. I smile a little to let him know I too am content with this situation. And when dinner is finally ready, I take our plates into the living room and sit on the couch. Again, he follows at his own pace and sits beside me as usual.

“Thank you,” he murmurs with almost without a sound. In his voice, I can hear how grateful he is for this hot meal and is ashamed that I can probably tell that he hasn’t well in a couple of days. His normal snacking isn’t cutting it, I know because I can tell from the way his hands shake, which only means he has probably been taking more calls than usual. My heart aches for him and I wish he would stop, but I knew it was his only source of little income while living amongst the network.

“Jimin, you know you’re always welcome to have meals here with me. You know I don’t mind,” I say spooning in a mouthful of noodles.

Before he responds, he hums in approval of the food hitting his tongue and stomach. “I know, but you know it doesn’t always work out that way. Maybe one day, Maxim.”

I just grumble in agreement, not in the mood to have this conversation again. Our worlds are not supposed to mesh together and I take great liberties of not caring because I love him. My class of “friends” never see him because they choose to not acknowledge his homeless existence when he happens to tag along with me to places. He keeps his scars covered up in public so that people don’t know that he is a maniac; I also know he keeps doing this so that my reputation doesn’t get tarnished. Not that I would ever care, society and its standards could fuck off.

When we finish eating, I feel Jimin lean against my arm as I put our plates on the table in front of us. I peer at him from the corner of my eye and can see the wheels turning in his head, as well as how tired he is; he never sleeps well in the broken luxury cart he calls home under the bridge. It wasn’t much but it kept the rain off his back and protected him against the harsh winds that blew along the river. He was luckier than some of his counterparts, most of them slept in makeshift tents or had nothing at all.

“They were celebrating my parent’s anniversary today,” he says after a couple of minutes.

“Oh?”

“It was nice to hear their laughter and chatter. Nothing too terrible was said, other than the fact that my parents were ecstatic to only have two wonderful children in their lives.”

He sighs deeply.

“For a while, while I was laying there, it kind of felt like that I was back home amongst them…” His voice breaks a little at the end and I lean away from him so that I can look at his face. Except he then scoots away and lays his head down in my lap. He sighs again and puts his right hand upon my thigh. In turn, I start running my fingers through his grey locks. Feeling how full and fine his hair is, wondering how he keeps it so soft while I detangle some knots with my fingertips.

“I’m sleepy, Maxim…”

“Okay, Jimin. Go to sleep. I’ll be right here.”

And that was it for the night. I watch his breath grow deeper as he drifted off to sleep and I too begin to fall asleep watching him. Wishing and praying that tomorrow would be just as fine for him. That he would keep making it through and this good cycle would never end. Fantasizing about a better life and a better world as my eyes dropped shut.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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