Oh My Love, The Last.

Before he knew it, the tears that he had been holding quietly covered his cheeks.
Seeing him, Kang Taejung also lowered his head with one hand covering his eyes.
This is because he realized that the other person had predicted what he was going to say.  The time they spent unable to see each other caused their hearts to drift apart, leaving only silence. 

“I’m sorry.”

He spoke in an exhausted tone.

 

 

“For what?”

“……” 

“What are you sorry for? Why do you keep apologizing…”

 

Only meaningless apologies were repeated over and over, without any explanation being added.
And when one was getting tired of the other’s apology, Kang Taejung spoke words that would have shocked their past selves, who meant everything to each other.

“I think… we need to end this.”

“……”

 

“I knew avoiding you wouldn’t solve this, but I just didn’t have the courage.
I’m sorry.”

Ha Joyoon took one step closer to his lover, looking at him in confusion.
Meanwhile, his tears poured out silently.
“Yoon-ah”.
His voice was sweet, yet it was also the cruelest sound in the world to Ha Joyoon.
Kang Taejung contemplated his thoughts for a while longer before looking straight at the person standing in front of him resolutely as if he had finally made up his mind.
This was the person he loved more than anyone else, who did his best and was truly precious to him.

“Like I said last time.”

 

“……” 

“I can’t just leave Youngwoo now.  There are so many things that I’ve done wrong to him.
It has been hard on him too.
You and I have been apart for so long and too much time has passed for us to act just because we are being swayed by our emotions.”

The color seemed to fade from Ha Joyoon’s world at those words.
He couldn’t hear anything aside from a dull ringing as he watched the words come out of Kang Taejung’s mouth.

Drip.
Drop.- Drops of water ran down his cheeks and fell to the ground as well as from the tips of his hair, which had not yet dried. One drop after another, it feels like I have fallen into a  huge swamp, and it swallowed me in one bite. Then, shortly afterward, he was struck by a sharp blade.

“We should break up.” 

“……”

“I want to stop this.”

Instead of answering, Ha Joyoon stared blankly at his lover’s face.
He saw a weak-minded man who couldn’t even look at him.

“Why.” 

As he staggered, the lamp yet again flickered onto his anxious gaze.

“Why?”

 

“……”

“Is it because of my job?” 

“……”

“Is it because I’m crazy about photography?”

The only answer to the sad question was a cold silence.
Ha Joyoon shook his head, unable to stand the silence.
His eyes gradually got wet.
The tears burst out before he knew it, burning his skin on the way down.
He was unable to feel shame, even though he was a grown man crying on the side of the road.
His heart pounded violently in his chest.
He couldn’t believe it.

“Do we have to break up?” 

“Yoon-ah.”

“Huh? Can I… not make this better for us?”

We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.

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Lf kjr rb afgglolfv atja tf mbeivc’a rajcv la.
Lj Absbbc mieamtfv tlr tfjga jcv gfjrbcfv lc j agfwyilcu nblmf. 

“This incident made me realize a lot of things.”

“……”

“I won’t go to dangerous places anymore… I’m settling in Korea too.”

“……” 

“I promise I’ll do my best to stay with you and never do anything as dangerous as this again.”

“……”

“Can’t we start over?”

“……” 

“Taejung-ah… hm?”

Kang Taejung smiled sadly and shook his head, knowing it was a promise that could not be kept.
As the useless clinging continued, remained silent, and the other’s crying voice gradually died down.

 

“Taejung-ah.
Taejung-ah.”

His voice resounded hollowly throughout the alley in vain.
Kang Taejung was only listening to Ha Joyoon’s plea with a pained expression as he suppressed the desire to break down again.
He tightly squeezed the hand that barely grabbed onto his clothes.
“Yoon-ah.” His voice was filled with pain as he called out again. 

“I’m not sure that I can wait for you any longer.
It’s separate from how I feel about you.
The past five years have been enough to make me suffer.
It must have been hard for you, but it was filled with agony for me as well.
I don’t have the courage to wait any longer, knowing what could happen… I don’t want to blame you, and I don’t want to force you to give up the photography that you love.
If you’re going to do that, it’d be better for me to let you go.”

“Taejung-ah….”

“Just as faithful I was to you in the past, I want to be faithful to Youngwoo now, not you.”

At the unfamiliar yet familiar name, all movements froze.
The other person’s name uttered from Kang Taejung’s mouth penetrated through Ha Joyoon’s chest so painfully that he couldn’t take it.
He couldn’t believe how cold his lover was to him. Why do you keep saying that? There was no way that the person who spoke such harsh words was the person he loved. 

“I understand what you’re saying… but Taejung-ah, I don’t want to break up with you.”

Ha Joyoon tried to find even a little bit of hope as he looked all over Taejung’s face, making his heart ache, but it did not shake his will to end the relationship.
Closing his eyes tightly, Kang Taejung inserted the last stake into the heart of the one he loved.

“I’m sorry.”

He turned around after uttering the last apology.
Ha Joyoon’s heart, which saw Kang Taejung’s will to completely end their relationship, lost its reason.
The growing physical distance seemed to signal their end. 

“Taejung-ah!”

Even as he called out to him, the steps moving forward did not stop.
The uncontrollable tears flowed madly and wet his cheeks.

“Taejung-ah, Taejung-ah…”

He followed him and called his name frantically, but the distance did not narrow.
When he nearly lost himself in the rushing headache and nausea, someone’s words suddenly came to his mind. 

‘If you really can’t get over them, say that you want to stay as a sex partner.’

‘I’ve said this before, but if you’re not in a situation where you can meet someone new, why don’t you try to stay as a partner with them? It might be more effective than you think.’

It was a crazy piece of advice.
He knew it was garbage that didn’t even need to be taken seriously.
He knew better than anyone else that something like that shouldn’t be brought up, it was one of the shittiest things he could say.
However, he was left with no cards in his hand that could hold Kang Taejung.  He didn’t do anything, so he didn’t have the right to hold on.

Ha Joyoon gained a little more speed and grabbed Kang Taejung’s arm as he tried to leave the alley.
“Taejung-ah.” Kang Taejung’s eyes raised in confusion at the words coming through his shaking lips. 

“If it’s a matter separate from your feelings… Does that mean that there are still feelings left?”

“Yoon-ah, that’s…”

 

“If there’s still some left… Do you…”

Barely clinging to his muscular arms, Ha Joyoon put his trashy thoughts in his mouth without even wiping away the messy tears. 

“Do you… want to sleep with me?”

“…What?”

Instantly, the dark eyebrows moved up.
At the unexpected words, astonishment and shock passed over his face.
Unfortunately, however, there was not a single bit of reason left within Ha Joyoon to properly understand Kang Taejung’s reaction.

If he didn’t say anything, it felt like they would break up for good. It felt like Kang Taejung would completely leave my side. The foolish idea of wanting to hold onto his body took over Ha Joyoon’s brain like a drug. 

With an unsteady breath, he put the words in his mouth and hung on it.
The hand holding the arm trembled violently.
The same was true with his pale blue lips.

“If-If you sleep with me…”

Slap!!-

The little face turned violently with a sharp noise that ripped the air.  A red flower of heat bloomed on his cheek before he could even realize what happened.
The pain numbed the entire side of his face. 

There was no sound momentarily as if something was wrong. Wee- Wee- A siren-like tinnitus rang in silence, blocking all other sounds of the world.
The other person pushed Ha Joyoon into the corner.
His weak body lost its strength and slammed against the wall with a quiet moan.

“How could you… How could you say something like that?”

“……”

“How could you?!!” 

A roar filled with sorrow struck his ears.
The caught shoulder hurt as if it were breaking, and his weak body was shaking helplessly.
When he raised his head, Kang Taejung’s face looking at him was also covered with tears.
He looked to be in so much pain that Ha Joyoon forgot that he was crying and stretched out his hand blankly towards him.

“Taejung-ah…”

I’m sorry.
I’m just a piece of trash.
I was just out of my mind because I didn’t want to break up… A feeling that could not be expressed in words came up to the tip of his lips.
However,  He was stopped in his tracks after one step.

Smack!- 

A fierce slap cut across the back of his hand that reached out.
It was a complete rejection.
The area around the alley was like a frozen wasteland.
A red mark was clearly visible on his pale skin.
The traces of pain left by his beloved over his cheek and on the back of his hand signaled the end of the relationship.

“You…”

 

“Taejung-ah…”

“You’ve truly become awful.” 

The fed-up expression on the one he once loved came to Ha Joyoon as another shock and pain.
It was not a happy smile, but a rotten, pale blue shell that was left with nothing but contempt and criticism.

Kang Taejung was silent for a while as he coldly stared at Ha Joyoon with dull eyes that contained no emotions.
Then, a few moments later, he said with a blade-like coolness.

“Let’s break up.”

The white hand, which was suspended in the air, slowly fell down.
The man reflected in his empty dark pupils said he no longer loved him. 

***

Creak- Creak.-

Every time you climb old wooden stairs, the sounds they make remind you of their age.
In the darkness when everyone was asleep, faint wet marks were engraved like scars following the slow sound. Creak, Creak.- After a hard day, it sang an old song to comfort a weary heart.
There is no strength in the hand holding the railing.

Tap.- 

Ha Joyoon entered the room and staggered through the darkness to press the switch on the wall.
An artificially bright light shone in the dark space, revealing a lifeless face beneath it.
He stood in the middle of the room for a while, slowly looking through the room until his gaze stopped on a certain spot.
All sorts of emotions and feelings flashed over his face.

……

After a death-like silence, he took another weary step.
He stood in front of a closet filled with the only things he loved.
Numerous catalogs, scrapped articles, printed photos, cameras, lenses, and Kang Taejung.
There were countless pictures, clothes, and items with the letters and gifts he received from him.

Ha Joyoon reached out with a trembling hand and began to take them out one by one.
The hand that looked at this and that became colder as time went on.
Items were sorted were scattered all over the floor.
On one side, everything related to photography, and on the other, everything related to Kang Taejung lay down.
The drooping eyelashes quivered. 

While careful at first, little by little the hand that dropped them grew stronger, unable to withstand the violent emotions.

Crash!- A photo frame with a shoulder-to-shoulder shot rolled over the floor.

Tap! Tap!- Camera films and memory cards were likewise thrown haphazardly.  The letters were crumpled and the photos scattered.  Things that were mixed in a mess were like his feelings in rags.
His lips, which he had been biting to avoid screaming, were so red as if they were about to burst.

I shouldn’t have come back. 

A voice that resembled his own voice poured out criticism.
Thick catalogs were scattered on the floor.

I should have ended it there.

 

The clothes with the familiar scent were mixed together and thrown away.

I was on the wrong track from the beginning.
If I can’t do anything right, I should’ve just given up. 

Undeveloped films and photographs fell indiscriminately.

Might as well have kept it a nice memory…!

The hand that had been frantically scrambling froze.
The fingertips that had gained so much energy started to tremble.
A photograph, half crumpled underneath, peeked out from the pile.
A child’s face was smiling out from the rectangular frame.
Although it was stained here and there, you could still see a child with dark brown skin, large deer-like eyes, and a smile that was like a blooming flower.

“……” 

Tears streamed down his cheeks silently.

I know this child. 

Ha Joyoon muttered in his mind as he stared blankly at the photo.

I know this child.
And I remember that moment. 

***

The child’s hijab belonged to her mother.
She shook her head saying, “No, I don’t want a hole in mine!” She ran to her mother in small steps and begged her to lend her the red hijab she was wearing.
  The old mother, tired from constantly being on the boundaries between escape and death, kissed her warmly and gladly wrapped her hijab around her daughter.
When the child was ready, she spoke in an unfamiliar language.

[Please take a picture]

He nodded happily, and the child immediately posed.
He began to take pictures of the child’s face as if enchanted by her adorable appearance.
Click click.- As the shutter sound began to fill the desolate space, other children around them also flocked to their side.
“Please take a picture of me, too!” “Please make us look cool!” The scent of death that made them tremble in fear during the countless days and nights was forgotten in the voices chirping with excitement.
The children’s expressions varied.
Some smiled brightly, made impressions to look good, and raised their chins to look pretty. 

He probably laughed for a long time after that.
A few minutes later, the government shelling began, and the first child to be photographed was killed on the spot.
The child’s death was recorded only in pictures he took.

***

After a while, the knees that barely supported his body bent helplessly.
He collapsed on the messy floor.

“Hngh… hic…” 

“Aaaah!”

Eventually, the unbearable crying leaked out.
He gasped for breath, his back shaking.
Tears gradually fell over the scattered pictures.

 

Love is over.

Half of my life was over as it was. 

It has been 8 years since we started dating.
No, thirteen years, including the time I lost consciousness.
We’ve been together since birth, so we’ve known each other for 31 years.
He was my only friend and lover.
I believed that we would spend the rest of our lives together.
But the end of the 31-year-old love was so simple and meaningless.

Nevertheless, the child’s smile remained in the photo. The photograph alone did not leave my side. He had to record others’ lives until the end of his own.
He was sad, happy, miserable, grateful, and hurt, and in the end, without knowing what he was feeling, Ha Joyoon lay down and buried his face on the floor, crying aloud for a long time.
Even as he felt like he was dying, and hoped that all his emotions would die as well, he hoped to be able to forget everything and stand up again.

Some people were struggling to return home, some were suffering madly, and some were asleep in the deep night.
Only the soft moonlight passing through the windows was there to comfort the lonely man that was hunched on the floor.
After finally making it through this crossroad, time starts to move past all of the holes left by past memories.

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