Genre: Angst, drama
Summary: Yunho once chose kinship over love, and is now willing to do anything as penance for his act of betrayal.
Six times seven, forty-two.
Nine times six, fifty-four.
Twelve times eleven, one hundred and thirty-two.
He stared into the bleak grey ceiling, shoddily finished with cheap cement, and continued counting sums internally. He cursed under his breath as he recognized the rhythm of his cellmate’s slow, heavy breathing, taunting him for his insomniac state. Long realizing the futility of the exercise in lulling his senses into dreamland, he gave up and lay quietly on the upper bunk.
He was resigned. Resigned to hearing the same old deep, characteristically nasal voice which kept him awake. Apologizing desperately, promising to visit him frequently, pledging to love only him, assuring him that he will wait for him. For ten years? As if. The time spent in here had not been in vain, he had trained himself to harden his heart, trained himself to rein in on the painful throbbing in his chest at rejecting the weekly visits he had secretly anticipated so much.
It had become easier when the announced visits lessened in frequency, and the desire dulled into an acceptance.
Three years into his sentence, as if granting him his wish, the visits ceased abruptly. He had lay in a crumpled heap in the corner of his dreary cell and cried bitterly, allowing himself to finally bid farewell to his first love. Yunho had finally abandoned him for good. He should have expected it, but he never learnt. After crying himself into dehydration and a high fever, he had sworn back then never to be reduced to such a pathetic wimp over love ever again. Or for that matter, anything. He hasn’t cried since. And Yunho hasn’t broken his long spell of absence.
The shrill alarm pierced the cold morning air, and he was jolted back from his memories into a cruel, monotonous reality. Climbing down from the upper deck of the bunk, he shook his cellmate’s shoulder gently, bidding him to hurry wakeup before the warden lost his patience and jostled him awake with a wooden baton. The thudding of the warden’s heavy footsteps grew louder, warning him of the approaching ominous presence.
“2601! Get your ass up!”
He flinched in fear, shoulders huddling inward, silently praying that the burly warden he detested had not just yelled his number. As the lock to his cell clicked open, he steeled his back ramrod straight and held his head up in a brave, defiant front, waiting for the warden to explain his unusual morning visit. After all, he was usually accosted on his way back during the allotted free hour in the afternoon. He never reported the violations which took place in an old, neglected wing of the sprawling prison grounds. The word of a murderer against the word of a warden with twenty years’ experience handling countless hoodlums? Tough.
He wanted to serve his sentence quietly for an earlier release. He didn’t want to court trouble by antagonizing a bunch of wardens whose loyalty lay not with the State, but with the only people who understood them and fought alongside against rebellious prisoners. His perspicacity would never allow a moment’s weakness to lengthen his wait to freedom. As such, he had followed quietly on those afternoons to the designated cell of that warden’s choice, and held back his tears as his body was taken until the big man was satiated. Laying still to spite the aroused man who repeatedly asserted his authority and dominance over him in such a crude manner, he allowed himself one small defiance by nipping the skin of the man’s wrist until the skin broke painfully. Even with his cheek smarting from the slap he got in return, he schooled himself into maintaining an expressionless mien, further infuriating the man whose ego perpetually sought any sign of pleasure from him.
His body may be abused, but his spirit remained as fiery as ever. He prided himself on being the only person cognizant of that fact.
The warden impatiently hauled him out of the cell, and led him down a series of poorly lit hallways. He was surprised when the warden took a left turn and led him into an unfamiliar room, a room sparse of furniture save for a lonely chair where his old clothes lay in a neatly folded stack.
His heart sped. Could it be?
He turned toward his most hated warden, eyes hopeful. The laconic man nodded and stepped forward to unlock his shackles, answering his silent question. In a move out of character, the man left the room, giving him some privacy to strip out of his overalls. He dressed hurriedly, anticipating the obligatory briefing that was to come and paused when he got to the last piece of clothing on the chair – a burgundy-coloured cardigan made from soft, lightweight cashmere. He gingerly caressed the expensive material of the Philip Lim cardigan. He was wearing the gift the night he was arrested and incarcerated without bail.
He pondered on whether to wear it out, or leave it behind in a place where he had resolutely buried his love for the man who had betrayed him and later proven his promises empty by abandoning him altogether. In the end, he chose to settle with draping the cardigan over his left forearm. It was a beautiful piece, and divorced from any sentimental value it carried as an anniversary gift, it was a classic design that he appreciated for its seamless workmanship and quality.
The briefing was short. He was put on probation for the remaining two years of his ten-year sentence. The warden who had violated him over the years had applied for and endorsed his early release, citing his impeccable behaviour as justification. Ironically, his release was not reward for his good behaviour, but a show of the warden’s penance for his lust. Nevertheless, he thanked the man gratefully for securing his freedom two years before it was due and passed through the door.
He squinted as he looked towards the sky and was met with a shower of bright light as the welcomed warmth of the sun's rays washed over his face. As he slowly re-adjusted to the burst of natural light, a departure from the dim cell and pathways which served to reinforce his sense of entrapment and desolation, he smiled his first genuine smile in years.
He was free.
Note: My first attempt at writing. The plot has been dwelling in my head for some time, and I just kept putting off taking the first leap. Don't know whether i should even continue with this; it seems ambitious to start with a chaptered fiction. I am obviously new to posting, any feedback is appreciated (: