Apollo's Heart - Chapter 111
Roy’s storytelling painted a vivid picture of lovers in an untimely fate, and from there Tae-jun knew the choice Roy had made. He could almost see himself in Roy.
“I got married to my fiancée but continued latching on to the woman I loved, despite her wanting to break things off with me. Who cares about marriage? It was her who I loved so deeply,” Roy said, his eyes shining under the fluorescent.
The love that he had for the woman could be compared to a boy’s complete devotion to a flower— too enamored with its beauty on the surface that he failed to notice the petals slowly withering away.
“But that was just my selfishness and arrogance, the fantasy I tried so hard to make a reality. The woman who was forced to stay with me started to break. Alcohol, drugs, attempted suicide. Her condition worsened as the days went by. I pushed her away every time problems bloomed between us, and added the fact that I’m also married to another woman. I was angry and I couldn’t bear it.” Roy spilled out, shaking his head slightly so as to rid the sad memory.
Willing himself to calm down, he glanced at Tae-jun’s tie. “Doesn’t it feel tight?” he asked, motioning his head towards the tie.
Tae-jun blinked, caught off guard by the sudden change of topic. He was about to open his mouth when Roy spoke again. “My tie was twisted with a rope around her neck. It was the first gift she gave me. I’m not even sure where she found it since I’d completely forgotten all about it. Ever since then, I have been unable to use a tie unless it’s for a formal occasion. I feel like I’m being choked whenever I wear one. Sometimes, I have even had seizures ‘cos of it. Fortunately for me, no one can actually boss me around to wear one because of my position. My doctor diagnosed me with PTSD.”
Tae-jun imagined what the scene must have looked like. A woman with a cold, blue face hung up in the air, mouth slightly agape as the rope choked the life out of her. Her feet dangling from where she was suspended on the ceiling. A man walked inside, having no idea what happened until he saw it with his own eyes. He would’ve quickly gone to lift the woman off the ropes, his hands shaking violently in the process as he hugged her close to his chest. The body that lay in his arms was nothing but a lifeless shell. He was too late, the life it once held long gone.
Tae-jun could almost see it; the desperate man looked like the man in front of him, and maybe it would look like him too, in the distant future.
“Shortly after that, my wife smashed into a guardrail under the influence of alcohol. It happened on a rainy day just like today,” Roy said as he looked out the window.
The rain poured steadily outside, the clouds above heavy in their wake.
“I later saw the diary left by my wife, and from there I knew what happened. The two had met before they encountered their deaths. I devoured and destroyed the souls of both women, and left them with nothing but misery.”
Tae-jun’s heart throbbed as the weight of Roy’s actions came crashing down on him. Roy’s past felt like a premonition— a foreboding to Tae-jun’s own future. It was clear that he would be the one who would end up breaking Yuri.
Trapped with his musings, Tae-jun stayed silent as the gears in his head turned over and over.
Roy laughed with no hint of amusement. “Then it also rained the day I first took Yuri to the hospital.” He straightened his back before continuing. “I almost emptied the bottle of medicine. I called for an ambulance and gave her first aid, and it felt like I was going crazy. From then on, Yuri became the person who’s been receiving my utmost care, the atonement for my sins.”
He would do everything for her which he was not able to do for both women. No fighting, criticizing nor driving her away. She would be showered with things like concern, consideration, and encouragement, things that weren’t given to the two women. And he hoped that those displays of attentiveness would suffice and sustain the broken Yuri. He hoped that it would be enough.
Tae-jun now understood why he’d referred to himself as Yuri’s partner and guardian. It really was difficult to name the relationship Roy and Yuri had over the course of three years.
“You saved her,” Tae-jun said.
“I’m not sure about that,” Roy said bitterly. “It didn’t make it any better.”