"Annie... I'm so fucking stupid... I miss you so much..." a young man mumbles while drinking whiskey at a bar. En sat on the counter of 7th Heaven and continued to drown his sorrows with alcohol. Tears of grief fell from his face as he played with a set of rings on his palm. En bitterly smiled at the bands that lingered with his deceased wife’s memory.
The better years of his life, as he would call it. When his life wasn't torn and messed up. The week had happened like a series of flashes for En. As normal as it might have started at first, something happened that would send him spiraling out of control. The young man poured himself drink after drink. Each glass that En drank becoming more bitter than the last. En can't hold his alcohol, yet he clung onto it as if it were his lifeline. He felt so lost and broken without the love of his life.
Moments later, another young man entered the bar. His eyes scanned the room for his friend. Miguel had a small frown on his face when he spotted En silently crying while he drank. En's surrogate uncle tried to stop him, but the young man wouldn’t have it.
“- Yeah… I found En… I’ll meet up with you guys later, alright?” Miguel replied into his cellphone before shutting it off. He
"That's enough, En… Let’s go home, everybody’s worried sick." whispered Miguel. He wanted to be here for En, but he wasn't expecting to see the broken and vulnerable state of his friend. He frowned and tried to stop En from pouring another glass of whiskey. Yohan, En's surrogate uncle, worriedly peered over his newspaper and put a hand on En’s shoulder to comfort the weeping young man. The elderly man understood the pain of losing a loved one. He softened upon seeing the angered and hurt eyes that En had bore on his friend Miguel.
"I think it's best that you listen to yer friend kiddo, you've had enough hooch..." he coaxed prying away the glass form En's hand. Yohan then tried talking to En to console him. But En angrily slammed his hands on the bar counter as he shoved his uncle and Miguel away from him. He pointed a finger on his chest and let out an exasperated sigh.
"It was MY fault that my wife died... I promised her..." En explained. The two men looked at the grieving young man and gave him some space instead of convincing him to go home already.
"Miguel… What went wrong? Please tell me… Why did… Why did Annie have to leave me like Mom…" his head hurt and his heart ached. All the guilt rebounded to him and it delivered a gut-wrenching punch of reality. He was regretting the fact that he chose to continue his trip overseas when his wife was due in a few weeks. En kept blaming himself. He knew, no amount of grieving now will bring back his deceased wife.
En replayed everything in his head like a broken record. The voices he heard, the things he felt and the lifeless hand of Annie that he held as she let out her last breath. He cried. He cried on his way out of the hospital. He cried until his eyes were swollen and bloodshot. It had all been his fault.
"Maybe… Maybe if I stayed by her side she would’ve still been here…” he slurred. Trying to walk without Miguel's help. He shoved his friend aside and sobbed into his hands when he fell on his knees outside the bar. The cold pavement only adding to the coldness that he felt all around himself.
Their friends didn't have a clue on the whereabouts of En when they were told of Annie's passing. The last he was seen was in the hospital, as told by the medical personnel. For three days En squandered off, hopping from bar to bar in the district. His father tried to contact him through his phone, but En wouldn't answer.
This wasn't the En that Miguel knew. Little did he knew that En wasn't only drinking. Miguel was shocked to see the several cuts that En had on his forearm. The red-haired young man passed out on him after all that alcohol that he drank. En slung his arm over Miguel as he carried him. Miguel texted his other friends a call and told them to meet up at En’s house where Muni, Hiso and the others were staying at.
Miguel gave his brother, Nari a short text to notify them that he had finally found En. Everyone was relieved when Miguel found En. Having Yohan telling him that En was at 7th Heaven made searching for En easier after three days being absent.
"I'm a horrible person, Miguel..." En says while he was being helped by Miguel to walk. Miguel had enough of En blaming himself. He sat his friend down and tried to make En understand that blaming himself will do him no good.
"It isn't your fault, En." Miguel replied. En shook his head and bitterly laughed at his pitiful self.
"You don’t understand… I promised Annie that I would make it in time… " En whispered, choking back on his tears.
“It’s not your fault.” Miguel repeated. He comforted his best friend who was currently puking at the nearby public restrooms. Miguel made sure to buy some band aids while they were there. Thankfully, a nearby shop carried them. He put on a few band aids over En’s fresh cuts, gently telling his friend that he’s going to be alright.
"Miguel... What happened while I was gone...?" his hands were buried on his face while he tried to hide the shame. Miguel took a breath and told En everything.
"Well... After you went missing, your Dad called us. He said that you didn't went back home to your house when he received the word that... Annie died..." Miguel had a sullen expression in his face. It made it difficult for him to tell his friend that their friends dropped whatever they were busy with in order to find him. Miguel thought that if En knew, he would think that he bothered everyone of his friends because of his stupid decision.
“You can't just keep on disappearing like this. You left your baby daughter alone, En, how afraid do you think she was when she woke up and didn't find her Dad beside her?" Miguel firmly scolded En.
En rose to his feet and nodded silently at Miguel with bloodshot eyes. He couldn't hold it back any longer. The young man sobbed on his friends' shoulder, letting loose of all the pain that he had been bearing on his shoulders. The pain that weighted him down.
‘I’m so sorry…’ En whispered in his mind, seeing Annie's image flashing in his mind. A vision of Annie smiling at En while she was telling him that everything is going to be alright.
* Flash back 1 week ago*
"You're going?" Annie asked. She was currently nine months pregnant at the time and was due any day now. She looked at her husband in concern and wrapped her arms around his torso, a quiet attempt on her part to stop En from leaving. Annie didn’t want him to leave. She wanted to tell him that, but she couldn’t. En had given up so much just to be with Annie, she didn't want to feel like she was holding him back.
"I know that you’re wishing for me not to go... But I want to do this for the three of us..." En whispered to his wife, hugging her from behind kissing her on her ticklish spots. He put a hand on Annie's swollen belly, smiling in excitement.
"I can't believe that we're going to be parents soon..." Annie hugged En and took a deep breath to inhale his scent.
He caressed her and looked at his wife with a small frown on his face, her pout and frown made his heart ache.
‘Do I really need to leave…’ En questioned to himself, looking unsure. Annie tugged on his heart strings, a feat that only she can do towards En.
"We don't need a new house... I'm fine on where we are now... Couldn't you just stay...? For the baby and me?" she mumbled, trying to convince her husband to stay. En frowned when Annie started to cry. He immediately dropped the suitcase he was handling and went to wipe the tears away from Annie's face.
"Hey... It's going to be alright. I'll be back in a few days okay...?" he reassured his wife with a small smile on his face. Annie nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing En passionately. It was a long sweet kiss that tried to make En stay. He was frozen in his place, trying to decide if he would still leave for America the next day.
"Just be back soon okay?" Annie asked, pulling En closer to feel his warmth. En chuckled and patted her in the back before gently wrapping his arms around her.
"I promise." he smiled. It was all the assurance that Annie needed. She placed her trust on him and let him leave for America the next morning.
*End of flashback*
It was a pretty short trip when En and Miguel got back to En’s house. Right in front of his house he already saw Monty on the phone looking pissed. The blonde shorter man ran a hand through his hair and felt rage when he saw En's pitiful state. En wasn't expecting for Monty to punch him hard when the shorter man grabbed him on his shirt and scolded him.
"You dumbass! Where in the hell were you fucking around for the past three days?!- "
"Hey, quit it!" Miguel broke up the scuffle between En and Monty. He dragged away Monty as Hiso came out of the house to check up on En.
"I'm so sorry for worrying you guys…" En apologized while rubbing his now-sore cheek. Muni saw the commotion and went to check on Monty who was wiping off some stray tears from his face. Hiso then walked over to the blonde young man and scolded him for punching En.
"Ow! What the hell was that for!?" Monty hissed in pain. Miguel went over to his girlfriend, Muni, and hugged her. The young woman asked him for details, but Miguel kept quiet about the matter.
“Miguel...? Why won’t you tell me?” Muni asked with a frown on her face. Miguel shook his head and buried his head onto the crook of her shoulder while mumbling something in return.
“Can’t tell… Boy’s only secret…” Miguel argued childishly, earning him a small giggle from his girlfriend. Monty sat on the cold pavement while the others were checking up on En, asking him various questions as well as buying some medicine to treat his wounds.
“You apologize to him later, alright?” Muni told Monty who nodded silently before she went inside the house. Hiso and Miguel followed them soon after, shaking their heads in exasperation.
“What have you gotten yourself into, En?” Hiso muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose. She felt heavy and tried from the three day all-nighters that they pulled in order to find En.
"Where's Naminé...?" En asked them when they got back inside his house. He saw Minho leaning onto a corner, and eyeing him with concern.
"What the fuck were you doing man...?” Minho grumbled. He was worried when he saw the numerous cuts that En had on his arm, a sign of self-harm. It concerned them all. Hiso taught Minho what to do in order to treat En's wounds, being sleep-deprived herself to the point of not being able to treat En herself.
“Come on let's get you fixed up... Goddammit En, Look at you!" En wasn't expecting the sudden outburst from his friend. Minho was usually passive. This time was different. Minho was still pissed at his friend, scolding En while applying ointment and wrapping a gauze on his arm. Minho eventually finished patching up En with wrapping up a fresh roll of bandage on his arm.
“What the hell have you been doing, En…” Minho asked while frowning at the wounds that En did to himself.
"I... Wasn't being myself when Annie died... I just... Felt the need to let out the pain." En apologized walking past his raven-haired friend. Nari and Kumin just arrived back at the house when they saw En's bandaged-up arm and saw the haggard state of their friend.
"En, what the hell happened to you?!" Nari exclaimed. En laughed nervously at the two and explained the things that he was doing for the past three days. Everyone became more worried at his current state.
"Alice is just taking care of Naminé upstairs. You think you're going to be fine, En?" Kumin asked.
"I see... Thanks you guys, I'll go and see Naminé now... I'll catch up to you guys later okay?" En replied tiredly. He went upstairs and entered the baby room where Alice was tending to Naminé. The baby slept peacefully in her arms. Alice almost shouted in shock upon seeing her friend’s state. She tucked in Naminé and tightly hugged En.
"Where were you...!? The nurses said that you disappeared suddenly after calling your Dad! Do you know how worried we were?! We asked around for three days En! Three days! Didn't you even want to be bothered?!” she whispered onto him, hugging him tighter and crying in concern. En gently patted her on the back to calm her down. He scratched the back of his head in embarrassment and apologized for causing everyone trouble.
"I have plenty of things in my mind right now... It's all jumbled up and... and... It's just so confusing... I just... I couldn't handle it all. I uhhh... wanted the pain to disappear..." he said honestly, rubbing his arm, wincing when he realized that it was his bandaged up arm.
"Well I'm just glad that you're here now..." Alice smiled.
"Hey... Chin up alright? Annie wouldn't want to see you crying like this... You have to remain stronger from now on, okay En? We're all here for you when you need us..." Alice reassured to him, stepping aside to let En see Naminé again.
The young woman quietly left the room and heard Minho greeting her while leaning near the doorway with his arms crossed. She immediately went over to her boyfriend and wrapped her arms around him.
"Did you tell him that the funeral is in the day after tomorrow?" Minho whispered. Alice shook her head and sighed, admitting to her boyfriend that she couldn't immediately tell En after he had just gotten back.
"It's better if we tell him tomorrow... It’s better if he can get some quiet time first…" Minho spoke with pained expression on his face. Alice agreed that it was for the best, the two of them leaving the house shortly afterwards to get together the things that they would need for tomorrow.
En changed out of his clothes and plopped down on his bed. He fished out his and Annie’s wedding rings, nursing the bands on his hand. He had received them from the hospital after being told of his wife's passing. That night he ran away after signing Naminé’s birth certificate and calling his Dad. It was only supposed to be a short walk, but soon enough he found his legs carrying him far away from the hospital and his daughter.
‘You’re really late…’ Annie’s voice rang through his head. Her pained words haunted En. He had broken their promise. There wasn't anything left in the world that would torment him to that extent. En regretted leaving. The only salvation that he could have now is by making up for the lost time that he was gone. He promised Annie that he would be a good father to their daughter.
"Annie... I am so... sorry..." En apologized to his wife in his mind. En slept with a heavy heart, knowing that things will never be the same again. He clung onto the hope that he'll do better. He had to. Because it was what Annie would've had wanted.
- To be continued