Press enter after choosing selection
Grade
9

For most adults, sleeping comes naturally. They drift off into dream world in a matter of minutes. For Jiyeon, though, that isn’t the case. The last couple of months have been spent through sleepless nights and drowsy days. The dark circles under her eyes seem to be getting darker with every passing minute, even the makeup is struggling to keep up at this point.

 

Ever since the night Minseok got up and left, sleeping has become more of a chore than it should. She has trouble sleeping on nights like this, nights where the nasty thoughts and the feelings of guilt take over. She brings her knees up to her chest, tears staining her cheeks as she whispers to herself, “please, please, please let me sleep.”

 

Her breaths become scattered, her vision blurry and her cheeks flushed. Without her consent, her mind turns to chaos. She thinks about all the things she should’ve done, all the things she shouldn't have done, all the things she did wrong. Jiyeon wipes her tears away, patting her cheeks dry with sweater paws and pulls out her phone.

 

She searches up the fastest ways to fall asleep and goes with the first thing she sees- the military method. She lays flat on her back, loosens the tension in her arms, legs, and shoulders before quickly shutting her eyes. If it works for navy pilots then it must work for her, right? She thinks of the most relaxing place she can, her thoughts drifting off to better places. Places where the sun turns the sky a pretty shade pink with sparks of peach and violet. She thinks about her hometown and the big lake it hides. She thinks about the warm waters during the summer; warm to the touch, but refreshing against the blasting heat. It soothes her, yes, but it doesn’t get her to sleep.

 

Frustrated, she angrily opens her eyes and brings her phone back up to her face, the bright light making her wish she had never been born. She reads a little more about the method and tries again. “Mother always said try, try again.” With a deep sigh, she starts the process again. Closes her eyes tight and breathes deeply, repeats “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” over and over in her head, but after five minutes, it’s clear it won’t work.

 

Her eyes snap open, “time to count sheep.”

 

After sheep 216, Jiyeon accepts that there will be no sleep for tonight...again. Disappointed in herself, she takes her phone into her hands once more and scrolls through her apps. “What to do at this ungodly hour,” she sighs. Letting curiosity take control for tonight, she opens up her -unused- radio app. She had downloaded it after Minseok informed her that the best music was found on a radio station. Not expecting much, Jiyeon takes her index finger and swipes it across the screen, searching for any sort of signal. She hears a small sound, almost as if someone had just grunted. She thinks it’s all in her head, after all, lack of sleep can cause delusions, but then she hears something. She hears words.

 

“Hello everyone, welcome. It’s me, your favorite graveyard hour DJ, Monie. I’m here to accompany you until sunrise.”

 

Jiyeon giggles at the slightly cringe worthy introduction, but doesn’t scroll out of the station. The soft, velvety voice belonging to ‘Monie’ is music to her ears already. She feels comforted listening to a voice other than her own. She sits up and turns the light on her bedside table on, lighting up the cozy bedroom. She looks for a pair of headphones as Monie introduces the theme for tonight, ‘young love.’

 

“How perfect, “ Jiyeon thinks aloud, a dry laugh escaping her pink lips. She plugs in her headphones, ears met with the pleasing sound of “Strawberries And Cigarettes”. She smiles to herself, getting up and walking to the kitchen. She was extremely dehydrated from crying and sobbing each night that sometimes she forgets to drink anything other than caffeine. Knowing her mind is stuck on the lyrics of the song rather than the empty feeling she gets whenever she closes her eyes. She pours herself a glass of water and walks back to her small bedroom. Setting the cup down, a new song starts to play “I Like Me Better When I’m With You.”

 

She lays on her side and pulls the covers up to her chin and yawns. She lets her eyes flutter closed, her breath slows down and her limbs relax. She indulges in the moment, lives for it. She finally feels human, like she can breathe properly. It’s the first time in the last two months where she doesn’t think about Minseok. She could barely repeat the chorus of ‘Everything Has Changed’ as she drifts off into a dreamless sleep.

 

The next day, Jiyeon felt like the soggy french fry at the bottom of your fry holder. She had woken up to a call from no other than Minseok himself. He had apparently left behind his radio clock. Jiyeon didn’t notice it until boy had brought it up, but the pale blue clock has been there since the day they moved in. It had been so long since they got it that Jiyeon had totally forgotten it belonged to Minseok. Reluctantly, she peeled the covers off and stepped out of bed. The hair on the back of her neck stood up the second her feet landed on the cold, hardwood floors.

 

Looking at the clock, Jiyeon whined because who in the world calls someone at eight in the morning to tell them they’ll be visiting somewhere around five in the afternoon? Rubbing her temples in an attempt to sooth the headache, Jiyeon knew there was no way she’d be falling back to sleep. She grumpily walked her way into the bathroom and stripped, the cold air causing goosebumps to spread across her body. Stepping into the hot water, Jiyeon’s thoughts of seeing Minjun again and all the things she could do wrong filled her head. It’s not good to be this anxious in the mornings, especially not for someone who hasn’t had a decent amount of sleep in months.

 

When Jiyeon had deemed herself somewhat presentable, she decides to eat breakfast in the cafe next door. With little force in her muscles, she pulls the door to the cafe open, a little ding of the bell as she does so.

 

“Oh, Jiyeon, you’re here early,” Yohan, the barista, waved at her from the counter. “The same as usual?”

 

Jiyeon shook her head, “give me an Americano.”

 

Normally, Jiyeon would have drank peppermint tea this early in the morning, but knowing she would be meeting Minseok in just a few hours made her crave something stronger than tea.

 

Jiyeon took her coffee, a scone and went off to classes.

 

The hours went by shorter than she would have liked, classes were finished earlier than normal and without any plans for the rest of the day, Jiyeon realized it was time to go back home. She finished a few of her papers and ran a nice long bath after she had finished studying to calm her nerves.

 

Fresh out of the bath with nothing but shorts and a decent oversized t-shirt, she grabbed the blanket she had hung on the back of the couch and just as she was finally getting comfortable, the sound of a doorbell was heard throughout the whole apartment. “Minseok always had bad timing,” she mumbled under her breath. With a groan and a deep sigh, Jiyeon stomped to the front door. She didn’t bother looking through the peephole, it was clear that Minseok had arrived.

 

“Hey,” he greeted her with a small wave. Jiyeon mirrored his actions and gave him the same awkward wave. Things were as uncomfortable as the day Minseok had come to pick up all of his clothes four months ago.

 

“Can I come in?” It was less of a question and more of an ‘I’m-gonna-come-in-whether-you-want-me-to-or-not.’ Inviting himself in, Minseok pushed through Jiyeon and walked in. He didn’t even take his shoes off, what a disrespectful son of a gun.

 

“Sure,” Jiyeon rolled her eyes as she watched Minseok make his way her bedroom, “come on in.”

 

She followed after him, she knew Minseok was sneaky and would anything that caught his eye. When she walked in she noticed just how small her room was. A one bedroom apartment with little to no space. The tiny room could barely hold the two of them. She watched as Minseok’s tall figure made its way to the nightstand. He took the faded teal clock in his hands, “Looks just like the day I bought it.”

 

Jiyeon smiled fondly, remembering the day they had gone to buy it, “yeah, I took real good care of it.”

 

Minseok turned to face her, “you took care of it?” His expression became sour, “you didn’t take care of anything in this apartment, hell, you could hardly take care of yourself.”

 

His words stung and even if they were true, Jiyeon knew she didn’t deserve this kind of disrespect. Jiyeon grabbed him by his arm and pulled him out of the bedroom and all the way toward the front door, she could feel the tears starting to well and the last thing she wanted was for Minseok to see her that way.

 

“Get out,” she spoke, “you’ve got your stupid radio, so go.”

 

Minseok gives her a dirty look, pulling his arm away from Jiyeon's grip, “fine, fine, I’ll go.”

 

As soon as she sees Minseok step out of the frail apartment, she slams the door shut. The tears start rolling and she feels like she’s suffocating. Resting her back on the front door, she slowly falls down to the floor, brings her knees up to her chest and lets out a sob.

 

Great, how am I supposed to sleep now? She thinks to herself.

 

It’s almost four in the morning and Jiyeon is staring up at the ceiling for the nth time that month. Her eyes are red and her cheeks are stained from crying.

 

The sound of the rain dripping onto the air conditioner has her going crazy. She couldn’t believe it was raining again, it seemed like the days were repeating themselves; cry, rain, stay up till sunrise. It was the fifth time this week that it had rained. Sick and tired of listening to water drip, drip, dripping she sits up, hoping she’ll come up with something creative to do on this lonely night.

 

What to do, what to do? She feels like she did the night before, or maybe even a little worse. And then it hits her like a rock; last night she had listened to that graveyard hour radio station. The one with the DJ that had a creamy, compelling voice that made you want to pass out right then and there.

 

She scrambles to find her phone under the covers, quickly pulling up the app. She searched for the radio station and joined in while Monie was in the middle of a sentence.

 

“...I guess that’s why you don’t play with toasters, Monica.”

 

Jiyeon giggles to herself, “what on earth?”

 

“Anyway, as I was saying, tonight we are taking song requests and continuing our love segment, seeing how it’s almost Valentine’s Day, tonight’s theme is ‘broken hearts.’”

 

Jiyeon flinched at his last words. She had been feeling all kinds of crappy since Minseok’s visit earlier. He had made her feel worthless and knowing that today’s theme was ‘broken hearts’ made her own heart twist.

 

The first song came on, requested by ‘PromiseLee.’ She had wanted a song that said how little her bastard of a boyfriend had meant to her after their messy breakup. Monie, the DJ, played “Picture To Burn,” by the one and only: Taylor Swift.

 

The next call was from a woman named Elizabeth. “I want a song to make me forget how much I love a person that I should hate.”

 

Monie responded with, “love and hate are the same thing, sugar.”

 

And just like that “Seoul” by RM started to play. The sweet words of the rapper’s voice drowning out the sound of the raindrops outside her window. She quietly sang along with the lyrics, “if love and hate are the same thing, I love you Seoul. If love and hate are the same thing, I hate you Seoul.” The song made her breathing slow down, the melody so calming it could put a baby to sleep.

 

After a couple more song requests, Jiyeon decided she wanted to have a song play for her. She dialed the number of the radio station and a familiar voice picked up.

 

“Hello, I’m your favorite DJ, Monie. Who am I speaking to?”

 

Jiyeon struggled for a while, she didn’t want to give out her real name. Her eyes raced around the whole room, she must’ve been panicking for a while because on the other side of the line could be heard a confused, “hello?”

 

“Oh, um,” her eyes landed on the window outside her room, “you can call me Rain.”

 

“Rain, huh? Well, Rain, what song would you like to hear tonight?”

 

Jiyeon should’ve thought this through before calling because right now her mind was blank. She hummed in thought, “I-I would actually like a song to make me smile, a song to make me cry. One that brings back the best and worst memories in a relationship.”

 

Monie chuckle, low and velvety, “cry for me on this sorrowful night.”

 

Right before the song starts he ends the call and gets close to the mic. He whispers it so lowly that it could almost go unnoticed, but to Jiyeon, it was loud and clear.

 

“Cry for me on this suffocating night, Rain.”

 

State
New York
Zip Code
10029