It was not unusual for Korean teenagers to stay up until two in the morning. In order to get into a good university, many high school students study and do homework for hours. Often, students push their minds and bodies to the limit, sacrificing sleep in hope of earning an extra mark on the entrance exam. Any Korean teenager who did not focus their life on education was looked down upon, and such was the life of suburban 17 year old Jeon Jinhyuk.
Jinhyuk's room reeks of stale air at four in the morning. The computer hums comfortably in the corner, and the screen glows on his face. It had been twelve weeks since he had last left. Jinhyuk is not ugly, handsome even, but the sleeplessness, grease, and loneliness mars his features. He stares at his screen, occasionally gazing blankly at his window, before wandering back through idol forums and meme generators. He often checks his popular review page, and spends long nights answering questions from his readers. Eventually seven o'clock rolls around, and he hears the children walking to school. It is Wednesday, an exam day, and the students are scrambling to their tests. Jinhyuk rises, turns off his monitor, and rolls into his bed fast asleep.
Although Jinhyuk tells himself that he is content with his popularity on the internet, but he can't lie to himself in his dream. In Jinhyuk's dream, he goes back to his bittersweet middle school memory. He sees his friend stand in front of him, walking him into the classroom and making boring jokes as usual. He smirks at his friend's punchline, but then softens into a small smile when he feels the warmth of his friend.
Suddenly, the windows cracks and thick black water gushes in. His friend's smile fell apart, his teeth fell into the water and made audible splashes, and the black water hissed like oil against his skin. The bitter taste of pills filled his mouth, and he felt the water rising to his neck, choking him. His eyeballs bulges under the pressure, and his hair feels like lead dragging his head down. The water blinds his eyes and he hears his friend struggling and screaming in the flood. The walls fall away into the void, and his friend's voice fades into darkness. Jinhyuk desperately tries to stay afloat but all parts of his body feels unresponsive. As he submerges beneath the surface, he feels nothing, except for his own consciousness. Before he could think of anything, a screeching voice pierces his mind.
YOU KILLED ME!
And then Jinhyuk wakes up struggling to breathe, tears forming at the edge of his eyes. He can't seem to sleep anymore without any painful dreams or haunting nightmares. It used to be easy for him to sleep, the exhaustion of homework and hagwon lulling him into slumber. Nowadays, he sleeps just to reset his own mind to a new day. Looking through the blinds, Jinhyuk sees the sun descending towards the horizon. He lets out a shuddering breath, rubbing his temples. Slowly, his heartbeat returns to an even pace.
Jinhyuk heads straight for the bathroom, quickly turning on the tap and rinsing his face to clear out the last traces of sleep. Even since he stayed, this morning routine still remained with him. Lifting his head up to face the mirror, Jinhyuk can see his puffy, big eyes staring back at him, with his thin lips slightly parted. His dark hair is disheveled and his cheekbones more prominent than ever. He looks pitiful in this state.
You've deserved it.