1 Soojin.

She was a Rose.

And just as a Rose, was delicate on the outside, soft to touch and visually appealing.

A colour so distinct and deep, it painted one's own lips with a distinct rouge, exuding an aura that drew you to the brim of innocence.

A scent so sweet, it filled one's senses with mystique.

How could one not be drawn to it?

How could one not feel the urge to keep it in its vitality, close to them, in their pockets or perhaps a carnation?

What no one saw was what lay under its plump, vivacious petals.

Thorns.

The Thorns that adorned its thick stem, propping it up.

The Thorns that could pierce through the human epidermis, drawing out rouge.

Rouge.

Rouge different from the ones that lies over the calyx.

The kind of Rouge that binds people to one another.

The kind of Rouge that makes you want to forsake just about everything that once mattered to you.

Rouge that soils your hands and burdens your soul.

Rouge that travels through your vessels, millisecond a time.

Rouge that reminds you that you're alive.

One would wander near the Rose just to find the thick thorns ready and propped.

Ready to defend, ready to succumb and ready to kill.

The thorns lay by the Rose, like a faithful companion, watching the petals grow pale and grey.

They're always there, hidden yet omnipresent.

Perhaps, that is what makes a Rose so divergent.

Soojin was a Rose.

A Rose that had earned a place for itself through its distinct aura.

A Rose that had been trampled under the feet of oppression, poverty and an incredibly heart wrenching patriarchal society.

She'd been taught since the very first day, if you can't protect your own self, no one will.

It was one for one in this cruel world.

You'd be damned to think someone else would share your load.

'The world would rather see you break your back than share your load, Darling.' Her mother's crude words would find her, even in the most vulnerable times.

Being the youngest and the only able sibling in the household had taught her far too much.

Fatherless, she was far more vulnerable.

She'd find herself being followed back home at the break of night.

Vulgar comments, wolf-whistles, tugs on her stole followed her everywhere.

Her Brother- Kim Joon Ki.

Born with a congenital disorder of Muscular Dystrophy, hadn't made it easier on them.

She was the man of the house.

Working hours and hours at the Blacksmith had taught her quite a bit :

1. All that shines isn't gold

2. Gold isn't the strongest metal in the world, Tungsten is.

So, all the pressure on her to 'shine like gold' wasn't justified.

She was allowed to be soft, to grow brittle and break but she was malleable, too.

Malleable enough to be moulded under immense stress.

Her mother was a helpless widow.

She cleaned after the vegetable state of her handicapped brother.

Cleaned his excreta, cooked for him and lived that caregiver life.

Needless to say, the Widow was rather frustrated with their circumstances.

Who should she complain to other than her own daughter, who shoulders the responsibilities?

Soojin was ethereal.

Beautiful would be an understatement, falling inadequate before her.

She wasn't the kind of beautiful you'd realise upon seeing, just immediately.

She was like wine, grew tastier by the minute.

She was the kind to grow on you.

She was intellectual, had a pair of keen eyes and the trembling lips of an infant.

If innocence could be personified, it was Kim Soojin.

She was aware of the conditions she was living in and had learnt to make do with it.

Begging was never a choice, neither was whining.

Thats just how resolute she was.

Level headed, couldn't be budged.

She'd never bow down before anyone.

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Her pride wouldn't allow it.

But when it came to her family, her mother's tears would coax her into sacrificing the resolute manifestation she'd created for herself.

Perhaps, she pitied how her Mother was living in the most meagre situations or the uncountable times drunk men had shown up at her doorstep soliciting bodily pleasures from the Widow.

Whatever it was, she knew that she owed it to her Mother to be there for her, in the blink of an eye.

What she didn't know was, she'd be selling herself and her dignity in exchange for stability in their household.

When the King's men showed up in their Village, in search of fresh untamed concubines for their impatient Tyrant, they made sure to deliver a proposition to the most unguarded family consisting of a Young daughter, a Widow and her incapacitated older son.

Needless to say, Soojin's mother found it fit to send her daughter off to the Capitol in exchange of 2 gold coins a month scheme worked out by The Palace.

That's when the realisation dawned upon Soojin -- She wasn't fending for her family anymore, it was her own life she'd be battling.

Self-Loath and Detestation kicked in.

Frustration and the inevitable feeling of being drowned with arms and legs that hung down as paralysed weights, chewed her alive.

The thorns grew firmer and sharper, they'd pierce just about anyone.

What Soojin hadn't known was, she'd felt this way for as long as she could remember.

As mentioned, she'd learnt to make do with her circumstances.

After all, she was like the Rose.

Delicate to the touch, yet surrounded by a wreath of barbs.

——

She was a Rose but to him, she was the Jasmine.

The most delicate of all.

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