being angry and hurt and a little bit crazy is a part of the healing process.
written for b1a4ss summer 2014
The sound of fat raindrops clattering against the window was noisy. It was raining hard outside, and since they were already inside there was no point in making plans to go out with that weather, never mind that there was barely anything in the fridge or the pantry. Sunwoo wasn’t very good at keeping his kitchen well stocked, they ended up making ramyeon and sharing the one egg he had left, passing the pot back and forth without even bothering with bowls as they sat in front of the television.
Dongwoo pushed the pot back over to him, mouth too full to talk at all. Sunwoo poked at his cheek with his damp chopstick, frowning as he looked into the pot. “You ate all the egg,” he accused.
Dongwoo chewed and kind of grinned at him, one cheek still puffed with food. “I thought you didn’t want it anymore.”
“Liar,” Sunwoo retorted before turning back to the pot, determined to finish the rest of the noodles in revenge. “You owe me an egg.” He didn’t need to look over to know Dongwoo was nodding in response.
A crack of thunder loud enough to make the windows shake startled him and made Dongwoo jump, their knees bumping together from the motion. It was raining harder and louder, the lights flickered and there was another growl of thunder and then gone. It was dark in the apartment except when the lightning brightened the room for a second.
“Don’t remember where I put it.”
“What do you think?”
“I think you’re kind of useless.”
They were sitting close enough together that Sunwoo could easily punch Dongwoo in the shoulder without worrying about missing. “Shut up, it’ll probably come back on in a few minutes.”
The only light they had were the occasional flashes of lightning and a tiny led keychain. Dongwoo pointed it at ceiling and tried to write words with it, for lack of anything better to do. But it wasn’t suffocating, even when the apartment began to get a little stuffy.
Sunwoo flopped back onto the floor, stretched out lazily, comfortably. It made him sleepy.
“Remember that time it started pouring when we were taking the bus?”
Yeah, he remembered. They didn’t have an umbrella and the rain showed no signs of stopping. “We took the bus all the way to Incheon. We fell asleep. ”
It was the summer before last, and aside from the rain it was nothing like right now. There was no reason to be thinking about this, no reason to be thinking about Chansik. But he was and now he couldn’t stop. He could feel the bus shift and churn from the bumps on the road, even though it was almost two years ago. It didn’t make sense.
Chansik laughed, probably.
“What? Did I say something?”
The lights were still out and it was still raining, the downpour so heavy that it seemed like the window was going to break from the onslaught.
Dongwoo laughed, he was lying down as well, voice close to Sunwoo’s head. “Were you somewhere else again?”
“…I guess so.”
Dongwoo sighed, loud and heavy, like the wind and rain crashing against the window. Too loud, too close.
“…if the rain doesn’t stop do you mind if I just stay over for the night?”
It was stuffy and hot now, he wanted to open a window, he wanted to go look for a flashlight—he wanted to move, body suddenly restless.
Luckily for Sunwoo the lights blinked back on then. He sat up and stared at Dongwoo who was still lying on the floor, not a foot of space between them. It took Sunwoo a good few minutes to actually see him, as if his eyes were still adjusting from being in the dark, but he knew that wasn’t the problem.
“It’s still early, I’m sure it’ll stop.”
There was a coffee shop situated perfectly between where Sunwoo lived and where he worked that he never went to anymore. He always slowed down when he walked by, sometimes he stopped, and he tried to look past his reflection and the glare of sunlight that always hit him right in the eye, he tried to look inside as if he was always expecting to run into someone there. He used to go there every day.
“Like I was saying, even though you weren’t listening,” Junghwan took a breath, as if talking to Sunwoo was the most tedious thing. “I was thinking of trying that new coffee and dessert place on the weekend.”
Junghwan stared at him as if he expected Sunwoo to say more.
“Why are you already talking about the weekend?” He’d only managed to get through the weekend; he wasn’t ready to start thinking about it again already.
“Because Mondays suck, to normal people anyways,” He said it as if Sunwoo was some poor, stupid child that needed to be guided through the motions of daily life. “And I was hoping you’d come along, so I’m going to ask you now to reduce the chance of you making some half-assed excuse to not go.”
Sunwoo snorted. “So instead, now I have the rest of the week to come up with a whole-hearted excuse, thanks.”
He expected the crumpled tissue tossed at his head, sort of. He wasn’t expecting it to be damp.
“Just come, it’s supposed to be good. Jinyoung and Dongwoo are coming too.”
“I’ll,” he paused, as if wiping mayonnaise from his forehead kept him from talking. “I’ll think about it.”
“Since when did coffee and dessert take so much thought?”
He was thinking about it too much. “It was a coffee place with sandwiches, a totally different thing.”
But Sunwoo’s mind was more than happy to jump through a few hoops to lead him back here. Chansik grinned at him as he propped his chin in his hand. He always had a way of grinning that made it seem like he knew something Sunwoo didn’t. Or, at least, that he knew everything that Sunwoo was thinking.
“Yeah, it’s not the same at all, not that it matters.” Or, at least, that he knew everything that Sunwoo was thinking.
“You’re not going I guess, you always said it was weird for two guys to hang out in a sweets place.”
Maybe Sunwoo was starting to forget what Chansik actually sounded like, he was starting to sound weirdly autotuned in Sunwoo’s imagination, but that slight sarcastic tilt to his comment made Sunwoo believe it.
“It’s four guys, not two.”
Chansik laughed, sort of.
i think I left my hat at your place
The message blipped in some time after lunch break but Sunwoo didn’t respond to it until he got home. He couldn’t text at work (“When did you become that diligent?”) and it was hard to walk and text at the same time (“You’re not that clumsy.”)
He was staring at his phone when another text tumbled in.
are you coming this weekend? can you bring my hat if you do?
“Maybe you should just call it fate.”
He didn’t bother to look up, there wasn’t anyone else there.
“How is this fate in any way?”
He didn’t look up but he could still see Chansik shrug. “Any excuse to get you out of the house. This doesn’t suit you, you know.”
There was no point in glaring at a ghost that wasn’t really there, Sunwoo knew this. He wasn’t crazy.
“What do you care?”
It wasn’t normal, to see Chansik everywhere like this, to hear his voice and talk to him as if he were solid and present. He saw every detail of Chansik’s face, even more clearly than when he’d actually been there. He talked to Chansik more than ever, every day, and at any given hour, regardless of where he was.
“You know I care.”
He didn’t go.
“Food poisoning, really.” Junghwan’s voice was even more unimpressed over the phone than in person.
“Yep,” Sunwoo answered, voice shamelessly blank.
“You didn’t even try!”
Junghwan would probably get back at him for ‘not trying’ come Monday, but the one thing the weekend was good for was time away from his nosy, overly concerned friend. Sunwoo would worry about it on Monday. At least that was the plan until Jinyoung pried the phone away from Junghwan.
“You realise that was a bad excuse, right? Remember your migraine last week?”
Of course, Dongwoo had come over to check on him, it rained, he stayed the night and left his hat behind.
“You told Dongwoo.”
“Of course we did.” He could almost hear the grin in Jinyoung’s voice.
Chansik laughed, he clapped too because he was right about something. He’d made a bet with himself without Sunwoo noticing, even though he was a figment of Sunwoo’s imagination.
“Aren’t you just making excuses to be alone with him?”
He got a text message but he didn’t read it, it was hard to have two conversations at once, even harder to argue with a fragment of himself. Chansik laughed, each hard ha like a clatter of something dropped onto his floor boards.
“Why am I even still here? Like this, I mean.”
Chansik stopped laughing, he smiled at Sunwoo and Sunwoo looked right through him because he wasn’t there. He hadn’t been there in a long time and if Sunwoo really missed him he could have contacted him. He would have, Sunwoo wasn’t that strong.
“I just…want to know that you hurt too.”
Chansik was always smiling in Sunwoo’s mind. There had been times Sunwoo had seen him down of course, but he couldn’t remember. He’d always been good at hiding it, always so good at seeming unaffected. Sunwoo wasn’t sure how much of this insanity was because he still had feelings for Chansik and how much of it was just him being desperately bitter. He wanted to know that he’d driven Chansik a little bit crazy too, he wanted to know that he’d hurt Chansik as much as he’d been hurt. It was only natural if he’d meant anything at all to him, right?
“It hurt,” he affirmed, smiling. And Sunwoo smiled a little too.
“Hi.” Sunwoo hadn’t had the chance to check his messages before Dongwoo got there, bags of takeout in hand.
“I brought Chinese since there was nothing in your house last time I was over.”
“…who brings someone with food poisoning Chinese takeout?”
Dongwoo laughed as he stepped out of his shoes and shoved one of the bags at Sunwoo.
“No one. But I brought apples too, just in case.”
Dongwoo walked in like it was natural, like he belonged. “Oh and also, an egg.”