He asked me.
“Do you want one?”
Hearing my answer, he raised his eyebrows and suddenly burst into laughter.
It was clearly not a time to laugh, but I didn’t feel unpleasant because this was my first time seeing him laughing loudly like that.
Yeon Woojeong laughed while covering one of his eyes with his hand that was holding the cigarette.
It disturbed me because it was a close call, but I didn’t feel like stopping him.
When I was young, there was a kid who loved insects in my class.
He once caught a butterfly, nailed it, framed it, and brought it to the classroom to brag.
Even though the butterfly was dead, it didn’t lose its color.
As I looked at him, I suddenly remembered that butterfly.
“Then why are you looking at me like you want to smoke?”
“I never do that.”
He stared at me with a smiling face, then shoved the cigarette into the ashtray, closing the lid as he asked.
“Are you cold?”
“But your ears are frozen.”
I lifted my hand to touch my ear.
It was cold, but it was bearable.
I saw a bus coming from behind him.
As I walked near the road, Yeon Woojeong stood next to me.
We got on the bus and sat on the same seat as earlier.
“What should I do on the way back?”
Yeon Woojeong didn’t answer my question straight and stared at me.
His eyes slowly narrowed down.
“On the way back, you fill the empty head with plans.
When I arrive I should eat, take a shower, sleep at this hour… something like that.”
I nodded and looked beyond the window again.
There seemed like a laugh coming from my side.
I ignored that and made the plan.
Since I’ve eaten, I don’t need to fill my stomach, and I’ll take a shower as soon as I arrive.
There’s nothing to do because it’s already late.
Ah, I have to organize the clothes, but I’ll do it tomorrow morning as soon as I wake up.
It was easy to make a plan that was utterly normal and not dangerous, and that was why I could keep engrossed in that thought.
The destination had already been decided, and the bus would take me there, so I relaxedly leaned my body on the seat.
The plan went on to tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and also the next day.
Was the future something that can be easily planned like this?
I suddenly felt it was quiet on my side, so I looked for Yeon Woojeong’s reflection in the window.
But, because he was covered by me and couldn’t be seen, I turned my head, and he was leaning his head a bit to me with his eyes closed.
It seemed like he was sleeping.
His face looked a bit tired but peaceful.
He still gave a cold impression even when he was sleeping, but maybe because of his long eyelashes, he also looked soft like this.
I could faintly hear his breathing sound.
It was natural for a person to breathe, but it was amazing that he breathed so little.
As I quietly stared at him, Yeon Woojeong’s head kept leaning on me.
I subconsciously tensed my shoulders.
His head eventually fell on my shoulder.
It was heavy on my shoulder.
Now I couldn’t see Yeon Woojeong’s face.
I looked straight ahead.
There was still no one else on the bus.
The bus drove over the speed bumps.
The moment it went up, I turned stiff, and the moment it went down, I held in my breath. Bump, bump, bump. It felt like the bus kept going over the speed bumps, even though such a thing didn’t happen.
I kept hearing sounds.
No, I felt like my body kept floating and sinking.
The bus stopped.
The door opened, and a man entered, then sat on the front seat.
When the door closed back, and the bus departed, I finally realized it.
That my heart was beating.
The beats were heavy.
It seemed like my body also rattled when the bus went over the speed bumps.
Not all buses in Seoul are good, it seems.
There was a faint cigarette smell.
A hand with the palm on display was on Yeon Woojeong’s thigh, but then it fell between his and my thighs.
There was a paper-thin cut on the fourth finger and a small dot near the wrist.
The blue vein disappeared behind the watch.
The thigh touched by his finger was hot, but I didn’t bother to move it.
Every time the bus stopped or departed, the tips of Yeon Woojeong’s fingers flinched.
His palm was white, but the tips of his fingers were a bit red.
That color caught my attention.
I stared at it absentmindedly, and then I moved my hand to approach his.
My nail touched his finger, and as soon as I felt the soft skin, I quickly pulled my hand back.
I did not do anything, but I felt like doing something bad.
I turned my head and focused my attention outside the window.
I thought about other things in order to ignore the weight on one of my shoulders.
The bus was approaching the bus stop where we departed.
As my shoulders moved when I pushed the bell, Yeon Woojeong lifted his head.
He stared at me with clear eyes unlike when he was half-asleep in the morning, and then looked outside.
“We’re almost there.”
Yeon Woojeong slightly bent his neck once, then stood up.
When we got off at the bus stop, I felt like I had left a lot of things behind.
My heart felt light.
I looked around the street that was empty without people, and I followed Yeon Woojeong.
We got back into the car and headed to his house.
After driving past dozens of reddish streetlamps, we arrived at the officetel.
Even when we entered the dark parking lot, the red afterimage didn’t leave me.
Somehow, I felt like I just woke up from sleep.
Yeon Woojeong’s house was warm even though there were no people there.
If he was going to take a shower first, then I had to wait, but Yeon Woojeong went to his room and didn’t come out.
It seemed like he was using the bathroom inside, so I used the bathroom here.
I put the shopping bag in the corner, then laid down on the sofa.
My eyelids felt heavy.
Closing my eyes, I recalled the plans I made on the way back.
Organizing the clothes, having breakfast, looking at the books, … all of those were only very trivial things.
Suddenly, I realized that there had been no one who taught me this thing.
How not to be afraid of tomorrow.
How to not feel sinking into the darkness when the night comes.
The fact that I can empty my head and fill it with new plans.
No one had the duty to teach that thing.
But, if I knew about it earlier, I wondered if I’d be able to have a slightly better night.
I knew that I could have this kind of fulfilling thought because I was laying in a warm place and had something to eat tomorrow.
But still, if I had known earlier… I felt like my tomorrow would be a bit different.
It was a meaningless and useless thought.
I had to clearly remember that I couldn’t stay here until I died.
Even when I was remembering my circumstance, the anxiety turned faint.
I pulled the blanket over my head.
There was a movement in Yeon Woojeong’s room.
It seemed like he was all washed up.
His steps were slowing down, and when I pulled down the blanket, I heard a voice.
I didn’t answer that.
Somehow, I was out of breath.
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