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Please, Mr.Lostman

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July 12th, 1998

Changbin has seen Hyunjin at the skate park every Wednesday and every Friday after his music theory class for exactly eight weeks. He knows this for a fact because they met the first week of the semester, and midterms were finally over. Changbin has watched Hyunjin progress from meekly scooting around on a penny board, to cruising around the park. Sometime around week four he bought a full-sized board with too tight trucks. The painful snap of the brand-new board was a harsh, but almost required lesson. Sometime around week six Hyunjin was able to grind on a rail.

Fast learner.

Changbin wishes he could say the same.

It’s not like he hasn’t poured on the charm, which comes in the form of his very best tricks, and an almost regular offering of half a matcha Kit-Kat and a swig of his boxed soju on Fridays.

Historically, Changbin’s been met with absolutely no sign of reciprocation.

But Changbin likes to punish himself. Keeps his lyrics fresh. A happy artist is a boring artist, right?

Like any other Friday, Hyunjin is there dropping down the ramp and haphazardly leaping back up to the other side.

Changbin is nothing more than sweaty palms and clammy skin. There’s a distinctive swelling feeling in his tongue and his throat akin to when he eats shellfish. This feeling, like any other Friday.

Fuck that.

Things are going to change, he can feel it.

After all, he’s wearing his lucky shirt. Ten years ago, he begged and begged for his dad to take him to a Boowhal show. His dad agreed if, and only if, he raised his grades. Ten years ago, Changbin went from one of the worst students in his class to the very best. Ten years ago, he got this shirt at the Boowhal concert.  

The faded gray garment has been burned a few times by cigarette cherries at shows. There’s a certain kind of symbolism…some kind of metaphor there, but he tries not to think about it too much. He cut the arms out and stretched them to big holes when he grew out and bulked up. Ten years ago, he got this shirt, but today he tacks on another memory.

He just perfected the heelflip, and if that doesn’t send the panties dropping nothing will.

Changbin loops around the edge, pops the board up onto the rail, and pivots sideways. When he focuses on his own chartreuse and black spray-painted deck he almost, but not quite, obscures his view of Hyunjin’s face.

But he can, and he does see. Hyunjin turns his gaze away from Changbin and toward the boy next to him. Tall, lanky, and dressed in a bright colored high school uniform, Hyunjin plants a kiss on him off kilter, half on the corner of his lips and half on his cheek.

Cool. 

Changbin doesn’t so much feel himself fall to the ground like a lead weight, or feel the snap-burn in his arm so much as he is aware of being in the air one moment, and on the ground the next. He’s much more aware of the whorl-click of the wheels turning as the board pitifully coasts on without him almost, but not quite drown out the sound of Hyunjin’s voice, “Changbin, are you alright?”

Well…that’s one way to move past losing half a KitKat draining the very last mouthful of soju from the spit covered mouth of an Andong box.

Changbin looks down at his arm. For a moment it just feels like his clothes rub him the wrong way, or a fly is crawling across his skin.

“Changbin?”

Yep.

It’s broken.


 

July 12th, 1998 

Chan always gets mail delivered to the school. The birthday card he sent his sister was delayed for a few weeks because of typhoon season. The care package his mother sent was a month late when their postman had a heart attack….No one picked up the mantle, Mr. Yoshida just delivered an endless backlog of packages and bills when he could get up and out of the house.

That’s just how it is on this microscopic island town.

Unlike when he gets things addressed to his house, the mail usually shows up here.

Chan always gets the mail delivered to the school, but now? Now it feels so formal. Written on the label in his handwriting is Chan’s name, and it makes his stomach feel sick.

But, it doesn’t stop him from taking a pair of cotton candy pink safety scissors from the mug filled with pens on his desk. Slowly, he drags the blade down the finger printed smudged, cat hair stuck, packing tape. When the dull scissors aren’t good enough, he uses his fingers to tear at the tape. Upturn the box, and spill out the contents, his whole world was sent parcel post via DHL.

There’s the exchange diary that Bam Bam started as a joke. Gave Chan the line that it was just something he picked up watching anime. When he received Lisa frank tiger diary with a matching plastic lock, Chan played along, writing in it with his students’ lost gel pens and mechanical pencils. Twin tugs of excitement and relief threaten to tear him in two when he doesn’t see a purple scrap of yarn with the key tied to it anywhere in the box’s contents.

There’s small mountain of keychains Chan’s won from the arcade and the UFO catchers. Doraemon, and Domo-kun, and everything, everything One Piece, because reading each chapter was something that they could do together despite the distance.

There’s a few Polaroids in the box too, a lot of images from when they traveled together in the summer before he left. They went to Thailand to meet BamBam’s family, and swear to god, that’s the only time he’s ever heard anyone call him by his given name. Then, they went to Australia to meet Chan’s family. Photos on the beach, and photos in his racecar bed at home mix together making one continuous memory.

These objects exist, persist, as tangible proof of something that barely even feels real now.

Like getting elbowed on the train, or cut off in traffic, it just seems rude.

But the mountain of trinkets and Polaroids are just pinches, little forehead flicks in comparison to the kick to his chest wrapped up in black fabric.  Chan picks up the t-shirt, shakes it out, and finds that the wavy white lines are covered in cat hair.

It smells like him, sour like sweat and sweet like citrus. The album cover screen printed on front, Unknown Pleasures, makes him think about all the times they sat and listened to old vinyl records. In the old apartment, they’d have the volume cranked all the way down as to not disturb their neighbors. Without fail, every single time, angry stamping noises would come from below.

Fuck.

In the distance, the school bells ring. The first graders’ trail in from recess and down the hallway in a fury of laughter, shrieks, and agonized cries of, “I’m telling.”

He can be sad after he teaches class 1B shapes in English.


 

July 12th, 1998

The boutique smells like cinnamon right now. Jisung’s pretty sure he heard his father, or his uncle, or some adult without much interesting to say, say that that’s a tactic stores use to get you to buy more. Pump in loud music, and nice smells, and bright colors, and override the senses…

Jisung pushes the thought from his mind because nice smells like that, secret girl smells like that, shouldn’t be faked. Gotta be the clerk’s perfume.

Cause even though they’re separated by a big tall counter, he’s pretty sure she’s the kind of girl who smells like that. Fresh blow out that morning, newly done nails, more products on her beautiful face than there are continents in the U.N…Good god he’s hoping she grants him sovereignty.

As it stands, all she does is go through the motions, not that she doesn’t make the motions look damn fine.

She takes his new hi-c colored Nautica sweat shirt and folds it neatly. Then she wedges it into a folded over piece of white tissue paper, making the whole thing look like an overstuffed sandwich. With her free hand, she snaps open a thick bag with an embossed label.

 “You work here cause you model the clothes right? Cause, uh girl—”

“Cash or check?” and to emphasize her disinterest, her bubblegum coated tongue pokes out of her mouth. She inflates the sugar band until it grows larger, and larger, and larger before it pops against her face.

Beneath the sugary snap her expression is flat.

The whole display makes Jisung’s mouth go dry and his skin itch. What now?

“Or card, cause…”

“Card, card card,” Jisung overcorrects, and spills his ID and his train pass, and a punch card for the boba shop onto the counter alongside his credit cards.

Perfect French tips pinch his gold card. She swipes it once, twice, “sir,” her voice is squeaky like new sneakers across a shiny tile floor. “Your card is declined.”

“No problem,” never mind the sweat on his palms. Fuck. It was just a little argument, nothing major. “Try this one,” and he pulls out the Visa.

She runs it again and before the machine can even beep “declined.”

“Ah,” Jisung’s tongue feels thick in his mouth. “It’s my aunt’s card. She put my name on the account. I’ll call her to see what’s wrong.”

The clerk’s vacant stare indicates how little she truly cares.

“Can I use your phone though baby?”


 

July 13th 1998

“Listen Yui,” Chan picks the discarded plastic recorder up from the floor. “I’m sure if you practice more, you’ll be able to move up to piano soon.” Then, he bends slightly at the waist and brushes his knuckle against the girl’s tearstained face.

“I practice all the time,” she huffs indignantly.

He knows. He can tell. She moves her fingers perfectly for each note. It doesn’t negate the fact that she’s absolutely tone deaf. Each huff of breath sounds like a shrill whistle…even in comparison to the sounds that most recorders make.

“Listen,” Chan’s eyes focus and unfocus for a moment on the girl’s houndstooth patterned dress. In the blurr, he finds an answer. “If you fill out your practice report next week, and-“ Even though his contract stipulated in curt, abrasive language he’s here to teach English and only English, the school practically begged him to teach music on Saturdays.

The last music teacher....died. Everyone assured him she went peacefully in her sleep at eighty-seven, but there’s no feeling quite like peeling your dead predecessor’s jade colored cardigan off of the piano bench on the first day.  

“Get ninety percent on your next quiz, you can move upward. Okay?”

“Okay,” barely a whisper.

“Alright. Now,” Chan procures the travel packet of tissues that he constantly keeps in his pocket now that he works with kids. “Cheer up, it’s too nice of a day outside for the sun to see you frowning.”

The tiny girl accepts the tissue and makes a thunderous honking noise with her nose. “Bye Mr. Bang,” she says before proudly stuffing the soaked through tissue into his hand.

“Yeah bye.”

When he’s straightened up the classroom, hastily converted into music room, and locked the door, there’s only one thing left to do. Enjoy the one true perk of Saturday lessons.

Slide-Screech. He pulls one of the impossibly tiny chairs outward and sinks to the floor. Whiir-Ping. The modem dials up. Tip-Tap on the keys as he enters his password. Unmitigated access to the computer lab makes it all worthwhile.


 

July 13th, 1998

Changbin’s blackout curtains are pulled tight across the window, but he doesn’t need to see outside to know that it’s well past noon. He didn’t come back from the bar last night until after two, and he’s never been an early riser anyway.

Sleep barely shaken from his eyes, he gropes around blindly for the liter bottle of water he keeps by his bed. And—Fuck.

He only realizes when it’s too late, when the thick clunky cast collides with the open bottle that he’s used the wrong hand. The plastic pops against the floor and water flies everywhere.

Changbin sits up, peels off his shirt, and stomps it into the puddle of water until it’s soaked through. Like the way that slowly seeps into the fibers, he slowly begins to piece together the rest of his night.

Woojin wanted to mother him, but Changbin, arm twisted like taffy, insisted it was no big deal. Yet and still, Woojin went with him to urgent care anyway. Ibuprofen really didn’t do anything for him, so in lieu of taking the pills he met up with Minho and downed shot after shot at the club.

Minho went home with someone who looked like a model, and Changbin ate fried chicken at 3:30 in the morning alone.

At least he’s got a nice ache in the front of his head to match the ache in his arm.

But enough with the sad shit. There’s bigger and better stuff on the horizon.

Changbin doesn’t even look at the shirt that he pulls from the utilitarian metal shelf he uses for his clothes instead of a dresser. Then, he stuffs feet into his Adidas sandals before trudging downstairs to the internet café that’s artfully positioned below floor after floor of student apartments.

After ordering a coffee, he spills Splenda everywhere trying to tear open the packets one handed. Fuck. Icing on the cake, some four eyed, Doom playing douche is at his favorite computer, the one just underneath the window air.

But, when the modem finishes singing the song of her people, Han, is already online. Never mind the fact that he’s filled up the group chat, their chat, just the two of them, is nine messages deep.


 

July 13th, 1998

Jisung wakes up to the smell of rich broth, steeped tea, and the feeling of her touch all over him. His lips are kiss bruised, a patch on his neck aches so good, and then there’s the sticky spot just below his belly button. Most mornings….Most mornings he’d just scratch that sticky spot until the dried cum caught into the fine soft hairs on his stomach. Then he’d pull on his pajama pants over top and go find Rania.

Today, for no real reason at all, he pulls his underwear from back behind the pillows, and tromps off to the shower.

He’s got stuff of his own, but when he’s in here alone, and she isn’t looking, he really, really likes to use her stuff. Rosewater bodywash, lavender shampoo, and keratin scalp treatment.

He washes his hair twice, scrubs his skin until it’s red and raw, and then waits until the water runs cold.

When the heat runs out, so does the unsettled feeling in his stomach. Hunger, and his cock half hard and twitching, win out against whatever uncertainty had taken up residence in his heart.

He puts on a checkered terry-cloth robe that’s technically his. Technically his, but only she wears around the apartment.

“You’re absolutely glowing,” he whispers into the shell of her ear. 

“You just love me for my homemade noodles.”

Embracing her from behind, Jisung takes each of her hands into his own and braces her against the counter. “Nia, I love you, how can you scorn me so.” 

Lift up the nightie and blanket it with the robe that is technically his, but smells like her. When he pushes inside, it’s her soft.  Her heat. Her wet. Her. Just her.

Only when she’s napping on the black leather sofa with the television on can he tear through the smothering pink cellophane of her love. Only after he’s got miles and miles and miles of noodles pulled through the seam of his chopsticks, when he spills droplets of translucent broth across the bright pink keys of her IMac can he become himself again.


 

JOne: DID MY BOI POP HIS CHERRY ?

JOne: Spill

Changbin: Because you have no patience

Changbin: No I did not.

Changbin: The specifics, I’ll wait for Channie

JOne: That could take ages

Last message sent: 13:53

CB77 14:07: I just had a kid blow her nose in my hands, and I’m pretty sure my eardrums are bleeding. Sorry to keep you waiting Han.

JOne: Ok

JOne: Ok

JOne: Ok

JOne: Out with it

Changbin: People are skeptical of your abilities if you’re rocking a hot pink cast

CB77 and JOne are typing

Changbin: brk my wrist

CB77: I’m sorry, what?

JOne: ???!?

JOne: Seriously?

Changbin: Yeah, I was skating yesterday and being a dumbass. I don’t want to talk about it, or my perpetual, unending virginity. I’m fine. Just hurt my pride, which is nothing new. We have more important stuff to discuss

CB77: Like what :P Anything important?

JOne: I can’t think of anything.

Changbin: This is actually stressful for me. I’m going to be offline for like, four days so we need to plan this. My mom is already gonna flip out once she sees my arm. When she finds out I’m ditching our first family vacation in years…

JOne: tell her you’re going to lose your virginity.

CB77: Tell her you’re going to attend a culturally significant event.

CB77: No seriously…I think we should all meet at the central station. Not in the terminal though. There’s a record store in the basement mall. Meet there.

JOne: I want to see where you live Chan.

CB77: Absolutely not. It’s too hard to get here. No one speaks Korean, and you can only get here by ferry…This ferry being the only form of public transportation that runs late in the entire country. Maybe we should decide what we’re going to wear too. So, we can describe it to each other, so we know who to look for. I’ve never even seen a photo of you Changbin.

Changbin: I can’t pick an outfit in advance. I’ll be the handsomest person in the record store. With a pink cast.


 

July 18th, 1998

 “Dad,” Changbin presses his hands together as if in prayer in front of his mouth. The hot pink cast comically thunks against his hand with a dull hollow sound. “I know, that as your son I have asked a lot of you.”

Changbin’s father looks up from the crumpled tourist map he’s unfurled across one of the beds in the hotel room. Through his thick cola bottle glasses, he blinks at Changbin, once. Twice. Three times, as if he were desperately trying to remember where he was and understand why his son may speak to him in this manner.

“And you and mom have already done so much, to bring me on vacation. I’ve never even left the country before.”

Through the paper-thin bathroom door, he can hear the shower pipes groan to a halt. With the water turned off, he can hear his mother sing loudly and proudly in an off-key tune.

Fuck.

Talking faster now, “but as you also know, I am an adult now. And, also, because Haeun is going to also be leaving for school next year, I think maybe you should make sure you spend extra time with her.”

Until the mere utterance of his sister’s name, she’s lost in one of his CDs and oblivious to the conversation around her. Then, she throws the headphones down around her neck and, “Changbin what the fuck?”

“So, I can’t go with you to Universal Studios today. Actually, I’m going to take the train to Osaka by myself, and it’s totally fine, and mom shouldn’t freak out. Because it’s fine, and I actually live on my own.  I’m going to a concert...with my friends…my uh, friends from school that I totally know in real life. You know how important concerts are.”

Fuck.

His carryon is stuffed with an outfit for tomorrow, his train pass, and his tape recorder. His passport feels heavy in his pocket next to his wallet. It might as well be miles, and miles to the door.  “So, I’ll see you on Sunday, in time to go to Kyoto.”

He makes it across the carpet, dodges his sister’s discarded platform sandals, but fumbles with the sliding lock.

Behind him, his father’s voice, suddenly alert and stern, “Changbin,”

“Yessir!?” His voice cracks. He’s never, never heard his father sound angry at him.

“What show are you going to?”

“Uh, um,” he’s never heard music in his life, at least that’s what it feels like when his head is so damn empty. Nothing but the throbbing sound of his heart beating in his ears. “The Pillows.”

“Not into metal anymore?”  


 

Changbin stands at the counter at the station convenience store, his eyes wide, and his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth. He’s acutely aware of the sensation of it drying in the stale station air, but the scent of damp fried Seven-Eleven food and deeply rooted fear keeps him from closing his mouth. 

Eyes cross, and uncross as he stares at the square package hung up on a peg next the cigarettes, just on the horizon behind the clerk’s shoulder.

“Anything else?”  The clerk asks for what has to be the second or third time.

Too bad Changbin’s Japanese is shit.

“Yeah!” he responds just a little too loudly.

The clerk, who speaks in a near whisper, winces at the pitch and the volume of his voice.

Changbin wields his cast covered forearm as gracefully as a wispy ballerina would wield a barbarian’s club. He whips it upward, and points backward, and the whole thing almost knocks him off balance. “Those,” he says, and god is that his voice? Warped and cracked like a record left out in the sun.

The lump in his throat tastes like shame, and the sweat that covers his palms streaks down his jeans when he wipes his hands against his thighs. “In the red package.”

“Oh!” The clerk laughs, and responds in a voice that’s loud. Retaliate against the noisy, idiotic foreigner kind of loud. “the condoms?”

His overprotective mother was absolutely, completely, 100% correct. He was going to die. Just keel over on the checkered convenience store floor. Not from the skating, or the seedy clubs, or the wandering off alone stuff that she always feared, but because of sheer, absolute embarrassment.

“Yep.” Changbin rubs his eye with the palm of his hand so hard that he can hear his eyeball squelch in protest. When lets go, he watches the container of instant Gyoza and rice balls he bought for the train come back to view in slow motion. Pixel by pixel, like a grainy photo on a shittily programmed webpage. Loudly, confidently, to counter balance his shame, “Yeah, those.”


June 16th, 1998

Changbin: I’ve taken to saving my chat logs as text files on diskettes after I log off. I figure if it costs me 4500 won an hour to get online, I should at least have a memento.

CB77: Sounds like a totally normal, not neurotic thing to do.

Changbin: I think it’s because when I lived at home, I had this answering machine. I’d keep the tapes, a whole box of them, and use them in samples. I have a party line now in my shitty apartment complex and no answering machine.

Changbin: I can’t actually do anything with the logs other than label them with the approximate dates. One lasts about three weeks, unless Han’s really spazzing out about something and types us a novel. I’m garbage at remembering stuff, and I thought it would be less pathetic than a journal. The people that keep them always come across as schmucks.

CB77: I keep a journal.

Changbin: I rest my case.

Changbin: Anyway, I’m not immune...to the pathetic.

Changbin: “Somehow, I managed to make it through my first year of college without losing my virginity.”

Changbin: I sent you that message a little over a year ago. Cross out first year now, and replace it with second year. Came across that little gem looking for that convo we had about wave cards.

CB77: Listen man, if you want.

CB77 If you just want it gone…When you come for the concert, and if there aren’t better options. We could.

Changbin: ….

It’s early evening and it’s raining outside. Instead of buying a burned ass coffee, he bought a flat ass bottle of beer. It’s disgusting, but here’s the thing. The first left him feeling thirsty, and so there wasn’t really any other option than to buy another one. So now, two beers in, it doesn’t seem like an awful idea.

CB77: Forget I said anything, it was a stupid idea.

Changbin: Are you offering to take my virginity?

Changbin drowns the rest of the beer. For good measure, he gets up, leaves his machine running, and walks to the convenience store next door. Only when he returns to his cubicle, pops the tab, and laps the foam at the top does he jab at the keyboard and interrupt the flying toaster screen saver.

CB77: Yeah.

 CB77: So…

CB77: Changbin for once, please don’t be a dick.

Changbin: What if I’m ugly?

CB77: Are you?

Changbin: No, I’m better looking than you and Han.

CB77: Then I stand by what I said.

Changbin: Fine, if you can’t find a rebound fuck on your own. I'd be okay with that. 


 

July 17th, 1998

She lets him drive the Cabriolet to the airport. Cherry red with leather seats, Jisung dropped the top no sooner than she handed him the keys.

“Hannie my hair!” But he knows that she’s got a silk Hermes tucked in her bag, and she’s just been waiting for just the right moment to use it. 

When his hand isn’t resting on the gearshift, it’s resting on her thigh, bare beneath the short black skirt she wears. It’s nice, real nice, when he drives, cause he can actually drive a manual. Whenever she drives, she kills the engine without fail and gives him whiplash.

“You gonna miss me Hannie?” She yells up over the sound of the engine.

“I’m only gone for the weekend Rania.” 

“That’s right. Cause you’d never miss my birthday right?” Creamy skin shifts beneath his hand, and envelops his palm in warmth.

Rounding a sharp curve, the road expands into a third lane, and it’s just the right time for Jisung to overtake the sub compact that’s been shifting back and forth between lanes for the last three exits. So, he unsticks his melted palm from her burning thigh and shifts up.

“Your twenty eighth? Never. That’s a very important year, so I’m told.”

“Umm….” Her laughter is light and airy, like the scarf around her hair that whips in the wind. “I think I’ll turn twenty-nine this year.”

Her voice sounds the same way that it does when she walks up to the jewelry counter. Certain, so very, very certain. Jisung wonders if he’ll ever be able to sound half as certain about anything, let alone something that truly matters. “I mean, after all, I turned twenty-six three times, twenty-seven three times, and twenty-eight four times.”

The hot summer air blows into one ear, and out the other. In the space in-between most people would have a brain. All Jisung feels is a hollow space behind his eye sockets. The shell of his ear aches with the roar of the wind, and the emptiness between the two of them.

“Twenty-eight was a good age.”

“Rania, if you’re not careful, you’ll turn thirty someday.”

“I’d never.”


 

March 21st, 1998

JOne: Changbin, I think I’m gay.

JOne: Not like, regular gay like you and Chan. But extra gay.

Changbin: That would certainly explain all the overcompensation

JOne: Over-what?

Changbin: JOne 22:47 PM: “Swear to god she just sucked my soul out of my dick Changbin. She got this brand new lipstick, that frosty blue stuff that’s really in right now. God it was amazing.”

Changbin: Han, you sent me that message seventeen minutes ago when I made the mistake of asking how your night was going.

Changbin: it strikes me as a very straight and very secure thing to say.


 

July 18th, 1998

Chan wakes at six A.M. as always, combs his hair, flosses his teeth, and sleepily eats a few fistfuls of dry puffed rice in lieu of a real breakfast.

Walking on the balls of his feet, he deliberately jumps over the threshold to avoid the squeaky floorboard and down into the stoop where the shoes are stored.

The questioning scowl of his landlady, Mrs. Yamada jumps out from the shadows before the acrid smell of her long one hundred and twenty millimeter cigarette or the accompanying rattle of her cough, and it makes Chan jump in surprise.

“It’s summer vacation. You should rest kid.”

“It’s six thirty in the morning, and you’re retired. So should you, Mrs. Yamada.”

“If I’m not harassing my tenants I’m as good as dead,” the old woman interrupts herself with another long cough.

Caught in the liminal space between inside and outside, slippers shucked in the doorway, but sneakers tucked into the cubby a half step away, he’s paralyzed and helpless.

“You’re going to the city?”

“Early bird gets the worm? Right?”

“I need you to get me a cheesecake. Uncle Rikuro, not that shitty cheap place that’s popped up a few blocks over.”

“Rikuro,” he’d murder someone in cold blood for Mrs. Yamada, but she wouldn’t appreciate it if he agreed without an argument. “The line is always so long, it will take all day.”

“I’ll give you ten percent off your rent.”

“Ah, shouldn’t you be paying me to live here? You had me up on the roof last month to patch a leak. The hot water only lasts for seven minutes, I timed it, and there’s the issue of roaches in the wood shed—”

“What is it that you teach Mr. Bang. Extortion?” Somewhere, in the midst of the argument, her clutch appears magically from the pocket of her housecoat, or the oversized sleeves. Cigarettes, hard candies, small bills, all prizes hard earned come from the cigarette burned red satin lining of this very bag. “Exploitation of the elderly?”

When Chan picks his upturned powder blue Schwinn up from the lawn, kicks up the stand, and starts peddling down the road, the sun has just barely begun to crest over the horizon. Bathed in the crepuscular glow, he rides into the place where complacency of night meets the potential of day. Goosebumps rise to the flesh of his arm and multiply with each and every steady click click click of his bicycle chain.

The sun interrupts the horizon ever so slightly. It’s already stifling hot, but the wind as he rides gives him goosebumps.

 He’s got a five thousand yen folded into his wallet. He’s going to see his favorite band. He’s going to see his favorite people…that he’s never seen before. 


 

July 15th, 1998

Jone: What are you doing online so late?

From what it sounds like, Chan’s house is out in the sticks. He’s usually only online in the early evening, after his classes are let out, and he hasn’t taken the bus home yet.

CB77: I went out for dinner with some of the other teachers and missed my bus X (

JOne: What are you gonna do? Sleep in the school?

CB77: …

JOne: The hell.

CB77: Yeah, that’s where teachers live, at school.

CB77: You sound like my students

CB77: I’m crashing at my coworker’s house. 

JOne: is it weird that I miss Changbin? It hasn’t even been a full day.

CB77: He’s literally…on his way to meet us.

JOne: I still miss him. Just like I’d miss you if you weren’t on for a few days. But…Don’t tell him I said that.

CB77: I’d never.

There’s a long silence between them, and it makes Han decide that now’s just as good of a time as any to ask.

JOne: You doin okay though?

CB77: I guess. He sent me a box of stuff back. My t-shirt, a bunch of photos, stuff that means nothing other than vague references to inside jokes. I should throw it out but it’s been sitting on my desk since Tuesday.

JOne: Breakups suck

CB77: I don’t even think I’m technically allowed to feel this sad.

CB77: I cheated.