“Soo Hae, please don’t do stuff like that, you and Iㅡ.”
“It’s my date, Appollo; this is my dream, so please don’t spoil it. Hurry, the slower you walk, the longer this date will last.”
Ji-Seong hurried, they sat in silence next to each other in the train there too Ji-Seong tried to search for answers.
“Soo Hae, why are you doing this?”
Just for once, just for one day, I want to be just a girl. Can you just be a boy for once, not a knight, a son of a chaebol, a whiz kid, only a boy?”
The request was accompanied by Soo Hae’s head lying on his shoulder.
She asked him to be just a boy. For some reason, the demand seemed unreasonable.
Ji-Seong wondered whether he had been a boy in his life.
From birth, like many, he was labeled with all the tags Soo Hae stated. These tags were heavy to carry, and people’s expectations were hard to please. Ji-Seong tried to swim against the currents of his status, only to realize he could never be the boy next door.
Everything was written and chosen for him. The only choice he made for himself was to become a knight. The man smothered and tinted himself, wanting to become a wasteland without a name. At first, he thought he did it to annoy his father, but the truth was he desired to feel alive. Knighthood did not bring him anything except to the encounter, which gave him everything.
He nudged Soo Hae, who slept grip Sa rang’s photo in his pocket.
Young and beautiful, even in the photo, the woman’s fragility transpired thought Ji-Seong.
Ji-Seong stared at Soo Hae, who woke up.
The doctor she’s gorgeous. I wish I were like her.”
For once, Ji-Seong heard a note of sincerity in Soo Hae’s voice.
The man desired to comfort her somehow, “what do you mean, you are as smart and as beautiful.”
Soo Hae shook her head, “aniyo, she has something I can never have.”
Ji-Seong did not wish to ask what it was. Something told him it would make him uncomfortable.
45min later, they arrived at Namiseom. Like the tourists, they queued to take the bus which took them to the mini port.
Namiseom was on a tiny moon-shaped island; to get there, one needed to take the ferry. Foreigners showed their passports before boarding.
“Gosh, isn’t this great Ji-Seong?”
Once again, Hoo Hae switched to the manga version of herself. Like a ferret, her head turned and searched for something exciting to see.
“Soo Hae, stop it. One would think you’ve never been here.”
“But I never have; I’ve never been anywhere fun.”
As Soo Hae spoke, Ji-Seong remembered that Soo Hae was raised the old-fashioned way, while her brother partied and skipped board meetings Soo Hae had a home study.
Ji-Seong recalled the conversation where her brother explained how Soo Hae was socially alienated. She did not know how to behave with people.
Even Ji-Seong noticed how Soo Hae played and pretended to incarnate the character people wanted her to be. The real Soo Hae was a little selfish, not that she did not have any emotions. Soo Hae had a weird way of dealing with her feelings. Ji-Seong saw how she would play cute five minutes and switch to a spiteful tongued ahjumma when she was tired by the effort.
Nothing was black, white, or even grey with Soo Hae; things were colorfully colorless.
The man stopped pondering as everyone came off the ferry to Namiseom. Ji-Seong teased Soo Hae, but he too had no memories of coming to such a place. Despite the cold weather and the dropping, winter leaves the island was beautiful.
“Aah, there’s nothing better than fresh air,” Soo Hae said, closing her eyes as she inhaled.
They began to walk; the zip wire was closed because of the weather; all they did was walk. Soo Hae took photos or asked Ji-Seong to take some of her.
She also stopped passers-by asking them to take photos of her and Ji-Seong. Soo Hae clung to his arm as she pretended they were a couple.
After two hours, she yelled, “I’m so bored. Life is so boring.”
People stopped to stare, but Soo Hae did not care, “let’s go back; I’m tired,” she announced.
Unlike the passers-by, Ji-Seong wasn’t shocked. Soo Hae always swayed between yin and yang. Bipolar was not the adjective that described her thought, Ji-Seong. Soo Hae was undefined, and now the man realized the woman suffered from being tagless.
They boarded the ferry once more to be taken to the mainland.
“Why aren’t you asking anymore?”
Ji-Seong turned to stare at her, “ask what?”
“Why did I ask you to come here, or why do I admire and envy the doctor?”
Ji-Seong straightened up in his position, “I guess you have your reasons.”
“Yeah, I do. Do you want to know?”
“I guess I don’t have a choice.”
Soo Hae rolled her eyes, ”좋아해요.”
“Eh, Soo Hae.”
“I like you; you are the first guy with more than two neurons I’ve ever fancied. You are my first crush.”
“Soo Hae, you don’t have to, you know I-.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know you love the doctor; that’s why I envy her. Doctor Lee has a love of a boy who swore never to love. It’s poetic, beautiful, and a tragedy because your passion can’t stop death.
Silence filled the space between them as the ferry stopped, and passers left them to be last to come off the boat.
The journey back to Seoul was silent, too, as Soo Hae sat opposite Ji-Seong. They traveled back, staring at each other, neither blinking or looking away. They remained eyes transfixed on each other faces.
They were both victims but also the executioners of themselves.
Ji-Seong understood why Soo Hae had feelings for him. They were alike in a weird and twisted formula. Soo Hae believed she was his match because, like her, Ji-Seong was empty, but things were different now. Sa rang filled his void.
The night fell when they walked to his car side by side.
“Do you want me to drive you home?” Ji-Seong asked.
“Oh, don’t worry, my car is already here,” Soo Hae said. She pointed to a luxury sedan where the driver went to open the door for her.
Ji-Seong walked her to the car, where they stopped.
“You see, it wasn’t that difficult,” Soo Hae said lightly, punching the man’s chest before pulling on his collar and depositing a kiss on his lips.
Soo Hae’s cheeks were flushed pink like the sky where the moon mirrored the setting sun, “Jeju island, the doctor left for Jeju. She has a house there.”
Ji-Seong took two steps towards her. Before she could protest, Ji-Seong kissed her. He gave the woman the full combo, “thank you, Hoo Hae I’ll never forget this.”
There he walked away, leaving Soo Hae stunned and sad.
“Pabeo [idiot],” Soo Hae whispered.
Indeed she suffered from unrequited love, but it was nothing compared to what awaited the man who headed straight to the airport where he took a flight to Jeju island to find his true love.