The sun is peering through the two-paned window when I awaken. I lie on my side on a cloud of down feathers, between cotton sheets and a blue duvet and the weight of Kang's arm over my waist. His body presses against my back from shoulder to thighs. His breath warms the nape of my neck.
Last night returns like a dream: Kang's hand on my back, guiding me to this room as our mouths moved together, the click of the door sealing our privacy, the his mouth on my eyelids, my cheeks, the hollow of my neck, his hands exploring, the ripping of foil between us, my fingernails in his shoulders.
My body is sore in places I didn't know could feel sore.
What have I done?
I stir under Kang's arm, which shifts to my hip. Heavy and intimate and possessive. The subtle scent of him, cologne, sweat, male, reaches my nose. His body is imprinted all over mine—and what does this mean? I'd never been the focus of such ravenous want. Never imagined how irresistible its pull. isn't the barely tolerable duty of procreation, like Eomma always insinuated. It's two human beings fitting seamlessly together. Maybe it was the dancer in me, but I'd known instinctively how to move—
I wanted to wait for love.
Opposite me is Joohyuk's unmade bed. Nothing has changed since Friday, except his clothes from the weekend are dumped on his rumpled sheets. His stuff is still here—snacks, soap, care package. The folded bag of rice on his desk lies by the stack of postcards.
Kang's arm tightens, drawing me closer. "You're so sweet, Suzy," he murmurs, still half-asleep.
And how strange he'd said the one thing he could have to make me want to leave.
Slipping from his arms, I hunt for my bra, . I don't want to regret what we've done, but I'm not the kind of person who can shrug this off. My gaze drops to a red smear, like a smudge of calligraphy ink, on a drooping corner of his bedsheet.
Biting back a small cry, I slip out the door.
The silver lining of flying home today is that I won't ever have to face Kang again.
ʕु-̫͡-ʔुྉ*ᴸᵒᵛᵉᵇᵒᵃᵗ✲ﾟⁱⁿ*。⋆ 서울。⋆ *
I'm afraid to return to my room and Sohee, so I head downstairs. The hallway is empty, and though I've walked them dozens of time, I feel lost and aimless as I wander the corridors. Somehow, I find myself in the dining hall. The breakfast bar is weighed down my pork-stuffed buns, a porridge bar offering five different toppings, platters of pancakes, heaps of fried eggs and sausage. Salted eggs, Appa's favorite that he makes himself by slipping raw eggs into an old pickle jar of warm salted water.
Joohyuk was right: I've been missing out on a killer breakfast. Now, it's my last supper. I should eat, but I can't muster up an appetite. I've put a single pork bun on my tray when the Dragon arrives, her green skirt swaying.
"Sooji, my office please. Your parents are on my phone."
More English. It's official. I'm out.
In her office, Jihyo is sorting papers, a song playing on her phone. She shuts it off and meets my eyes timidly, and I flush. "My favorite," she apologizes, though I don't know why—she has great taste in music. The Dragon sends her to substitute teach our class, then pushes her speaker phone toward me. The scent of ointment makes my eyes water and the air conditioner blasts my head.
I grip the edge of her desk, brace for the flight number, instructions for how to spend my time on the plane, pickup plan, along with those wounding shots that only Eomma can deliver. My lips sting from Kang's kisses and a part of me fears that the Dragon can see them there, or that Eomma will hear it in my voice.
"Suzy, we can't fly you home." Eomma's voice is like chipped ice. "The change fee is too high."
"Wait, what?" My eyes meet the Dragon's impervious ones.
"You stay until we find a cheaper ticket. But no more going out by yourself. All special activities canceled. Dae Seonsaengnim said you don't do your homework. You have more demerits than anyone else. You sneak out past midnight. You take pictures! Good Lord, what's next?"
My finger clenched together in my lap. Her worst nightmares about me have all come true. And why, I don't know—but I'd needed Kang last night, and maybe I used him.
"Nine o'clock bedtime. Counselors will guard you at night."
"No boba factory tour for you." The Dragon' weighs in. "No lantern launching, no dragon boat racing, no talent show—"
My head snaps up. "I'm not even in the talent show!"
"Educational field trips only," Eomma concludes.
"You can't control me." My throat aches as if I've swallowed a razor blade. I hold my voice low to keep it from cracking. "I'm eighteen."
Once again, the line goes dead.