Jaehyun sits in his cousin’s old car. The sky’s punctured here and there, ripping open prematurely. That, or there’s bird shit on the windscreen. The radio’s on. Frequency, 106.4. The presenter’s saying, “The meteoroid, named Anubis after the ancient Egyptian god, is approximately the size of the Moon. It is set to collide with Earth in exactly three weeks’ time. Meanwhile, we will be playing your favourite 90s hits, and doctor Seo Juhyun will be here in a minute to discuss the possibility of a life beyond death.”
Jaehyun turns the radio off. He stares at a woman pushing a twin trolley, slowly, in an attempt to keep herself from slipping on the shiny layer of ice spread over the pavement. Kids building a snow castle in the nearby park, snot running down their faces. Trees shivering, nude, in the wind. No one, nothing stopping or showing any signs of slowing down.
The world’s set to end in three weeks but, apparently, time didn’t get the memo.
“Did you hear about Taeil? You know, the short security guard,” Ten says from his cubicle, printing out train tickets and counting change for his customer. He puts them into the slot and pushes it out under the window before he continues, “They say he jumped in front of a train while on duty yesterday.”
Jaehyun swallows and nods. He used to eat lunch with Taeil. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Taeil loved bagels. Only read paperbacks small enough to fit in his left thigh pocket. Packed a good punch—and lunch—when needed.
There are two weeks and four days until the end of the world and everyone’s desperate to get away. The train tickets’ prices are skyrocketing. The trains in and out of the city are filled to the point of rupture. The train station’s bursting with noise. Sometimes, in the small hours, when there are no trains leaving and silence reigns, the pillars are still vibrating.
Half of Jaehyun’s colleagues have stopped coming to work. He sits in his cubicle. He’s nineteen years old and the future’s been built upon pillars of salt all along. When it’s quiet, he can hear them dissolving.
“You ever tried yoga?” Ten asks, printing out tickets again.
“No,” Jaehyun replies. He can smell the beer on his own customer’s breath, seeping through the twelve little holes in the window. Misery in the man’s beady, far-apart little eyes as he puts the money into the hatch.
“There’s this yoga studio near my place. It’s still open. We should try it out,” Ten says to Jaehyun. To his customer, a woman with three children hanging off her arms and tummy swollen like a balloon, he says, “Have a nice journey.”
The yoga studio is on the bottom floor of a high-rise building. Jaehyun’s sweatpants are doing a very poor job at keeping him warm. His hands are turning very red very quietly. He blows warm, wet breaths over his knuckles before he presses the doorbell. He doesn’t really want to be there, but there’s no reason for him not to be. There’s no time left to worry about masculine ego. He steps in.
Jaehyun trudges into the small changing room. By the radiator, a kid who looks unhealthily miserable but inexplicably content. Around seventeen years old. Sports black leggings with booty printed on the behind in fat, white capital letters. Maybe his sister’s.
The kid shifts tired but strangely appeased eyes to Jaehyun and says, “Hi. I’m Donghyuck.”
“Jaehyun,” Jaehyun introduces himself, shedding his parka and beanie.
The leggings are from the supermarket in the southern suburbs, Donghyuck tells Jaehyun. The result of a lost dare concocted by kids drunk off soju stolen from cabinets their parents don’t bother locking anymore. He seems simultaneously unhappy and amused about it. Jaehyun decides he’s a parallel in human form.
A boy, about Donghyuck’s age, peeks into the changing room. “You can’t hide here forever, Hyuck,” he says, smiling brighter than Jaehyun’s seen anyone smile for the last few days. “You have a dare to complete.”
“That’s Mark, the one who came up with this whole…” Donghyuck says through the corner of his mouth, gesturing at his yoga pants and around himself. “Whatever bullshit this is.”
Jaehyun follows Mark and Donghyuck into the practice room. Ten’s already sitting on a mat, legs crossed, staring at his left big toe with his mouth pinched shut. As Jaehyun unrolls a mat next to his and sits down he barely blinks.
The instructor walks in. He’s cute. Knocks the breath out of Jaehyun like a club to his chest. He wears tights with a weird space pattern. Jaehyun thinks the planet smack in the middle of his left ass cheek might just be a sign from the heavens.
The instructor sits down in the front of the room. “Close your eyes,” he instructs. Jaehyun doesn’t. The guy opens one eye to look at Jaehyun and lifts an eyebrow. His nose twitches a bit. “Are you going to close your eyes anytime soon?” he asks, palms pressed together in front of his heart.
Jaehyun watches the guy for a bit more, then does as he’s told. The instructor goes on with whatever spiritual gibberish he’s spouting. Something about forgetting everything that’s weighing you down. Letting go. Dedicating yourself completely to the practice. His voice is nice. Smooth but not monotonous.
Jaehyun discovers he’s far less flexible than he thought. He can practically hear his joints creak like rusty door hinges. Ten, who’s still completely immersed in his own little world, seems at home in every position. He goes through the downward-facing dog, high lunge and half-moon pose with complete ease. And then there’s Donghyuck. His stiffness helps Jaehyun feel better about his own inability to reach his toes.
Luckily, being stiff does have it upsides.
“No, no, see,” the instructor says at one point, darting to Jaehyun to correct his position, “you have to relax your shoulders and suck your belly in. Yeah, that’s it.” He puts his hands on Jaehyun’s abdomen and the small of his back, palms hot through the fabric of Jaehyun’s t-shirt.
Shivers running down his spine, Jaehyun blurts, “What’s your name?”
“Doyoung,” the instructor says, then walks away to help Donghyuck. Poor kid’s breathing hard through his nose. He sounds like the whistle of the ocean. Mark tries to stifle his giggles.
Later, Doyoung blatantly grabs Jaehyun’s ass—again, under the pretext of correcting his position—and Jaehyun thinks, so the stars have really aligned. He spends the rest of the class anticipating Doyoung’s next touch. By the end he’s full of electricity, fingers twitching. Doyoung tells them all to lie down for the final relaxation but he’s burning up. Doyoung comes over to keep him still by the shoulders.
There are two weeks and three days until the end of the world and Doyoung pins Jaehyun against a wall the second he steps out of the changing room. The hourglass’s bottom’s been blown off. Jaehyun’s losing himself in Doyoung’s mouth. In his hands rubbing circles onto his hipbones. Then, Doyoung tugs at the waistband of his sweatpants. Jaehyun sighs into his shoulder.
Outside his part-time job as a yoga instructor, Doyoung’s studying chemistry. His kitchen table is choked with test tubes, ring stands, erlenmeyer glasses. His cupboards and fridge are filled with jars and pots of questionable origin. He fabricates his own toothpaste and shampoo.
Personality-wise, Jaehyun isn’t sure he likes Doyoung. Doyoung is organised, stingy. Starts every day with a brief meditation. Eats healthy. Shuns McDonald’s. Talks like rose thorns. Cares about a lot of things.
The complete opposite of Jaehyun, whose own flat is a complete and utter mess. Too often, he goes out and wakes up the next morning with a hangover and an almost empty wallet. Smokes from time to time with one of the employees of the McDonald’s two blocks from his flat and talks smooth, atoning.
For all he dislikes Doyoung’s character, Jaehyun loves leaving red-purple-blue marks on his neck and chest. Making him moan, because his voice is that much nicer like that. With Doyoung’s fingers up his ass, Jaehyun forgets to count how much time they’ve got left.
In the morning, Jaehyun wakes up, makes himself a cup of coffee, gets dressed and leaves without any unnecessary sensitising, expecting to never step foot in Doyoung’s flat again.
“You know Youngho? The tall security guard,” Ten says on their lunch break. They’re sitting in the staff room. The broken lamp blinks over their heads, but no one sees any use in changing the bulb anymore.
Jaehyun immediately assumes the worst. “He dead now, too?”
Ten looks up from his lunch box and clicks his chopsticks together a few times. “No,” he says slowly. “Just asked me out on a date.”
Jaehyun bends his head over his own lunch. A bagel. He feels a bit sick in the stomach. “Oh. Wasn’t he supposed to be straight, though?”
Ten barks out a single ha, then says, “Weren’t you, too?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jaehyun asks. The end of the world is just making him go a bit berserk, he thinks to himself. No way he would let a guy fuck him sore if he didn’t know his doom was coming in exactly two weeks. Not like he spent sporadic nights during his teenage years wondering how it would feel making out with guys just like Doyoung.
Ten makes a circle with his index and thumb and sticks one of his chopsticks through. “Oh, please,” he snickers. “As if I didn’t see rabbit face giving you a hand job in the hallway.”
Jaehyun buries his face in his hands.
The streetlights’ glow bounces off the layer of ice covering the street. Jaehyun’s ankles and knees knock together as he wobbles to the McDonald’s two blocks down. When he steps inside the clash of cold and hot is so violent he thinks his skin might just fog up.
“Oh, hey, Jaehyun,” Yuta greets from his spot behind the counter. “I’ll be out in a sec.”
Yuta smells of grease and cigarettes. He doesn’t bother putting on anything over his red uniform. His arms are littered with goose bumps as he lights a cigarette and offers it to Jaehyun. They sit on the curb across the street from the restaurant. Jaehyun’s breaking through a little frozen puddle with the heel of his boot.
“How’s life?” Jaehyun asks, letting smoke out between his teeth. It’s dry, bitter. He decides Doyoung tastes a lot nicer.
Yuta shrugs and takes the cigarette back. “Nothing remarkable, I guess,” he replies. “It’s rush hour every hour, now. People must think, fuck it, what’s diabetes to us anymore anyway.”
Jaehyun takes another drag. The red tip of the cig flickers. “Right,” he says, looking at the blue tendrils of smoke swirl up. He wonders what they would look like if they froze into statues.
“Oh yeah, I’ve got something to tell you,” Yuta remembers. “A few days ago, this group of kids comes in, and they’re talking really loud. Their mouths practically frothing. They say they’re going to start a riot in the last week or something. No way the cops are going to stop them at this point.”
“Yeah?” Jaehyun muses.
“Yeah,” Yuta repeats, “so I was thinking of joining them. Always wanted to trash up a shop, too.”
“Oh,” Jaehyun says.
“You up for another yoga class?” Ten asks with an impish smile. “You can make your boyfriend see stars. I bet he’s flexible enough for all kinds of stuff.”
Jaehyun puts the turn signal on and turns the steering wheel with more aggression than he intended. “It was just one time,” he huffs. “I don’t like him.” Ten laughs as his head knocks against the window.
“Sure,” Ten chuckles. Jaehyun pulls up in front of the high-rise Ten lives in. As Ten’s closing the door behind himself he leans down to ask, “So you’re coming?”
“Together, we are going to chant the mantra om three times,” Doyoung instructs, then inhales deeply.
Halfway through the third chant, Mark pinches Donghyuck’s thigh. Donghyuck goes, “Oommmmmmylord.” Mark slaps his hands over his mouth to suppress his giggles.
“Stop messing around in my class, you little gremlin,” Doyoung breaks off his own chant to say. He loves to pick on Donghyuck, but never with any intention of hurting him. Jaehyun’s perception of him being a total asshole is faltering. He hates it.
Mark can’t hold his laughter anymore. As punishment, both teenagers have to stay for ten breaths in the downward-dog position with one leg up to the ceiling. Doyoung lets them off after five.
Jaehyun had almost forgotten how good Doyoung looks in those odd tights of his. His butt is a bit flat, but more than enough for Jaehyun. Convenient. Legs like his—slim, miles long—make it easier for Jaehyun to convince himself it’s purely physical, this fixation of his. After all, he doesn’t like Doyoung.
This time, Jaehyun’s the one who turns Doyoung around and grapples with a condom. He’s angry. The windows of his car fog up. The radio’s on. They’ve moved on to 80s hits.
There’s one week and three days left until the end of the world and Jaehyun sits in the backseat of his car with Doyoung’s head in his lap. The streetlights paint yellow streaks over Doyoung’s cheeks. The legroom is full of empty paper bags blotched with grease and soda bottles and crumpled receipts.
“How can you live with this mess?” Doyoung snorts, closing his eyes.
Jaehyun shifts a bit, jostling Doyoung. “Don’t know.”
“Hmm,” Doyoung says. “I wish I could go to the sea. You know, to see it one more time.”
Jaehyun glances down. “So why don’t you?”
Doyoung shrugs. His legs are folded against the door. “I don’t have a car. The trains are full. I’ve got my job.”
Jaehyun looks back out of the window. A crow sits on an electricity line, wobbling in the cold wind. Jaehyun looks at his phone, but there’s no connection. The meteoroid’s coming.
The train station’s usual din is suddenly overshadowed by much louder noise. Shouts with a purpose and goal, not just the usual miserable mumbling. Young men run in, the lower halves of their faces covered by black masks. Baseball bats and iron bars and fireplace pokers raised up above their heads.
One of these young rebels runs over to Jaehyun’s booth. Jaehyun can smell the grease and the stench of cigarettes through the twelve little holes in the window. “Look, Jaehyun, look!” Yuta shrieks, high on adrenaline. “This is what I call freedom, man! Join us, hey? Yeah? I can borrow you my pocket knife.”
Ten looks on from his own booth. Everyone in the humongous hall is running like headless chickens. Jaehyun doesn’t take the knife Yuta puts into the hatch. “No, I don’t think so,” he says. “I’m sorry.”
Yuta blinks. “Oh,” he breathes out. “You better run, then.”
On the way out of their booths, Ten spots Youngho. “I have to go get him,” he shouts over the ruckus. “Just go on, I’ll be fine.” And then he disappears into the giant, breathing, moving mass of bodies.
Jaehyun runs out through the back door. He hops into his car and starts up the engine. “A group of hooligans has taken over the Northern part of the city. All citizens are advised to stay indoors and lock their doors and windows,” the presenter says on the radio.
Turning around a corner, Jaehyun almost hits two kids. He rolls down the window, intending to upbraid the pair, but ends up choking out, “Mark? Donghyuck?”
Donghyuck faints. Mark screams until Jaehyun gets out of the car and helps him drag Donghyuck’s limp body to the backseat. He gets back in, then steps on the gas. They speed down streets, past little groups of black-masks and other cars full of panicked people. Jaehyun slows to a halt in front of Doyoung’s flat and tells the teenagers to wait in the car.
Jaehyun has to press the doorbell five times before Doyoung opens. “What do you want?” Doyoung demands, door chain strung between their faces.
“We need to go,” Jaehyun says.
Doyoung seems to weigh down his options, then lets Jaehyun in. Jaehyun watches him pack clothes and toiletries and a few books. He watches Doyoung go into the kitchen and turn a gas burner off, then stare at his rollercoaster of tubes and beakers and ring stands for a while. Doyoung turns to him and says, “I could just cook up something to put us out of our misery.”
Jaehyun sighs. “We’ve got to get Donghyuck and Mark out of this city.”
The heating system talks louder than any of the four souls stuck in the messy little car driving through the quickening snowfall. Donghyuck woke up ages ago, gasping and trying to say something, but Doyoung simply stuck a candy he found in the glove box in his mouth. Ten minutes later, he’s still suckling on it.
“Where were you two even going?” Jaehyun asks the teenagers, who are drawing dicks and flowers on the misty windows.
“We thought we’d go hide in our school,” Mark answers, sheepish, “or something.”
Jaehyun laughs. “Well, you’re lucky I almost drove over you.” Doyoung gives him a mystified look. He shrugs. “Where would you like to go now that we’re out of the city?”
Mark turns to Donghyuck. “Kinshasa?”
Donghyuck barks out a laugh. “Dude, no. How about your childhood home? You always talk about how much fun you had there.”
“Huh,” Mark says. “That’s actually a good idea. We could go see Tofu’s grave.”
“Who’s Tofu?” Doyoung pipes up.
“Mark’s first dog,” Donghyuck says. “He still has a picture of himself with it in his wallet.”
Mark digs out his wallet, lets Donghyuck take five thousand from his fifteen thousand won and passes the picture over to Doyoung. It’s a seven-year-old with the exact same alert eyes and little nose as the eighteen-year-old who made sure Donghyuck was buckled in even when he was unconscious. Not that it helped much. The child’s arms are looped around the neck of a dog. Sure enough, its fur is white like tofu.
Doyoung hands the photo back and says, “And where is it? Your childhood home, I mean.”
“Oh, it’s in the south. On the coast,” Mark explains.
Jaehyun and Doyoung share a look.
By the time they reach a gas station, the snowfall’s stopped. While Jaehyun fills up the tank, Mark and Donghyuck play around in the snow, tackling each other to the white ground and soaking their canvas sneakers through. Their beanies fall off their heads and snowflakes get caught in their hair as they shove snow inside each other’s collars. Doyoung leans against the car and occasionally throws a few snowballs at them.
When Jaehyun goes inside to pay for the gas, the woman at the counter waves her hand at him. “What’s money to anyone anymore? Take anything you like,” she says over her tabloid magazine.
Jaehyun stuffs a few plastic bags full of food and clothes, gets himself a cup of coffee and thanks the woman. He puts the bags into the trunk of his car. There are five days left until the end of the world. Doyoung observes a handful of snow melting on his palm, as if he sees each molecule moving. And the meteor should really mess with someone its own age.
Jaehyun wakes up to the door opening and closing. Mark and Donghyuck are sleeping in a heap in the backseat. The sky’s pale, clear. Doyoung’s out in the snow, doing yoga of all things. Even in the impossible situation they’re in, his legs never cease to look nice. Jaehyun’s still thinking about those tights. He wonders if Doyoung packed them.
Doyoung sees Jaehyun looking and straightens up. Jaehyun gets out of the car. Walks around it. Inhales, then reaches up. He simultaneously kisses Doyoung and guides him to lean against the car. Holds him still by the hips. Knees thawing the snow and the snow soaking his jeans. Doyoung’s frigid hands tugging at his hair. The cold wind on his cheeks. The corners of his chapped lips splitting. Feels like the sun is on his tongue.
“You know, Jaehyun,” Doyoung says, toying with the seatbelt’s buckle, “you’re hot. But you should really drop that aloof attitude.”
Jaehyun turns the key in the ignition. The engine coughs twice before it starts purring. “What do you mean?” he asks. It’s almost noon and the teenagers are still asleep.
“You don’t seem to have any opinion on anything. I can’t tell if you’re sucking up to people or if you simply don’t care,” Doyoung answers. “That’s what I mean.”
Jaehyun hands Doyoung a map he took from the gas station. “Look for a convenient route. We still have some time, I think we could go see some sights on the way.”
There are four days until the end of the world and Doyoung rolls his eyes, then unfolds the map. He traces yellow roads and red highways with his index finger. Mark’s drooling on Donghyuck’s shoulder and mumbling into his shirt. The road’s endless, like traced into the snow with a humongous black marker.
“Why do you think it’s called Anubis?” Donghyuck asks, kneeled at a shrine with his hands clasped together. Gold-plated deity statues’ round, benevolent faces look down at his bright red cheeks. His air of thoroughly exhausted but somehow infinitely curious.
The temple’s situated on top of a lone blue mountain. The car had to be left at the foot of the mountain. The trek up was long and left them all sweating under their thick parkas. Jaehyun unzips his jacket a bit. Steam rises from his neck.
Mark closes his eyes and lowers his forehead to his fingertips. “Don’t know,” he says. “I guess it’s got something to do with Anubis being the one to judge whose soul gets to go to the underworld.”
Jaehyun and Doyoung sit under the shrine hall’s slanted roof. They look over the pastures and fields surrounding the mountain. Little patches of trees stripped of their leaves. Two deer running along the patches’ edges, mere dark spots in the distance. Like bird shit on Jaehyun’s windscreen.
Donghyuck finishes his prayer, then turns to Jaehyun and Doyoung. “He’s loved Egyptian history since forever, you know,” he says, pointing at Mark. “He even wrote suck my dick on our school’s library door in hieroglyphics.”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate for a temple,” Doyoung comments.
Over Doyoung, Mark’s saying, “With your marker, Hyuck. It was your idea.”
“The gods can screw off,” Donghyuck laughs.
The monks living in the temple give the four travellers hot chocolate and stew before they go back down the narrow path snaking down the mountain’s flank. Sticking his tongue out in hopes of catching snowflakes, having burned it with the stew, Donghyuck looks both guilty and amused.
They set off across the white ocean in their little hiccupping boat.
Three days left. Doyoung reads his chemistry books like Anna Karenina. Mark and Donghyuck play odd variations of rock-paper-scissors and mash and never have I ever. Mark’s saying, “Never have I ever dyed my hair blue.”
Right before Donghyuck lowers a finger, Jaehyun cuts in, “Hey, tweens. Aren’t your parents worried about you?”
It goes quiet for a bit. Through the rear-view mirror, Jaehyun sees Donghyuck and Mark mouth something to each other. Then, Mark clears his throat and goes, “My parents went to Canada. I could have gone with them, but I didn’t want to. My brother was in the army, don’t know where he’s now.”
And Donghyuck mumbles, “Mom’s gone.”
Doyoung’s been on the same page for an awfully long time. His family’s just fine, he’s told Jaehyun. His sister’s had a baby. Jaehyun had the opportunity to tell his parents goodbye properly, when they passed through the train station on their way to the countryside. Neither of them dares say anything about it.
The road follows a frothing, squirming river. Jaehyun pulls up and the teenagers clamber out of the car. They crouch on the riverbank, throwing rocks into the black water. Jaehyun and Doyoung lean against the car.
“Imagine losing everything at seventeen or eighteen,” Doyoung says, rubbing his hands together.
Jaehyun hums and takes Doyoung’s hands into his own. “At least they have each other,” he says, guiding Doyoung’s hands under his hoodie. They’re painfully cold against his stomach but it’s fine. He’s kind of glad he’s got a cold to his hot. An order to his chaos. Doyoung blows out a white breath of contentment.
Donghyuck’s tears melt holes into the snow by his feet. He tries to push Mark away, but Mark holds on tight to him. Eventually, he gives in. Shakes in Mark’s arms. And Mark has the nerve to smile.
Doyoung interlaces his fingers with Jaehyun’s.
Mark’s childhood home is surrounded by a low stone wall. A dozen seagulls perched on top of it take flight when the car stops by the gate. The house is white, Western, with pale blue shutters. There’s no snow so close to the sea. Only the grappling, tearing wind.
Mark presses the doorbell. They can hear its hollow echo ring through the house, but there is no answer. Mark tries the door. It’s open.
Jaehyun thinks they’ve stepped into a vacuum. The foyer’s so quiet he feels like there’s cotton stuffed into his ears. The rest of the house is just as silent, the velvet sofa and kitchen cupboards and steel-frame beds waiting for something.
Jaehyun lights up the fireplace. They huddle in the orange glow of the fire. Skin under their eyes purple, they’re waiting.
All four of them strip down to their underwear and run down a serpentine path to the shore. Jaehyun teams up with Donghyuck to push Doyoung into the freezing water, but gets pulled in along with his victim. Doyoung catches him in a kiss, salt on their tongues. Jaehyun’s toes and lips tingle. Waves smash into their thighs and break into white froth.
“I was wondering why Doyoung was always all over Jaehyun in yoga class,” Donghyuck hollers over the roar of the sea. Jaehyun splashes water on him and he runs away laughing, salt water getting in his mouth. He pulls Mark with him to the shore and back up the path.
In the middle of the harsh, dark water, Doyoung is pale and slender. The tender flesh of his thighs and abdomen. His rosebud nipples. His lips turning blue. His hair sticking to his forehead. Jaehyun wishes they just had a bit more time. So he holds Doyoung, knees knocking into his. Pressing kisses on his collarbone. He holds Doyoung, mumbling into his neck, “We’re too young for this. We’re too young.”
Doyoung takes Jaehyun’s hand and leads him out of the water, to the house. A trail of wet, sandy footprints leads them from the front door to the back door, to the hillock rising behind the house. On top of the hillock, a plum tree. Under the tree, a row of graves bulging from the ground like swollen stomachs of entities sleeping under the soil. Next to those graves, a smaller grave marked with a pile of rocks.
Mark and Donghyuck are sitting cross-legged in front of the small grave, still clad in their wet underwear. Mark hears the grass rustle under Jaehyun and Doyoung’s feet and turns to look, blue lips parting and revealing his cartoon shark teeth. White blotches on his cheek as he says, “Tofu was a great dog.”
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Doyoung says, suddenly remembering to care about everything. “Let’s get you two inside.”
Mark and Donghyuck run back inside. Grass stuck to the back of their thighs. Jaehyun and Doyoung stay on the hill for a while more, watching the sky churn. Briefly, Jaehyun wonders what happened to Ten. If he ever got to Youngho. If he wishes he could glue the bottom of the hourglass back on. He thinks about Yuta, too. About whether he managed to trash up a shop, like he had always wanted.
Jaehyun wonders what would have happened if he had just let himself love Doyoung a bit earlier.
Despite the long hot bath Doyoung imposes on the teenagers, Mark falls terribly sick. According to Donghyuck, he spent his last night on Earth tossing and turning. Crying. “Tofu, Tofu, Tofu,” Donghyuck recounts over breakfast. They barely touch their plates. “He just kept calling the damn dog.”
Donghyuck spends most of the day by Mark’s bed, watching him sleep and wiping sweat off his forehead and going along with his delirious fabrications. “Jeno asked me to go to that new pizzeria with him tomorrow,” Mark says.
And Donghyuck replies, voice soft as velvet or feathers or cotton, “Oh, did he? You’ll have to get better first.” He leaves out the Jeno’s family all took the pill together a week ago and the there’ll be no tomorrow.
Mark talks about the paintings on the wall telling him hello and how cold he feels when he’s buried under three blankets. And Donghyuck simply hums. Yes, the lady in the one on the left tells me you’re very handsome.
Doyoung and Jaehyun simply sit next to each other on the sofa. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to do. The electricity cuts off. Doyoung whimpers. Jaehyun takes his hand and guides him out of the house.
Jaehyun and Doyoung stand on the shore. The sky flashes red and yellow and pink. A shard of the meteor falls into the ocean, lifting a pillar of water into the air. Jaehyun wonders what it would look like if it froze into a statue. “You know, Doyoung,” Jaehyun says, vision turning blurry with tears. “I think you’re really fucking hot but you should cut the constant nagging. Most things don’t really matter that much.” The sky is just a hellish cauldron. The sea, its little sister.
“Love you too,” Doyoung laughs.
The seagulls are screaming, shitting on Jaehyun’s car in terror. The world has no more than five minutes left and Jaehyun kisses Doyoung senseless. They’re the moon and the sun, fire and ice, blue and red.
The world has approximately two minutes left and Donghyuck, tears streaming down his cheeks, tells Mark they’re just on a rollercoaster. Mark smiles like he’s never smiled before. He was supposed to become a historian, or at least a gas station employee. And then there’s Donghyuck who was, after all, less a parallel than a simple teenager with sorrow as his shadow.
Jaehyun sees the reflection of the meteor in Doyoung’s pupils, which quiver in terror. The world goes black and Jaehyun dies loving it all so much his body disintegrates.