The interesting thing about being an insomniac, is that you can’t be diagnosed until you have met your soulmate. Because, if you have yet to meet your soulmate, you don’t really know if you’re an insomniac. Maybe you just can’t sleep because your soulmate is thinking about you all night long like some kind of fucking masochist. Maybe your soulmate is the insomniac, and they fill their sleepless nights thinking about you. Maybe they’re just having a hard time falling asleep, and you wishing for your fucking soulmate to stop fucking thinking is what’s really keeping you awake. Simply put, you just don’t know.
Donghyuck’s is so bad, he enrolled in night school. Because that’s a thing, too, night school. For students whose soulmates think about them every night, from dusk until dawn.
Donghyuck doesn’t know if he falls under that category, or if he’s the insomniac keeping both he and his soulmate awake. The whole thing is very confusing. All he knows, is that even the strongest medicine can’t put him to sleep at night, and the only thing that keeps a person awake against those pills is a soulmate’s thoughts.
But it’s possible his soulmate has just resigned himself to being awake all night, as Donghyuck has, and indulges himself in thoughts of him.
That’s another thing. Donghyuck knows his soulmate is a boy.
There’s no scientific proof of this part. He just knows. He’s never felt attracted to a girl in his life. But he’s thought plenty of boys are cute. So he knows his soulmate is a boy.
His friends and family greet him every morning, acknowledging the dark bags under his eyes, and tell him to just look forward to meeting her!
He hasn’t had the heart to tell his parents not to expect grandbabies.
Donghyuck doesn’t know what to expect when he meets his soulmate. Everyone he knows who has met theirs says the feeling is indescribable, it’s like something you feel physically, but you don’t know where the feeling is. It’s everywhere and nowhere. Some describe it as a switch turning on in your brain. Others describe it as a warmth in the heart. Others still say they saw their soulmate exuding a glow - similar to an aura, almost - that only they could see.
All of it confuses Donghyuck. He just wants a full night’s rest.
Sometimes, during the summer, he gets the feeling.
There’s a feeling, you see, that you can feel when your soulmate thinks of you during the day. It only occurs during daylight hours, though. Once the clock strikes 6 p.m, the feeling goes away and is replaced by sleeplessness.
The feeling will happen to Donghyuck, in the summer, in the middle of the day, for weeks at a time. He assumes his soulmate travels sometimes, to another continent with another timezone. He tries not to think of his soulmate during the day time in the summer. In return, his soulmate doesn’t think of him when it’s night time in Korea.
He dreams of his soulmate sometimes, a faceless boy, a nameless boy, a body-less boy. He’s more cloud-shaped than he is boy-shaped, but Donghyuck knows its his soulmate nonetheless.
He has a love-hate relationship with these dreams. He’s sure his soulmate does too, because the moment they end, he’s woken abruptly.
But it’s nice to have them.
To pretend he knows the boy he’s going to spend forever with.
One night, Donghyuck dreams of his soulmate, and he swears he sees a flash of blond hair on the shapeless cloud, before he’s forced awake once again.
It’s weird, and he asks his best friend, Jaemin, about it later at night school.
“Has that ever happened to you? Seeing a weird glimpse of your soulmate in a dream?”
Jaemin shakes his head, “Honestly,” he replies, “I’ve never dreamt of my soulmate at all. I didn’t even know that was possible.”
Donghyuck is much more confused by this revelation than he is by his dream, but before he can ask more, his teacher walks in his classroom of 10, and the conversation is over.
Jaemin is a special case. He’s met his soulmate.
Well, one of them.
He and his boyfriend, Jeno, have a third soulmate keeping them awake at night. Jeno decided to drop out of school, after meeting Jaemin and still being unable to sleep, he now works the graveyard shift at the local grocery store.
Everything is open 24/7, because there is a very large market of people unable to sleep. Donghyuck has never known anything but the 24/7 lifestyle, but he’s been taught in school that it hasn’t always been this way.
Decades ago, scientists began to tinker with human genetics. They had good intentions, they say, but it went wrong with evolution, as human genetic engineering does sometimes.
At first, it was just supposed to be a feeling. Your soulmate thinks about you, and you get a little feeling in your brain, a small tingle to remind you that you’re not alone in the world.
And then it progressed to a feeling during the day time.
And then, it finally progressed to what it is today. Complete sleeplessness.
The scientists are long dead now, but Donghyuck can’t help but wonder, if they could see what their engineering had led to today, if they still would have done it back then.
He pops a vitamin D, and shakes the thought out of his brain.
One day, Jaemin comes to Donghyuck excitedly during their lunch break, cellphone gripped tightly in his hand.
“Hyuck!” He says, unable to control the volume of his voice due to his excitement. The 50 others in the cafeteria don’t spare them a second glance. “Hyuck, you won’t believe it!”
“What is it?” Donghyuck asks, shovelling a spoonful of soup into his mouth as Jaemin shoves his phone in Donghyuck’s direction.
“Look!” He says, pointing to a text message from Jeno, “Jeno found our third soulmate!”
Donghyuck’s eyes widen, and he hurries to read the text message from his best friend’s boyfriend.
“hey babe,” it reads, “i just met our other soulmate!”
“make sure to think of him real hard tonight ok! he doesnt believe theres 3 of us!!!”
“Well,” Donghyuck asks, looking back up to his friend with a smile, “Are you thinking real hard?”
Jaemin nods, making an overly concentrated expression, “Of course I am! I haven’t stopped since I read the message!”
Donghyuck nods, getting another spoonful of food, “Good,” he says, “I’m happy for you, Jaemin.”
And he is, of course. Why wouldn’t he be happy for his best friend?
But he can’t deny he’s a little jealous, too.
Mark’s never met his soulmate, but he loves them.
He doesn’t know if his soulmate is a boy or a girl, but he knows he loves them.
He loves that his soulmate is up all night thinking about him, he loves that his soulmate wakes him up because they’re even dreaming about him, and he loves that his soulmate clearly tries their very best to figure out the whole timezone thing when he visits Canada in the summer. (They’re off by about two hours, but it’s okay. He loves them anyway).
His soulmate is thinking about him, like, a lot. He knows because of the feeling, and he loves it.
He thinks about them a lot, too, and he hopes they love it just as much as he does.
Mark dreams, one night, of a mop of dark red hair on an otherwise shapeless cloud, and he loves it.
A month after Jaemin met his third soulmate (Renjun, he’s called. He seems nice, from what Jaemin’s told him), he left night school. The semester ended, and seeing as how he could now sleep through the night, he could attend regular school again. He hugged Donghyuck goodbye on his last day, promised they would still text, and they could still go out together for brinner (Donghyuck’s breakfast, Jaemin’s dinner), or could hang out at night time on the weekends.
It hasn’t happened, other than the occasional text that Jaemin sends around noon when he forgets Donghyuck will still be asleep, but Donghyuck holds on to hope.
When he meets his own soulmate, they can hang out all the time.
He goes back to thinking about the flash of blond hair from his dream. He can’t cry at school. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have friends anymore. Donghyuck doesn’t cry in public.
Donghyuck has a doctor’s appointment. His doctor only works during the daylight, because he has the same doctor as his parents, and they can sleep at night, so he has to force himself to stay up during the day time when he needs to go to the doctor.
He’s at a coffee shop, asking for the most caffeinated drink they have.
“Soulmate keep you up all night?” The barista asks sympathetically, punching his order into the register.
“Mm,” he replies,swiping his card, “Something like that.”
The barista nods, motions for him to wait at the end of the counter where his drink will be brought out shortly.
Donghyuck does as he’s asked, making his way over and standing quietly.
He scans the crowd as he waits, and it’s about what he expected. School and work have already began for most people, so the coffee shop is fairly empty, only about five people aside from himself.
He spots a couple in the corner, a man and a woman dressed smartly.
A woman with two kids.
An elderly man, alone, a familiar set of dark bags under his eyes. Donghyuck pities him.
And finally, at the front of the line, speaking to the very same barista Donghyuck had just spoken to...a boy with a head of blond hair.
Donghyuck knows. He’s seen that hair before. He’s sure of it.
The boy is handing the barista a $5 bill, telling him to keep the change. Donghyuck should look away, any second now, the boy will be walking his way.
But he can’t stop staring.
He knows that hair. He’s seen it before. He just can’t remember where.
Mark finishes his transaction at the coffee shop smoothly, not letting the eyes he can feel watching phase him. He’s used to it. You have to be when you’re constantly walking around with deep bags under your eyes.
He turns towards the end of the counter, and makes eye contact with a boy with a mop of dark red hair.
It’s everything and nothing. It’s everywhere and nowhere.
A spotlight shining only on Mark.
Sunshine radiating from Donghyuck.
A warmth in the heart and a switch in the brain.
Mark extends a hand.
“Hello,” he says, “I’m Mark.”
Donghyuck grabs the other’s hand with his own, hopes the blond boy doesn’t notice his shaking.
Mark sends him a smile, and Donghyuck returns with his own, and everything is right.