01. city boy

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[ 01. city boy ]


Sunday lunches at the Jeon household are what Jeongguk considers controlled chaos, a hurricane trapped within a glass bottle. It's not a secret the Jeons favor extravagant gatherings over ones with a smaller pool of guests, their quaint family inviting the whole neighborhood to attend a grand pot-luck where the women gather in circles over tea near the fireplace indulging in harmless gossip and the men of the households cluster in the kitchen over wine to discuss current events and of course, God.

Children are at home with their babysitters for the evening, parents not bothering to deal with their abundance of energy after a tiring day. There's also teenagers, too, but it's expected they'd prefer taking their parents' truck and convertibles to the lake side to spend the night, finally able to feel the addictive craze of teenage rebellion.

The older kids in the neighborhood are perhaps planning to get drunk with gasoline station beer bought with birthday money, to splash in the dark lake waters, maybe even smoke weed, and of course, hook up like every other highschool kid in the eighties. For them, the lake is an escape, an outlet far from the day's church-filled activities. It's a chance to be wild, free, and feel alive dancing hand in hand with the sins your parents have taught you to avoid.

Except for Jeongguk, however.

He's not really about the 'teenage rebellion' phase he's seen his classmates become a part of. Call him weird but Jeongguk is yet to explore the uncharted territory named by his peers as his "wild side", if he even has one in the first place. He doesn't seek comfort nor satisfaction in cheap beer or the lustful, illicit caresses of a one-night-stand. He's more at ease with a bible propped in his hands or listening intently to his father intertwine the words of the Lord into their actions, his energy spent on anything but associating with the devil.

But tonight, just as something felt different at the church, that same uneasy aura seems to have followed him home.

He's first hit with a wave of unfamiliarity when he leaves the kitchen. Everyone that's gathered by the hearth is recognizable at most, but there seems to be a new woman that has joined their exclusive group, the newcomer occupying the empty seat he usually claims for himself.

Though it isn't this foreigner that his attention seems to latch onto, but that same dark-eyed boy from church leaning against the door frame only metres away from him. The boy's arms are pinned across his broad chest that's outlined in the crisp material of his plain white button-up, that stance of his exerting this sort of confidence Jeongguk himself lacks in comparison as his gaze falls on him.

He realizes that the mysterious stranger is the second hit of uneasiness that settles over him thickly, coating his throat with sludge clogging his ability to produce a coherent sentence in his refined English. Jeongguk merely blinks, his tongue frozen in his dry mouth when the stranger mock salutes at him, smirking the same way he did at church - teasingly, testing
him in a silent manner.

Then suddenly, he slips out behind the door.

Lips tumbling into a frown, Jeongguk's legs sway him towards the front, a burst of curiosity tickling his tummy as he eases his way through the mingling adults crowding about the room.

It's not until he escapes does he realize he's been holding in a breath the whole time when he rushes into the crisp, skin-piercing coldness of the night. He exhales sharply, a white cloud snaking past his lips when his stare settles on the stranger, who's leaning against the fence railing, those plump lips of his curling into an amused smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes but gleams dimly in his narrowed irises.

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