Go Dok Mi hummed to herself softly as she rubbed the shampoo into her scalp. The tune was familiar to her even though she hadn't heard it in a few weeks. It would be engrained in her memory forever. It was the song that Enrique had sung to her the night they had first professed their love for each other.
Of course, they had said it many times before that. With every "please be safe", "call me when you get home", "don't leave me", they said it to each other. But that had been the first time they'd said the actual words. At least, it had been the first time she had.
Enrique had never been shy about sharing his feelings. He had practically said it the night they had first kissed. It had been a horrible night that had created something beautiful. Dok Mi's humming turned to singing subconsciously. And the singing got louder until it could be heard through the bathroom door. But no one was there to hear her.
Enrique was back in Spain. After only being home a few weeks, he had had to return for some business. But he had promised her that he wouldn't be gone nearly as long as last time. A year and 3 months had seemed like an eternity to her, but it was the not knowing that killed her.
Every time they talked, she asked when he'd be home and every time he said, "I don't know". It killed her that she didn't know how long she'd have to be away from him. This time, though, he's sworn it wouldn't be more than a couple of days.
"There's a glitch in the game production," he'd said, "No one can sort it but me. I have to go." Dok Mi had been an expert at hiding her emotions, but Enrique could always see through her. He clearly saw the hurt and disappointment that was on her face. He hugged her then, pulling her close and drowning her in his arms, "I promise, Ahjumma, it will be no more than a week. I'll be home before you even have a chance to miss me."
But he was wrong. She missed him always. Even when she could see him waving at her from across the alley, she missed his hand holding hers and his scent engulfing her. She missed him the second he went through the door.
He was wrong about how long he'd be gone, too. It had been almost two weeks and he had no idea when he'd be back. She tried to be supportive. He had postponed his dreams so many times just to stay with her. It was her turn to sacrifice something. But more often than not, his company seemed too great a loss.
Every time they spoke, she had to resist the urge to beg him to return. He was the first voice she heard in the morning and the last she heard at night, but it wasn't enough to get her through the long days.
Even though she had become a completely new person after falling in love with Enrique, being out in public still exhausted her at best and sent her home with panic attacks at worst. But she couldn't tell Enrique that it had gotten worse since he'd left. He'd surely come rushing home to make her feel better. It was selfish that Dok Mi wanted that, but she was being selfless by not telling hm.
He'd surely be angry with her if he ever found out, but she had made sure he never would. She tried extra hard to sound happy on the phone and she had given him no reason to worry. At least, she didn't think she had. Enrique was always good at telling when she was lying to him.
I confessed my love for someone else in front of him, she thought as the shampoo ran down her body and down the drain, and he still knew it was all a lie. And suddenly, she knew that he knew. But she had to make sure he stayed in Spain. As much trouble as she was having now, she would have it worse if he came home for her.
It was always a caveat of their relationship for Dok Mi, "You are not allowed to push aside your dreams for me," she said many times.
"But you are my only dream," he'd always reply, "I love games and I love my fans, but I love you more Go Dok Mi. Anything is worth giving up for you."
Then they'd smile and kiss, but Dok Mi would grow a little sadder inside. It was another way that Enrique said that he loved her. Dok Mi had never been good with dealing with affection and she worried that Enrique handed it out so freely that he would run out of it eventually. It was her greatest fear that he would leave her just as she was comfortable with everything. So she tried not to get comfortable.
Comfort leads to heartbreak, she had discovered. All her friends knew the story, but none truly understood. Jin Rak came the closest, and Enrique tried his best, but no one truly knew the pain she had endured every day for years. She still endured it, but it had dulled significantly since Enrque came into her life.
No, she couldn't let herself become truly happy because she would be destroyed if she lost it. If Enrique was here, he'd call you an idiot, she thought. And perhaps she was. But it was better for her to be stupid than get hurt again. Enrique loved her right now, but Dok Mi knew all too well that people's feelings changed.
The water that had been so warm and comforting a moment before suddenly felt cold to Dok Mi. she quickly rinsed the remaining shampoo out of her hair and turned off the water. She had left her window open to let the steam out of her bathroom and the cold February air left goose bumps along her skin. She wished she could get back in the shower, but it would be a waste of water. She had two warm coats and left over ramen water she could heat up. She would survive.
But her clothes were in the living room. She would have to walk through the freezing apartment in just her towel. She opened the door slowly and tried to run as fast as she could to her clothes, but something caught her eye as she past her desk. She had accidentally left her window open when she had stopped working, but that wasn't what troubled her. She often left it open since no one else but Enrique ever did. But… there was a person in the window across the street. A person with orange hair. It couldn't be Enrique; he knew she didn't like surprises. But… he had done it before. Last time he had left for Spain, he returned without even a phone call.
She walked slowly towards the window, careful not to slip on the now slippery tile. The closer she got, the more and more it looked like him. She shook her head and walked the final inches to the wall. He pointed at his eyes then back at her. That was something only Enrique would do. He was home. The disbelief washed out of her and was replaced with pure bliss. He had come home to her again. She smiled and waved at him shyly and was rewarded with a big, cheesy grin that made her heart melt. She reached over to grab her phone, but before she could, he held up the board that he had used to communicate with her many times before dream of me, it had said that first night.
Now, it only said get dressed and come outside. Get… dressed? Oh god, oh god she thought, I've been in my towel this whole time. She turned away quickly to hide the red that was blossoming on her cheeks, how could I be so careless? She thought. He probably thought nothing of it, but Dok Mi had never been more mortified. The love of her life had seen her in nothing but a small, ratty, old towel. She covered her mouth with her hand and let out one quiet sob before pushing the rest of her tears back.
She quickly shut the blinds and got dressed hurriedly. She wasn't trying to make herself look nice, just presentable enough that she could go out in public. Gah, why hadn't she waited until she was completely dry to get dressed? It was so irritating trying to get fabric over wet skin. Soon, she was jumping around just trying to get a pair of pants on. When she was finally dressed, she looked back out the window. She expected that Enrique would be gone, already on his way over here, but when she looked over he was still there staring at her.
He held up his board again, I'll meet you downstairs, it read. Dok Mi nodded and shut the blinds calmly, so as not to look too excited. But she was ready to jump for joy. Enrique had come back to her. She was stupid to worry that he'd be gone for another year. He promised he'd be home in a few days and she had learned that he kept his promises.
She suddenly couldn't contain her joy any more. She threw on a pair of tennis shoes and ran out the door. The elevator was too slow; she skipped it and instead sprinted to the stairs. She saw Jin Rak peeking through his door at her. No doubt he'd heard all the commotion and was worried.
"Enrique's back" she said quickly as she ran past him, her steps became sloppy as she ran downstairs. She lived on the fourth floor of the apartment, and she was completely winded by the time she made it down the second flight of stairs. But she wanted to get to him as soon as possible. She took a deep breath and continued running. Her turns became sharper and less thought out. She could almost feel his arms around her. The thought took her mind off running for a split second, but that was enough time for her to get distracted. She let out a single scream before she fell.