It's become so obvious to me that I can't believe no one else can tell. And yet no one else can see how much I love Dai --- how dangerously my emotions burn in my chest for him, how my pulse races and blood heats up when Dai is near.
And yet . . . I hate Dai because he makes me love him so much. His eyes that draw me in. His arms that wrap around me, and the fists that draw blood from my skin. How he kills me as he loves me. That is the mystery of Dai: so many different aspects of him clashing around in that one body ready to explode but you can't leave him alone, even if he goes off and hurts you in the process.
So here I am, sitting in the sand and watching Dai play in the surf, kicking and splashing about like it was a new semester. I would not be surprised if it was true, given his family. A family so cold they don't care what happens to their son so long as he keeps their names out of trouble.
He turns and waves at me; he's ankle-deep in the water, a strand of seaweed clinging to his bare chest. I wave back and grin helplessly. I do this even though earlier today I had seen him at school and he had nonchalantly told me to just fuck off already, getting angry when I asked why. Such things were becoming weekly, almost daily occurrences. I can't help but think he's embarrassed of me, or that I'm a constant annoying reminder of life outside the Furies and fighting.
This was the thing about Dai for being a horrible student who hangs out with delinquents, he knew how to wield his words with precision, like a surgeon. No --- like an assassin, knowing the optimal places on the body to shoot his gun, all for maximum damage. Dai knows which words will hit me hardest in the gut, in the heart; he was not afraid to use them at any moment.
But I'm still here, feet bare and caked with brown sand, watching Dai walk in from the incoming surf with a goofy smile on his face, as if we were the happiest hidden couple in Korea, in the whole world. This is our secret place; here is where we lay bare our true emotions, raw and real for our eyes only.
Dai says something but the crash of the waves against the rocks makes it hard to hear his voice; they eat his words and take them away from me.
"What was that?" I shout back, then flush as Dai runs up and is close enough to touch my face with one gentle finger.
He grins at my look of embarrassment, absently brushing a lock of sea-soaked hair out of his eyes. "I said I love you, you idiot."
Dai falls on top of me, pressing me into the grit of the sand. I get lost in the crooks of his limbs, the smell of sea salt on his skin, words carelessly spilling from his lips until they turn into incomprehensible strings of sighs and moans. We are so deeply entangled in one another that there is no Dai or Jaeehee anymore, just this one state of being called us.
It's Dai: His words that pull me in then push me away, each one a nail dragged across my back or a clenched fist pushed into my gut. This is Dai, the one I can never leave, the one I can never be without. This is the man who is inside of me even when we are apart, the haunting presence that has marked me.
And if the force of our tumultuous relationship brings us down, we will die the same way we loved: forcefully and hungrily; giving each other so much of ourselves that we disappear like bubbles in the tide, leaving nothing behind but footprints to be washed away.