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    Loves Error
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    He interlaced his fingers with mine so naturally that I almost held on. Ah, how can I persuade him to say that he understood? I pondered my words while staring at the cold road devoid of any cars.

    “How long has it been since we dated?”

    “Not even a year. We started seeing each other last March.”

    Good. If it hasn’t been a year yet, maybe it would be easy to break it off if I handle it well, I tried to think positively, but the date caught me off guard.

    “…Didn’t you say we first met last March?”

    “Yeah.”

    “….”

    Why did I get involved with this person? Last March feels like just last month to me. I was so busy adjusting to university that I didn’t have the slightest thought of getting a lover. I wondered if he was lying because my memory was incomplete. Or is my memory more damaged than I thought?

    Even so, it didn’t matter whether we were actually dating or not. The important thing is that I have no desire to date this person.

    “Anyway, I don’t have feelings for you, um, for you hyung. I’m sorry, but let’s act like we never met. Let’s just break up.”

    “You can’t break up with me.”

    “Huh? Why?”

    I instinctively asked back as he stated it so matter-of-factly that it couldn’t be done.

    “I offered to break up first, but you refused. I said I wouldn’t give you another chance, and you agreed to it.”

    “How can I say that? Don’t lie. I wasn’t thinking of seeing anyone for a while. Why would I say something like that?”

    “Because of your first love?”

    “Ah, yes. You know everything.”

    Spread the rumors. Let the rumors reach my father’s ears. Regretting my thoughtless words, I scowled. Then his fingertips lightly tapped the back of the hand I had rested on my thigh. It wasn’t accidental contact. Telling him not to touch also means not making any contact at all, yet he keeps making subtle moves.

    I crossed my arms to completely hide my hands, and he made a spiteful remark.

    “You said you don’t even remember faces or names now. Why should you care so much about someone you can’t even remember?”

    “Because I didn’t like him just for his face.”

    “Hmph.”

    I absolutely didn’t want to look at him, but the sound of him clearing his throat made me raise my head. He had turned away and was covering his face with his large hand. While his expression was hidden, he couldn’t conceal his shaking broad shoulders, leaving me flustered.

    “Umm, are you crying?”

    “…Yeah. …No, just a moment. Whew.”

    He said it hadn’t even been a year! Why does this guy like me so much? I was baffled and surprised, but I also felt extremely apologetic and pitied him, so I awkwardly patted his shoulder. He really is all talk of being a gangster, this person is so affectionate and soft-hearted. Is this why I was attracted to him?

    “No, there’s nothing to cry about. That… No. I’m sorry. Don’t cry.”

    “Uh oh. okay.”

    I glanced at the person who didn’t even care to look at me, took out a tissue from my bag, and handed it to him.

    “I’m also sorry for making you worry.”

    Breaking up on a day like today without even properly thanked him for coming to see me. I really am a cold-hearted bastard. I should have taken the time and spoken slowly. Feeling apologetic, I blankly stared at the ground when his fingertips touched my hand again.

    Raising my head, our eyes met. His slightly haggard appearance made him seem softhearted.

    “I guess your first love’s face wasn’t that great.”

    “Ha, no. He was really handsome.”

    “You can’t even remember.”

    “Even if I don’t remember, I recall being in awe every time I saw him.”

    Seeing the corners of his mouth curve up slightly, I wondered why I was feeling so choked up and cleared my throat.

    “Then why did you like him?”

    “…”

    “Was it not because of his face?”

    Why should I even explain this? Does he think I’m someone who answers every question asked? I pushed aside my guilt and concern, opting to ignore him completely.

    As I limped to get into the car, he went ahead and opened the passenger door. Rather than sitting down, I just stared at the empty seat. To be exact, I’m not paying attention to him.

    “What was so great about him?”

    Ah, can’t I make this person be quiet for a bit? Does he not realize how ridiculous he’s being right now? Come to think of it, he’s prying into my lover’s first love.

    Trying to figure out how to make him shut up, I suddenly spoke.

    “I have a question.”

    “What?”

    “…”

    I tried to keep him quiet, but it seemed like he would answer anything I asked. I felt strange. I felt strange about this. Ignoring him wouldn’t hurt me, even if he ignored me in return.

    “That… ”

    Even though I had a lot to ask, I couldn’t think of anything to ask right away, so I just picked a random question and asked. But after asking, I did become genuinely curious.

    “How did you find me there? It must have been unimaginable that I’d be in that place.”

    “It was. I never thought someone would kidnap you. If you hadn’t used your card, it might have taken longer.”

    … Card?

    “At first, I thought some bastard stole it. But the transaction records looked like you.”

    Huh, what did I buy? No, but a card? As I quickly looked up, he averted his eyes like he had been caught.

    “This was the first time. No, the second. …Maybe the third or fourth time?”

    “Wait a minute. That card…”

    The card I had just used.

    “That’s not mine? It’s yours, hyung?”

    “Yeah.”

    Oh no. I used it without realizing. It’s not like I meant to say, ‘I have no interest in you but I’ll use your money.’ I felt my face heat up in embarrassment. He must have thought I was some kind of jerk. I was so ashamed my fingers curled inward.

    “Sorry for using it without permission. I thought it was mine.”

    “It’s fine. I gave it to you to use as you pleased from the start.”

    “…Did my family go bankrupt? Am I broke? Am I freeloading off you, hyung?”

    I only have one card in my wallet, and like 10 lottery tickets too. It’s a plausible story with evidence. Could it be that I have nowhere to go? If I return the card, will I become penniless?

    “Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s nothing like that. I gave it to you so you wouldn’t have to rely on others for meals.”

    “Really?”

    “…But it does feel like you’ve been freeloading a bit.”

    “Ah, are you joking? Don’t do that. I was really startled.”

    “Got it. Sorry. Shall we go now?”

    He fastened my seatbelt with a smile and put my bag under my feet. Why does he keep taking care of my bag? Watching him leisurely fix my disheveled hair, I lowered my eyes. My feet were still dirty despite washing them, yet his rough hands gently removed my slippers without a second thought.

    “Get some sleep. It’s a long drive.”

    “Then what if hyung gets sleepy too? Should we at least turn on the radio?”

    “Then you can’t sleep. Just rest. I’m not sleepy.”

    This man uses familiar words and gazes to make me feel flustered. With just one glance, he can summon someone and have them do menial tasks for him. Yet he treats me specially. I want to say I’m already used to this kind of treatment because someone else did it before, but instead, the longing I had suppressed grows larger.

    In the end, on the way there, I fell asleep and dreamed of my senior. It wasn’t anything special. We were just sitting side by side on a bench in a sparsely populated place. Our fingers brushed against each other and intertwined slightly, but neither of us mentioned it, avoided it, or held hands further.

    I remember those tender moments. But the time that has passed is just a memory, a lingering and beautified past. Though I liked my senior, I was too scared to accept his feelings. On that subject, I couldn’t let him go, and he patiently waited for me without even getting angry. He could have gotten angry at least once, telling me not to act halfheartedly. We were both foolish.

    I have far surpassed the age of nineteen that my senior was, but I still preciously remember his maturity and affection from when he was young. Even if I can’t recall his face or name, that was just a part of him, not the whole. So there was no change in my feelings for him. I just feel regretful. A little scared too.

    ***

    I opened my eyes at the sound of the door closing. Had we arrived already? Seeing no one in the driver’s seat, I sat up abruptly and rubbed my face. I had slept so soundly that I wondered how I would sleep at night. As I turned my neck this way and that, the passenger door flung open.

    “You’re awake?”

    “Yes…”

    I was dumbfounded watching him grab my bag first again, then I realized I was still barefoot. When he reached out his arm, I thought he was going to carry me, so I quickly waved my hand.

    “I can walk on my own.”

    “Make a choice. Should I carry you in my arms or on my back?”

    “…I’ll walk barefoot.”

    “Come to the front. Or the back.”

    “…Barefoot.”

    He counters my stubbornness as if he doesn’t find it funny. He won’t back down until I choose one of the two. I glared and closed the door without saying a word.

    I thought he would open it again to ask what I was doing, but he just left me be. Feeling embarrassed by the childish standoff, I slightly rolled down the window. He gives me a sly smile. After pondering for a while, I eventually gave up and opened the door.

    “Turn around.”

    “You want a piggyback ride?”

    “Don’t make me spell it out.”

    Why did he have to specify? His chuckle was infuriating.

    “It’s been a long time since I saw you this embarrassed.”

    “This isn’t embarrassment; it’s mortification.”

    I obediently let him give me a piggyback ride, but soon regretted it. Thinking there was no sign of anyone around and it was quiet, I assumed no one was there. But there were people standing guard on the road. And he even opened the gate himself, so I couldn’t raise my head. Do they all know? Or is our country this tolerant of same-sex relationships? Or is it just gangsters who are like that? Discarding human nature but upholding human rights?

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