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    Loves Error

    Why does he keep asking? But then he continued to ask detailed questions: what time I go to the library, how I handle meals, if anyone packs a lunch for me. I gradually showed signs of discomfort and suddenly flinched. Wait a minute, he’s a cop. Does he suspect me of being the culprit?

    “Do you live alone? Your younger sister… does your family live somewhere else?”

    “My sister is married, and my parents have moved back to our hometown.”

    Huh? How does he know I have a sister? Could he have checked my fingerprints?!

    “I didn’t steal it.”

    “I’d like to treat you to a meal… What?”

    He repeated my words and only then noticed my tense expression. Then he let out a small laugh, trying to suppress the smile that appeared on his lips.

    “I’m not interrogating you right now.”


    “You didn’t steal my nephew’s iPad.”

    “No, I didn’t steal it!”

    I shouted and then tensed up again. Strong denial might come across as strong affirmation, right? Being a cop, even small things made me nervous.

    “Really, I didn’t steal it.”

    “I know. That’s why I want to treat you to a meal.”

    A meal? I asked, but he checked his phone. It had been vibrating a few times, indicating he was receiving texts.

    “Sorry, I need to get back to work. Let’s set up a time to meet next time.”

    Next time? Before I could ask, he left in a hurry. Despite working all night and not getting any sleep, he went back to work. I felt sorry for him, but also wondered why he came to the library.

    Two days later, around 11 o’clock, I experienced déjà vu. When I looked up, there he was again. This time, though, I didn’t recognize him immediately.

    Who would have guessed that the man sleeping with his head on the desk across from me was him? I almost left but felt something strange and just stared at him.

    After a while, he stirred and woke up. His hair was messy, his eyes swollen with fatigue. Then he saw me and smiled. My heart raced.

    “I stayed up all night.”

    He said the same thing as before. But why the library? I decided not to ask the questions I was curious about since last time. I was afraid he might stop coming if I did. Despite feeling sorry for his tiredness, my selfish desire to see him more won out. So, I just expressed my gratitude.

    “Thank you on behalf of the citizens.”


    “No, wait, it’s not right for me to represent the citizens since I’m not the president. Then, thank you on behalf of the residents of XX 1st District.”

    Again, he just looked at me with slightly squinted eyes. I was sincerely grateful.

    “I used to be the district representative.”

    Does he not believe me? Should I show him the certificate of appointment I received from the district office? As I pondered, he turned his head and let out a sigh mixed with a chuckle.

    “This is driving me crazy.”

    He said, still unable to wipe the smile off his face, and asked me,

    “The cute one is you, though.”

    “Cute? Who, me?”

    I asked in astonishment, but he just smiled and stood up. His phone buzzed briefly again. Checking his messages, he quickly said to me,

    “They caught the person who stole my nephew’s stuff. I’ll contact you separately to treat you to that meal.”

    He spoke and then hurried off like before. So they caught the thief. Good news, but I felt a bit disappointed. That cop probably won’t come to the library anymore.

    “Have you had some good news lately?”

    The manager of the bar where I work part-time asked. There was a mischievous smile on his face, so I shook my head cautiously. No, nothing. But he didn’t believe me and playfully tapped my arm.

    “Hey, what is it? Huh? What is it?”

    “If you raise my part-time pay, something good might happen.”

    He pulled back, looking serious. Talking about money always sets the tone right.

    “Really, nothing good happening? That’s odd. Someone said you were so into something you might even quit your job.”

    Who? I asked, but he avoided giving details and walked away.

    At the height of July, the mercury soared again. The library’s once-refreshing air conditioning was now barely blowing cool air due to the government’s energy-saving policies. It was hot.

    Determined to stay cool today, I put the water bottles I had frozen overnight into my bag and headed out. I arrived at 6:30 AM.

    The library opens at 7, but I come early to get the seat I want. As usual, bags lined up on the ground outside the library, saving spots for their owners. But today, there was a person standing among them.

    Facing away from me, tall with an unfamiliar back. I swallowed nervously and approached cautiously. He must have heard me because he turned around.



    In response to my stupid greeting, the cop greeted me back. I don’t remember how I ended up leaving my bag and sitting with him on a bench. I didn’t even notice he had handed me a can. He opened his can first and drank. I asked him seriously,

    “Is there another thief in the library?”


    He laughed and spat out his drink. He apologized, but couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

    “No, I’m not here to catch a thief. I came to study too.”

    Now that I looked, he was carrying a thick backpack.

    “Are you preparing for a promotion exam?”

    No, he shook his head again and looked at me. It felt like he was looking into my eyes for a moment before he answered,

    “There’s something I wanted to study. I finally decided to do it.”

    “What about your job?”

    “I quit.”

    He said it so easily that I thought he was joking. But then he started asking about my library routine: when I eat, what I usually eat, when I go home, and so on. It felt like a continuation of his questions from last time. After answering, I hesitated and asked,

    “Aren’t you a police sergeant? That’s a high rank, so why…?”

    “I had to study now. In this library.”

    I still didn’t understand, but he kept smiling like he was genuinely happy. I couldn’t keep asking, so I just sipped my drink awkwardly. But why am I so nervous? Trying to hide my nerves, I spoke up,

    “It’s going to be hot again today.”

    “Yes. But I like July.”

    He looked up at the sky and started humming a tune happily to himself.

    “Your smile while waiting for you~”

    Lunch Box

    I couldn’t sleep. Usually, after coming back from the library, I’d wash up and pass out like I was drunk, but I was awake at 2 AM, 3 AM.

    I had to go to the library early the next day, so I forced myself to sleep, but my mind was alert, replaying the events of the day. I could still hear the song he was humming.

    “Oh, you know that song?”

    “It’s my favorite song.”

    I like that song too. My heart raced like I had won a big prize over such a small commonality.

    “I like it too.”


    “I like the song. And the singer has the same name as me. Oh, except for the surname. I’m Song Yeonwoo, and the singer of that song is also Yeonwoo. Just saying.”

    Under his steady gaze, I started to stammer as if I were already suffering from the heat.



    “Nice to meet you, Song Yeonwoo.”

    He suddenly extended his hand. In a fluster, I also reached out and shook his hand. His large hand completely enveloped my ordinary-sized hand. It was firm and hot, probably because it was summer.

    “I am.”

    He started, gripping my hand firmly and speaking calmly and clearly.

    “Kim Shin.”

    He said. It felt like he squeezed my hand even tighter. That day, we had lunch together, and also dinner. He sat opposite me all day, quietly turning the pages of his book and writing notes with his pen.

    All I did all day was try not to look at him. I scolded myself harshly, trying to push him out of my mind until dawn. Don’t be conscious of him. If he finds out I’m gay, he’ll be horrified and back off.

    Should I just tell him so he keeps his distance? Then I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore. But I pushed that idea aside. There’s no need for that. Besides, he’s not my type anyway. I fell asleep at 4 o’clock.

    Always at the same time, at the same terminus, I stood in front of the closed bus doors. Over time, I felt like I had developed a sort of internal connection with the driver. Though it was probably just my imagination, one time I came out late and ran to the stop, and the bus, which was about to depart, waited for me.

    I was grateful, but also felt guilty for breaking my self-promise never to be late again. Yet today, I found myself running frantically to catch the departing bus once more.

    To excuse myself, it was because I hadn’t slept. I couldn’t even sit in my usual spot and had to go to the double seat at the back. I put my legs up on the protruding seat and curled up. Maybe because I was bent over, sleep came over me.

    The vibrations of the bus were soothing, like a baby bouncer. My head bobbed from side to side. Oh, when my sister has a baby, I’ll have to get her a bouncer. And a stroller, definitely a stroller. Strollers are expensive, so I’ll save up my part-time pay… My thoughts cut off there, and I slipped into sleep.

    I vaguely became aware when the announcement for my stop echoed faintly in the distance. Before that, though, a physical force shook me. My instinct, sensing the urgency, dragged my consciousness out of deep sleep.

    “The next stop is XX Library, XX Library.”

    The library! I snapped my eyes open and tried to get up, but the awkward position and the shaking bus made it difficult. I struggled to find my balance, almost falling back down.

    I grabbed a handle for support, but another hand held me securely. The person next to me had grabbed my arm tightly. I regained my balance and stood up, but I needed to get off, so I started moving again.

    “Thank you. I need to get off…”

    I was about to thank him when I saw him for the first time. It was him. The man who introduced himself in a low voice as “Kim Shin.” Oh? For a moment, I wondered if I was still dreaming.

    “I’m getting off too.”

    He said, standing up and helping me to my feet. Still holding onto my arm, I followed him to the bus door. I wanted to ask why he was here, if he took this bus, but there were too many people around.

    Feeling awkward, I just held onto the bus pole until we got off. Once we were off, he let go of my arm and let me go first. The cool air from the bus’s air conditioning hit me as soon as I stepped off, and the sticky, humid morning air filled my lungs.

    The sky was clear without a cloud, signaling the scorching summer sun was coming. But for now, it wasn’t stiflingly hot, though I felt a bit tense with Kim Shin next to me.

    Unable to meet his gaze, I awkwardly followed him to the library.

    We put our bags down and sat on a shaded bench in front of the library, which hadn’t opened yet. Only then did I properly face him. I considered myself socially adept, but I couldn’t understand why I felt so awkward and tense around him. Not wanting to show it, I blurted out,

    “Do you live in XX-dong?”

    “Have you had breakfast?”

    He asked at the same time. I hesitated, and he slowly smiled as he answered.

    “No. Have you had breakfast?”

    I shook my head and then paused. Where does he live if he took this bus?

    “Do you usually skip breakfast?”

    “I do eat it. Breakfast is very important.”

    When I worked at the factory, I developed the habit of always having breakfast; otherwise, I’d feel weak all morning. To prove my point, my stomach growled loudly.


    It was short but loud. I felt embarrassed and quickly tried to change the subject.

    “They say the drought is getting worse inland because there’s no rain.”


    He just stared at me without a word. The embarrassment made my mental state even worse.

    “I’m not just saying this because I’m hungry.”

    As soon as I said it, I realized how stupid it sounded. Maybe he thought it was absurd too, because he suddenly stood up, went to his bag, and took something out. It looked like a lunchbox. No way, is he really going to offer me his lunch because I look hungry?

    “Here, eat this.”

    He handed me his lunchbox. When he opened the lid, it was full of yellow inari sushi.

    “You packed a lunch?”

    “I saw you had one yesterday.”

    I felt a pang of emotion. He had such a cold look with his long, sharp eyes, but he must have been desperate for a lunch buddy, going as far as to pack a lunch like me.

    Thinking of him, I picked up one of the tightly packed inari sushi with a fork. It was so firm it felt like there was a whole bowl of rice in each piece. Before eating, I asked lightly,

    “Did someone make this for you?”

    “I made it myself.”

    I paused with my mouth open but took a bite since he was staring so intently. It wasn’t just rice—it was practically a rice cake. It was very dense.

    “It’s delicious.”

    I said, swallowing the sticky rice. He smiled silently and ran his hand through his hair. His fingers glided smoothly through his hair.

    Even a short motion like brushing his hair revealed his solid muscles. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t take my eyes off the veins bulging in his arm.

    Thankfully, I quickly lowered my gaze, so I wasn’t caught staring. I figured he must work out a lot because he’s a police officer. I tried to disguise my excitement as mere admiration.

    “They say inari sushi is easy for beginners, so I tried making it. Next, I’ll try making gimbap.”

    “Why gimbap?”

    “It’s a classic lunchbox item.”

    I couldn’t help but laugh. How cute. Of course, I didn’t say that out loud. When I laughed, his large smile faded. It seemed like he was glancing at my lips with slightly downcast eyes.

    Do I have rice on my lips? I hastily wiped my lips with the back of my hand and stuffed the remaining inari sushi into my mouth.

    “I’ll make gimbap next time. I’m good at it. My sister loves gimbap, so I often make it for her. Why, what’s wrong?”

    Feeling a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, I leaned back. He awkwardly laughed and shook his head.

    “I really want to try your gimbap. Have some more.”

    “No, I’m fine.” I quickly shook my head. I already felt full, as if I’d eaten an entire bowl of rice. He closed the lid with a smile still lingering on his lips. Seeing him in a good mood made me feel good too.

    I was tired and sleepy that morning, but now I felt light, as if I were floating. As the library’s opening time approached, people started gathering and forming a long line. Normally, I’d be eager to get in and grab a seat quickly, but today I felt a bit reluctant to go in so soon.

    Still, I kept my feelings in check. Get a grip. You can’t think of him as a romantic interest. He’s here to study at the library. And he’s a police officer. I couldn’t risk getting caught in a scandal at my age. Yes, I should just focus on studying and keep my distance…

    “And feel free to speak casually.”

    “Excuse me? But…”

    “I’ll call you ‘hyung’, too.”

    “Are you younger than me?”

    He smiled silently again, but my heart sank. Had he checked my fingerprints?

    “Yes, I am younger. Hyung.”

    His low, slow voice was pleasing to the ear. Instinctively, I realized it—I had failed to keep my distance. Because I wanted to hear him call me that again.

    People started gathering their bags as the library’s doors were about to open. He turned his head to check and then stood up.

    “Let’s go, hyung.”


    One sure way to grow closer to someone is to speak informally to each other. There was a guy at the factory, nicknamed “Barcode,” because he would rate all the female employees he saw. He had a score below 10, yet he judged the pretty ladies. I disliked him, and he tried to get friendly by speaking casually to me. I kept my guard up with formal language, and we never got close.

    I prided myself on my successful social life, but this time, the gap closed unexpectedly. The moment he called me “hyung,” it felt like he, who was once far away, had come right in front of me. It left me flustered.

    He was someone I wanted to get closer to, but I couldn’t let it happen. It was an awkward situation I couldn’t navigate. Throughout the morning, I couldn’t focus on the instructor’s lecture on my laptop screen.

    I tried hard to keep my eyes on my laptop, avoiding looking up. My neck grew stiff from staring at the screen without moving, so I inadvertently lifted my eyes.

    He was studying less than a meter away. One hand was busy checking and solving problems in an English workbook, while the other propped up his chin on a bent elbow.

    Unlike me, who had been studying without standing up for hours, his posture remained upright, his back straight, with only a slight tilt of his head.

    This made him even more noticeable. The study room was packed, and despite the air conditioning, it wasn’t particularly cool. Most people wore short sleeves. He wore a dark short-sleeved t-shirt, which, unlike how it would fit loosely on me, was stretched tight across his broad shoulders.

    No one in the room was taller than him, making me realize just how tall he was. His bare arms, revealed under his short sleeves, were slightly tanned from the summer sun. Unlike my skin, which would turn red and burn in the sun, his tan looked good.

    He must have exercised a lot as a police officer. His muscular arms suggested that his entire body, hidden under his shirt, was solid. As I watched him intently, I got caught. Our eyes met when he looked up.

    I froze, feeling a jolt of panic, but he just smiled slightly and picked up his phone. I quickly looked back at my laptop, pretending to take notes on the already finished lecture. Soon, I received a message on my phone.

    “Hyung, let’s take a break.”

    Oh, okay. I couldn’t easily bring myself to reply informally. Instead, I nodded slightly and stepped outside. Though the cool place was inside the building, I always ended up heading out with him, holding a cold drink.

    Luckily, there was a bench under the shade of a tree after a short walk in the sun. The sound of opening a soda can, followed by the fizz of carbonation escaping, made my mouth water. I quickly tilted my head back and took a gulp, while he just stared at my waistline.


    “Please speak casually.”

    Do I really have to? I wanted to get closer to him, but ethically, it didn’t feel right. He tilted his head slightly and asked,

    “Am I making you uncomfortable?”

    “No, of course not.”

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