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    “My mother visited yesterday. The fridge is packed, so I thought it’d be better to eat at home. The weather’s bad today anyway. Come on up.”

    Standing awkwardly in his excessively clean and tidy entrance, I hesitantly took off my shoes. There were romantic touches everywhere, like a newlywed’s home. The arched doorway painted in pastel colors was impressive. I got a glimpse of his ex-fiancée’s taste.I felt like a beggar, awkwardly standing in the living room.

    He started setting the table with various side dishes from the fridge. I felt bad, but I wasn’t good with these types of foods. I sat down at the table with a challenging spirit, just like I did with Co-pilot Jeon Seong-wook. I hoped that hunger would take care of this situation.

    “I see from your schedule that you took a long vacation.”

    “Yeah. I was thinking of doing some traveling.”


    “I don’t know yet.”

    Of course, I had a place in mind, but I didn’t want to share such a personal thing with him. The side dishes he had laid out looked great, but I had been eating fried potatoes steadily since earlier.

    “Is it not to your taste? My mother is quite the cook.”

    “No, it’s delicious.”

    I couldn’t bring myself to be rude to Co-pilot Cho Min-woo, so I had to go on a food scavenger hunt. I was sampling more than a dozen side dish plates, one by one. While trying different things, I instinctively covered my mouth and spit out the stir-fried vegetables I was chewing. I had tasted pineapple.

    “Huh? What’s wrong? What was in it?”

    I couldn’t answer his question and ran to the bathroom. I wrapped the spit-up in a tissue, threw it in the trash, and rinsed my mouth out with water. Thank goodness I hadn’t chewed and swallowed it. I let my guard down. It was purely my fault.

    “Are you okay?”

    When I came out, Cho Min-woo was standing at the door, looking worried.

    “I have a tropical fruit allergy. Since I spit it out, I’m fine.”

    “There’s such an allergy? What happens if you eat it?”

    “Um… I get hives and some breathing difficulties.”

    “Wow, that sounds tough. I like tangy things, so my mother must have cooked it with pineapple. I’m glad you’re okay. I never thought you couldn’t eat pineapple, haha.”

    I gave him a wry smile because it wasn’t anyone’s fault. I had mentioned shortness of breath, but the last time it happened, I ended up in the hospital. I should have been more careful, but lately, I’d been more negligent. I knew why, but I chose not to dwell on it.

    “Would you like some bread?”

    Quick-witted Co-pilot Cho Min-woo waved a bag of bread.

    “That’s okay, I’ll keep eating.”

    It was clear he had already eaten. The bowl of rice he had served himself remained nearly untouched. Feeling it was a great discourtesy to leave food uneaten when being treated in someone else’s home, I diligently finished my rice. Eating has become quite a struggle lately.

    “Can I ask you a question while you’re eating?”

    Co-pilot Cho Min-woo suddenly broached the subject. Last time, he had asked when my last relationship was; now, I wondered what he would ask next.


    “Is it even possible to be in a relationship with someone you’re not really interested in?”

    His question was cleverly phrased without a subject, so I had to engage in a bit of enigmatic conversation with him.

    “The Co-pilot seems to have gotten a little more interested in dating lately.”

    “Yeah. I need to get my life back, too, so what’s your answer?”

    “I think it’s possible, but not for me.”

    I hoped he had developed an interest in someone among the crew. His tone and demeanor, which had been subtly bothersome lately, were something I wanted to attribute to my current sensitivity about such matters. However, his ensuing mutter made me realize it was just my wishful thinking.

    “Oh… so it’s not possible for you. I guess I’ll have to wait longer.”

    It was clearly meant for me to hear. I set down my spoon and looked directly at him. He didn’t avert his gaze. Co-pilot Cho Min-woo never shied away from anything. It seemed I needed to address at least one thing clearly.

    “Can I ask you a question, too? If it’s too personal, you don’t have to answer.”

    “I’ll decide after I hear it.”

    “The ex that was in the photo that you were caught with…, was it a man?”

    A dimple appeared on his previously expressionless face, and he affirmed. He even added that it wasn’t an inappropriate question at all. As it turns out, Co-pilot Cho Min-woo is bisexual.

    “It’s interesting. Most people assume it’s an acquaintance of the fiancée or a relative. They say people think in line with their usual thoughts. Since you got it right, it’s starting to make me question things too.”

    “It’s common in Germany.”

    I drank my water nonchalantly. Even if he had admitted it, I had no intention of telling him about my situation. It seems that Co-pilot Cho Min-woo is not in a position to come out of the closet alone. By asking me the question, he at least confirmed that I’m not against homosexuality.

    He had cast his nets everywhere. Before our relationship became completely awkward, I needed to draw a firm line, but it was tricky to reject him as he hadn’t explicitly confessed.

    “Thank you for the meal.”

    “Leave it. I’ll clean it up.”

    I got up to leave. He followed me out despite saying he would clean up, offering to drive me home because of the rain. It seemed more awkward to refuse, so I followed him down to the parking lot.

    The rain had turned into a storm accompanied by lightning. The wipers rapidly cleared the relentless downpour. It took less than five minutes to reach my villa. I realized that flying with him would now feel uncomfortable. Cho Min-woo was an excellent co-pilot with rare piloting skills. I couldn’t help but feel regretful.

    Maybe it was because of the rain, he didn’t suggest we smoke.

    “You know, sometimes takeoff priority gets messed up.”

    Pulling up in front of the villa, he blurted out a story.

    “Let’s say one plane has already missed its takeoff time twice, resulting in complaints. The other is right on time and perfectly ready to take off.”

    The sound of wipers scraping the windshield echoed.

    “In this case, if they both requested clearance at the same time, which plane would take off first?”

    He looked over at me in the passenger seat and smirked. It seemed he had noticed the fervor of the broken wine glass on my side.


    I opened the car door.

    “It’s entirely up to the air traffic controller.”

    I made my way through the rain and headed up to my apartment.

    * * * 

    The next day, while returning from the pharmacy with some headache medicine, I received a call from my adoptive parents. My adoptive mother wanted me to attend my adoptive father’s ninetieth birthday party. She had called because she knew I was coming to Germany for Han Jae-yi’s wedding. It meant I’d have to stay in Germany for two more days. I sighed.

    The rain from yesterday was making me cranky. Staying at home felt suffocating, and I wished I could at least get an on-call duty. I swallowed the headache medicine and started showering.

    ‘Oh… it’s not possible for you. I guess I’ll have to wait longer.’

    A few days ago, after listening to Cho Min-woo’s indirect confession, I realized something. I need to define my sexuality. I’m not the type of person who falls in love with someone at first sight, so if I want to start a relationship, I need to put in the work. To do that, I need to know what I’m attracted to.

    Am I gay, bisexual, or a straight person with sexual desire limited to Han Jae-yi?

    Perhaps all these feelings were nothing more than the emotions of a child who had lost their comfort object. Everything was fine with Han Jae-yi until I heard that he belonged to someone else.

    On the other hand, I was genuinely curious if such a thing could happen. There’s a common saying, ‘I like you not because you’re a woman or a man.’ I had laughed at how childish that sounded, but now my situation matched it perfectly. Reality always exceeds imagination.

    If, by any chance, he felt the same kind of emotions for me, how long would it take him to accept them? I felt a profound sense of breaking out of an egg, but I wondered how such feelings would manifest for Han Jae-yi.

    After getting out of the bathroom, I changed into comfortable clothes and got ready to go out. At times like this, I envied the life of an office worker who went to work every day. I couldn’t even lie down on the day off that my employer gave me. I thought for a moment about what to do, then searched for the largest bookstore in Seoul. I walked down to the parking lot and started my car.

    Since it was a weekday, there weren’t many people in the bookstore. Each person picked up a book and sat on the provided chairs or the floor, engrossed in their reading. I enjoyed spending time with people like this. I grabbed a few books and quickly skimmed through the pages.

    I bought a novel and a book of essays with lots of aerial photos. I saw a cafe right next door. I bought a cup of coffee and sat at a single-person table. Along both sides, people who had come alone sat for long stretches, each engaged in their activities. Some read books like me, while others worked on laptops.

    The novel was about three brothers in Poland. Each chapter detailed their respective situations during the rise of fascism after World War I. The sentences were concise, making it easy to read. I finished a chapter in about an hour.

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