Four Minutes in Heaven
He spoons me, whispering affection in my ear while his love cools on my thigh.
CN: references to bullying; implied suicide.
Anyone can be a wangtta:, an outcast, a victim of bullies. In my town it has been me, for nearly six years. On my first day of high school I used the wrong honorific, to the wrong girl, at the wrong time. She slapped me, once, and I became wangtta forever. There are whispers in streets and hallways, sneers or trips or jabs from anyone I pass, every day. I am alone.
And so I learned to hide. At school, I hide in empty classrooms. In winter evenings, I hide in my room; in summer, I do my homework lying on the platform of the old railway station, then when the light fades I put on purple lipstick, listen to Dreamcatcher, and dance. I’m not happy, not exactly, but for a little while I can be someone else, someone not so sad.
No one ever comes here, except me and Solitary Man. Every Friday night, at eleven-seventeen, Solitary Man appears beside the far end of the platform, wearing an old-fashioned suit. He steps forward, looks around, frowns, and waits. After forty-two minutes, he gives up: he turns, jumps onto the track, and disappears.
Every Friday, he does the same thing. Except this Friday. This Friday, the wangtta will not hide. I’ll be standing opposite him when he arrives. He’ll see me, I know he will. He must. And when he sees me, he’ll know he’s not alone. He won’t turn to meet the express train that used to thunder through our town at midnight.
Solitary Man steps onto the platform, as usual, but tonight he smiles at me, and he bows. Surprisingly warm lips brush my forehead, then he turns and walks to the exit. I walk beside him, out of the station and up the hill. In the middle of the factory car park, he opens a door that isn’t there any more. We kick off our shoes, and he leads me inside his long-demolished home.
I let him undress me. In this half-light anyone might see me standing naked in public, and I don’t care. I have no reputation to ruin, no friends to lose, no further to be pushed away. I am eighteen. In a month, school will be over. I’ll be free to move to Seoul, to find a job, to become a woman who isn’t…