An hour together was better than nothing, but it wasn’t much. Still, Inho felt the excitement to see Jamie tingling through him. Though the clouds overhead were heavy, it wasn’t raining, and Inho wrapped two chains and a heavy-duty lock around his bike, securing it to a street sign. Jasmine and Nathan had both strongly impressed on him that bike theft was a quintessential part of being a Vancouverite, but Inho would be damned if someone was going to get his. Locks in place, he carefully pulled a strawberry frappuccino for Jamie out of his pannier and tucked his own americano under his arm. Then he patted his butt-pocket to make sure he hadn’t forgotten what he was about to present to Jamie. Outside her office building, he plopped down on the low marble wall and texted her that he’d arrived. His legs jittered and bounced with nervous excitement while he waited.
And waited, and waited. Jamie came down 23 minutes late. Inho couldn’t help but grimace when she came up to him, the frappuccino was pink sludge now, and he had to leave in 37 minutes to get back to work. He hugged her anyway and kissed her cheek. She didn’t swat him away this time. Her eyes were slightly red-rimmed, and her posture was unusually slack.
“You ok? You don’t look good,” Inho asked, worried.
“I’m fine, I was in a meeting with Stephen, my boss. You met him...at that apartment, that time.”
Her lips quirked further down. Inho felt a thrill buzz through him at the name, and he shuffled his weight between his feet. He took her hand and led her a short walk to a nearby park where they sat at a picnic table. She sipped at her melted drink and didn’t say anything.
“How was the meeting?” he asked.
Why does she look so guilty?
His jealousy ignited and he was disturbed to find he wasn’t even sure who it was directed at.
“It was fine. Just work stuff – I don’t wanna talk about it,” she shrugged half-heartedly and avoided his eyes. He wanted to ask more about Stephen and her relationship with him, but Inho’s break was ticking away.
“Well, I have something for you.”
He took her hand in his own and reached into his pocket. Her eyes widened in concern, then narrowed in confusion when he dropped a key into her open palm.
“It’s to my apartment, I just got one in East Vancouver. It’s small, but would you like to come by tonight?” Inho looked at her eagerly, trying to catch her eye. “I was thinking you could sleep over.”
She closed her fist around the key.
“I can’t tonight Inho, it’s a work night,” She reached the end of her drink, and the straw made a loud rattling sound. “I’m glad you got out of that dump though, you’re lucky you didn’t get bedbugs.”
Inho frowned, crestfallen. This was not how he expected this to go.
“Yeah sorry,” he quipped. “I know I can’t afford a penthouse like Stephen.” It came out more sharply than he intended.
Jamie’s eyes flicked up to meet his.
“I really don’t need your sarcasm right now,” her tone was exhausted and bitter.
The heat rose in Inho’s cheeks, and disappointment was thick in his throat.
“Feels like you don’t need anything from me lately,” he said resentfully.
“You don’t exactly have a lot to offer.”
Inho shrank in on himself. He didn’t know what was up with her, but she seemed mad now. He’d forgotten how mean Jamie could be when she was angry. It was like all of her other emotions shut off, and she would go all cold and freeze him out.
He broke eye-contact, and in a small voice, he said, “I just think that if you loved me, you would want to spend time with me.” He started to stand up, “I guess I’ll go then. I probably shouldn’t have come at all.”
“Oh come on, Inho,” She said, exasperated. “Your little tantrums are getting really tiring.”
“Yeah, you seem really tired of me.”
“Because you won’t stop acting like a child! When are you going to understand that I have a real job? I can’t just go out with you all the time.”
“All the time? I haven’t seen you in a year!”
Inho’s voice was louder now, not quite yelling, but close. She was being so unfair. People in suits were walking by and carefully not looking in their direction. His breathing was coming fast and ragged, and panic threaded through his guts telling him to stop. But he couldn’t. Hot tears started to well and he clenched his trembling jaw.
“You should have told me you were coming. I just can’t Inho! I can’t take all that’s going on and look after you. You’re so...needy!”
“I’m alone here, I only have you!” his voice broke.
“And that’s your own fault! Maybe if you had anything worthwhile going on, you wouldn’t be leaning on me so hard.”
Inho flinched back at her words as if she’d thrown a cold drink in his face.
“I’m done here Inho. Just...go”
“Go where? To Korea? You couldn’t even handle me being here for a month.”
He slammed his fist on the table, punctuating his words, but immediately hissed in pain as his hand caught an exposed nail in the worn wooden surface. Blood welled immediately and flowed over his fingers as he twisted his hand to look. Jamie’s eyes scanned his wound for an instant before she looked directly at him once more.
“I don’t fucking care anymore, Inho. I didn’t tell you to come here.” She stood up and straightened her jacket. “I’m done. Don’t call me.”
She didn’t cry and she hadn’t yelled. She just got up and walked away. Inho felt like he was going to puke. He covered his mouth with his unbloodied hand as if he could hold back the anger, frustration, and fear that had just poured out unchecked. A silent sob ripped through him and he wept alone in the crowded park.