Atop a twenty floor apartment building on a summer’s evening twenty or so 18 and 19 year-olds drink and smoke cigarettes awaiting the sunset. The golden sky was a serene backdrop. The forecast was clear for the next hour as a micro-burst approached from the east. On the west side of the roof under an open top gazebo, K-pop streamed through the speaker. An outdoor coffee table had been designated the drinks area, was littered with bottles of Soju both flavored and not, beer, rum, vodka, tequila, and a smattering of mixers.
“She never even looks at me” Tommy whined nervously stirring his drink.
“Who Su Jin? The cute one over there looking at us right now?” questions Johannes.
Without hesitation Tommy asks, “Wait, really, she’s looking at us?”
“Well not so much US, as she mainly seems to be staring at me, with those fuck me eyes…”
“Damn it I know she’d never go for an ugly loser like me,” sighs Tommy.
“Dipshit, I’m fucking with you. God you need to work on your self-confidence. You understand that no chick wants a guy who isn’t confident? Like you do get that right?” says Johannes as he clenches Tommy’s shoulder.
“Yeah…,” as he awkwardly shifts his angle to put Su Jin in his view, “She’s just so pretty” he looks towards the setting sun. “I couldn’t just start talking to her.”
“Dude she’s your TA, you talk to her every day at work.” Johannes reminds him.
They sip their Soju and sprite as Tommy moles over the thought of her being so friendly and easy to talk to before and after their classes. “But she has to be nice to me in class. It’s basically part of her job.”
“Oh, No, definitely not true, mate. Min Jun is a frigid bitch to me. And I still want to get in her pants,” Johannes looks across the crowd and finds her, smiles, and gets a look of disgust in return. Laughing it off, “You’ve got a real shot. Besides if she shoots you down, she’ll be gentle eh.”
“I don’t know where to start. What to say. How to approach her.”
“Simple mate, you walk over to her, start by saying, ‘Hi.’ Ask about her day, give her a compliment. Nothing creepy like, ‘your hair would look good on me.’ And I’d say approach from the front mate, she doesn’t look like she likes it from behind,” says Johannes as he quietly laughs to himself.
“It couldn’t be that simple,” Tommy sighs
“Yeah mate it is. Go talk to her,” says Johannes reassuringly.
“Not now, she’s talking to Amanda,” Tommy whines.
“Oh fuck Amanda!”
“Ew, I don’t want to do that, I didn’t leave the US to get with an American,” Tommy scoffed.
“Haha, I didn’t mean actually fuck her I meant don’t worry about her. I’ll be your wingman and pull her away.”
Watching the ice in his glass shift in his glass Tommy says, “I can’t.”
“No, no, everyone will laugh when she shoots me down,” says Tommy
“Ok mate, first of all no one else here cares. Second, she won’t shoot you down… Stop staring, it’s getting a bit weird, finish your drink,” says Johannes. As Tommy drains his cup, Johannes pours four shots: two tequila, two Soju. He hands one and takes one, “Cheers to the pursuit.” They knock them back.
“Ugh Tequila! I hate Tequila!” says Tommy as hold back a gag.
“Well wash it down with this,” Johannes says. Heads back glasses empty, “So smooth just like you’re gonna be. Let’s go Amanda just walked away. Get over there brew,” accompanied by a slight push in Su Jin’s direction.
The burn of tequila in his stomach started his engines. Smack, he hits his knee on the table, bottles clatter, a few people chuckle. He mentally dusts himself off and heads toward Su Jin and her golden aura.
“Hi Su, how are you doing this evening?” flies out of his mouth like bullets from an AKA 47.
A coy smile rests on her beautiful face, “I’m well. How are you?”
“Nervous,” Tommy said, then thought Ohh shit!!!
“Why, nervous?” Su Jin asks plainly.
“Uuuuuh, you’re really pretty,” FUCK MY LIFE
Su Jin lets out a shy giggle, “Thank you… ….” She notices he’s looking at his feet, “Is that why you are nervous?” Tommy nods no longer trusting his mouth to convey his thoughts. “You are so sweet. Do you want to sit?” Taking his hand, she guides him to the south east corner and hops up on the ledge and sits with legs crossed, he follows suit but leaves his legs dangling. Pulling her sleeves down as the wind picks up, “Isn’t it beautiful?” She removes a small notebook and pen from her left butt pocket.
“Yeah you are, I mean it is,” his cheeks become tomatoes. “What’s that for? Are you going to interview me?”
“Haha, no, no, no, I like to write down things I want to remember,” She begins to scribe in Korean, “I have always wanted to see a sunset with someone sweet. I thought it would make the sunset better. I think it does. Do you agree?” Su Jin asks with her eyes still fixed on the setting sun.
“I prefer sunrises, but you are right, the company makes it better,” entranced by her hair in the breeze. “So, uh, you like to write down things you want to remember right? You want to remember this moment me?”
“Yes,” Su Jin replies followed by an embarrassed laugh, “I like to remember the beautiful moments like this one… I mean after all of this beauty comes the darkness, of night. It is what I write about. It is foreshadowing right?”
“No, that is more of a contrast,” Tommy answers with a smile, looking at her longing for eye contact; her face froze as if trapped in a thought. Continuing Tommy adds, “But, the good thing is they happen every day and no two are exactly the same.”
“True,” she perks up, “however, all good things must come to an end.”
“And every end is a new beginning,” Tommy says with the chipper nature of a Boy Scout try to earn his Positive Outlook badge, “Like the end of our drink is a chance for another.” Smooth, keep it up. “Bottoms up and I’ll get us another.”
Giggling Su Jin asks, “Ok, what do we cheers to?”
With the sun slowly vanishing behind the mountains in the distance Tommy says, “to new beginnings.” Cups tap, bottoms up and back down, “I’ll be right back with our drinks, Soju and Sprite, right?” she nods, Tommy smiles like a kid with an ice cream cone as he walks back toward the party.
The roof lights come on illuminating the interior of the roof. Johannes was chatting by the table, “Uh. Hold that thought I’ll be right back.” Turning to face Tommy, “How’d it go? I see you have two cups, so it couldn’t’ve been too horrible,” Johannes pokes.
“So far, so good. She’s amazing, cute and a bit mysterious.”
“Awww, Tommy boy is falling in love.”
Blushing, “Noooo, but I could. I think I could.”
“Did you tell her about your massive dick? Just kidding. Kind of. What did you talk about?”
“Not too much yet, mainly the beauty of sunsets and how the right person makes them better,” as he pours their drinks.
“Oh yeah, she likes you. Well get back in there. Where is she anyway?”
“She’s sitting over on the ledge, over there.” Tommy says struggling to silhouette between the light set in the inner wall in contrast with the distant neon behind her. “You can’t really see her because the brightest lights are in front of her, and the lights behind her aren’t giving enough back light. I see her. She’s over there.”
“Well make me proud, get back over there, text me if you end up pulling an Irish Goodbye,” Johannes cheekily with yet another guiding push.
It had become dark so quickly, his path was lit, the buildings edge was an abyss. Her silhouette was indiscernible even with the neon signs behind where she sat. He approached the spot to find her no longer there. Her notebook and pen left where she sat. She must have gone to the bathroom. I shouldn’t look at her notebook. But she did just leave it here… I can’t. Notebook in hand. A peek won’t hurt. She can’t get too mad if I peek. Flipping through the pages of Korean and doodles, he stopped at a crude drawing of him, a warm feeling swelled inside him and this time it wasn’t the alcohol. She actually likes me! Holy shit! Ok I should put it back down before she comes back.
He retakes his spot on the ledge looking out at the party before him. Maybe, she’s been caught up in a conversation on her way back from the bathroom. Yeah, duh, that’s it. Five minutes pass. Huh where is she? What is all the commotion downstairs? Why is there a fire truck and an ambulance? The fire alarm isn’t going off. Whatever probably some old lady fell and broke her hip. Well let’s see what else she wrote. Flipping through the pages of Korean he lands on the last page. Finally, some English!
“It has been a long meaningless existence.
But he told me I’m pretty, we watched the
sunset together. It is time. I am ready.
Good bye Tommy. You are too good for me.
Su Jin XOXO”
Good bye? What does she mean “Good bye”? We were just getting started. Looking over the edge he sees Su Jin’s angelic face as the paramedics cover her body with a white sheet.