Jinwoo collapses onto the bench, the two tickets clutched in his hands. They aren't as good as their usual seats, but Seungwan had been out of town on an unavoidable trip—"I'm sorry," she'd said, shrugging, "but it's work and I can't say no"—and yeah. Jinwoo understood that.
He pulls his coat tighter around himself, perched on the raised step that runs alone the outside of the foyer or whatever it's called, the place before you show your ticket to the smiling young man or woman and get into the lobby proper where the multi-storey chandelier hangs down between the staircases that wrap around it.
Seungwan dropped him off to change their tickets since they made the wrong turn in the tangle of one-ways downtown, and he's already done that, queuing up politely and getting tongue-tied trying to explain it to the lady behind the glass window—"I. . .well. . .my wife. . .travel. . .she called to change. . .I'm supposed to change these?"
In the end he'd just shoved the tickets through the slot and smiled and hoped for the best; it usually worked and it hadn't failed him now, not that Jinwoo still doesn't blush slightly over the embarrassment of being caught off-guard, not having the words ready in his mouth. He'd been reading in the car, not really paying attention, and his mind still lingers between the lines of text on the screen of his phone. He glances down now, follows the narrative for a few more paragraphs, but Seungwan is late.
Jinwoo watches the people in the foyer, some talking, some looking around expectantly, others smiling as they turn towards people rushing in the door. He thinks about the opera that's on today, and how much he doesn't want to see it, but Seungwan is so excited and he can't say anything about it. Opera is their thing, after all.
The foyer is emptying out and Jinwoo glances at the time again. Seungwan is really late now. For the tenth time, he wishes he'd gotten around to getting a new SIM card, but it's seemed so pointless since he's either at home, somewhere with wi-fi, or with her.
Jinwoo glances out the long row of glass doors, and tries to spot a figure in a purple jacket, but he only sees greys and browns, the faded colour of early spring that forgets it's not autumn.
The white spaces between the lines of the story he's reading keep breaking his flow. Where is she? Jinwoo wonders if she's been mugged, or maybe the parking meter keeps swallowing her coins, or maybe someone kidnapped her, or maybe she found a lost dog and is waiting for the owner to come. There are so many options, some good and some terrible. He wants to get up to look for her, fingers absently pressing the power button on his phone, on and off, on and off, but he knows the cardinal rule. Don't move and the other person will find you. His mother reminded him of that over and over when he was young, and he still remembers it, even though he's no longer a child.
Jinwoo stares out the doors and bites his lip, tries to bury himself in the story again. It spits him back out. The foyer is even more empty now, the few lingering people sitting on the benches or leaning against the wall looking more and more harried.
Jinwoo wonders if he should ask the ticket lady to call Seungwan, but he gets the mental image of himself trying to explain and then having her walk through the doors right at that moment. He rocks on his heels, phone pressed between his hands, and watches the people in the lobby, their slow sinuous path of the velvet-carpeted stairs. The steps are too low, too shallow, built for heels but it always makes Jinwoo link of running in a dream, when you keep running and running but you're not getting anywhere and the monsters are snapping at your heels.
"Jinwoo!," he hears then, and jerks his head around to meet Seungwan's gaze. She's out of breath, probably from running, and there's a faint scent of smoke as she reaches down to pull him to his feet.
"The car went on fire," she says, and it's so ludicrous that Jinwoo just stares at her for a few moments before she pokes him on the nose. "The care burned," she says. "It's a good thing I dropped you off to change the tickets." Jinwoo is still processing it when she herds him through the doors, handing the tickets to the ticket takers to tear off the ends before hooking her arm around his elbow and heading for the first balcony, where they always sit.
"The car—" he starts to ask, and Seungwan finishes his sentence as they wend their way in front of the various knees and legs to find their seats.
"It went up in flames," she says. "We'll have to take a taxi home." Jinwoo sits in his seat, and realizes they don't have a program, but the lights are dimming and he can't very well crawl over everyone again to go down to the lobby to get one.
"I'm okay," Seungwan says, and Jinwoo realizes he'd forgotten to ask. Well, she looked okay, so maybe that was why. He was still trying to process her statement.
"It's not that I don't believe you," he murmurs into her ear as everyone applauds politely for the conductor entering the orchestra pit, "but I just—?"
"I know," Seungwan says, nodding, her hair brushing Jinwoo's face. "It's kind of surreal." She folds her hands in her lap, as though she doesn't know quite what to do with them, and Jinwoo reaches over to weave his fingers between hers. The curtain rises, and Jinwoo thinks about how much he doesn't want to see this particular opera, but it doesn't matter.
"I'm glad you're okay," he says, and she hums into his arm, leaning over the arm of the seat that divides them.
"I guess you got your wish," she adds, as the orchestra plays sirens and two men run across the stage, followed by the beams of flashlights. "We'll have to get a new car."
Jinwoo elbows her, "I did not say that," he huffs, and she elbows him back.
tagging airplanewishes welcome to the game! Let me know if you have any questions of course.