You giggled. You couldn’t help it. You just had to giggle. He looked like such a nerd. You covered your mouth to stop the fit of giggles from escaping. It shouldn’t be this funny but it was. Hoya just looked so… so… out of it. Or bored. You weren’t sure. But it was the way he was staring blankly at the camera with the most serious look on his face. Since when doesn’t Hoya smile? He looked much better smiling, you decided.
“Hoya, you look constipated.” You pointed at his 10th grade yearbook picture and blurted.
“Excuse me? Who looks constipated in their yearbook photo? At least I don’t look like a geek.” Hoya shoved you away from his yearbook. You laughed, you actually thought you looked pretty good in your yearbook photo. Perhaps a bit too eager, but it was definitely part of the better half of the school photos.
“Hoya-oppa, you know you still didn’t sign my yearbook yet.” You pointed to the blank page.
“I can sign yours whenever I want to! I could even sneak into your room at night to sign it if I wanted,” He declared.
“Wow. You’re such a creep.” You shoved him away from you in mock-disgust.
“I’m just trying to say that’s how easy it is for me to sign it. Don’t rush me, kay? I’ll write something when I’m good and ready.” Hoya looked away from you, hiding the fact he wasn’t actually sure what to write.
You stretched your toes down towards the water, pouting when you couldn’t reach it. Just last year, they had built a dock over the place you and Hoya typically sat. Stubborn, Hoya didn’t want to move places. This place was the two of yours, he had told you. A public dock wasn’t going to change that. And so the two of you were, sitting on top of a wooden dock in the middle of the night when no one else was there. You were quite certain that each time you sat down, you got a new splinter in your butt. You preferred the sand between your toes and oceans waves playfully lapping at your feet. You snapped out of your thoughts when Hoya clicked off the flashlight, leaving the two of you in the darker glow of a not-yet-full moon.
“Yah, what’d you do that for?” You asked.
“Hm? I don’t know, I was just thinking.” Something was different. Maybe it was how out of it Hoya sounded. You thought back to the last few weeks, realizing he’s been like that for a while now.
“You?” He interrupted your thoughts again.
“Hm? I don’t know, same thing.” You replied, mimicking his answer.
“Well, what were you thinking about then?” He asked. He turned his face towards you. Half of it was covered in darkness, but the moonlight lit his face just right that you could see the glint in his eyes.
“Oh?” A smirk spread across his face and you wanted to face palm. What an ego. You punched his arm.
“About how you’ve been kinda weird lately,” you finished your original thought.
“Oh.” This time his voice was flat, “have I really been weird lately?” You thought about this for a moment, watching your feet dangle next to Hoya’s. You hadn’t expected him to take your observation seriously. So something was bothering him and you felt guilty you hadn’t noticed earlier.
“I guess you’ve been acting out of it lately. Lost in thought. Maybe not as happy?” You suggested. You looked over at Hoya, in search of an answer in his expression, if not words. You saw him stare intently down at the water.
“My dad and I have been fighting.” He said bluntly. Before you could even question him further, he blurted, “I want to drop out of school.”
Long deafening silence.
You knew Hoya had always gotten good grades. He was pretty popular at school, not at the top, but had a lot of friends. His family life, to your knowledge, had always been pleasant too. As the middle child, not too much weight was put on him, but not too little either. What was wrong? You had always gone through school almost enjoying it. Maybe not the tests or the work, but you had friends and even some of the teachers were cool. You couldn’t think of a reason why anyone would hate it so much they’d want to leave. The next thought to enter your head was in fear. What would happen to Hoya’s future? All the adults would tell you day and night how important school and education were for your future. What about Hoya’s future?
“W-well what about switching schools? They can’t all be that bad?” You suggested.
“What? No, I think you misunderstood. I don’t hate our school. I just…” he searched for the right word, “need something different. That’s all. I want to do something else.”
“Are you… disappointed in me?” Something that sounded like sadness with a hint of anger resonated in his voice.
“What do you want to do?” You thought back to the last 16 years of your existence and all the times you’ve been with Hoya.
“Dance? Maybe perform? I’m good at that right? You’ve seen me dance before right?” Hoya nudged you. The twinkle was back in his eyes as he looked at your hopefully.
“Y-yeah. I mean, you never stop moving really. To be honest, you never showed me a whole dance. It’s always been a move here, a move there.” You admitted.
The silence was suffocating. Hoya looked across the ocean blankly. Maybe you should have just said he was a good dancer. But that would be lying, considering you’d never really seen a dance from him.
He grabbed your hand and pulled you up, “Come on. We’re going.”
“You’re gonna watch me dance.” With that, he pulled you off the dock and onto the street. You tried to keep up with his pace as he jogged ahead of you. The night air was cool against your skin, yet you could see the beads of sweat beginning to form on the back of Hoya’s neck. His veins stood out against his skin as he clutched at the two yearbooks, saving you from the load. You were glad that your families were close enough to let the two of you wander off alone like this at night. They trusted he would take care of you.
Your thoughts were interrupted by Hoya coming to a sudden stop. You looked up ahead of you and saw the old abandoned gym next to school. Its paint was fading, graffiti lined the sides, and at least one window was cracked. Still, Hoya cracked open the door and ushered you inside. He led you through the empty gymnasium and into a back hallway. You followed, listening to the sound of your echoing footsteps. The hall looked like a normal school hallway. Classroom doors lined the sides.
“I don’t know why they abandoned this place.” Hoya muttered, “It’s got classrooms that I’m guessing were used for detention or health classes, yoga studios, and of course, dance studios. Our new gym doesn’t have any of that. What a stupid trade in.”
He finally stopped in front of a door and pushed it open. Mirrors lined two sides of the room. The rest of the walls were a fading black—almost grey. A small metal stand stood in the corner. The only polished-looking thing in the room was a small stereo placed on top of the metal stand.
“Sit there.” He pointed to the middle of the largest mirrored wall. You took the two yearbooks from him and sat down with your back against the mirror. Hoya clicked on the stereo and stood facing you. His fingers reached up and unzipped his hoodie. He shrugged it off his shoulders and threw it into the corner. He was only wearing a white tank under—since when had your neighbor gotten, well, attractive? Your thoughts on his looks quickly disappeared as the music began and Hoya started to dance. His arms, legs, body, all seemed to work perfectly in sync with each other. As if living and breathing the music, Hoya’s motions reflected just what you heard. At the perfect moments, he was fluid and graceful. At the perfect moments, he was robotic and intense. Each motion was filled with so much passion, you truly believed you were witnessing passion come to life. This was what he was made to do.
When the music ended, Hoya stood silently in the same spot. You watched as his chest heaved up and down. Sweat clung to his body and his breath came out fast and even. He didn’t say anything, he just stood there, waiting.
You repeated the last thing on your mind, “I-I understand why you want to dance—it’s just what you were made to do.”
With that, Hoya smiled, “So you”ll support me?”
“Even if you left school for no reason, I’d support you.”
“I would’ve been disappointed. But seeing you dance… I know you’ll go far.” You looked up at him sincerely.
“Promise you’ll never let me quit or give up.” Hoya said it with such intensity.
“If I drop out of school and only pursue dance, i-it’ll be hard. I know it will be. Who knows how long it’ll take, how many hours of practice, how many auditions and teachers I have to go through before I make it big. Promise me, when I seem like I want to give up, you won’t let me?” He pleaded, now kneeling in front of you.
You reached out and grabbed his hands, “I promise. Forever.”