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MAN II

by Sewon Hwang


Because you smell like a man, wearing the least weather appropriate clothes, shivering in the cold, holding on to a bottle of cheap wine for me. We waited for the double decker to arrive, talking about showing your periwinkle nails to your relative. If I planted a kiss to your mouth there and then, I might have started drowning in saltwater—happily. The Christmas lights would be the last bubbles from my lungs, rising to the surface of the quiet, reflecting the amber glow from the fisher boats.

The shirring was pretty, but the black chiffon barely covered my chest. I would rather feel the sternal winter throughout four seasons, if that means I could be inundated with flashing yellow with you once again. The sculpture of a crimson buddha was sitting on a white hunk of concrete, and a dozen old TVs were strewn across the lawn, flickering from red to purple. I think it was the right decision for me to suggest that we sit outside the coffee shop although the metal chair felt cold to touch.

But you are the same person no matter what, and I knew I was neither my whole nor a complete state of being. I wonder if we might encounter each other again, under the fluorescent lights of the renovated bar. If I were to die the next day, I would go on a date with Mattie wearing a plunging top. You would too, with Matt, wearing your Carhartt jacket. If I were breathing in lavender organza and drinking purple paint, would it feel like now? Because you were not just a man, but a version II that I almost venerated.

Three ones, double twos and zeros. Your nine had just reset itself, and I just happened to be there on time. I’m not sure who I will be when my zero circles itself back to another zero, but I will probably be driving over M25, with my index finger smelling like smoke, belonging to a woman who no longer coughs after her first inhale. Frying things won’t scare me either, and I will be numb to the “you’re all dead tomorrow”s gifted by a senile Irish man on Christmas Eve. I won’t look for electric bikes nor carry my ID with me everywhere. All my habits would be left behind to collect dust in the corner.

Where would you be in December where nine takes over your being once again, threatening the very identity of yourself? Would you have two kids and a blond wife, or still be living with the barista roommate of yours whom I thought was stupid at first? None of this really matters anymore, to any degree of significance, but my chest still compresses a little bit when I think about the morning when I didn’t kiss you goodbye before leaving Effingham Road, unknowingly, for the last time ever.

I dyed my ends pink shortly after, got high for the first time, and finished a pack just for the hell of it. Fireworks were going off above the frosty breath of mine, and I was trying to find Nicolas in Chinatown. Another artsy guy from Paris, looking for Juliette who was right next to him the whole time. The traffic was blocked, so I ran across the bridge overlooking the National Theatre. Out of breath, from laughter, from running, from wine, from hypothermia, I ran and ran and ran until I reached the end of the bridge. It didn’t last very long, although I felt as if I could go on running forever and ever and ever.


Hey! My name is Sewon, and I am a second year student studying LSE. Although I study International Relations, I still love writing, photography, and digital art.


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