cheek meat

Sangwoo trusts him with a knife.

He thinks about this now just as he has been thinking about it for days. When Sangwoo is not in the kitchen Yoonbum might even lift it from the chopping board as if to practise wielding it, but all it does is wobble in his unsteady hand.

It’s been…how long has it been, since Sangwoo dropped him into a swivel chair and placed the knife in his hand? He doesn’t know. All he can remember is that his palm had been soft, and his fingers gentle. They had pushed the hair out of his face and left his cheeks glowing.

They had glowed again later to be sure; glowed with the red hot force of Sangwoo’s palm - returned again with its second face.

Every error in the kitchen had its consequence. He began to experience them so routinely that he memorised them. A dropped plate brought him smarting cheeks. Overcooked meat was pulled hair. A failure to respond was a sharp pinch of his flesh, fleshy half-moons in his skin.

If he wanted - really wanted - a cut across his thigh, all he would have to do is break a cup and wait for Sangwoo to locate the sharpest shard.

To his mind, with this knowledge he almost had a type of control over Sangwoo. That was his small and solitary solace.

Madness is when time becomes everything and nothing. He uses time as a measure - of pain, of progress, of opportunity to escape. His life is defined by it, but it has no real weight. He cannot place himself.

He wonders about the knife. It was a test to be sure. Or did Sangwoo really have that much faith in him? He hadn’t seemed suspicious…and before that Yoonbum had done his duties well. Pride rushes up his spine, and he straightens with it. It was possible that…

What other privileges could he win, with time? Perhaps Sangwoo would let him sleep upstairs…perhaps more…

Perhaps – a voice pushes in – perhaps it didn’t imply trust at all. Perhaps Sangwoo knew he was eternally useless with a knife – that’s all.

He deflates, shoulders dropping.

His hand grips the handle of the knife tightly. He’d just have to learn to fight.

Behind him, Sangwoo speaks up from the table where he had been flipping through a magazine. “You know what I just remembered?” he asks in a way that makes Yoonbum – shocked out of his stupor – wholly suspicious. A chill settles over him.

“That time in the basement when you pissed yourself from fear. I had to hose you down like a dog, you were so pathetic! And all I did was nick you a little with a can.” He laughs loudly at this, and his eyes are bright.

Yoonbum stiffens, but forces a smile over his shoulder. The knife is reunited with the chopping board, and he turns around to slice at some leek with renewed vigour.

“Imagine I had used something else. Like the knife you’re holding now.” Yoonbum looks over his shoulder again to meet Sangwoo’s eyes. They’re black with accusation now, serious, his face no longer bright or laughing. His voice is poison. “You would have shit yourself.”

Yoonbum is paralysed by the idea that Sangwoo has a sense for his thoughts. He says nothing, receiving the message and accepting it. Whatever he had done, he had been too obvious.

His silence seems to agitate Sangwoo, who rises with a frown to stand behind him.

He flinches, but Sangwoo only rests his chin atop Yoonbum’s head, letting his warm hands travel over his belly affectionately. “You really have no sense of fucking humour do you, Bum? It’s boring. You can be so boring.” He sighs into his hair.

If there was ever a time to raise the knife and plunge it into Sangwoo’s forehead, it would be now. He considers this very seriously – it would be so easy, he’s right there – but half of him is fighting the burgeoning disappointment searing throughout his chest.

Sangwoo finds him boring.

“S-sorry,” he says, and he is. His heart cracks into two at the idea that he is undesirable to Sangwoo in yet another department.

Sangwoo brings up a hand to smooth along Yoonbum’s forearm and rest atop his own, where he grips at the knife. His other hand fingers the young scar on his collarbone. He suddenly presses into it hard, and Yoonbum whimpers.

“Don’t let me get bored of you, Bum. That really wouldn’t be good for you.”

Yoonbum’s lips wobble into a miserable line, and he nods.

Sangwoo leaves a lingering kiss on his forehead before letting go, leaving the kitchen for the bathroom.

Yoonbum hovers over the counter, breathing harshly. He puts down the knife.

Sangwoo is gone but he will not practice today.

Tuna cheek meat steak with soy sauce & buter on rice. My grandfather was a seagoing fisherman on a tuna clipper, but he was too satiated to eat tuna meat at home, as he had eaten all parts of tuna day by day on board. As for me, I often ate its tail, heart, stomach and skin as well as its meat in my childhood, and then I don’t also like it very much. As you know, Japanese people love its meat very much, though nobody paid attention to its inner parts. But nowaday they are rarely served at our table as their price has gone up these ten years. Its cheek meat tastes good with the soft texture. If you’ve never tasted it and find it at a lower price somewhere, why don’t you try it?