“What’s Ji Tae Oppa doing over there?” Mi Soo asked as we walked through the back door of our building. Our hands were filled with bottle filled trash bags because my parents had had a few friends over for lunch so, of course, the people who’d been relegated to their bedrooms the whole time, The Suckers (i.e. my sister and I) who didn’t even get to enjoy anything, had to clean up after they left. And unlike almost everyone in my building, we didn’t have any maids to cater to our every need. Not that we were poor or anything. My father is a partner at an accounting firm and my Mom an actuarial scientist (yep, I have boring parents) but we lived where CEOs, best-selling authors and the like lived. Why? How? Because my mother grew up as the daughter of one of those CEOs and when he died, she inherited the apartment. But instead of selling it like normal people did, we moved in.
“He looks so sad,” my dumb sister said, pouting. Can someone explain to me how one sister (the smart one, obviously) could absolutely loathe a person while the other could have a crush on him? Sometimes I felt that she didn’t really like him but was doing it just to get on my nerves. And boy did she love to do that… isn’t that what every single 11 year old lived for?
Ignoring her, I threw my bags in the trash bin then took hers and threw it in. I’d already turned around to go back to my lovely home when she grabbed my hand and pleaded, “Unnie, let’s go and talk to him and see what the matter is!”
“Shut the fcuk up,” was my reply to her. Why in the world would I care about what was bothering him? If anything, I hoped it killed him.
“Umma,” Mi Soo called. She was on her tiptoes staring outside of the window. It was dinnertime and as usual, one of The Suckers had the task of setting the table. You know how some families just ate whenever they were hungry? Well not mine. My mother is psychotic so we always have to set the table and make a big deal about every freaking meal. Even breakfast! We always have to use nice linen, cutlery etc etc and act like we were descendants of Emperor Sunjong. I think it came from her growing up with all that money. Except that instead of having maids, she had children so we had chores, like setting and clearing the table for every meal. And my father’s no better. One of his favorite sayings is, “A family that prays together stays together” except that since we weren't religious, he applied it to everything else. You think I am kidding? Unlike most people whose parents stopped dropping them off at school by the time they left elementary school, mine still did. Not on some days, no. Every. Freaking. Day.
“Umma!” Mi Soo repeated. “I think that’s Ji Tae Oppa. He’s been there all day!” she cried. We both went to the window and looked down. My apartment complex had tennis courts, swimming pools and all that great stuff and right next to the dimly lit pool sat the idiot.
Okay, let me not be a bi.tch about it. So his parents had been fighting all day. Our apartments were supposed to be sound proof but sounds tended to carry when people were so angry that they forgot to shut their doors tight. They were actually a nice looking couple: Mr. Park the plastic surgeon with his never aging beautiful housewife. As I said, she never aged so I always wondered how many procedures she had a year… maybe three? One to keep the eyes bright, another to keep her cheeks tight and the last to keep her lips full (I couldn’t think of a word that rhymed). But she was a sweet woman so maybe I shouldn’t talk about her that way. Okay, so she didn’t exactly go around baking cookies and all that bullshit but she was friends with my mom and I always liked having her around because she was always on The Suckers’ side. What do I mean? Take this scenario:
Me: Umma, my friends and I are going bowling tomorrow night. Can I have 20,000 won?
Umma: Are you taking me with you?
Me(confused): Uhm… no.
Umma: Then why do you want to take my money with you?
Me: *Pissed off and irritated that I wasn’t born into another family *
Bastard’s Mother: Come on, Unnie, give the girl some money. If she can’t have fun at this age, when can she?
See? That’s why I like her and why I keep a list of things I need in anticipation of her next visit. So as I said, they were a cool couple… at least, better than their son but over the past few months or so, they’d been fighting a lot. And seeing as we had sound proof walls, it wasn’t that they kept us up every night but sometimes, I guess when they were too angry to care about proprieties, I would see them fighting in the parking lot or they’d slam a door.
So maybe Ji Tae was sitting out there looking pitiful because he was sick of listening to all the screaming or maybe, just maybe, his mother had done something right and he’d been kicked out of the house and he’d have to spend the night outside where hungry wild dogs would find him and have him as their dinner. Then, of course, I’d wear yellow and dab my dry eyes at the funeral but on the way home, I’d stop by the butcher’s and buy the best cuts of meat to leave out for the wild dogs as a special thank you. Of course, we didn’t exactly live in the wilderness so I wouldn't know where the wild dogs would come from but please leave me to my fantasies! And no, I’m not evil or anything so it’s not like I’m wishing a violent death on him but if his parents happened to kick him out and he just happened to get eaten by wild dogs, how’s that my fault?
I was still staring at his pathetic figure when my mother called me. I turned around to find her holding a tray filled with food at me.
“Umma, what’s this?”
“What does it look like? How many times do I have to tell you to stop asking foolish questions?”
I gritted my teeth but didn’t say anything. Weren’t mothers supposed to be the nicest, sweetest people on the planet? Wasn’t I supposed to hold on so tightly to her on the day she dropped me off at college then drink myself into a stupor because I didn’t know how I’d live without her? But right there, staring at her bored face, I wished I could time travel into the future just so I wouldn’t have to live with her any longer.
“Umma, what do you want me to do with it?”
“Take it down to him,” she said, tilting her head towards the window.
WTF? “Why?” I cried.
“Umma! Umma! Let me take it,” my little sister interjected. When we looked at her, she got on her knees and put her palms together. “Umma, please! Please!” she begged.
“No, it’s too heavy for you,” my mother replied, looking away from her.
So did I look like a freaking weight lifter? Why didn’t I act like every other girl and diet myself till I looked half dead? I cursed the huge bowl of noodles I’d had for lunch. “But Umma, why do we even have to give him any food?”
“Because I don’t think he’s had dinner.”
“So what? If he’s hungry, all he has to do is go home.” Oh, did I forget to mention that my mother happens to have a reputation for being extremely nice? Can you believe that? Actually, I can because she’s pretty much wonderful to everyone but us... I guess she still hasn't gotten over the labor pains.
She shoved the tray in my hands. “Just do what you’re told for once. And stay till he finishes eating so that you can bring the empty dishes back.”
I grumbled as I walked out of the door then kicked it shut behind me. I looked down at the bowl of soup in disgust and wondered how sick he’d get if I peed in it.