Thursday, December 31, 2009

With One Foot In: Part 1

Chapter 1

"Oppa," I whispered. I wanted to scream again, but I knew it would be futile after all, he was already at the other side of the metal detectors. Even though I didn't want to, I couldn't help but watch as his figure got smaller and smaller.

Oppa," I whimpered like a lost puppy. This wasn't some Hollywood movie where he'd turn around and fight through security so that he could hold me one more time. This wasn't a fantasy where he was going to suddenly decide that he couldn't live without me and forsake his mother. I knew that it wasn't a dream where he'd run back and beg my parents to let me go with him because at that moment, I looked down and saw my sister sobbing into my shirt. It was reality and in my reality, Park Ji Tae left me behind.

I wrapped my arms tighter around my sister. "Oppa," I whispered so softly that I could barely hear myself. Anyone looking at me would probably have thought I was a zombie because my eyes were transfixed on the spot I'd last seen him. The spot that would be forever etched into my memory.

"Hee Soo yah, let's go home," I heard my mother say. I looked up at her sweet face and it was only then that realized that the top of my chest was wet. Silly me. I hadn't even realized I was crying and I wondered how long the tears had been streaming from my eyes.

I nodded and smiled. "Okay, Umma." I disentangled from Mi Soo and followed her. I didn't want to wipe the tears from my face because I didn't really want to acknowledge them. I'd promised Ji Tae that I wasn't going to cry for him so in a way, wiping them off would make them real and I didn't want to break our promise. Because at that moment, that was the only thing of ours that I felt I could still hold on to.


"Unnie," my sister said as she barged into my room.

"Haven't you heard of knocking?" I said as I looked up from the magazine I was reading. The article was entitled: 10 Signs That Your Boyfriend Is A Loser and apparently, Ji Tae wasn't one but what else would explain the fact that he hadn't called me? Two days and no phone call. Surely that deserved to be number 1 on the list. "Mi Soo, what do you want?"

She rolled her eyes. "I think Mrs. Park is on the phone."

My ears perked up."What?"

"I think Mrs. Par--"

Without waiting for her to complete her sentence, I jumped off my bed and ran to the living room. My mother was sitting by the phone and smiling but the second she saw me, she smirked. You know, the kind of smirk that was filled with irritation. So naturally, I knew that my sister had guessed right. I stood and watched her.

"Yes, it's a good thing you have your family," my mother said into the phone. Then she laughed. "Yes, a mother is always a mother even when her daughter has kids." Then she looked up and frowned at me and I could tell that that frown had something to do with the 'daughter has kids' part of her sentence.

For the umpteenth time, I was about to reiterate that nothing happened on the night I'd spent with Ji Tae when she covered the mouthpiece with her hand and gestured for me to go to her.

"What?" I said as I moved closer.

"Why are you hovering?" she whispered.

Why do you think? "Is that Mrs. Park?"

She nodded. "And?"

I opened my mouth then shut it. Why did this woman love to torture me so? Even an unborn child could easily put two and two together and figure out why I was there. "Mom."

"Yes, I can imagine," she said into the phone before covering the mouthpiece again. "Look, Hee Soo, Ji Tae isn't with his mother so why don't you just go back to your room?"

Dejected, I bit my lip, hung my head and turned around. Why wasn't home? How come he was out there having fun without me? Was Philadelphia really that great?

A few minutes later, I was lying on my bed and feeling sorry for myself when I heard my door fling open.

I looked up to see my mother holding the phone out to me. "Take it," she said before turning around and walking out of my room.

I sat up and put the receiver to my ear. "Hello?"

"Hee Soo?"

I felt the tears well up in my eyes. "Oppa?

He chuckled. "Hey."

His voice sounded like hot caramel on vanilla ice cream. Or hot coffee on a wintry evening. Or a rain shower on a hot afternoon. Or… well, you get the point. I wiped a tear off my cheek. "Umma said you weren't home." I wanted to yell at him for not calling me for two days but I couldn't bring myself to. I was just so glad to hear his voice.

"Of course I'm home. We haven't slept since we got to my grandfather's house because we were waiting for you guys to wake up."

I laughed. "But it's already 11am!"

"We know. But we didn't want to wake you up too early."

I laughed harder. Like I'd been able to have a good night's sleep since he'd left. I'd already expected to spend the rest of my school break miserably but somehow, hearing his voice made me think that we could possibly make it work.

"Alright, Mr. Park Ji Tae, tell me everything that happened since you got on that plane."


I laid back in my bed and pulled my covers over me. "Yes. Everything."

He sighed. "Well, this is going to be a boring story because we haven't really done anything."

"I don't care. Just tell me."

"Ahhhh. Okay, if you insist. So we got on the plane and sat down. Then--"

"You didn't put your luggage in the overhead compartment?" I interrupted.

He groaned. "You want that much detail?"

"Yes." I wanted to experience everything with him.

He sighed. "So I got on the plane and put my luggage in the overhead compartment then sat down…."

I giggled. The dummy was really going to tell me every single thing that happened. I readjusted my head on the pillow and listened to him speak. Maybe he was right. Maybe, just maybe, our story wasn't over.

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