Silent Love Part II
The TV flickered, the lines appearing small then growing larger until the whole screen is taken up by the news. She checks herself in the mirror, brushing her long hair, trying to straighten it, to get rid of the curls he liked. She sees herself then; grim and determined eyes stare back, her mouth tight in a scowl, her hand, normally gentle, rough and hard. She is late. “Honey,” she hears her husband call out. “Get me a beer.” She is tempted to tell him to go to hell. She continues to brush her hair, almost dropping the hair brush, the news in the background an unwanted intrusion.
“Today a funeral is planned for Seung-Hoon Shin, a local resident who was allegedly a spy from South Korea. Despite the missing body the family is calling off the search and will be holding the funeral for immediate relatives only. Now Dan Smith with weather.” She drops the hair brush, hearing it hit the floor and feels herself shaking from grief. Her husband sits on the sofa, scratching himself. She sees a grim look on his face as he scowls at the TV.
“Damn Gook,” he mutters under his breath. “You ain’t going to his funeral are ya?” He turns towards her, his eyes as hard as coals, no softness or soul are seen inside.
She doesn’t answer him, feeling offended at his racist terminology.
“If you’ll go, m’ boys will kill you, you know.” He reminds her. “I’d rather be in jail for murder than lose someone to a Gook.”
“Then kill me,” she tells him, the shakes turning to sobs. She falls to the floor, her hand groping for the hair brush. She feels hot wetness on her hands, drip by drip running down her hands and into the finger spaces. “I’d rather be dead than be married to someone like you!”
“Now honey, you ain’t mean that, do ya? I provide well for ya, give ya money to spend.”
“Lies,” she whispers. “You took everything from me, everything. You—“she curls into a ball and begins to cry. “I sold myself to the devil many times to feed you. And you cannot even let me have the one I love.” She gulps the air, feeling strength flooding through her body. “I’m no longer afraid of hell, for you have shown it to me what it is like.”
Footsteps are heard, coming towards her. She uncurls slowly, string unraveling from the yarn becoming straight and narrow, and then crooked and tangled. Odd how life is this way; at first straight and narrow, time passes, then it curls, develops knots and tangles that one has a hard time straightening out. The string does become straight eventually, but it’s never the same again, for the groves are still seen. She stands up, feeling shakes go through her body, her hand clutching the hair brush and knows she must leave today. She must leave her husband for forever, but she has no sadness inside, nothing beyond that thought.
The footsteps pass her by, going to another room. She exhales with relief as she continues to brush her hair. Sharp pain is felt inside, in her head. She knows now what she must do. She opens up a cabinet drawer and takes out some Tylenol and pops them without water. Her husband is terrible with directions, with finding the simplest of things, she remembers. “I am faint,” she calls out. “Please get me some pills!” The footsteps begin to die away, echoes are fainter. He has fallen for her trap.
While he is in the kitchen, she quickly runs outside and starts the car and drives away, exhaling on the way. She is silent in running away, she tells herself. She doubts he has heard even. He is still hunting for the pills.
She focuses on driving then, getting to her destination, to say goodbye to the man she loved such a long time ago.
The family decided to do it western style, she realized as she parked the car. She didn’t dare to walk to the grave though, fearing his family would blame her. Instead she found a CD and popped it in, hearing the strains at least. It is from the Korean movie called Classic, the one she watched by herself each time she felt lonely, remembering the hopeful ending, the love that was reincarnated and passed down from mother to daughter and father to son.
She sees the white flowers nearby, the family dressed in conservative black surrounding the grave. She sees their backs, hears the prayers, the old “from ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” She places a hat and sunglasses on herself, and tucks her curly light brown hair into the hat, hoping that none will see her or recognize her. She continues to watch, feeling pain in her heart, a finality that she cannot ignore. Unwillingly tears spill down her cheeks, their steamy trails on her face. She feels grateful that she neglected makeup for tonight. She wipes them away, hoping the service will end soon so she can go up there and say her proper goodbye.
She opens up the window, feeling the cool air filter through her car, the warmth touching her cheek, the sunset glorious colors of oranges and reds, the yellow completely gone. On the outside darkness surrounds it, and little by little devours the sun until only a speck is left. The birds chirp loudly, she is not sure why.
Time passes as she attempts to distract herself from herself, the thoughts turning morbid and hateful, the reality then presses down on her, smothering everything inside. She feels helpless as she watches the sad procession in front of her, everyone refusing to leave. She checks her car clock, noting the time and decides to spend the time here, hoping against hope that her husband will not find her while she is here. She reclines back and closes her eyes, everything becoming dark and welcome.
Birds begin to chirp again and an orange color appears in front of her eyes as she finds herself squinting and becoming awake. She opens her eyes and blinks them twice as she stretches her arms. She checks on her car and sees that she has no fuel. Perfect she tells herself as she opens the car door and walks over to the grave in front of her. Luckily no one else is here as she kneels down, placing her fingers on the earth, feeling the wet mud between her fingers, staining her skin. The mud that is on top of him.
She sees the grave in front of her, his name written in Hangul, strange shapes and letters that she cannot read, and below she sees his name in English: “Seung-Hoon Shin,” she whispers as she traces the letters, trying to commit those to her memory, so she could see it whenever she desired. Below, more lines. His birthday followed by a year, then—she shuts her eyes, unwilling to see past the birthday and a year. She prefers not to remember that day, for she was there with him.
The birds chirp melodies of joy, flying from one branch to another with their tiny wings, appearing careless and cartoonish. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you,” she whispers, feeling tears running down her cheeks. She attempts to wipe them away, but thoughts of him crowd into her mind, not willing to let it go. She begins to cry loudly, her body starting to shake. “I’m sorry that all this happened. I never meant to, please understand me, and understand what I went through ever since you left me and never gave me a word.” Her fist picked up some dirt from his grave, the particles and hard bits biting into her flesh, leaving the visible marks. “Please understand me,” she briefly wondered if her husband is back in the house or has left to find her. She hoped for the former option. She couldn’t outrun him in a car without gas.
The wind begins to blow and she feels it blowing through her, gently lifting her hat and taking it away as her hair becomes free and blows in the wind. She closes her eyes and breathes deeply, wondering if she feels his spirit in the wind. She wonders what his soul might be doing now. Is he looking out for her? She remembers back to when he left her without a warning, and as she remembers, she hears footsteps behind her.
That fateful day, the day he should have said goodbye felt empty and forlorn despite the contrasting weather of sunlight and summer rain. She stands outside the coffee shop, shivering and crying, hoping for a miracle, giving and taking away excuses every minute. The sign glows red and then shuts off permanently as the place darkens and people walk outside. One thought rings inside of her; he didn’t show up. He doesn’t care, she tells herself. He was playing with me, trying to hurt me. She stands for another minute and then walks away slowly, feeling shakes and emotions charge her body like electricity. He has stood her up, she tells herself. He must hate her badly for her American ways and for the fact she is American.
She gets home safely, locking the door and then stepping inside the shower, the water scalding her, leaving red marks from the droplets that fell on her skin. She no longer cares what she looks like or what she sees. After the shower she attempts to fall asleep but is unable.
She lies on the bed thinking and wondering what she had done wrong so that he stood her up and didn’t even show up. Maybe she should never have asked him to make that promise with her, or maybe she shouldn’t have let him kiss her, maybe it’s somehow offensive where he came from. One thought remains though, what did he mean when he asked her to wait for him? Those words are a puzzle. Despite her best attempts to brush him off, to completely forget about him she finds herself unable and often returns to those precious memories and times she has spent with him, sometimes touching her lips with her fingers, finding them tingling after his kiss. Her first kiss, she realizes. The echo of those words break her down and she curls into herself, beginning to cry silently. The tears are there, she realizes, and will never be gone no matter what she will hope for. They will not disappear.
Time passes by silently and the night continues on. She watches the sun rise. At first the colors are faded and unimportant, only a sliver of light can be seen by human eyes with dark clouds surrounding becoming illumined by the light within. There is no hope for the sun she realizes. Brief light begins to pulse with colors becoming richer and vibrant, bursting out in a mixture of red and orange, the pink color long faded from view, shrouded by clouds. The moment is startling and unexpected, almost unthinkable, but it became known. The day has started. For the rest of the day she remained in bed, only drinking water and not eating food, explaining that she is fasting, for she couldn’t tell her mother the real reason why she is upset.
Long ago her mother told her not to date anyone but European-Americans. “I may be old fashioned honey, but I’m not stupid. You won’t have anything in common with Chinese and Africans and other peoples. They are different than you, you won’t understand their struggles, and they certainly will not understand yours. Marry an American man to be happy.”
She remembers that advice and hates herself then for liking an Asian guy, for falling for him even. Now look what happened, she tells herself. He has stood me up and I am being miserable because of it. She vows to herself then to follow her mom’s advice and marry somebody from her race instead of an opposite race.
Months pass since that promise and she is in college, carrying books for her courses when she runs into Jimmy Smith. Jimmy is definitely an American with hair the color of honey and eyes that are as blue as the sky on the clear day without clouds. “Heya honey,” he greets her. “Nice t’ meet ya an’ all. What’s yer name?”
Without hesitation she gives him her name, “Therese Fairbanks.” She places the books into the backpack and allows for Jimmy to walk with her. He introduces himself to her and immediately invites her on a date.
That same night he picks her up at her house and they travel to McDonald’s for their date. “Sorry honey,” he says. “I ain’t have money yet on me, can’t afford t’ take ya out t’ a fancy restaurant an’ all that.”
She forces herself to smile as she bites into the hamburger, feeling the calories add up, the taste of beef made from God knows what fill her senses without stopping. “It’s okay,” she forces herself to say it cheerfully, as if nothing is amiss, although inside she is fuming at not being treated like a princess. Inevitably her mind flashes back to her prom when she and Seung-Hoon Shin were dining. It was their first date as well, she remembers, feeling a punch land into her heart, the sensation of it shattering is too much. She tries to stop herself from crying but is unable to, especially when recalling the taste of bimbibap and his instructions on how to eat. “Excuse me,” she says as she gets up and goes inside the restroom. While there she opens the faucet and feels the cool water running, slipping through her fingers like a waterfall from the rocks. She splashes some on her face, and inside orders herself to control herself, to just stop thinking about him. “He abandoned you,” she says as she looks into the mirror. “He never sent a word to you, nothing at all. He disappeared completely.” With some control restored, she walks outside, seeing the man she is with.
He sits and munches on his meal which includes French fries, double bacon cheeseburger, five cookies, curly fries, a kid’s meal and last but not least Sprite. She squares her shoulders and walks up to him with a smile. “Hi Jimmy,” she says.
He ignores her, eating the last of the double bacon cheeseburger.
While he is busy with shoving food into his mouth, she sees that the restaurant is crowded as usual with labor class people. She sees a family not far, the mother eating Caesar salad silently, the father with a pinched look and the kids, a boy and a girl are showing off their McDonald’s toys to one another.
While eating Jimmy doesn’t talk or make small conversation. He simply eats one thing after another without a pause. She has never seen a man eat so much. “Damn rituals,” Jimmy finally says after he is finished eating his meal.
She is startled by his voice, a smooth Southern drawl coloring it. “What do you mean?” She asks as she turns back to him.
“Every time I go to Mickey D’s,” he begins as he helps himself to the last of the cookies and chews on it thoughtfully, not speaking again.
She grits her teeth, anger inside at his actions. “What?” she urges, hoping for some kind of conversation.
“I have t’ eat what m’ family has, else it’s bad luck.” He finishes cookies and then begins eating the kid’s meal, placing chicken nuggets inside himself. She wants to leave, feeling it is a mistake to date him in particular. But then she recalls her mother’s words and once again feels confident that she must have something in common with him. They are the same race after all, aren’t they? Didn’t they also have similar experiences as well? She also knows that she has bad luck with men. Whenever she is on a date with someone, she begins to remember Seung-Hoon Shin, and when his face appears before her, she feels trembling within and the vision becomes blurry.
The last time this happened, her mother wasn’t happy. “Stop being so melodramatic Therese! He’s only a guy, and a Chinese one at that! Get over him and go out and date again and this time don’t mess it up.”
So here she is with Jimmy Smith. Her eyes scan him from head to toe, watching the fast movements of his head, the way he put food into his mouth and often talked when his mouth is full. No manners at all, she realizes as she touches the cold glass of water near her. Her mother would not care though. “Tell me about your family,” she says as she sips the water, the coldness from the ice floating around the glass adding a layer of chilliness, something to take her mind off of Seung-Hoon Shin.
“Well,” Jimmy says as he finishes the kid’s meal. She notices that he doesn’t get up to throw the mess away from himself. “There’s m’ ma, m’ pa, m’ sis an’ m’ bro.” Spoken without emotion, a child reciting a lesson in counting from one to ten. He doesn’t ask her any questions. Just mentions odd remarks without rhyme or reason. “I’m havin’ fun,” he says. “This what datin’ is?” He sips Sprite loudly. She sees other people throwing odd glances their way. She is tempted to correct him, to tell him to behave. In short, she does not like him, not at all. “I’m done,” he announces as he stands up and comes over to her side. She continues to drink water. He grabs her by the wrist and forces her to stand. “I’m done,” he hisses this time. She watches as the water from her drink spills all over the lacquered table, then the drops fall onto the floor, the small drops becoming larger and larger, becoming a puddle.
Before she protests he pulls her away towards the exit and within a few minutes drops her off home. “Thank you,” she says stiffly, hoping that he’ll get the message that she doesn’t want to see him. She is about to leave the car when she feels his hand around her wrist, the burning pain close to the palm.
“You ain’t goin’ anywhere,” he hisses again.
“What?” She asks, surprise coloring her voice. Isn’t this horrid date over already? Shouldn’t she be going inside and declaring to her mom that she’ll never marry or date anyone for as long as she lives?
“You know I’m rich?” He asks, his grip creating an imprint around her wrist.
She shakes her head, not having an idea about it.
“Well, I’m rich. That means I can do what I want.”
“Let me go Jimmy,” she orders him as she tries to yank her wrist from his grip. “Let me go.”
“Not just yet honey. Not just yet.” He drives away from her house, locking the doors before she has a chance to run out. She begins to pound on the windows, a feeling of terror entering inside.
“What are you doing?” She screams. “Let me out! I’ll call 911 I swear!”
“You do that, an’ m’ boys will kill ya.”
“What? What boys?” She notices her neighborhood disappears, gone into the sky, a dream that might as well have never been.
She feels the car begin to speed up. “You’ll see,” he says evenly, almost calmly. When she looks at him, she sees a smile on his face, his eyes burning brightly as the stars. There is something wrong, she senses in her heart. She must get out of here. She focuses on the speedometer, noting the 90 mile mark. Not good, she cannot jump out of the car, especially on a highway.
“What are you planning on doing to me?” She whispers, trying to take in air to breathe, but unable to, her lungs malfunctioning, the air becoming nonexistent, as if the inside of her is not open enough for the air she needs.
No answer from him. She watches as his hand moves and finds a pistol. “You marry m’,” he says. “You don’, you’ll die.”
“Why do you want me to marry you?” Therese demands.
“I tol’ ya, I’m rich. I can do what I want. An’ I want ya t’ marry m’.”
“I know where ya live. Want fer your fam’ly t’ die?”
She remains silent.
“Thought so. You marry m’ or else you an’ they die.”
She continues to be silent.
“By th’ way, I’m Catholic, so no divorce allowed.”
Much to her dismay and horror, he found a wedding chapel that married them. She acted happy, like she is in love with him, but inside, her loathing and hatred grew. When she called to tell her mother about her adventure, instead of being hurt or upset, her mother was happy! “But I don’t want to be with him!” She screams over the phone in the lobby.
“You’ll learn to love him sweetheart. Oh I’m so happy that this happened!”
“But mother, what about my dreams, my aspirations—“
She stops, realizing what she should have realized earlier. Her mother set her up. Her mother created all of this just so she could marry this guy. He is Catholic, no divorce. She will be stuck with him for the rest of her life. At the thought, she feels tears pouring down her cheeks. She hangs up the phone, and goes down on her knees, finding herself crying. Now he’ll want to have sex with her, and the thought of that, well, disgusts her. She barely knows him, just met him a few days ago, and now she is married to him, and has to be with him for the rest of her life. She knows that many women who marry do not feel the way she feels, endless cycles of years that repeat themselves over and over. Many are happy; she realizes that at last they are with the men they love. But she, she is with someone she hates.
“Oh god,” she says. A knock. She sees it is he outside.
“Come on honey,” he orders her.
“No! Why did you do this to me?” She screams. “I could kill you for what you did!”
He does not answer but opens the door and grabs her wrist and drags her out. “Yer ma asked m’.” He says. “I need someone t’ help me get m’ fortune, yer ma wants an American grandkid. She thought you’d get married t’ that Chink, an’ she ain’t wantin’ no Chink grandkids.”
“He wasn’t Chinese, he was Korean!” she protests.
“Ain’t no matter t’ me if he’s a Gook or a Chink or a Jap. You’re better off with me than him.”
She does not protest as they leave the chapel and as they drive, he fills her on his expectations. “No cheatin’, you stay loyal t’ m’, else m’ boys will kill ya. You also don’ be askin’ no questions. You follow orders. If I say jump, all you gotta do is ask how high.”
“I understand,” she whispers as she turns towards the window, noticing the endless landscape of immaculate houses that look well over 500 thousand dollars.
“You also gotta have sex with m’ regularly. No period or headache crap. When I ask fer it, you give it.”
He stops the car in front of the house and drags her out. She thinks of running away from him, but then remembers his constant threats about the boys that will kill her and changes her mind. Hesitantly she walks inside, nearly tripping on the steps. With that walk her nightmare appears in startling clarity, and she is no longer asleep dreaming of things that could never be attained, but is awake instead.
Days pass, then weeks and finally months. Life with Jimmy is an endless day that doesn’t differ in any shape or form. She learns the ugly truths about him and feels that escape becomes impossible, and her hope diminishes, until only a wick from the candle is left. The boys, she learns, do exist. They are from KKK, causing harm and pain to other families and people. They do everything in secret though. Despite his control though, Jimmy is generous with money, often letting Therese get what she always desired, and surprisingly he is a gentle lover and cuddles with her often.
Every night after being with Jimmy, she finds herself crying, often wondering about Seung-Hoon Shin. Her mouth forms the shapes as she asks herself why he did what he did. At night she has difficulty falling asleep and often remembers him. She wants to go wherever he is, to see what he is doing and know what he is thinking. She would do that, except that Jimmy has forbidden her to travel anywhere, for fear she will get away from him. In this way, she spends four years living with Jimmy, until the spring of her fifth year when everything changed.
The sun shines brightly on that day as she walks outside, swinging trash in her hand, hearing the plastic bag crinkle. Later on tonight, Jimmy’s “boys” as he refers to them fondly, will come over. She sees the leaves in bloom, the birds flying everywhere, sometimes landing in nests, presenting worms to their young. She feels a pang in her heart as she stops and puts the trash down, beginning to cry.
“Are you all right?” she hears the familiar voice behind her, and then the footsteps approach her. She wonders if she fell asleep and begins to cry harder. Bad enough that his voice haunts her at night, now it’s the daytime?
“Go away!” she screams loudly. “Go away!”
The footsteps stop. She hears him gulping. “Therese,” he says. “Therese, it is I.”
She closes her eyes, not wanting to see her apparition. “You who?” she demands. “You the source of my nightmares? It’s your fault that I’m having a bad life! Your fault! If you hadn’t left me, I’d be with you instead of Jimmy!”
The footsteps begin again, this time less sure and more cautious. “Therese,” she hears him whisper.
“Go!” she screams loudly. “Don’t you dare to come back here ever again!” She doesn’t hear the footsteps walk away. She finally opens her eyes and sees that he is gone. She stands up, nearly tripping and wipes her tears away. It was a dream, she tells herself as she throws the trash away. A daydream that she often thought of whenever she is with Jimmy, that he will appear and rescue her from this life.
She enters back inside, making sure that all the windows have the blindfolds closed and turns on the television, watching the Maury Show for lack of something better. She has to shut her mind off. “He abandoned me,” she whispers. “Why would he come back if he abandoned me like the way he did? It’s a dream,” she tries to brush her hair with her fingers, feeling the curls get stuck between them. “A dream and nothing more.”
She shuts off the television and stares at the immaculateness that she has attempted to maintain for the last five years, although what good is it in the end, she asks herself. She cares little for the house. In truth, she doesn’t care if it gets destroyed or not. She finds herself restless, unable to think of what to do. She has already ordered takeout for her husband and his “boys”, already did the laundry, called insurance, fixed up the bedroom, and paid the bills. She also remembered to take birth control pills, a dirty secret she kept from her husband and her mother who desired a grandchild badly. She may not have been able to protect herself from his advances, but now she can at least protect herself from unwanted children.
She looks outside the window, remembering the footsteps and his voice, remembering the nights and days she spent crying over his abandonment of her. At first she hoped he would call, tell her he is sorry, invite her out and pick her up. Weeks passed, turning to months, the ache inside growing larger, more voracious, threatening to eat her alive.
For a long time she forced herself to keep everything inside, not to show her emotions in front of everyone. No one will understand, she realized that day. Everyone will make fun of her. So she continued to smile, to be what she is not, until the day she couldn’t take it anymore. Inside she felt a conflict of odd hope and logic battling it out, one knight jousting with another one. That day she lost herself and broke down in front of her mother, confessing the whole affair she had with him.
Her mother was not pleased, and again warned Therese to only like guys that are of her race and not to fall in love with guys that have different races. Her mother also warned her to keep stiff upper lip, to be brave and bear it instead of breaking down. “You better not let me see you do this again,” her mother warned her. Therese swore she wouldn’t.
Same emotions assail her now, she realizes. Hearing that voice, most of all, brings back the stories he shared with her about rabbits, the first time she met him in school and their only kiss. She tries to stop thinking by remembering the present, the fact that her husband will be home soon and that hateful club will commence in her house. She hears a doorbell ring and takes in the takeout, seven pizzas. Of the seven, her husband will eat at least three.
The phone rings, startling her from her reverie. “Smith residence,” she says as she picks up the phone and holds it to her ear. “Hey honey,” her husband on the other end. “Got pizza?”
“Yes.” She says.
“Good. I ain’t gonna need it tonight. The huntin’ club won’ come. I got someone comin’ tonight.” Hunting club is what he uses for the KKK when other people are nearby.
“Who?” She asks, surprised by his cancellation. The club is very important to Jimmy, and come hell or high water, he always holds it in the house.
“M’ new boss. He’s a Chink or somethin’ don’ know fer sure. Says he wants t’ meet m’ family. Says he’ll meet all employees families.”
“Okay. Will pizza be sufficient then?”
“Yeah. The huntin’ club will be tomorrow then.” He hangs up. She finds herself breathing deeply, the body enjoying the air that is above her, something that hasn’t happened since he started the meetings in the house.
She begins to prepare for the supper, wondering about the boss that wants to meet her. Jimmy never tells her about his work, much less about the people that work with him. When it comes to him, total darkness is her answer for everything.
Jimmy’s co-workers and bosses never visit her, and the people that do happen to be Jimmy’s gang and her mother, for her father left her mother a long time ago.
She sets the table, placing the pizza in the center of the table, and three plates made from glass along with forks and knives. The clock chimes six as she sits down and takes a deep breath. Jimmy will arrive in ten minutes.
While she waits she brushes her hair, feeling giddy at having some normal company in the house, and then puts make up on along with a shirt and long skirt. She sees herself in a mirror, a woman stares back from another dimension, another house. How she wishes she could be another person instead of herself, to see and experience things that she cannot over here. “You’re not real,” she whispers to herself. “Not real at all, just an illusion that I am trying to create to escape this life.”
The reflection has no answers.
She hears a noise and sees her husband’s car. She sighs and unlocks the door, recalling how locked doors annoy him. She sits down and waits for him patiently while an unpleasant image forms inside her mind that she is a puppy waiting for a master.
The door opens and she sees him enter, followed by an Asian male wearing sunglasses. He is tall, about 6’0 feet in a black suit with a dark blue tie. His black hair is slicked back from his head and to her he looks familiar, she realizes, but she cannot place him from where and when she saw him last.
“How’d ya like m’ place?” Jimmy asks his boss. He is pleasant and almost friendly. She wonders if the stranger knows that he’s part of KKK. “Ain’t it purdy? Nothin’ like what ya got back I reckon.”
The stranger fixes his sunglasses, making sure the eyes are invisible and fixes his gaze on hers. He freezes and doesn’t move. He looks attractive, Therese thinks to herself. His lips are the shape of a flower, round and thin, his body is slightly muscled, something that adds tone and depth to him. And his skin carries the sun with him. She likes his appearance. But he still looks familiar to her which is bothering her a great deal. Where had she seen him? Why can’t she remember?
“Wonder what ya standin’ ‘round here for. I’ll show ya the bathroom. Therese!” he screamed suddenly. “You got that table set?”
“Yes,” she says as she stands up. The stranger doesn’t say a word. He continues to stay rooted to one spot, and slowly, with one hand he removes his sunglasses.
Therese now has no doubts where she had seen him last. It is Seung-Hoon Shin’s face, she realizes. Seung-Hoon Shin stands in front of her, his hand carrying sunglasses.
She hears a crash and realizes with horror that she knocked a wineglass down. She stands up, startled, surprised by his appearance. Before she could say a word, she watches as he gets on his knees and stretches his arm towards her. She hands him the napkin as he cleans up the glass, the large shards glitter in the sunlight, throwing bursts of sun onto the walls, creating beauty where there was none before.
A memory passes through, of the time they are eating lunch together and she spills Kimchi on the table when her friends pass them by. He cleaned that up as well, she remembers now. Unable to face him anymore, she turns around and finds her eyes moist. She hears footsteps then and looks up to see her husband.
He is standing inside the room, scowling and she hears him gritting his teeth. “Who destroyed the glass?” He demands. Seung-Hoon doesn’t stop cleaning up the glass and even after the large shards are safely tucked away in the napkin, he scans the floor then stands up and just as he begins to walk out of the room, she watches as her husband places his arm on the shoulder and grips it there. “I said who destroyed the glass?” He demands again. Her husband’s hand grips Seung-Hoon’s shoulder tightly, but if Seung-Hoon feels pain he doesn’t it show it.
She is about to confess that she had done it, when Seung-Hoon Shin covers up for her. “I have destroyed it by accident,” he says coolly. “I will pay the cost of it if necessary.”
“You lyin’!” He screams. Therese watches as he comes up to her. “I know she destroyed the glass! For that she’ll pay!” Therese closes her eyes and ducks to avoid the hit, but she doesn’t feel the air pass her by. She opens her eyes and sees him blocking the path.
“Please, do not do this,” he says. She sees his arms are stretched across, blocking the necessary paths. “While I am here, you shall not harm her.”
“Why you care what I do with m’ wife?” Jimmy asks. “She ain’t yours, an’ you have no rights t’ tell m’ what to do!”
No answer from him. Instead she sees that he places sunglasses back on again. “Thank you but I have to go now,” he informs them.
She is shocked, surprised by his behavior. “Please stay,” she whispers. “Please don’t go.” He doesn’t listen to her protests, and leaves. He walks away, she sees, just like last time.
Her husband is angry, she sees, for he walks away to the kitchen and begins screaming all sorts of obscenities towards him. Unable to bear listening to this, she runs outside amidst the noise of the dishes breaking.
The sun is about to go down, the colors dimming, reluctantly losing their glory, the darkness eating them away one by one, first the pale yellow, then the orange that is hard to part from the red. “Seung-Hoon Shin!” She calls out his name, and sees that he stops. He turns around to her, his eyes blocked by the sunlight. She freezes then, uncertain of what to say. “Please take me away! I cannot bear to be with him anymore!”
He remains silent during her plea and gives her no answer. She feels endless hours pass before his mouth opens and he begins to speak carefully, resorting back to the immigrant sentences, no informality coloring the speech. “You have changed,” he says. “You no longer you.”
“Please take me away,” she begs again.
He leans against the car, his right hand brushing back his hair, his face turning away from hers. He places his hands in his pockets. Time passes, she sees as the colors sink underneath, and he continues to stare into the space, seeing what she cannot see. She wonders if she should go back inside to her life, to forget that she had seen him today, to do her best to be happy with her husband. Just as she decides to turn around, she hears his voice. “Tell me something,” he says, his voice coming from a long distance. She stops in her tracks and sees his face is turned towards her. He does not remove the sunglasses however, so she cannot tell the emotion that is inside of him. He tilts his head slightly, his foot touching the car. She wonders how he feels, seeing her this way, being with another man. She remembers his lack of emotion in school, his “stiff upper lip,” so to speak.
“What?” She asks when she sees that he makes no sign of going on. She hears him sign and open the car door.
“Nothing,” he says as he gets in. He closes the car door, starts the car and then drives away. She is left standing there in. Pain bursts inside her heart as she gets on her knees, tiny pebbles denting the skin. He left her again, her mind screams. Left her again, just like the last time. Her hand touches the gravel as she watches the car fading from her eyes, her only ticket to get away from Jimmy.
Loud clumsy footsteps are heard echoing, then finally her name. “Therese!” Jimmy screams. “Where the hell are ya?!” She doesn’t say a word as her husband exits outside and finds her sitting on her knees, in her hand are pebbles. “You’ll pay fer this you know!” He says. “I’ve had one chance to impress that Chink an’ you ruin it fer me!” He grabs her hand and forces her to stand up. She resists and tugs her hand away from his grip. “Get up now! Don’t ya dare make me call ya them bad words!”
She walks inside calmly and on the table she sees a DVD of The Classic, a Korean movie he had mentioned to her on that long ago day, and next to it lay a CD. She wonders if her husband spotted these precious gifts and hides them underneath her shirt.
Evening passes and night begins as she listens to the CD, and one song catches her ears, Suddenly by J-Walk, a Korean group she assumes. Inside she finds the English translation to the song that goes like this:
Suddenly looking for you brought too much sadness
Just for you for the last time you'll see me leaving
I want to look inside my memories to see you one last time
I'll search for you and be able to see you there
How will I forget and erase you?
My mind becomes more and more hurt
Gradually my yearning sinks deeper inside
The heavens seem to hate me too
My body is drenched in pain
The only thing left in this blackness is my mind
I am tired (tired)
I will need you (and) Inside my heart (and inside)
I'll remember (I will)
Inside my heart I will let you stay, never erasing you
So I may be with you for eternity
So I am crazy with love
Close to you as it sinks to memories
Still the memories bring me a small bit of happiness
Now the world has no meaning
Now I may fall into a dead sleep for eternity
How will I forget and erase you?
My mind becomes more and more hurt
Gradually my yearning sinks deeper inside
There is nothing tougher than this in the world
No matter how much pain there is, I'll try to go on
The truth is that love is a thorn
And can bring so much pain like this
Finally this is the last
I can't even see your shadow anymore
(Suddenly) I saw you coming from far away
I hated having been so hard on you
From there I didn't see those parts of you
My tears fall like rain in a storm
I wanted to hide what I was thinking
But just like that you are gone
And only your scent remains
I am tired (tired)
I will need you (and) Inside my heart (and inside)
I'll remember (I will)
Inside my heart I will let you stay, never erasing you
So I may be with you for eternity
So I am crazy with love
Emotion overwhelms her as she reads the lyrics. The vision becomes blurred, water pouring over the eyes, and she sees huge spots of water on the page. She hopes that the roof is leaking, that she is not crying but the hope is in vain. There is no rain outside; no clouds, just darkness of the night. “My love,” she whispers as her hand shakes the piece of paper. He has left her, she realizes, he refused to take her with him. Carefully she takes those precious gifts with her and hides them among her feminine objects in hopes that her husband will never discover them and then goes to bed.