Kim Mi Ra looks over at her husband’s balding head. Disgust rises in her as he fixates himself on a televised poker game, staring at the screen like a child lost in a fantasy world.
“Park Seong Joon!” She yells. He waves a hand towards her, as if to say ‘go away’. “Ya!” She yells.
“Ah, wae?” He finally looks up from the television screen, fixing his wife with a heartbroken look. Mi Ra narrows her eyes. The nerve of that man! The situation he’d forced them into…he didn’t deserve to be happy, not for one second, as far as she was concerned. She loved her husband, but oh, did he make her angry! “What’s the matter Mi Ra? Did something happen?” She fixes him with a look of utter irritation.
“Aish…Abeoji,” Seong Joon barely has time to catch the calendar Park Seo Jeong throws at him. He looks down at the date, circled in blue, before looking back up at his family.
“Ah…” Shame rises within him as he realizes his mistake. “Mianhae Mi Ra…did you hear anything from her?” Mi Ra positions her hands on her hips. She shakes her hand, worry for her daughter replacing the irritation she’d felt for her husband.
“Have you talked to her Seo Jeong?” The boy looks up from his cellphone. He shrugs at his parents’ expectant faces.
“She emails me all the time.” He says, nonchalant. Mi Ra’s eyes widen. She turns, looking way from her husband and son as tears fill her eyes. Seo Jeong sighs.
“And you…didn’t she want to talk to her Mommy?” Her bottom lip begins to quiver.
“Eomma…” Seo Jeong rolls his eyes. “She’s upset with the two of you.”
“You think I don’t know that?!” Mi Ra snaps. Seo Jeong, rolling his eyes, presses his earbuds into his ears, turning the volume up until he can’t hear his parent’s bickering.
“Seo Hyun’s Eomma…” Mi Ra looks away from her husband, her own shame turning her cheeks pink.
“Ah…wae? Why had we left her alone? Why didn’t we just bring her along with us? Or…this was your fault in the first place! Why couldn’t you deal with them? Leaving our precious Seo Hyun to do it…she must be so upset.” She wails. Seong Joon looks away from his wife as his own tears cloud his vision. Seo Jeong looks up at his parents in disbelief. It’d already been five months since they’d left their youngest daughter in Korea while they’d fled to America, using Seo Jeong’s scholarship as an excuse.
Truth be told, he felt bad for his sister. She hadn’t asked for this mess. He knew that she worked hard to help out with anything she could, even working a part time job before and after school when their father had gotten so deep into gambling, they’d risked losing their house. He’d been set to go to abroad for three months before they left, it was just the matter of his parent’s going with him.
They’d emailed frequently, partly because he’d threatened to come back to Korea if she refused to speak to him. She’d known what this opportunity meant to him, and he knew that she’d cave eventually.
He’d known his parents were worried, but he also knew that Seo Hyun was hurt. If it was time she needed, then time was what she was going to get. He wasn’t going to make her talk to his parents if she wasn’t ready. He was upset with them as well. How could the two of them leave their youngest daughter, someone who isn’t even considered an adult, all alone while they ran from the problems his father had created? They’d sold their house and used that money to buy plane tickets to America. Seo Hyun had only her part-time job to fall back on. He knew that she was probably living in a tiny, rooftop apartment, eating small bowls of rice and working job after job in order to make ends meet. She’d lost weight…he could tell from the photos she’d sent, and quite frankly, it scared him. He sent her twenty-thousand won every week, and his parents sent thirty, but he knew that it wasn’t enough.
Seo Jeong shakes his head. He turns his volume up even louder, as if to drown out his own thoughts.
Mi Ra pushes her lower lip out in a pout. She puts down her hand phone, looking at Seong Joon as if he’s the dirt on her shoe. He looks down and starts to cry all over again. Seo Jeong stands before they both start wailing. “Is this helping at all?” He yells. His parents look up at him in surprise. “She’s in Korea and we’re in America. She’s probably working, or sleeping! Who knows, she might even be dead!”
“YA!” Mi Ra’s eyes widen at her son’s harsh worse. Seo Jeong rips his earbuds from his ears, walking past his parents. “Seo Je-” He slams the door, cutting off his mother’s words. Mi Ra and Seong Joon look at each other.
“What’s the matter with him?” Seong Joon shrugs.
In his small apartment bedroom, Seo Jeong opens his laptop computer. A picture pops into view as his screensaver starts.
“Ah, wae, I don’t want to Oppa!” He’d been trying hard to keep the tears inside. He knew she was fighting it too, but if he was going to America for three to four years, he wanted a picture to commemorate their last memory together before he left. And oh how she’d fought him for it. “Come on Seo Hyun-ah…do it for Oppa?” He’d closed his hands into fists and thrust his lower lip out. She laughed at his poor attempt at aegyo. “Oppa…aish, fine!” He’d smiled, triumphantly of course. They’d pressed their faces together, but as the camera snapped, both of them had tears streaming down their faces.
Seo Jeong stares at his sister’s face. She was really ugly, he thought to himself. He laughs, feeling just a little bit better. Things will get better Seo Hyun, just you see.