TRACKSIDED

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ANNYEONG

JANE

Ten hours and fifty-five minutes later, I step off the BA 330 and pass Incheon Airport customs.

On autopilot, I walk to recover my Hartmann suitcase and put on my shades; it’s not that I wish to play VIP or something, it’s just a simple assumption I’m not glam.

These last few years in England’s rainy capital didn’t give my skin a bonne mine aspect; with my ten hours flight, my face feels and looks like a deep-fried dumpling. Even with the glasses on to cover my face. I lower my head and hurry down to take the metro.

I walk into a 7-Eleven, hesitating to get a T-money pass or use Samsung pay. The cashier, bewildered, watches me make a u-turn and strut out without buying anything. I made up my mind; I opt for Samsung pay, swipe my phone, and take the airport line to Seoul Station.

The warmth of July and the humidity already makes me giddy and sweaty. It’s not because of the weather but panic strikes as I realize where I am and what I’m doing.

What am I doing?

Why did I come?

What did I expect to find?

Deep down, I know what I hope for, but I can’t have it.

Forgiveness.

No living being can forgive me for what I did.

The only thing legit about my existence is I’m as broken as shattered glass, it’s something I’m conscious about and with which I must live. So no, I don’t expect to be mended; I want to sleep for four hours straight without waking in the puddle of sweat screaming like a banshee.

Poor Abby, she lived through hell with me, and the last three months took a toll on her with the stress of not being able to have a baby and all. I can’t believe Abby can see herself as a mother when she has a mom like Rebecca and a sister like me.

God forbid such a conception within me. I pray every day I’m sterile; someone like me shouldn’t endeavor into childbirth. I will not be a replica of Rebecca; being a mom is beyond me because I don’t know how to transmit motherly love or how to love.

I mean, my mind does not hold one image of Rebecca hugging me, teaching me how to ride a bike, or even reading me a bedtime story.

I’m 20 and utterly clueless about the concept of love; the other issues in my life take up too much cerebral activity for me to ponder about the feeling.

To love or be loved, before any of that happens, I think one has to love and respect themselves, which isn’t my case.

Nothing positive comes to mind when I think of myself; even hating myself sometimes feels like a luxury. No, I’m indifferent to my person. It’s practical when I’m hurting myself. I just don’t give a shit.

Abby is used to my vanishing operations; I’m the cause of every gray hair she has. She and Aidan argued a lot because of me, Abby played substitute mothers, and her couple suffered. She’ll be relieved to see the prodigal child is gone; she deserves a break.

My sister shouldn’t be a victim of my behavior.

As for my parents, that’s another story.

Since the accident, we haven’t met. My parents are like Harpe seals; they just abandoned us in nannies’ hands. Abby was lucky; my father didn’t possess the Midas touch when she was born. My grandad had to kick the bucket for him to reach Eldorado with his heritage. When Abby was little, Rebecca went through all the mother bonanza, but the struggling years were over at my birth, and she signed out from the bonding.

Phew, at least a few circumstances explain why I became one of those precious spoilt brats portrayed in teen fiction. One could imagine they made the stereotype in my image.

Trust me, younger; I took the cliché to the zenith with my Icarus wings, which burnt.

A taste of metal fills my mouth, some thoughts and words are triggers, and the word burn brings back the accident’s stench and sensations. I shudder; the person next to me tries to move away as though I released a silent but yet stinky fart.

At this instant, I’m happy to be wearing shades. I should have brought a sun cap like those the middle age ladies put on to avoid the sun rays. It would allow me to avoid the stares; it’s very efficient. You feel invincible like Darth Vader with one of those on; yeah, I need one.

Before, I was one of the extravagant girls who laughed loud and reeled in all the attention. The red-haired and party girl more Caliente you die. Yes, I was one of those girls; everyone appreciates for no reason whatsoever — all smiles and always down for an adventure. What increased my popularity was the lack of parental control. What’s worse was kids found my parents cool too.

“Lucky, Jane, she can do whatever she wants.”

Idiots.

Now I’m an awkward wreck; every stare makes me want to crawl under my skin. Sometimes I instinctively touch my forehead or my back as though someone would tag or label what I am on me.

I’m ashamed of being alive, breathing, and eating. My soul howls and claws inside. The guilt is what affects my interactions with people. Being self-aware of every factor that traumatizes me without being able to do nothing about it is even more frustrating. That’s why my plan has to work otherwise.

Otherwise what, Jane?

This time I’ll do it, I’ll go through with it for real.

One life is nothing compared to the three I stole, and what’s worse is I don’t even think my life is enough, but it’s better than nothing, right?

Right?

Fooling myself is all I can do, so I do it daily.

My gaze travels in the wagon, and I look behind me and watch the little islands surrounding Incheon airport fade.

“Annyeong,” I mutter, it’s the first time I take public transportation from the airport to Seoul. Usually, a chauffeur came and picked me up.

The scenery is beautiful and frightening; what looks like a vacation is a lifetime endeavor for me; this is my pilgrimage for absolution, the last straw.

People try not to stare, but I know what they think, here’s another 외국사람 [waéguk saram= a foreigner] come to live the Korean adventure.

Some old folk smile; I like the old folk here. The elders seem harsh at first, but they consider you like their child when they warm up to you. Koreans are family people; each member appears to live and die for the other.

There are burdensome obligations, but that’s a family. No one wants to deceive or disgrace their family; it’s not like it doesn’t exist in the West, but it’s something the Austen family bypass.

Sometimes I wonder and wish I had those types of parents, the ones who nag and ground you. Yeah, responsible parents, perhaps all this shit wouldn’t have occurred. I wouldn’t have become this drug addict. Blaming others is another thing I major in, according to Dr. Harvey.

An old lady sitting across from me, leans over and hands me a tissue. The gesture makes me realize I’m crying under my shades.

“감사합니다,” I utter while I nod.

See, they’re kind; Koreans hospitality and empathy are beyond any comparison.

Just for that, I wish I was Korean.

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