TRACKSIDED

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완전한

SOO HAE

People spend their lives asking themselves questions, introspecting, and doubting. It’s never been my case; I’ve always known I’m special. I’m part of the chosen ones; some might want to call me lucky. I say it’s only fifty percent of the equation; the truth is I’m plain fearless, at least I was.

Tae Won is the first person to have made me doubt myself.

The bow has always been in my hands; it’s like an extension of me. When I shoot, I hit the bullseye without fail; that’s how I live life. Since birth, I’ve struck every bullseye, Tae Won is my first deviation and miss, and it’s disturbing me.

Even now, the bow is trembling; it happens every time Tae Won pops into my mind. Tae Won is the only person who affects me in both a positive and negative way.

“Soo Ae focus.”

“What do you think I’m doing, coach.”

Focus.

My breath halts, I shot eyes closed.

Coach Min pats me on the shoulder, “yeah, that’s our champion.”

The team claps, and I go and sit down.

As I said, I never miss the bullseye. Imagine a life filled with success and, suddenly, deception. I know one can’t have it all, but I would trade all I have to be with Tae Won again, to have him look at me with eyes of love. This situation is unacceptable; how dare him lock me out as though I were a stranger, isn’t love about sticking together through thick and thin?

I miss him, so I see Ta Won everywhere. If I didn’t have my discipline and competitions, I would be depressed, but I’m a fighter.

“That was intense, way to go, Soo Ae,” Eun Seol, one of my sunbaes, says.

A shy smile escapes from me. I’ve got to play modesty.

This attitude is what people expect from Kyeong Soo Ae, and of course, I live up to their expectations. It isn’t even a chore for me because this is how I am.

From an early age, people told me how smart and beautiful I was; even without their words, I knew I was all that and more. Yes, I have more self-confidence than the ordinary mortal, but life hasn’t given me a reason to live and think otherwise.

I’m Korean, and by definition, I aim for excellence, like most Koreans.

From academic studies to our profession and finally, we aim for nothing but the best for our marriage.

The only drawback one can have are their origins, and mine aren’t so bad. My parents invest lots of time, energy, and money in my sister and me. And now with the prize money, I gain from competitions they can concentrate on my sister.

My parents are very proud of me. I’ve never given them a reason to worry. Even though they were shocked when they found out I was dating Tae Won. They accepted the man who they believed had a promising future. Kim Tae Won was destined to become a champion swimmer and me a champion archer.

We represented a model that even my parents admired, we were both from middle-class families, and many dreamt of following in our footsteps. We were paving the way for those who thought reaching such heights was impossible.

An A+ life, perfect and flawless, that was our existence, but all of that disappeared when Tae Won received that call.

I can still see the expression of shock on his face.

Lost.

For the first time, Kim Tae Won seemed lost; it scared me. Tae Won was my mirror. If you think I’m full of myself well, Mr. Kim, as many call him now, was of another level.

I don’t mean he was a jerk jock, no he was kind, but like me, he never doubted. I don’t even believe he knew what words like failure, sadness, sorrow meant until that day.

Twenty-year-old Kim Tae Won had never experienced any suffering in his entire life. In one single night, Tae Won lost everything, including himself; I watched him sink without being able to pull him up. None of my words consoled him; Tae Won seemed disgusted by the sight of me and finished by shutting me out.

Failure.

Tae Won is my first defeat, it’s hard to swallow, and I can’t accept it.

I refuse to leave things the way they are. Tae Won is mine; I don’t care if he isn’t as perfect as he was. I love him with his imperfections, isn’t how it’s supposed to be, for better and for worse?

Tae Won hit rock bottom, and I couldn’t abandon him then, and I can’t do it now. Even if my parents think he isn’t worthy of me anymore, I can’t do that.

I chose him; the first time I saw Tae Won still plays in my mind. It was at one of his competitions he came first place.

Everyone went to celebrate, but Tae Won seemed withdrawn; he had little interest in the party or even his girlfriend at the time, which he left to go back to the dorm. It started to rain a minute after he left, I remembered he had no umbrella, and I instinctively ran after him to give him one. There he was motionless, head tilted backward under the rain.

As I watched him, I realized who Kim Tae Won was; he wasn’t there for the glory or to please his parents. What he cared about was the water. When Tae Won wasn’t in the study hall, he was swimming, always.

Every girlfriend he got complained about the amount of time Tae Won spent training though most were competitors in different disciplines; none understood him, I did. I recognized this need to be in his element, for that’s how I feel.

For the first time in my life, I met someone as passionate as I was. The only problem was I seemed transparent to him. We could cross in a corridor, and he would ignore me, and course, the sadomasochistic inside me found itself even more drawn to the man.

All these memories, what’s the point of talking about them, lately I had hope. Tae Won seemed to get better; I genuinely thought we could get back together, and then I heard about her.

It’s crazy, I’ve seen Tae Won with other girls, but this time something tells me it’s different.

From what I see on the forums, the girl isn’t Tae Won type. She’s short and has no dress sense, although she wears many brands. Also, she’s American.

Tae Won doesn’t fantasize about that. On the contrary, foreigners frighten him. He’s a traditional guy; he dislikes artificial props, hair dye, blush, red lipstick. He likes the Classique Korean girl, long black hair, and almond shape eyes. For him, beauty is Asian. The girl isn’t pretty; I zoomed on many shoots I saw nothing which would attract Tae Won. She is the opposite of everything he fancies. Even though Tae Won’s mind is in knots, and his judgment is biased right now, he won’t touch the girl.

Once more, I take out my phone as wait to see if there are new posts. I don’t need to stalk Tae Won personally; my fan base does an excellent job for me. They probably want us back together more than me.

Those who have met her even say she looks dumb. The girl seems to have more defaults than qualities. I don’t believe there’s anything between them. I mean, who in their right mind would choose flaws over perfection?

“Soo Ae.”

“Yes, coach.”

“Can you give them another demonstration?”

“I’m coming.”

All eyes are on me, sparkling with desire and envy. For most, I am the goal to achieve.

Perfection.

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