HIT AND RUN
I believed coming back to where it happened would give me some answers. I didn’t expect to be freed from my demons, but I wanted to apologize for shortening their life.
Everyone knows I don’t think ahead. Anticipate is a word I’ve never used, even in speech. So I didn’t expect anyone to be there, but I was naive. What was I thinking?
It’s the exact date of the accident I could have at least predicted a relative could come. Never would have suspected the relative would be their son and that the son was Tae Won.
Though I lived the scene, I can’t believe it. Tae Won was their son. I killed his parents and brother. I was so terrified when he gripped and wanted to take me to the police station.
When Tae Won told me it was a hit and run, I panicked, my survival instinct took over, and I bailed out, saying the first shit that came to my mouth.
I should have begged for forgiveness or asked him to kill me. Tae Won should have let me drown in the Hangang River. It’s as though he’s been contradicting God’s plan since we met by rescuing me from every predicament I got myself into since I arrived.
Perhaps the purpose of his presence was for me to witness the death of the murderer that I am.
“The driver is dead.”
It’s not exactly a lie; I died that day.
What isn’t true is the hit and run, which isn’t a lie now, I hit Tae Won with this massive lie, and I ran.
After telling him to live, I left him on the pavement and went home.
Tae Won didn’t chase me; the shock was too great, I imagine. I cried non stop until I got back home. And now I’m standing in the middle of my parent’s bedroom.
My dad searches for his glasses, and my mother turns on the nightstand lamp.
“Jane, honey, what’s wrong?”
Drenched in sweat, the rush of blood must swell my face; I can’t imagine how I look.
“Jane,” Rebecca repeats.
“I didn’t commit a hit-and-run.”
My father’s face becomes grave as he gets up from the bed and comes and grabs me by the shoulders, “Jane, who have you been talking to?”
My parents never talked about the accident, I never questioned what they did to get me out of it, and they never asked what I did.
Even Abby, who I believe is curious about the reasons surrounding my express eviction from South Korea, has never requested anything, everything passed into silence, and it tacitly became taboo.
And here, for the first time, I want to talk, I need to speak. It’s only now that I realize this is where I should have started.
“What did you do, dad? What did you tell the police?”
Dad remains speechless; it’s as though I’m talking about something he’s not aware of, as though it’s something new.
I see my mother gripping the edge of the bed and shaking her head, “Travis, are you going to tell your daughter or no?”
“Rebecca, please not now,” my dad seems desperate like a mouse trapped in a maze, his eyes dart, and he keeps looking a the ceiling as if he is seeking some answer from the divine.
“NO, Travis, now, I’m tired of being the evil witch of the story.”
My mother gets off the bed and walks up to where my dad and I are standing.
“Do you want to know the truth, Jane? I did it. I’m the one who disguised the accident. Your dad couldn’t do a damn thing because he was fucking some whore while my baby was broken in hospital. When I saw you, you started to have this fit when you found out they were dead. I panicked, I couldn’t let my baby go to jail, so I called your uncle for advice. Then I called Brad’s father, and I told him that if you were in that fucking mess, it was because his son supplied in drugs and that if you went to jail, I would make sure Brad would follow. I used all the resources I had to get you out of there. During all that time, I couldn’t join your father who had turned off his phone ㅡbecause guess what; super daddy only cares about his fucking balls.”
I look at my father; he seems like a phantom of himself; he does not look like a charming diplomate but a stranger. Rebecca doesn’t resemble the evil mom. I’ve always known she seemed to have aged.
“This is wrong,” I whisper.
Rebbeca gasps and slicks her hair back, “what is? Me trying to keep my baby from going to prison and your father from losing his function is wrong? I did what every mother would do for their child. And I would do it again; I will not let you be stamped murderer.”
I back away; I’ve had enough. I run to my room and lock myself in; my father follows.
“Ava, open the door, Ava, if you don’t open up, I’m going to burst it open.”
He pounds, and I’m persuaded that if he hits the door once more, it will fall.
“Stop it, Travis,” I hear my mom say.
“She might hurt herself, Rebbeca. You know how fragile Ava is.”
“You worry, now?”
“No, I won’t stop. Where were you Travis, where were you when your daughter started to take drugs and drink alcohol? ”
“What you think you feel guilty, how do you think I feel, Travis. We failed; we failed.” I hear my mom scream before I listen to her cry.
It’s the first time in 20 years I hear my mother cry, a part of me wants to open to contemplate the scene attesting that blood runs through her veins, and she has a reserve of tears like the rest of us, but the disturbed part of me just wants to die.
I have nothing sharp in my room, Rebecca regularly checks it, I don’t even have a nail clipper, and I want to hurt myself badly. The ceiling is too high for me to hang myself. Everything is calculated to prevent me from committing the worst, so I sit there and cry while Rebecca cries in front of my door.
My father retreats to his room, and we are two women crying behind a closed door.
“Ava, Jane, I know you are hurting. I can’t take that pain away. I wish I could, I wish I could swallow all those bad things for you and keep you safe, but I can’t. Jane, can you hear me? I love you, Jane, you are my baby no matter what you’ve done or you’ll do. You are still my child.”
I don’t know how long I stay in my room without showering or eating. I’m in the same clothes, and I just watch the day switch to nights. My phone turned off; Mona camps at my door. From what she says, I guess she still doesn’t know. Brad comes, and even aunt Salomé passes.
There’s only one person I’m waiting for, though, is my father.
Travis doesn’t say a word. I just hear when he leaves for work and when he comes back. I thought Rebecca was the best at the play pretend game, but I see my father is a more exceptional player at every level. How naive I was, I was so focused on Rebecca’s coldness that I overlooked my father.
How I step out of my room is still a mystery for me; I guess I can’t stand my smell and the echoes of my growling stomach.
I go downstairs and walk to the kitchen. The house is quiet, and I’m convinced I’m alone till I see her preparing a tray.
All this time I was in my room, I thought it was Aina who prepared the tray’s, but from what I’m witnessing now, it was Rebecca doing. She probably doubted I would eat a plate handed by her, so she gave them to Aina, who brought them to my room.
Rebbeca looks up and smiles at me; my mother looks human for the first time in years.
“Do you want to eat something?”
And she sounds human.
I take a seat at the counter, and she slides the tray to me. I hesitate for a second, but I start eating.
I notice my mother isn’t wearing her pearls, and her hair isn’t tied.
A gentle breeze swirls in from the opened window, and she closes her eyes. I realize we have more things in common than I thought; we are both victims of a ruthless game called life.