LIE TO ME
I don’t know what I’m doing here; I was surprised to see the calls and the message when I switched on my phone. After that night, I thought Tae Won wouldn’t want to see me again. I was wrong; Tae Won called and sent me this message asking to meet him.
I didn’t reply, but his message wasn’t one waiting for an answer, but an action.
And so I’m here in advance, to tell him I can’t see him again.
I omitted to tell my parents, who gave me a tip on the hit and run. Since Rebecca’s explanation Travis, yes, my dad is Travis now, seems to be avoiding Rebecca and me; she’s a little different now. I know my gaze upon her has changed though I despise what she did.
Rebbeca used all the influence and power she could muster to get me out of that situation, and I’m condemning her because it’s wrong. But at the same time, which parent with the ability to do something for their child wouldn’t have done the same?
My mother hasn’t become a hero, which doesn’t change the fact that she spent years not saying a word about the incident. And it’s not like I’m going to turn myself in either. I’m still a weak coward; the only thing I can do now is not meeting Tae Won again, no matter the feelings which had welled up for him.
I was a wreck. Thank goodness Mona is a makeup pro. Otherwise, it would be a corpse Tae Won would be meeting. With my oversized baby pink knitted sweater and slim pants, I look like walking cotton candy. I shouldn’t have listened to Mona on my outfit, but it’s too late now.
I look up, he hasn’t changed, but his facial expression has. His lips have lost their lock. He’s smiling, and it’s contagious. I want to follow, but I can’t.
“Do you want anything to drink?” Tae Won asks.
This attitude is new; Mr. Kim, the tutor, isn’t as friendly.
“I’m good; I just finished a Yuja cha.”
“Wow, you must have come early; sorry to have made you wait.”
It’s funny, but I feel Tae Won is serving that confusing Korean courtesy, which makes one wonder about what you represent to the guy. I cut short.
“Sorry about last week’s lessons; I was ill.”
Tae Won frowns with concern, “Oh, are you feeling better?”
What’s up with him? Tae Won’s behavior makes me uneasy; I place my hands under the table as I feel sweat making its way to the surface.
“I’m fine,” I say, looking away.
“About last week, here,” Tae Won poses an envelope on the table.
“What is this?” I say as my eyes settle on the small white envelope.
“I didn’t give you a lesson; I don’t see why I should get paid.”
“Your honesty honors you, but keep the money. It was short notice,” I say and push the envelope to Tae Won’s side of the table.
“No, I can’t take it,” Tae Won says, pushing it back.
My face squashes down in protest like a lump of dough as I throw, “I insist, Tae Won, take it, or I’ll throw it in the nearest trash can.”
What I say has an impact. Tae Won doesn’t seem shocked but annoyed; he gives me a don’t-mess-with-money-stare.
I make abstraction of it, and I pursue.
“I won’t be taking lessons anymore; it’s the last time I see you. Thank you for everything, the river, the metro, and the nightclub. Thank you for helping me. Goodbye.”
God, I want to bang my head against the wall; it sounded better when I rehearsed it in my head. Tae Won lowers his eyebrows; he seems to be reflecting. I get up and start to walk away; I feel the tears well up; the scenario was much more comfortable in my mental screenplay.
I go down the stairs and leave. I retake a few steps when a hand grasps my wrist, “did I do something wrong?”
I turn to face him, “no, you didn’t.”
I’m the one in the wrong.
"We shouldn’t meet again; I don’t need a tutor anymore.”
“Then let us be friends.”
His request is insane; he doesn’t know what he’s asking for, and it leaves me blinking like a robot who has crashed.
My eyes dart from side to side as I search for an answer.
I killed your parents.
It’s only now I notice how he looks start into my eyes; most Asians flee this, whereas, in Western culture, escaping eyes is a sign of deceit. But Tae Won holds my stare head-on, I feel as though he’s reading in me, and right now, Tae Won knows what I want to say, but he just wants to hear it.
“You’ll regret it.”
“I won’t know that until I try. I know our encounters aren’t the most common, you’re a foreigner, and you witnessed a tragedy involving my family. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t meet again, but you see, during these five years where I searched for answers, I had no one to talk to, no one understood my despair, but gosh, this is embarrassing.”
He brings his hands to his face and slides his hair back, “okay, I feel like I can talk to you, that you and I can communicate. I want to communicate with you.”
Why does he have to have an answer to everything?
Why does he have to be so cute?
No, Jane, no, don’t fall for this. Nothing good will come of this. It’s the worst decision you can make, don’t do it! Jane, no!
The lights are flashing red, but I reply.
The grin which appears on his face is like a defibrillator that jump-starts my heart.
On the pavement in front of Coffee Smith, I open a new book in my Living A Lie series. I should be ashamed of myself, but my thoughts are swept away by him. It doesn’t make sense, and it should be against the law, and a prosecutor should demand death by injection.
His parents are dead because of me, and I’m beating lashes at him. It’s sickening.
“Jane, are you okay?”
“Don’t you want to get back inside?”
I feel dizzy.
“I’m fine; I’m a little tired. I haven’t been sleeping well. I should go home.”
I turn and start to walk away, my vision becomes blurred, but I carry on, and then it happens. Before I know it, I’m in Tae Won’s arms.
“Jane, you can’t take the metro. Let me take you home.”
I haven’t got much strength to argue. Tae Won supports me, and we walk to his bike.
I manage a little protest in front of it, “I’m not getting on that.”
“I’ll drive slowly; do you want me to holler a taxi?”
I’m scared of cars, and I’ve never ridden a motorbike. At the same time, a bike has no walls; I might not become all crazy. Tae Won places a helmet on me and helps me climb on.
“Hold on to me.”
I barely grip his jacket, but when he starts the engine, I grasp tighter a few seconds later, I’m asleep. It’s the tap he gives me which wakes me up.
I can’t believe I fell asleep. I get off Tae Won’s bike and give back his helmet.
“Good night, Jane.”
“Chalga Tae Won.”
I watch him drive off.
I don’t know his motives, but a part of me wants to believe Tae Won and I can be friends when it’s impossible in reality.
Everything about this friendship is wrong.
But I want this lie to be true.
I’m a monster.