TRACKSIDED

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HOMESTAY

JANE

Fifty minutes later, here I stand in my parent’s mansion.

“Oh, my God, Jane.”

After almost five years of exile, what did I expect?

Rebecca’s mouth remains open, as though she perceived a ghost.

“What are you doing here?”

“I missed you too if you are not happy I can stay somewhere else. It’s just I imagined since I have parents, perhaps I could put them to good use.”

It’s a bluff; I need to stay here. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m in a me-myself-and-I situation, mainly since I’m not a fan of my personality.

Rebecca purses her lips, “you haven’t changed.”

“Neither have you.”

That’s how my relationship is with Rebecca; she’s one of those typical American cliché moms. The ones who try to win society’s model pageant, stalking galas, and brunches like leeches. The kind of mom who would love to flaunt her children’s achievements. Unfortunately for her, she only has Abby to fill the status.

Rebbecca is a mix of Desperate Housewives Bree Van Der Kamp, yeah she’s a redhead, and Sex in the City’s Charlotte York. She is prude like a broomstick.

Neither of us knows each other, and we have never tried. We are opposites with only one thing in common, DNA.

The closest thing I had to a real mom was Maria, our household maid in New York. She’s the one who changed my diapers and stayed up late when I had the Measles while Rebecca accompanied my father around the world. I make a mental note to leave Maria or her descendants a piece of my heritage if parents decide to leave me anything.

It’s hard to believe I even persuaded my parents to take me with them when my father got his nomination for South Korea.

Your American girl in love with Kpop and firmly expecting some chaebol to fall head over heels for her got fired up. A teen convinced my bright eyes and fairness of skin would seduce them.

Persuaded Koreans were as fascinated as I was about foreigners and that they were all waiting for my arrival at Incheon with I LOVE YOU JANE banners and roses. I was on my hands and knees, begging my parents to be of the convoy to Seoul.

Okay, I admit it, I had an Asian fetish. For my defense, I was young and foolish, precisely like I am now. The only difference is I don’t dream of any whirlwind romance with a Korean guy or any other guy anymore because it will only be a whirlwind of pain.

Those Kpop pop videos and didn’t just have me bopping heads, but they also had me wishing JB, Kai, Park Hyung Sik, Park Bo-Gum, and I don’t know who else would defy all to be with me like in the fanfics I used to read.

Once here, I realized boys interested in me had the objective of improving their grades by practicing speaking in English, and if there was something else, it was mere infatuation.

“How long do you plan on staying?” Rebbeca asks.

The question alone should have me running to the first exit, but I resist.

“I thought perhaps I could do a semester or two here.”

The words come out, and I realize I’m still standing in the hall like a deliveryman with my luggage, and oh, boy, there it is, the Rebecca face twist while she caresses her pearl necklace, cliché as ever. Rebecca is a face reading Haven; she has like 1001 facial expressions to reflect how annoyed she is.

“Does your father know?”

“No, I’ll tell him when he gets here.”

“Jane, honey, listen.”

Gosh, I didn’t expect her to use the three words I detest the most in one sentence. These words are a magic combo that always leaves me K.O by their lack of sincerity and fake authority.

“You know, I’m not sure being here is good for you,” Rebecca says with what appears to be a frown of concern.

“How do you know what’s good for me?”

Silence.

I didn’t even send her a curveball, but she is incapable of retaliating. Yep, Rebecca doesn’t know how to deal with humans; she only knows how to handle bills, whether they are green like dollars, called Pesos, Rupees, or Euros, they’re all she understands. Money is the remedy of all dilemmas.

Even while she looks at me, I can tell she’s wondering if giving me a few thousand dollars will get me on a plane back to London.

This method is the Austen way of handling problems and how I got into this mess. There were no talks or advice, just money handed out for any whim. At age 17, I had enough money in my Furla purse to buy Nirvana Blue and get myself wasted with one snap of my fingers.

They spoilt me till I was rotten, I killed a family, and now I’m a zombie. If only I could blame them for everything. The thing is, they were not the ones at the steering wheel that day.

“Mom, please.”

It’s a low blow. I know we both have a hard time establishing the mother and daughter link, it’s like she just lent her ovaries, and I rented some stomach space for nine months. Then I got evicted for life with a don’t disturb sign, but I have to convince her, and right now, I don’t have many options other than begging.

Rebecca gently dabs her forefinger and index on her forehead and stares at me as if she can twist my thoughts with her willpower. In front of my stern and sweaty face, she yells.

“Aina, please take Jane to her room.”

“Yes, Madam.”

These are the moments where you interrogate yourself on the existence of God.

Right now, I’m a believer.

Aina prompts me to follow her as though I’m a guest. I smirk and start to trail my suitcase, which I carry up the stairs despite Aina’s desire to show me the force of her biceps.

My room hasn’t changed. It seems stuck in time; it makes me feel like someone died in it, and my parents kept it as it was like some memorial. Gray walls and bedspread to match my mood, perfect, I couldn’t ask for better.

Aina leaves the room after opening the window.

Left alone, I remain at the door, doubt invades my mind, and I’m not sure about what I’m doing.

Suddenly the door springs open, and Rebecca enters without a word. She walks to the desk and confiscates my scissors, stapler, and paper clips.

“What is this? Am I on suicide watch or something?”

“Jane,” she pauses and picks up with a firmer tone, “Jane, if you’re going to stay here, you’ll have to abide by our rules. If you can’t do that, then you better book a flight back.”

Air invades my gaping mouth; it’s a first in 20 years, imagine my shock.

“Open your suitcase.”

“Excuse me?”

“Jane, open.”

Something tells me this is a test where any protest will have me back for psychoanalysis with Dr.Harvey.

I lay the suitcase down to do the pin code, open and get up.

Rebecca kneels and starts rummaging through like a customs officer. She begins by opening and whiffing a few creams. Then she takes my metallic nail file; who knows; I could decide to stab myself and my hair razors.

“Hey, can’t I shave my legs?”

“You’ll wax from now on.”

“But, Abby.”

“I’m not Abby; I’m yourㅡ.”

I wait; honestly, I doubt that she’ll say it, but I still find myself with what seems to be high expectations.

The words seem stuck in her throat, Rebecca looks like she about to puke it, and I can’t take anymore, “are you done, inspector?” I exclaim with an eyebrow cocked for the occasion.

“Jane, it’s only for your good,” Rebecca says as she gets up with her catch.

“In that case, you shouldn’t even give me bedspreads. Nutcases imagination has no limits.”

Those on the other side can’t understand this. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Even a dumbass like me can become as smart as Richard Dean Anderson in MacGyver if we wish to end it. Belts, shoelaces, even paper can become an instrument of torture.

Rebecca stares at the bed wistfully before displaying a plastic grin and walking out.

As soon as she leaves, I collapse on the floor. It won’t be easy. I’m personae non-gratae here. Even so, I made it this far; there’s no way I’m going back.

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