TRACKSIDED

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매일

TAEWON

It’s one of those days, but every day one of them.

A day where I wake up with dried tears on my cheeks, next to a girl, I don’t know, usually in her apartment.

It’s one of those times where I wish to forget their absence and the fact I stand alone in this world. A moment where I want my remains to be in an urn beside them.

보고 싶어[I miss you]

Is there an instant to stop mourning or at least a minute when the pain stops?

I spend every hour, every minute, and every fraction of a second of every day in remembrance of them. I’m obsessed and addicted to suffering; it’s what murders and keeps me alive.

When I think of how they must have suffered, I want to die.

Can you imagine burning alive or waking up to the sight and the heat of scorching flames?

When those images float to the surface of my mind, I hyperventilate; I experience a panic attack though I wasn’t there, and I don’t have the trauma.

“Are you awake?” She whispers with the smell of Soju [Korean liquor] still strong, leaking Rimmel and smothered lipstick; she is hot like any inflatable Gangnam bae. Still, she isn’t enough to keep me wrapped under her covers. No sex or other vice can hold me down.

“I’m leaving.”

Before she can react, I sit up, slick my hair back, snatch my trunks, and pick up my scattered clothes. Her blank stare follows me as I put on my jeans and stretch my t-shirt to slip my head inside.

“Hey, you can’t just go like this, I meanー.”

There are things I don’t get. This woman was playing it all professional femme fatale yesterday. I thought she accepted the deal; I guess I was mistaken. I’m always wrong; reading those damn signs and between the lines isn’t my prerogative because I give no 개똥 [gaé toung=dog poop] about them.

It’s all about sex.

Sex is a substitute like caffeine and tobacco; it doesn’t numb the pain, but during those couple of minutes, my mind goes blank, and that’s what I relish. Other daily drugs don’t procure such a moment, and as a former sports professional, I find pills and alcohol distasteful. So I have sex a lot; one can call me a whore or anything else I don’t care. The label doesn't bother me one bit; I don't have a reputation or anything else to protect. Without a family, you're worthless; Korean society doesn't recognize the existence of an individual. We live and thrive through life via a family unit. And please, may this unit have both parents alive, no chronic or mental illness to note, financial assets, clean criminal records, and above all, a good education. Eh, as you can see, there aren't many boxes I can tick on that checklist. Thus I'm no one. Just another flea destined to perish unnoticed.

There’s only one thing I care about, the chauffeur of the other car. My mind wonders about him as much as I think of my family. They are an essential part of my existence.

My heart yearns for the driver who took their lives like some psychotic lover. The driver lingers in my head every day.

Are they happy and healthy?

Because I’m not.

Do they have a family?

Because I don’t.

Do they think of the accident?

Because I do.

Do they regret it, or are they repenting?

“Tae Won,” my one-nighter interrupts my thoughts wrapping her arms around my neck. Her fingers caress the nip making my baby hairs stand up.

Wow, I can’t believe she knows my name when I don’t remember hers. What was it again? Yum Mi, Gum Mi, or Bum Mi?

“Eh,ー.”

“Mirae.”

Damn, I was way off track.

“Don’t you want to have breakfast? My husband won’t be back from his business trip tomorrow.”

Mirae words remind me why I leave while they are sleeping, playing an affair soap opera where I hide in the closet, or I jump out the window at the sound of turning keys or beeps of a door code isn’t my thing.

Going for punching rounds also is a no-no; finding myself held in custody is costly, I can't afford either lawyer or bail.

Women like Mirae are blasé by their wealth and daily routine, consisting of shopping and brunching with other homemakers of their caliber. They gather in hotels and country clubs, gossiping, comparing new noses and breasts.

They seek thrills, and I’m a cheap and good one at that; it’s a give-and-take situation. The sex is enough for me; I don’t need more. I’m not a gigolo.

“Listen, Mirae, I don’t do breakfast in bed and all that stuff; it was fun but, let’s stop here.”

I remove her arms from my neck. She blinks her eyes in disbelief, vexed and offended, but what the heck. No, I don’t need a woman in my life, especially a married one, at least a decade older than me.

Four years ago, when I was a promising swimmer saying this sort of thing wouldn’t have been on the day’s schedule because this scene would never occur.

With a thoroughly planned life, a spot in the national team, and a beautiful girlfriend, who I was sure to marry, everything seemed flat and well laid out. My destiny was a straight line like a 400 yards swim where I could even do a freestyle.

Sadness for me represented a few days away from a pool, and my only complaint in life was not to be able to compete in every category. Back then, I didn’t even realize how blessed I was, nor did I ponder about the probabilities of having that bliss taken away because there was no reason to do so.

I possessed the world’s greatest assets and richness: looks, brains, family, friends, and a gorgeous girl who loved me.

What more could I ask for?

Then it tragedy struck, the kind that destroys and reduces one to the simple composition of their DNA.

“I’m sorry, Mirae,” I say while putting on my shoes and walking to the door where I step out.

The door slams.

That’s how my life is now, a sequence of slammed doors.

Dramatic, isn’t it?

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