TRACKSIDED

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심장

My mentor, Park Guk Seok, used to say, the most significant serial killer of all time is the heart. It’s true, I think, my heart has never been in such a frenzy even for Soo Ae.

It’s not that I didn’t love Soo Ae, but all loves are different; no one can love you or be loved the same way.

Right now, I see the difference, I haven’t seen Jane for five days, and I swear it seems like a decade. She fills every fraction of a second. All the images of the time we shared keep flashing past like snapshots.

I think I’m going to die if I don’t see her, and I’ll die still if I do.

Jane hasn’t replied to any messages written or vocal.

I mean, I left a verbal message, and I hate doing that.

And now I’m about to see someone and do something I never thought I would.

In these last five years, where I only saw myself, and I neglected many people. Good people who stretched their hand to me, but I slapped it away.

Coach Park was one of them.

“Coach.”

Coach Park turns slowly; it’s like he’s seen a ghost; he squints his eyes, advances, and grabs me in a hug. He’s old, but he still has strong arms. Coach Park used to look like a giant now appears small as his head is under my chin. He pulls away; I knew I would find him here; he’s the only guy who pays a swimming pool entry to watch others swim.

The former champion spends his time scouting since his wife passed away 17 years ago. That’s how he found me; swimming is his life. Once the love of his life was gone, he devoted his existence to his second love.

“Tae Won, come and sit.”

I join him, and together we watch a class of middle school students do their laps in the pool.

“So, what brings you?”

Coach Park is one of those people who doesn’t talk about personal matters unless you bring up the subject. It’s practical for the shameless coward I am.

“I’m sorrㅡ.”

“Are you going to swim or not?”

“Coach.”

The old man turns to face me, “isn’t what you came to tell me?”

“Yes, butㅡ.”

“Good, come here every day, you know my hours. I will only make the calls if what I see pleases me.”

And all is forgiven.

Coach Park is a rarity, no one of life’s oddities. He doesn’t hold a grudge, and he accepts people as they are. He’s like a spiritual father to me, and I’m ashamed of the behavior I had towards him. Coach park used all his influence to keep the reasons for my abrupt departure from the pool under wraps.

And I know that if he makes the calls, he said, I’ll be back in business in no time.

I get up and bow.

“Oy, stop with that, see you tomorrow,” he says.

I start to walk away when he yells, “what’s her name?”

“Her name is Jane.”

Years ago, the coach told me about the world’s most significant serial killer, and he also revealed the world’s most excellent pain relief was love.

In all my sufferings, someone appeared. I think I can love Jane if it’s not already the case. I know that Jane will take up as much space in my heart as I let her. It’s something I think I have control over, but I don’t, but I’m sure I could give my all.

Coach Park waves me away, and I go to meet my lover to be.

My joy barometer plummets to a minus 100 level when I meet Jane.

“Annyeong.”

“Hi.”

Jane doesn’t need to speak. I can tell something is wrong just by looking at the piece of tissue she is shredding. I’m sure she’s not even aware of what she’s doing.

“How have you been?”

Jane rubs her eyes, “not so good.”

“What’s the problem?”

“It was a mistake that night in the pool was a mistake.”

Jane is simple; there are no metaphors or reading between the lines to do with her. She speaks her mind when asked, and right now, I know she isn’t toying for attention but genuinely scared.

“It wasn’t a mistake for me, and despite what you are saying, I doubt it’s what it was for you.

“Tae Won.”

“Did your parents say something?”

“No.”

“Then what is it?”

“Tae Won, I’ve told you once, you’ll regret knowing me. Let’s stop here before it’s too late. I’m not a recommendable girl. I meant to tell you this, but I’ve been holding myself back because I like all the attention you’ve given me. I’m not a girl for you; go back to Soo Ae. She’s the one you need, and the only one who can give you what you deserve.”

“Don’t say things like that.”

“Remember the dealer who you thought was aggressing me? He was just trying to sell me his dope. The guy didn’t choose me randomly; the dealer came to me because I used to buy his shit. I’m not an angel Tae Won; if you knew how dirty I am, you wouldn’t even look at me.

It’s funny; everything Jane says is just passing through me. I’m not even hurt because I won’t let go. I won’t let go because I know Jane. She’s afraid of us and the compound we represent. She’s convinced we’ll blow up.

I’m listening and learning more about her.

The void she carries seems to open and motions to swallow me. Of course, what she says about the drugs shock me. Old Tae Won would have walked away. As a former athlete and someone who hates drugs, I condemn her behavior.

What Jane is telling me is probably what Brad was talking about when he said I wouldn’t handle her and that I should go along and play with innocents. Still, I can’t turn my back on Jane because I know now how demons merge and torment us.

To numb the pain and flee suffering, people do crazy things. I did somethings too that I’m not proud of, which would have my parents and brother rolling in their grave.

Jane’s words have the same effect as coach Gong, and Soo Ae had. The more she tries to repel me, the more I want to stay. Not that I’m an SM, it’s just most men like challenges, and I guess I’m part of that type of guy. I’m a competitor; I don’t give up easily. I’ve given up once in my life. Yes, I forfeited with Soo Ae; that was different. I like to believe the circumstances were justified concerning her.

Jane is trying to push me away, and I’m hanging on because what she evokes is irrelevant to the man I am today.

I don’t know why but Soo Ae keeps popping into my mind, and I realize this is how she probably felt. Now I know why I couldn’t go to her, she should have left me. I might have come back on my own. Instead, she clung and forced herself to me when I needed space.

As Jane speaks and I’m thinking of what I should apply to our situation, I have all the failed examples. I’m not supposed to make the same errors.

Retreat.

Jane needs space; she is recovering from her fever; she’s tired and only came because I persisted on the phone.

I’ll give her time to figure it out, and I hope she chooses me.

Even though she says nothing happened, I can see the angst behind her stare.

People were already against our relationship before we even realized we had feelings for one another. I understand her; let’s say I’m trying to understand.

“Jane, listen, no matter what you say, I’ve made up my mind, 저는 재인 씨를 좋아해요 [I like you, Jane].

And my statement is a euphemism.

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