TRACKSIDED

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TAEWON

I’m not all alone, something does throw a ray of light in my life, and I can’t live without it; there it is waiting for me on the side of Mirae’s mansion, my Hyosung GT250TR. The ultimate getaway, refuge, and the last gift my parents gave me, thank goodness I chose to follow Mirae’s car on it last night; otherwise, right now, I would be walking home.

I start the engine, and I’m knocked out by reality with one thought here’s another day of life without them.

A tide of sorrow rises in my heart; if it’s not hyperventilation I experience, I find myself choking in broad daylight. It’s as though I stop inhaling, and I’m in apnea. I live holding my breath and wonder what’s the point of my existence.

So, I dream, often of death, and wish for it to visit me.

People cannot imagine how freezing the canon of a gun is. It’s so cool you get the impression your skin is on fire. Click, click, click, I play Russian roulette with my life - holding the gun to the side of my head, pointing it towards my heart, and on the worst days putting it to my mouth.

On those occasions where I desire to end my misery, one question holds me back.

Why should I kill myself when my parent’s and brother’s murderer runs free?

You can’t die first.

The police say it was a hit and run; somehow, my mind can’t accept it. I mean, we’re in South Korea, not in 16 blocks New York. We’ve got CCTV everywhere; you can’t do a hit and run in Seoul.

This thought torments me, and I’ve concluded, my family murderer is untouchable, which means it’s either a chaebol or a wealthy ex-pat.

Social status doesn’t matter. All I know is I must kill that person first before I do anything else with my sad life.

My bike climbs the slope to my apartment, and I park just in front of the three-story building.

After my parent’s death, staying in the apartment close to campus was impossible since it was way over my budget. The insurance was reluctant to pay up, looking for all types of excuses to verse 1/3 of what they should have.

As far as relatives go, I didn’t want to be a burden, my uncle offered to take me in, and I accepted, but it became difficult to be in a family unit which wasn’t mine. I felt like a jigsaw piece in which they tried to fit into the wrong puzzle placing it randomly, hoping it will work. There’s that and the money issue; it always comes up.

First, come the sharp stares, the disputes which stop when you enter the room. Then you have the questions, how’s college life, how do you manage to pay for this and that?

The stares become suspicious, and before you know it, everyone thinks you have some money stashed somewhere. Nine months later, I was on the street; no one threw me out, I left.

People are people; the worst comes out when money is at stake, sometimes one can even be wealthy but desiring more pushes them to react.

Now, I live here in this rooftop apartment in Noryangjin, it’s cold in winter, and a furnace in summer, a little damp, the roof is a bit low, and I’m two months late on the rent. Despite that, it’s the only place I can call home even though it’s temporary.

311726, hash key, and the door to my wasteland clicks open; the room is a mess. The newspaper clippings of the accident cover the wallpapers brown spots; one can barely see the coffee table where my law books are stacked.

My clothes are dispersed here and there, with all my odd jobs, I don’t have time to fix the place, and as I said, it’s temporary investing in the residence will mean I plan to stay. That’s something I won’t do.

When I lost my spot on the national swimming team, I changed and enrolled in SNU Law. Tuition and bills, I’m barely poking my head out of the water, but I must go to the end of this. It’s the only legal way I have of discovering the truth one day.

Studying is what I do when I don’t hunt information; it’s also an occupation that prevents me from drowning in the abyss of negativity. It’s a way of absorbing the massive flux of anxiety, which seems like a second skin I can’t shed.

As I mentioned, the person who ruined my existence is probably untouchable, and to approach them; there aren’t many options. Seoul is full of millionaires, celebrities, and business tycoons. Finding this person is like looking for a needle in a haystack without cash or connections.

The method I’m using to track the driver down is simple; I work where these people are, nightclubs, sports clubs, golf courses, restaurants, hotels, you name them, I’ve been there, and if I haven’t, I won’t be long before I get there.

I observe, ask questions, and speculate with the hope someone will speak one day.

Working in those places is also how I end up waking up next to women like Mirae. Neglected by husbands on business trips, men who are probably cheating on them with a PA or flight attendant, these beautiful house babes tango with me while the big wallet is away.

My phone vibrates in my pocket:

Caller Soo Ae

“What do you want?”

“How are you?”

“I told you not to call anymore,” I say as my eye follows a spider swings down from the ceiling and is now dangling on its thread.

“밥은 잘 챙겨먹고 다니지? “[ Are you eating well?].

“Don’t play dumb Soo Ae, don’t call anymore.”

As usual, I end the call, being aggressive towards her. It’s stronger than me, despite that Soo Ae still doesn’t want to let go.

Soo Ae is from a respectable family; her dad works at City Hall. Her mother is a housewife, and her sister is a promising violinist. Soo Ae herself is an archer who joined the National team when I did. We are worlds apart now that I’m an orphan, without money.

In Korean standards, I’m no longer an eligible party. I figured it out when I spied the message Soo Ae’s mother sent her about a Sogaeting [type of blind dating] a month after my parent’s death.

It was evident Soo Ae’s parents would not leave me with their daughter after what happened. They’re responsible parents; they must look out for their child’s future.

Who in their right mind would allow their beloved daughter, with a penniless guy still mourning his parents?

A guy who doesn’t care enough for his life can not have someone else’s entrusted in his hands.

I accept that, but Soo Ae refuses to comprehend. I don’t know what she is expecting. It’s as though she hopes time will heal everything, and we’ll get back together.

The problem is that even if I could get back with her, I wouldn’t because she is an imprint of the happy moments of my life. When I see her, I see my mother buying her energy drinks, Min Ho asking her to teach him to aim, and my dad playing chess with her.

Soo Ae was part of a puzzle that doesn’t exist anymore, and I can’t face the memory mirror she represents.

Our love burned in the car that took my family’s life, and we can’t rebuild it with ashes.

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