TRACKSIDED

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용서

TAE WON

More than a year has passed. I resumed my swimming career differently. The media exposure of the case made it impossible for me to stay in Korea.

I didn’t assist the trial, and I was in America when the verdict came. We won, and I received 90 million won [79 776 USD] compensation money, representing 30 million won for each victim. It’s what my lawyer asked for, and I’m surprised the Austen’s accepted or that they possessed that much money.

All the family I have from here to Mongolia, which evaporated suddenly reappeared to support me. Distant relatives remembered my existence.

We all know how shallow people can be, but when it’s your blood that’s cunning and kissing up to you, one truly feels alone.

And I’ve never been so lonely; it’s emptiness so thick that I doubt I’ll be seeing the end of it in this lifetime.

To be honest, I don’t care about the money; it doesn’t change reality. So I gave my uncle 30 million, and I wanted to give the rest to my gran, but she refused. Now it’s blocked in an account; I don’t live off the compensation as I am a full-time assistant instructor for the National swimming team comity.

One can say I’m living comfortably; I don’t beat my pockets in search of money or slide my hands in all the hollow parts of my couch to see if I can find the 5₩ I dropped.

Weirdly, many people believe money can solve all issues, but they can’t be more wrong. It can’t bring someone back.

I find myself spacing out sometimes; I haven’t been able to put my emotions in order.

I lost my feet when Brad Nixon called me to say Jane woke up.

How am I feeling?

I take it a step at a time. I know the whole truth now. Brad told me how Jane’s mom disguised the accident and smuggled her daughter out of the country. How, during all the years which followed, guilt consumed Jane to the point they hospitalized continuously.

I finally got the reasons which explain the various disorders Jane had. He also revealed to me how Mona Austen played on her cousin with the messages she sent. Brad excused himself, estimating what Mona did was his fault.

These days the guy has almost become a friend. Brad calls me to see how I’m doing; he’s incredibly polite. It’s as though the man feels obliged to be that way.

What shocks me is to think meeting Jane was a coincidence. I mean, the girl wasn’t searching for me. Jane only had the victim’s names, and she knew nothing about me. It’s hard to believe she just happened to be running on the Hangang River, that she needed to stand across from me on the side tracks, and of all the tutors of Seoul, I was the one chosen to teach her. When I think about it all, I get migraines.

Having been close to Jane, I know for a fact our encounters weren’t calculated. Perhaps it’s underestimating her evilness, but I can’t slam that default on her back.

What I can’t seize, and it’s a mystery to me still today, is why did she carry on meeting me?

The most significant interrogation mark is, can I forgive her someday?

I think I can’t, even despite everything Brad told me. I can’t, and I doubt someone can blame me. Still, I can’t help but being glad knowing Jane is alive somewhere.

Is this normal, or is there something seriously wrong with me?

I stop pondering as other thoughts start to queue up as I’m about to live another epic scene of my life.

How much can this heart of mine take?

A lot seems the appropriate answer.

The whole scenario appears surreal. One would believe it’s a book, but it’s the story of my life. A twisted tale that isn’t getting better as I watch Kyeong Soo Ae walk down the aisle.

Soo Ae has never been this beautiful; I’ve dreamt of this scene again and again, but never did I imagine this. My breath is stuck in my throat as she links hands with a man who isn’t me.

It’s Kyeong Soo Ae’s and Cha Woo Bin’s wedding, and I’m a spectator.

Nothing is carved in stone in life; I acknowledge more than ever as the ceremony begins.

It’s a prestigious wedding, but one can’t expect anything else for an Olympic gold medalist archer and her businessman husband.

Soo Ae avoids looking my way; I almost want to thank her. A reminiscing stare would be too much for me to handle.

I loved Soo Ae with all my might, but sometimes love means letting go.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the reasons for the break up with Soo Ae weren’t just linked to my self-destruction mission. Deep down, I knew Soo Ae deserved a better love, and I can tell by the way Cha Woo Bin is gazing at her that he is ready to endorse the responsibility of giving her that love.

As they kiss, I decide to leave, I’m not a fan of weddings, and I don’t want to find myself facing her.

The rays of light burn me as I step out of the Shilla hotel.

I wish it would rain; I need water.

We’re in July; it’s hot and stuffy. It should be raining; I sound evil, don’t I?

I doubt the Just Married couple would appreciate it, but I obsessively desire rain to drop. Huge raindrops that drench you to the bone and make the street deserts.

My skin feels dry; I feel like a fish stranded on the beach. I could go to a swimming pool to wallow my lost first love, but it’s Saturday, and the banks are crowded and what I want is peace. All I can do is loosen my necktie in the hope of getting more air.

I have to admit when the trial opened, I wanted Soo Ae by my side, I yearned for her harassing text messages, but nothing came.

Then the gossip made its way to my gran’s restaurant, and it’s funny because I was pissed, thinking to myself Soo Ae should be pampering me.

Yeah, I’m that selfish. Soo Ae is lucky to have gotten away. The vampire I am would have sucked the life out of her.

“Let it rain, jaebal.”

I walk down a few blocks when my phone vibrates. I pull it out of my pocket; I see the caller’s name and take the call.

“Yeobeoseyo.”

Three sentences are all I hear before my phone falls to the ground, and its screen shatters. The sounds amplify, and then nothing, I can’t understand a thing. I turn on myself, confused, dizzy; I fall on my knees. Passers-by stop to stare at the man whose shame is covered by drops, huge drops.

It starts to rain.

Sometimes, just sometimes, God seems to listen.

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