I closed the car door gently and tried my best to give my mother a convincing smile. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
She rounded the front of the car and held my hand. “It’s just you were quiet all the way back home, and for me that’s unusual.”
I frowned. “Unusual?”
We walked hand in hand up the path towards our home. “Well, usually you give me a lecture about how relaxing punk music can be.”
I chuckled because it was true. My mother liked listening to music whenever she was driving but to her, music was listening to the classical radio station. Once, I tried giving her the benefit of the doubt and gave listening to classical music a chance, but five minutes of listening to the flute and I was bored shitless. I switched off the channel and shoved a Marilyn Manson CD in and listened to his seductive voice singing about Tainted Love. My mother? Yeah, she wasn't a fan.
“I don’t think you’ve ever listened to any of my lectures, Eomma. (Mother) Naneun pogihaessseubnida.” (I’ve given up.)
“You’ve given up, have you? And here I thought you weren’t a quitter.” She nudged me playfully.
As we got closer to the house, I couldn’t help but think about mentioning to my mother what happened tonight.
I didn’t know what else to do.
I had to tell somebody.
She looked over and smiled. “Yes, honey.”
I brought us to a stop. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course, Maggie. Anything.”
I took a deep breath and exhaled. “Do you know if you saw something bad, like really bad, what would you do?”
She thought for a moment. “I think that really depends on what it is I saw.”
“And what if you saw, for example, was...a dead body?”
She answered instantly. “Then, I'd definitely tell the cops. No questions asked.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
Just as I walked away, she grabbed my wrist roughly. “Is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine.” I lied.
She studied me closely. “Because if you saw something like that, you can tell me. Or if you don’t want to tell me, then you must go to the cops. There are bad people everywhere. Especially here, Maggie. Some are even closer than you think.”
Before I could ask her about that last statement, she continued to walk up to the house. At least I knew what I was going to do tomorrow morning; go to the cops and reveal what the Jinyoung brothers had done tonight.
We come to the front door where we’re met by Jeffrey, our butler. He opened the door for us and immediately offered to take our coats.
“Thanks.” I murmured.
He nodded in acknowledgment as he removed my black puffer coat from my shoulders, and hung it by the door. “Did you have a nice evening, miss?”
“I did.” I gave him a cheeky grin. “But it would have been a lot better if you were there.”
He chuckled. “You are too kind, miss.”
Mother tutted. “I’m sorry if my company bores you, Maggie.”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s not what I meant, mother.”
“Nope.” She put up her hand and did her best to hide her smile. “Talk to the hand because the face isn’t listening.”
I held onto Jeff’s arm and pulled him in front of me. “Jeff, she’s being mean to me. Protect me!”
He merely chuckled. “I very much doubt that, miss.”
I whimpered as I leaned close into his ear, but loud enough for my mother to hear. “You don’t know what she’s like. She’s evil. When I’ve been naughty, she locks me up in my room and starves me.”
She gasped. “Maggie! Jungji!” (Stop!)
I nudged Jeffrey playfully. “See? She’s telling me to stop because she doesn’t want you to find out. Get me out of here!”
My mother marched towards me and whacked me on the shoulder. “Geuleohge malhaji mala!” (Don’t say that!)
I took my hands off Jeffrey and chuckled. “Fuck, that was fun.”
She pointed at me and said in a stern voice. “Maggie! Eon-eo!” (Language!)
Mother shook her head at me and put her hand reassuringly on Jeffrey’s arm. “I’m terribly sorry about that.”
“There’s no need to apologize, Ma’am.” Jeffrey said politely.
She glared over at me. “I do because sometimes Maggie takes things too far. She doesn’t know when to stop.”
It was true; I didn’t know when to stop but how else was I supposed to joke around with my mother and get her to smile, especially without my father around? Throughout the years, we had moments where we’d be winding each other up and end up laughing about it for over an hour. But it’s even more hilarious whenever Jeffrey’s around because he always took my side.
I gasped. “I take things too far? I’m not the one who fakes having a heart attack.”
Mother gasped. “Naneunhaji anhseubnida!” (I do not!)
I pointed at her. “Yes, you do. You took it so far that once I ended up calling the ambulance because I actually thought you’d died.”
She waved me off. “Jeffrey, I don’t know what she’s talking about.”
Jeffrey winked at me. “Actually, I did see you do that, Ma’am.”
Her eyes widened. “Don’t encourage my daughter, Jeffrey.”
Jeffrey bowed his head, but his smile remained. “My apologies.”
My mother scowled over at me. “My daughter has a tendency to overreact.”
“That I do.” I yawned. “Anyway, thank you for tonight, mother. I had a nice time.”
She smiled lovingly back at me, our banter now forgotten. “So did I. We should do it again sometime.”
I nodded. “Totally.”
She blew me a kiss and walked up the stairs, preparing herself for bed.
As I took off my black pumps, I heard Jeffrey clearing his throat behind me. “Would you like me to make you something to eat before you go to bed, miss? Maybe a hot chocolate with marshmallows on the top?”
I couldn’t help but smile at his words. Whenever I couldn’t sleep, Jeffrey would always make me his special hot chocolate, and when my father left home, Jeffrey’s hot chocolate was the only thing that helped me go to sleep. It was the perfect nightcap.
“Would you like me to prepare it for you, miss?” He asked
I smiled politely as I shook my head. “It’s alright, I’m only going to have a glass of water, and head to bed myself.”
“Very well. Call me if you need anything.”
I nodded. “I will.”
I watched Jeffrey walk up the stairs, and the moment he was out of sight, I dropped the smile from my face and dragged my feet to the kitchen. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and placed it on the counter. I then rested my hands on either side of the sink and exhaled. I let my head hang loose as I think over what happened just minutes ago.
Tonight, I saw a dead body being thrown into the shore in plain sight, but that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that I knew who did it.
“What the fuck am I supposed to do?” I whispered to myself.
With trembling hands, I grabbed the glass, put it under the tap and turned the nozzle. I took a deep breath and released it. I wonder who the person inside the sheet was? Could it have been someone important? Like the President or a famous celebrity? No. Jeffrey would’ve told us the second he saw us if it was somebody of that status.
I shook my head.
I needed some air.
I walked to the backdoor that led out to the garden, but as I reached for the doorknob, a shadow passed one of the kitchen windows.
Someone was here.
I took a step outside to see who was there and stood in a protective stance only to realize what a big mistake I had made upon seeing who the intruders were.
I dropped the glass of water and quickly swiveled around to get back inside the house, but before I could take a step, a body slammed into me from behind, slamming their hand violently down over my mouth, stopping me from screaming. I can feel the pressure of my screams getting caught up in the back of my throat. Silent muffles are pathetically escaping my mouth. I couldn’t even swallow. My mouth had constricted itself so tightly. Despite the tight grip on my body, I kicked and thrash as hard as I could, but it was useless. Nothing could have prepared me for this kind of fight. All of the self-defense classes I’d taken had all gone out the window. I had no chance in hell of getting out of this, but I refused to go down without a fight.
“Get the hell off me!”
I felt the intruder's hot breath against my ear, and the moment I heard his voice, a cold shiver ran down my back. “No.”
My breath hitched. “Yuta?”
He chuckled and pulled me away from the kitchen door. “Guānmén.” (Close the door.) He ordered someone behind him.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, my voice trembling.
“Why do you think we’re here?” Yuta whispered in my ear.
Behind me, I heard two footfalls.
The three brothers were here.
Yuta turned me around to face him and brought a knife up to my cheek. "You caught us doing something very bad, and now we have to resolve the problem. That problem is you."
I knew exactly what that meant.
They were here to kill me.
I opened my mouth to scream but he covered my mouth with his hands, and trailed the knife up and down my jaw. "Scream and It'll be the last thing you ever fucking do. Do you understand?"
"Good girl." He uttered, putting away the knife.
I whimpered. “I didn’t say anything to anyone!”
“Doesn’t matter.” Yuta replied, tightening his grip on me.
“Please! Let me go!” I pleaded.
The moment Yuta pulled me away from the door, I kicked and thrashed harder in a final attempt to break free. In my adrenaline induced panic, I almost got free. Almost. Yuta is forced to let go of my mouth to get a better grip on me. My diaphragm releases a gut-wrenching scream.
“Chen. Fucking shut her up!” Yuta whispered.
As we rounded the front of the house, I screamed louder, hoping that someone could hear me.
Mother, Jeffrey, anyone!
Yuta dragged me all the way to the van that was parked in front of our house. I realized I’d lost the battle when Yuta haphazardly threw me into the back of the empty van. Yuta and Chen jumped into the back and slammed the metal doors shut behind them.
The sound of the metal doors ringing in my ears might’ve just been the message that my fate had already been decided. The tires squealed as the van took off at high speed. The quick momentum of the vehicle tossed everyone around in the back of the van, including me.
I heard Chen and Yuta argue in Chinese while trying to get a foothold. The van sped down the road, taking me further away from my home and mother. I didn’t realize that I was still screaming until someone yelled from the front.
“Can someone shut her the fuck up!? I’m trying to drive here!” Kang yelled from the driver’s seat.
I looked over at Yuta to see him already coming towards me. With my hands still trembling, I moved backwards away from Yuta, only to be pulled roughly forward by my ankles. Yuta pulled me until we were face to face, then smacked his hand over my mouth in an attempt to make me stop.
Yuta looked directly into my eyes. “Stop fighting me. It’ll only get worse if you do.”
I cursed at him. “Fuck you.”
He smiled, and reached between my legs. “Is that what you want? Me between your thighs?”
I ignored his words and started wiggling and thrashing. Panic seeps in when I see Chen coming closer to assist Yuta. I brought up my leg and kicked him directly in the balls. Chen howled in pain and backed away, holding his crotch with both of his hands. I felt Yuta’s hand losing its grip over my mouth as I continued to scream and thrash. The more Yuta struggled, the harder I bit. I grimaced when I felt something wet spread over my lips. Blood.
“Fuck!” Yuta yelled.
Infuriated, he backhanded me ruthlessly across my temple with his other hand, but I refused to open my mouth. Chen attempted a second time to help his brother. Chen straddled his big body over mine and wrapped his big, thick hands all the way around my neck, cutting off my air. I felt beads of sweat beginning to form along my hairline; my breathing becoming more ragged.
“Let my brother go. Right now.“ Chen squeezed my neck even harder, sneering through clenched teeth. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
Lifting up my head with a death grip, Chen slammed the back of my head down against the hard metal floor of the van. Immediately, I start feeling dizzy as pain floods through my head, making me clamp down harder on Yuta, causing him to grunt out in pain. My body overrides my brain, I quit flailing around and begin clawing at Chen’s hands. My fingers find his muscular biceps, and I start digging my long fingernails deep into his skin. I felt his skin ripping and curling underneath my nails, drawing blood. The back of my head unexpectedly gets slammed against the van’s flooring again.
“Fuck this!” Chen growls, loosening his hold on me, and reaches for something next to him. My eyes widen when I see him holding a needle. I closed my eyes in regret when I felt the prick of the needle pierce my skin. Immediately my muscles begin to relax. My jaw loosens its grip, Yuta pulls his hand away from my mouth and inspects the damage. Releasing a heavy exhale, Chen removed his hold on me and sat back on his heels, staring at me as my lungs frantically clawed for deep breaths.
And that’s when everything goes black.