#19 "What I Need"
The first thing I thought when I opened my eyes?
Damn it. I have to call my dad.
Yeah. Not excited about that at all.
I reached out for my phone, rubbing the sleep off from my eyes. I yawned as I checked the time. 7 AM. Which meant that it was about 6 PM there.
First thing first, I stumbled into the bathroom and washed my face. After brushing my teeth too, I flopped down on my bed again and took a deep breath. I can do this.
I was nervous as hell as I made the call. The dial tone rang, rang, rang, and then...Stopped.
I took in a breath. Neither of us spoke. The tension was high. It was like we were daring each other to talk first.
“So. Is this how you make a phone call, son?” Dad said, his voice icy as ever.
“You made me. If it was my choice, I wouldn’t have called you ever.” I said, trying to compose myself.
“Glad to know that only threats will make you call me.” Dad said.
“What do you want. Why in the world can’t you call me first?” I said, sighing. I was just tired.
“...Have you been having enough rest, son?” Dad asked. I scoffed at that.
“What, you suddenly care about me? You dumped me in the strange environment, where I didn’t know anybody and-” I was on a role, but dad cut me off abruptly. God, I always hated him doing that.
“You had your mother’s family there.” Dad said.
“Yeah, whom I haven’t seen for years. I didn’t know anything about them. So how could I know whether or not I can believe in them, lean on them? I felt alone. Why can’t you just get why I was, no- am, angry at you?” I said, exasperatedly.
“You had it coming to you, son. I told you over and over. That you needed to be more serious, and-” Dad started to speak, but I cut him off. I had enough of this bullshit.
“Is this another lecture, dad? Because I don’t think I need it. Face it. You just wanted to get rid of me. Like you got rid of mom. And you succeeded. Congratulations.” I said, monotonously.
“What do you mean I-”
“You know what? I called, and I think I listened enough to what you had to say. Bye.” I said, hanging up the call. I thought back of the house in the states. My mother’s things all gone.
"Honey. Why don’t you come out and eat breakfast? I made your favorite. Kimchi stew." Grandma said, opening the door, smiling.
I smiled back as I nodded. ”Be out soon, grandma."
Grandma nodded as she gave me a warm smile. ”Sure.”
In a few months, this place felt more like home. This was what family was all about. You had to interact, eat together, spend some time together. Share memories.
My house in the states. It didn’t feel like home ever since mom died. Ever since dad erased all the traces of mom in the house. I still blamed him for that. For wrecking the chance for me to gradually let go of mom.
“The scores come out today.”
That definitely caught my attention. I looked up to find Jihoon looking serious.
“Okay...Well, That’s..” I said, kind of lost for words. I really wanted to make it into Mr.Shin’s special class. After all, If I was aiming for medical school...
“Oh god, she’s holding the scores.” Jihoon said as our homeroom teacher walked into our classroom, holding sheets of paper. The tapping of her heels made me feel antsy.
“Okay, the March PSAT mock test’s result is out. I’ll call out names, and you guys can grab your results. First, Kim Taeyoung,-” Our homeroom teacher called out one by one, a smile on her face. I definitely couldn’t smile right now.
I half-ran in front of the classroom, getting my results in hand. Before I could take a peek, the teacher grabbed my shoulder. ”Nice work, Sean.”
I managed a smile as I went back to my seat. Nice work? Did it meant that I did...Good?
I quickly unfolded the sheet and checked the score. My face turned more white. This was not good. Not at all.
“Hey, what score did you ge-” Jihoon started to speak. I just shook my head and gave him my results.
“Not bad! I can’t believe you did better in Korean than me. I mean it’s my mother language for god’s sake.” Jihoon cracked up as he shook his head.
“This is not good.” I said, groaning.
Jihoon patted my back. “I mean..yeah...But still.”
“I can’t get into medical school with these scores.” I said, feeling like throwing up.
"Are you okay, Sean?" A quiet voice asked. I turned around to face HyeJeong, looking at me with a concerned face.
"I’m fine. I...I’m okay.” I said, managing a smile. HyeJeong stared at me till she got up.
I stared at her all confused till she beckoned me to follow her. Which I did. I had to get out of there.
"Where are we going?" I asked, but HyeJeong just shook her head and went downstairs. We were in an empty room when HyeJeong stopped. It was a counseling office, with one big desk in the middle, with 8 chairs. She took a sit in one of them, and I sat at the opposite side of her.
"Why are we here?" I asked.
"Because you looked like you needed some space. And since class starts in 10 minutes, we couldn’t go far." HyeJeong said, sighing.
"Well, thanks. Seeing the grades just made me..."
"Wanting to throw up?“HyeJeong ended my sentence, closing her eyes.
I stared at her for a moment and closed my eyes too. ”Yeah."
"That makes two of us. I don’t know what my mom would say once she sees my score. I’m screwed." HyeJeong said, sighing.
"Why? How did you do?" I asked.
“22.214.171.124.2.” HyeJeong said.
Now for those who don’t know what it means, I’ll explain briefly. The PSAT consists of 5 tests. Korean.Math. English. Korean History. And one other social subject or science subject of your choice. The grades come out in levels. Level 1 is the highest and Level 9 is the worst score you can get.
"What...! Girl, you are crazy! You did flipping amazing!" I said, grinning, happy for her.
"Not to my mom. God, I’ll never get the end of it tonight for sure.” HyeJeong said, grimacing.
"Yikes. When I got 126.96.36.199.5." I said, forcing a laughter.
"But you are a foreigner, Sean. Not to mention you have been studying like crazy after you took the test. ” HyeJeong said, frowning.
"Still. I have been studying for months before I took the test. I should have done better. I’m not making into Mr.Shin’s class with this score.” I said, sighing.
"Don’t lose hope, Sean.” HyeJeong said, sighing too.
I checked the time and quickly got up. ”Okay, enough moping. Class starts soon. And hey, if your mom drills you too hard, just say fuck it, okay?"
HyeJeong laughed. ”My mom would probably kill me."
"Aww, I’ll stop her. After all, you ARE my fake little sister." I said, ruffling her hair. HyeJeong glared at me.
"I never said yes to that!" She said, slapping my hand away from her with a laugh.
"Pfft. Like it matters. That reminds me, let me make a nickname for you. How about JJeong?" I said, wrapping my arms on her shoulder.
"Hell no. That’s so corny." HyeJeong laughed, shaking her head.
As we made our way back to our classroom, I saw the Ice Queen herself.
“Hey! Queen!” I said, waving my hand.
The Ice Queen turned around, saw me, and went on her way without saying anything.
"Yikes. Did she mess up her test too? So Icy." I said, shaking my head.
HyeJeong laughed. ”What? Sia messing up a test? NEVER."
I grinned. ”Even monkeys fall from trees.”
HyeJeong shook her head at me. ”Now you are just cursing her to fail."
I fake gasped. ”No! I would never!"
HyeJeong scoffed. ”You do know that I’m Sia’s friend, right? She told me that you even messed up her phone."
"That wasn’t me.” I said, grinning.
"Oh sureee." HyeJeong said, giving me the eye.
I feigned hurt as I grabbed my heart. ”Aww. My sis doesn’t believe me."
HyeJeong merely rolled her eyes. ”Well, Bro. You look like the joker right now."
"Guilty." I said, laughing.
As I sat back down on my seat, I grabbed my report card and shoved it in my bag.
I just had to keep on going forward. I couldn’t be weak now.
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