14. EmbarrassedBoy Next Door [ Hiatus ]
Skin and bones. I haven’t seen Yoona in months.
I don’t know how it’s possible, but she’s lost more weight. For as long as I can remember, Yoona has been too skinny. Now—body propped against the porch railing, sweater balled into a pillow to support her head—she looks like a pile of twigs wrapped in hippie rags.
Is she just asleep? Or has she been drinking again?
I flush with shame. That’s my mother. I don’t want Chanyeol to recognize her, even though it’s obvious the pieces have been put together, now that the question hangs in the air. Kris is rigid. He pulls the car into our driveway and turns off the engine. No one gets out. Suho swears under his breath.
“We can’t leave her there,” he says, after a minute passes.
Yoona climbs out, and Suho follows. I turn in my seat to watch them prod her, and she immediately startles awake. I release a breath that I didn’t realize I’d been holding. I get out of the car, and I’m blasted by the stench of body odor. Chanyeol is beside me, and he’s talking, but his words don’t reach my ears.
Because it’s my mother.
On my porch.
I duck away from him and push up the stairs, past Yoona and my parents.
“I fell asleep waiting for you to come home,” she snaps to them. “I’m not drunk. Just evicted.”
But I focus on my key in my hand, my key in the lock, my feet to my bedroom. I collapse in bed, but a voice says something about a curtain, it won’t stop talking about a curtain, so I haul myself up to shut it and then I’m back down. I hear them in the living room.
“Eighteen months?” Kris asks. “You told me it’d been twelve since your last payment. I thought we’d worked this out. What do you expect me—”
“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP. I JUST NEED A PLACE TO CRASH.”
The whole neighborhood can hear that. It takes nine long minutes before she lowers her voice. I watch the clock on my phone. Mirae calls. I stare at her name, but I don’t answer. When I was little, I thought my parents were just best friends who lived together. I wanted to live with Mirae when I grew up. It took a while for me to understand that the situation was more complicated than that, but by the time it happened, it didn’t matter. My parents were my parents. They loved each other, and they loved me. But there’s always been this nag in the darkest corner of my mind. I was right for Kris and Suho, like they were right for me.
Why wasn’t I right for Yoona? I know she wasn’t in any condition to take care of me, but why wasn’t I enough for her to try? And why aren’t we—the three of us, her family—enough for her to try now? She may not be on the streets anymore, but . . . well, this time, she is. Why is it so impossible for her to be a normal adult?
My phone buzzes. Mirae has sent a text:
i heard. what can i do? xoxo
My heart falls like a stone. She heard? How long was Yoona outside? How many people saw her? I imagine what my classmates will say when they find out that I have loser wired into half of my genetic code. Figures. It’s the only explanation for someone that screwed up. She must have been wasted while Miso was in the womb. But that’s not even true. I’m not half loser. I’m one hundred percent. I was created from street trash. Suho knocks on my door.
“Miso? Can I come in?” I don’t reply. He asks again, and when I don’t answer, he says, “I’m coming in.” My door opens.
“Oh, honey.” His voice is heartbroken. Suho sits on the edge of my bed and places a hand on my back, and