“It’s me, don’t you remember? We reincarnated to meet again. I finally found you.”
A stream of people floated around them. Each glued to the left, the right. Footsteps tip-tack-tip-tack. Chatters hushed, shoulders drawn, coattails swinging. Namjoo furtively held the prosecutor’s eyes receiving only the look reserved for the unusual.
“Move.” Smooth, milky voice. Cold. Impatient.
Blocking his side step, she let out, “You love me.”
The crease of his forehead as brows drew together. Rolling his eyeballs, he shoved past on quick feet.
“You know you do!” She screamed after him catching, now, the attention of bypassers, swift turn of the heads. Gawkers. Many wondering why a woman in a pink gown was wandering around the subway. Thick perfume, face streaked in professional makeup, nails painted in coats of soft reds and deep pinks decorated with silver gems and delicate flowers. Whilst around her smelled of grease, leather, exhaustion of men and women weary from pulling overtime; the regret of waking too early, resigning to this life.
She was painfully out of place in the civilian universe.
Three days ago, Kim Namjoo flew back home not on her own accord. You are getting engaged, Dear Father wrote. The audacity of the crinkly man to send her a prepared emblazoned invitation to her own engagement. The plastic card dutifully knotted, tied with a dainty sheer purple ribbon, her favorite color.
Needless say, Namjoo shred it into a million pieces.
Two choices were given: stay in Madrid where she’d been purposefully residing after graduation or go home and destroy the engagement.
The latter sounded most delicious, so Namjoo packed what little she had, bought a ticket, and flew home to the heart of South Korea where her family waited. Dutifully, excited to tie her future, throw a grand scale wedding monstrous enough to atone for what should haves, should have beens. But Namjoo was not here to be peaceful.
This is her statement: I am stronger now and I am ready to make you pay
Sharp air conditioner slashed her face as the doors slid open. Rolling her suitcase behind her Namjoo joined the crowd quickly being assaulted by friends and family alike. Hearing the usual jumble of I missed you, did you have fun, how was your trip, what happened, the kids are so excited to see you! et cetera et cetera.
Striding right on through, Namjoo crossed the fort of plastic chairs and travelers way too prepared for several days’ trip. Stacks of luggage, fruit boxes piled on top of one another bound to fill up valuable space on the aircraft. Shabby mothers proudly wielding their dark visors across their foreheads. Fleece sweaters, vests, strictly permed hair that made the scalp scream.
Wading through the afternoon swarm Namjoo crossed the last of the sleek lobby. Doors hissed open. Blinding light stung her eyes never minding the whiteness of the late winter sky. From somewhere the yellow orb was as intent as her to cause damage.
A horn beeped drawing her attention. Not far from her left a trunk popped open in unison with the driver’s door. Coming around from the hood to approach her a black uniformed man formally bowed in greeting.
“The Senior sent me,” he informed. The driver sported a crew cut. Beneath his clad suit his wide shoulders loudly made their announcement to the world. Fine lines creased beneath his eyes. Not too smudged from too much labor which meant he slept and ate well. He was prim and proper, anxious to impose a lasting impression that may somehow someway get him up the ladder to a better life.
“Marine?” Namjoo asked.
“Yes, ma’am. I just got released.”
The corner of lifted. Patting his shoulder, Namjoo stepped off the curb, “Good luck.”
Helping herself to the back door Namjoo slipped inside. Through the window the driver appeared flustered that she’d taken his job right from under his nose. Oh no, what would the Head of House affairs say now? Deduct his month’s salary? Take his blanket away?
Sharing no conversation Namjoo leaned back into the black leather seat and stared out the window. Buildings flushed past in grays and browns and whites. Of everything she forgot and remembered nothing seemed to have changed as if time had dipped only to rise on routine; same, forever unchanging.
Thick white clouds hovered around the sun barely seen. Just there, some kind of weak glow despite hurting her earlier. They were one and the same she supposed.
The tires hit a hump in the road as they drove up to iron bars. Gold snakes twined up the bars as if to proclaim this estate was protected. The majestic gates that whispered wealth and fame.
The driver buzzed them in. A loud whir and the gates automatically opened like the doors for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves except she didn’t think her family had enough gold bars and antiques to be desired. Money, though, a thief may want in volumes.
An 80-acre yard of flatbed white and ice opened up around them. Pines and trees a flourish green in warmer seasons dusted in white as if by sugar powder. The road smooth concrete under the car with a few bumps here and there, no big deal. Most likely by salt and some chemical. No accident should be had on her father’s property.
The path went right up to the house where four concrete steps sloped up to dome doors. The parking shed was off to the side. Six garage doors. A building that housed her father’s beloved vehicles of limited editions. A Mercedes was one, her favorite in youth.
Choosing to park there would take approximately a minute walk in the frigid cold to the house, but, of course, that was inappropriate for the house’s Little Lady. And on her first day back? If the driver was looking to be fired, maybe.
A smooth turn and Namjoo’s door was now parallel to the stairs. Silence buzzed around her as she waited for him to open the door for her. Another nod of the head. That polite bow again that spoke of a distance to be kept between employee and boss. As the marine went to retrieve her luggage, Namjoo, for the first time in five years, stared at the expansive gold brown brick home boasting three stories.
Casa Marseille lamps hung off two side pillars that held up the front foundation of Kim Manor appropriating that fancy yet stylish glamor befitting her mother’s taste. Wide front windows opened up to views of the yard, the road, the sky, whatever the looker wished to see.
Inside, the ceilings soared. The grand rooms – her father’s language – were reserved for official business, quiet times, drinking hours; just depended which room one was in and the mood of said individual. Fireplaces opened up like a giant hole in the wall in those grand rooms. Deep plush furniture topped with throw pillows, again, her mom’s choosing.
Design and remodeling were left in her mother’s charge, because in her father’s words, there could be no fault.
Life here had truly been established by her parents for her parents