All garage doors were closed. Meaning one thing: everyone was home.
No one welcomed her as she took the giant leap through the front doors. No mom running to ask her to stay to eat. No dad charging at her. Complete silence seemed to swallow Namjoo whole almost viciously.
Traveling down the barren corridor Namjoo peeked into the grand room with the staircase. Chief of Surgery wasn’t downing his two-finger drinks. Have two empty glasses handy in case he wanted to smash them out of anger. The furniture smelled new even though they’d been in this home for ages.
Namjoo thought about taking the trek to her room, see if her phone was on her vanity. She knew better. She had not left it in her room the day of the engagement. Dearest mommy or daddy had it in their possession, and were waiting for her to come retrieve it. It was like wagging a bone in front of a dog’s nose.
Namjoo had willingly walked into a trap. Peering down her left into another grand room that led to the dining room, she wondered, who else was here today?
Turning her back on the staircase, she slowly crossed the distance to her parents.
Food spiked the air as she neared. Shockingly, breakfast was in session this late in the morning. Like her parents had risen late morning and decided it was time to begin another day. Plates, bowls, big and large spread throughout the twelve-seater.
Stunning white light broadcasted strong waves into the dining room majestically, like it was God himself. Kim Huijae’s eyes flittered, but remained very casual. Too coolheaded. Took one bite, then another before reaching for the pure white napkin at the side. Swallowing satisfied after dabbing his lips clean.
Namjoo watched all this unmoving. The chair scraped back; her father rose to standing. More time rounding his way toward her. His shiny black shoes went click-click-click in slow-mo. In front of her his hand rose. Namjoo was neither ready nor unprepared to steel herself for the smack that made her ears ring. Her entire face burned despite only one cheek baring the rage. The shock was so immense the back of her eyes stung.
“How dare you.” Her father murmured in a dangerously low rumble.
At the side her mother took another bite of breakfast. No longer coming to her defense. Plead her husband to let their daughter off. Guess Namjoo had done that much damage.
“I only came for my phone.” Namjoo said.
“Will you not apologize?!” Her father screamed into her face, fury pinching his entire facial muscles back. “How have I raised you to be this way?! You embarrassed the entire clan! You tore apart Go Munho’s dignity! You’ve ruined everything this entire family has forsaken for you! And for what?!”
“I came back for my brother.”
“Your brother is dead!!!!” The old man screeched from the top of his lungs.
Namjoo blinked. The tears at the back of her eyes making their way forth. It hurt and it stung.
“Where’s my phone.” It wasn’t a question.
Reaching into his pocket her father tossed the mobile onto the floor. It skidded past Namjoo coming to a stop behind her. She couldn’t believe he wanted her to pick it up like a dog.
Gritting her teeth Namjoo went after it, crouched, picked it up. As she stood several things raced through her head, like her family’s total disregard for her happiness, her feelings, her opinions.
They were the biggest disappointments in her life, and she was so sad.
Pivoting, Namjoo took the sweet time to fully face her parents. The old man in front of her. Her mother sitting at an angle to his left worlds away, uncaring.
“When you drink in that room, do you take the time to think about why Chanu felt what he did?” Her lower jaw clattered. Namjoo bit down on her teeth. “Because you knew!”
Tears swept down her face speedily. Appalled by the height of her own anger.
She was so betrayed.
“Uncle Namhee is a monster!” Namjoo shrieked.
Her neck almost snapped from force of the next slap.
Enraged, eyes so huge her father breathed venom. “Shut up, you .”
Shakily inhaling Namjoo wheeled back to her father even more fiercely. “I won’t stop. When my brother’s eyes cried for mercy, you turned him away. When he was being violated in his room, you spent your time laughing. You took away his dreams, his hope, his happiness, and you killed him year after year until he decided tomorrow wasn’t worth living for. Neither you nor mom came to hug him in his most vulnerable time. You pushed and pushed him away like he wasn’t your firstborn, like he wasn’t the son you created, like his life meant nothing, like he was nothing more than the dirt you walked so proudly on!! You didn’t love him!”
Her body jerked forward violently when her father grasped her arms. Staring right into her eyes threateningly, “Kim Namjoo!”
She was not scared. Kim Namjoo was no longer scared.
The pressure that mounted after that hospital visit never disappeared despite the shows her parents put on. Prancing around pridefully. Mom continuing her dinner parties. Allowing a predator into their home by right of being Kim Huijae’s elder brother. Her father being celebrated at work for being a wise man, a family leader, head of the family, rearing educated children. A son to take after him. A beautiful daughter who will marry a reputable man and birth a line of fantastic children.
“You both are cowards.” Namjoo spat into his face.
Releasing an animal-like roar, the old man turned snatching the closest thing to him, a ceramic bowl of carefully sautéed veggies, flinging it at her. Namjoo refused to flinch as it flew into her cracking loudly when it hit the floor.
“Your brother is dead!” He screamed. “There is nothing more you can do for him!”
“You’re wrong.” Namjoo seethed. “I will do what you and mom never had the courage to. I will bring down that animal, that son of a you’re so happy to call brother!”
“YOU!” Her father banshee cried. His arm shot up the exact way Uncle Namhee did their first confrontation.
Namjoo stared him head on. The old man’s hand trembled.
“I was a child then, but I’m not a child anymore.” Namjoo angrily admonished. “You both betrayed us. Neither of you cared to protect us to keep the name you hold so high. You threw Chanu to feed your vile brother, yet you did nothing and you pretended it wasn’t happening. You want me to marry Go Munho to celebrate your achievements. Chanu might be dead, but I won’t let you kill me the same way.”
Clenching his tight fist, his father demanded, “Get out of here. I never want to see you again.”
Holding back the rest of her tears she glanced once at her mother who refused to look at her. She’d stopped eating. Meeting her father’s wrathfully twisted expression once, speaking in volumes they were done here.
They were no longer family.
She no longer his daughter.
And it broke her somewhere as she walked away.
Trudging down the driveway Namjoo fought to keep herself held together. It was meaningless to mourn now. Kim Chanu was dead. His brokenhearted silence in the last duration of his last fe