Honk. Honk. Honk.
That was her mom. Jiyeon was still fixing her bag but her mother seemed to be on a rush. She wasn’t always like that – Jiyeon’s mother. But ever since they moved to Australia, her mom seemed to be on the fast track.
It’s been difficult for her. The past two years. She saw her parents no longer communicating with each other. They would sit in the living room and watch movies like they used to. But there was always a prolonged silence after every time either one made a comment about the movie. Jiyeon would notice it. She no longer saw the spark her parents had. She knew then that day of separation would come at last. And so it did. Just a year ago. Her parents decided to leave with no hard feelings. Her dad decided to go to US to continue his studies in Harvard where he got accepted. Her mother, meanwhile, did not want to continue living in South Korea because it just brought her back to memory lane. Since Jiyeon was “old” enough to decide on her own, she chose to go with her mother.
I’ll be disturbing appa with his studies. Jiyeon thought. Her mom finished her schooling anyway. She just wanted a stable job so she decided that she and Jiyeon would be better off in Australia. In a foreign country. Jiyeon thought the other way around.
Her father was still supporting them. He was sending them money weekly. The money, however, is for Jiyeon’s studies. Her mother seemed happy about it. She only need to work for living itself. The food, the apartment, the bills. Everything was fine for her.
Jiyeon was never bothered with the separation. She took it quite maturely unlike any other pre-teens (or even teens). She knew her parents still care for each other but they probably needed to find time for themselves. In fact, her mother might have already moved on. Last week, they went to a bank to receive the money her father had sent her. The bank teller was a guy – sandy-haired, hazel eyes, tan, lean, and muscular. Jiyeon thought he looked more like a surfer or a body-builder than a bank teller. He and her mom talked for almost 10 minutes that they were holding up the line. Jiyeon had to nudge her mother and remind her that she wasn’t the only “needing” the bank teller. Jiyeon knew they have kept in touch with each other. Her mother kept receiving phone calls every night since then. Jiyeon was happy because she saw her mother happy again.
But at the same time, her mother seemed to be under pressure. They received news from her father that he topped his class and he’s brilliance has been recognized in the whole university. Her father was one step ahead again. And her mother started to be on the rush as if trying to par with the recognition her father received in the US.
She ran quickly to the door. “Coming!”
Her mother couldn’t wait. She finally got a job interview after handing so many applications. Her mother opened the door of their green GMC Sierra Pick-up Truck. It was all that her mother could afford.
“You don’t want to be late for your first day, would you?” her mom scolded.
“Mianhae,” she replied. “I thought I forgot some things.”
They drove off. They sat in silence. Neither talking to each other. The stereo was making the silence much more regrettable with all the old songs being played. It made Jiyeon nostalgic somehow.
“So…eomeoni, the job interview you have, is it in the bank?” Jiyeon asked.
Her mother turned red. It was obvious. She really liked that bank teller.
“Yes.” Her mother replied nervously. “Is that okay?”
“Ne,” Jiyeon said, trying not to smile. “Are you seeing that guy?”
Her mother quickly stopped the truck.
“Honey,” her mother started to say. She turned to face Jiyeon. Her face was red all over because of blushing. “Your father and I have gone our separate ways. That means we could go and see other people. Do you understand me?”
Jiyeon nodded. “I’m not against it, eomma. I just want you to be happy.”
She held her mother’s hand. Her mother was teary-eyed. “Gamsahapnida. Thank you, Jiyeon.”
Jiyeon rubbed her mother’s shoulders like to comfort her. Her mother turned back to the wheel and started up the engine again. The route to her new school – Fahrenheit High School – wasn’t that far from home. The school was really huge. It was well protected, too. It was covered by ten-feet tall walls and ten-feet tall entrance and exit gate which had the “Fahrenheit High School” inscribed.
They stopped at the school’s parking lot. Jiyeon unfastened her seatbelt and kissed her mom on the cheek.
“See you later,” she said. Her mother nodded. Jiyeon came down and got as far as she could away from the car and waved at her mother. And she was off.
Jiyeon turned to see the school building. It was indeed huge. The school was painted silver and cobalt blue. It had six floors and a really big clock like a masthead on the building. A girl, wearing her uniform neatly was standing on the front steps of the building. She was holding up a megaphone in one hand and a clipboard in another.
“All freshmen and transferees with me, now!” the girl said. Jiyeon looked at her in awe. The girl had a strong, commanding presence. She possessed a really powerful aura. Jiyeon knew better not to make this girl angry so she immediately went to the girl. She walked fast, ignoring other people playing around the school grounds. Then, she bumped to a tall, dark-haired guy. He smiled brightly and said, “Sorry.”
Jiyeon nodded at the guy and was about to say, “It’s okay,” but he already left. Jiyeon managed a smile because of the bright aura that guy had. And she continued on to the front steps, still following the girl’s instructions.
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