~~Nine Years Ago, Spring 201x…~~
Yohan had just arrived back home; the fortune teller’s words were fresh in his mind. He had been pissed off since lunchtime and had difficulty concentrating during his lectures. Deciding that it would be best for him to just go home, the college student had skipped his last class, returning home two hours earlier than usual. Yohan quietly took off his shoes, when he noticed a pair of women’s heels lying on the ground, next to his father’s dress shoes.
Huh…? Whose shoes are those, and why is dad home so early…? he thought as he silently tip-toed inside.
He heard voices coming from his parents’ bedroom. Yohan paused, confused. His heart beating rapidly in his chest, he crept towards the master bedroom. Nah, it can’t be… He wouldn’t… would he?
Yohan slowly opened the door and peeked through the slight crack and froze. He stared at the sight before him, his heart thumping loudly in his chest, blood rushing through his body. He could feel every heartbeat, every pound, in his chest as his body trembled in disgust and shock.
The college student watched in horror as his father laughed, half-naked in bed with another woman. Yohan’s eyes burned with rage as he banged open the door, glowering at his surprised father and his mistress. The woman scampered to cover herself while his father stared at him with wide, shocked eyes.
“Y-Yohan…! I-I can explain—” his father couldn’t finish his sentence. Yohan flew into the room, his fist drawn back as he landed a powerful punch onto his dad’s left cheek.
His father fell back onto the bed while his mistress screamed in horror. Yohan breathed heavily, glowering at his father, while hot, angry tears ran down his cheeks. Without another word, the college student ran out of his house, his dad calling after him. Yohan raced down the streets and onto the bustling streets of LA, just letting his legs carry him anywhere that wasn’t home.
The mudang’s words from earlier echoed in his mind on a continuous loop: “Anyone you date, you’ll end up cheating on them and if they still persist in dating you, they’ll eventually meet an untimely death!”
Angry tears flowed down his cheeks and into his mouth. He could taste the saltiness of his vengeful and bitter tears. Yohan ran until he could run no more; his heart ached in pain as it felt like it was going to explode like a ticking time bomb. The college student could feel his heart struggling to calm down as it pounded fiercely inside his chest. Unable to stand, Yohan crumpled to the ground. How was he going to face his mom, now? How could their father betray his family like this?
He bitterly clenched his teeth. That stupid fortune couldn’t be true, right…? This was all just a coincidence… wasn’t it?
“No… FUCK THIS SHIT!” he yelled out, as onlookers stared at him in shock, disturbed by his angry outburst.
Yohan aimlessly wandered for hours around the brightly lit strip of land of Little Tokyo—a popular spot for night life amongst college students and couples. The loud music and chatter of the people around him somewhat put his mind at ease, as it distracted him from his father's affair. He glanced around him, feeling bitter that everyone was having a good time except for him.
He stopped at a nearby park full of college students watching some singers busking. Yohan glanced at the group before spotting an unoccupied bench nearby. Exhausted, he plopped down onto the wooden seat, watching and listening to the musical group. He gazed up at the dark night sky, momentarily forgetting what he had witnessed earlier. Yohan felt himself relax as all the anger and tension in his system from earlier dissipated with the rhythm of the music.
All of a sudden, his phone rang, jolting him out of his thoughts. He scrambled to answer the phone when he gritted his teeth and rejected the call. A few seconds later, his father called him again; and again, Yohan ignored his call and blocked his father’s contact. The fucking nerve of this man…!
He turned back to the musical group that was announcing their last song for the night. The young man sighed and was listening to the last song when May called him.
“Hey, what’s up—”
“WHERE ARE YOU?!” she shouted, her voice panicked and anxious.
“Woah, what’s wrong? Did something happen—”
“Why aren’t you answering dad’s calls?! Mom’s in the hospital! She was in a car accident, and dad’s been trying to contact you for a while now! Hurry up and get to the hospital! I’m on my way there!”
“What…?” Yohan gasped, shakily getting up from his seat. He fumbled to hang up but dropped his phone onto the pavement.
Yohan teared up as he reached for his phone with a trembling hand, when slightly tan, slender, and long fingers picked it up for him. They handed the phone to him and Yohan took it from them with shaking hands. He mumbled a brief thanks while he staggered his way through the crowds trying to reach the main road to get on the bus that was pulling up.
“Hey! Hey, wait! You dropped this…” a deep voice called out but was muffled in the chorus of cheers from the crowds. Yohan slipped away from the area, not hearing the young man’s holler.
Thirty minutes later, he ran into the emergency room, frantically asking the attending nurse where his mother was at. The nurse bit her lip as she tried to calm Yohan down when the college student felt a pair of rough, warm hands on his shoulders. He slowly turned around only to find his father standing in front of him.
Disgusted, Yohan glared at his dad, slapping his hands away from him, while demanding where his mom was. His father’s eyes were filled with tears as he sobbed, shakily pointing to one of the curtains that were drawn closed. Yohan tottered towards the direction his dad had pointed to, feeling delirious and out of touch with reality.
He slowly drew the curtains to the side as he reluctantly gazed from the floor of the ER, to the foot of the bed and finally, to the covered white sheet over his mother’s lifeless body. Yohan gasped for air, hesitantly approaching his mother’s cold body. Tears dripped down onto the pristine white cloth as doctors grimly looked away from him, feeling horrible that they couldn’t save her in the end.
With a quivering hand, he ripped away the cloth and stared at his mother’s badly battered face, with cuts and bruises covering every inch of her. A horrifying, agony-laced wail erupted from Yohan’s lips as he shook his mother’s still body, desperately wishing she would open her eyes and smile at him like usual. He couldn’t believe it—why was she there, stiff as a board?!
“Eomma*! Wake up! Don’t leave me! Eomma!” he sobbed as he dropped down onto the white tiles of the floor. The doctors covered her cold body again with the white sheet while Yohan helplessly tried to fight them off from covering her face again.
In the corner of his eye, he saw his sister running up to him, tears flowing down her cheeks as she struggled to break free from their father’s grasp. He punched the white, linoleum floor in defeat, staring up at the hospital bed. The shaman’s warning had been true after all…
Yohan gritted his teeth, determined to never fall in love with anyone for the rest of his life. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… right?
~~Present, 202x Los Angeles~~
“Eomma… Don’t… Don’t go!” he mumbled out, his right arm reaching towards the ceiling.
Yohan gasped as he abruptly opened his eyes, sweat matting his forehead. The writer slowly sat up from his bed, dry heaving. He took in a shaky, breathless breath, as tears rolled down onto the picture frame he had apparently been clutching onto in his sleep. Glancing down, Yohan wiped the frame with his jacket’s sleeve before placing it back onto its spot. Sighing, he pushed his short, bleached, blond bangs back. When had he fallen asleep?
“Fuck… Of all things I had to dream of… Damn you Sharon….!”
The picture frame glistened and twinkled in the warm sunlight, as if to wink at the grumpy novelist…
*Eomma: Korean word for mom (informal)
**NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.**