During middle and high school, I was ostracized…It wasn’t very serious because I wasn’t bullied or beaten up or anything. Even so, I was shunned by the other kids. At that age, I was unaware of the reason since I did well in school and had a friendly disposition. I discovered the reason far too late, when I was a college sophomore, only because I happened to overhear a couple of girls talking.
“Suhee Kim? She’s such a slut.”
“I know— that bitch is always looking for a sugardaddy. I can’t stand her.”
When I heard my so-called friends talking shit about me, I became depressed. It’s so unfair! If only they’d known that I’ve been chronically single and I never... Oh, what’s the point of explaining myself? They’d just say I was making excuses or call me a liar.
Anyway, the other girls said I was quite the flirt with the boys. I had no idea what they had meant until I was twenty-three when it slowly dawned on me. Even though I never sought them out, I was pursued by men …with money. They would buy me designer handbags or expensive cosmetics I liked, even though I had never asked for anything. At first it made me uncomfortable, and I refused. But gradually, I began to enjoy it.
Maybe my college friends were right about me. Maybe I was a flirt who sized men up by the bulk of their wallets. But, at twenty-six, I changed my ways. This change came when I started dating Jinsu. Jinsu was neither rich nor particularly handsome, but he obviously cared for me. He didn’t rock my world and make me see stars, but I felt content. More than the thrill of being chased by rich men and showered with luxury goods, I relished the comfort of eating a simple meal Jinsu had made in his tiny studio apartment. Looking back, I can say without doubt that my time with Jinsu was the happiest in my life.
Then, everything changed in a flash. A man who used to follow me around, telling me again and again how much he wanted me –loved me – waited to find me alone then plunged a knife into my flesh. He said if we couldn’t live together, we should die together. I heard his sinister laughter and his voice that somehow seemed sticky to me.
He repeated, “I love you. I love you.”
My vision blurred.
“You bitch. This wouldn’t have happened if you had just loved me!”
I felt the life drain from my body as his voice became increasingly distant.
“No…” I protested. A face wavered before me, and I fought to remain conscious. I wanted to live. The memory of the text message I’d just received from Jinsu came to me. I got off work early and made stew. Come home soon. Miss you.
Jinsu was waiting at home for me. I tried to rise, but failed. I regretted I hadn’t texted him back to tell him I missed him too.
I want…to live.
I had never once told Jinsu I loved him. The image of his sweet face wavered before my eyes. I hadn’t realized how much I loved him until this moment. But now, on the brink of death, I was overcome with yearning to see him. My despair, knowing I’ll never see Jinsu again was more painful than the searing pain of the metal in my flesh.
I heard the man’s sickening voice again. “I love you.”
I wept. I knew I was dying. But there was something I wanted to say. Instead of cursing bitterly, instead of letting out one final scream, with my last breath I started to say, “Jinsu, I lo…”
But then I was overcome by sleep.
Had I really fallen asleep? I was definitely not dead. I was lying blissfully in bed, a high ceiling above me. There was modern, indirect LED lighting. A pleasant New Age melody played. I felt something soft and warm to the touch, and a comforting, sweet smell tickled my nose. All was well. But then I realized the one thing that was amiss.
With a start, I realized, I wasn’t in my house. I snapped to attention. Had I been kidnapped? My mind went blank, and I shrieked.
What is this? No words left my mouth. I was dumbfounded. Only then did I realize what had happened. I can’t believe it. I tried shutting then opening my eyes. No, I was still dreaming. I tried to pinch something.
I can’t move my hand. Not only was I unable to move my hand, but I felt out of my body.
I’m a baby! It all seemed absurd.
Then I heard a voice. “Another worthless girl? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
I didn’t know it then, but that voice belonged to my father.