The mutable world, p.1
The Mutable World
Copyright 2014 Tyler Biswurm.
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“This is ridiculous,” spelled the letters rolling across the screen. The black cursor hovered in place, beginning its familiar blinking as the pixels flicked on and off. “We shouldn’t—.” The delete key clacked. “I am not willing—.” Clack. I forced myself back in my chair and rose. It was dark; I hadn’t noticed the sun set. Strange, I never miss sunsets, not anymore. Stretching my limbs, I surveyed the blue-tinted contents of my room. It was by and gone a mess. Wax-lined paper bowls cradling chopsticks littered the room, accompanied by the odd sock and undergarment. Eun Seo was going to throw another fit.
“Kee Jin!” yelled Eun Seo.
After two full months of residence, her voice still amazed me. It carried across distances I had thought insurmountable previous to living here. Jun Soo told me she had once been an idol-in-training. When I asked why she never fulfilled her training, he simply replied that it was not yet time for me to know. The two still treated me as though I were inferior.
“Kee Jin!” she yelled again.
I reseated myself, and nestled into the soft embrace of my desk chair. The familiar aroma of worn leather caressed my nostrils as I leant my head against my shoulder. I shuttered my eyelids and entered thought. I painted the insides of my eyelids white, and watched the cursor blink. How could I articulate it? How could I describe the results of a life tattered with pain? Of course, I could not. I saved the draft, closed the tab and meandered to the bathroom. Crossing the carpet-lined hall, I perceived faint hissing sounds echoed down the hall. Smells good, I thought.
After relieving myself, I strode back to my own room before a final, yet more menacing call from Eun Seo summoned me to the table. It was a hulking thing. Large, stained with the remnants of stray articles of food and cracked from the lack of humidity that plagued Korea during the winter months. It reminded me of our table at home. I reached for my plate and turned down the hall when Eun Seo said, “Where are you going?”
“My room,” I replied.
“Sit down, before I have to call Jun Soo again.”
“And what’s he going to do about it?”
Eun Seo let out a brief sigh and lowered her chopsticks, allowing them to ring against her plate. Steel met porcelain, and my ears flinched.
“Kee Jin, please just bear with us. We do our best to take care of you. Just because we are your foster parents doesn’t mean we don’t care about you,” she explained.
I scoffed and retorted, “You’re not fooling anyone with your feigned ‘compassion’. I’ve been here two months. You have no feelings for me, and I have none for you. Accept that none will ever exist, and move on. Besides, you only signed up for foster care in hopes of Jun Soo gaining a promotion for his charity.”
“You are not a charity, Kee Jin—”
“Don’t even. I don’t care what you think of me and I don’t care about your husband’s stupid promotion.”
The rest of that night’s dinner was spent in silence, permeated by the occasional glance of concern from Eun Seo. I paid no mind to her, and resolved to leave her be for now. I finished my dinner, went to my room and shut my door. Darkness swallowed me in its soothing embrace and I released a sigh of relief. Outside my windows, I was witness to the gentle glow of Seoul, softly illuminating the off-white wallpaper behind me. Disgusting, I thought. With this in mind, I changed and descended beneath the sheets. I would brush my teeth in the morning. My alarm clock was set and my blanket fluffed. I studied the picture frame encasing Father across the room for a second, before drowsiness began to envelop me. The surrounding space upon the cabinet was clean save for a single stray chopstick. In the morning, I decided.
I woke to the incessant blare of my alarm clock, and ended its insistence with a motion of the arm. My head struck the pillow once more as a sigh of exasperation escaped my lips. The LCD on the clock displayed 7:20. 40 minutes, I thought. I rose from beneath the sheets and swept the chopstick off the cabinet. By eight o’clock, I had eaten breakfast and prepared my supplies for the day. Hagwon would last 5 hours until two in the afternoon, after which my math tutor arrived for a two-hour session until five. Eun Seo and Jun Soo either couldn’t afford or were not willing to provide financing for more tutelage, as was provided for others. Most saw this as a lack of dedication to their duties to me; I saw it as a gift from whatever god was willing to take credit for it.
My speakers chimed 6:00. Jun Hee had left an hour ago, and I was yet again confronted by the blink. Hagwon and tutor had been characteristically painful, and today’s sunset had been disappointing as well. Thousands of people would read the words following my cursor, and this burden weighed heavily upon my conscience. My words must do my intentions justice, lest my goals fall flat and perish in this concrete desert. The blog post read:
8 years, 4 months, 14 days and 3 hours ago, I found my father dangling from a coil of hemp rope tethered around his neck. School had been unpleasant that day; I had received a citation from the headmaster after being involved in a fight wherein I gained the unwelcome company of two black eyes. Forced to leave school early, I made the hour-long walk home down streets framed by yellowing trees, slowly combed of their foliage by the gentle breeze. I’m told I did not cry until the emergency personnel arrived to remove my father from his peaceful perch. A single clear image remains of that afternoon’s events. My father had left a note behind, placing it not but a single meter from himself. It had read, “I’m sorry.”
That very same day, more than 50 people took their own lives in an attempt to escape from reality. How many senseless deaths must we endure to realize that we inhabit a world of despair and darkness? Young men commit suicide because they do not attain employment among the various chaebol grasping Korea in their poisonous fists. Boys and girls end their own existences because of tests failed and parents disappointed by their performances in academics. Young women undertake self-immolation after failing to court a choice spouse, instead doomed to languish in perceived second-rate conditions. Middle-aged men commit self-murder to extinguish their anguish after failing to provide for their families. Senior men and women commit suicide after living a life based on the expectation of future care from their children, then receiving nothing further than disappointment borne from changing times.
My father was a great man; I will not deny him that. However, he chose the path of the coward. Death is the deliveryman of selfish relief, not of change nor of noble action. My friends, storms are beginning to brew, and repressed indignance will not suffice for much longer. We are all parts of a broken society, and it is our responsibility to rectify it. Stand ready, for our time comes soon.
“Why did you do that, Dad?” I asked, tears tracing ellipses down the arch of my cheek.
“I did it because it was right,” he whispered, before falling unconscious again.
The Mutable World by Tyler Biswurm / History & Fiction have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes