Ms. Korea in Bed

The miyeok guk soup belly dances left and right as one of its seaweed hair sticks against the side of the bowl. The kimchi liquid spills a little and spreads across the tray as well. In front of me there are seven more steps but the weight of the lunch meal I'm carrying for my eomma makes it an afternoon leg workout for me. I tiptoe to peek through the blurred glass window, just enough to see my eomma's face in the nursing bed. Her eyes are calmly asleep yet the wrinkles beneath her eyes seem to pave deeper into her pale skin reflecting the lifeless frown she carries when she sleeps. Before I slid the tray under, I tip toe once again to have another glance at her face. Now, the shape of her mouth has flattened out as the wrinkles below her eyes became absent. I knew she sensed my presence behind the door. “Eomma! I brought your lunch meal” I said, as I crouched down to see her toes peek out from the blanket over her body. She nods back cueing me for my leave. I headed back downstairs into my room where the air started to thicken. The air conditioning was off but a slight breeze braided through my loose ponytail. My window frame started to stutter as it shivered from the breeze that swooped by. I'm laying on my bed with my hands on my stomach and a view of my plain ceiling wall. I watch as I count the ceiling's acne pimples to distract myself from the pain my eomma is facing. I tell myself, wow that's one big pimple, in hopes to forget about the problems that pinch the back of my neck daily. But her hazelnut colored eyes with a green outlining of her pupils start to fade in from the ceiling wall as I am looking at a beautiful portrait of her. It's an image of my eomma when she was in her late 20s looking like the next Ms. Korea shadowing the smile she keeps for granted. Suddenly, my head rides the ferris wheel and the mind hops onto the bumper cars in the amusement park that awakes in my vision. The image of my eomma starts to breathe alive and soon vanishes into the depths of my ceiling wall. I see white to grey to black in seconds. Today I woke up happy. Early as 6 AM, and the last time I woke up this early was four months ago for school. I got dressed, and made myself and my eomma a cup of tea on this beautiful Monday morning. Hopped on the stairs to my eomma skipping two risers as happy as I could be and slid the cup of tea underneath. I shout, “Good morning eomma!” and before she could respond, I hopped my way back into my room. Fifteen minutes left before my first class, so I made my way to my desk and opened my laptop. The faded black screen that left a silhouette of my face made me feel insecure. My cheeks looked chubby as if I had a full sushi roll in both my cheeks from last night's dinner, and my skin reflected the ceiling wall I observed yesterday. I was lost staring at myself before the thunder outside grasped my attention and tugged my body closer as it alerted me to my next class. Biology passed by as I was lost in my own shadow that guided me to English class. Today I had my important book presentation that I've been working on for weeks now. This morning I slid a note with my mother's tea to let her know to not ring the bell. In the midst of my presentation, my ears ring. The ring that soaks up in my ear when I'm on a plane high up in the air. But it wasn't my mother's calling. I catch myself tangled in a jargon of words that spat out a poem I wrote about my mother. I play along as if those words were Marjane Satrapi's, the author of the book I'm presenting on. I rushed my words as fast as a neutral rap song, and ended with a soft thank you and ran upstairs. I didn't have time for questions in the end, nor did I have time to step every riser on the staircase. Skipping three risers at a time where my ankles would ring when it smacks against the granite staircase, I crawl under and whisper, “Eomma?” My voice was a candle flame that smoked into the air and soon enough vanished. No sound was replicated from the other side of the door. The window I used to tiptoe to see my mother's face was shut with an opaque curtain. I sent out another “Eom-” and before I could finish my words, she groaned. It's as if she wasn't in the mood to talk to me or wanted my company. I decided to skip my last two classes as I sat back against the door. Infront of me is a wide window that captured today's morning. By now, it was afternoon. I see empty streets that laid a lonely merchandise shop in the corner. A dream catcher hangs in the side of the window and it sways to the breeze of the air. The street of shops had one thing in common that stated: Sorry, We're Closed. The red signs turn into a dark maroon shade as the night calls for its sleep. “Jalja Eomma” I whisper, a calm goodnight sleep.

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