Growing pains

It is a strange thing indeed, running in pitch black. Constantly thinking you’ll double back somehow and bump into the thing you’re running from. Of course, who runs without something to run from?

It is even worse still to have someone switch on a light only to find that you haven’t moved at all. Your shirt got stuck on a loose nail which, unbeknownst to you, had been holding you in place all this time. All that effort you exerted for nothing, all that fear you felt still lingering, all that joy from leaving fear’s source gone.

You look around blearily, blindly. Why hasn’t the scenery changed? You wonder, though you subconsciously know why. You just don’t want to admit it. You stop the motions of running and cautiously look behind you. And there it is – still there. Still right behind you. Monstrous. It fills you with fear because it still gains a particular response in your brain – a motherly instinct, a need to protect – which incapacitates you. You cannot resist picking it up and cradling it in your arms even though you know it is wrong, unearthly, sordid. Dirty. You hold it at arm’s length, but still it manages to pull closer. It looks you dead in the eyes, smiles, then bites your nose. You try to drop it – half to tend to your nose and half to simply get it away from you – but it’s too late. It’s attached itself to you. Nipping and knawing on your flesh until you’re a pile of bones; until you have nothing left. And really, a part of you still wants to help the poor creature licking its lips as it perches on your skull. For if not you, then who? And if not it, who for you? You’ve never met another soul in this strange world.

But then you realise someone else must be here. Someone else turned the light on as you tried to make a run for it. There’s still life out there yet.

You just have to meet it.


It is difficult writing this and even knowing what to write. I’m sorting things out, stuck in a limbo at the moment, so I apologise if there’s been radio silence from me recently. For those who are actually in my life too, I’m sorry if I’ve been distant or silent. Just been trying to work things out for myself. Trying to repair the mistakes I’ve made, trying to get my feelings in order. Grieving. I feel like an ugly person right now, full of anger and hurt. 인간쓰레기처럼. Like human trash.

I promise I’ll be in touch soon. Just got to find that light switch… and the exit. 🙂

Prompt: The hero and villain have been at it for so long that the hero is actually on amicable terms with the villain, and/or the villain’s minions.

“So we meet again.” Teyang said, his hands on his hips.

“Bah! How do you know it’s me?” Kumiho changed shape from woman to fox, her ears twitching back in annoyance and tail flicking from side to side.

Teyang leaned in closer. “Because I can smell you.” He laughed a loud, strong laugh. Kumiho joined him, her twinkling laugh interspersed with his in a duet.

“But Kumiho… I heard whispers that you’re tormenting people again.”

“Well a girl’s got to eat.”

“You know I can’t allow that…”

“Oh, so you’ll let them eat all sorts of things but you won’t let me? That hardly seems fair.”

“You’re eating boys, Kumiho.”

“But they eat lamb – what’s the difference?”

Teyang gritted his teeth. “They don’t ensnare live lambs and rip their hearts out.”

Kumiho gave an exasperated sigh. “I don’t know why we discuss this every time we meet, Teyang. We’ll never see eye to eye on it.”

“Fine. Just don’t do it anymore, okay? Eat a bit of lamb instead.” He chuckled.

Ignoring his sentiment, she replied: “Well how was Samjokgu’s party? It’s all I’m hearing about on the streets right now.”

“It was great! You should have been there, he had this piñata in the shape of a fox…” Seeing her pained face, he stopped himself. “I don’t know why they’re so against you being there anyway. I thought gods weren’t the type to hold grudges.”

“Oh believe me, they’re the worst.” Kumiho said, her hackles raising.

“Well you seem cool to me.” He said, grinning. “You know – minus the whole killing babies thing.”

Kumiho smiled. Her fur seemed to glow in her delight. “Thanks,” she said, her head bowed coyly.

“Oops, better dash – some child needs help seeing in the dark. Speak soon, Kumiho!” He raced away, taking with him not just the light he harnessed from the sun, but also the warmth of his personality. Kumiho turned and traipsed into the darkness.


“News just in – goddess Kumiho has been killed in a crash. As yet there are no known suspects, but police are treating this as a hit and run. This has not saddened those closest to the scene, however, as they now appear to be celebrating the death of Kumiho with drinks and fireworks. Kumiho’s death will mean that thousands of children will continue li-” Teyang turned his TV off and rushed out of his apartment. He reached the crash site in mere minutes, though it was over 50 miles away. Everything was still there: the flattened body of Kumiho in her human form sprawled out on the tarmac; car parts littered around her.

Teyang ducked under the police’s yellow tape and approached Kumiho’s form. Though people were cheering all around him, he hardly noticed them as he stooped next to her. A tear ran down his cheek as he leaned over her and closed her eyes with his hand. He sat bent over her for a while, whispering comfort, until a familiar voice distracted him.

“Party, party!” It said. He looked around to see where the noise was coming from, only to see Samjokgu limping towards him along with the rest of his posse. “Teyang, old friend, come join us! Ding-dong the witch is dead!” He burst into laughter.

Without saying a word, Teyang knelt down again, scooped Kumiho’s body into his arms and left. His usual unmatched light was dim as he trudged away.

 


 

In other news, I have the dentist today. It’s been a while; I hope all goes well…

복수 – Revenge

집. 집이라고면서 뭐를 생각한다? 나에게, 집의 뜻이 많이 있다. 고향, 애인의 껴안, 할머니의 향수… 근데 ‘적의 칼’ 들어면서 뭐를 말한다?
‘뭐야 이게?’
‘이게 뭐야?’
‘군인이죠?’
‘이순신 장군이죠?’
근데 아니다.
다섯년에 동안, 계속 계속 찾고 있다. 저 사람은 쉽게 찾지 않다.
근데 드디어, 그 놈은 찾다.
내일은 그 날이다.

ㅡㅡㅡ

그 놈을 접근했을 때, 으르렁거린 바람이 있었다. 들판에 찾았다. 그는 종자를 뿌렸다. 그의 손들은 힘들이지 않은 움직을 것 같았다.

“김민후?” 저는 그 놈에게 물어봤다.
그는 돌아섰다. 나를 보시면, 어리둥절해하는 것 같았다.
“나를 기억 안 해?”
그 놈의 얼덜덜한 얼굴이 놀라졌다. 그의 눈이 넓어지고 얼굴이 얼어붙은 져다봤다.
“너…”
“그래. 기억지? 너 때문에 난 못 살아.”
그 놈 말해 전에, 저는 그에게 달리고 그 놈의 얼굴을 주먹으로 한 대 쳤다. 김민후는 비틀거렸다. 저는 주먹을 들어올리지만 펀치 전에 그 놈은 말했다.
“잠깐만 제발” 그는 애원했다.
근데 제가 노발대발하고 있었다. 광대뼈에 주먹을 쳤다.
그 때, 그 놈은 주머니에서 칼을 꺼냈다.
“그래. 나도 죽여. 부머님처럼.”
그의 칼 목을 해쳤다. 그의 칼 가죽에 구멍을 뜷었다.
“아니. 못 할 거야. 내 부모님 죽을 있는 알지 않아지?”
“그래서 뭐? 내 부모님이 죽여!”
“응. 근데 니 부모이 내 부모님을 죽여. 이 살-죽 주기가 그만하고 싶어. 우리 그만해. 어?”
“넌 쉽게 말하지. 이미 복수했어. 아무튼, 내 부모님이 너 부모님을 죽여? 있음짓하지 않은 이야기.” 지상에 내벝었다.
“그래, 그럼. 너를 죽여. 해줘.”
근대 저는 용기를 잃졌다.
“아니. 오늘 아니야. 어쩌면 내일이야.”
저는 돌아서서 가 버렸다. 그에게 다시 찾지 않았다.

Home. When I say “home,” what do you think? To me, “home” has many meanings. Hometown, a lover’s embrace, my grandmother’s perfume… but if I said it also meant my enemy’s knife, what would you say?

“What is this?”

“You’re General Lee Sun-Shin, aren’t you?”

But that’s not it.

I have been constantly searching for five years. That person wasn’t easy to find. But finally, I’ve found the bastard. Tomorrow’s the day.

When I approached him, the wind was growling like a dog. I found him in a field, sowing seeds.  His hands seemed to move without difficulty.

“Kim Min-Ho?” I asked him.

He wheeled around. When he saw me, he looked puzzled.

“You don’t remember me?”

His expression turned to surprise. His eyes grew wide and his face stared at me, frozen.

“You…”

“That’s right. So you remember? I can’t live because of you.”

Before the man could speak, I rushed to him and hit him square in the face. He reeled. I raised my fist again, but he spoke before I could hit him.

“Wait… please” He begged.

But I was furious. I hit his cheekbone. At that moment, the man before me pulled a knife out from his pocket.

“Fine. Kill me too. Like my parents.”

He brought his knife to my throat. The blade pierced my skin.

“No. I can’t do it. You don’t know how my parents died, do you?”

“So what? You killed my parents!”

“Yeah. But your parents killed mine. I want to stop this life-death cycle now. Let’s stop. K?”

“Easy for you to say. You’ve already got your revenge. Anyway, my parents killed your parents? That’s an unlikely story.” I spat on the ground.

“Fine, then. Kill me. Do it.”

But I’d lost my courage. “No. Not today. Maybe tomorrow.”

I turned and left. I didn’t try to find him again.

미운 오리 쌔기

(English translation is below)
언제 우리 아기가 태어났잖아요… 우리 어린이 이름은 ‘릴리’라고요. 예쁜 이름이죠? 근데 우리 아기가 태어났을 때, 릴리가 너무 못 생겼어요. 얼굴이 정말 파리하고 몸이 온통 피투성이였어요. ‘이 소녀… 정말로 우리 아기야?’여보라고 했어요. ‘릴리이야?’
저는 조용히기 누워 있었어요.
‘우리한테 다른 사람의 아기가 못 생겨야 되.’ 여보라고 했어요. ‘근데 우리 아기는…  우리한테 우리 아기를 잘 생기 것 같아죠? 아닌가?’
‘응 맞아…’
그 때, 저는 산만했어요. 저는 계속에서 문에 져다봤어요. 간호사하고 아기를 기다리고 있었어요. 출산하기 후에, 아직도 여보하고 저 우리 아기를 보지 않았어요.
그 때, 문을 열었어요.
우리 아기! 우리 못 생긴 아기! 근데 이 아기… 느낌이 완전히 달라요. 아기를 포대기로 감쌌어요 – 파리한 얼굴이 없고 피투성인 몸이 없어요. 우리 아기 않은데
근데 우리 간호사예요. 그리고 제 침대에 걷고 있었어요.
‘크리스탈 씨, 아기가 여기에 있어요!’ 그 간호사가 저에게 아기를 줬어요.
‘그… 그래요?’
아기를 손으로 쥐었어요. 그 아기가 너무 아름다웠어요. 아기가 행복한 것 같아요.
‘그렇지. 우리 아기야. 우리 릴리야.’ 여보라고 했어요.
아기의 이름 들었으면, 아기가 그게 미소를 짓었어요.

The Ugly Duckling
You know when our baby was born? We called her Lily. It’s a pretty name, right? But when I delivered her, she was really ugly. Her face was too pale and her body covered in blood. “This girl… is she really ours?” Honey said. “Is it really Lily?”
I quietly lay on my back.
“Sure, other people’s babies should look ugly to us.” Honey said. “But our baby… to us, she should look handsome, right?”
“Yeah, you’re right…”
At that time, I was distracted. I was constantly staring at the door. I was waiting for the nurse to bring my child back in. Since Lily’s delivery, Honey and I had still not seen our child.
Just then, the door opened.
Our baby! Our ugly baby! But this baby… the feeling was completely different. The baby was swaddled in a blanket – no pale features, no bloody body. It can’t be our child, I thought…
But it was our nurse. And she was walking towards my bed.
“Crystal, here’s your baby!” The nurse handed the child to me.
“R-really?”
I took Lily. She was beautiful. She looked happy.
“Right. That’s our baby. Our Lily.” Honey said.
At the sound of her name being called, Lily burst into a smile.

This was the first Korean short story I wrote… it sounds so silly and simple in English, doesn’t it? It probably sounds the same in Korean, for that matter. Hopefully my short stories will also improve in English as my Korean gets better. Please let me know if I’ve made any mistakes in Korean and English alike!
If you need a laugh, copy and paste the Korean into Google Translate and get the English translation!

It’s been a while.

Wow. When I said I was busy and wouldn’t be updated my blog for a while, I didn’t expect it to be such a long break. I feel like AuzzieGamer right now (though unlike him, I’m sure no one really missed me).

I’ve finished my degree and have actually been taking a break from writing these past couple of months. It’s been nice to just read and refuel after such an essay/creative writing-heavy few years. And despite the quantity of work I’ve written, I feel like I’ve stagnated as a writer these past couple of years. Hopefully I’ll get out of my rut soon, since nothing beats writing as a creative outlet for me.

In the mean time, I thought I’d post reviews of some of the books I’ve been reading. I’m actually completing the Around the World in 80 Books challenge I found on Goodreads, so thought it’d be fun to document my experience. It’s been slow going what with the end of university and finding time between web development, learning Korean and work, but I think taking it at my own pace is best. I’ve spent the past three years speed-reading – now it’s time for a break.

Since I’ve already read a few books for a few different countries, I’ll be writing the reviews for them over the next few weeks (actually, looking back on this post, I think that’s a little ambitious. I would say over the next few months, I’ll be trying to get back to blogging regularly, so reviews might be slow). I’m starting where I live – in England – and moving out. The main rule I’m following is that I can’t jump around to different countries but must act as though I’m travelling in Jules Vernes’ time, so either to the next nearest country or by boat to another continent. The author must also be from the country in question and the book must be set in that place too. If it is a fantasy world, I think the place defaults to the author’s home country.

I read Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro for England. Stay tuned for my thoughts in the coming weeks.


 

Wow, I drafted this post a long time ago. Times have moved on, and though I am not writing as much as I used to, I have been doing some creative writing in Korean. I’ve found that it is easier to think of new, fresh ideas in a different language, plus it’s been great as a method for practising Korean. So I thought I’d post the (very short) stories here, in both Korean and English. If anyone knows Korean, I would love corrections and feedback… actually, even for the English version, I would also love corrections and feedback!

Here’s to 2016!