The "Something" Series: Season 2

Something Out of the Blue: A Monologue.

Nothing but the radio and GPS play inside the car. I don’t know how car rides with Grace became a space where we share silence, but I guess we were always like that. Maybe that happened the night when Grace drove me back to my temporary apartment in New York; the night I was supposed to go back to Korea for the first time. I wish I spoke to her during that ride; I know she probably had a lot to say and instead, I avoided it just so I didn’t have to deal with Grace being hurt by my actions.

But I remember her face pretty well that night. She barely turned her head to look at me, and I learned early on in knowing Grace that she hates looking at people when she’s upset. She was a crybaby; I knew that since the very beginning of getting to know her, yet she didn’t want anyone to realize that she wasn’t always this strong, independent woman that she wanted to be. She was vulnerable when it came to the things that she cared about. I saw that as soon as I saw her with little bean; her daughter, Willow. It must hurt her knowing she’s 3,000 miles away from Willow.

I looked at Grace and all she did was look out the window, without saying anything.

“You know,” I started to say. Grace still didn’t turn her head. “You can always come to me if you ever need to talk things out or vent.”

“What makes you say that?” Grace said. I could see that she turned her head to face me from the corner of my eye.

“You seem like you have some stuff on your mind,” I answered. “I noticed back at the karaoke room and on the boardwalk. I didn’t want to say anything to ruin your night–“

“Everything’s fine, Jamie,” Grace said. She looked back towards the window. I looked at her briefly before I continued looking forward, driving.

“Nice try,” I answered back, throwing what she said to me on the boardwalk back to her. it’s finally when both Grace and I look at each other for the first time since getting into the car. “So what are you really thinking about?” Grace doesn’t say anything right away, and I didn’t expect her to say anything. Grace never did anything she didn’t want to do, and this time was no exception.

“Do you ever miss home when you’re away?” Grace randomly asked. I didn’t know what to think of it, and to be honest I didn’t know how to answer. Honestly? Truthfully?

“Home is what you make it,” I answered. “It’s how I see it whenever I’m away from Korea. Of course, Korea is where my home is, but wherever I am, I also make it my home. I guess it makes it easier.”

“Did you always feel that way or did that come with time?” Grace asked, now with her complete body facing me. I looked over at her briefly and back toward the road.

“It came with time,” I answered. I didn’t realize that it came with time, to be honest; I haven’t put much thought into it. Sure, the first time I left Korea with my Korean-English dictionary to vacation in California I was immensely homesick, and I don’t know how that changed so quickly by the time I was in America on business. It changed with time; knowing New York and being with Grace… it made it easier to make that out of a home.

It was my favorite home, to say the least. It’s the home where I experience being homesick the most.

Grace sighed and looked forward toward the road before we spoke.

“I miss my daughter,” Grace confessed. I didn’t say anything right away. This felt like a moment where Grace wasn’t just speaking to me and being honest; she was confessing to the universe, to herself. “Every day I feel like a terrible mother for leaving her in New York. She’s getting older and… she’s going to remember this; how her mom wasn’t there with her as she was.” I looked over to Grace; she still hasn’t moved her head away.

“Have you been back since being in California?” I gently asked. She softly shook her head no.

“I’m too scared to go back to New York. I don’t know if I ever will.” Grace admitted. A part of me feels extremely guilty for the way Grace feels. A part of me blames myself; how did I fuck up someone’s home to the point they are scared to return to it? I can’t help but feel so sad for Grace. At least I can go back to Korea without anything holding me back. Grace doesn’t have that.

Grace looks at me and faintly smiles; even when she’s going through a hard time, she always tries to be strong to those around her. At the red light, I stop and finally get a good look at Grace. I finally noticed the dry tears on her face. Aigoo.

“You don’t always have to be strong, Grace,” I said softly. “You’re allowed to be sad and scared and… vulnerable. You don’t need to put on a fake smile for anyone.” Grace’s smile immediately fades; it’s like she was holding all of this in for hours, days or months even. Because she starts to cry; the tears on her face roll down her cheeks immediately.

“I feel so lonely here, Jamie,” Grace spits out. “Skylar is never around and I literally have no one else here. So why am I here? Why am I trying so hard to make this city my home if I don’t feel like I have anything to make this my home?” The light turns green, but I don’t continue driving forward. I take a right turn into a gas station parking lot; it didn’t feel right driving and not giving Grace my undivided attention. I always stopped what I was doing for her.

I don’t say anything. I allow Grace to just talk because who’s to say she hasn’t kept this inside her soul for the time she’s been in California? She deserves someone to listen to her and comfort her. She deserves the entire fucking world.

“Why are you scared to go back to New York?” I finally answered once she stops speaking. She doesn’t answer right away; she wipes falling tears off of her face. I was scared to know the answer myself knowing it could possibly confirm why I feel like absolute shit.

“I’m afraid everyone has moved on. Like no one ever needed me,” Grace explained. I couldn’t help but scrunch my eyebrows together. Grace Ashmore, the woman that I met in New York, feels like her friends and family back home don’t need her anymore.

“I mean, I needed you,” I admitted. What are you doing, Jaemin-ah? “You’ve helped me get around the city my first time there, and,” I began to trail off. “Willow will always need you. You’re her mother no matter how far you are.” Grace looks down at her hands; she does that when she’s nervous and she rips her cuticles from her fingers as a distraction.

“Hey?” I called out for her. Grace finally looks back up at me. I don’t know where I was going with this, but all I wanted was for Grace to know she is always welcomed no matter where she goes. She’s allowed to go back home and not feel like she doesn’t belong anymore. “You should go and make a visit to New York. Seeing Willow in person will make you feel so much better. You shouldn’t be scared to go back.”

Grace faintly smiles and wipes the tears off her face with the palm of her hand. I reached into the glove department and handed Grace the tissues. She accepts the offer and cleans her face with the tissues. Before I restart the car to take Grace home, she speaks out loud again, something that I think she meant to ask herself instead of me.

“You never answered my question,” Grace says to me. I looked at her and leaned back into the seat. She blinked slowly before she spoke. “Do you ever miss home when you’re away?”

Korea; no. New York; every single goddamn day.

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