It had become routine that he’d show up at her house during days like today. It was gloomy, and she always acted differently with the rain and clouds covering the burning sun. It was only because he had grown concerned for her that he’d drop by and sit in her living room, which looked like it was fresh out of modernist homes magazine, as she had gotten into that kind of modern housing shit.
He’d light up a cigarette and let it hang out of his mouth and sit there on the sofa, watching her busy herself in the kitchen, pouring glasses of Snake Wine and he would end up generously accepting it, even if the idea of snakes and rice together in alcohol made him cringe in disgust, but he’d drink it and eventually numb himself enough to the whole idea.
They’d often sit in silence and say nothing, and when the skies cleared up or when she fell asleep, he’d leave, knowing that she’d be back to normal when she sobered up and possibly beat him with her rice paddle that sat in the corner, untouched a majority of his rainy day visits.
“Why are you here, Yong Soo?” she releases her sleek, raven hair from the confinements of the pony tail and eyeing the brown haired Korean with unease.
“I always come over when it rains.”
His mocha eyes locked with her caramel eyes. She chewed her bottom lip, shaking her head. “Yeah, but then you drink all my wine and we just sit here in silence. Why are you here?” she inquired, quirking a thin, black eyebrow. He shrugged, messing with the cup in his hand.
“No,” she shifted in her seat, shaking her head. “I really don’t.”
“The rain brings your mood down,” he noted, staring out over the large city, watching as the heavy downpour pound against the dirty streets. “It’s always been like that… since the seventies, if I recall correctly.”
Pursing her lips, she breathed, “Those were hard times on everyone.”
He nodded, removing the butt of the cancer stick from his mouth and smashing it into her ashtray. “Especially you. Kiet and I got to talking the other day… I never apologized.” She snorted, and shook her head. “I don’t think anyone has. I watched you slowly yourself. I watched you burn and bleed. And I sat there, thinking myself as someone who had it better…”
He paused. “I never did, Lien.”
“Not like you could’ve helped it.” She scratched her arms and hissed. “You wanted – needed – the money. That was a perfect chance for you.”
“Yeah,” Yong Soo looked down at the floor. “And look where that got me. I sat there and pressed a gun into your chest, watching as you dropped the knife that sliced your hips. It was raining. It was dark and gloomy. I know that every time it rained you’d hurt yourself since.”
She shifted and he set his empty glass down, feeling more loose lipped. “When we were kids, I always called you Sunshine. You were this bright girl who was stunning. You wore yellow because Yao forced you into it. You always wore yellow. You were like the sun. The world revolved around you. You were the biggest, brightest star in the sky.”
She frowned, setting her own cup down and hugging her knees. “You started to lose your spark after you gained your independence and France wanted you back. Yet, he gave up. He knew it would hurt you… but America… he just doesn’t know when to stop…”
He closed his eyes. “I remembered you in your uniform… covered in soot and blood. Always soot and blood. You didn’t respond to Lien anymore. Kiet says you didn’t respond to sister. Kiet was always so concerned.”
He watched the tears fall from her eyes and she glanced out the window.
“Covered in soot and blood, only to have it washed off in the rain… where you’d make fresher cuts. Where your skin would bubble up when you were burned. You felt the pain, yet… you couldn’t stop it. I know that feeling…”
She choked, and buried her face into her knees. He stood up, slowly walking over to where she sat in her chair and sat on the very edge of the corner, placing a hand on her foot.
“Lien Nguyen, what happened?”
“A lot happened,” she mumbled, shaking as she tried to fight back tears. “I had disconnected with reality. Not only was I fighting America, I was fighting myself.”
He pulled her into his lap, shifting so that he was mostly on the chair. She buried her face into his shoulder, straddling him and clawing at his white Oxford, drenching his shoulder with tears and makeup. “It was always fucking raining in my head. It was fucking dark and cloudy and nothing could bring out the fucking sun.”
He embraced her, kissing her check, damp with tears and runny makeup. “You’ll always be my shining star, Lien.”
“And she’s been wearing gray
Without a thought of change
And I've been desperately
Trying to make her see
That even when it rains
The sun is still ablaze
And right now in the dark
She is my shining star.”
– Yellow Shirt, the Icarus Account