Yesterday was the breaking point. Seol had to move out of her parents’ home, she pushed finding her own place mainly because she did not want to leave her mother alone to take care of the store. But when her father brought up her break up with Jung again, she broke. Everyone had that point, a point where everything they held in burst out of them.
Getting a permanent position in One International was a blessing for her, it was a stable source of income and she could help her family out. Even if being the rookie sucked, she worked too many hours and barely slept, at least she could say. This is my choice, no one made it for me.
“Why did you let that boy go? The son of Tae-rang group, even if you were just a daughter at least your in-laws could have helped us.” Her father yelled at her last night, the smell of alcohol overpowering her.
Sipping her coffee, what if scenarios swirled around in her brain. What if she did go through with her wedding? Where would she be now? Would she still be the grunt of the marketing team at One International or would she have gotten a higher position at Tae-Rang through nepotism? Would her mother still stay up late at night going through the store accounts, trying to make sure that they at least broke even?
“If you keep that expression on your face around the marketing team, you are definitely going to be taken more advantage of,” one of her seniors from work stands next to her pouring sugar into her coffee. Ahn Young-yi is tall and has a confident stance, one of the few women in the company and incredibly competent, Seol admired her. She stays quiet and doesn't respond. “You know the one where you look like a lost child in an amusement park, people pick up on fear and insecurity you know. Even if you don’t have the confidence, fake it till you make it.”
“Thanks Sunbae,” Seol finishes the last of her coffee throwing the empty cup into the trash. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Young-yi doesn’t say anything.
Seol is at the rooftop, her father on the other line. She stays to work overtime, finishing a presentation for the marketing team. It’s barely 7 at night and his slurred speech already indicates his inebriation. She tries to remember the last time he was sober.
“Seol, I was disappointed that you weren’t a son when you were born but then you brought home that Tae-rang son. You know, I though, ah finally you did something good. Why did you break up with him? Two months away from the wedding? Hong Seol, we’re ruined. I went around bragging that my in-laws were Tae-rang group. Then you moved out. Why did you do this why?"
It’s windy outside, making hard to distinguish whether that spilled were because of her or the bitter cold.
“Appa, you know why I did it. It was my decision. Why are you the one drinking over it?” She half screams; she’s tired, so tired and it wasn’t her work schedule that was at fault.
“Come back home, Seol-ah,” She hangs up and turns off her phone. Wiping the tears from her eyes she leans against the wall at the edge and screams out in frustration. She thinks about it, jumping from that ledge sometimes maybe finally obtaining that peace that she would never get in this life. She never follows through.
“Seems like you already found my screaming spot,” Young-yi says sitting next to Seol. Her face shows the same exhaustion Seol experiences, the confident stare gone and her mouth is not turned upwards in a small smile.
“I was engaged last year, I was going to get married to a rich guy,” Seol doesn’t know why she is spilling her story to someone she barely knows, much less a superior. But there’s something in Young-yi’s expression that tells her that maybe Seol isn’t the only daughter who was her father’s disappointment. “But I couldn’t go through with it. I knew what kind of a man he was, I knew but I didn’t realize it until two months before the wedding.”
“That’s fucking shitty,” Young-yi replies. Seol doesn’t try to mask her surprise at her senior's response but continues anyways.
“Money is important, how am I going to feed myself without money? But marrying him would mean I don’t get to make my own decisions, he manipulated others to get the outcome he wanted but I never thought he would do it to me. He manipulated me into our engagement," Seol says rubbing her temples, Young-yi doesn’t say anything but has the same look of surprise Seol did earlier.
“I hated public declarations of love but he did it, at a baseball game nonetheless. That was when I knew that the rest of my life would be like this. I won’t get to work where I want to, I would get some job at his company that I didn’t earn. I would not get to raise my own child, I would have to pretend to smile for his benefit and it would all happen before I could stop it.”
“So your dad is mad because you broke up with a control freak chaebol. At least he never showed up at your work asking for money,” Young-yi says staring out in front of her.
“No but he has shown up at the lobby pretty drunk,” she replies. Young-yi looks at her and they both burst into giggles. There was something cathartic about it, laughing like teenagers and not caring who heard. There was nothing really funny about it but it provided a way for Seol to get rid of all the anger, the hurt, and other emotions she couldn’t quite place.
“You know we are never going to be good enough for them,” Young-yi starts wiping the tears from her eyes. “We just need to learn to be good enough for ourselves.”