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  • Chunhŭi
  • Kim Sagwa (bio)
    Translated by Ruby SunHae Min (bio) and Bruce Fulton (bio)

Monday, August fourteenth, seven in the morning. As usual I left for the cram school early in the morning. Out on the street it felt like a dozen suns were blazing at me. Those suns threatened and chased me all the way to the station. From the train I looked out the window at the black power lines going down and up from one pole to the next. My eyes also went up and down as I followed those lines to kill my boredom. And then out of the blue, people were roaring "Dynamic Korea!" A kkoaenggwari was going tang-da-tang-tang. Cheers of "Let's Go, Red Devils!" filled the World Cup Stadium. It was a KBS Radio One promotion for the Korean national soccer team. The morning news came on and the announcer was a woman. All at once her voice got small and there was an announcement from the train: "We're sorry but there is a problem with the public address system, so this train will stop at Kuro Station. A northbound train for Ŭijŏngbu Station is standing by across the platform. All passengers please transfer. Your attention please, there is a problem with the public address system …" And then the news broadcast resumed as if nothing had happened. The announcer said a torrential downpour had caused flooding in parts of San'gok-dong, Pup'yŏng-gu, in Inch'ŏn. The train slowed down as it entered Kuro Station. I got off and headed for the opposite platform. People in a hurry pushed their way past [End Page 17] me. The sky was murky. And just then I spotted Chunhŭi among the crowd dashing down the steps. My vision turned achromatic and began to dissolve. I started seeing things: a chrome-colored mist billowed into the murky sky.

<I can't hear you speak up> <I've been busy I'll get back to you> <Mom I want to learn jazz dancing and I need to go to the hospital I have a migraine and it's killing me> <My eyes are out of whack I can't see the straps on the bus> <Your friend called me and said you were sick> <Mom they said I need an X-ray> <So you want to kill yourself> <No I'm not sick> <No I don't wear glasses> <Well I'm not sick I just wish I was dead> <No nothing wrong I'm just stressed out> <That's what I mean> <What do you mean that's what you mean>

It's a weekday and there aren't many people on the train. It's a train for Pyŏngjŏm Station. Drowsy sunbeams pour through the windows as the train click-clacks down the track. My knees are nice and warm in that sun.

<You should have told me you were sick instead of having someone else do it I'm your boyfriend remember what's wrong anyway how come you wish you were dead> <I take it back I don't wish I was dead> <Then what are you really sick> <No just upset> <Okay so you got slapped by your homeroom teacher again> <Do you go to a cram school> <How did you know> <Because you get slapped every day> <No way> <Which reminds me you're getting cuter every day> <Teacher it's so frustrating trying to figure out the concentration of salt water> <Is that so well if you say so and you're right that fucking bastard slaps me every day me and no one else that prick bastard> <What> <Look you draw these two at a right angle and you have an isosceles triangle see because segment A and segment C are the same length got it> <Come again> <Stand still your tie's all twisted> <Teacher> [End Page 18]

It was Chunhŭi all right. He was dressed up in a suit with gray stripes and there was a black leather messenger bag slung over his shoulder. On the ring finger of his right hand was a thick...