- a EunKang short story
Fate. It’s a very powerful word to those who embrace it. Somewhere out there is a single person you were meant to belong to even before you were borne, your other half.
Some would travel great lengths to be with their other halves. Some would forfeit anything and everything. Some would defy all social constraints. Some would rebel against their friends and families. And some would do nothing at all for they could do nothing.
This is a story of two men who were locked in a relationship to each other that neither one had wanted. To tell this story we must start from the beginning with their parents.
The mother was married to a very wealthy and powerful businessman. She was a good wife and mother to the 2 sons she bored him. The husband was not very faithful unfortunately. She knew about his affairs but she tolerated him because she was his
wife, the one who he comes home to at the end of the night. This philosophy worked for a while but eventually he met and fell for a much younger woman. He divorced her and married the other woman. At the time she was 5 months pregnant with her 3rd son Eun Jiwon. After the divorce the husband supported her and Jiwon financially because he was after all still his son.
As for the father, he was an average working man who was happily married. Tragically that happiness was prematurely cut short when his wife died in a fatal car accident. At the time his son, Kang Sunghoon, was only 3 months old. Years passed before the parents met and fell in love. Eventually they were married and Sunghoon and Jiwon were stepbrothers.
As their childhood years went by Jiwon and Sunghoon got along very well. They were best friends having the best relationship any two brothers could have. Jiwon was the protective, tougher brother who defended his little brother. Jiwon by appearances look very threatening and borne not much of a talker he looked very cold from the outside.
Sunghoon was the only one who understood him while all the other kids feared him. For many years Sunghoon was the only friend he had. Later on when others actually took the time to get to know the deeper, more personal Jiwon they found that he was actually a very smart, sweet and nice person. He just has a different philosophy to life; don’t waste your time on people who doesn’t even make the effort to look below the surface.
Sunghoon was the complete opposite. He was carefree and open. And by appearances he looked like he was on top of the world all the time. Everybody loved him. As for his philosophy to life, he tries to make everybody happy. Shallow yes but whatever works for him. Sunghoon was very protective of Jiwon also. He was the one who always defended his misunderstood brother. But say what you he may, people will always believe what they want to believe and kids can be cruel.
Well ever heard of the phrase “opposites attract”? That was exactly what happened.
Right about the time when they should be noticing girls they noticed each other instead.
They were both aware that the attraction was unnatural, not only was he attracted to the same sex but he was attracted to his brother! This drove a wedge between them. It became very uncomfortable for them to be around each other so they avoided each other. Eventually they grew apart each withdrawing to their respective circle of friends.
A few very uncomfortable years crawled by as they lived in the same house as mere acquaintances. Then the company the father was working under was expanding to the states and he was sent to oversee the brother company in L.A. Instead of moving the whole family to the US the parents decided to leave their sons behind in Korea. They felt they were old enough to take care of themselves so they didn’t see the point in tearing them away from their lives in Korea to start over in America.
They were alone in the house. Perhaps it was the fact that they missed their parents that they started connecting with each other again. They started from the beginning, getting to know each other all over again and became best friends, again. They never realized how much they missed having the other in their lives until then. They grew very close, dangerously close. Then on a fateful night their lives were forever changed by a single kiss. There were no reservations as each earnestly laid their hearts out in the open.
After that everything changed and yet nothing changed at all. Yes they loved each other but what could they do with that relationship? Where would they take it? How should I describe their relationship during that time…? They were not officially together but both retreated from their relationships to other people. It was as if there was an unspoken agreement and being with other people just seemed wrong. During that period it was both very happy and difficult for them at the same time. It was as if there was an iron gate separating them. They could see, hear, and feel each other yet they can’t be together as if fate itself was taunting them.
They did sweet little things that all couples do. Sunghoon often cooked candlelight dinners for Jiwon. And Jiwon showered Sunghoon with gifts of flowers, candy and occasionally jewelry as well. They didn’t go out much and so their ‘dates’ consisted of cuddling on the couch while a movie cranked in the VCR. It wasn’t a squeaky clean relationship, they made out more than occasionally. But their conscience and morals prevented them from taking it any further. Two happy and content years quickly flew by.
On another fateful night their lives were once again changed with another kiss.
They were on the couch busy probing each other’s mouths with their tongues when their parents walked in on them. The parents had intended to surprise Sunghoon on his 18th birthday. Needless to say they were more than a little surprised when they found their sons making out on the couch. There was a big fight. Things were said, feelings were hurt, and when all the smoke cleared Jiwon was gone.
Jiwon ended up in Hawaii. While he was there he didn’t deny his sexuality. Come on this is Hawaii we’re talking about, they permit same sex marriages, no gay man can stay in the closet down there. Eventually he moved in with another man named Jiyong.
Did he love Jiyong? I believe so…to some extent. As for Sunghoon…well while he stayed that night, it wasn’t before long that he moved out of the house. He on the other hand was still in Korea and society over there was not as open-minded as Hawaii’s. He met a girl and they had a son together. Did he love her? No. Did she love him? No.
They didn’t have a relationship they had an arrangement. Sunghoon wanted a son and she wanted a child also. She knew right from the beginning that he doesn’t love her; it didn’t bother her one bit because he wasn’t her type anyway.
During the years of estrangement both of them kept in touch with their parents as a formality. Unlike the night of their first kiss, everything changed this time around. Their relationships with their parents were nonexistent. And their relationship to each other was all together gone. Lonely years crawled by at a snail’s pace with both of them ignorant of the other’s life.
Winter, spring, summer and autumn made 10 annual appearances and then their father died from a double heart attack after lingering for a week in the hospital. At the funeral was the first time Jiwon and Sunghoon laid eyes on each other after a decade. As their gazes locked old passions stirred after 10 years of slumber. During the years they were apart, they thought they had gotten over that hurtle when in fact they just went around it.
Every want, need, and longing was still there…nothing had changed. If it was possible they loved each other even more. And they were still…brothers. Nothing had changed.
They came, they mourned, they parted and life carried on with its usual pace though it may seem faster or slower at times. They continued on with their lives still without any contact with each other. Another 2 years went by and their mother died from leukemia.
Jiwon and Sunghoon were again brought together by a death. After the funeral they were summoned to a will reading.
They were sitting next to each other in an office. Their parents had bequeathed them the house along with 2 envelopes. The lawyer left them alone to open the envelopes.
They opened the one with both their names on it first. It was a letter and Jiwon held it between them as they both leaned in to read it. When they finished they opened the other unmarked envelope. They both stared at it…in shock. Suddenly Sunghoon abruptly got up and walked out. Jiwon let him go even though his heart felt like it was going to jump out and run after him itself.
Six months later Jiwon decided to go visit his old home. He had moved back to Korea since their mother’s death. And he still hasn’t seen Sunghoon since the will reading. He scanned the house that brought him so much happiness and pain. He could tell that no one had lived there for years, ever since the death of his father. The mother spent most of her time in the hospital due to her illness even before the father had died. Everything looked the same though it even had the same smell. But it didn’t feel like home anymore, something was missing. He ascended the familiar stairs to that familiar room.
He was surprised to find the occupant of the room sitting crossed leg in the middle of his bed staring out the window. Sunghoon snapped out of his trance when he felt Jiwon next to him. He continued looking out the window but he was fully aware of Jiwon’s every action. Jiwon’s gaze followed Sunghoon’s out the window.
“Do you love her?” Jiwon was afraid to ask.
“I don’t love her and she doesn’t love me. The only bond between us is our son.” Sunghoon answered matter of factly.
Jiwon turned his gaze onto Sunghoon. He was surprised with his honesty. This was very good news to him. But something was bothering him, something he was dying to know…
“Did you use invitro-fertilization?” He finally asked; his curiosity got the best of him.
Sunghoon whipped his head around to look at Jiwon. “What…? No!” He was confused and a bit irritated by his question. ‘What the hell does that have to do with anything?’
“So you slept with her?” Jiwon couldn’t help feeling…betrayed.
“Hell yeah I slept with her! Why would we go with invitro when we’re perfectly capable of reproducing by ourselves?” He was practically yelling as he shot back. He was furious.
‘How dare he!’ “Besides what about you and him? Can you tell me that you never slept with him in all 12 years? Don’t you dare talk to me with that holier than thou crap!” He was extremely offended. Sunghoon turned towards the window again. Silence consumed them.
“Everything is different now…what are we going to do?” Jiwon asked quietly trying to change the atmosphere.
“I don’t know…” Sunghoon had calmed down. Another moment of silence. Sunghoon slowly turned toward Jiwon.
“Do you love him?” This time Sunghoon was the curious one.
“Not as much as I love you!” Jiwon answered quickly.
“But you do love him!” Sunghoon said bitterly.
Jiwon let out a deep breath as he search for words. “Do you know how much I love you? You are my life I love you more than anything else in this world. In the 12 years that you were not a part of my life it was very hard. I tried to forget you but how could I? Jiyong was a…was a distraction from you. I was grateful for the distraction because loving you was very painful. So I clung to him as a lifesaver while I was drowning in your love. But now…” he trailed off.
Sunghoon didn’t answer him. He was looking out the window again his face turned away from Jiwon. He didn’t know what to say to him. When Jiwon walked in earlier there were a million things he wanted to say to him but nothing came out. They stayed that way just enjoying each other’s presence.
They watched as a pair of sparrows was busy building a nest on the tree that was in front of the house. The couple outside was the complete opposite of the couple inside.
Funny how simple-minded creatures like sparrows can be so happy with a brain the size of a walnut, yet humans with their so-called superior brains spend their entire lives searching for that same happiness.
“I miss home.” Jiwon finally broke the silence.
“You can move back here anytime. You can have the house.” Sunghoon answered absentmindedly.
“Even if I moved back here it wouldn’t be home anymore,” Jiwon continued.
“Because they’re not here anymore?” Sunghoon offered.
“No” Jiwon shook his head staring at Sunghoon’s turned face. “Because home is where you are,” he continued. Sunghoon stopped obsessing about the view outside the window and turned to face Jiwon.
“After 12 years of being homeless I would really like to have one again.” Tears swelled in his eyes and his voice shook. “So may I please come home?” he asked in a strained voice.
“Yes you may,” Sunghoon whispered nodding his head as tears slid down his cheeks.
So they wait and let fate take its course. It will get to its destination in due time.
Jiwon and Sunghoon, our beloved sons;
Not a single day passes without us revisiting that night 10 years ago which tore this family apart. Ten years is a very long time, a lot of things can change in 10 years. A lot of feelings could change in 10 years time. Please try to understand where we were coming from. We had such high aspirations for you both but what we saw broke our hearts. And for a long time all we could see was that pain.
Sunghoon you are an only child and with that come the responsibility of continuing the
Kang family. And Jiwon what about the Eun family? If and when they find out they would cut you out of the family, which they did. Like it or not those are your blood relatives.
Looking back our concerns seemed so trivial. We were too caught up with what other people would think. We forgot what was the most important thing to parents the children’s happiness.
We are very sorry for all that happened that night. Please know that we love you both very much. I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia and your father just had a double heart attack, the doctors don’t think he will make it. Perhaps all this is punishment. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive us? We have nothing to offer you except for the one thing that would make you both happy. As of today you are no longer legally brothers. The divorce papers are in the other envelope. You both have our blessings.
Mom & Dad