“Stop thinking and go to bed.” I chastise myself loudly, wavering and push it all back down. Taking slow deep breaths and reminding myself that from time to time I feel this way. I get scared and I momentarily think the worst and yet he’s never yet done anything. He’s too upright and solid to hurt his family name or OLO with something dirty.

Impulsively I pull out my cell and dial his number before I can stop myself, otherwise I might go crazy and imagine the worst and rip my brain to shreds with the fear of the unknown. It rings three times, and he picks up. Something that despite our years of strained interaction that he’ll always do. He never ignores my rare calls. No matter how mad he is at me. Texts, calls, emails… Jyeon always replies to me within minutes.

“What is it, Sohla?” he sounds pissed off, his tone low and husky and I can tell he’s had a drink or two by the slight laziness of his speech. He has low tolerance for booze because he rarely touches it and it winds my nerves tighter, creating anxiety inside of me.

“Where are you?” I ask bluntly, knowing I have no right, but I don’t care.

“I told you, I have plans. I’m out.” There’s noise around him as though he’s sat somewhere busy, with lots of other people, and there’s faint music playing, but it definitely doesn’t sound like a club or party. More like a restaurant or somewhere similar.

“You left your clothes on the bed and your sports car is gone, I was worried that you might be having a hard time today.” My mask slips and the softer me shows face without meaning to. A slight gentler tone and the way I say it is alien to how I talk now. There’s a noise like a breathy ‘hah’ of disbelief at my nerve for calling him this way, and a small dry chuckle.

“Four years too late, baby. Sohla, hang up before I say something I might regret. I’m not in the mood tonight. I’m out, I’m staying out. I’ll see you at work tomorrow. I’m fine, just like always.” He has no warmth in his tone and I’m guessing whoever he is with knows well what kind of relationship we have if he’s talking normally and not trying to put on an act or be quiet about it. It has to be Bryant, or maybe Avery. I hope it’s Avery because he’ll take good care of him no matter how much he drinks.

There’s a long pause as my eyes glaze over and the urge to cry hits me hard. Maybe because of what today is, but the aching longing inside of me to break down and beg him to come home overwhelms me and suddenly I really want to be that little kid again who used to hide in his arms when she was cared of the world. I miss him.

The Jyeon that cared, the Jyeon that was present in our first four months of marriage before we started fighting all the time. The Jyeon who held me at my parent’s funeral and took care of me for days after when I couldn’t get out of bed. I miss Jyeon, the eight year old who taught me how to ride a bike and gave me my first taste of candy floss when he took me to the children’s circus when I was ten. He was my bets friend.

“If you’re not hanging up then I am. Goodnight.”

“Wait!” It’s a desperate snap of words as I panic to keep him there, clinging to memories and feelings I always try to fight, and his loud sigh makes me bite on my lip and give myself a mental slap for being this way. He hates me acting like this.

“Can we not? Please. Just for once. I know what today is, I didn’t forget. You think because she only lived a week that I can so easily stop caring about her? She was my daughter, my baby. Sohla, she was our kid…. I wanted her.” His words slur more than before, and I realise he’s much drunker than I thought he was. He’s never this way. He never opens up and talks to anyone, let alone me, especially not about her. Not like this, never like this. He avoids drinking for this exact reason, because he doesn’t want to and can’t face us ever bringing her up, and a tear fills one eye making my vision blurry so I have to bite on my lip hard to stop myself from sobbing.

“We never even gave her a name. Sohla. How could we not name her? She was a real little person, even if it was only for a short while. She was your daughter; you were her mother. Why didn’t you come when she needed you? She held on for you for six days…. I held on for you too. If you’d come… maybe…….” Jyeon’s voice breaks, a soft breathiness which tells me he’s crying and the mental picture of him doing so rips my soul in two. Shame washing over me, guilt eating me raw, which numbs my heart painfully and I try to blot it out. Shaking all over, because I know I did wrong and no matter what I say or do I can never turn back time to change it.

I laid in my hospital bed, recovering from blood loss, and used it as an excuse to never venture to her ward because I just couldn’t accept what I let happen. I was selfish and afraid of seeing her when she was so tiny and so helpless. Knowing I did that. Knowing she was dying. I hid from her because I couldn’t take another loss after my parents, after Mr Park.

I know he blames me for her letting go and leaving us, and I too blame me for not being there when she needed me most. Maybe if I did, she might have found the fight to hang on and survived. Maybe we would have gotten through it in a different way and been something else right now. It’s the one thing Yoonha has never understood, but I do.

Jyeon hates me for not just hurting her and causing an early birth with my negligence, but for abandoning her and leaving her to die without me. Her death is on my head, no matter which way I tell the story or what excuse I make, and I have to live with it for the rest of my life.

“I shouldn’t have called you.” My voice sobers up, empty and sour, and the cold and icy part of me that takes over when I mentally can’t handle anything anymore pushes in to save me from harm. Cutting him off. Locking him out once more and hating myself that I’ve become so accustomed to doing this that its like auto pilot against my will.

It isn’t just Jyeon that keeps me far away and unable to love, it’s a two way street where I can’t allow him to love me either. I don’t deserve his love after what I did. There’s an invisible barrier we both put there and neither ever tries to really take it down. Lack of talking about important things, and our willingness to play pretend and carry on every day without getting to the root of where we started to go wrong.

“And there she is, right back to bitch. You’re right, you shouldn’t have called. I forgot for a second that you’re never going to be how you were again and I delude myself for ever thinking you’re still in there somewhere. I’m hanging up, Sohla. Go to bed.” His voice returns to cold and icy, and all hints of emotion evaporate. His wall coming up as high as mine until we’re separated by ten feet of solid steel on each side, and I sink onto the floor while cradling it close despite my behaviour. My insides aching and throbbing and my body weak, vibrating. While my face is blank, and my heart slowly turns to a block of ice.

“Enjoy your night.” It’s an emotionless farewell and I red button his call before either says anything else. Sat in the dark of the closet and staring blankly at the wall in front of me. I don’t move for a long time, losing count of the minutes with no will to do anything else but stop and wait.

And yet I don’t think, or feel, or do anything else except sit here. Turning off my brain and zoning out to allow a numbness to take over. I do it until the clock passes midnight, and the chimes stop ringing in the house below, fading out to a low hum of past echo, until it’s no longer the day I let my baby die.

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