(Vi – HR Manager at Hi-Tech Industries has just gotten dumped by her boyfriend of two years. She’s not taking it well.)
The two young guys fumbled for the keys and finally grabbed a set. The younger guy set off at a trot to go get the car. Vi waited, fuming, arms folded across her chest.
The young man pulled up with the car and she jumped in just as Stanley was coming out the door.
“Vi . . ..”
She hit the accelerator and sped out of the parking lot.
Hot, angry tears poured down her face making it difficult to drive. She was speeding through traffic and ignoring the honks from other drivers. Her car seemed to know the way. She was going to Oma’s home. Her grandmother’s place.
Although Vi rejected many aspects of Eastern culture, like using chopsticks, she still liked to visit her old grandmother. She loved a hot bowl of bim-bim bap soup or the special spicy octopus soup Oma sometimes made.
While she loved the food and the atmosphere, she did get tired of Oma’s nagging about no husband.
Vi rang the bell at the front door next to all the names.
After a minute or two, an old gravelly voice said “Yes?”
“Oma, it’s Vivian.”
“Vivian? Let me push the button.”
The buzzer rang and Vi pushed her way into the apartment complex.
She sat for forty minutes crying her eyes out and Oma listened quietly.
“Let me get you some soup.”
Vi had about three bites of Kim-bap guk but couldn’t eat anymore. She stared down into the dark green leaves floating at the bottom of the round ceramic bowl. They reminded her of the past.
“No more. I got no appetite.”
“Sweetheart, I told you a long time ago he too young for you. He not ready for marriage. Not for a long while.”
Vi waved it away; her head down.
“Are you going to go back to work today?”
“No, I can’t. I’ll just call work and say I’m sick.”
“Okay, sweetheart. Why don’t you lie down on the sofa and take a rest? I watch TV in my bedroom.”
Vi let her grandmother nestle her into the sofa with a large blanket placed on top. She made a quick phone call to Robin to tell her she wouldn’t be back, then, promptly went to sleep.
When she woke up her grandmother was puttering around in the kitchen.
“I make us some tea.”
Oma brought out the tea service and they both drank the hot liquid. The amber liquid smelled faintly of flowers. Vi was calmer.
“Hum, I know,” Oma brightened, “I’ll read your tea leaves.”
“Oh, grandma, not now,” Vi held her head with both hands. She had a terrible headache.
Oma sorted the tea leaves from Vi’s cup and stared at them.
“What is it for Christ sake? Don’t do that and then not say anything.”
“These readings are not so good. Strange things. I don’t know. I don’t like what I see. It is . . . what is the English word, ominous. Yes, that is it. Ominous, I don’t like it.”
Vi leapt to her feet. This was all she needed. Bad tea leaves. Damn it to hell! Frightened, she knocked the cup out of Oma’s hand and stormed out of the apartment.
She turned to leave.
“And I never want to read tea leaves again!” The door slammed behind her.
Saddened, Oma carefully picked up the pieces of the now broken Ceylon green cup and put them in the trash. She went over to a little shrine of Buddha and placed some broken cookies in the offering tray. Lighting one small candle she said a silent prayer for her grand-daughter. Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Then she went and turned on the TV and sat back to watch her favorite Korean soap opera.
Vi sped away from her grandmother’s apartment and was making a turn when she slammed on the brakes. What looked like a big red dog with a bushy tail was calmly walking across the street and she just missed him. Is that a fox? She thought to herself. She could almost swear he looked at her, grinning.
“Jesus, I am losing my mind,” she said to the air and hit the accelerator.
Back home again, she made herself a double martini and sat down to look at old pictures of herself with Stanley and cry.
The next day, back at work, Robin told her Jeremy had been by the previous day.
“Um, Ms. Lee, I gave him the printout that was in your printer. He was very anxious to get working on the report.”
“Jesus,” Vi screamed, “I’m gone one afternoon, and the place falls apart. Christ, I’ll do it. Get out of here and for God’s sake will you get that look off your face?”
Robin blushed a furious red color and backed out of the office. She didn’t trust her voice over the phone, so she walked over to Jeremy’s office.
She leaned in the door. “She’s back and working on the report.”
“Oh, good. Then, I’ll just go over . . .. “
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you. She is in a rare mood. In fact, I’m even thinking about going out for lunch.”
“Wow, that bad huh. Well, want company?”
Robin let a little smile slip out.
“No, thanks, Jeremy. I think you have other plans.” She nodded to the picture of his fiancée on his desk.
“Oh, that. Well, yes.”
She nodded and left.
After storming around for two hours and pounding the keys of her computer, Vi ripped the report out of the printer. She stomped over the Jeremy’s office.
“Here it is,” she threw it on his desk. “And, don’t be snooping around my office when I’m gone. I know what you’re up to.”
“Touchy, touchy, Vi. Thing with the boyfriend not go too well? You seem a little upset.”
“Fuck you, Jeremy. What would your little heiress Caroline ever do if she knew about us, huh? Might put the damper on the old wedding bells, huh?”
Jeremy’s face colored an ugly shade of red.
“You keep Caroline out of this, you bitch. You have a few secrets yourself.”
“Yeah, like what?” she spat.
“Like a certain relationship with a certain CEO of this fine company.”
She got up close to his face.
“You keep your comments to yourself, you little bastard or I might do a relocation on your ass.” She turned to go then turned back. “Unless, I kill you instead.”
“If I don’t do it first, sweetheart. If I don’t do it first.”
She turned and stomped out of his office. Robin was gone when she got back.
“Fine.” She slammed the door to her office and closed the blinds. She needed a nap.
Continued Part IV
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