She climbed out of her bed and slapped her phone. She felt more exhausted than ever as she shuffled into the bathroom. Why was it that after so much sleep she felt so damned tired? Words from her father flashed into her head: the snooze button restarts your REM cycle so you feel more sleepy when you hit it than if you’d just get up. Once she made it to the bathroom, she pressed a button to turn on the water and pulled out her retainers from their case. She put them in her mouth and felt a tingle as they vibrated and cleaned her teeth- then she started washing her face. Make sure you use moisturizer! That time it was her mother yelling at her father. Men just don’t get how to be clean. She wiped off her face with a towel and looked at the mirror in a haze. Mornings were not her thing. She spat out the retainers and tried to wash out that awful toothpaste taste before she ran the bath and went into the kitchen. The Coffee pot was set on auto- every day at 7:00 AM, a better wake up call than that stupid alarm clock.

Good morning, Willow.” She jumped as google did it’s usual 7:15 jig, “Today it will be mostly sunny at 20 degrees. Air quality will be good. You have a phone call with Mama Moose and Papa Bear at 9:00, Korean class at noon, work at 14:00 and a date with Daeshim at 18:00. Your vocabulary and grammar quiz are all set, would you like to study now?”

“Oh god no.” She replied.

Okay we’ll start it now, then.

She had set it to test her after saying no and she hated it every time, but it was the only way she’d get some studying in. She answered the stupid computer’s questions as she gathered her clothes for the day, words flashing on wall displays in each room. She passed the picture of her parents twice while she prepped for her bath. She was lucky- in a country where nearly everyone showers she managed to get the one apartment that had a bathtub. Of course her Papa Bear had insisted that she make sure it had one- something about baths being the only time a person gets to be completely comfortable, or maybe it was something like you can’t take a human out of the womb and refuse them a hot bath- then again it might just be a thing he learned to love from when he studied Japanese. He wasn’t always the best at making much sense.

She grabbed a cup and poured some coffee, heated up a quick meal, and put everything on the tray on the tub. Then she disrobed and eased her way into the bubbles. She let out a sigh and said to herself, “This, this is how one does mornings.”

The ringer buzzed as she finished up her meal. “Answer.” She said rolling her eyes.

“Sooooooooooo, Who’s Daeshim?”

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t stalk my calendar Mama Moose.” She said with a smile.

“If that were so,” Her father said, “Then why’d you share it with us?”

“Yeah we have to know now! Is he handsome?”

“Is he a he?” Her father added.

“What? Papa Bear, why do you always ask that?”

“Hey, the early 2000’s were a crazy time, and no amount of knowledge of languages seems to make sense of the whole genderized names thing for me. Is this Jackie or Jaqui, I don’t know- so it’s better to ask.”

“Also I want grand-Kittens! So I need to know everything!”

“Ope- Daeshim is a male name! Just googled it.”

Willow palmed her face and suppressed a giggle, “Is this why you scheduled a phone call for 9:00 AM but called me at… 7:45?”

“What, a mother can’t miss her Kitten?”

“Yeah, and a father can’t take the time to annoy his daughter?”

“Fair point. How’s everything stateside?”

“It’s okay over here, hotter than I’d like but your Mama Moose is enjoying the weather.”

“How’s Korea?”

“Very Asian.”

“Oh you should check out Japan, then- and even China, they’re full of Asians this time of year.”

“Why are you like this?” Her mother said.

Willow rolled her eyes and smiled. It was always like this with them. Papa Bear tried to be funny all the time, and Mama Moose, well she just tolerated him more than she should. Willow on the other hand, was as glad to be away from home as much as she missed it. That’s the thing about family ties: they made you home sick and sick of home all at once.

“Well hey, we’ll let ya go- just call us with details about how the date goes! We love you kitten!”

“Love ya too bye.”

And then it was silent. Being so far yet so close was an odd feeling. Humans had this ability for decades, nearly a century, but it was still strange to know that the world was big-small, or was it small-big?

Truth was, Willow felt exceptionally lonely out here. It was strange to be a white girl alone in an all Korean location- especially considering the Korean Reignition event back when she was in high school. Her father acted tense that whole time. He later told her that he once vowed to volunteer if there was another Korean War. He had told her in Korean too- she guessed it was something he didn’t want to talk to Mama Moose about. He did what he could, though his Korean wasn’t good enough to land any positions. He shrugged off the rejection letters, but Willow suspected he never felt like he was good enough. Weird to think of your parents as people, as failures in what they love.

She was, in her parent’s terms, low-key ecstatic about Daeshim though. Before he popped up at work she was beginning to think that white girls weren’t welcome love interests here. And he was a pretty boy.

She sipped her coffee and looked towards the ceiling. Pretty boys make the world go round she thought, and smiled.

____

I love you.

-ABK 12018/11/26

___

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