Contemporary Drama Fiction

Everyone turned to look at me as the last line of the Will was read out. Gasps and hushed whispers. “Do what?” “Can she really?” “What was he thinking?” Mum reached out and held my fingers tightly, “You don't have to do this.” She didn't know that I indeed had to. My future depended on what this unknown grinch had left for me. I was running out of time and money and I needed to do this. He’d spent his entire life staying away from us and now he seemed determined to collect. They say that she was the love of his life; the daughter who looked and acted just like him. I reminded him of her. When she died he fled taking only his memories. Dad said that I talked like she did in a crisp yet sweet manner. He says that when they played together as children she would tease him until he was at the point of tears and then wrap her arms around him in a bear hug. She was as lively and vivacious as she was affectionate and loving. Of course I never knew of her existence or even his until that Friday morning when we received the letter from the lawyer informing us of his death and asking us to attend a meeting the following week. 

The problem was that he had never forgiven his daughter. This had haunted him and tortured him until his final dying moments. He believed that he should make amends to her but had not quite known how to go about doing that. He would have to trace her child and locate her wherever she was in the world so that he could bestow upon his granddaughter what he could not give to his daughter. It was quite by chance that he saw a photograph of me in the newspaper when he had come back to town. I was twenty eight, the same age that she had been, when she had run away. He had called and begged her to come back. He had pleaded and entreated her to listen to him. She was stubborn and in love and refused to hear him out. A year later her husband wrote to him with the news that she had died in childbirth. The baby, a little girl, survived but it had been her dying wish that her father could not meet her daughter and so he would cease all contact with his father-in-law. The old man had never stopped looking for them since then. Ten years had passed and back in town he saw my photo in the newspaper and thought that he had seen the ghost of his daughter. 

As I walked on the tarmac after disembarking from the airplane I reflected on this sad story. A stubborn but heartbroken old man. A rejected daughter. A little child unaware of their heritage. A family torn apart. Could I really repair the loss and heal the rift? “Kim-Jeong?”, a voice said, “Welcome to Pyongyang”. The night was a blur as I was escorted straight from the airport to a hotel. The next afternoon I began my travel to Kijong-dong located in North Korea’s half of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). I tried not to think about the orders issued to me at the State Security Department that morning. “Do not propagate South Korean ideas here. Do not talk to anyone about life in South Korea. Do not go anywhere without the officers of the Department assigned to you.” I was fortunate to be able to get into the country at all. It turned out that the General of the Political Bureau owed my benefactor a favour and had agreed to allow me in to find his grandchild. I was terrified that I would never be able to leave once I had come in. There were all sorts of stories of heirs, heiresses and criminals who paid to stay in North Korea to escape from life outside. Would the State Security Department try to coerce me into investing and staying in the country once they learned of all the billions that I would inherit? 

Kijong-dong was notoriously known as the propaganda village with the massive loudspeakers mounted on several of the buildings delivering propaganda broadcasts and the brightly painted buildings and farm fields. It was said to be deserted but the officers of the State Security Department informed me of some families who were living there that fit the profile of the one I was looking for. As we entered the village and began to walk around I could not believe that I, a South Korean, was walking through a North Korean village. I wanted to scream and run back home or forward as it were as we were at the border of the Demilitarised Zone. As we ate kimchi and boiled eggs and rice for our dinner and sat in silence through a blackout I was overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. Would my coming here be worth it? Would I actually be able to find the girl and return? 

The next morning, the officers marched me to a little house in the corner of the village. As they opened the gate of the house I caught a glimpse of a little girl who seemed to be about ten years old playing with a doll in the garden. This was Ha-eun, most probably named after her mother Ha-yoon, and grandfather Hyun- woo. Her father, upon receiving the brisk instructions of the officers, allowed us to speak to her and she listened in amazement as I told her that I was her mother’s niece, once removed, and showed her pictures of her mother and her grandfather. She asked me for stories and I told her the details that had been written out for me to share with her in the Will. We visited her over the course of two days and the officers announced that it was time to return back to the city. We bade goodbye and settled in for the night planning to leave the next morning. 

I waited patiently for the officers to fall asleep. Afterwards, I slowly shifted my weight from one foot to another as I slipped out of the house and ran through the village to the house in the corner. My heart was thumping in my chest and sweat dripped down, as I placed my hand over Ha-eun’s face, whispered in her ear that it was me and I wanted to give her a gift, and slowly carried her with me as I ran away from the village and into the woods of the North Korean part of the Demilitarised Zone. It was dark and we were surrounded by trees but we kept moving forward until I saw a flash of light blinking at me. I kept moving forward, dragging Ha-eun with me, until at last we arrived at the fence and stepped into the South Korean part of the Demilitarised Zone. As South Korean soldiers rushed to help us I breathed a sigh of relief for the mission had been accomplished. 

(This is purely a work of accidental fiction and is not meant to insult, disparage or cast in negative light any place referred to.)

December 18, 2020 18:07

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Kelly Dennison
21:42 Dec 23, 2020

Woah. The ending was unexpected and caught me off guard! (In a good way!) Interesting framework. I’m intrigued and want to know more!


Seeker C
03:08 Dec 26, 2020

Thank you!! Awww ya I probably should have written more. Seems to be an issue in alot of my stories. I will strive to add more meat to the bones of suspense as it were! Thanx for reading and the comment!


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