Asian American Friendship Fiction

In 1952..

I was sitting at the dinner table eating my steaming plate of kimbap with my Appa when there was a sudden knock on the window.  My Appa looked across my shoulder trying to see who was there.  I followed his dark brown eyes as he said,“Get the door please A-Yeong.”c

As I walked to the window, I leaned over seeing two small girls. I motioned to them that we had no food to give them,  thinking they were beggars.  My Appa came to me after a long time.  Looking at the two girls he seemed shocked and hastily got his shoes. After he hastily slipped them on without tying them, he went out into the cold and approached the two girls.  He was speaking to them, but I couldn't make out the words.  I stopped watching them and decided to go back to the table to finish my kimbap.  Right as I finished, my father came in with the two girls.

“These two lovely girls, J-eun and Jihye, will be staying with us for a while,” my Appa said in a smile I haven’t seen since eomma.  “They will be sleeping in our guest room.”

“Is that Kimbap?” Ji-eun said in Korean to me. “C-could I have some for me and my sister?”

“Uh sure,” I say smiling.

I give them some kimbap from Appa's plate.  They devoured the kimbap in a matter of seconds.  I could tell these kids had been on a hard trip.  

“Lead them to their room A-Yeong,” said Appa as he put his glasses down and started to cook Tteokguk.

“This way Ji-eun and Ji-hye!” I said, still smiling.

I take them to their guest room and give them all the clothes and resources they need for sleeping.

“I’ll go prepare a hot bath for you guys now, you guys stink!” I say with a laugh, but to my surprise they do not laugh instead they look down with sad faces.  “U-uh, I'll just get that ready, heh..” 

After preparing the hot bath for the girls I tell the 2 Ji’s to go take a bath.  I decided to get a cup of red tea because I was thirsty.  My Appa was in the kitchen and when he saw me he motioned me to come sit down with him.  He put down his knife and came over.  He had a serious face, so I thought he was mad.

“A-Yeong, you know how we escaped the Korean war?” my Appa starts off.

Oh, I definitely remember the Korean war.  It was a fierce battle between the rivals, North Korea and South Korea.  I lost my Umma to that.  My Appa has never been the same since Umma died.  

“Well A-Yeong, Ji-eun and Ji-hye have also escaped from the Korean war, but with the price of losing their parents,”  my Appa sorrowfully said. “Speaking of which, Ji-eun and Ji-hye will also go to school with you.  I hope you will help them since they don’t know English that well.”

“Don’t worry Appa, I'll make sure they don’t get bullied.”  

I went back to the bathroom after drinking some lemon water.  The Ji’s are playing with the bubbles and laughing.  I have never heard such pretty laughs before. 

“Hurry up!” I say in Korean, “My Appa is making Tteokguk.”

They look over at me and smile.

“Unnie!!” they say in a laugh.

I smile, and go to our room to get ready for sleep.  I can hear the Ji’s go to eat Tteokguk.  I go to the bathroom and clean up all the bubbles and brush my teeth.  I also prepare toothbrushes for Ji-eun and Ji-hye.  I fall asleep in my cold and soft bed and wake up the next morning to feet shuffling in the room.  

“Unnie!! Wake up,” I hear Ji-hye say.  

“I’m awake.” I tell them laughing.

I open my eyes and see that Ji-hye and her sister have already gotten ready for school. I put on my slippers and change.  I brush my teeth and Ji-eun and I go to school.  Apparently Ji-hye is too young to attend school, so she’s going to help Appa with work. As we arrive at school many people stare at me and Ji-eun.  

“BESTIEEE!!” I hear a familiar voice and I turn my head as Ji-eun also looks at me.  It's Chun-Ja!! 

“Over here!” I replied to her.

She comes over and looks at Ji-eun.  Her eyes are sparkling, and she turns me over to talk to me.

“Who is she?” She says in an energetic voice.

“She's someone who escaped the Korean war,” I reply, trying to match her energetic voice.

We went back to Ji-eun, and I introduced them to each other.  Suddenly, the bell rings and we all get sent to class.  Thankfully, Ji-eun, Chun-Ja, and I are all in the same class.  While the teacher was teaching us about ratios, I didn’t notice Ji-eun getting hit by a paper ball.  Then suddenly, Ji-eun runs out of the classroom.  I couldn’t tell, but I think she was crying.  I asked the teacher if I could be excused with a worried face.  I bite my nails as I go out to find Ji-eun.  I get worried about what will happen if she gets lost and never finds her way back.  I searched the school for what seemed like forever, but then I heard a soft crying voice that sounded like Ji-eun.  I quickly run to the sound and around the corner there's Ji-eun crying.  I sat down next to her asking what was wrong. 

“R-read the note…” Ji-eun said to me.

I opened the paper ball and I read a few sentences to myself.  As I read I almost punched the wall.  Who do these people think they are?!?  Whoever wrote this told Ji-eun to go back to her country where she can starve herself rather than eat HIS food in America.  Of course I knew who it was, but I took the paper and put it in my pocket.  

“If it makes you feel better I can tell you about the first time I came to America and how I had a hard time with bullies too.” I say trying to lighten up the mood. 

“O-ok,” she said in sniffles.

I told her about how I got a similar note, but then I found Chun-Ja who is now my best friend.  I tell her about how I will stick with her just like how Chun-Ja stuck with me through hard times.  After the story I tell her, she gets up and I walk her back to class.  Unfortunately, the teacher yelled at us for skipping class, but we were saved as the bell rang symbolizing it was time for lunch.  We all ran to lunch and got our food.  Chun-Ja was at the library for extra help so it was just me and Ji-eun.  Suddenly, Michael comes up to our table.  

“HAHA if it isn’t the two Korean idiots.” He says. 

“We are not idiots..” Ji-eun said back looking down at her soup.

“Are you talking back to me? Koreans are supposed to fight in war, not be here in America and stir up trouble,” he said back.

“Well guess what, it's none of your business you disgrace of America.” I snap back winking at JI-eun.

“W-well, I'm gonna go eat my soup rather than waste time with you and your Korean friend!” He says back leaving.

“Hey, thanks for sticking up for me.” Ji-eun said to me in Korean. 

“It’s nothing, remember? We are gonna stick together till the end.”  I say punching the air.

And that's how it started.  With a knock on the window, I met a new friend.  Someone who I could look up to or protect.  Now we are 18 in college learning how to be doctors.  Of course Ji-hye also grew up, she's in high school now, and she's doing well in school.   

June 12, 2021 01:17

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