She Had Willed It – YJ Jun

Digging. Dirt. That which was dark and tangled brought forth to the surface of the snow meant to smother it.

Casper ran. So did she. In her thoughts. Still your father. Away or towards? Towards. Towards memories dark and tangled she had smothered with pretty white.

She wanted to hurl. She wanted to scream. She wanted to claw something as violently as Casper clawed the earth. He gnawed a root. Root it out. She wanted it out. She wanted out.

Just like that she realized he was here without being here. Dark and tangled roots dug deep.

She would scream. She would scream so loud passersby would hear. They would report. They would get annoyed, as annoyed as Seoul PD when she screamed into a phone half a lifetime ago hoping to save Mother from dad, and the police had just sighed. “Parents fight sometimes,” they had explained. They were annoyed she had reported a false emergency. They would care more if she were attacked by a Siberian husky.

Stop being pathetic, she told herself. Her eyes cooled. Her heart, frantic, slowed. She let her jaw stay clenched.

Thirteen out of fourteen days they had spent ensnared, kept on a short leash. She would not let him be here when he was not here because it wasted precious little time with Mother.

She exhaled. It bought her time. More time for moments like these. More time because less was wasted pleading and begging and screaming and throwing and running away and reporting.

She tried to laugh like Mother.

Was that really the best they could do?

Pathetic, she told herself, Stop being pathetic.

Look, she willed, and she did.

The snow it fell so softly. It sifted through thick branches and kissed the ground with a whisper. The wind hushed as Casper plop plopped through the snow.

Casper played. He weaved soft grey between the trees. He chased after the drumstick Mother threw at him but was too stupid to fetch. He passed it by and came to her, empty-mouthed, tongue lolling, smiling.

Her jaw unclenched. Her shoulders dropped. Snow always cooled her temper.

“It’s beautiful!” she cried.

“Isn’t it?” Mother beamed a beam of joy, bright as the sun searing off the snow. Mother’s back is still straight, despite all the things he’d done to her. Yanking on a short leash.

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