This chapter is a bit longer than the other two now that the story is moving along. That is the reason it took a little longer to write; plus the holidays coming up left me less time. Anyway! Enjoy and as usual if you feel so inclined to do so, any comments are welcome! Chapter: One, Two, Four, Five, Six
So far school has been fine. It’s been almost a month and everything is going smoothly. I managed to make one friend right away on my first day, Taehyung. I’m really lucky that we were in the same class because otherwise it’d be a little scary, at first anyway. But he has helped me a lot, with school work and figuring out how things work around here. He seems to want to be around only me, I wonder if he is ignoring his other friends or is worried I will get scared or sad without him. I hope he’s not; I’d feel bad if he was. He sticks by me during breaks, lunch, and recess. He sure is nice, he’s a little odd though, but not anymore than I am. “Taehyung, good morning!” I wave while I run to catch up as I see him walking to the school. He gets a huge grin on his face once he sees me, he always looks a little surprised. “Oh, morning Nel! Did you finish the homework you were having trouble on?” “No. I could not figure it out. Please will you help me with it?” It’s not really the work itself that is difficult I mostly just have a hard time reading the directions in Hangul. “Sure! But you need to learn to read soon or you’ll always need my help.” He’s right and I don’t want to be bugging him for help forever. I really need to work harder on studying. We sit down in the class room and try to get as much of the homework done as possible, he’s great at explaining things so we get through it fairly quickly. “Thank you very much. When you help it gets done a lot faster. It is probably done better too. You are so smart.” “I’m just telling you the directions and what the questions say. You’re still doing the work and your answers are usually better than mine. But thanks for thinking I’m smart.” He laughs a little at himself. He pauses in thought for a moment, “Nel, isn’t your dad Korean? Why doesn’t he ever help you?” I look down as I barely squeak the words out, “He came here to work. He just started out at his new job so he needs to work more than usual; he should be around more often after more time.” I feel bad that I’m lying but I don’t think it's normal for a dad to sleep at the office most nights, and it won’t change because that’s how he is wherever he works. Just then the bell rings so he gets up and goes to his own desk. I breathe a sigh of relief that the conversation got cut short and quickly change my train of thought onto something else. As the morning announcements are being said I find myself a little lost in my own thoughts thinking about something else… I’ve noticed since I first started here that when we sit down, it’s like people disappear. At first people will be sitting or standing near us, but soon enough there will be a big empty area around us. I think it’s because I’m new and foreign so they think I’m weird. I really hope it doesn’t make people dislike Taehyung too, just because he actually talks to me. I mean it’d definitely suck if people were trying to avoid me, but I don’t want to cause someone else to be avoided too. Especially someone as nice as Taehyung, he doesn’t deserve that. … “Ugh, math class took forever! I’m so hungry I can’t wait to eat! I almost started eating it halfway through class, ya know.” He sure can be dramatic, putting a ton of extra emotion into what he says and does. He’s entertaining to watch and listen to sometimes. “Taehyung, you are very loud. It is funny to hear what you say.” “Yeah, well it’s a lot funnier to hear what you say with that strange way you talk.” He says this and sticks his tongue out at me. I can’t help but laugh at his face all scrunched up with his tongue out. He’s always teasing me about my accent. But even still, I’m not as self-conscious about it as I was before. After math class is lunch break. As per our routine, Taehyung has come and sat down next to me with his lunch in the cafeteria. Most kids don’t bring their lunch and just eat at the school, so it is mostly just us who get homemade lunches. He used to eat at school more often but lately he has only been eating lunch from home. I bring one because I am not quite used to the food they serve but, Taehyung’s mom makes the yummiest looking lunches. I bet that’s why he started bringing them. Ooh, that looks really good, I wonder what it is… as I try to reach out sneakily while he’s looking somewhere else, I get a quick, light slap on the hand. “Hey! That hurt!” “Don’t be a baby I barely touched you; and quit trying to steal my food! You do it every day and every day I notice you. Pretty soon I’ll start hitting you harder.” He says this so seriously, I guess he really likes his food today, must be his favorite or something. “You do that without looking at me. I still do not know how.” I say this as I rub my hand, it didn’t hurt but I can play it up a little. “You should be nice and let me try that. You always hit me, so I think it is only fair. What is it?” “Ah, that’s kimchi. I don’t think you’d like it Nel.” “You just do not want to share. I think it looks real good! Can I try it, please! I will stop trying to take your food everyday if you give me a bite!” He is wary of whether I’m telling the truth when I say that, but he agrees even though he doesn’t want to. He forces out a long, loud sigh, “Fine just take some. But don’t get mad at me if you think it tastes gross, you’re the one who wants it.” I took a small amount and ate it. “It is different but it is good. Did your mom make it?” “Yeah she likes cooking.” “She is very good at cooking! Your food always looks yummy. I might have to keep stealing it every day.” I say this half-jokingly. “Well you said you wouldn’t, so if you do it again I get to smack your hand harder, remember that Nel.” We continued joking but sometimes Taehyung would get a look on his face that was sort of like he was distracted, he’d lose his smile and look around but I’m not sure what he was looking for. His smile would be back as soon as it’d left though. … “Mom! I’m home!” I walked in the front door kicked off my shoes and went toward the living room. “Hi hun, how was school today? Everything still going well?” She’s folding laundry and looks up for a moment to smile. “Yep, it’s fine. I’m getting along okay. I just need to work on my reading.” Boy, I never thought I’d be so happy to be speaking English. “Is your little friend still helping you with it? I wish I could help but I’m not much better than you at it. I never thought I’d be living here so I never bothered with learning much more than I needed to speak with your father’s family.” “Yeah, he helps a lot! He’s really nice and keeps me company.” “Have you made any other friends at all?” Ugh, this question. I’m embarrassed to admit that aside from having to talk to me for school work, no other kids have talked to me. “No… Taehyung said he’d help me make some but hasn’t introduced me to any of his friends. He doesn't mention them either. I’ve never even seen him talking or playing with any other kids...” I sound a little confused and slightly disappointed. I like having a friend but it’d be nice to know a couple other kids, too. Mom pauses her laundry folding, looks up, and gives me a pleasant smile that says she probably knows something I don’t, “Why don’t you invite him over for dinner one day. I’d like to meet my daughter’s first friend here and make sure he feels welcomed. He might enjoy being at a friend’s house.” “Sure, that’d be fun. I’ll ask him tomorrow.” I hope he can. I want him to taste how amazing my mom’s cooking can be, too!