“Jihyun” by Noah Cicero

Every day at lunch Jihyun would help Justin with his Ramyeon/ Justin always got Jajangmyun ramyeon/ he would eat at a lunch at a small table with four Korean women holding metal chopsticks in their right hand and a large spoon in their left hand/ Justin could never tell when his ramyeon was done/ he had to ask Jihyun/ she would look at his ramyeon and say, “little more” – Then Justin would say, “I’m so hungry” – Jihyun would giggle

After a few minutes, Jihyun would tell him it was time/ Justin would go to the bathroom and dump out the water/ go back to the lunch table and pour in the brown seasoning packet/ and eat his ramyeon

Jihyun always ate a packed lunch/ she ate a lot of dried sardines, to Justin the sardines looked old and sad/ she would eat rice and with an over easy egg cooked in the morning/ Jihyun was very helpful to Justin, she was his neighborhood, she had taken him to the library once to show him where it was, she showed him where the best restaurants were in the area, they once ate chicken together at work/ Jihyun was super nice, she seemed to have no sense of self, whatever Mr. Park wanted, she did without question, whatever her parents wanted she did without question/ she was 28 and still followed her curfew perfectly.

She always held the door open for Justin

Justin would daydream about Jihyun, about her tall skinny body, she was five foot seven, with a cute body, her skin was pale white, which Justin didn’t like but he thought if she came back to America with him he could convince her to get a tan/ Justin knew she was a virgin, he wondered how her vagina felt, he deeply pondered the feeling of her vagina, a virgin vagina, jesus,

Justin saw them living in Ohio, they owned a house, working on a mortgage, Justin had a good job, he didn’t specify in his imagination what the job was, but he had one. Justin would get Jihyun a job at the Red Lobster where he used to work/ there was a South Korean woman already working there, they could be friends, they could talk about kimchi or something, drink soju eat ramyeon together, yeah, that sounded great.

Jihyun would cook Justin food every day, Justin would teach her to cook cheeseburgers and spaghetti, she would do it happily, probably even feel sincere about the cooking of American food. She would clean the house, nothing would be filthy, everything would be nice and clean. Jihyun would get pregnant with his babies, these babies would be mixed and awesome looking. Justin would marry a foreign woman, which would make him cool in some circles.

Justin would bring Jihyun to his parents’ house, Jihyun would love his parents, because she is Korean and likes things involving family. Everything would be great, he needed an old fashioned love, marrying Jihyun would be like traveling back in time, like he was getting into a time machine and marrying a woman from the 50s, he could become his father, and normal.

He wouldn’t be able to have intellectual conversations about anything with Jihyun, but maybe his sister was right, love isn’t about intellectual conversations but about protection and sharing shit like that.

Then it would occur to him that a 28-year-old virgin was pretty weird, that she might be suffering from a severe mental problem, that sex with her might be really awkward/ she must have extreme intimacy issues if she has never even had a one-night-stand, that she wouldn’t even have taken the chance to do it just once, she must feel inadequate or something, explains the Japanese racism thing he thought/ explains the whole teaching of little kids, she feels inferior and scared of adults, especially adult men. Justin wondered what her dad did to cause such a fear, he had assumptions, but the data was inconclusive, eventually he would stop thinking about Jijyun and think about what he was going to eat for dinner.

Sometimes Jihyun would daydream about marrying Justin, dream of him taking her to America/ but the only outlets of information she had concerning America were Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. She had no idea what kind of life Justin lived in America it had never occurred to her to ask him about his personal life there, she was not allowed to ask her father questions, the idea of having a personal emotional relationship with a male did not even occur to her.

She imagined living in New York City with Justin, she didn’t work. She spent her days taking care of the house; Justin would work and provide her with money to go shopping. She would wear fantastic outfits like the characters on Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. She would have such nice outfits, she would be like those Gangnam girls that had nice outfits, she wouldn’t have to shop in the Sinheung underground mall anymore, she hated those clothes, she wanted to go to Gangnam and shop. But if she lived in New York City she could shop there and be really cool.

She thought about how clean she would keep the apartment, how she would cook meals for Justin, and he would be so happy. She would pack him a lunch of work and he would be excited every day at lunch to see what she made him. She felt excited about cooking lunches and packing them for a man.

Sometime she would think about sex with Justin, she had never had sex though: the images her mind created all came from Japanese movies that played on cable at night/ she had seen a Japanese movie where the woman had no shirt on, and the man was tightly holding her, she assumed that was sex. She didn’t want to have Japanese sex though, because she hated the Japanese, she hoped it would be American sex. But she had no idea how Americans had sex, sometimes she had sexual thoughts about Nate Archibold from Gossip Girl. She didn’t think Justin was as good-looking as Nate Archibold, but he was handsome, he had blue eyes.

But Justin had a girlfriend, an American girlfriend, American girls are sluts, they have sex, Jihyun knew she couldn’t compete with that, it made her hate American women. When everyone went out to dinner, all the teachers, Justin and his girlfriend Jihyun never directly asked Maddie a question or brought attention to herself. Her theory on social interaction with an adult was, be quiet, be polite, till it is over.

Jihyun would do her make up every morning, hoping she looked normal.


Profile: Noah Cicero

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