You look up from your seat to the photo frame on the living room table. Light reflects off the glass, giving it a sheen. It took you back to when it was simpler.
“…Why should I?” was the first thing he told you. He didn’t even look at you in the eyes, his eyes darting quickly across the small screen of his game console.
You sighed, a fond smile forming on your face. “Well,” you started, resting your chin on your hand. “For one, it’ll give you money for your games, Seha-ya.”
You knew you had his attention when he perked. “…” He paused his game, raising an eyebrow. “…So what do I have to do?” You grinned and gave him a noggin. “AH! MOOOM! STOP!” he yelped, his cheeks reddening.
“C’mon, give your mom a hug, Seha-ya~! You’re going to make me soo proud~”
You blink as the memory fades from the forefront of your mind. Your vision is slightly blurry, and you feel your eyes are damp. Upon touching your cheek, you find it damp. Ah, were you crying? Of course you were—you are. You push yourself off the sofa, the pitter-patter of your feet not telling how heavy your heart feel.
You crouch, gently pulling a tiny cardboard box. You take it in your hands, walking back to the sofa. You bite your lips, feeling the tears well up in your eyes again.
Please, not now, you tell yourself. You take a breath, bracing yourself and open the box.
They have always started with the same phrase.
Hey, this is me again.
Shit. Erm, ignore that. Gods, I don’t know how to write letters. This is so awkward.
Heh, what a terrible son I am, right?
Anyway, Ms. Yujeong—you know her, right?—said I should at least write to you once in a while, and I can pass it along to her.
Hey, Mom. How you doing? I tried calling you before, but reception is bad here. It didn’t even connect. You’d think in a capital city like New Seoul they’d have better signal, right? Apparently, all these dimensional monsters have been blocking signals left and right and only specialized equipment can go get through. So here I am, relegated into writing letters to you.
At least for the time being. I do hope I can at least call you some time.
How’s my Closer work? Err… It’s okay, I guess? Seulbi’s been telling me off to work properly. Geez. Will she loosen up? She’s going to get early grey hairs and be like Uncle J. Don’t tell her, but she’s a fast learner and she led us good. So far. Don’t tell her okay?
You smile fondly. You remember it took forever to even get your son to agree. Then some forever more for him to start smiling when talking about it. He didn’t come home often, but every time you heard him say “I’m home, Mom,” your heart fluttered in your chest, thanking the Gods and smiling widely as you embraced him—much to his chagrin.
You flip to the next.
Can’t believe it’s been so long since my last letter to you. So much stuff happened. I’m pretty sure most of them are classified, but I’ll do my best.
I met Mr. Simon in my school. He was a jerk early on, but he was a nice guy in the end. We saved some friends of mine. I hope you stay safe, Mom. Some people aren’t what they seem to be. And I think
Natasomeone is actually lonely. I don’t know, he just…felt like I used to be.
I met Director David Lane the other day. He compared me to you—which I hated. He seems like an okay guy. Just an okay. He rubbed me wrong the other day, but Ms. Yujeong wanted me to give him a chance.
Hey, Mom. Just in case I didn’t come back… Tell Seokbong I wished I could have settled the score.
Sorry. I still can’t tell you anything. Wish me luck, ‘kay Mom?
You feel the tear dropping before you see it on the paper. You gently press your hands together and very carefully heat up the paper, erasing most of the trace of liquid on it. But you carry on anyway.
Just like you—and he—always do.
INo, we did it! We came back! Sorry to make you worry. But everything should be fine now. I’ll tell you all about it later when I go home. SO much happened and my hands are shaking too much to write the entire thing.
We helped with cleaning up New Seoul, checked the Planar Gate—that was so weird, did you know that?—and went to the airport.
Just…so much stuff happened. One thing I still can’t believe.
DirectorDavid Lane betrayed us.
I can’t do thisTalk to you soon.
You remember again. Your son only came home once. You saw the light dimming in his eyes, brows scrunched up with inner conflict. Wordlessly, you hugged him. He didn’t resist, and you knew something was terribly wrong. He opened and closed his mouth several times until you said, “It’s okay. You can tell me later, hm?” You smiled.
He smiled weakly back to you, his yellow-golden eyes regaining a bit of their light. “Okay,” he said. “I promise, Mom.”
But now we both know that’s not the case, isn’t it? It never is with UNION.
Your fingers flip to the next one, slightly trembling.
If you ever got this before we meet…
You ARE crazy. But I suppose I had to get it from someone, right?
I learned about what UNION did to you. It—There’s no word to describe what I felt, Mom. I’m glad Sister and the others are here, though. Even Mr. Trainer—did you know him? He said you were in the same team back in the days—and the WolfDogs. They help set me straight again.
Mom, I’m going to make them pay. Sister Yujeong and Mr. Trainer have a plan. If we did this right, this will never happen again. It’s going to take some time, though, and lots of luck on our end. Wish us luck again, Mom.
On a positive note, we’re going to Germany. I get to see the world beyond New Seoul. I know, I know—it’s work, and we were in Siberia and NYC before. They’re still quite the sight, though.
Hey, Mom. Was the world in your time this pretty? How about, when it’s over, you tell me all about it, and I tell you all about it?
It’s a deal!
I promised Levia to teach her how to cook. I hope you don’t mind…
You still remember it, don’t you? That day when you heard the doorbell ring. You cleared your throat, checking yourself in the mirror. You dashed to open the door, eager words on your lips. It died when you opened it and didn’t see the mop of messy dark hair you expected.
It was a middle aged woman with long brown hair. You recognized her from a dossier long ago. One “Yujeong Kim”.
You felt your world shattering around you when you saw her bowing to the waist.
“I’m sorry,” she said, barely withholding a sob.
You didn’t notice all the others. You didn’t notice when you were on your knees. You noticed the tears, felt only your heart breaking into tiny pieces.
You close the box, placing it on the table. You sit on your desk and take a pen and paper.
To my dearest son, Seha Lee,
I didn’t want to force you, but I had no other choice. I knew it was only a matter of time before they come for you, so I sent you off in the hopes it would protect you. Part of me is still wondering the “what ifs”.
No, you weren’t a terrible son. You were the best son I could ever hope for. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you how I was already proud of you. I’m sorry if I were such a terrible mother. I wish I could hug you more…
I’m doing somewhat good. Not great, but getting there. How are you doing?
I wish you were here, Seha-ya
The world in my time was slightly less pretty than it is now, Seha-ya. It used to be so pretty—I wish you could see it.
My little sunshine…
I missed you. So so much.
SincerelyKisses and hugs,
Jisu SeoYour dearest mother.
Levia is a great cook now.