Upset
Katherine Hana Li spin_kick_snap
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BWI Airport, Sunday Evening
With the possible exception of Sarah, no one in the Li family had appreciated Kathy's performance at the Talent Show--including Kathy herself, once the gremlin venom had worn off. There had been a bout of tears and hiding in Mary's special lounge, but she knew better than to think she could hide in there forever--no matter how tempting the idea was. There might have been a few minutes of trying to convince herself that she could totally live off soda and fancy peanuts until everyone who'd been there had left the island for good, but that hadn't lasted longer than four, five minutes. Tops.

As a family, they'd decided to skip the brunch--which meant that Sarah had asked about going, Kathy had given her a look of wide-eyed fear, and their parents' mutual glares had been enough to peel the paint off the wall behind her. Both sisters had spent the day in busy silence; Kathy studying and Sarah playing on her phone. Both parents had spent the day having muttered conversations in Korean, voices pitched too low to be heard except by one another, and treating Kathy to utter silence.

She'd actually never been go grateful for the silent treatment in her life. The look in her dad's eyes when they rested on her promised a lecture of the most epic proportions, once he'd gotten to the point of actually being able to deliver it.

At one point, her om had stepped out to make some phone calls, but she remained stuck under her father's flinty gaze, which kept her from even trying to start up a conversation with Sarah.

The day had passed very slowly, with a feeling of creeping dread the just got more and more acute while she waited for the other shoe to drop.

***

Mrs. Li had informed Kathy that she would be accompanying them to the airport and had proceeded to hold her hand for the entire trip there, like she was afraid that Kathy might run off at any moment to humiliate them further. When they arrived at the drop-off site, Mrs. Li exited the cab first, yanking Kathy out along with her.

"Umm, shouldn't I just stay in the cab?" she asked, while Sarah and her father pulled their suitcases out from the trunk. "So I can get back to the island? You could tell him to go as far up the Causeway as he can, with no stops, just to make sure I go straight there? Not that I wouldn't! I mean, of course I'd go right back to the school. But this way, you'd know for sure that's what happened. I mean, if you didn't feel you could..." She swallowed hard. "Trust me anymore."

Her parents said nothing. Mrs. Li finished paying the cabbie, her grip on Kathy's hand tight to the point of pain, while Mr. Li set the other suitcase down and grabbed Kathy's backpack from the back seat, where she'd shoved all the stuff she'd brought to the hotel room from her dorm over the weekend. He let her bag fall to the ground and stepped back from the curb while the cabbie pulled away. She and Sarah exchanged looks, Sarah's just as baffled as her own.

[Warning for emotional abuse and manipulation in the comments.]

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)

"Our boarding passes are in my purse," Mrs. Li said, as Kathy bent to pick her backpack up. "We will have to stop at the desk to pick up hers. It has not yet been paid for."

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Kathy nearly dropped her bag back on the ground again. "Wait, mine? Mom, you can't be serious!"

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)

"Hold your bag and your tongue," Mrs. Li ordered crisply. "I know you have no compunctions about humiliating your family in public, but try to remember the way you were raised."

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)

"No, wait, please," Kathy said, switching over to Korean. People might be able to tell that she was in some kind of distress from her tone of voice, but they wouldn't understand what she was saying. Maybe that would give her the chance to explain? "You don't understand! There was more going on that what you saw. I didn't set out to embarrass anyone last night!"

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)

"And yet you more than amply succeeded," Mrs. Li snapped, starting to move towards the airport doors. Kathy stumbled along behind her, not quite ready yet to pull free. "There is no excuse for such a disgraceful show! We have never been more ashamed of you in our lives. Your poor father--imagine what would happen if word of this were to get back to his company! He'd be a laughing stock!"

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)

"How would that even happen?" Kathy asked. "Someone would have had to upload it to Youtube--and put Dad's name on it! And probably his company name, too! Who would even do that?"

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Mrs. Li didn't have an answer for that, just kept steadily yanking Kathy forward.

...Behind all three of them, Sarah took her phone out and made sure that the video she'd uploaded didn't have any identifying information on it. And also that it was listed privately.

Just to be safe.

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Seeing how logic clearly wasn't going to work, Kathy tried a different tactic. "But--but--it's so much money! Money for a last-minute plane ticket across the country can't be cheap! And there's this year's tuition! And--and--all my stuff! In my dorm room! My clothes and my books and things! Are you just going to abandon that all?"

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)

"Tell her that the money for this ticket will be coming out of her own pocket," Mr. Li said, voice low and angry. He still refused to look at his eldest child, wasn't even getting close enough to touch her. "And the school will be returning the money that we have wasted on her. For both years she was here! Without even a hint of complaint, too! They'll be lucky we don't sue them for this!"

He was shaking in fury, hands clenched into fists at his side.

"And then tell her--tell this--" The word he spat was enough to make even his wife pale and Sarah gasp. Kathy just rocked on her heels like it had been a physical slap. "--that maybe if she cared even the slightest about her family instead of her precious things, we wouldn't have to drag her home."

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)

"Dad!"

Kathy watched in despair as her father shouldered by her to yank the door open.

"Mom..."

Tears blurred as her mother kept marching.

"Please, just listen!"

But it was a clatter from behind them that had them turning around.

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Sarah stood trembling beside the suitcase she'd dropped onto the ground and made no move to pick it up.

"You're wrong," she said, looking hard at her parents. Her voice was tiny, her wrists red from where she was wringing her hands, a trait she'd picked up from her sister at some unknown point in the past. "You're both wrong, and Kathy doesn't deserve to be treated this way."

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)

"Sarah, don't," Kathy begged. "Just don't. I'll go home, they're right, I'm wrong, just stop, okay?"

It wasn't worth making a scene out here. She was already in trouble, there was no reason to involve her baby sister, too.

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)

"Pick up your suitcase, Sarah," Mr. Li said, voice low. "You pick up that suitcase and you keep walking. Don't follow in your sister's example, it won't end well for either of you."

the_family_li

2014-09-29 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Sarah gulped and stepped back a pace, but the suitcase remained on the ground. "Nope. Not until you listen. Kathy shouldn't be in trouble for this. I should."

spin_kick_snap

2014-09-29 06:00 am (UTC) (Link)

"Don't listen to her," Kathy said, trying to shake off her mom and put herself between her sister and her parents. "She's tired and out of sorts. She doesn't even know what she's saying! Let's just keep going, I'll carry the suitcase, it's not a big deal..."

She didn't know what Sarah was doing, but she did know a horrible idea when she heard one. And if Sarah started talking about gremlins living in closets, her parents might skip over being angry and her and jump right to deciding she was crazy.

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