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.]
- BWI Airport, Sunday Evening