First of all, thank you Rochelle for choosing my picture this week. The advantage of having your own picture as the prompt is that you know the complete context. Just as Thoreau says in the quote that Rochelle always includes, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” and in this picture, I see the lines of Korean middle school students streaming up the long drive to the middle school just out of frame (you can see the lights of the soccer field in the background.)
In a departure from my normal fantastical imaginings, this story is almost 100% true in every detail. Dangerous stuff, since it almost brought me to tears several times while writing it. But such is life. (By the way, click on the picture to see where it was taken.)
So long, So-Yeon
I gave them hugs in the classroom but we hug again at the door.
“We’ll miss you, teacher.”
“I don’t want to,” I say, and mean it.
“I’ll write you every day.” I smile; it’s well meant, but won’t happen.
Last is So-yeon. She’s been that smiling, encouraging face in class ever since Grade 3. Now she’s in middle school and so grown up.
“I’ll never forget you,” she says. I wonder if it’s true, knowing it doesn’t matter.
Finally I wave and turn away, to another country and another school, leaving part of my heart in Wanju.