Read Desire in Any Language Online

Authors: Anastasia Vitsky

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Romantic, #Romance, #Contemporary

Desire in Any Language (8 page)

BOOK: Desire in Any Language
8.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“It will be okay?” I ask.  She gives me her usual kiss on the top of my head.

“It will.  Now sit down and let’s draw up a schedule for completing all of your make-up work.”

I grimace at the word “sit”, but I do as I am told.  Gingerly.  When she returns the “rod of love” to its place on her desk, I scoot forward in my chair.

“Oni?” I ask, and even though we are at school she nods. 

“Thank you.”

Desire Courageous


Ah-ee is annoyed when I reject each offer to go out at night.  “You used to be fun,” she complains.  She doesn’t understand that she can learn reading a lot faster than I can learn listening comprehension.  All she has to do is memorize some vocabulary and correct her spelling.  Growing up in a multi-lingual home gave her a fantastic ear for both content and pitch.  She sounds like a native speaker when she opens her mouth, and even if she can’t spell half of the words correctly she can figure out the meaning of reading passages if she concentrates very hard on context.  I’m not top of my class in reading no matter how hard I work, but it’s the one subject I am sure I will pass.  It’s the devilishly difficult listening class that I can’t comprehend. 

I stay in the media lab after class every day struggling to match the garbled gobbledygook coming through my headset to the printed transcriptions in my textbook.  When each question is designed to deliberately trick us, how can I ever get it right?  I memorize the transcripts in a vain attempt to make sense of the words, but the recordings blitz by even when I know the words.  I am the first student in the media lab after class and the last to leave.  At first the room monitor checks my desk every few minutes to make sure I am not sleeping or messing around, but by the end of the week I arrive to find that she has my usual cubicle ready with my class CD in the player. 

“Thank you!” I beam in surprise, and she pats my shoulder.

“Study hard.”

I bring my textbooks with me to the cafeteria to work while eating, and I spill fish soup on the day’s lesson page.  At least it misses my homework, but Ah-ee makes fun of me the entire day for smelling like fish.

“You spend so much time with your books that you’re going to turn into one,” she says.  “You’ll be a book that can’t eat so someone will have to dump fish soup on you to feed you, and pretty soon you’ll waste away until you’re just a notecard.”

I glare at her, but Lee Sonsengim has already entered the classroom and Pedro pops to his feet to lead the class greeting.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, everyone.  Today we are not going to do the assigned lesson.” 
Click, click. 
The perfectly polished shoes stride across the floor as Lee Sonsengnim stands behind his desk.  For the first time, he seems almost unsure of himself.  He taps his fingers against his leg and then hands Pedro a small stack of papers.  Pedro gives each of us a copy.  Curious, I examine mine.  At the top is a picture of the former president followed by a mass of unfamiliar words. 

I nudge Ah-ee.  “What does it say?”

“Shh!” she hisses.  We’re not supposed to use English in class. 

Lee Sonsengnim speaks very clearly and more slowly than usual.  I find that I can understand nearly every word if I concentrate very hard.

“Some of you are worried about the midterm exams, and to help you prepare we are going to try some real-life listening and reading today.  This is a speech from our last president, a very famous one.  It will be too hard for most of you, so we will practice strategies for reading when it’s above your level.”

Even though reading is my best subject, I perk up at this news.  I could use the help for history!  Sometimes I can’t even understand what the test questions are asking.  Silly country with 5,000 years of history.  I never appreciated US history’s brevity enough when I was home. 

“I will give you twenty minutes to silently read this speech.  No dictionaries.  Work alone.  I’ll put up a question for you to answer in your notebook for today, and you can share your answers if you wish.  Then we will talk as a group about ways that you were able to answer the question.  Any questions?”

Ah-ee, Kumiko, and Pedro all glance at each other and shake their heads.  Juan is half-asleep next to me, but at least this early in the morning he doesn’t yet reek of smoke.  The other students buzz confusedly at the change of plans.  I shrug my shoulders.  I’m mostly impressed with myself for understanding the instructions. 

Lee Sonsengnim nods toward the classroom clock.  “All right, begin.  I’ll be coming around to check your work from time to time.”

I reach for my pocket electronic dictionary, but Lee Sonsengnim shakes his head.  “No dictionaries, Mira-ssi.”

Oh, no.  I’ve never read without a dictionary in hand before.  What am I going to do?  I scowl at the paper, willing the words to make sense in my brain.  Yangyook?  I don’t know what it means, and Lee Sonsengnim is walking around the room.  There are other words I can’t understand, but I wade through the passage looking for any friendly familiar word.  “Sorry”, I know that one.  And “family”.  Something about parents…the war…I only know that word from history class.  Jonjeng.  The harsh consonants even sound a bit like war, the grating clanging of conflict. 

My index finger runs along the bottom of each line as my lips soundlessly mouth the words.  I can’t understand this sentence.  Or this one.  Or…

I drop the sheet and fight to control the shaking in my chest.  I still don’t understand what the speech says in detail, but the word “ibyang” is unmistakable.  It was one of the first words that I learned.  It’s a more difficult word than most people at my level know.  “Ip” or “ib” means to enter, and “yang” means to raise.  For a sheep or animal…or a person.  “Ibyang” is to bring someone in for raising.

Oni or not, Eunji Sonsengnim will do more than show me “love” if I leave class again, and I have to send her my report afterward.  My bottom throbs at the thought.  My brain whirls, then freezes, and then clicks into clarity.  I raise my head and look at Lee Sonsengnim who is now seated at his desk.  After I continue to look at him silently, wanting to ask but not knowing how, he gives a barely perceptible nod toward the door.  I take a deep breath and nod back in response.  He rises in one smooth motion, and I slide out of my desk to follow.

“What’s happening?” Ah-ee asks.

“Shh,” Pedro answers.  “Ten more minutes.”

Lee Sonsengnim closes the door behind us.  The hallway is deserted, and despite his low tone his voice reverberates against the walls.

“You have a question, Mira-ssi?”

I do.  If I only knew what I wanted to ask.


“Don’t worry if today’s lesson is difficult.  You’re not supposed to be able to understand everything.”

“Lee Sonsengnim says that you were crying.”

“He says to apologize to you.”

“He thought you didn’t understand the question because the level three class is hard for you.  He didn’t realize it was an awkward question.”


“Please,” I begin, and then I stop.  “I don’t want to talk about adoption.  Not in class.”

I can’t remember the polite way to ask, but I am fairly sure there is none.

“The lesson is not just for you, Mira-ssi.”

I look up, not sure what he means.

“It is for the other students, too.  The greater the silence, the greater the shame.”

I have nothing to say.

“I will not require you to comment on the content if you are not comfortable.  But I expect you to return to class and participate.” 

The clicking of his shoes as he goes back to the classroom leaves me stunned.  I repeat his words in my head again.  Not require me to comment?  So I can just listen to what others have to say?  I think about it.  He expects me to participate?  How?  By not leaving?  Is that all I have to do?

What will Ah-ee say?
I wonder. 
Or the others?  What do they think? 
No one has said one word on the subject since I left class weeks ago.  Will they even care?  Or will Ah-ee be more concerned whether I’ll finally agree to go to the club with her tonight? 

I take a deep breath and follow Lee Sonsengnim back to class.

Desire Encountered


It’s the day after the dreaded midterm exams, and Ah-ee has forbidden me from going home early to take a nap.  She plies me with one caffeinated drink after another, and she chatters about the party her friend is throwing tonight.  I feel more like throwing up than throwing a party, but I nod. 

“First we need to get you a party dress,” she insists.  Even without the scholarship, staying in the library all day every day has meant nearly zero expenses.  I don’t have enough money for a fancy dress, but I have money for a dress.

“Okay,” I answer.  Then I panic.  We usually use the same changing room if the store is big enough to have one.  “Wait,” I say.  “I’ll be right back.”

I sneak into the bathroom, sigh with relief when I find it empty, and lift the back of my denim skirt.  Eyeing the door nervously, I peel down my panties to check.  A few marks, but nothing noticeable.  I give an even bigger sigh of relief as I readjust my clothes just before Kumiko comes in.

“Are you coming to the party?” she asks.  I nod and hurry back to Ah-ee. 

“Let’s go!”  Ah-ee has already taken out my jacket and shoes.  I step out of the slippers we wear indoors and into my black flats.  They should go with whatever dress we find. 

“If you’re choosing my dress, then I’m going to choose yours,” I insist.  Ah-ee laughs.


I quickly regret my offer as Ah-ee puts me in a clinging black dress that shows far too much skin.  I don’t mind having fun, but it’s cold!

“But your shoes are black.  So you need a black dress.  Anyway, you said I can choose.” 

“Another black dress, then…”

Ah-ee lifts the dress over my head and gives me back my blouse and skirt.  “No way.  I need you to look as sexy as possible tonight so the hot guys you reject will come after me.”

“Ah-ee!”  I hurry to get dressed, but she has already taken cash from my purse and brought it to the sales counter.  She gives me the change and the bag. 

“Okay, you better find me a good one…”

After I pick out a raspberry swing dress with spaghetti straps for Ah-ee, she drags me to the accessory stores.  Row after row of shinies to wear, and such a small budget!  I pick out dangly silver earrings, and Ah-ee treats herself to a chunky brown bracelet. 

“Ready for the party?” she asks. 

After all the weeks buried in the library, I’m not sure I remember how to party.  I nod, though, and we giggle like children as we find a restroom and put on our new outfits.  Ah-ee takes out some lipstick that is far darker than I normally wear, and she insists on applying it to my mouth.  She sweeps my hair back with a silver twisty comb and dusts my face using a sheer powder with a hint of sparkles.  Then she pulls out another lipstick for herself and touches up her own makeup.  I braid her long hair and then loop it into a loose coil around her head.  She hands me a sheaf of bobby pins to fasten her braid.

We look at ourselves in the mirror, and Ah-ee’s grin is contagious.

“Mira,” she says with a nudge.  “We’re smoking hot.  Let’s go get ‘em.”

At her friend’s house, Ah-ee insists on introducing me to every single person.  “This is Yuriko’s brother, and this is his friend from high school, and this is his neighbor.”

I lose track of names and faces until Ah-ee stops in front of a girl lounging on the couch.  She is drinking cheap beer, and in that moment drinking cheap beer seems the most elegant activity in the entire world.  Ah-ee tells me her name, but I don’t hear it.

“How do you know Ah-ee?” she asks, but I can only watch those powerful fingers curl around the glass beer bottle, nails perfectly aligned and sparkling. 

Ah-ee nudges me.  “Tell her we’re in the same class, dummy,” she says.  When I still don’t answer, she stares at me.  Stares at the other girl, then stares at me again.  As realization starts to set in, she begins to laugh.  Pushes me onto the couch right next to the girl and ignores my discombobulated squeaks.

“We’re in the same class,” Ah-ee tells the girl.  Ah-ee leans to whisper in my ear.  “Aren’t you glad I made you get your sexy new dress?”

I nearly choke on the beer the girl has handed to me, and I shoot Ah-ee the most dire glare I can manage while still trying to make a good impression on the new girl.  Ah-ee laughs again and leaves to continue making the rounds.

“Hi,” I say intelligently. 

The girl runs her hand through her gleaming black hair.  I watch, mesmerized. 

“Hi,” she replies with a laugh.  I desperately try to think of something witty and brilliant, but I can only think of the television jingle for the beer we are drinking.

“Hi,” I say again before I can stop myself.  The full, open bottle of beer in my hand tilts dangerously.

She lets her hair fall to her shoulders again and reaches to take the bottle from me.  As her fingers brush against mine, I gasp and my leg twitches.

“What’s wrong?” she says, setting the bottle on the coffee table and placing a hand on my thigh.  It’s the Fourth of July and the 1812 Overture all at once, and I can’t get out a single word over the relentless internal explosions. 

“What was your name?  Mira?  Are you okay?”

I subdue my gasps by sheer willpower, and I cover her hand with my own.  “Kiss me,” I say.

I drop her hand and cover my face in horror.  I meant to ask her name.  I meant to just
it, not say it.  I didn’t even mean to think it!  The only reason I don’t run to the bathroom to hide is that I am afraid if I move the tiniest bit that someone will see me.  Maybe I will melt into a puddle right on this couch.  Yes, an invisible Mira-puddle. 

Something soft brushes against my lips, and the fireworks soar in cascading brightness throughout my pelvis, my stomach, and every single inch of my skin.  I don’t dare open my eyes.  I don’t dare move.  That is, until I hear a low whisper.

BOOK: Desire in Any Language
8.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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