Which Way is Up?
The Story continues! More conflicting emotions for Sonny/Soon Hee.
In A Pinch | The Brink of Beauty
Up or down; she couldn’t decide. She must have spent an hour on her hair but she still couldn’t decide how she wanted to wear it. The thought made her pause for a moment - it was such a girlish thing to fuss over! It was enough to make the corners of her lips curl upward in a sense of contentment.
“You’re dressed up,” Soon-Hee felt Kevin’s eyes on her as he walked into the living room. “Heading out?”
“I am,” she told him, still fiddling with her hair.
“Where to?” Kevin’s quizzical expression amused her.
“If you must know, I’m headed to a luncheon with your mother. She wants to introduce me to some of her friends.”
“Wait, you’re going out. To meet my mother. Without me?”
“That is the plan. Don’t worry, I left you something in the oven. Also, your father called and said be ready to go sailing tomorrow.” Soon-Hee sighed. Ok, down it is.
“When did you and mom get so buddy buddy?” Kevin put his beer down, leaning on a couch as he looked at his friend.
“She texts me all the time,” Soon-Hee told him. “She’s been dying to take me shopping but I’ve managed to feign being too busy for it. Do you KNOW how hard it is to turn down free clothes?” Kevin shook his head at her response, but she just shrugged. In any other situation, she would have jumped at the chance to have someone buy her things but it was too risky a proposition. Too much of a chance for Kevin’s mother to discover Soon-Hee is really Sonny. Of course the way things had been developing, even the line between the two was blurring. . . “She’s taking me to a charity event. She insisted on repaying me for cooking dinner for her and Roland last week. I honestly think she’s trying to get me a job with one of her friends . . . ” A job. Working, living - as Soon-Hee. . . All. The. Time.
“I can’t believe my fake girlfriend is cozying up to my mom.” Something about Kevin’s words soured Soon-Hee’s mood. Fake. Was she a fake? She WAS pretending. . .
“You of all people know how persistent she can be.” Soon-Hee tried to stave off Mirim’s attentions but the truth was she genuinely LIKED the woman. Assertive, posh and poised, Kevin’s mother was just the type of woman that inspired Sonny’s love for femininity. Mirim was always stylishly dressed and despite her obvious sophistication she was surprisingly gracious. Soon-Hee found her to be a wealth of knowledge; both in fashion and life itself. What was immediately obvious about Mirim was that she loved her son and wanted the best for him. “If you like, I can play the bad guy and tell her things aren’t working out between us.”
“Don’t do that. She adores . . . Soon-Hee. . . you. When the time comes, I’ll take the fall.” Kevin placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Listen, Son-. . . Soon-Hee, I realize what you’ve done for me. My parents have been off my case for the past several months. My dad is thinking of moving me up in the company and my mom has never been more pleased with me. It’s all because of you.” Soon-Hee looked up at her friend, seeing the nervous sincerity in his eyes. Her heart rose a bit, but she let him continue. “I really appreciate it. I appreciate YOU. It’s more than just posing at my girlfriend - you really look out for me. I can’t thank you enough.”
“That’s very touching, Kevie.” Soon-Hee reached up, covering Kevin’s hand with her own. He was warm. It was. . . pleasant. “I never expected to be doing this, but I don’t regret coming down those stairs. I’ve learned a lot about myself - about Soon-Hee.”
“You must have learned a lot,” Kevin’s eyes traveled over her feminine shape. “I mean, you look GREAT. You are just so . . . real. How do you do it? I can’t see anything in you that reminds me of Sonny. You even look like you have real breasts with that cleavage.” She sighed, her heart full of melancholy.
“That’s because I DO have breasts.” She glanced away, letting the silence between them build.
“Y-you have what?” Kevin sputtered as Soon-Hee stood up.
“Breasts. I have breasts now.” She stood by the door, finally able to meet his gaze.
“But - But how?”
“That I don’t have an answer to,” she sighed. “The doctors don’t know what’s going on. At first they were convinced I was taking hormones but they told me this goes beyond their usual effects. But it’s not just breasts. . . you are right, I AM looking more real.” Soon-Hee’s voice had fallen to a soft whisper. She bit her lower lip, the usual confident facade she adopted gone.
“So. . . what does this mean?” The worry in Kevin’s eyes were comforting to Soon-Hee. Still, she had no answer to his question. She had been asking the same question of herself for the past few weeks.
“I wish I could tell you,” she managed. “I’ve been trying to figure things out.” Everyday she looked in the mirror, noting the unexplained changes. Her waist was tight these days - so much so that she didn’t need a corset anymore. However, she had been forced to wear bras for support. It had all made it harder for her to switch back to being Sonny - a fact that didn’t upset her nearly as much as it should have.
For years, Soon-Hee had been a hobby, an indulgence. But now her physical changes were giving her more substance. The fake girlfriend was becoming real. “I will say one thing, it has made it easier to hide the truth from your mother.” she offered Kevin a weak smile and he tried to mirror it.
“You don’t have to do that. It can’t be helping.”
“Maybe I don’t want to stop.” it came out more defensively than she intended.
“But what about . . . Sonny?”
“Sonny doesn’t have a luncheon date with your mother and her friends.” She turned from Kevin, glancing over her shoulder at him as she opened the door. “I’ll be back later. I’ll tell her you said hello.”
“Soon-Hee, Wait!” She paused mid-step, her back still to him. “I don’t know what you’re going through, but - I’m here if you need. Whatever it is.”
“Thanks. It means a lot to hear you say that.” She closed the door behind her, hoping she was leaving her concerns with Kevin for a few hours. Mirim was expecting a vibrant young girl, not a moping girlish boy. A few deep breaths as she got on the elevator helped release her conflicting emotions into the ether. By the time she got downstairs, she was feeling better. A few minutes into her Uber ride and Soon-Hee was feeling more like herself - more alive.