TITLE: How to Escape from Korea
GENRE: Historical Middle Grade
Kai added a plumeria lei to the damp pile around my neck before he squashed the flowers in a goodbye hug. I ached like crazy to kiss him, but my parents were staring.
He wore his favorite boardshorts and brown flip flops. “I’m skipping the Aloha Dance.”
How could he have considered the dance? I wiped my eyes, afraid they’d melt into the kind of crying that led to smeary make-up and runaway snot.
“The Wicked Wahinis play out of tune,” I said.
Mom tapped her watch. “It’s time.”
Kai and I made our final walk together. My new boots clunked along our driveway. I wondered how fast I could bolt in them, but didn’t want Kai’s memory of me to be ruined by bizarre behavior. In a few minutes, my dignity would be all I had left.
He kissed the side of my head that faced away from my parents. We parted with a long, silent gaze.
So this was heartbreak.
Burying my nose into my leis, I tried to memorize the scent of plumeria. I inhaled so deeply I had a headache by the time we reached Honolulu Airport. Each step to our departure gate felt automated, like we were on a conveyor belt to doom. As the plane door closed with a suffocating hiss, I knew that my months of making deals with God had been useless. No last minute miracles. We were headed to the land of kimchi and martial law.