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Week #18

Week #18: Undercover

“What are you making a face at?” Nikki looked over my shoulder as she walked over with the coffee cups.


“New DM…” I muttered.

“Oooooohhhh… which celebrity wants you to send money to save the world now?”


“Funny… how is it that you don’t get DMs from scammers?”


“Oh, I do get DMs… but see I don’t follow any celebrities or ‘like’ their self-absorbed photoshoots so the DMs I get from strangers are mostly booty calls.”


“That’s because of the photos you post of yourself.”


“Maybe… but they are hilariously entertaining. You should post a photo of yourself and you can be part of the fun too!!”


“Yes, because that’s going to be such a good use of my time.”


“Whatever… because guiding scammers to change their way is such a good use of time and is so productive. How many have we reformed into model citizens?”


“One… Hopefully he still is.” I add the last bit under my breath.


“So which celebrity is it this time? You know, I’m waiting for someone to impersonate Elon Musk and come ask for a donation. Now that would be hilarious.”


“Musk has one account and he actually talks to regular people on it, which means scammers don’t have a gap to manipulate. Plus the dude’s brilliant and scammers don’t have that level of nerd in them to successfully pull off a Musk. It’s all the celebrities that have an official and unofficial account and then don’t talk to regular people that end up creating the opportunity for scammers.”


“Whatever… I don’t want to listen to your soapbox. I’m heading out. Mom said dinner Thursday at Auntie’s place this week. You have wine. Bring white please.”


I loved Nikki but she was still young enough to be on a constant high. She was also the extrovert in the family. Combine those and life was as good as a carnival ride at her age. Thursday family dinners were however low stress thanks to her because I was never the center of action. I liked being in the audience when mom and Nikki took on the world.


As she left, I checked out the profile of the owner of the new DM.


“Micah Kim. That’s an unusual name. At least not a celebrity I know… Looks like you don’t have a location and your pictures are all nature stuff. Hmm… who are you then… let’s look at your tweets. Huh… they are more nature, food, pets, cars, cameras, and more nature… well, that’s not very helpful now is it. I guess I have to talk to you to find out what you want then…”


Back on the message screen, I typed.


Me: Hello

Micah: How are you? Hope you don’t mind my DM

I’m good. No, I don’t. ‘sup?

Not much here. what are you up to?

Morning coffee. Then heading for a run. Where’s here?

More or less the other side of the globe from where you are.

How do you know where I am?

I’m going by what your profile says.

Ok… so then you must be like in China?

Somewhere around there, yes.

Very cryptic, aren’t we?

Not anymore than your profile. It just gives a country that is practically a continent

It’s technically a subcontinent but I suppose that’s fair.

So, what made you DM me?

I came across some of your tweets and thought I’ll say hi.

Which tweets?

Mostly the ones with nature pics, song lyrics, movie and drama quotes 

Oh… ok. I’m looking at your tweets.

They are a bit all over the place. You have everything from pets to flowers.

I’m honestly not sure if you are a man or woman yet.

😊 funny…

I’m a guy, thank you…

I don’t want to keep you from your run. If you are ready to go maybe we can chat later?

Sure. I’d like that.


If first impressions counted for anything, I might actually like the vibe my new twitter buddy gave out. He hadn’t asked me my job, my income, my sexual preferences, marital status or any other specifics. But I could just hear Nikki say that I always gave people too much credit at the beginning. Not that it mattered. He may never come back and I couldn’t get hung up on a string of typed characters. Time for the run, I reminded myself as I threw away the cup and walked out of the coffee shop.


Micah was MIA for a couple of days. I almost reached out but his account didn’t show much activity either. Third night I was staring at the screen debating when messages lit up. He was finally back.




How have you been?

Good. U?

Busy. But good now.

Are you still on the other side of the world?

Yes. Unless you moved, then I might not be exactly on the other side.

Cute… very cute!

I am… trust me

Omg… you are one of those 'full of yourself' types then

😊😊… what are you doing now?

I’m about to go to sleep. It’s late over here. What about you?

My day is just starting. So, it’s my turn to get coffee and go for a run today.

Nice… I’ll join you in about 8 hours.

Funny… you ready to go to sleep then?

In a bit… you ready for the run?

In a bit… coffee still brewing



I realized I was smiling at the screen like an idiot.

I stayed up another hour talking about his plans for the day and my plans for the next day. Neither of us got too specific. It was more about what we looked forward to and normal routine than anything specific like where we worked or family and demographics. It just felt like neither of us really wanted to let go. It felt like I had found an easy friend. Finally, after saying goodnight, as I switched the lights off and closed my eyes a part of me wondered, ‘is this the first-time spark?’. All the others I’ve interacted with online without ever physically meeting have felt somehow… less. I didn’t have a way to explain it other than to say ‘less’ because before this every one of my first-time sparks have been in the physical world.


Long into that night I wondered of completely inane things like, what if he’s really ugly, what if he’s really a jerk but knows how to write, what if we really like each other but our lives are on the two ends of the world… like I said, all kinds of silly, unproductive thoughts.

Next day lunch time I said hello first. I figured it would be his sleeping time and I had this crazy desire that I just wanted to be his last goodnight. I knew it made no sense after 2 short chats, but then I argued, what do I have to lose. It was probably the wrong argument to use.


Hello… aren’t you at work today?

I am. it’s almost lunch time.

It’s past midnight here.

Did I wake you?

apologies if I did. You had just said other side of the world so I didn’t know if its 9pm or 1am

No worries, I wasn’t asleep yet.

Good. Did you have a good day then?

It was fine. Somewhat mediocre.

Too bad. Maybe when you wake up tomorrow ask someone how to make it a really good one then.

Are you being sarcastic?

Yes, I am…

you know that whole thing about you being in control and you making your day good or bad?

Right… so if my day is mediocre then it’s because I didn’t choose to make it more

Bingo bud… it’s all you!

Yeah… ok… I think I’ll head to bed now.

Did I hurt your feelings? I’m sorry, I don’t have the softest edges.

I probably should’ve been more empathetic because we all have mediocre and even bad days.

I didn’t mean to be a hard ass.


I realized I was babbling, even on a DM. I really didn’t want to lose him this early.


It’s ok… not too many people tell me quite what you said. It just took some getting used to.

Look, I just wanted to say goodnight.

I feel like I’m messing things up unnecessarily… ☹️

It’s really fine. Don’t stress. And thank you for the good night.

Ok… so talk later then?

Sure. I’ll be there to say good night before you go to sleep…

Ok 😊 sleep well. Talk in the morning


For a moment there my heart had sunk to the ground. Sometimes I just needed to stop being me. Having an opinion was fine, but you don’t have to share it every time… My mom used to say that to me when she was trying to soften my edges and make me more feminine. Or maybe it was make me more human. Guess that never stuck. But I was grateful Micah was thoughtful enough to notice my lack of confidence and promise to come back. I know he might not come back. I’d actually understand if he ghosted me. But I hope he doesn’t.


The rest of the afternoon and evening was excruciatingly slow in passing. I went to bed early but just didn’t have the guts to say hello first. Instead, I sat frozen just waiting, staring at the screen. It was only when the message notification came, I realized that I was holding my breath.


Hello… are you still awake?

Hey… I’m here

I didn’t quite know when you wrap things up…

This is perfect… did you get a good rest?

Yeah. It was fine. How was the rest of your day?

Uneventful… slow…

Sounds very much like ‘mediocre’ 😆

Hilarious, aren’t we?... and yes, it was all by my choosing too

Not my words. They are all yours!

Right… I really shouldn’t have said that.

But for real… what did you do in the afternoon?

My work is mostly meetings.

So, I had meetings to finalize a presentation, a meeting to agree on the direction of a project and a meeting to coordinate governance structures which essentially means a meeting to figure out what meetings we needed…

trust me, it’s nothing to write home about

Fascinating… a meeting to discuss meeting schedules…

I can’t even imagine what that must be like

Look who’s been sarcastic now…

Sorry… that was uncalled for. What about after work then?

Didn’t do much really.

I started a new show but didn’t really have the attention to finish the episode.

It’s K-drama and each episode is like an hour and a half.

So, it’s almost like watching a movie and I just wasn’t that committed.

What’s the show?

Nevertheless. Honestly, it was a little more R than I expected from k-drama.

That’s funny. You thought a college love story is R. what are you, like 16?

Hey… It was just unexpected for k-drama is all I’m saying.

For your information, last time I thought the same about a western drama was Outlander.

That was way over the top.

So, you have different standards for western and Korean programs

Yes, and also for Spanish and English and Bollywood and so on


Well, because we are all trained to see the world through a cultural lens and my lens for each culture comes into play when I watch their respective programs

Hmmm… interesting. So K-drama can’t be racy in your head but English drama can be?

Yes, but just so you know Spanish ones can be even more explicit and it would still be normal…

like remember ‘365 Days’?

Right… I remember that one 🔥

See? If I saw that coming from Bollywood or Korea, I wouldn’t have known what to think.

But given its origins, it was perfectly acceptable

I can see how that could be, but I don’t think you know k-drama enough.

There’s so much more variety than you think.

Yeah? Tell me why you think that.

The western world only gets a sliver of all the work that happens here.

so you don’t have the full immersion like you do of say Hollywood movies.

I suppose that makes sense…

hold on… did you say ‘here’? like you are from S.K.?


Did you leave?

I thought you promised to say good night? ☹️😢

No, I didn’t leave. But I do need to head out to work.

Good night. Sleep well.

Thank you. You have a good day at work. Make it more than mediocre!!

I’ll be back to say goodnight to you…


But Micah went silent. Before drifting off to sleep I realized that he never confirmed he was in fact from Korea. I didn’t see the big deal. Part of my brain however pointed out the anomaly - how most scammers pretend to be from Korea and Micah seems to be running from it. I suppose I can ask him next time. Just before sleep took over a tiny voice reminded that he might not come back. Rest of me didn’t want to hear it and went to sleep.

Waiting till lunch time next day was rough. The little voice from the night before had become a loud, distracting one closer it got to lunch time. Finally, around 11, I just broke down and sent a message.

Hey Micah… you there?

When I got nothing back for 10 minutes I sent another.

Guess not. Well, still wishing you a good night. Hope you have a restful sleep.


With a heavy heart I went through lunch and left the phone in the bag after that so I won’t be any more distracted. As a result, it was late afternoon when I saw Micah’s reply thank you. tty in half a day. Those 7 little words did the trick. Rest of the day was just a little lighter. I was all done and staring at the screen waiting for his hello that night.



Hello Micah

Ready to call it a day?

Almost. Are you ready to start your day then?

Hmm. It’s closer to lunch time here.

Right, if you are in SK then you should be 13 hours ahead.

That means you are in the Eastern time zone then.

You got me. Now you know my location a little better too 😊

So, was the day less mediocre today?

Not really.

Though to be fair, I got to work on some R&D legislation priorities.

When they finally get funded, I think I can count a solid achievement day.

Sounds like a good day then. Though if I was honest I’d admit I don’t know what R&D legislation means…

It’s nothing all that exciting.

Our federal government funds research.

Part of my job is to guide our company’s lobbyists on where we want that funding to go to so the industry develops the way we think it should. It’s really nothing exciting, like I said.

Sounds interesting still

I like that it makes a long-term impact.

R&D we push for now has an impact on the environment for the next 50-60 years.

So, the work feels satisfying. It’ll at least last longer than my lifetime

No kidding. Now I really have to up my game to not be mediocre

Are you making fun of me? I won’t tell you anything serious anymore

I’m not making fun of you. I love that you measure your life the same way you judge others

What? I don’t judge others

I don’t mean it negatively.

We all judge people all the time. about pretty much everything.

Then we happily put everyone in boxes.

But most people have different standards for others than themselves.

You on the other hand seem to have the same standard for yourself as others

Is that a compliment?

Yes, take it for what it is…

So, did you watch anymore of Nevertheless today?

Not much. I kinda got bored after a while.

It moves a little slow plus I had left over work to get done.

I’ll probably get back to it later.

Do you watch a lot of Korean programs?

Wouldn’t say a lot.

But enough that I can understand a word here and there.

Do you watch any?

Some… Are you a big fan of any of it?

I’m a fan of all of it…

the beautiful people, the gorgeous story telling. I particularly love the historical dramas and fantasy ones.

All the Korean productions are like huge Hollywood blockbuster productions.

They are just beautifully done with intricate stories of complex lives.

You are definitely a fan! 😊

who’s your favorite celebrity then?

I don’t know… They are all talented. I like a bunch of them.

Though Oppa (name) is perhaps at the top of my list.

Really? He’s quite popular, I’ll give you that…

but, why is he your favorite? Is it the pretty face?

The face and the body certainly helps, but he’s also a master storyteller.

When you think of the full spectrum of the work he’s done you have to admit there’s talent.

So, when the pretty face is gone and he’s old you think he’ll survive?

I don’t know the Korean entertainment industry well enough to answer that.

I know in Hollywood men age better than women.

But I suppose, if there’s anyone who will figure out the way it’s probably Oppa.

He seems tenacious no matter what he puts his mind to.

You really are under his spell 😆

I wouldn’t go that far… I just admire the talent and the heart, rather more than his looks


Yeah, from what little I’ve seen he seems to have a heart too big for a celebrity

What does that mean? Celebrities have small hearts??

Think about it, most celebrities have to claw their way to the top to survive. Which makes them eccentric, jaded, cagey, hyper competitive and most of the time unrelatable.

But Oppa seems to have the biggest heart and even though he does a good job hiding it, sometimes you get a peek and you wonder if it’ll survive.

That sounded cryptic… what do you mean by getting a peek and surviving?

So, remember the interview he did like 6 months ago for magazine X?

that was probably the most revealing interview.

It wasn’t about ambition or making it big but about simple things like family, friends, love and loneliness.

I remember watching it and wanting to cry afterwards because he sounded lost and lonely.

Really? I thought he gave a pretty balanced outlook.

I suppose he did... But think about it, in our lives balance is little ups and downs.

So when you think of it like a mathematical function the variance from the peaks to the valleys are pretty small when in balance.

But in celebrity life, especially for the extremely successful, the highs are Himalayan, like a billion people constantly telling them they adore you, which means, when in balance, the lows can be like Mariana Trench deep, like not having a single person around you that you can explicitly trust because you are everyone’s meal ticket.

Now think of the variance from the peak to the valley there.

It’s still balance, but a very different balance than you and me…

Wow… you are such a nerd… I love it!!

Darn… it’s all your fault. You made me nerd out ☹️ I’m generally good at hiding it online

Why hide it? you should own it… like Musk

Are you a Musk fan?


A small bell went off in the back of my mind. But I wasn’t sure if it was tolling a warning or foretelling fate.


Who isn’t these days?

He stood up to big industry so greed didn’t dominate the world every time. He’s repositioned 3 major industries across the world already. Of course, I’m a fan.

Though I admit, he’s also crazy and his personal life is a bigger train wreck than most celebrities’


But he handles it better because it’s like he doesn’t give a damn what the world thinks

and he’s just fine dancing to his own tune.

You know, the real ‘I did it my way’ guy of this generation.

So what? I thought a minute ago you said Oppa is doing it his way too??

He is, when it comes to his career

but in his personal life he seems to be kinda stuck in the traditional constraints most celebrities from the dawn of time has been, making the same old mistakes, and learning a little too late you live life when you break the rules

not when you conform your life to fit within the lines

What are you talking about? He doesn’t live between the lines

Are you kidding me? Look at his personal life…

what part of it does he not live within the lines?

His management announces when he has a relationship or when he breaks up or even goes on a date,

he never interacts with anyone other than the other celebrities, mostly in the hallyu inner circle,

his interactions with the rest of the world is one-sided at best

so it’s just about him giving but never about him experiencing the world beyond the lines drawn for him

But he’d be in mortal danger if he went around like a regular guy or if he dated regular people or even talked to them, really


You think half the people would even recognize who he is if he didn’t walk around with an armada of guards?

or in designer clothes made for trust fund babies?

It all screams for the kind of attention only a celebrity needs.

That’s the reason he can’t go anywhere without being trampled to death.

It’s not the kind of attention we all need as humans though.

Ok Dr. know-it-all, What do real humans need compared to this alien species of celebrities then?

We all just want to be loved, be wanted, be precious – not for the masks we wear but for the real us.

End of the day, we are all looking for that relationship where we can be vulnerable without being judged.

Where we will be loved without having to be perfect.

Where we are wanted, not just needed.

And for all irrational reasons we are thought to be precious and beautiful when we are at our worst.

You don’t find that relationship living between the lines with your celebrity mask on.

So what? What can he do?

It’s his livelihood. He has to maintain the image. It’s his bread and butter.

Well, if he’s to find what his heart needs then he’s going to have to figure out how to break the celebrity mold.


He’s an actor for crying out loud.

Act like a different person, adopt a fake name, talk to normal people then… walk a mile without the masks in a different pair of shoes and he just might meet the real people

that live outside of the silver screen and glamour shots.

You know, like Keanue Reeves – take the subway, go volunteer at a shelter, talk to random people on twitter…

Because let’s face it, where he’s looking, best case he’s going to find is some very satisfying booty calls.

He’s not about to find the mature, intelligent life partner that appreciates his heart there because that community will forever see him as a means to climbing the popularity ladder and getting ahead in their careers.

Huh… that’s quite the opinion. So, you think he’s looking for a mature, adult now…

At some point in our lives we all move on from the physical needs to wanting an emotional connection.

What I’ve glimpsed of Oppa, he was always looking for it,

even when he was playing the field and trying to be a bad boy.

But now more than ever I think he feels the need.

He wants the real him to be understood instead of all the masks he wears to be mistaken for him.


But my sense is he doesn’t know how to break the shackles that keep him inside the lane.

Those shackles made him the mega star he is, after all.

But he’s running away from what he wants and needs without knowing he is running.

And then one day he’ll be complaining like Rita Hayworth used to…

Who’s that?

Rita Hayworth was a Hollywood icon from the 1950s.

One of her famous quotes is, “All the men I knew went to bed with Gilda but woke up with me.”


Gilda was her most famous role.

All the men were in love with that character so they all saw the character instead of the real Rita.

And when they get to know the real one the glitter and glitz fade and the men move on…

So you think Oppa will have the same outcome? When people see the real him they’ll be disappointed?

No, I actually think the opposite.

Because like I said, I think his heart is more beautiful than most characters he’s played

and his real character has more depth and complexity.

But my point is, I think he’s scared of the Rita H conundrum

and so he’s running away instead of giving himself a real chance for the life he deserves.

But look at all the recent interviews and documentaries and self-portrayals Oppa has done.

Don’t you think he’s sharing his real self in those?

Yes and no. He shows us the things he wants the world to see.

Like, ‘look I’m silly, I’m a clown, I’m carefree, I’m adventurous, I’m fun and confident’…

but that’s still only scratching the surface of who he is...

I mean, he can’t show the masses that he sits in the dark day after day and wonder why he’s still alone after all these years?

It’s not something he should really do as an announcement to the world anyway.

It will break his carefully cultivated image and ruin his livelihood, like you said...

So you agree he’s sharing what he can?!

Though to be fair, sometimes, I think unintentionally, things he doesn’t intend also slips out.

Like in the choice of words he uses

or lyrics in a song playing in the background.

Or a tweet from his personal account with a 100 possible interpretations…

Don’t you think you are reaching a bit right now? The guy probably means nothing from most of those…

Maybe… I do read too much into everything… so, maybe you are right

So maybe people know the real him

and he’s really just a happy go lucky guy that’s counting his blessings and living an extraordinarily lucky life then!!

That’s a nice sentiment…

But you still don’t agree?

Nah… I think I’m right still.

I think he’s still looking for his own lady crab to hold hands and walk sideways 🦀😊

Cute… but tell me, if the real him is known, then even if he’s looking for his soulmate crab, why won’t he find her?

Isn’t it just luck then, like for everyone else?

Not like everyone else…

see, even if I agreed that he’s taken all his masks off and the world knows the exact oppa they go to bed with

there’s still the second part of the problem

Which is…?

He limits his interactions to a very small sample size of the world.

Think of it this way, in the old world when there was racial and class and cast divisions and you could only marry your ‘own kind’ think how small your pool of choices were.

So, if you believed in soulmates then you are looking in like a 10 mile radius for that perfect mate for your soul.

What are the chances that fate planted that soulmate right there

when there’s some 7 billion options scattered across thousands of miles?

But you’d have more in common with the options in the 10 mile radius

so you can build something with a common foundation

Sure, if you were the average Joe in the 10 mile radius then yes, you’ll find an average Jane that would be just perfect. But if you are the extreme 0.001% then you are like a human looking for a soulmate in a chimpanzee colony, don’t you think?

Wow… that’s offensive you know…

To whom? It was just a metaphor... plus you are the one that started this anyway

So what’s your recommendation?

Oppa needs to cast a wider net to find his happily ever after?

First of all, I don’t know I believe in happily ever after.

Second, yes, he needs to figure out how to step out of the lines drawn for him if the heart he’s hiding is to actually survive the long haul.

His real partner won’t be just some tender-footed, pretty face.

It needs to be someone that has the strength and intelligence to save him every time his soft heart gets him down.

In other words, someone who won't consider him just their meal ticket, someone real

Right, he needs to go undercover and find a regular Jane a thousand miles away!!

Fine… laugh…

why in the world are we talking about Oppa any way?

How’d we end up here?

I have no idea… I think you said something about being in love with him

Good one… I’d be at the end of a very long line if I did…

Let me guess… you’ve bowed out because he has too many choices

No, I just never joined the line


Well, for all the reasons I said…

I’m not in the golden inner circle that Oppa deigns to grant his favor to,

because I don’t really know how to be a fan the way the millions around the world seem to,

but most of all, because I want to be loved, wanted, understood and all the other things when I do love someone…

And you don’t think Oppa can love, want or understand you?

You didn’t come up with a way for me to meet him yet, so I guess we have to wait to find out…

Like you said, he’ll just have to go undercover, take on a fake name and find the pin that is you in the very large haystack of people…

Right, so the day he stands in front of me and I stand in front of him and I know him better than he knows himself and he knows me better than I do… then I promise, I will love him unconditionally and be the shield that protects his soft heart… sound like a plan?

😊 that certainly does…

I still don’t know why we spent so much time on oppa today

but I’ve got to go to sleep now or tomorrow will be hell to pay

I’m sorry, you go to sleep then… night night

You have a good afternoon and evening…

I’ll talk to you before you go to sleep



I didn’t really want to fall asleep that night but the day had been long and I was exhausted. The conversation had gone in a direction that made no sense to me and I wanted to dissect it but while my brain wanted to keep going my body was shutting down. As I drifted off to sleep the last thought I had was how much I liked talking to Micah even when it made no sense. Perhaps, just having someone who wants to listen to your ramblings about inane topics was part of the love I’m searching myself…

Next morning and most mornings for the next month slowly turned into the same routine. I’d stay up late talking and wake up with a smile recalling the conversations. Unlike most people that DM, Micah still never asked for photos, cell number or personal info like where I work or what exactly I did. I was dying to see a photo of him but didn’t want to rock the boat. I just loved his voice the way it came through DMs. I realized I had a picture of him in my head already cobbled together from the opinions and values he’s shared, the way he used words, the easy wit and the way he was always there. I don’t know which of these traits were more important but the picture when I put them all together was beautiful. I suppose I didn’t ask for a photo because I didn’t want to sully that image emerging in my head.


Next month brought some disruption though. Our routine was to chat around 11:45 am before I went to Lunch and him to sleep. During weekdays, it only lasted about 5 minutes because I was at work. At night we connect around 10:30 and chat for a couple of hours. It did make me wonder what kind of a job he had that he could take such a long lunch break. But at some point we had made a silent pact not to ask too many questions like that. If I was completely honest, I’d admit I was scared it might mean that he’s unemployed or still in college or retired or something. I can work with unemployment but someone young enough to be in college would be different. But I consoled myself that he didn’t sound immature so he can’t be that young. I didn’t know what to do with old enough to be retired. Perhaps that’s fine. Worst case there might be, I won't be able to build a very long life with him. Do I want to? I heard a resounding "Yes" somewhere deep inside my heart.

When I sat down that night I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind. Micah had mentioned his schedule was changing. He said he’ll let me know tonight. It felt like a bad premonition. I didn’t want things to change about us, unless it was for the better. But this didn’t feel like something for the better… A part of me kept wondering if he’s gotten tired of talking with me. For me the first-time spark was slowly growing into a comfortable fire. At times I worried it had the potential to become a roaring inferno that would consume me but then I kept thinking the woman that would rise from that fire would be a sight to behold.

I tried my best to tamp down these thoughts before opening the app.

Hi Micah, you there?

Hey, you are a little early today.

Yeah, didn’t have as much to get done today.

Well, glad you are here. I was waiting.

Why? Is it to talk about the coming changes?

Are you worried? It’s a change but not anything to worry about.

Ok. Tell me then.

You are worried aren’t you? Really it’s just that I have a job where I have to do a residency. That’s all.

What does doing a residency mean?

It means that for the time period of the job I have to stay where the project is and sort of be "on call".

You mean like our consultant do?


Yeah, so our company has Consultants and Contingency workers that are engaged for various projects.

For the duration of the engagement they have to stay in town and it’s generally a 7 to 9 type of schedule.

Is it something like that?

Yeah, something like that.

Though my schedule can run through the nights on some days. Not every day, just some.

Ok. So, for how long?

About a month.

When do you start?

I fly out in about 5 hours.

Oh… so no more night time chat for a while then?

Actually, I’ll be flying for about 24 hours. But then I’ll be in the same time zone as you.

You are coming here??!!!

Well, I’ll be in the country, yes. Not sure exactly how close.

Does that mean we can still talk at night?

I’ll always try to be there to say goodnight before the midnight bell tolls… even if I have to sneak out

Then I’ll stay up till midnight waiting every day…

But that means, no more chatting during lunch time?

It’ll be hard because we generally work through lunch

Sounds like an inhumane workplace

😊 not all of us are lucky like you to have a comfy 9-5 job

My job is more like 7-7 but otherwise, it is comfy… and yes, I know I’m lucky!!

So, wanna come work with me then?

I don’t think I have quite the skill set you do…

Why’d you say that? I’ve never told you what I do

You told me you shape the national R&D funding for one of the super powers.

Trust me, that’s not my skillset.

That’s just one tiny part of my work.

But the company has every conceivable corporate job. So you can have your pick

Maybe I can do some marketing type stuff then

I know our head of Marketing well. I can put in a good word

All right. We have a plan then. Once my current gig is over we’ll put it to action

For real?

How about you wait to get to know me a little better before you recommend hiring me

Fine… then let’s play 20 questions

What’s that?

It’s pretty much what it says… you get to ask any 20 questions to get to know the other person

Ok… What’s the next big fun thing you are looking forward to?

That was quick…

I got an invite to a benefit gala in 4 weeks.

It’s in support of inner-city youth arts programs.

It’s at the Biltmore exactly 4 weeks from today.

I’m kinda looking forward to dressing up but I haven’t asked my sis if she’d like to go yet.

Sounds like fun…  

The next hour opened the door to learning Micah in a new way. His questions were simple at face value but they got me to open up and showed a depth of him I hadn’t seen before. It felt like I was filling in a picture and the more I drew it the more it took my breath away.

Then it was time for him to head to the airport. I couldn’t decide whether I was glad he was coming closer or if I was sad I won’t hear his voice for the next 24 hours.

Now go to sleep. I should be there to say goodnight tomorrow night around the same time

Ok… have a safe trip. I’ll talk to you soon…

The next 24 hours was a drag. There was no rational explanation for missing him the way I did. But reason had no place here. I stayed up till midnight but Micah didn’t show up. I fell asleep around 1:30 with the phone in my hand. I was up when it vibrated at 2.

Just landed.

Going through customs.

Sorry I missed the goodnight but hope you are getting some rest.

Talk in the morning?

Ok… glad you got there safely. Missed you

Missed you too

I went back to sleep with a smile that night.

The next month was both better and worse. Our discussions were short most days because Micah was either 'on-call' or he had just wrapped a very long day at work and exhausted. But he still made sure he was there even if it was just for 5 mins. I wanted to hold him in place and keep him with me but even his typed words sounded tired most days.

Then 2 days before the Biltmore event Micah’s work was done. He mentioned he’ll be traveling the day of the event, which felt like providence. I didn’t want to sit at home moping while he traveled again.

The gala began at 8. I had told Micah I’ll send pictures of the youth art on display. While Nikki went in search of the bar I went to the adjoining display gallery to get the pictures. It barely had any people. But the few that were there were milling around a tall man in a tux. Even though he had his back to the door I could see he was signing autographs from the way he was hunched over. He seem to have come with bodyguards however, who industriously kept the small crowd moving along.

I took photos of each art project making mental notes of what I’d tell Micah about them the next day. By the time I came near the man in the tux the bodyguards were quick to come to attention. But the man stopped them.

“It’s ok. Let her through. She’s the one we’ve been waiting for all this time.”

I was taken by surprise when I heard the words. Involuntarily I looked behind me to see if there was perhaps another woman he might be referring to. The bodyguards quickly moved to block the corner of the gallery from any onlookers and I finally turned to face the stranger.


It took me only a moment to recognize the face.


“Oppa. I didn’t expect to see you here.”


“I just finished up a project a little further north. A friend mentioned this gala and recommended it highly.”


“Oh, right… you were filming the Flight of Tetra in DC weren’t you. How was it?”


“It went well. Long days and nights but otherwise it got done well.”


“Congrats. I’m sure it’ll be great like all your other work. I’m looking forward to when its released. I’m a big fan, btw.”


“Yes, I know.” The ghost of a smile that was dancing around his lips the entire time was slowly turning into a lopsided grin. The matching mischief in his twinkling eyes only added to my sense of confusion.

“Uhhh… what do you mean you know?”


He lifted a perfectly manicured index finger to indicate I stop and reached for his phone. He then made a grand show of scrolling to find something on the screen before he spoke again.

“Right, I believe the exact words were… the day he stands in front of me and I stand in front of him and I know him better than he knows himself and he knows me better than I do… then I promise, I will love him unconditionally and be the shield that protects his soft heart”


“Oh, you don’t remember this? Would you like me to read more? How you said I need to go undercover and walk a mile in the common man’s shoes to find my soulmate? I believe you called my soulmate a crab I think”

“Did Micah give you that?” I unconsciously reached out to take his phone. I felt betrayed that Micah would do such a thing. I had thought Micah and I were more than friends. How could he hand over our private conversation to someone else just like that...

“Do you really think that little of Micah? Did he seem like a guy who’d handover his private conversations to someone?” Oppa’s voice had dropped to a whisper. It was tinged with pain.

I couldn’t make sense of any of it as I took the phone from his hand and looked at the screen. I expected to see a screenshot of my words but instead the DM window open was our chat.

“Is this Micah’s phone?” I felt dense, unable to still make sense.

“No, that’s my phone.”

“Then how come you are getting my DMs? You are not Micah”

“Are you sure?”


“You told me I should go undercover to find the real people I need in my life. You told me not to become another Rita Hayworth and to learn my lessons early. So, tell me, why do you think I’m not Micah?”

“Because everyone else impersonates you. Not the other way round.”

“I’m not impersonating anyone. You met the real me just with a pseudo name. I came to the same conclusion you did a while back because where I was looking, I wasn’t finding my crab-mate. And when I used my real name most people didn't want to understand the characters I played are not the real me either. So I had to take extreme measures.”

“Huh… so how many other people met Micah then?”

“You said it would be a long line. You were right. It took me a while to find the person that recognized the real me. But in the last two months Micah has only spoken to one person. The one he thinks might be his crab.”

“Oh… one more question? What if I had turned out to be 65 and covered in warts?”


"Well, we could've started with a wart remover" His smiling eyes slowly turned serious. "I knew what you looked like a while ago. These days it's not really hard to do a background check online."


"Ahhh... that explains how you knew it was me" 

“So, are you ready to keep your promise?” The arched eyebrow lifted in question felt surreal.

“Well, I need to first make sure you know me better than myself. We can talk about promises after that.”

“That sounds fair. We’ll then need to practice walking sideways too.” He smiled and offered his left arm.

Looping my hand around the crook of his arm and walking next to him felt like the most natural thing in the world.

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