Hey Kathy, it has been long since we had a talk like this. When was it? I don’t even remember now. Yes, I am happy to see you, too. I’m pretty sure you won’t understand what I say but I think this will be the last talk we’ll ever have. I didn’t know such a day would come, saying say good-bye to someone I love so much. Or maybe I knew, but didn’t want to think about it. Yeah, I know, it’s sad.

Do you remember the day we first met? It’s been exactly 391 days since then. Can you believe it? 391 days. Time goes so fast. You think so too, right? Anyways, it was in the middle of summer when we first met. I was on my way home after the test and it was especially sunny that day. Believe it or not I was planning to kill myself that day. You wouldn’t have known about this but I was participating in some weird test where people with white gowns would ask me questions and write down what I say or my behavior. Sometimes they gave me these pills that are supposed to make you feel better. I tried to get out of the building several times but they didn’t let me out. Locked inside a room, I had to stay there, not knowing when I could leave. But I eventually managed to escape by sticking a bundle of paper into a little hole on the doorframe that was supposed to keep the door locked. Why did I get in there? Well, I don’t know. It’s a mystery. I’ve thought about that for months but couldn’t come up with a single answer. When did I go in there? I think it was after my girlfriend died. I was shocked. The only thing she left me was a photo of her and her pet cat she used to love. Unfortunately, the cat ran away and disappeared after her death.

I thought the outside world would be better than living in that building with those weird people but I was wrong. Everything I saw outside the building, dazzling sun, chirping birds, dancing flowers, and laughing couples, made me want to see my girlfriend even more. Every day I thought of committing suicide, hoping I could meet her if I killed myself. But then, I saw you. The first moment I saw you I was mesmerized by your charm and beauty. Your green eyes, keen but wide, were always provocative; your folded white hands, looking so soft and small, somehow reminded me of a chaste and modest woman; your grayish-brown hair that gleamed under the summer sunlight made me want to feel your hair and never stop fondling it; and your slender and curvy waist was another thing that drove me crazy. I’m sorry to say this but just looking at you was enough to make me feel close to my girlfriend.

Every day I waited by the corner of the street behind a pole and stole a glance at your back. You don’t know how much I had to rack my brain just to find a way to approach you and put the moves on you. Every time I tried to face you I was afraid you would refuse me, but I chose to pluck up some courage. My first attempt was to talk to you face to face. I thought it was a good idea but it wasn’t. You ran away as soon as I showed up in front of you and tried to get close. Do you remember? You probably thought I was a bad guy or a pervert. While watching you running away and disappear around the corner, I thought the world was going to end. My heart sank and I kept telling myself, What have you done? You scared her! Why didn’t you think more carefully? Idiot! You’ll never meet her again now. The only thing I could do was to wipe away the tears with my dirty sleeve and return home. Alone.

A few days later I met you again. When I was passing by on the street, I heard you calling me. At first I couldn’t believe what I heard. It raised my hope but, at the same time, made me afraid to find out if you were calling another man and not me. Uncertain of myself, I turned around and found that you were calling me. I was happy and felt like jumping around. But to be honest, I was also half freaked out because I wasn’t expecting to see you. That day, unlike other days, you didn’t run away but instead walked along with me as if we’ve known each other for a long time. I hugged you and you rubbed your cheek against my chest. Although you may not have known, I was secretly jumping for joy. I could finally understand the phrase “floating on air.” I looked into your eyes as you looked into mine, wondering why you were not running away that time. Neither of us said a word but it felt like we both could understand each other’s feelings. Everything was a total mystery but somehow it all made sense. It was destiny. It was fate. But, come to think of it, I should not have started this relationship.

The time when I loved you the most was when I graduated from high school. We loved each other passionately and wildly, like a blazing sun in the summer sky. Whenever I drooped, feeling lonely and sad, you would come out of nowhere to console my broken heart and cry with me. You were always there to listen to my complaints as a friend. You taught me what it was like to be loved and what it was like to love someone. You were my light through the darkness. Even when my love died out, you still stayed with me and loved me. Your love did not change but grew larger and larger as time passed. I was so happy that I was with you. I was proud of our love.

Whenever you rubbed your cheek against my arm I would reach out to your face and give a little kiss on your soft forehead. Then you would squeeze your eyes shut, tickled by the kiss, and purr with satisfaction. Looking at you doing that made me the happiest men on earth, but the fact that I cannot see that anymore just tears my heart apart.

I think you would know what I’m going to talk about. Yeah, you’re right. People are telling me to give you away. They tell me that you are not meant to be with me. That you don’t belong here. That our love is not going to come about. And the worst thing was . . . they were all right. I could not rebut what they said about you or our relationship.

A friend of mine came by just an hour ago. It was Alex, the one you watched movie with last weekend. He told me the same thing people told me. He told me to give you up. Break up with you. He didn’t beat around the bushes as usual. He told me direct and straightforward. That means he was serious and really meant it. Now, calm down and listen. I’m not done yet. Then he told me reasons why I have to give you up. I told him it was an accident. He called you a murderer. I got so angry I picked up a chair and threw it at him. Thankfully he didn’t get hurt because he dodged it. I guess he was expecting it. I kept telling him it was an accident, and if he was my best friend he should understand. I told him that you were the girl that saved me from this living hell while everyone turned their back on me. I told him it was you who always stayed with me, when even he wasn’t there. I told him that I loved you too much to give you up. Although he seemed to disagree, Alex was starting to listen to me and was about to be persuaded. I told him it won’t happen again and that was the moment when you killed another baby. Looking at Alex’s eyes, I could say no more.

I know. I made this choice all of a sudden without discussing the matter with you. You would probably say this is unfair; that I should give you at least a chance to explain yourself. But you knew this was coming. I know you did. You should’ve known. We had some hope to change the whole situation but you just blew it off. I was trying so hard and you just blew it off. Why did you do such a cruel thing in the first place anyway? Why did you kill all those little babies? Not even one. Seven of them! And you did the same thing again! Why? I thought you were nice, innocent, and warm-hearted. Was that all a lie? A show? Do you know how angry their mother is? She was screaming out loud, saying she would kill you and tear your skin off. When I heard from my friend that you’ve killed those young girls, I could not believe what she was saying. I tried my best to deny it but it was so clear. Everything and everyone was pointing at you as a suspect.

I knew it would hurt you. You might as well feel betrayed by me, that I wasn’t there to protect you when everyone was accusing you of the crime. But I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t help you, knowing that you’ve killed those young bloods. I was disappointed with you, as much as I loved you. So I could not help you.

Let’s face it. There is no more hope between us. You know we cannot be together anymore. You knew our relationship would end at some point. We weren’t meant for each other. We sure loved each other but there was no way our love could last.

But it does not matter now. Go. Leave. And never come back, before people come and kick you out. I don’t want to see you get beat up. Don’t blame me because this hurts me as much as it hurts you. I hope you understand that this is good for both of us.

Bye, Kathy. You were the best cat I’ve ever known. I won’t forget you. I hope you meet a new owner and be a nice kitty. Don’t kill little chicks anymore. I love you.

Hae Won Kang’s poem “A Tree” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Match Factory. Hae Won is a junior majoring in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts.