7 Feb 2014

Lu-i Kim

Today I bring you a story that started many months ago, in France.

I don't know if I ever mentioned it here, but when I was in Grenoble I lived in a four-bedroom flat only occupied by three people. The fourth room was already let when I moved in, to a girl called Lu-i Kim according to the letterbox. After a week in the flat on my own, however, I had come to the conclusion that she was not, in fact, around.

"L'autre coloc - elle n'est pas là?" I asked my landlord on one of his visits.
"Non, elle n'est pas là," he replied, distractedly. I waited for further explanation but it did not come, so with a (newly learnt) French shrug, I went about my business as though she didn't exist at all. Which was pretty easy under the circumstances.

A week or so later when my third and final flatmate moved in, I overheard the landlord being a bit more loquacious on the matter to the friend helping her with her stuff. He said that Lu-i Kim had gone back to Korea very suddenly and he had offered to keep her room for her until she got back, though neither she nor he knew when that would be. This went some way to explaining the weirdly unsettling way the flat had been left: crockery standing by the sink (long since dry), food in the fridge, a rather bountiful shoe collection in the hallway cupboard.

My fellow Brit flatmate and I had many a discussion over the next five months regarding our mysteriously absent coloc. We wondered if we would ever get to meet her, tried to piece together bits of information about her from the clues we found around the flat. It was like the first series of Fresh Meat, with Paul the Invisible Housemate. Subtly a little creepy, living with a ghost that I couldn't quite imagine as an actual corporeal person somewhere in the world.

I started wearing her shoes. Not all of them, just a particular pair of patent black sandals that managed to fill a gap in my own collection while the weather was still warm. I cleared her food out of the fridge, the use-by dates indicating she'd been gone for four months at the very least. The more time that passed, the more unlikely it seemed that she would ever come back.

And she didn't. At least, not in time for me to see her. I left Grenoble for the last time in early January without ever seeing hide nor tail of the mysterious Lu-i Kim. My former flatmate, however, reports that on her finally final last day in the flat just this week...

Lu-i Kim returned.

I hear she seemed "moody and weird" and had an argument with the landlord about something in her room, but to be honest I can't bring myself to ask for many details. I think at this point I prefer to know her only as her post-its on the fridge (indecipherable to me, since they were written in Korean), her French grammar notes taped in the WC, the photograph of a little boy I never got to ask about, the cupboard of shoes.

It's strange because I do, in a way, feel like I lived with her for those five months even though she wasn't there. But really, the girl I lived with - the Lu-i Kim I invented from the fragments available to me - isn't just a stranger. She doesn't exist at all.

So maybe I really did live with a ghost.

No comments:

Post a Comment