overflowing was she with her own confidence and with inspiration from
what she now referred to as “Neighbor Angel.”
“Neighbor Angel?” I asked incredulously, nodding in the direction of
the tower she had assaulted just the previous afternoon.
“I’m tired of fighting against my surroundings,” Eunji replied with an
air of finality. “It’s time to make peace.”
After that, everything happened quickly. One week the ruined can-
vases were an eyesore in our living room; the next they were the cen-
terpiece of a new exhibit at the National Museum of Modern and Con-
temporary Art. It was an honor practically unimaginable for a virtually
unknown artist like Eunji, and, indeed, Eunji did not remain unknown
for long. Everyone wanted a piece of this new rising star. The Korea
Times ran a profile on her, and she appeared on a string of television and
radio shows. All of the attention sparked interest in her other art, and
before long her canvases were selling faster than she could paint them.
Throughout this streak of great fortune, construction on Angel Towerproceeded at a rapid pace. Before long, it had grown twice as tall as everything around it, casting the Golden River Mountain Apartmentsdeeper in shade. With all the money we were making from Eunji’s sales,we probably could have afforded to move, but there was no longer anyneed. The shade in which we increasingly found ourselves now felt likethe comforting embrace of a parent. The clamor of construction hadgrown familiar, and the earmuffs sat idle in the closet. Eunji had eventaken to working with the windows open. Neighbor Angel had becomeher muse, and the clanks and crashes it emitted were a poetry that onlyshe could understand. She seldom bothered to translate for me, but herexcitement was contagious, and I too began to feel hope once again.
By spring, Neighbor Angel had reached such great heights that itspeak was often shrouded in clouds, and even on the clearest days it wasdifficult to tell where tower ended and sky began. The structure itselfappeared to be complete, and work on the facade commenced. The towerwas plated with sheets of glass in which we were able to discern the faintreflection of our own shabby Golden River Mountain Apartments. Often I would return from work to find Eunji standing by the window,gazing out over the construction site and into that immense and unflattering mirror.
One evening she was so enthralled that she failed to notice me comein. When I approached her, I realized that she was in a kind of trance.An odd smile had overtaken her face, and her eyes seemed vacant and