24.144.The Chronicles of Graduates–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 144
“The Chronicles of Graduates–Part 2”

“Hello? Who is this?”
“Hiii, Cou-Riette! Who do you think?”
“Oh, Lishe-Ashyo.” She yawned. “Good to hear from you again…you’ve been in contact with me a lot this month.”
“Of course. I’m trying to show you I can be there for you when you need me.”
“I appreciate it. Did you need something? I was about to take a nap. I finally got him to sleep…”
“I’ll make it quick so you can get that nap of yours. Do you have any days that might be….more conducive to going somewhere? Even if you have to bring An-Tois? Mali-Ana wants to see you.”
“Oh, she does? Hm….I suppose I might be able to come by her house tomorrow….I don’t know whether or not I’d have to bring An-Tois with me, so you’d have to tell her that just in case. But yes, tomorrow will be good, so long as I can get my nap.”
“You deserve it, my feathered friend. Go and nap. I’ll tell Mali-Ana. See ya!”
“Be seeing you.” Cou-Riette hung up the phone. Lishe-Ashyo dialed Mali-Ana.
“Hello?”
“Hey, Mali-Ana!”
“Lishe-Ashyo!?”
“You don’t sound too happy to hear from me…”
“N-no, it’s not that. Um…hello.”
“Hey. So, I just got off the phone with Cou-Riette. She says she can come by your house tomorrow. I was thinking maybe us six could start planning right away. Also, she says she doesn’t know whether she can leave An-Tois home or not, so there’s a good chance that she could bring him and…”
“And Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta would find out….dammit. Maybe we should just tell her what’s going on…”
“I can call her again before she comes over and see if she’s bringing An-Tois or not. Or we could try and make up an excuse, say he’s her little brother or something…”
“But An-Tois doesn’t look like a Fasoucie so much, at least to me. The Fasoucies look Muralpian to me. An-Tois definitely looks Vaelis.”
“Well, I’m sure we can work it out anyway. Call over Gen-Reiya and Xhen-Wu and we can discuss that first. Then we can get Reyunis-Raeta and Koshi-Rhesta and plan the main attraction.”
“Alright, sounds good. I’ll call them now, so come over as quick as you can.”
“Got it. See you soon!”
It would take until he was halfway to the middle of nowhere before he realized he didn’t remember the way to her house and had to call her again.

***

“Hello…this is the Reusung residence….who is it?”
“It’s me, Coulmeta Lishe-Ashyo! I’m here to see Mali-Ana!”
“Oh?” Mali-Ana’s father opened the door. Lishe-Ashyo was still surprised to see a Catori stare back at him. “Oh, hello, Coulmeta! Are you all having a meeting? Some girls and one other boy came by earlier.”
“Man, they got here before me…? Well, I guess I know why…”
“Hm?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. So Mali-Ana didn’t tell you why we’re meeting?”
“No, she didn’t.”
“Well, I’ll try and get her to tell you, alright? Otherwise, she might get mad if I just say why myself…”
“So long as you all aren’t doing something illegal or the like, I’m fine.” Mr. Reusung fell silent after that and stared at Lishe-Ashyo.
“Um, Mr. Reusung….do I have something on my face? You’re staring kind of intensely…”
“Huh? Oh, you don’t have anything on your face. I was just thinking, you’re quite a handsome young man, and you have a nice personality too. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding a lover, if you want to.”
Lishe-Ashyo started to feel uncomfortable. He gave Mr. Reusung a wide smile, then walked stiffly into the house, trying his hardest not to run. Once he was sure he was out of Mr. Reusung’s sight line, he dashed over to a bedroom and opened the door. ‘Please let this be Mali-Ana’s, please let this be Mali-Ana’s….’
“That you, Dad?” Mali-Ana called.
“THANK GOODNESS!” Lishe-Ashyo screamed. He ran over to Mali-Ana and hugged her tight. “Oh, Mali-Ana! It was just a moment, but it made me miss you so much! I’m so glad to lay eyes upon your face and your….fist. Ehehe…” He backed away from her. “I’m sorry! Your dad just weirds me out!”
“Why!?”
“I don’t know…I’m not used to getting my appearance complimented by a guy!”
“Oh God.”
“Hey, Lishe-Ashyo!” Gen-Reiya called.
“Hey, Gen-Reiya…what is it?”
Gen-Reiya’s mouth was turned up in a mischievous grin. “Lookin’ good today, Lishe-Ashyo! I like what you did with your hair…”
Everyone in the room froze.
“I felt disgusted just saying that…”
“It sent shivers up my spine!”
“Yeah, don’t do that, alright?” Mali-Ana sighed. “Anyway, instead of harp on and on about how apparently Lishe-Ashyo only wants compliments from girls, we should get down to the actual matter at hand.”
“Yeah…but so much for our little pre-discussion…”
“Not my fault you arrived late! I wasn’t going to just sit here alone! We can discuss it afterwards as opposed to before.”
“Discuss what?” Koshi-Rhesta asked.
“Oh, nothing….”
Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta looked at each other and grinned. Both said nothing further. Xhen-Wu and Gen-Reiya gave the pair confused glances.
“So! We’ll be holding the reunion here at my house. Lishe-Ashyo, do you know what time would be best for Cou-Riette to come?”
“Aw, shit! I didn’t ask her that!”
“No big deal. I can call her and ask her right–”
“NO! She’s napping! She needs that nap!”
“…” A look of understanding crossed Mali-Ana’s face and she drew her hand away from the phone.
“I’ll call her one more time before she comes over tomorrow. We’ll see what her schedule allows for.”
“I’m looking forward to asking her all about this schedule of hers…” Koshi-Rhesta said. Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “So, I had wanted to say, if we do it at night maybe we could all sleep over, but Mali-Ana’s room is so tiny, and it might be inconvenient for her…”
“W-well, we’ll see! If it’s more convenient for Cou-Riette to sleep here, then I might be willing to let you all sleep over too. But some of you would have to sleep in the guest bedroom, ’cause you’re right, I can’t fit seven people in here!”
“I cawl dibs on da bed!” Reyunis-Raeta said.
I sleep there! Do you plan on sleeping in bed with me!?”
“Meeeeybe….”
“Ugh. We don’t have to plan this out now, but I already know one person who’d be better off sleeping in the guest room than in mine.”
“Who’s that?” Lishe-Ashyo asked.
“YOU!” Mali-Ana yelled. “Now, if that’s out the way, then let’s think about what we should eat, ’cause it’ll probably be lunchtime or dinnertime by then. I don’t want it to just be little snacks we can eat while chatting around a table, I want it to be an actual healthy meal. I know the foods my friends don’t like, but I was never as close to you two,” she said, focusing on Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta, “so you’ll need to tell me any food allergies or the like, and things you dislike….then I can tell my Dad and have him handle it from there. He might eat with us even if he doesn’t bother us, so just saying.”
“No food allergies here. I hate poultry and onions. Anything else I can tolerate to some degree. Although I don’t like potatoes either. And chunjang, you know, that stuff they put on jajangmyeon?”
“I see….”
“I’m good,” Reyunis-Raeta said.
“What, no dislikes? Like I believe that.”
“I can tollarate too, like Koshi,” Reyunis-Raeta argued.
“Alright, then…well, then it’s not my fault if you end up eating something you don’t like–you said you could tolerate it!”
“I no.”
“So we’ve got food, location, and potential plans for a sleepover….anything else?”
“I don’t think we need anything else! It’s just a little reunion. I’m grateful to you for thinking it out so much though,” Lishe-Ashyo said. Mali-Ana’s cheeks flushed again. ‘All her blood goes straight to her face….’
“Yeah, well, I’m hosting it, so I need things to go right. So yeah, this all sounds good. Prepare yourselves to be flexible tomorrow and tell your families. I’ll call you all once I get word on Cou-Riette’s schedule…er….actually, I don’t know your phone numbers.”
“Do you have a piece of paper?” Koshi-Rhesta asked. Mali-Ana pulled once out of a binder. She handed her a pencil as well. Koshi-Rhesta picked up the pencil in her mouth and started to write on the paper. Reyunis-Raeta took the pencil from her afterwards, and with a few instructions from Koshi-Rhesta, wrote down her own number then handed it to Mali-Ana.
“Okay, these are both pretty clear, if a little shaky.”
“I’m gud wit’ numburrs!” Reyunis-Raeta said.
“I can see. Alright, then! Since I called you all the way out here for just a short meeting, we can have a snack or something. You two can leave once you have the snack, but I want you three to stay.”
“Us?” Xhen-Wu and Gen-Reiya asked. Lishe-Ashyo said nothing.
“Yeah, you guys! I have something I want to talk to you about. So stay put.”
The couple looked at each other, then shrugged. “Alright.”

***

Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta left as Mali-Ana had stated, wishing the four well. Mali-Ana led the other three to her room almost as soon as they left and they sat down around her table again.
“I’m sorry, but I had to discuss this with you all when they were gone, otherwise…”
“What is it, Mali-Ana?”
“Lishe-Ashyo called Cou-Riette earlier–that’s how he knew she was napping. Apparently she told him that she doesn’t know if she needs to bring An-Tois or not.”
Xhen-Wu and Gen-Reiya nodded. “Oh….”
“Now, you all can see why that’s a huge f@%king problem, right!?”
“Yeah, I see.”
“So you’re asking us what we should do in case she brings him?”
“Yeah! She doesn’t know that Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta are gonna be here too. Heck, she might not even know that anyone’s gonna be here except me. And she might not accept us trying to pass off An-Tois as another Fasoucie relative. Not to mention we can’t claim him as her brother either, because if you ask me that baby looks Vaelis…”
“We might be discussing this for no reason, ’cause she might not bring him, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance she would. I don’t know if she’d be okay with them knowing. As much as I wanted her to be surprised, I realize it could be a big problem if she comes here with him and…”
All four were silent for a while, until Xhen-Wu spoke up. “…I think we should tell her. After all, us other graduates already know. I know we’re the ones who have been planning it, but she’s a graduate too. And she should be able to make her decision of whether to come or not too. I mean, what if she doesn’t want to see Koshi-Rhesta and Reyunis-Raeta again? All of us were just assuming she wouldn’t get upset about seeing them in the first place, never mind them learning her secret. And if nobody else will tell her, I will.”
“Nah, I…I can tell her. I just really wanted to surpise her, is all. But you’re right, it’s the best method and the only way we can think through the potential An-Tois situation with any certainty. So I’ll call her tomorrow and tell her the truth.”
“We could still do another surprise for her, though!” Mali-Ana said. “I mean something aside from this. Would you like to do that…?”
Lishe-Ashyo smiled. “Yeah, I would. Thank you. I just think she deserves it after all she’s been through lately…”
“You’ve been pretty attentive to her since he was born,” Xhen-Wu said. “You’re a good friend.”
Lishe-Ashyo chuckled, then noticed out the corner of his eye that Mali-Ana had dipped her head. She was starting to look downcast.
“Don’t worry,” he said, patting her on the head. To his surprise, Mali-Ana didn’t retaliate at all, and instead accepted his show of affection.

—–
“You know, I’ve never seriously asked Lishe-Ashyo about how he feels towards Mali-Ana.”
“Is it bad if I say I hope he doesn’t reciprocate? I think our friend group has enough romance with us two…”
“No, I don’t think it’s bad, still, I wonder…I know Lishe-Ashyo, and it’s kind of hard to tell. Even if he did, I think it would be hard for them…”
“Well, he seems to treat both her and Cou-Riette with similar affection, even though he talks to them differently. I don’t know…but, enough about stupid stuff we don’t know the answer to! I’m looking forward to tomorrow!”
“Me too!”

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