14.287.Choungetsu’s Anniversary

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 287
“Choungetsu’s Anniversary”

“….I want Halloween.”
“Stop staring at the calendar, sweetie,” Del-Kyuus said. “Halloween will come soon enough, but looking at the calendar won’t make that faster.”
“I want it to come now.”
“I know you do. But you can’t keep staying up like this. Summer break has been over for a while now, and I know for a fact there’s no such thing as October break. There’s no excuse for you to be staying up this late the night before school. And I know what you say, you can just call Dosa-Mina, but that must be frustrating for him too. He can’t just sing himself to sleep. And leaving your phone on all night, you’re running up quite the bill. What are you going to do when you move out? Are you going to be able to pay those bills?”
“….you can be such a killjoy, Mom,” San-Kyung sighed.
“I’m just saying–”
“I know,” he sighed. “Now I’m suddenly tired. I’m going to bed.”
Del-Kyuus sighed. “Sweet dreams, San-Kyung….”

***

As soon as La-Iin woke up that morning, Choungetsu was at her door, his tail wagging, his eyes bright, and his tongue lolling.
Choungetsu was trying to make himself appear excited to catch La-Iin’s attention. However, La-Iin was used to Choungetsu looking that way. All she wanted to know was why he was upstairs.
When La-Iin had no reaction, Choungetsu decided to follow her until she did. He followed her to the bathroom, to her mother’s bedroom, and down the stairs. He continued to keep up his happy attitude, hoping La-Iin would notice something was different about today.
But she didn’t seem to. Even when they entered the kitchen she filled his bowl as normal then walked to the table. She hadn’t even brought the fun talking toy she normally had with her. Choungetsu gave a whimper of disappointment. Had La-Iin truly not noticed why he was so happy?
He looked around the kitchen as La-Iin and Mit-Sun ate. He glanced at a pinned-up stack of papers hanging on the wall. He had always noticed that there were strange things scrawled on the stack of papers, and that Mit-Sun, at least, checked them often. Maybe that would help La-Iin notice? He wasn’t sure what sense it made, but he was desperate to try.
He stared to scratch at the wall below the stack of papers, whimpering.
“Choungetsu, don’t pee over there,” La-Iin snapped. Choungetsu continued to whimper and scratch at the wall.
“Check on him, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said. La-Iin sighed and walked over to the eager dog. He couldn’t help but switch attitudes to his normal and happy one as she walked over. She looked above him.
“I think he just wants attention,” La-Iin said, then walked back to the table. Choungetsu folded his ears to his head, and his tail stopped wagging. The stack of papers hadn’t worked. And Choungetsu was out of ideas. He felt as though he had exhausted every idea he could have ever had. How would she notice what was special about today now?
“You should give him more attention, you know,” Mit-Sun said.
“I give him lots of attention, especially when I’m bored,” La-Iin said. “He’s just really annoying sometimes and I don’t want to play with him when he’s being really annoying.”
“Dogs of any breed can be pretty needy, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said. “You have to play with him a bit more otherwise he’ll get really lonely.”
“You can’t make me!” She yelled. Choungetsu couldn’t understand Vaelis that well, so he wasn’t sure why La-Iin was yelling. He rested his head on his paws and watched the two finish breakfast. Then, La-Iin took off.
With how disappointed he was, Choungetsu didn’t even have the appetite to continue eating. He sighed through his nose and stared blankly at the food bowl. Trying to look at Mit-Sun might only make him sad. He knew that several times when La-Iin left without him, it meant Mit-Sun was about to leave too. Soon he would be all alone, when what he wanted was their company.
And he didn’t even know where La-Iin kept that talking toy….
“I’m sorry she’s so mean to you sometimes, Choungetsu,” Mit-Sun said. She scratched behind his ear and stroked his head. Choungetsu looked up. “I have to go now. Don’t look so sad though, okay? We need you to be happy to keep us sane. I’m going. Bye.”
Mit-Sun’s words were hard to understand, but her tone had been reassuring, and more importantly, she had given him a scratch behind the ear. Choungetsu lifted his head up and watched her off.
They had to leave now, but maybe Mit-Sun at least would notice why he wanted attention. She seemed to know a lot of things anyway, even more things than La-Iin. Maybe if he was patient, his hard work would pay off.
His appetite returning to him, he took a few gulps of food.

Meanwhile in school, La-Iin gave a sudden shriek.
“IT’S CHOUNGETSU’S BIRTHDAY!”

Even though he had resigned himself to being patient, Choungetsu was still bored waiting at home for Mit-Sun and La-Iin to return. If it hadn’t been for the shining sun he might have even been convinced that the day was not so special anymore and he had no reason to still be anticipating their return.
The couch was his favorite place to stay while he waited for them, especially since it made him so tired. It made it convenient as he could take naps while he waited, making the wait that much less painful. But today he couldn’t find it in him to fall asleep, and that made the hours stretch out much longer than usual.
So he couldn’t help his excitement when La-Iin suddenly slammed open the door.
Automatically she reached for his leash. Choungetsu’s attitude reverted to his standard in his excitement. She hooked him to a leash and walked outside.
“Today, you lead the way!” She yelled. Choungetsu bolted right away. If she was taking him on a walk, maybe she had realized why he was so excited for today.
“Slow down, Choungetsu!” She snapped. Choungetsu barely heard her. He felt certain that he was right. La-Iin had noticed why he was so happy. Maybe wherever she went, she had bored time to think and had realized. It didn’t matter either way; even if La-Iin hadn’t realized, she was taking him on a walk, and he loved walks, especially with La-Iin.
He figured he could take advantage for today and sprint as he usually didn’t. He knew it made La-Iin mad whenever he did, but maybe she could forgive him today. Besides, he felt that if he didn’t sprint, he would never get the excited energy out of his system. He needed the sprint, regardless of La-Iin’s furious complaints behind him.
By the time they returned home, both he and La-Iin were out of breath, though to Choungetsu, it was a wonderful feeling. He felt more calm, more relaxed, yet still excited enough to sprint again if someone happened to leave the door hanging wide open. Still, La-Iin had taken him on that walk and hadn’t hanged him from his leash yet, so he figured that he owed it to her not to run even if she did leave the door hanging wide open.
La-Iin took off his leash and flew away from him. Choungetsu watched after her happily. Maybe she had to use the strange object he saw in the clacky room upstairs. He decided to play with a toy to pass the time, and as he did he wondered why he hadn’t thought of doing so earlier. It was a great way to pass time, he realized.
While in the midst of playing, however, he was suddenly lifted up off the ground by Mit-Sun. He was tempted to struggle–he didn’t like being picked up–but he wondered if she was taking him somewhere special. He decided to be patient and wait it out again. He had done so for several boring and painful hours–he could do it now to see where she was taking him.
Mit-Sun took him to the kitchen and set him down in front of his bowl. However, as opposed to his normal dog food, a wet, tasty-smelling cylinder sat in it. When he touched it with his paw, it smashed down.
La-Iin walked over to him and pet him on the head, then stuck a candle into the mush. Choungetsu reached out to eat it; La-Iin promptly took it away. He didn’t mind though. He began to eat away at the strange wet food sloppily, but it tasted so delicious. His normal kind was mostly flavorless; he had to eat several at a time to get that wonderful flavor. But this was flavorful from the first bite to the last. Choungetsu thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Happy anniversary,” La-Iin said.
“Happy four years, Choungetsu,” Mit-Sun said cheerfully. Both pet him on the head and stroked him. Choungetsu felt pampered. His tail wagged harder than he could ever remember it doing so before.
They had figured out what today was, after all. It felt wonderful.
“Here’s a present!” La-Iin said. She gave him a small cloth doll. It wasn’t the strange talking one she normally had, but it sort of looked like her, and it had the same texture. Choungetsu picked it up happily and dashed around the kitchen with it.
“He looks so happy,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Dogs are so simple. I love that about them. It’s so easy to please them.”
“Yeah, it’s good that Choungetsu is stupid.”
“I can’t believe it’s been four years already.”
La-Iin kept a close eye on Choungetsu as he dashed around the kitchen with the doll. “…me too.”

—–
That day was one of Choungetsu’s favorites.
It was the only night he could remember that La-Iin let him sleep in her bed.

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