The La-Iin Series
“It’s always fun playing with you on the Weekends,” Fer-Shi said to La-Iin. “Then we’re not tired after school, we can start playing early and play for a long time without staying over too late.”
“It’s nice that you came over to my house this time, La-Iin. Usually we go over to your house. Now I can show you my room! When’s the last time you’ve been in there?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Want me to show you what it looks like now?”
La-Iin couldn’t share Fer-Shi’s energy, but she was happy to be over at her friend’s house for a change of pace. No matter how repetitive the games she played with her friend were, La-Iin enjoyed the majority of them.
‘I hope she picks a game with a villain in it again,’ La-Iin thought to herself.
The two girls head for Fer-Shi’s room. The door was already open. Fer-Shi’s room was painted a bright green, and most of the decorations and furniture within it were green as well. Her room was slightly smaller than La-Iin’s, and a few scattered toys dotted the rug.
“Sorry for the mess,” she said. “I was making up a story with these old toys. I don’t know how I got them, but I wanted to use them, and it ended up being an interesting story.”
“What was it about?”
“It was all about evil people who started out as good people, and good people who started out as evil people. The evil people were all so used to being good, that a lot of them tried to do bad things but couldn’t ’cause they still had a little good in them. And the good people were trying to do good for the world, but they still had a little evil in them and they always ended up relapsing.”
“Hey, maybe we could act out a story like that!” Fer-Shi said.
“But then who would I be?”
“Well, um…I know! If you were forced to be good, you’d probably do more bad things than you do when nobody’s forcing you, right?”
“I would kill whoever forced me to be good.”
“So you could be the good people who used to be evil people. Because they’re still kind of evil. I don’t think you’d like the evil people who started out as good people. Most of them are still pretty good, so you’d have to say a lot of good things and stop yourself. We can always switch if they ever start succeeding!”
“For blood?” Fer-Shi instinctively covered up her neck.
“No, just normal thirsty,” she said. Fer-Shi gave a sigh of relief. “Me and Mom made some lemonade for Dad the other day. I think we still have a little left over. You like lemonade, right?”
“I usually just drink water and blood. And sometimes orange juice. I don’t know if I’ve ever had lemonade.”
“You probably have, but you’ve never had lemonade the way the Sanhuuns make it,” she giggled. “Come on, let’s go get some!”
Fer-Shi led the way out her bedroom, guiding La-Iin to the kitchen. “My Dad’s been really busy lately. I’m sorry we haven’t really been able to play after school.”
“Don’t apologize to me. I don’t like apologies.”
“But I really am sorry. He’s been doing a lot of stuff lately. I think he’s getting stressed out too. He’s been a little snippy lately.”
“Maybe he doesn’t like doing goody-goody stuff anymore.”
“No, that’s not it. My Dad loves this kind of work. He told me once, ‘making vuyong off my work is just a benefit’. Me and Mom have been making him lots of food, but he keeps having to take us with him ’cause a lot of his work is right after school…”
“Why can’t your Mama just stay home when he goes? You walk home alone.”
“It’s just more convenient that way. I don’t think you’d understand, La-Iin.”
“Are you trying to say I’m stupid?”
“No! I think you’re really smart for a six-year-old! I feel like I need to catch up sometimes!” She giggled.
“You’re just saying that to flatter me. Flattery won’t work on me now, Fer-Shi, and it certainly won’t work in the future!”
“Glad to see you have some energy now,” she said. The two girls walked into the kitchen, Fer-Shi heading for the fridge. La-Iin followed behind her, but she kept an eye on the man who was facing down two other men standing in front of him. Fer-Shi seemed to be oblivious to their presence.
“Yeah, we still have some lemonade, La-Iin!”
“Fer-Shi, who are those people?” La-Iin asked. Fer-Shi took the lemonade out the fridge and turned to see the men.
“Um…I think Dad does work for them.”
“They seem angry.”
Fer-Shi started to look nervous. “I hope not.”
“I don’t like where this is going,” the girls heard Den-Matsu say. “You’re saying, that everything I’ve done for you, everything I’ve done for all those people, had all those side-effects? And that you did nothing about them, told none of us about them, so you could make a little extra vuyong?”
“Mr. Sanhuun, you’re letting yourself get too worked up,” he sighed. “The culling of the least fortunate and the subpar placement of the survivors was done in the best interest of future people. If we were to give all of them decent residence, we would not have the vuyong to care for future ones. In doing this and spending as little vuyong as is possible, we earn more and can gradually work up from there.”
“But what about the people you’ve already screwed over!?” He yelled. “You say it’s not about the vuyong, but it is, isn’t it!? You won’t put that vuyong towards gradually making things better for people. You’ll use it to make things better for yourselves. You’ll spend as little as possible, make a bunch, and keep spending as little as possible, all the while being billed as a good company.” His shoulders slumped. “I can’t believe I’ve done work for you.”
La-Iin noticed that Fer-Shi had paled. She stared on, her expression one of disbelief.
“Is making more vuyong not in the best interests of our company, in the best interests of yourself, for your family, Mr. Sanhuun?” One of the men asked. “The people who were rescued were placed. The decency of said locations matters not. It is better than the alternative.”
“I wanted these people taken care of!” Den-Matsu yelled. “I wanted to take care of these people, help them onto their feet. I wanted to get them a place they could stay, a good place to stay. I wanted to give them the courage, the stamina, anything they needed so they could go on and live for themselves again! I wanted these people to be able to move on, get jobs of their own. If you put them in subpar residences, they’ll only end up right back where they were, if not someplace worse! How could you expect me to be happy about this!?”
“Mr. Sanhuun, the one in the most trouble right now is not the people you’ve cared for, you must realize. It is yourself. You have a family to take care of, just as some of those people do…”
“How can I work for a cause I can’t believe in!?”
Fer-Shi had resorted to biting her lip as she watched on, but at those words, she walked forward and pulled on Den-Matsu’s shirt.
“Dad, is everything okay?”
“No, nothing’s okay!” He yelled. Fer-Shi flinched. “The world’s a piece of shit and can’t give decency to people who need it! And the people of the world aren’t helping! Just go away, Fer-Shi! What I’m doing right now is more important than your worries!”
Fer-Shi backed away from him, her eyes wide. Den-Matsu glared at her, and then turned back to the men. Fer-Shi ran off.
La-Iin stood there, torn between wanting to go after Fer-Shi or staying to watch the fight. Her mind quickly settled on one answer, and she bit her fingers with her front teeth as she left the kitchen behind.
Fer-Shi was in her room, sitting on the floor and crying. La-Iin walked over to her.
“Dad’s never gotten that mad before,” she hiccuped. “I didn’t mean to make him madder. I just wanted to know…I should have kept my mouth shut.”
“Don’t cry,” La-Iin said.
“I know I shouldn’t,” she said. “I know, but…he said…he said my worries don’t matter!” She broke out into heavy sobbing and buried her face in La-Iin’s shoulder. La-Iin wanted to protest, but she couldn’t bring herself to.
Normally, seeing someone cry didn’t affect her, and might even make her happy. With Fer-Shi, it upset her.
La-Iin blinked open her eyes. She flinched when she felt something wet on her shoulder. Glancing down, she quickly remembered Fer-Shi breaking into tears.
Fer-Shi was also asleep, and she had slumped down somewhat, her face now buried in La-Iin’s leg. Moving her head, La-Iin noticed her eyes were puffy and red, and recalling how much her friend had cried made her sick, and it only made her more sick realizing the reason it made her feel that way in the first place.
She flinched again when she felt drool seep through her tights.
“Ewww!” She shrieked, pushing Fer-Shi away. Fer-Shi sat up and blinked her eyes open.
“Did I fall asleep?”
“I fell asleep too,” La-Iin said.
“Ah…” Fer-Shi’s eyes widened in realization, then her cheeks turned bright pink. “Sorry for crying on you like that.”
“Just make sure to make up for it someday,” La-Iin said. Her eyes drifted over to Fer-Shi’s clock. “We were sleeping for a long time.”
“I wonder if Dad’s still mad…”
“I can go and see.”
“I’ll go too,” Fer-Shi said. La-Iin wanted to question her, but opted against it. This time, she led the way to the kitchen, though Fer-Shi redirected her once when she started to go in the wrong direction.
Her father was sitting at the dinner table, looking dejected.
“Fer-Shi,” he breathed. “Come here.”
Fer-Shi ran ahead of La-Iin and took a seat next to Den-Matsu. La-Iin followed slowly behind.
“I’m sorry I said what I did earlier,” Den-Matsu said. “I was furious with those men, but that was no excuse for what I said. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“It’s okay, Dad. I forgive you.”
Den-Matsu’s gaze focused on Fer-Shi’s eyes. “I made you cry,” he said quietly. “Here I was, getting mad at them for hurting people, and I hurt my own daughter…”
Den-Matsu started to tear up. “I’m sorry.”
‘This is going to turn into a crybaby festival,’ La-Iin warned herself. She started to back out the kitchen.
“What was going on with those men, anyway?”
“They were putting people I took care of in subpar homes. They were doing only the minimal for these people so they could keep up their good image and continue to get funding. Their interest was only in the vuyong, so I decided to stop working for them. Don’t worry, Fer-Shi. I do so much work in Bledger, I don’t think I’ll ever be out of a job!”
“That’s good,” she said. “But now I feel bad for those people they helped…or said they helped.”
“Hopefully it’s enough for them. I think some of those people are strong enough that they’ll prevail anyway. I wasn’t trying to say they should give them all mansions, but they seemed to think I was…I just don’t think you should stick people in run-down, dangerous houses. It might only lead to more problems.”
“Well…maybe things will start looking up. It is the holidays, after all.”
‘That’s when things start to get worse,’ Den-Matsu wanted to say. But he had already made Fer-Shi cry once, and he wasn’t going to do so again.
“Yeah, maybe they will,” he said.
“I’m sorry we didn’t get to play much today, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said. “Maybe we can play more tomorrow? My Dad isn’t busy now that he found out about that company…”
“Okay,” La-Iin said.
“See you soon then!”
“See you soon…” La-Iin trailed off.
“Don’t let yourself get sad again tomorrow,” she said. Fer-Shi smiled. “I won’t. See you soon again, La-Iin!”
“See you soon, again.”