The La-Iin Series
“Goodbye, Grade 12”
A large crowd was making its way into Malicerie Public School. Guards standing nearby found themselves surprised by the sheer amount.
“Geez, it was one thing when that Fasoucie girl went here, but this is ridiculous! Is anyone else here part of some prestigious family?” One guard asked.
“Not that I know of,” another said. “And by the way, why are we guarding the school anyway?”
“Principal said she was worried,” the first guard said.
Above the crowd, a man with large black wings was soaring around in circles, seemingly checking the crowd.
“Hey, you!” One of the guards called out to him. “What are you doing!?”
“Ultimate tactic if he’s someone suspicious,” the second guard said sarcastically.
The man startled, then landed in front of the guards, folding his wings to his back. “I’m here because my daughter is moving up a grade today,” he said. “I’m not too late for the ceremony, am I?”
“No. Did you see the crowd of people who’re still heading inside? Your kid’s gotta be in there somewhere with her classmates. Remember, it’s a school day today even if there is a graduation going on.”
“I’m well aware,” he said. “Where should I go? Sorry, I’ve not been on these grounds often enough to really know where to next.”
The guards glanced at each other. “The people in the crowd sure seem to know,” one guard said obnoxiously. “Why not follow them?”
“I suppose you’re right,” he said. “Sorry to bother you, then!”
He ran ahead and quickly blended in with the crowd.
“Are you thinkin’ what I was thinkin’?”
“What were you thinkin’?”
“Guy looks awfully young to have a kid, doesn’t he?”
“Wow, it feels so weird to be graduating,” Gen-Reiya said. “Geez, life moves fast sometimes.”
“Well, now we’ll have other things to think about,” Mali-Ana said. “Like turning eighteen tomorrow.”
“Good thing graduation’s not on your birthday this year, eh, Mali-Ana?”
“Yeah, that was hectic last year.”
“A littles stranges for you to be graduatings when yous haven’t even beens here for a years, Xhepheku-das?” Voi-Ehst asked.
“I was always prepared for this outcome, so no.”
“It feels strange to me,” Xhen-Bei whimpered. Gen-Reiya and Mali-Ana startled. They hadn’t noticed he was standing a short distance behind Kaersh-Cogyp.
“You’re not the only one who’s going to miss someone, Yuuldang,” Kim-Koou said. “Really, Voi-Ehst. I’ll miss you.”
“Hey, no worries. We’ll meets up agains, I promise it.”
“Hopefully you do. I haven’t really talked to Fheyundaer since she graduated,” Lirako said. “Speaking of graduation, geez, I guess it’s my turn next year, huh?”
“Now that’s going to be weird. Malicerie without Sanyaow?” Gen-Reiya said.
“Maybe I should try getting held back a year. After all, at this rate I’ll graduate before San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina do. And there’s something about Dosa-Mina I just have to know before I go.”
Gen-Reiya blinked. “Look, Sanyaow, I wanted to know that too. In fact, I even wanted to encourage him a bit. So did Lishe-Ashyo. But the guy’s entitled to his privacy.”
“What? Are we even talking about the same thing?”
“I’m pretty sure I know what you want to know.”
“Just like you were pretty sure you understood how I felt?” Xhen-Bei asked, an edge to his tone.
“I was even more sure about that.”
“Don’t get into a fight just before graduation,” Kaersh-Cogyp said. “It’s bad luck for your future.”
“That’s something we believe in the Xhephekuda family. It’s not just graduation either, but I don’t have time to go over all of it.”
As more people piled in to the reception room, the graduating students and their friends began to feel more cramped in the room.
“Guess it can’t be longs before we’res gonna be busies,” Voi-Ehst said.
“And not just us, you three as well,” Mali-Ana said. “So focus.”
“It’s a little annoying to be told that by little miss flustered,” Lirako said. “Ever get Lishe-Ashyo to be your boyfriend?”
“Wha–!” Mali-Ana’s face flushed red. “You–!”
“See what I mean? C’mon you two, let’s get out of here before she explodes!”
“You should come too, Xhephe!” Xhen-Bei said. “You’re not gonna be safe either when she goes kaboom!”
“HEY!” Mali-Ana yelled.
“Really, Mali-Ana, calm down! You don’t want to cause a scene at your graduation, do you? Besides, Lishe-Ashyo said he was coming, and I doubt you’d want to cause a scene around your cru–”
Gen-Reiya flinched as Mali-Ana’s fist came his way, but was surprised when it didn’t make impact. He opened his eyes to Voi-Ehst holding back Mali-Ana’s fist as she flailed about.
“Let me at him!” She yelled.
“You’ve gots to learns that in the adults worlds, you can’ts just punch someones randomlies like thats,” Voi-Ehst said.
“You’re not in the adult world yet either!” She yelled. “In fact, you’re younger than me, aren’t you!?”
“Point still stands,” she said, lowering her fist. “Now come ons, let’s get readies.”
“What’s wrong? Worried about a moving-up ceremony? That’s lame,” Bes-Isa said.
“I’m not worried about that. I’m not worried at all, even,” La-Iin said. “I just home Dami makes it here in time.”
“I’m sure he will. After all, if he couldn’t make it, he would’ve told you, right?” Fer-Shi said.
“Don’t put that much faith in him,” Mit-Sun said. “He’s been unreliable a lot in the past.”
“He seemed pretty nice when I met him.”
“Mama always says the worst possible things about Dami. Don’t listen to her.”
“Yeah, and you don’t have to just take La-Iin’s word for it either. I’ve talked to him several times before, and he’s a little goody-goody for my taste, but he’s way less annoying and way more reliable than that woman is. At least you can tell his love for La-Iin is unconditional.”
“Well, Bes-Isa has a point, Mama,” she said. “Your love seems pretty conditional.”
“Oh, good, I’m here in time,” a voice breathed. La-Iin turned to her left. Asul-Zenza was standing there, looking out-of-breath.
“Glad to see you, La-Iin,” he panted. “Good heavens, these crowds are evil! Is every relative of every student coming to see the ceremony?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
“Well, I’m just happy to be inside and with you,” he said, taking his seat.
“Don’t sit next to me,” Mit-Sun said.
“Being cold again, Mit-Sun? Come on,” he sighed. “La-Iin, would you like to sit in the middle of us?”
“No,” she said simply. “I like the seating how it is now. I can talk to Fer-Shi and you and I’m away from Mama. Did I tell you last year she spanked me here?”
“Oh, be quiet,” Mit-Sun snapped. “The ceremony’s going to start soon.”
“I suppose she has a point. Let’s save the conversation for a little later, shall we?” Dropping his voice to a whisper, he added, “And don’t forget to tell me about that spanking.”
“He’s so goody-goody he sometimes gets La-Iin acting almost goody-goody too,” Bes-Isa said. “It sickens me.”
“This is ridiculous,” San-Kyung said under his breath. “Why couldn’t we just do the stupid moving-up ceremony early like we did last year? Hell, why do we need to do it at all? We get it, we’re going up a grade, big deal.”
“I dunno. I guess it’s just how things at Malicerie go. Actually, compared to other schools I’ve gone to or heard about, I think Malicerie’s pretty weird for a Vaelis school.”
“Hey, one good thing about this all is that Lirkao is entering Grade 12 today. Which means come next year, we won’t have to deal with her.”
“And what grade are we going to be in next year?”
“Grade 12? I see your point, San-Kyung, but hey, a year without her will be nice, won’t it? And past that we won’t have to deal with her ever again.”
“Why do you say that? Don’t tell me you’ve got a crush on her, San-Kyung!”
San-Kyung’s face contorted and he growled at Dosa-Mina. “I’m kidding, sheesh! I know better than anyone else how much you hate her, because I think I hate her more. Either that or we hate her evenly. Anyway, enough about her. Sorry to make such an out-of-taste joke when you’re already in a bad mood.”
“Better you than someone else, but still.”
“Definitely. After all, when Reusung lashes out everyone takes that as a sign that she’s acting out because she’s lying. Who knows what someone else might have thought if they saw that!”
“Let’s pretend it didn’t happen.”
“Of course.” Dosa-Mina looked up at the stage. “Oh, I guess they’re doing the teacher speeches now. That means the moving-up ceremony is soon.”
“Good. We can get it over with and be out of here.”
“Did your parents come or are they coming? Luckily for me both my parents are busy today, so I don’t have to worry about it.”
“They said they were coming later on so they wouldn’t get in my way during school. I can’t see them though.”
“Funny, you’d think with their height and your height there’d be no way you couldn’t see them.”
After the speeches from the teachers–who seemed quite energetic and flustered today–the moving-up ceremony began. Many in the audience yawned until a loved one went up on the stage, then their attention was focused on them as they moved up.
Asul-Zenza wore a giddy expression as La-Iin and Fer-Shi left their seats to join the moving-up Class D students. As they joined the line, La-Iin tried to spot San-Kyung ahead of her.
“Stop crashing into me!” Ai-Reia yelled.
“Only if you move out of the way,” La-Iin said.
“It isn’t my fault we happen to be in the same grade,” she said. “God, I swear. We might not be all that apart age-wise but there is no reason why I shouldn’t be in a higher grade.”
“Maybe you’re not as smart as you think,” she said. Ai-Reia turned around and glared at her, but La-Iin was surprised to see that not long after that she startled, her expression becoming downcast, and turned away from La-Iin. After that she was completely silent.
The line moved fairly quickly in Class D, but even some students near the front seemed impatient as if they wanted to get the ordeal over with. The students entering Grade 11 seemed particularly impatient despite being after only three students. Students near the front were slightly surprised to see Dosa-Mina sighing and rolling his eyes as if bored.
“Miss Cahongyun, glad to see you made it to the ceremony this time,” the man said, sounding slightly agitated. La-Iin glared at him. “Congratulations on entering the second grade. And congratulations on being the youngest Class D student. …for now, anyway.”
La-Iin glared at him and then dashed off the stage, crashing into Ai-Reia on the way. Ai-Reia glared before going off in her own direction to join her family.
“Class A’s starting to graduate,” Xhen-Bei said. “Oh my gosh, this is gonna happen. You’re really gonna leave Malicerie forever, Xhephe.”
“I’m not leaving yet,” he said.
“But–it isn’t fair. Reusung, I heard that graduation was on your birthday last year.”
“That’s tomorrow, right?”
“Um, yeah? What’s it to you?”
“Why couldn’t it be tomorrow this year?” He said.
“You’re letting this make you crazy again, Xhen-Bei…” Kaersh-Cogyp sighed.
“Ask the faculty about that one,” Mali-Ana said. “But I’m kind of relieved it’s today instead of tomorrow. Last year it was hell having my friends graduate and having my birthday on the same day. Imagine what’d it be like if graduation was on your birthday.”
“Well, I’ll never need to worry about that, at least,” he said. “My birthday’s not until December.”
“Good for you,” she said dryly. Then, she turned to Gen-Reiya. “Hey. Did Mi-Yagi come?”
“Yeah, she did,” Gen-Reiya said. “Actually, didn’t I tell you? Mi-Yagi’s been shaping up a bit more recently, so I was sure she was going to come. Yeah, she’s still a little crazy after going to Class A, but she’s been a lot nicer to me and a lot more calm. She’s even got a crush now, I think.”
“Hm.” Mali-Ana stared at him. “You really are maturing, huh?”
“I guess so,” he said. “You are too, a little. You’ve been pretty calm today aside from that little punching incident.”
Mali-Ana pouted. “Yeah, well, I’ve been thinking maybe you guys aren’t worth the time it takes to punch you.”
“Now that’s one thing I think you need to get over. You’ve got to try admitting how you really feel sometimes, Mali-Ana. Otherwise people won’t get you. Trust me, I’ve kept my feelings secret before and I’ve seen people do it and it’s not always good. Doing it all the time can’t be healthy.”
“I don’t hide my feelings. Stop being stupid.”
Gen-Reiya shrugged. “If you say so…”
“Hey, speaking of people coming, did Xhen-Wu come?”
“Yeah, they’re all here,” he said. “Even Cou-Riette and little An-Tois.”
“Really? How’d you see them and I didn’t?”
“They’re sitting nearby my family,” he said. “Hey, you should let your Dad talk to Lishe-Ashyo while they’re both here. His reactions to him are hilarious!”
Mali-Ana chuckled. “I might just do that.”
“We’re almost at the end, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said. “Happy?”
“This took too damn long.”
“I don’t think it warranted the cursing, though,” he said.
“I’ll curse if I feel like it.”
“You really are in a bad mood today, aren’t you?” He said. “Did something happen?”
“No, it’s nothing. I just don’t want to be here anymore. I shouldn’t have to be, except I have no idea where in the crowd Mom and Dad are and they probably want to stay for the whole thing, knowing them. But I did the moving up ceremony, I’m in Grade 11 now, so there’s no reason for this.”
“Well, reason or not, Malicerie’s gonna Malicerie,” he said. “Be patient and maybe I’ll do something special for you after the ceremony.”
“Something special I like, or something special you like?” He asked.
“Now that part, I’m keeping a secret!”
“Is it always this crowded on graduation day?” Asul-Zenza asked.
“I haven’t been to that many graduations,” La-Iin said.
“There are people here who didn’t come last year ’cause we did the moving-up ceremony early back then,” she said. “So I guess it might be more crowded than last year. But last year I think there were a few more people graduating, so I don’t really know…”
“Well, it’s alright. Oh, Class D is your class, isn’t it La-Iin?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Looks like they’re graduating now,” he said. La-Iin focused on the stage.
“…here at Malicerie. You may have stumbled a bit sometimes in school work, but you’ve shown considerable improvement since then. I think your future life is going to be a fun one. Take things seriously, though! Here you are.”
“Thanks!” Gen-Reiya said.
“Miss Oulng Voi-Ehst. Thank you for five years here at Malicerie. You were a memorable student here at Malicerie, and I believe you will go on to become a memorable person in life. And that’s not just because of your tic, either. Here you are.”
Voi-Ehst didn’t say anything, just smiled.
“Miss Reusung Mali-Ana. Thank you for eight years here at Malicerie. You may have been notorious for some of the wrong reasons, but you’ve matured a lot since then. Follow the path you want to and continue to mature. Here you are.”
“Mr. Xhephekuda Kaersh-Cogyp. Thank you for your year here at Malicerie. You may have only been with us a short time, but it was a valuable time. We are glad to have had you here. Go on and contribute to the world in the way you would like to. Here you are.”
“Thank you so much,” he said quickly, sounding almost flustered.
“Thank you all for attending Malicerie today! Let’s send our graduates off in style with the song we always sing–Denden Saree! …except the Sirens. Please don’t sing along with us.”
Our friends may leave our side,
but their love is in our hearts.
Even when tragedy strikes
Always, our bond keeps us together.
Through times when we might cry
And times we thought we’d die
Our bond is everlasting
With a final cheer, the ceremony came to a close, the graduating students continuing to sing the chorus of Denden Saree even after the song ended.
“I am so glad that’s over,” San-Kyung said.
“Me too! It was getting stuffy and hot in there,” Dosa-Mina replied.
“Are you happy you got to come, Dami?” La-Iin asked.
“Very. Thank you for inviting me, La-Iin.”
“I told you what day it was,” Mit-Sun said.
Nearby, Xhen-Wu ran up to Gen-Reiya and kissed him on the forehead. Gen-Reiya stammered in response.
“Congrats, Mali-Ana!” Lishe-Ashyo said, running a hand through her hair. “Now you’re just like me.”
“If graduating is gonna turn me into Lishe-Ashyo point two, I’m going to demand to be let back into Malicerie!” She growled. Then, she began to smile.
“Hey, Lishe-Ashyo. There’s someone I want you to talk to,” she said. “C’mon, Dad. Talk to Lishe-Ashyo.”
“Hello there,” he said casually. Lishe-Ashyo froze up. “It’s nice to see you came to Mali-Ana’s graduation. Thank you for still being her friend.”
Lishe-Ashyo’s shoulders relaxed. He smiled. “Not a problem, Mr. Reusung. Mali-Ana’s a good friend to me.”
Mr. Reusung nodded. “That’s good. I think anyone who’s a good friend of yours should consider themselves lucky. Maybe someday in the future we’ll be good friends too.”
Lishe-Ashyo froze up. Mali-Ana and Gen-Reiya broke out into laughter.
Kaersh-Cogyp turned around. “I thought you said you were sticking with calling me Xhephe.”
“I am, but I wanted to get your attention. I know you probably have stuff to do at home now, so I just wanted to say, well…bye.”
Kaersh-Cogyp shook his head. “You act like this is goodbye forever, Xhen-Bei. Don’t worry, we’ll see each other again soon. I’m sorry you can’t come with me to the celebration.”
“Ah, it’s alright. You enjoy your time at home, alright?”
“And don’t let yourself get depressed, Xhen-Bei. Next time I see you, I want you to be acting as you did while we were going to school together and not like this.”
“Alright then!” He said. “Well…see you, Xhephe.”
“See you, Xhen-Bei.”
Before walking off completely, Kaersh-Cogyp turned to see Malicerie. “Goodbye, Malicerie. Now you’re someone I am not going to see again.”