Chapter 4: Reminiscence

Kaya woke up with the sunlight glaring through the shades of the bedside window. In a start the clueless girl sat up and found herself sleeping in a two-person bed. Then Kaya finally realized she had fallen asleep in Ser’s arms the night before when he’d hugged her so tightly and wouldn’t release her. As forgetful and absent-minded as she was she didn’t even call home! If her sister knew she spent the night with a guy she would regret it. Though her sister would actually encourage her—it would become non-stop questionings!

When Kaya looked down where her left hand was pressing down again, she jerked. She’d realize her hand had been against Ser’s chest and it scared her. What was Ser doing in bed beside her? Well, for one thing it was his bedroom she was in. Another thing was that it was his bed she slept in. The next thing was, well Ser didn’t trust Long at night (that, of course, clueless Kaya didn’t consider at all).

"You’re up," Ser softly spoke as he woke up. As he sat up, pressing down on the bed with his right hand, Ser gave an elegance to himself that sent a blush across her face. How could such charisma come from a guy whose interest had nothing to do with a girl? Was it just the fact that he was totally hot that his charisma could reach through to both gender? Yes, yes, I know… Kaya is clueless and quite dimwitted—but all people are smart in their own way.

"You…" Kaya shuttered immensely. "You aren’t… bi, are you…?"

"No, of course not," Ser chuckled and leaned in towards her. His bare chest nearing her even more. Kaya couldn’t help the immediate response to inch away towards the end of the bed. Just as she could move away no longer Ser came closer and closer to her. His chest a hair away from pressing against her and his lips against hers. But out of nowhere his bedroom door flung open and a voice sang out his name. The shock struck both of them so much Kaya lost grip of the edge of the bed and fell backwards off the bed. Ser grabbed onto her and fell down with her.

"Sorry," Trace grinned innocently standing at the door. "I didn’t expect you would be busy," he chuckled as he leaned his shoulder on the doorway, staring down at the couple on the Chinese-style dragon-printed carpeted floor.

"Ow…" Kaya pulled up and realized Ser had cushioned her fall off the bed. "Oh my God, Ser are you okay?" Kaya gasped in shock. Ser sat up and held her at her waist to keep her on his lap. Realizing what position she was in Kaya frozen completely. "Um… Ser?" she nervously smiled.

"What are you so scared of?" Ser asked her with annoyance. His eyes stared deep into hers. She couldn’t avoid him at that moment, because Ser for one, had taken control. "Really, Kaya, what do you think I would do to you?" he asked her with a sigh. It caused Kaya to feel even more embarrassed, because as she finally had to recall again… Ser was gay.

"N-Nothing," Kaya shook her head as her courage was slowly building up again.

"Ser," Trace crouched down on his knees next to the two. He smiled brightly as Ser turned away from Trace. "Come on, kiss me good morning," he grinned. Ser sighed as embarrassment brightly showed up on his face. He was cute with a blush, VERY cute.

"Go," Ser pulled Kaya off his lap. He sat up properly as Kaya began out of the room. She turned back as Ser pulled Trace in towards him. Kaya quickly twisted away again so she wouldn’t actually see them kiss. "Happy?" Ser asked after he kissed Trace’s cheek.

"Come on now, Ser. What are you so afraid of?" Trace laughed. He then looked down at the shirtless Ser. "Hm, hard to resist a hot-bod like you, Ser. You weren’t trying to seduce innocent lil’ Kaya now were you?" he asked Ser suspiciously. Ser looked away and stood up. "I need a shower, watch the clueless-wonder for me," he ordered Trace as he came to his feet. He added metaphorically after he grabbed his towel, "Blink and you’ll miss a phenomenon of the ages." Then he walked out of his room to the bathroom in his shorts as casual as ever.

Trace grinned and walked out to the living room. Kaya was standing near the couch, staring up at the wall gazing at the portraits hung up. Trace smirked with a sigh, those old photos were still there and he never got tired of gazing at them either. The first starting to the left was Ser’s grandfather when he was still young. A black and white photo. His grandmother, an older but more recent picture. It was in color. Trace knew Ser’s grandmother died years ago—it was a year before Trace left the neighborhood. It was the first time Trace had seen Ser cry. The next one was Ser’s mother and father, a photo shot in the last Hmong New Year Celebration at the River Centre with a bright waterfall background. The three after—it was one Trace always looked down and pray to the moment he saw it. The second time he witnessed Ser crying was for Ser’s elder brother Ger Her, his sister-in-law Mai Kao Yang, and his niece Sia Her. They died a year ago in a car accident. Ser was the only survivor of the crash. When they were in the crash Ser saw before his eyes the dripping cold blood, and he felt the unbearable hurt, most heartbreaking of all was their silence. Their forever silence. Voices he would never hear. Cries he would never comfort again. Sounds that were never recreated. The orchestra that sang and played so beautifully in his world had lost three most important musicians.

His brother, his sister-in-law, his niece in the car-seat beside him. All three of them. He had cried so hard. In the hospital room Trace remembered Ser’s pain, because Ser kept crying and screaming. When he fell asleep he would talk in his sleep and beg for God, or Shao (the Hmong God) or anyone to bring them back, bring back his loved ones and take his life. He didn’t want to live in such misery. He didn’t want to live if their future was taken away. But in the end, Ser always settled down in his sleep when he mumbled "I promised her…"

Beside those pictures were two others that Trace also knew by heart. Trace didn’t look up at them anymore, the memory of Ser’s pain still echoing in him. The next picture was of Ser’s school portrait from his freshmen year. It showed a younger and gentler look to Ser—the abnormal natural sandy blond Ser Her. The last photo was his younger sister, eighth grader Yer. Yer was popular with everyone, as Trace would put it. She didn’t have enemies and had no problems making friends. Outgoing.

"You should see the altar," Trace said turning his head to his right towards the kitchen. On the wall, in the center of the entire wall, was the altar Ser’s family had tribute to deceased family members. The altar stood at the wall that separated the kitchen and living room. Kaya had turned her head to see Trace behind her standing in the hallway as the showers turned on in the bathroom. She looked over to the altar and noticed the pictures of Ser’s brother, sister-in-law and niece there as well. The altar was decorated with the paper Kaya always easily distinguished. Hmong used to them during funerals and burned them up as money in the afterlife for the deceased—spirit money. They cut the paper into fours and taped one or two on top of a doorway to keep away the evil spirits. "Ser nco lawv heev," [He misses them a lot] Trace said in his fluent Hmong. Kaya still couldn’t get over the fact that Trace spoke Hmong so well. However, what he said was more important to think about. "Lawv yog li nws lub siab, tsis muaj lawv ces tsis muaj nws lawm." [They’re like his heart, without them he’s good as dead]

Kaya looked towards Trace then. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked.

"It’ll help you to understand," Trace smiled.

After contemplating the statement, "You aren’t… trying to make a threat, are you?" she asked in concern.

Trace laughed. "So you heard about my being jealous," he giggled. Kaya nodded vigorously, afraid of Trace’s jealousy. She’d seen where jealousy got people. They weren’t places she wanted to go. "Don’t worry, my boyfriend would never cheat on me. I have nothing to worry about," he smiled. But then Trace suddenly became worried. The warning Ser gave him the night before, about watching his words carefully, he’d forgotten them and spoken out so freely towards Kaya.

The End

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