After the graduation ceremony had ended, I searched for Leslie and Ramona, shoving my way through the mingling crowd.  They said they would come in their letters, but I had no idea where the two of them would be waiting.  It would’ve been easier if certain System devices existed out here.

            Standing by a lamppost, I spotted Leslie waving for my attention.  They were like a spotlight in the uniformed crowd with their white dress and headband of little red flowers.  Ramona, standing beside Leslie, waved at me as well.

            I jogged up to them.

            “Congratulations!” Ramona cried as she trapped me in a hug.

            “Thank you!” I replied with a laugh.

            “Wedismdlfhfdnvy proud, Dax” said Leslie as they took their turn to give me a congratulatory embrace.

            As they let go, Leslie glanced at the brace on my wrist.  “Only one?” they asked with a smirk.

            I rolled my eyes.  Ramona promptly elbowed them in the side.

            “What?!” Leslie responded with a laugh.  “It’s a joke!”

            “So, hon,” Ramona said, turning back to me, “how doysdoijnwescmledjomry?  Dinner?  Drinking?”

            “I’d rather go home and sleep for three days,” I replied.

            Leslie chuckled.  “That sounds about right.”

            Ramona scowled.  “Why are neither of you any fun?  Ifthdsjlfkmadufhsdflmcmhfos.”  She threw up her hands, though I could tell she wasn’t actually frustrated with us.

            After I said goodbye to Celeste, I followed them to the entry gate where horse drawn coaches lined the road.  When we finally caught one for ourselves, I plopped down onto the red leather seat with an exhausted groan.  Ramona took the opposite bench and Leslie climbed up beside me.

            “Brutal as you thought it’d be?” they asked.

            “Worse.”  I glared at them.  “Didn’t help that your cousin gave me extra lessons on unraveling.”

            “I warned you.”

            “But what matters,” Ramona exclaimed, clapping her hands together, “is that you made it!  Yougodjfslmkdtuhfdiswiteodhising!”

            “It only gets better from here,” Leslie commented.  “After you get your folders, of gorse.”

            It took me a moment to realize they had said ‘orders, of course’ and not what I had heard.  Then Ramona started talking about how she at least wanted to get me a cake.

            “What’s your favorite?” she asked.

            “It’s something you can only get in the System,” I replied.  “I’ll settle for mango, though.”

            “Done!” she cried.  Ramona proceeded to rattle off bakeries we could visit that somehow turned into her talking about the book she was reading.

            With the constant jostling of the coach along the cobblestone streets and Ramona’s chattering, I started to doze off.  The last thing I remember hearing was Leslie saying, “I bet it’s the ex, itehslmslkdlex.”

            I woke up on Leslie’s shoulder.  The coach was stopped in front of the square I hadn’t seen in so long and Leslie was looking towards the sound of Ramona’s voice outside.

            A part of me wanted to stay right there and pretend to still be asleep, instead I sat up, rubbing my eyes.

            “Thought you said three days,” Leslie teased.

            “As if you would’ve let me sleep on you that whole time,” I replied.

            “Well, ifyodscmlkdfdijsmdcnjgdmfjkandjhufsdkc…honestly, I’d like nothing better.”

            I glanced at them, wondering if my condition had, for once, not acted up at an important time.  Leslie looked back at me with a soft smile.

            Before I could respond, Ramona interrupted.  “Good, you’re awake!” she said as she climbed back in.  “We’re going to get your cake.  Our driver highly recommends this new place a few blocks down.”

            And the mango cake she bought for all of us to celebrate my graduation was extremely delicious.

To be continued…

Episode 17