Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 32

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XXXII

“Richard!”

As he heard the familiar voice calling from behind him, Richard turned to see his mother. If he didn’t know any better, he might have thought this seemingly young blonde woman was another student attending school. However, that was not the case at all. “Hi, mom.” This was the first time he’d seen her since he found out he wasn’t human… but all along he knew she wasn’t related to him by blood. Regardless, she still felt very much like his mother… Though he though she looked more like an older sister.

She came up to him and hugged him. “It’s good to see you, again, finally.” She poked his ribs. “Your ribs are okay?” She touched his arm, “Arm all healed up? How are your studies going?”

“Everything is fine.”

“Good! You look like you’ve lost weight though…” She continued to poke and prod him for a moment, with a strange look on her face. Then she put her arms around him, and in a surprising gesture picked him up and spun him around. “Haha! I haven’t done that since you were a little boy.” Jot was nearby, and raised his eyebrows at this. “Oh! You must be Richard’s friend. Jot, right?” She stuck out her hand for him to shake. “I’m Anna, his mother.”

Jot shook her hand and nodded. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Jot.” His tone was pleasant and sincere, but his eyes were filled with suspicion. He leaned over next to Richard and faked a whisper, “Are you sure your parents are older than you?”

“Of course. I can’t prove it though, because I definitely don’t have any pictures of me as a baby.”

Richard’s mother grinned. “Is that so? Don’t worry, I have lots.”

“That’s what worries me most. I’m glad you finally made it here.”

“Me too. I’ve been so busy with work. You have no idea how hard it was to hear about you getting hurt and not being able to be here… Especially with mom talking about you being cursed.” She shook her head. “Well, I’m glad to see that you’re okay now, if nothing else. I hope you stay that way. We have so much catching up to do… but there’s another thing I have to tell you. Wait here for a moment.” She turned around and scurried around the nearest corner, then came back around the corner almost running, half-dragging someone behind her. “Richard, meet your cousin Susan.”

“Hi.” Richard said.

“…Hello,” came a very quiet voice from the young woman standing in front of him.

Richard turned to his mother. “So… does grandma have some explaining to do? Because you don’t have any siblings, as far as I know.”

“That’s right, no siblings.” Richard’s mother nodded.

“So… how exactly do I have a cousin?” Richard looked looked at Susan. She had blonde hair similar to his mother, though hers was a bit longer. Her face certainly resembled his mother’s, and he had no problem in believing that they were related. However, where his mother was very confident in everything she did- Richard might say too confident, Susan appeared a bit more shy and reserved. Even now, she was standing nervously, fiddling with her hands.

“Well, you see… How should I explain this… Oh!” She smiled and waved, “Honey, over here!” Richard’s father strolled over. “This is your niece Susan.”

“Hello.” Richard’s father nodded.

“…Hello.”

Richard spoke up again, “So mom… you still haven’t explained how I have a cousin.”

“Weeeell…” She stroked her chin. “It’s complicated. Anyway, I really need to get going. She’ll be attending here now, so take good care of her, okay?” With that, his mother turned and left.

“Wait what? Mom!” He watched her walk off. Richard turned to his father. “I thought she was supposed to be the responsible, logical one in the family.”

His father nodded slowly. “She usually is, but she’s got a lot on her plate right now. So… that job has been passed onto you.”

“What, me?”

“Of course. Surely you don’t expect me to be the responsible one. Speaking of which, I should be heading to a class.” With that, he left as well, leaving Richard, Susan, and Jot standing around.

“Hmm… okay. Well, Susan, this is my friend Jot. Jot, this is my cousin Susan, apparently.”

Jot reached out his hand for a handshake, and Susan timidly shook it. Well, she actually just grabbed two of his fingers and slightly moved her wrist, before letting go and hiding behind Richard.

“It’s okay, he won’t bite.”

“…I’m not afraid of being bitten. I am afraid because he is big and he could crush me.

Richard turned so he could see Susan. “That’s umm… he won’t hurt you.” Richard paused for a moment. “Why don’t we go eat lunch?”

I don’t know. Why?” She looked at Richard, seemingly confused.

“Umm… are you hungry?”

Her stomach growled slightly. “…Yes.

“Let’s go eat lunch.”

—–

When they arrived at the cafeteria, Susan looked around confused, but also seemed slightly excited. She seemed to be getting used to Richard… though she still stood on the far side from Jot. “I’ve never been to a cafeteria before. What do we do?”

Richard wasn’t sure exactly how to react to that, but decided to just explain. He explained that they would use their ID cards (She did have one, fortunately) and order something from the menu. He explained what the different classifications meant, since foods were divided up into categories depending on what nutritional groups they were intended for. For example, humans and Xevaronians could eat the same food, nutritionally, but they were in separate subdivisions because of the huge difference in actual style, such as taste and total amount of calories.

Susan listened intently, but she asked Richard about what kind of food everything on the menu was. In the short time he’d known her, Richard had noticed a lot of strange things about her. Richard still wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, and where she came from. However, he kind of liked her, and definitely felt the kinship between them… even if there wasn’t real blood connecting them. He was going to have to message his mother… and he wasn’t going to stop until he got some kind of good explanation. For now though… well, he would first eat lunch.

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