The Orientation (Flash Fiction)

Image by Anna Lysenko from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #159

Lisa doesn’t really need extra tutoring, but that didn’t prevent her parents from sending her to Ivy Training Center (ITC) since she got a “B” in the first quiz of the semester on pre-calculus, an important high school course. In her family, an “A-” is a disappointment, and a “B” is a crisis. Lisa is a typical teenager who pretends she is older and tries to speak in a way as if she’s already fully grown with none of the “immature” concerns of her age, but she still has questions and doubts and misgivings, which she would sometimes pester Lulan.

Lulan has been working as an instructor at ITC for many years. She doesn’t teach math to Lisa, but Lisa would sometimes stop at Lisa’s desk to talk with her. Lulan doesn’t know why Lisa singled her out as a confidant. She was a little flattered and thought that Lisa probably needs an older Asian woman’s wisdom or opinion. Probably Lisa’s mother is too busy or too conservative to talk with her on various issues.

Most of the American born kids don’t talk with immigrants like Lulan, who understands why. The kids are too eager to shed their immigrant background and to fit in the American society. Talking with Lulan is not something that interests them. However Lisa is very different from others. She likes to talk with others. She is old enough to drive and so she drives to ITC herself without her parents’ company. Whenever she is not in the classroom, she would come to find instructors to talk to. And Lulan seems to be her favorite for some strange reason.

“You know, Lulan, I have a friend Robert at school. He has a girlfriend. I swear to God he has. Guess what he just told me today that he got a boyfriend now. He thinks he belongs to LGBT now. Don’t you think he is an opportunist? I mean he is probably applying for some scholarship or trying to get a coveted internship or something. It’s identity politics all over the place now.” Lisa says to Lulan.

Lulan smiles at Lisa’s young and puzzled face. She would frown a little bit whenever she is eager to express herself, which is very cute.

“You are right–Robert could be an opportunist. You have a point there. On the other hand, he could be exploring his interests, desire, human connections, and other possibilities. Don’t you think? When I was in graduate school, I met a girl from Sri Lanka, who’s such a fascinating character. She loves many authors I love. But neither she nor I explored our possibilities, and I have been regretting it whenever I think about it…” Lulan says.

Lisa stares at Lulan, a little surprised at what Lulan said. There’s a momentary pause, then Lisa is called away to attend the math class which at that instance is starting in the classroom.

Ivy, the owner of the ITC, overheard their conversation.

“Lulan, I hope Lisa will not tell this conversation to her mother Ms. Tang, who may come to our office to yell at us for leading Lisa astray. Lulan, can you just shut your mouth up sometimes? I don’t want you to upset our conservative clients…” Ivy says.

Lulan shrugs her shoulders.

13 thoughts on “The Orientation (Flash Fiction)

  1. Considering my parents’ Indian background, both them and my grandparents raised me to believe certain things about Indian culture. Then I went to college and read up on its culture whenever I can and was very surprised at some of the things I have learned.

    I am sure Lisa is going through that tough, but necessary, phase.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that sounds so interesting. That’s true with my own relatives too. They seem to project certain image and make certain performance just for my benefit, but I have my doubts and misgivings.

      Liked by 1 person

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