The La-Iin Series
“Sale-Dessu’s Wish–Part 1”
Sale-Dessu sighed. He couldn’t get to sleep. His mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, among them truths he hadn’t wanted to face. In the silence of the night, these thoughts had come to torment him when he least expected it. He shifted in bed, hoping they would leave him alone soon so he could return to sleep.
“Father…?” Eul-Bok yawned.
“Oh, Eul-Bok….I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You woke me by accident? Is something the matter, Father?”
Sale-Dessu turned away from Eul-Bok and heaved another sigh. “Father?”
“What is it? You can tell me. If it’s supposed to be a secret, I can keep it. I’d have nobody to tell it to anyway.”
“…this isn’t the sort of thing I should tell you.”
“Please, Father? You did wake me. I deserve to know.”
“Yes, but you’ll just get upset with me.”
“Father, please. I want to know what’s on your mind. I’m the only person you can really talk to about–“
“And that’s just the problem.” He pressed his face into his knees.
“Father, are you….are you lonely? But you have me….”
“I know I do, Eul-Bok. But I’m not going to bother you every time I feel lonely. ….I was trying to ignore this feeling. I worked perfectly fine in solitude. For many years I was fine with that. …but then La-Iin came along.”
“Why would you want to be friends with that girl? She’s not nice.”
“It’s not that I want to be friends with La-Iin. It’s that seeing her with her mother, and recently I saw her with a friend, not to mention her V-Puppet…La-Iin leads a happy life. She has people who love her around her.”
“I did say you have me, Father…”
“I know that…but what if one day I can give you full autonomy like I want to? You might want to move away from me. Maybe somewhere else in Bledger. Maybe somewhere else in Vaelyn. Maybe somewhere far, far away from me. And I would never stop you. That’s my goal for you, Eul-Bok. I did try my best. I did a good job for many years. But now I’m getting to a point where I can’t pretend I’m not lonely anymore. As much as I hate thinking back on my childhood….I had people around me, back then.”
“Father….well, is there anything I can do to help?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t think so. Nobody can just wish for friends and have them automatically…and I could never use my powers to manipulate someone into liking me.”
He laid back down and curled up under his blanket, bringing Eul-Bok close to him. He hugged Eul-Bok tight and closed his eyes.
“Mm, yes, Eul-Bok?”
“You want friends, right?”
“Any type of relationship would be fine with me at this point…”
“Well, I think friends would be easiest. Why don’t you just go out and….oh.”
“Yes, I think you know that no matter how good I may be with my powers, socializing has never been one of my strengths….”
“Can’t you try?”
“I wouldn’t know where to look…I’m sorry, Eul-Bok. I told you I shouldn’t tell you…now all I’ve done is worry you with a problem that has no solution.”
“You talk with me just fine, Father. At one point we were strangers, and it’s not like I could never talk.”
“It’s easier to talk to relatives. I didn’t know my Apeta in my earliest memories yet I still had no problem talking to her, because we’re related. I see you as a son, Eul-Bok. A part of me. Other people are too hard.”
“What about La-Iin? You talked to her fine and she’s not a relative.”
“I met her before you were born, Eul-Bok. And it’s a little easier to talk to people when they’re victims of your powers…not to mention, she’s a young child.”
“But enough about this…good night, Eul-Bok….”
“Good night, Father. And don’t worry. It’s a good thing you told me. Perhaps I’ll be able to come up with a solution. Some solution….”
Sale-Dessu was fast asleep, his mouth hanging open slightly. Eul-Bok was starting to get frustrated. “FATHER, WAKE UP!”
Sale-Dessu started to stir. He glanced at Eul-Bok. “Good morning….”
“Goooood morning, Father! And good news too! Remember what we talked about before you went to sleep?”
Sale-Dessu sat up. To Eul-Bok his mats looked worse than usual. “I’m sorry, I don’t remember….”
“You said you were lonely.”
Sale-Dessu’s cheeks flushed. “We don’t need to continue on that conversation….”
“Yes, but I had an idea. Astineth is a really unusual name in Vaelyn. You said talking to your family is just fine. So I thought maybe you could search for people with the name Astineth in Vaelyn. If you have any relatives who live nearby, you could talk to them and maybe they could help! It might be a stepping-stone on the path to not being lonely. I don’t want to hear you say you suppressed your loneliness ever again, Father. I want to help you.”
“Get out of bed and get ready for the day. Then let’s look for Astineths in Vaelyn!”
Sale-Dessu hadn’t bothered to put on his normal robes, and instead opted for the most casual clothes he owned. His shower was short and Eul-Bok could tell he had done nothing with his hair in that time. He seemed to feel casual about the situation, though his words from last night stayed with Eul-Bok. He wasn’t going to let his father skip out on finding a family member.
“Where would we look? I don’t have a computer….”
“We could go to a library. You wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Just go out in public for a little. It’s a small sacrifice compared to what you might gain.”
“I feel like I’m being strung along by you….”
Regardless of how he felt, Sale-Dessu followed Eul-Bok’s words. He locked his house and walked along the sidewalk, head bowed and mats placed in front of his face. He kept Eul-Bok in front of him so he could guide him, and several times he told him he was about to crash into something.
“Almost at the library. Look up, Father!”
Sale-Dessu peered through his mats. A large library was a small distance away from him. He kept his face as covered as possible as he walked into it.
The library was unusual to Sale-Dessu. It was more modern than he was used to. Several different people walked around the library, holding books or looking for them. At the top of the building several avian species looked through high-up bookshelves, while many librarians read at their desks while being left alone. The sight was a little overwhelming for Sale-Dessu.
“The computers are past those bookshelves. You can do this, Father,” Eul-Bok said. Sale-Dessu tried to swallow his fear and walked past the bookshelves, Eul-Bok whispering words of encouragement. They hardly helped to alleviate his fear. He was conscious of nearly everyone around him once he walked past the more unpopular bookshelves, and made sure not to crash into anyone.
Once he saw the computers he went for the closest one. On the computer screen was a picture of specialized underwear for species with tails.
“We should probably close that….”
“Eul-Bok….both of us have no idea how to use a computer….”
“Shouldn’t be too hard to learn. Let’s see…” Sale-Dessu moved Eul-Bok onto the mouse. He moved him in circles.
“Father….just move me as I ask, okay?” He said.
Sale-Dessu kept Eul-Bok on the mouse, every now and then letting go of him to use the keyboard. Several times both of them got frustrated and had to start over. But Eul-Bok seemed determined. He kept giving Sale-Dessu quiet demands, and Sale-Dessu followed each one.
“Okay! Here’s an illegal list of everyone in Vaelyn since February 2013. I know this won’t account for if a relative of yours lived here past that, but let’s try.”
“I don’t know about this, Eul-Bok….”
“Come on, Father! Let’s just see. I’d like to meet one of your relatives too, you know! Alright…Aerui, Aerun, Aeruo….gosh, Vaelis people sure have really similar surnames sometimes….”
Sale-Dessu glanced through the list himself as Eul-Bok scrolled down, seeing numerous family names starting with A. To his surprise, “Astineth” was one of those names, attached to only one person aside from himself. He looked at the first name and his blood ran cold.
“Father, what’s with that expression? Is something the matter? Look, we found an Astineth!”
“This person….I don’t know if they’re a relative or a stranger, but….” He started to stroke his hair.
“What’s going on, Father?”
“This person has the same name as a dead relative of mine….”
“Vaelyn is the place closest to here….things will be easier for me there, right?”
Sale-Dessu looked out at his neighborhood and sighed.
“This place has too many memories…”