The La-Iin Series
Cou-Riette gave a loud yawn. She was feeling exhausted. An-Tois happily played with a small toy she had given him, and she kept her eyes on him even as they started to droop.
Cou-Riette was still happy that she had An-Tois, but he was as exhausting as ever. ‘I can’t wait until you’re older. Then I won’t have to worry about what nights will be the nights I can go to sleep, and what nights I can’t go to sleep….’
In the time since her son had hatched, Cou-Riette’s parents still hadn’t returned to a normal standing with her. So Cou-Riette spent what free time she had with her friends. She had also started to document An-Tois’ life in pictures. The book she used sat on her night desk and was decorated with various stickers.
An-Tois cooed as he played. There still wasn’t much he could do–he was tiny, even by the standards of his variety of Birdmix, and still incredibly young. Cou-Riette loved him, but she had to admit it could be boring watching him do almost nothing, waiting for a moment where he might cry for food or for a diaper change.
Now was one of those times, and Cou-Riette opted to pull a book from her shelf. Lately she had been reading parenting books, but today she pulled an old novel out the shelf. Mali-Ana had recommended it to her; it was a historical work known for improving the general opinion of Vampires with romanticized and sympathetic depictions of the species. Cou-Riette wasn’t too into species-centered works, but she was going to trust Mali-Ana with the book.
The book was not off to the best of starts, but she was happy that it wasn’t boring, at least. She did, however, find herself glancing at the number of chapters and pages there were in the book. As she flipped the pages, she heard a flapping noise.
‘Wait, that doesn’t sound like a page….’ She checked her wings. They only flapped when she gave them a flap; they hadn’t been flapping before. She turned to An-Tois.
Her son was flapping his wings lightly, rising high enough to leave his crib, his toy still in hand. Cou-Riette gaped. She was conflicted between wanting to catch him and wanting to take a picture for the book. Noting the slow speed he was flying at, she opted to first take a picture and then put him back in the crib. She put the camera down as soon as the picture was taken and went to An-Tois’ side. He seemed to already be tired out from the small amount of flying he did and had started to fall to the ground.
“An-Tois!” She exclaimed. “Your wings…oh, how did I not notice? Oh….”
Cou-Riette couldn’t help but feel both proud and melancholy. ‘Birdmix wings become usable at an earlier age than other winged species. You know that. Not only did those parents of mine teach me, they repeated it in school.’ Still, it didn’t keep her from feeling as if An-Tois was growing up too fast. She hugged him close, and he cooed.
‘I wonder if mother and father would care at all…’ It was a significant event. She held tight to him as she grabbed her camera and dashed down the hallways.
“Don’t run, Miss Cou-Riette!” Someone called. She disregarded him and dashed towards the first room she could imagine her parents being in–the dining room.
“I…I’m sorry….do you know where my parents are?” She asked.
“Your parents? I believe they were discussing family matters in the meeting room….oh, Cou-Riette, did your little An-Tois need anything?”
The man started to coo and inched closer towards An-Tois. Instinctively, Cou-Riette turned away from him. “No, he doesn’t, but thank you for asking! Glad to know there’s someone who loves him.”
“Who couldn’t love a baby?” He said.
“My parents…” She sighed. She dashed out the dining room and hurtled as fast as she could, almost starting to fly, into the meeting room. Her parents turned around instantly, looks of shock on their faces.
“Cou-Riette?” Her father said. He scowled at An-Tois. “Did you need something? We’re in the midst of discussing important matters….”
“Well, I have important news for you, so-called grandparents.” She put An-Tois down on the table and turned her camera back on. She showed the picture of An-Tois flying to him. Her mother walked over to see the picture as well.
“An-Tois’ wings are starting to work,” she said. “Isn’t it amazing?”
“It would be amazing if he could fly straight out the egg,” her father sniffed. “Two months is nothing.”
“You were only slightly later than he in using your wings, Cou-Riette,” her mother said. “So no, as your father said, it isn’t.”
“….so you really don’t care at all about your grandson? I’d thought you’d at least care about something like this!”
“Cou-Riette,” her father said, “you must understand this situation better. We are in the midst of a serious discussion, when you barge in to tell us something we know all too well about a child that is not ours, and it is no significant event such as utilizing his wings at one month or less than a month. You know how we feel towards An-Tois–”
“All too well,” Cou-Riette snapped. “I gave myself a false hope yet again! I’m so foolish. You don’t need to continue on, Father. Go on, have your discussion. I’ll delight in what’s happened without you.”
Her parents said nothing as she left the room. Her eyes stung with tears. ‘I can’t stand this any longer! I need to do something so that both I and An-Tois can leave here! I remind myself of that constantly, but I never follow through….’
She stomped back to her room, making enough noise to disturb other people in the house. An-Tois held tight to her as she slammed the door behind her. She loosened her grip on him and started to put him in his crib.
Cou-Riette blinked. An-Tois smiled. “Ma!” He flapped his wings as if trying to fly again, though couldn’t move with Cou-Riette’s grip on him. The bitter tears she had been holding back came out.
“An-Tois….if there was any part of me that thought you were a curse, it was killed,” she said, holding him close once again. “You are a blessing. Even if my parents have begun to despise me….as long as I have you, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much.”
“Ma!” An-Tois said. Cou-Riette giggled.
“Wow! I honestly thought it’d take him a little longer to start flying!” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“I wish I was here for that!” Mali-Ana said.
“I wish he’d do it for you, but he’s sleeping,” Cou-Riette whispered.
“Wow, but that’s a lot to happen in one day. At least it seems like it to me….” Gen-Reiya said.
“Yeah,” Xhen-Wu said.
“It was a lot. But I needed it.” Cou-Riette said. “Would you like to see some other pictures of him? I have plenty of cute ones!”
“I’m sure Gen-Reiya would love to,” Xhen-Wu said. “He’s been talking about babies a lot recently…”
Gen-Reiya’s ears went bright pink as Cou-Riette went through her other photos of An-Tois.