The La-Iin Series
“HAPPY SEVENTH BIRTHDAY, AI-REIA!”
Ai-Reia broke into smiles. “Thank you all!”
“Even Ca-Miela? She didn’t help at all, you know. Just sat there making baby noises and looking cute,” Reuf-Bu said.
“I’m sure that when she can talk, she’ll wish me a happy birthday as well,” Ai-Reia said. “If she could right now I’m sure she would too. That’s enough for me.”
Ca-Miela cooed and reached for Ai-Reia’s nose.
“I agree with Ai-Reia…although there’s a good chance she won’t be able to talk for a while,” her mother said. “But today is your birthday, Ai-Reia. Enjoy breakfast…”
“I will. Thank you so much!”
Ai-Reia hummed happily as she sat at the table, putting together the pieces of a puzzle with her older brother and sister.
“I think it goes here, Reuf-Bu,” she said. Reuf-Bu glared at her.
“What a smart-aleck! Is this new number of yours going to make you more or less of one?” Although Ai-Reia could tell her brother was genuinely irritated, she heard a hint of playfulness in his tone as well. While her siblings conversed, Zih-Amo happily placed pieces.
“Oh, that goes there,” Ai-Reia said when she noticed Zih-Amo put down a wrong piece. Zih-Amo smacked her forehead. “Oh, and it’s so obvious I put it in the wrong place too….thanks, Ai-Reia. Reuf-Bu might get jealous of how smart you are, but I’m grateful for it. You have the smarts I lack.”
“I’m really not all that…” Ai-Reia said. “I’m just happy to be playing together with you two. Since school let out, my mind has been much clearer and I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with not only you two, but with our parents as well. I’m happy that’s the case.”
“Yeah, me too,” Reuf-Bu said. “Now, smart-aleck, given that you seem to know the precise location of each piece before other pieces are even put near it, where does this one go?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” Ai-Reia said, taking the piece from her brother. “This piece goes right–”
A loud shriek sounded from a nearby room. Ai-Reia recognized it as the sound of Ca-Miela’s crying. The surprise of the shriek’s sudden oncome made her jam the piece too hard into the pieces it belonged with, and the puzzle crashed apart.
“The puzzle!” Ai-Reia gasped.
“Reuf-Bu, Zih-Amo, could one of you please help me with Ca-Miela? I have my arms full…” Their mother called.
“I’m on it!” Reuf-Bu said, spreading his wings. “Sorry, sis–both of you. Your other sis needs me.”
“But today is my birthday! Can’t you wait for one of our parents to handle her? I’m sure Father’s free!”
Ca-Miela’s shriek got louder. In turn, Reuf-Bu spoke so loud that if not for her sister’s crying, she would have chided him for being too loud. “I’d love to, but there’s no guarantees he is. And unfortunately, Ca-Miela’s a baby and can’t help herself either. Not even you with your massive brain could do much of anything as a baby. If we want her to get old enough so that she can make the puzzle with all of us, then we have to take care of her.”
Ca-Miela only got louder. Without another word, Reuf-Bu took off.
“…I can still help you with the puzzle, Ai-Reia,” Zih-Amo said. “I don’t have anything to do today. Mom’s going to be busy a lot making a cake for you and all, and maybe Dad and Reuf-Bu too. But I’ll stay with you, because I understand what it’s like when the spotlight is stolen from you by someone younger.”
Zih-Amo said her words with a smile, but they only caused a grimace on Ai-Reia’s face. “Is that in reference to me?”
“You and Ca-Miela. Though at least with Ca-Miela, I’m used to it.”
“Hm….” Ai-Reia felt slightly irritated by Zih-Amo’s words, but she sighed and said, “I’d love to keep playing with you, Zih-Amo. Though I’m not sure I want that to be with this puzzle….what do you say we color? Don’t we have a coloring book somewhere?”
“Yeah, we do. And some colored pencils too!”
“See, that sounds like a lot of fun, more fun than a stupid puzzle that just falls apart,” Ai-Reia said. “Let’s do that instead.”
“Okay, sounds perfect!” She exclaimed. “Ooh, I’ll get the book and the supplies! Or should I get two coloring books?”
“I don’t mind.”
“Okay!” Zih-Amo spread her wings, ready to fly out the room, but then she stared at Ai-Reia intensely. “Are you sure you’re okay having such a relaxed birthday, little sis?”
“I don’t know if I would have said differently a year ago, but yes, I am. When school started this year a lot of things became chaotic for me. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not really a problem with Malicerie proper, but going there can be stressful at times. School didn’t let out all that long ago in the grand scheme of things, and it’s not a particularly long time until it starts up again. A relaxing day is perfect for me.”
“Okeydoke,” Zih-Amo said. “I’ll go get the supplies. You wait here, okay?”
Ai-Reia stayed at the table, clearing up the puzzle. She sighed.
‘Ca-Miela needs too much attention. And thinking on how many years it might take for her to reach an independence level similar to mine…well, it doesn’t really matter much, I suppose….she’s a happy baby, if a bit boring….I’ll put up with Mother and Reuf-Bu having to care for her this short while. I have Zih-Amo to play with, at least!’
The table was cleared. Ai-Reia sat down at it and stared expectantly at the entrance to the room, waiting for the moment Zih-Amo would come through with the supplies.
“I brought lots of colored pencils!”
“Did you bring the chartreuse one?”
“Mm-hm! Now let’s–“
Ai-Reia’s fantasy was interrupted by the loud sound of wailing. A sudden dread rose in her and she sighed. ‘….Zih-Amo’s not going to arrive anytime soon, is she.’
Boredom filled her as she waited for her older sister to fly through the door. Ca-Miela’s crying sounded for a while longer before eventually dying down. A short while after, Zih-Amo came flying frantically through the door, coloring books and pencils in hand.
“You’re late,” Ai-Reia sighed. “What took so long? No, wait, let me guess. Ca-Miela?”
“What else?” Zih-Amo breathed. She put down the supplies on the table and heaved a breath.
“But now we have time to play, right? Don’t tell me you’re going to go away like Reuf-Bu!”
“Sorry, little sis, but we have a major problem with her,” she sighed.
“What now!? It can’t be that she’s hungry–Reuf-Bu could handle that on his own!” A scent wafted by Ai-Reia’s nose. She gagged. “Oh, if she soiled her diaper, he could handle that on his own too!”
“I wish it was just that,” Zih-Amo sighed, “but unfortunately our dear little sister has basically soiled the entire kitchen floor. Looks like she might be allergic to bananas. It took a long time for her to calm down but now she’s covered in poop. It’s a three person job unfortunately.”
“W-well….have Father help!”
“I promised him he could catch a break,” Zih-Amo sighed, “Well, he has free time–go spend it with him, okay? I promise as soon as the poopy’s dealt with I’ll come back and we can color.”
“And how long will that take?” Ai-Reia scoffed.
“I don’t know!” Zih-Amo flew out the room, her flying erratic. Ai-Reia sighed yet again.
‘Damn Ca-Miela! Stupid baby probably took off her diaper.’ She felt her eyes burn, but she was determined not to cry. Heeding her older sister’s words, she decided to look for her father so she could play with him. She found him relaxing on a couch in the activities room. She smiled and tried to fly to him; when she crashed to the ground, she ran up to him instead.
“Father!” She yelled. “Play with me!”
“Ai-Reia?” He said. “Weren’t you playing with your brother and sister?”
“Yes, but they’re all over Ca-Miela now,” she groaned. “Play with me! Please?”
“Okay,” he said, stroking her head. Ai-Reia sighed in contentment. “What happened with Ca-Miela that both of them needed to be there?”
“Do we really have to talk about her now, Father? Today is my birthday!”
“I know,” he said. “I was just curious.”
“She’s allergic to bananas or something, so she supposedly had diarrhea that got all over the floor. It’s a big mess and they’re all cleaning it up right now.”
“Sorry, Ai-Reia, but I should probably help with that too,” he said. “I hope she’s alright…”
“What was your mother doing, feeding her bananas at a time like this! She still needs milk!” He grumbled under his breath.
“Father, you aren’t going to leave me alone too, are you?” She cried.
“Sorry, Ai-Reia…” Her father said, giving her another pat on the head. “I really do want to spend time with you. And I’m sorry this is happening on your birthday. Unfortunately, we can’t just ignore Ca-Miela today. I should go help. With four people there, it should all go much quicker–then you can play with Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo again!”
He flew out the room. Ai-Reia’s eyes started to burn again, and tears made their way down her cheeks.
“It isn’t fair,” she mumbled. Images of the various plans she had in her mind for disposing of La-Iin played over in her mind, with one difference–
The La-Iin in those scenarios had been replaced by Ca-Miela.
‘If they won’t play with me on my birthday because of her,’ she thought, ‘then the simplest way to reattract their attention is to dispose of her.’
“You mind if I take a bath before we get back to the puzzle? I stink like crazy…” Reuf-Bu said.
“I don’t mind,” Ai-Reia said dryly.
“Please don’t resent us. I’m so sorry. Your birthday isn’t over yet, remember! There’s still time for it to get awesome again!”
“I know,” she said, her tone remaining dry. “Just take your stupid baths already so I can play with you sooner.”
“Okeydoke!” Zih-Amo said. She followed after her brother. “Should we bathe together for old time’s sake, Reuf-Bu?”
Once her siblings disappeared from sight, Ai-Reia felt as though her emotions had been nulled. She head for her parent’s bedroom and got on a step-stool. She looked inside Ca-Miela’s crib.
“Ca-Miela…..’sweet’ little Ca-Miela.” Ai-Reia picked up her younger sister, who seemed dazed with sleep. She felt angry just looking at her. She tugged on her wing and her sister started to cry. She covered her mouth.
“Today is not your day,” she said. “Soil your diaper and cry all you like next April. August is my time. You are not taking that from me!”
She carried her sister off to her room, still covering her mouth. Once she arrived there, she found an old jump rope. She took the rope and tied Ca-Miela up. Ca-Miela started to cry again, her face contorting.
“Nobody will hear you now,” Ai-Reia said. She stuffed Ca-Miela in her closet and locked it. Feeling satisfied, she walked out her bedroom.
“Smart-aleck,” Reuf-Bu sighed. “Sheesh, Ai-Reia, can’t I find one of the pieces every now-and-then?”
“You put the pieces in stupid places,” she snapped.
“It makes the picture look funny!” Zih-Amo giggled.
“Well, we’re not aiming for it to look funny,” she said.
“I swear, I think Zih-Amo’s idea of coloring will be a lot more fun….I mean, of course Ai-Reia will color it ‘accurately’ but at least the rest of us can have fun with our colors!”
“The sun isn’t blue,” Ai-Reia sighed.
“Well, it can be if I’m coloring it!”
“Excuse me…” Their mother’s voice sounded from the entrance. The three siblings turned to see her.
“You three wouldn’t have happened to see Ca-Miela, right….? She was in her crib only a short while ago…she can’t get out of it herself so I don’t know where she went…” Their mother was obviously exhausted, but fear was evident in her tone.
“No, I haven’t seen Ca-Miela,” Reuf-Bu said. “Not since the bathing. Zih-Amo, what about you?”
“No, I haven’t. ….it’s been longer since I’ve seen her than any of you.”
“Oh my gosh, where could she be…”
“Did you ask Dad?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“I can help look for her!” Zih-Amo offered.
“Thank you very much, Zih-Amo. I’ll take you up on that offer…”
“Should I help too?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“But our puzzle!”
“You can stay with Ai-Reia for now,” she said. “I’ll call for you if we can’t find her soon.”
Their mother and Zih-Amo flew out the room. Ai-Reia placed another piece in the puzzle.
“You seem pretty unconcerned…” Reuf-Bu sighed.
“She’s around here somewhere,” she said.
“Yeah, but she’s still newborn-level little. How could she escape from the crib herself? What happened? I hope she wasn’t stolen…”
“Oh, stop worrying about this!” Ai-Reia snapped. “All I want to do is have a happy birthday, and all you all are on about is Ca-Miela this, Ca-Miela that! I can’t believe I was excited to be a big sister! It’s a load of sh–a load of centaur dung!”
“Ai-Reia….did you do something to her?”
“I barely have the strength to hold her. How could I? Your statement doesn’t make any sense.” She focused on the puzzle, her pulse increasing. Reuf-Bu glared.
“I tell the truth all the time.”
“You’re not now.” He stared her down, the puzzle coming apart as he did. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do a sin–”
Ai-Reia flinched. Reuf-Bu spread his wings and flew out the room at a high speed. Ai-Reia stayed there in a stunned silence.
“She’s all scarred up from the rope…” Their mother sobbed. Ca-Miela laid there as their mother gently doted on her, quiet wails coming from her.
The rest of Ai-Reia’s family stared her down.
After Ca-Miela had been found, it had not taken long for Ai-Reia to crack and explain what she had done. Needless to say, her family was infuriated. She kept her head bowed so as to avoid their harsh stares. Her eyes still burned, but no more tears came.
‘This is my worst birthday ever.’
“Ai-Reia, I understand today’s your birthday. I understand you’re upset that Ca-Miela’s needed a lot of attention today. But that is no excuse for what you’ve done.”
“So this is how it goes,” she sighed. “This is how it goes.”
“How what goes!? You could’ve killed Ca-Miela!” Reuf-Bu snapped.
“Just because it’s your birthday doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble,” Zih-Amo said.
“You all never cared about me. I was a novelty because I happened to be a child genius is all. Ca-Miela will likely grow up the same way and you’ll love her more. There’s no more room for me.”
“Oh, just shut it, all of you!” She finally stared up at them. Their expressions had since softened. “I won’t take this anymore! I don’t have to! If you all love Ca-Miela that much, then fine! But I will have nothing more to do with being a Vampiris!”
“Ai-Reia!” The only one who called for her was Zih-Amo as she dashed down the path to her bedroom.
‘Damn them all. I don’t care about this anymore. 2014 has been intentionally designed to make my life a living hell. Well, if that’s what this world wants to do, then I owe it nothing. Nothing, but destruction!’
She slammed the door to her bedroom, sat on her bed, and grabbed a book and started to read it. As the day turned to night, her anger subsided, but her hatred for the world was now deep-seated.
As she read her book, plans coursed through her mind–now both for La-Iin and Ca-Miela as well as the world. Such criminal thoughts no longer bothered her. As far as she was concerned, she owed the world nothing.
A voice sounded at her door. Ai-Reia glanced at it. The door was open a crack; peeking inside was her mother. She scoffed and went back to reading her book.
The lights went off.
“Happy birthday, Ai-Reia!” They called. Her whole family walked into the room and put the cake in front of her.
“Even if you resent us and need time to yourself, please at least accept this cake…”
Ai-Reia couldn’t deny she was touched, but her betrayed feeling from earlier kept her hatred from giving way to happiness. She blew out the candles and accepted the cake, cutting off a small slice.
“You’re welcome. We’re sorry you didn’t have a good birthday.” Zih-Amo said.
“But you’ve still got plenty more, so hopefully those are better!” Her father said.
Her family looked downcast as they looked at each other. Ai-Reia didn’t care about how they felt. Her mother took the rest of the cake in hand. Ca-Miela reached out for the cake.
“Eat any of that cake, Ca-Miela, and the next time I take you from your crib, I will hang you,” Ai-Reia said. Reuf-Bu looked ready to snap at her, but he was signaled to stay silent.
Her family left the room. Ai-Reia bit into her cake. Blood streamed down her throat. Finally, she felt at peace.