The La-Iin Series
“At Home with Deki-Tyunri”
Early Wednesday morning, Deki-Tyunri stumbled out his bedroom and into the dining room. He sat down in the chair and relaxed with the air coming in from the windows.
He startled when a cup of tea and a biscuit were nudged his way. Glancing up, he realized his grandmother was sitting at the table too.
Grateful, Deki-Tyunri bit into the biscuit
“Happy birthday, dear,” his grandmother said. Deki-Tyunri glanced up, the biscuit hanging out his mouth.
“Today is November fifth,” she said with a smile. “I supposed I would wake ahead of you so you would not be alone. …it is strange to think you are fourteen now. I still remember you at seven…”
“Grandmother…” Deki-Tyunri started to feel meek as he ate the rest of the biscuit. “H-honestly, you don’t need to do anything like that. I’m just happy if we have a good day together…”
“You should be treated to some specialties, Deki-Tyunri. You are still a child no matter how close you may teeter towards adulthood. And on my birthday, you spoiled me quite thoroughly…I shall return the favor.”
Deki-Tyunri knew his grandmother as the type to be slightly strict–even when treating Deki-Tyunri well, she normally had a business-like demeanor about her. Though her current attitude was nothing new, it had been the first time in a while since he had seen it.
“You may invite over Lirako again this year, if you so desire.”
“I may!” He said. “Thank you, grandmother, for all the years you’ve watched over me. I really appreciate that.” He began to sip his tea. His grandmother watched him drink with a smile.
“You are very welcome, Deki-Tyunri. It has been great to watch you grow.”
After finishing the tea, Deki-Tyunri asked, “What time is it, Grandmother?”
“Almost time for school, so you should be ready soon. Will you need help dressing today?”
“Grandmother, I’m thirteen. I mean, fourteen. I can dress on my own now, I promise. It’s actually been a while since I’ve needed your help at all!”
“You needed help before the dance,” she chuckled. “Heh. To think of my grandson Deki-Tyunri, dancing with a girl…I suppose soon you may even find a girlfriend. I assume Lirako doesn’t fall within the radar though, does she?”
His grandmother’s words spurred a familiar and uncomfortable feeling. He hadn’t thought it would be returning to him on his birthday.
“No. She’s like family.” Deki-Tyunri head for his bedroom, trying to shake that feeling away. His grandmother watched him off with a smile.
Deki-Tyunri flew to school, only landing when he noticed Lirako walking among the crowd. She turned to him with a grin on her face and sunglasses covering her eyes.
“Why the sunglasses?” Deki-Tyunri giggled.
“Because I feel cool today.” She pulled them down. “Actually, these belong to one of my little brothers, but don’t tell anyone at school that.” After saying that, she pushed them back up.
“I thought they seemed too small for your head.”
“Hey, they’re not that small. My brothers have bigger heads than I do. La-Iin’s giant head kinda reminds me of them.”
As if she noticed she was being talked about, La-Iin turned around. She quickly went back to walking with the rest of the crowd.
“So anyways, yo yo and happy birthdays,” Lirako said.
“…thank you, Lirako.” Deki-Tyunri sighed. “When I was younger I used to hate coming to school on my birthday, but now I like it a lot.”
“Because of San-Kyung?” Lirako asked, her tone suggestive. Deki-Tyunri blushed. “You don’t even need to bother hiding it anymore, Deki-Tyunri. I think a few students can tell, and nobody’s really gonna care…except maybe La-Iin, and San-Kyung himself. Well, then again…”
“I think you should be the only person I tell openly about that crush…” Deki-Tyunri sighed.
“Why? Never told your Grandma?”
“No, I didn’t,” he sighed. “But I’m sure it will go away someday, so I don’t see the point…”
“Because it’s fun? Geez, just watching you makes me wonder what a crush feels like.”
Lirako and Deki-Tyunri walked into the school and almost right after he entered Deki-Tyunri was headbutted in the side. He stumbled and crashed into Lirako.
“Sorry,” Deki-Tyunri said. He shook himself off and turned in the direction of the headbutter, and was surprised to see a familiar face standing there.
“I told you you could call me Shin-Rei…I think our friendship can allow for it…” Shin-Rei said with a smile. “I heard from the faculty today is your special day…happy birthday.”
“Thank you, Murana.”
“And there’s also something else…”
“You’re wanted in our Weekend classroom after school…so make sure to drop by, alright? Okay, I should get to class….see you…”
“See you, Murana,” Deki-Tyunri said. “…I wonder what I’m wanted for?”
“If Murana knows it’s your birthday, your other companions probably do too. I wonder if your teacher told ’em. Anyway, we should get to class.”
Deki-Tyunri was in a cheerful mood throughout his classes, even when Lirako ended up getting chastised by their history teacher for wearing sunglasses to school. He mostly focused on the classes, although there were a few occasional times he would still glance in San-Kyung’s direction.
‘It would be nice to spend a little time of my birthday with him,’ he thought. ‘…but that’s only wishful thinking…’
In the end he figured it was best to watch from afar and daydream today than try to muster up the courage to confess and get turned down on a day that had so far, been a good one for him.
Once the final class ended, Deki-Tyunri decided to see what was waiting for him in his Weekend classroom. Lirako followed after him, slipping back on the sunglasses after they had left the classroom. Lirako offered to open the door, but Deki-Tyunri shook his head and gave it a nudge and it pushed open.
As if opening the classroom door had triggered it, music began to play. Deki-Tyunri noticed the students from his Weekend class all playing the instruments they excelled at best to a traditional birthday song. He noticed Shin-Rei cheerfully playing the piano with her feet, sneaking a glance in his direction, and to his surprise his teacher Xao-Bu, who was playing the trumpet as opposed to playing the piano as he normally did.
Though there were some points that the melody went off-key, it sounded much better than when any of the students started. After they were finished, the students set down their instruments and yelled,
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELYSHEN!”
“Heh heh…Mr. Vurinen, I think your idea flustered him,” Shin-Rei said as she turned away from the piano. Deki-Tyunri was frozen in place, so Xao-Bu could only assume she was right.
“Snap out of it, Deki-Tyunri,” Lirako said. Deki-Tyunri shook himself out of his shock just as Xao-Bu came to stand in front of him.
“Thank you for your time spent with us,” he said. “Have a great day, Mr. Elyshen.”
“Thank you, Mr. Vurinen!” Deki-Tyunri exclaimed.
“What about the rest of us!?” A student yelled.
“Thanks to all of you too!”
“He’s just going to keep saying thank you if you goad him like that,” Lirako sighed. “But now that that’s over with….whaddya wanna do next, Deki-Tyunri? You gonna stay here with the Weekend crew, or are you ready to go home?”
“I’d like to stay here…but I think I’d rather go home more,” Deki-Tyunri said.
“That’s fine,” Xao-Bu said. “Enjoy your day. We’ll be seeing you this Weekend.”
With a final good-bye, Deki-Tyunri head for the exit and flew above the crowd of students leaving the school.
“You can come home with me, Lirako!” Deki-Tyunri said. He noticed Lirako give a salute, then follow after him as he flew a small distance lower.
When Lirako and Deki-Tyunri arrived at the Elyshen house, a strong smell of food was in the air. Lirako began to sniff the air almost immediately. The two passed by the kitchen, said hello to his grandmother, then started to walk aimlessly around the house.
“Your grandma’s cooking is so good,” Lirako said. “What’s she making this year!?”
“Soup, of course. It’s her speciality. And one of my favorites.”
“I wonder which one it was first.”
“I wonder…” Deki-Tyunri stopped in place and stare down at his feet. “…you know, I like my life the way it is, Lirako. I feel lucky to have it. Even though Grandmother’s got a strict attitude about her most of the time…it’s just nice to live here with her, and not have that many close neighbors.”
“I do like the height,” Lirako admitted, “but getting up here when you’re not an avian is a pain. And don’t apologize. If this is your grandma’s home then it was definitely built before you were born. Probably.”
“It’s a nice life…especially in the Summer, when we plant together…”
Lirako turned to Deki-Tyunri. “There’s something upsetting you, isn’t there.”
“What? Why would I be upset?”
Lirako took off the sunglasses, hoping doing that would help Deki-Tyunri focus on her more. “I’ve known you for a while now, Deki-Tyunri. I can tell when you’re upset. You’re not doing that self-deprecating stuff, at least, but you’re upset about something. You know you can talk to me.” Lirako’s ears folded back. “…your grandma’s alright, right?”
“She’s fine…” He sighed. “…it’s nothing, Lirako. Nothing compared to how I feel when I think about all the great times I’ve had with my Grandmother…days here are the same a lot, but they’re similar in nice ways. My Grandmother is one of those people you could do something as boring as watch paint dry with, and so long as she talks to you you’ll have a good time anyway. I’ve had a good fourteen years…”
Lirako’s eyes widened. “Don’t do it, Deki-Tyunri!” She yelled, grabbing his wing.
“…do what?” Deki-Tyunri blinked, as if realizing what she meant. “I wasn’t planning to. I don’t think I’d ever say that to my Grandmother…”
“…say?” Lirako’s face softened. “Oh…I was thinking something different…”
“What were you thinking?”
Deki-Tyunri shook his head. “I’d never do that, either.”
“You could do the other thing, though. I mean, an extra confidant could be what you need, given your levels of self-confidence…”
“No, Lirako,” he sighed. “I think Grandmother’s almost done with dinner. Let’s go eat. I want to relax after dinner, and that’s all.”
Lirako felt a bit strange sitting at the dinner table with Deki-Tyunri and his grandmother given the way the two ate their soup. Nevertheless, she was actively participating in the conversation.
“Deki-Tyunri was such a funny child,” his grandmother sighed. “I’ll never forget the days he couldn’t fly…”
“I’d rather forget them,” Deki-Tyunri said.
“I’m surprised you even remember them. You’ve been able to fly for years now.”
“Some things stay with you no matter what…”
“Do you remember back when you couldn’t fly, Mrs. Elyshen?”
“Hm…I think I…no, not before I learned how. Only when I gained slightly too much weight over one Winter! I’ve had a few issues with that in the past…” His grandmother sighed wistfully, focusing on Deki-Tyunri.
“I remember days back before this boy was born. And I remember his earliest days when he was only a baby…I’ve been the one who’s been able to keep the closest eye on him growing up and it’s all been interesting to think back on. I’m sure if my parents were still around though, they’d say the same about me, seeing how old I am now!” She cackled. “I’ve seen you grow quite a bit too, Lirako. How are those brothers of yours?”
“Rambunctious as ever, Mrs. Elyshen,” Lirako said cheerfully. “But they’re getting older too. It’s weird, but not as weird as it’ll be when they all turn thirteen.” Lirako’s ears folded back. “That will be a hellish day…”
Deki-Tyunri’s grandmother gave another cackle.
“She’s sure cheerful today,” Lirako whispered to him.
“I know. It’s very refreshing.”
“It’s strange for me as he’s fourteen, but I presume it will become even stranger as the years go on. The day he becomes a man…and if I survive to meet any great-grandchildren, aheh!”
“…that would be nice if you did,” Deki-Tyunri said.
“Well for me, I would be happy enough to meet your first love,” she said, “so introduce me to her when you find her!”
“That could be hard if he keeps falling for guys like San-Kyung,” Lirako said.
And all too late, a cold feeling went right through her.
She watched as Deki-Tyunri’s eyes widened and his face paled, and his grandmother’s expression became quizzical. ‘Damn it, I got too comfortable with Mrs. Elyshen…oh, he’s gonna hate me…well, maybe he’ll weasel his way out…’
“Who is this San-Kyung?” His grandmother asked. Deki-Tyunri tried to relax his face. Right now he wanted to chew out Lirako, but he couldn’t do that here–it would only prove to his grandmother that his friend’s words were the truth.
“…a student,” Deki-Tyunri said. “Lirako keeps teasing me and saying I have a crush on him just because he scares me…he’s a bit of a troublemaker, so I get nervous around him. But I don’t like him, like Lirako would have you believe…”
His grandmother had started to glare. Deki-Tyunri felt like he was going to tear up. ‘This is the last thing I wanted on my birthday…’
“I wish you had told me, Deki-Tyunri,” she said. “Or moreover, not lied to me just now.”
“You can be quite obvious sometimes,” she said. Deki-Tyunri hid his face with his wings. Lirako’s guilt only grew as she watched the exchange. ‘I’m a piece of shit friend…’
“Why didn’t you tell me you already had a first love?”
“…because, grandmother…because of who it was. And it’s not like he’d return those feelings, so what’s the point thinking about it…?”
Deki-Tyunri tried to hold back any tears, but two rolled down his cheeks when his grandmother rested her head on his.
“Don’t think I’m mad at you, Deki-Tyunri,” she said. “I’m only upset you didn’t tell me earlier…and moreso than that, that you tried to lie about it right now. You know how eager I was to hear about it.”
“He is a teenager, though…” Lirako said, turning away from the two.
“I suppose you are,” his grandmother said with a chuckle. “…don’t be sad, dear.”
Deki-Tyunri rested his face on his grandmother’s chest. “…thank you, grandmother. Also…Lirako has a bit of a point, San-Kyung or not, why would I want to tell you about my crush?”
“Because you love me?” His grandmother said playfully.
The two stayed in their position, though Lirako wondered if they wanted to be hugging. His grandmother drew away from him and returned to his seat.
“But enough about all this. We should get back to dinner, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I’d like that,” he said. “…thank you again, grandmother. But, maybe try not to mention him around the house? I think that’s the last thing I need…”
“I’ll try, Deki-Tyunri,” she said, “but don’t think I’m not excited either!”
Later that night, the trio had become restless. Deki-Tyunri’s grandmother turned on music, and the three began to dance wildly.
Lirako was all over the place, and even Deki-Tyunri was starting to get into the dance, but none seemed to be enjoying themselves quite as much as his grandmother was. Deki-Tyunri and Lirako broke out into laughter, but his grandmother continued to dance.
‘This was a great birthday anyway,’ Deki-Tyunri thought to himself. ‘I hope fifteen is just as great!’