16.381.Ai-Reia’s True Notoriety

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 381
“Ai-Reia’s True Notoriety”

“Mr. and Mrs. Vampiris, tell us how you feel about all the attention you’ve gotten due to your child prodigy daughter,” a reporter asked.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” Ai-Reia’s father admitted. “People keep asking us about her wherever we go. It’s much more relaxing when someone doesn’t recognize us.”
“We’re very proud of her though,” Ai-Reia’s mother said. “We think she’ll go on to do great things. And no matter what, we’ll support her just as we support our older two.”
“What about you, little Miss Vampiris?” The reporter asked. Ai-Reia stared at him wide-eyed. “What do you think about all the attention?”
Ai-Reia pondered her next words carefully. She had a feeling by the look in the reporter’s eyes that he was expecting either a positive or a neutral response. But that wasn’t the sort of response she wanted to give.
“I don’t really like it,” she said. “I’m just like other kids except smarter. Nobody would care if I was older and smart unless I did something important, so why care now? I wish everyone would leave my family alone.”
Her parents stared down at her with a look of surprise. “I see. Have you experienced any harassment as a result of the attention?”
“No, I just don’t like it,” she said. “But I do like being a child prodigy. Someday I want to do something great with my brain.”
“I see,” the reporter said, smiling at her. “What do you think of your daughter’s words, Mr. and Mrs. Vampiris?”
“Well, she has a point,” her father said. “She is incredibly smart, but aside from that, she’s a normal four-year-old Vampire. She doesn’t change her own diapers or anything, at least not yet.”
“Daddy!” Ai-Reia screeched. He chuckled. “See? I get where she’s coming from there. She’s smart, but she’s a normal girl otherwise. There are plenty of smart people out there who are as smart as she is and older, and nobody cares about them. So why care so much just because it’s a little kid who happens to be smart?”
“This level of intelligence is unprecedented in a Pureblood Vampire of age four, however,” the reporter said. “She’ll go down in history for her smarts, you realize?”
“People have told us,” her mother said. “And it’s amazing that that’s the case. But she’s still our little girl. I don’t want her growing up just yet!”

***

Ai-Reia heaved a sigh. She was incredibly bored. Normally their parents went out on their own to shop, and left Reuf-Bu or more recently, Zih-Amo to watch the house. But this time, before they left, both of her older siblings protested that they wanted to be there to watch what they picked up. Now the whole family was out for a shopping trip, and by now, her boredom was giving way to irritation.
‘It’d be one thing if it was only a few of us, but there’s five of us walking around the store together,’ she thought. ‘And one freeloader…’
Ca-Miela was strapped to her father and as opposed to Ai-Reia, seemed to be enjoying the shopping trip. Constantly she glanced around the store as if curious about everything in it, and would reach out for the shelves as if trying to grab something to throw in the cart. Once she had started to wail because she could not reach something on the shelf.
‘They don’t notice your pettiness, but I do,’ she thought to herself. ‘Thankfully they didn’t in that case. Otherwise your coddling might end up going too far.’
She was ready for the shopping trip to be over. As opposed to her family, who moved through the aisles fairly swiftly, Ai-Reia trudged behind. ‘I wish I knew what they wanted. Then I could help them and make this trip go faster.’
Seeing them discussing whether or not to buy a head of lettuce, she scoffed. ‘Of course, them not being so indecisive would help too.”
“Hey, is that the Vampirises?”
Except for Ca-Miela, all the members of the family turned around when they heard the voice. Two teenage girls, one a Goathoof and the other a Catori, walked up to the family with wide smiles on their faces.
“It is you guys!” The Goathoof girl shrieked. “Oh my gosh, how did you keep out the public eye for so long?”
“We’ve been staying on the lowdown,” her father chuckled, though Ai-Reia could tell he was uneasy. “Um, nice to see you. We should get on with our shopping trip, thou–”
“Oh, my gosh. You have a new baby?” Said the Goathoof girl, ignoring him and staring at Ca-Miela with wide eyes.
“Yes,” her mother said, eyeing the two girls warily. “Her name is Ca-Miela.”
“How cuuuute!” The Catori girl cooed. Ca-Miela gave a squeal in response. “Aw, I think she likes me!”
“She likes a lot of people,” her father said.
“Are you here to talk to Ai-Reia…?” Her mother asked.
“Getting straight to the point, huh?” The Goathoof girl said. “Yeah, we were. But she doesn’t seem all that pleased to see us.”
“I remember that interview back when she was four. She said she didn’t wanna be treated special just ’cause she’s a prodigy.”
“Yeah, but still. She’s like what, seven now? That’s still really young for a Vampire, and I hear she’s going to school now.”
Ai-Reia shied away. Recently when she had gone out with her family, they hadn’t run into this sort of problem. She had thought that things were starting to change, that the attention drawn to her would wane after some time and nobody would care anymore.
‘I guess I was a fool,’ she thought. ‘There’s always people who are going to think of me as a novelty…’
“Still, your new baby’s cute though,” the Catori girl said. “Think she’ll be a child prodigy just like her big sister?”
“Well, their older two children weren’t,” the Goathoof girl said, shooting a look at Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo. Both gave indignant looks in response, and Reuf-Bu’s wings had started to flap in annoyance.
Ai-Reia, on the other hand, found herself listening in on the conversation.
“Yeah, but they were before Ai-Reia. Ca-Miela here is after. Maybe she’ll end up being even smarter than her sister. Maybe she’ll break her record!”
“Well, I think she breaks the record in cuteness,” the Catori girl said, “although maybe that’s just ’cause she’s a baby.”
“We’re glad you think she’s cute, but we really need to get going now,” her father said. Her mother, Reuf-Bu, and Zih-Amo nodded.
“Sure, sure. Wouldn’t want your kids to suffer ’cause of us.” The two waved, then walked off in the opposite direction. Ai-Reia caught Zih-Amo glare back at them and growl.
“Some people are so rude,” Reuf-Bu said.
“I know, but you learn to put up with them…” Her mother sighed.
“Still, we haven’t gotten attention like that in a while. I thought everyone stopped caring about Ai-Reia being a child prodigy, or that they listened to what she said, but I guess there are always exceptions.”
Ai-Reia heard her family’s words, but she found herself slightly distracted. She could notice a few people watching them now with curious glances, some who seemed to be trying to spot either her or Ca-Miela–she couldn’t tell.
‘Those two girls were excited by Ca-Miela, though,’ she thought. ‘And maybe if Ca-Miela was a child prodigy, she’d get a lot more attention. Maybe if she ends up being a prodigy, she’ll end up going to college or something instead of being a first-grader in a multi-grade school…’
The thought made her feel ashamed of herself. ‘It’s just the public. They always move on. Of course they’d be curious about the prodigy Ai-Reia’s new younger sister. Of course they’d have questions and ask if she might be a prodigy too. The public doesn’t matter, my friends and family do.
‘But I hope Ca-Miela never gets the kind of attention I did.’
She knew the wish was selfish, for her reasons for wanting such a thing was so that Ca-Miela wouldn’t go down in history like she would.
‘I need to stop being so petty,’ she thought. ‘But it feels like Ca-Miela’s taken a lot away from me. When I think about it, she and La-Iin are like a combination destroying my life. She’s destroying my home life, and La-Iin my school life…’
“Ai-Reia? You in there?”
She glanced up at Reuf-Bu. “Distracted?”
“Um, yes, I guess so.” She sighed. “Do you ever feel like you have a one-track mind, Reuf-Bu?”
“Yeah, sometimes. It’s hard to get some things off your mind when they make it in there. A bad accident, a pretty girl…” He blinked. “Why’d ya ask?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “I think I’ve been focusing on the same few things in my life the past few months.”
“Well, find something else to do. Sorry if it doesn’t sound so helpful, but it’s the best I could come up with.”
“It’s fine. And I know. I just…”
She hesitated, unsure of whether or not to tell Reuf-Bu about such petty feelings.
“You just what?”
“…I guess I’m just distracted because I didn’t expect to run into any public attention after all this time,” she said.
“It’s alright. I’m kinda distracted by it too. It’s like, finally, my sister’s a normal person, and then these girls come up and give you and Ca-Miela attention like that…” He sighed. “It pissed me off, but it also made me jealous. Been a while since I’ve felt that way about you getting attention, so it was weird.”
“You really got jealous?”
“Why do you sound so surprised by that?” As they continued talking, the family reached checkout. “It’s practically a given to be jealous of younger siblings. Zih-Amo’s a weirdo and doesn’t really get jealous, but I know I’ve felt it before. She was the first one after me, and she needed help, but I wanted all the attention. Then you came, and you ended up a child prodigy, and it felt like the media was acting like me and Zih-Amo didn’t exist, and it was aggravating…Ca-Miela hasn’t been that bad, but she still needs all this help, and I won’t deny thinking she’s a little attention whore sometimes.” He covered his mouth. “I mean attention hog, attention hog!”
“I heard you the first time,” she giggled. Reuf-Bu smiled. “It’s just a matter of wanting some attention too, you know? A lot of people want to be important, and I’m no different. I don’t blame you for not wanting that though, after all the attention you got so early on.”
“Thank you, Reuf-Bu,” Ai-Reia said.
“Huh? Why?”
“Well…I think you know about my jealousy of Ca-Miela,” she said. “Knowing that that’s normal is a good thing for me. Tell me, are you still jealous of me and Zih-Amo even now that we’re not babies anymore?”
“Uh, yeah. You’re probably smarter than I am. Well, I do know a few things you don’t, but you’ll know them someday…”
“I wonder if I understand normal sometimes,” Ai-Reia said. “I started off smart and got all sorts of attention because of it so early on. And while other children are out playing and being, well, children, I know all these things they don’t know yet, and I feel like I act a lot more mature than they do…but that’s all getting off track. Thank you, Reuf-Bu. Maybe all I needed was to hear someone else say they’re jealous too.”
“…you’re still a little kid, Ai-Reia,” Reuf-Bu said. “It’s nice to see that.”
Ai-Reia stared up at Ca-Miela. ‘She might feel the same way I do if she gets a younger sibling someday in the future,’ she thought to herself. ‘I don’t like you now, but I owe it to you to make you into someone I do like. And someone who isn’t followed around by people like this.’
At the same time, she couldn’t help but feel irritated while watching Ca-Miela grunt in frustration as she tried to wriggle out the carrier. ‘I hope I can take you as you are for that long, though.’

—–
Reuf-Bu walked into his parent’s room. Ai-Reia’s crib was set up inside. Ai-Reia lie inside the crib fast asleep.
“Child prodigy or not, she’s still just a baby,” he sighed. “Don’t worry, Ai-Reia. Your big brother will let you be a kid, even if the rest of the world won’t.”
Ai-Reia cooed in her sleep. With a smile, he walked out the bedroom.

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