The La-Iin Series
“Discovery of the Child Prodigy”
In recent years, things had become slightly strange within the Vampiris family.
Not many years ago, the family had welcomed their third child, Ai-Reia. All the family had been excited to meet her, and her birth had been a celebrated event. But as she got older, she began to display a curious ability.
“When can I go to school, Mommy?” She would ask. “I wanna see what it’s like.”
“Ai-Reia, you’re a very young Vampire,” she would tell her. “You’re not old enough for any kind of school.”
She began to pout. “Why can Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo go to school, then?”
“They’re old enough for it. They were born many years before you, so they are a lot older than you in years.”
Ai-Reia glared. “You’ll be able to go to school soon enough, so don’t rush things, alright?”
At around age two, Ai-Reia had begun to display smarts neither of their other children had. And though she talked in simple words, she communicated quite well with the rest of her family. She would try to read books and sneak glances at her siblings’ homework. To her parents, it was incredibly peculiar behavior.
And it was slightly worrisome. When around family or in public, they tried to suppress it to the best of their ability, but that always led to Ai-Reia becoming frustrated with them later on.
As she got older, her smarts only increased, and she had begun to communicate better. Her mother noticed she was getting quite good at reading as well–she had started out only able to read a few words, but she could now read children’s books and some simple novels without much assistance.
Although everyone in her family was proud of her, they were also very worried.
“I don’t doubt that Ai-Reia is a child prodigy,” her father said to her mother one day. “But why are the signs showing so early? No, forget that. Why can she read at four? Why can she talk so well at four? Don’t the most obvious signs usually show up later in life?”
“It’s really amazing. But I’m scared of what the media might make of it if they find out somehow…”
“I feel the same way. The truth is, I don’t want to ask Ai-Reia to suppress her smarts this way. I want her to show them off with pride if that’s what she wants, send her to school, let her walk around and talk and read. If we lived in a perfect world, I’d let her do just that, but we don’t. She’s incredibly young to be showing such strong signs of being a child prodigy. She might even be the youngest one.”
“The youngest Vampire child prodigy I had heard of was nineteen years old. Ai-Reia is just four, and she was showing strong signs at two. And anyway, well…even though I want her to be able to show her smarts, I also don’t want her growing up too fast. She’s learning a lot just by observing or reading. I don’t want her to become a mini-adult at ten or something like that. That’d just be ridiculous.”
“I agree. But we can’t keep it a secret forever, either. Someday, someone is going to notice that Ai-Reia is smarter than most other Vampires her age.”
“I know they will. I just hope that the day that happens, Ai-Reia’s a little bit older.”
Elsewhere in the house, Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo were playing with Ai-Reia.
“Now, find the missing marble under one of these buckets! Were you paying close enough attention to see which one it was in!?” Zih-Amo exclaimed.
“It’s in the middle one,” Ai-Reia said simply. “This game is boring, Zih-Amo. Can’t we do something more fun?”
“You don’t think this is fun, Ai-Reia?” Reuf-Bu asked. “Well, what do you want to do?”
“I think a puzzle would be fun.” Zih-Amo’s face lit up, but Ai-Reia soon followed it with, “But not one of those ones with the chunky pieces. I want the ones with the tiny pieces.”
“But those ones are too hard,” Zih-Amo whined.
“Why do you want to do something like that anyway?” Reuf-Bu asked. “I know you’re really smart, but that doesn’t mean you should think you have to do “smart” things.”
“I want to do smarter things because nobody ever lets me,” she said. “Mommy and Daddy always tell me I have to pretend like I’m a normal baby Vampire, and I don’t think it’s fair. You can act like you want to, Zih-Amo can act like she wants to, but no, I’m supposed to act practically stupid just ’cause it’s weird for me to know so much when I’m only four.”
Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo glanced at each other. “So I want to do smart things because Mommy and Daddy never let me. All I want to do is learn more. But no, I’m supposed to act stupid!”
“They’re just worried about you, Ai-Reia,” Reuf-Bu said. “Even if you don’t like it, it is really weird for a four-year-old to be so smart. And that’s not just because you’re a Vampire either, you know?”
“Although being a Vampire makes it worse,” Zih-Amo added. Reuf-Bu glared at her.
“Well, someday I’ll show them. Someday, I’m gonna be so smart that they’ll have no choice but to let me talk normally in public or send me to school. I know how to read. Mostly. I know how the times table works. I’m learning a lot about Vampire’s bodies. If they would just let me near the potty more often, I’d probably already know how to use the toilet!”
“Well, that would be one benefit,” Reuf-Bu laughed. “Maybe someday I should train you. That might make them take you more seriously.”
“I’d like it if you did that,” she said. “But I know you wouldn’t. You’re just like Mommy and Daddy.”
“I actually think your smarts are really cool, Ai-Reia,” Reuf-Bu said. “But since I’m the oldest, Mom and Dad tell me the most things. And I know they’re worried about you because of how weird your smarts are. I don’t want to discourage you, but they’re our Mom and Dad. We have to listen to them. And they do have your best interests in mind.”
“It doesn’t feel like that sometimes,” she huffed.
“Someday they’ll let you be all smart out in public, Ai-Reia,” Zih-Amo said. “Just be patient and give it a little time and then bam! You’ll be talking out in public! Remember, we’re Vampires! We’re supposed to be the most patient of all the species!”
“Just because we’re supposed to doesn’t mean I have to be,” she scoffed. Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo sighed.
Nobody in the family was quite sure what to do about Ai-Reia’s smarts. And so long as they kept up the method they currently used to deal with it, Ai-Reia would just keep getting frustrated with them. It was a given by now, but they learned to deal with it.
For now, that was how things had to be, for Ai-Reia’s sake if not for the whole family’s.
“This restaurant is so nice,” Ai-Reia’s mother said. “How did you manage to find it?”
“I took a look around with Zih-Amo. This place is normally filled to the brim, apparently. But they’re pretty empty on Saturdays because people usually go to other restaurants. At least, that’s what we heard.”
“I see,” Reuf-Bu said. He checked the menu. “Whoa! This stuff is expensive!”
“Don’t worry about the price so much, Reuf-Bu,” his father said. “Unless it’s 3000.000 vuyong, I don’t think it will be a problem. Me and your mother have been making quite a nest egg for a special occasion, and what could be a more special occasion than your graduation?”
Reuf-Bu gave a nervous chuckle. “Thanks, Dad. Alright then, I think I’ve made my decision.”
“Me too!” Zih-Amo said, waving her arm.
“Same here, dear.”
“I have as well,” Ai-Reia said. The rest of her family gave her a curious stare.
“Am I not allowed to pick for myself?” She whispered. “What, were you going to get me something super childish and pretend that’s what I wanted? I didn’t pick anything expensive. My meal isn’t even 2000.000 vuyong. I can’t eat much, you know.”
“Um, that’s fine, I suppose…” Her mother said. “But–wait a second, what did you pick?”
Ai-Reia brought the menu over to her mother and pointed to her choice. She noticed her mother’s eyes widen and sighed.
“Don’t you think the waiter might think it’s weird for us to be ordering something like that for you? Even if you’re not picking something really filling, it still seems big for a four-year-old…”
Ai-Reia began to glare. Reuf-Bu opened his mouth to speak with her just as the waiter arrived.
As her family ordered, Ai-Reia decided what she was going to do. She was sick of being treated differently just because she was younger. She was tired of being forced to suppress her smarts just because they were unusual for her age. She didn’t care what her parents said, she was going to order the meal she wanted. She doubted they would order it for her after what her mother said.
“Ai-Reia will be having–” Her mother started.
“I’d like the berrymeat soup, please,” Ai-Reia said. The waiter blinked at her in surprise. Ai-Reia quickly noticed that her family was staring at her wide-eyed, save for Reuf-Bu, who was smacking his forehead.
“O-oh, it’s nothing,” the waiter stammered. “Right away, ma’am.”
Once he walked away, her mother whispered, “Ai-Reia, why did you do that?”
“Because otherwise I’m sure you would have ordered something I didn’t even want!” She complained. “I don’t wanna be treated like other kids my age. I know what I want. And I don’t want to be given some kiddy meal to eat.”
The family glanced among each other, looking concerned. They sat in silence as they waited for their meals to arrive.
All five of them looked up. A Birdmix-Bunety stood at their table, a curious look on his face.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” he said. “Did your daughter say she was four years old?”
“You must have heard the conversation wrong,” her mother said.
“I did,” Ai-Reia said. Her family’s expressions became concerned.
“There must be some sort of joke here. Can she count?”
“Um, not very well,” her mother said.
“Not very well,” she scoffed. Ai-Reia felt a little sorry for concerning her family so much, but she couldn’t see what was the issue with the situation through her anger.
“I’m sorry to eavesdrop, but if your daughter really is four, you realize that makes her the youngest Vampire child prodigy ever to walk this planet?”
“Please, sir, you have this mistaken,” her mother said. Ai-Reia opted to keep her mouth shut this time, but she figured the desperation in her mother’s tone was going to give her away.
‘Maybe I was a little too harsh,’ she thought. ‘Maybe they have a good reason for not wanting people to know. Still, that doesn’t mean they should just order me kiddy meals and treat me like I’m stupid. That’s inexcusable.’
“This is amazing,” he chuckled. “Absolutely amazing! I mean, look at her! There’s no way she could be much older than six, at best! But I heard the way she talked. This girl has got quite a brain!”
“Can you leave us alone?” Reuf-Bu said.
“I suppose I should introduce myself,” the man said, ignoring Reuf-Bu. “My name is Morrissie Shuu-Bii. I’m a reporter! And I would love to do a story on the world’s youngest child prodigy.”
By now, other people in the restaurant were staring eagerly in the direction of the Vampiris family. All of them had begun to look nervous, as if they were backed into a corner. Ai-Reia couldn’t help but feel guilty, and a little overwhelmed by the sudden attention.
She wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“Can you leave us alone?” She asked. “It’s not that big a deal.”
“I guess a prodigy doesn’t know everything,” he sighed. “But you’ve confirmed what I wanted to know. This girl is the youngest Vampire child prodigy to grace this planet!”
Ai-Reia stared at the man as excitement blossomed on his face. “What’s your name, little girl?”
The rest of the family at first startled, and began to give Ai-Reia pleading looks, but eventually they began to look dejected. Ai-Reia had an idea, but she knew her family wouldn’t like it.
“If I tell you, will you leave us alone so we can eat in peace?” She asked.
“Oh, certainly! Though I’d love a review later!”
“Vampiris Ai-Reia,” she mumbled. “Now leave us alone.”
The man nodded and bounded off, a skip in his step. Her family continued to look nervous as their meals arrived, and altogether it was an uncomfortable dinner with all the eyes focused on them.
‘Is this what they meant by being weird?’ She thought. ‘I don’t like this…’
“What’re you lookin’ at the calendar for, Ai-Reia?”
“Oh, just remembering this day a few years ago,” she sighed. “I’ve been smart my whole life, but I was so naïve back then. Had I only known what sort of attention it would attract me. Well, I’m glad to have that sort of attention off my back.”
“For the most part, anyway.”
“Yes, I know, I still get attention, but not anything like Mr. Morrissie gave me,” she said. “Although, perhaps that was better than what I was getting in April of last year.”
Reuf-Bu cocked his head.
“April will always be remembered as a horrid month for me,” she spat.
“But there’s been a lot of good that’s happened in it. Ca-Miela’s birth, for one.”
“Which I missed,” she said, venom still in her voice. “I can remember only the bad I experienced in this month, Reuf-Bu. And now that I’m thinking on it, I’m not looking forward to what it gives me this year.”
“Well, maybe things will be better this time around,” he said. Ai-Reia shook her head.
“I doubt it. April will be the same as it has been every year. Utterly and absolutely annoying.”
Ai-Reia’s expression contorted in rage. Reuf-Bu couldn’t help but feel put-off and worried by it.