The La-Iin Series
“Journey for Cloud Nine”
Fer-Shi’s dream began to fade away.
“…er-Shi. Fer-Shi. Fer-Shi!”
“Huh?” Fer-Shi rolled over on her side. “Hello, Mom. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, really. Happy Birthday!”
Fer-Shi sat up abruptly. “Thanks, Mom! …um, Mom? Why do you look so worried?”
Tei-Sheu looked reluctant to tell her, but soon sighed and said, “If you don’t hurry soon, you’re going to be late for school!”
At those words Fer-Shi hopped out of bed and began to get together her school supplies and dress herself for the day before speeding out the front door.
“Ohh, what a bad start to the day…at least I made it here in time.”
“It’s alright. I was almost late too. I’ve found out that the worst strategy for getting to school on time is to eat breakfast beforehand.” La-Iin clenched her fist.
“At least you got to eat breakfast.”
“I don’t always. And there’s always school food if you get desperate.”
“Who eats that anymore?”
Fer-Shi glanced at La-Iin’s wings as she flew across the path to school. “Hey, La-Iin. Is it fun to fly on your own, or is it more fun to have someone fly you around?”
“Flying of your own volition is one of the most thrilling things in the world. It’s a shame I can’t have you join me.”
“Do you mean that, or are you being sarcastic?”
“A little of both.”
Fer-Shi groaned. “You know, that seems like something fun to do. Every birthday I can remember was a lot of fun, but it’s mostly been a lot of the same thing. It might be nice to do something different, like flying for one of them.”
‘That’s it!’ La-Iin thought. ‘Fer-Shi will never notice I forgot her birthday present if I do something like that for her. And it would be fun for me too! But how am I going to manage picking her up? She would be pretty heavy for someone like me.’
“Hey, Fer-Shi, how much do you weigh?”
“What!? Why do you want to know?”
“Morbid curiosity. I can tell you how much I weigh. Though you’ll have to remember that most of that’s head weight.”
Fer-Shi looked slightly embarrassed. “I don’t really know, La-Iin. I haven’t checked in a while. …do you want me to check when I get home?”
“No, it was just a spur of the moment thing.”
‘This is going to be a nightmare for me,’ La-Iin thought. ‘But I will follow through! This skill could come in handy in the future.’
“La-Iin, why do you keep balancing our notebooks?”
“No particular reason. Why do you ask?”
“Because you’ve been doing it all throughout class?”
“Hm. Say, Fer-Shi, is there anywhere you’d like to go today? Anyplace in Bledger. Name it.”
“Huh? Well, I guess if I had to pick, that little district downtown with all the sweets stands might be nice. But then, there’s also Vibrator. That place is pretty nice. Oh! But if I had to pick one place more than anything else…”
“One time when I went out with my Dad for work, we passed by this little forest clearing near downtown. It had a little pond and it was so relaxing. I’d love to go there and have a picnic or something!”
Fer-Shi’s eyes widened. “Oh, but I’m not trying to get you to take me anywhere! I just said something because you asked!”
“Well, I wanted to know. And now I’m curious about that pond area. I’ve been wondering about a place I can establish a base.”
“Maybe I should ask my Dad to take us there. I’m sure he knows where it is.”
“You could do that,” La-Iin said. She lifted the notebooks higher.
“…is there something else you wanted to say?”
“No. Except, you’re nine now, huh?”
“Next year you’ll be ten. Soon enough you’ll be going through puberty.”
“Share some of that puberty with me, okay?”
“Alright, class, that’s it for today. Oh, but, Miss Cahongyun?”
“Why are you balancing those notebooks?”
“I’m building muscle,” she said. The teacher gave her a quizzical look before walking out the classroom.
“Here’s your notebooks back. I’m going ahead. Meet me at the front of the school.” She put her notebooks away and head outside.
‘She said it was no particular reason,’ Fer-Shi thought. ‘I wonder if there’s something she’s trying to do? Maybe I should ask.’
“Hey, happy birthday, Sanhuun!” Zae-Mia called. “Sorry I didn’t get to say anything earlier.”
“Oh, that’s okay! Thank you!”
“How’s it been so far?”
“Well, not much has happened yet, but I’m sure things are going to start picking up soon!”
“Hope so. Well, see you soon, Sanhuun!”
“Yeah, happy birthday again, Fer-Shi!” Shan-Zetsu said. “Weird to think that you’re nine now. I’m just thinking, that means I’m going to be nine later on this year, aren’t I?”
“I guess so! I just think it’s weird that I’m going to be ten next year!” Fer-Shi got up from her seat. “I’m going to go meet La-Iin at the front of the school. I’ll see you later, Shan-Zetsu!”
“Alright! See you!”
Fer-Shi ran through the classroom and the hallway. ‘I wonder if La-Iin’s at the very front of the school or a little farther up? Guess I’ll see!’
Almost as soon as she made it outside, La-Iin was waiting for her.
“Close your eyes, Fer-Shi.”
“It’s a surprise.”
Anticipation and excitement spurred her to cover her eyes. She could feel hands wrapping around her.
“Um, what’s going on, La-Iin?”
“Don’t–look–yet!” She grunted. Fer-Shi could hear her panting.
“What are you trying to do?” Fer-Shi uncovered her eyes.
“You weren’t supposed to look!” La-Iin snapped.
What La-Iin was trying to do clicked in her mind. La-Iin’s wings were flapping rapidly and she was holding tight to Fer-Shi’s waist. Though she was obviously straining, Fer-Shi could tell she was making progress–her feet began to leave the ground.
“H-hey, La-Iin! You’re not gonna be able to do this!”
“I can and I will! This–is–what I’m–gonna do–for your–birthday!”
“Looks like you need a little help, huh?”
“I need no help! Leave us alone!”
La-Iin’s arms left Fer-Shi’s waist, and the ground disappeared below her. Fer-Shi glanced around. Many of her avian classmates were flying around her–Zae-Mia, Cae-Bougen, Im-Dei, Fei-Zhust, and Mi-Kou, along with La-Iin who was glaring at the five.
“Who’s holding me up?”
“Me,” Nemi-Hikla called out. “We saw what La-Iin was trying to do–and failing to do it.”
“I didn’t need your help! I was getting her off the ground! Put her down!”
“Well, we tried to help your friend,” Nemi-Hikla told her. “And hey, if this is what you really want for your birthday, we’re more than happy to oblige!”
“Whoa…” Being up so high gave Fer-Shi a thrill. “Thanks, you guys!”
“Not a problem,” Mi-Kou said.
“You’re welcome!” Zae-Mia said.
“I’m glad you’re happy,” Im-Dei said.
“You wanna get down?” Nemi-Hikla asked.
“Uh, I guess I should…”
Nemi-Hikla flew down to the ground and set Fer-Shi down. “How’d you like your time in the sky?”
“It was great! Thank you!”
“Not a problem. Well, see you tomorrow, then!” The avian students then took off, all six of them still flying.
“Um–sorry about them usurping your present, La-Iin…”
“You don’t need to apologize to me. If there was anyone I would want an apology from, it would be them. Besides, even though I can’t give you flight, I think I know one more thing I can give you. But you’ll have to wait for it.”
“It’s a surprise. Just tell your Mama and Dami to come over to my house before dinnertime. And be ready to walk.”
La-Iin began to walk away. “Happy birthday, Fer-Shi. Even though I didn’t get to fly you myself, I hope you had fun flying.”
Fer-Shi smiled and nodded. “I did!”
La-Iin walked off, soon blending in with the crowd.
‘You know, despite the way today started, it looks like it won’t be so bad.’ Fer-Shi walked off towards home, the whole time trying to think of what sort of present La-Iin might be preparing for her.
“How did you find this place!?”
“I had an idea about where it might be. I’ve been around Bledger a few times too, you know. I hope you like the dinner Mama made. But if you don’t, well, I told her she was ruining it with the sauce!”
“Are you kidding? I love mushrooms no matter what way they’re prepared!”
“Maybe one day I should have Mama make a mincemeat pie with mushrooms in it. I wonder who would like that better, me or you.”
“I don’t know, and I kind of don’t want to…”
“It’s only if you like mushrooms prepared all ways that you are truly a fan of mushrooms!”
Fer-Shi’s heart felt light as she sat with her parents, La-Iin and Mit-Sun around a pond, eating the meal that Mit-Sun had prepared and staring up at the sky streaked with the colors of sunset.