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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 2nd day of Swimming, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 49 > Short Stories > I've Got Wings!

I've Got Wings!

by scriptfox

I LOOK BACK on the first few days of my marriage with Kallisari and I shudder as I realise the mental state that I was in. It's hard to put into words, but I think I'd better try. First, you know that Unis have a reputation for being vain, shallow creatures. While I like to think of myself as something of an exception to that, the very fact that I pestered my owner until he got me painted gold shows I'm not immune to it. Second, said ego went through pure torture before Kallie and I got married. You don't go through one of those self-revelations that make you loathe and hate what you are or what you've done without coming through it changed, and I'm no exception. When Kallisari and I did finally get married, that experience of disappointing her was still very fresh in my mind, and I resolved with all my heart never to do it again. I've since been told that I had nothing more than a case of "new husband jitters" but whatever name you want to attach to it, the point is that worrying about disappointing or displeasing Kallisari in any way occupied a large part of my mind.

      Unfortunately, my shiny new resolve didn't take long to get dirtied. In fact, it started the next morning at the breakfast table.

      "Oh, MonoKeras?" Kallisari said as she leaned into me. "Why don't we go to Faerieland for our honeymoon?"

     I shifted my arm around her a bit to let her lean in a bit further. "Sounds wonderful to me, honey. When were you planning to go?"

      "Oh, we, of course! And... how about tomorrow morning? We could fly up there in no time."

      "Uh, yeah. I've always preferred the lift myself."

      "Oh, but flying would be so much more romantic!"

      "I guess," I sighed inwardly. "Oh, well. Uni-taxi isn't that expensive."

      "But... why should we spend money on a taxi when we have you?"

      "Huh?"

      "Well..." here Kallie looked a bit embarrassed and coy. "I mean... couldn't I just ride you up there? I think it would be sooo much fun!"

     My stomach hit rock bottom. From the half-sly look she was giving me, I knew she was revealing a treasured fantasy, not just an idle wish. "Oh. Well, we'll see. Get your stuff packed this evening and we'll head for Faerieland tomorrow, I promise."

     To my vast relief, Kallisari didn't press the point further and began happily planning the trip. I got to my office and did my usual morning Neomail processing. It took longer than normal, due to my severely shaken and troubled thoughts, but I managed to get through it after I sent a message to a friend of mine, arranging a meeting.

     Late that morning found Achilles81 and I walking through a local forest. We'd both shed our clothes and any human pretences in favour of feeling the wind on our fur and the ability to relax and amble on four feet rather than two. I've known Achilles81 for quite some time now. Although he's not quite the active pup he was when we first met, he's gained more in dignity and wisdom than he's lost in any sort of "cuteness". I knew very well his integrity from the time I'd managed to sneak him out to a night spot (he'd had a horrible time with his conscience) and all in all, he was a Gelert whose advice I treasured. Not surprisingly, perhaps, I was pouring out my troubles to him as we walked. He didn't say a whole lot at first, just let me get it off my chest. Eventually I ran down and we walked in silence for a while, the soft wind curling through my golden and his pale blue and white fur.

      "Anyhow, that's it," I finally added. "I just can't disappoint her, but how do I tell her I can't fly? That my wings are, well... useless?"

      "It would be humiliating, wouldn't it," Achilles81 mused.

      "More than that," I replied bitterly. "You weren't there the last time she found out my shortcomings. That's got to have been the worst night of my life."

      "But are you sure the two situations are comparable? I mean, that time it was something you actively did, not just something you are and can't help."

      "Welll... it's a point. But still...."

      "I think she'd have enough understanding not to hold it against you. It's not like you deliberately did it, or anything, and it's not like it makes you love her any less."

     My laugh wasn't really happy. "Hardly! If I did, I'd have no problem telling her exactly how wrong she was. Uni-taxi! Do you know how many times I've tried to avoid that subject? Here I am, a member of a species that's known for it's ability to fly and actually make a living at it, and I can't get off the ground at all without more faerie magic than I possess."

      "Uh-huh. But have you considered the alternative?"

      "What's that?"

      "Not telling her. If you try to hide it, she's going to find out eventually. And when she does, she will be hurt, because you either concealed it from her and maybe even actively lied to her about it."

     My hooves tried to curl in on themselves at the pain that thought brought to me. "Yeah. She's going to find out, isn't she. I just wish I knew a good way to tell her."

      "Why don't you do it as a sort of history lesson? Start telling her about your early experiences, kind of like you did with me, and lead her to the point that way?"

     I thought about it. "It might work, at that. She's still going to be disappointed, but..."

      "...but she would be no matter how you phrased it, anyway."

     I just nodded. There wasn't any denying that sad fact.

      "I do have a question of my own, though. Why didn't you tell all this to blchocobo? I'm sure he knows it, and you wouldn't have to have gone into a big history session like you did with me." He held up a paw as I started to reply. "And don't tell me that you value his opinion less than mine. I know very well he's your main confidant."

      "You're right, he usually would be. Only two reasons. One, he's actually too close. I mean..." I strained to find the words to say. "This is between Kallie and me, and it's really intensely personal... I just felt awkward about going to him. Sure, he's my brother, but after you have a talk like that, how do you go back to your problem while your confidant is staring over your shoulder... see?"

      "OK, I'll grant you that one. But what's the second problem?"

      "He's a great listener, but he's lousy at giving definite advice," I admitted. "He'll give you a sympathetic ear, and maybe even try to give you suggestive questions, but he's a bit backwards about coming flat out and saying what he thinks you should do."

     Achilles81 stared at me with a mock stern expression. "Are you trying to tell me you got me here just because I'd tell you what to do, whether you liked it or not?"

      "Well..."

      "...and try to abandon all responsibility for having to make a decision yourself??"

      "Not exactly..."

      "Hah!" With that, he swiped me on the shoulder. I jerked back and gave him a playful kick with a hoof.

     After that, it was no holds barred. We sparred, grappled, and wound up rolling across the forest floor until we had to break apart so we would have enough breath to laugh. Then we raced each other out of the woods. For a couple of minutes there, it felt like old times again- old times being defined as those days when neither of us had to put a "one" in that "years old" column.

     I didn't eat a lot at supper that night. Kallisari happily chattered away about what we'd do tomorrow and I was as pleasant and as obliging as I could be in my replies, but I needed to get her alone so I could discuss.... well, things. It was after supper when I managed to get her outside to watch the moon come up. We sat in the swing in the back yard while she finally relaxed in my arms. We laid together quietly and watched the slow transition from the huge dull coppery orb to the small yellow one that the full moon was making that night.

     I was the one who broke the silence. "What did I tell you about my Tyrannian war experiences?"

     Kallisari stirred a bit against me, her tail fluke neatly flopping back onto the swing arm opposite me. "Well, let's see. You were in a secret organisation that did spying and recon... reconn..."

      "Reconnaissance. Yes."

      "Uh-huh, and you were so good they had you watching every direction at once to help see when the monsters came in, and where."

      "Yes."

      "It sounded kind of scary to me."

      "It was. When I was born, the war was in full swing. We didn't know if there was even going to be a Tyrannia much longer. The Monoceraptor was just about the strongest opponent we've ever faced, and they were taking pretty much anything that was warm and that moved to help them out. I showed an aptitude for magic right out of the adoption center, so they threw me into magical warfare before my wings were even dry."

     I waited for Kallisari's comment, but nothing came beyond a soft, "Oh my." I finally continued my story.

      "I was handling some pretty heavy duty magic, all to do with spying on the enemy- and fighting him, too, when need be."

      "You actually fought them yourself?"

      "A few times. Fire spells can work wonders." I mentally pushed back the images of roasted meat that flashed into my mind. No need to go into details and give her the nightmares I continued to live with. "Anyhow, we were all desperate, and strained to our capacity. Me being pretty much a new-born made it even worse. I used a lot of my magical reserves and powers in ways they weren't ready for."

      "That's not good, is it."

      "No, it wasn't. I didn't find out until later the price I'd paid."

      "What was that?"

     I took a deep breath to blurt it out. My stomach, which had begun to loosen some, spasmed up solid again. "I can't fly."

     Kalli's soft rocking motion stopped. "What?" I could tell from her blank tone that it hadn't really sunk in.

      "I can't fly. I'm a Uni, and I've got wings, but I can't fly."

      "I... don't understand. I thought all Unis could fly? It's part of you, isn't it?"

     I shook my head, although she couldn't see it. "Not normally. It requires faerie magic. Our wings are just too small to lift us without magic to aid it. It's part of our nature, sure, and if I'd developed normally I would have, but...."

"But you didn't. Oh MonoKeras!" I didn't know whether she was going to just sigh or else start crying on the spot. She squeezed me hard enough so that I began to gasp for air... very softly, of course.

      "I'm sorry, I didn't want to hurt you, but you would have found out sooner or later. I really wish I could do something about it, but I just can't, not without more faerie blessings and we never have gotten them...."

     Kalli wasn't paying any attention at that point, I don't think. Her hooves were digging into my side as they clasped me and I could feel her shiver. Her sheer misery seeped back into me and shut my babbling off- which was probably a good thing for us both. She recovered after a couple of minutes, though I could still hear the sobs in her voice. "Oh, don't be sorry, you only did what you had to. I'm glad you gave so unselfishly. I just wish you'd not been hurt is all. You can't help it."

     I gulped. "I keep thinking I could... or should. I mean, it's not like every pet fought in the war then--a lot didn't. I did choose to do it, and I was the one that actually did all of the damage to my magic abilities. I was just so blind to my own goals of being a powerful magic-worker that I neglected my own body. That's just... humiliating..... dangerous, too, I realise now."

     Kallisari gently nuzzled my muzzle with her own. "That's where I come in," she murmured. "I can help watch out for you when you can't do it yourself. Now quit beating yourself up, I love you too much to see you do that. We'll figure out a way to get you in the air yet, just you wait and see."

     As hard as it was to describe my original mood before all this, it's even harder to describe what happened next. In all the time I'd known Kallisari, I'd often had her say supportive and kind things to me. But these words struck home so much more, and I think it's because she said them through her own disappointment. She was rallying to my side because she truly did love me more than she did her own dreams, and as that realisation sank in I began to feel that I could literally float to the moon high above us. Suddenly, sitting still was the last thing I wanted to do. I grabbed Kallisari's hooves and we immediately began an impromptu ring dance around the backyard. It was a good thing we didn't have any close neighbours to hear our laughter, or they would have been sure that we were nuts. In fact, I was figuring much the same thing, but I didn't care--I was enjoying it! I looked gleefully at Kalli as we spun around, locked hoof to hoof, and I couldn't help but bubble over with happiness and pride as she grinned back at me.

     I fluttered my useless feathers behind me sharply. "Look at me!" I cried, "I've got wings!" and we laughed all the harder as we spun under the moonlight.

The End

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