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
"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?"
"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
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,
"It would be humiliating, wouldn't it," Achilles81
"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?"
"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
I just nodded. There wasn't any denying that
"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
"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?"
"...and try to abandon all responsibility for
having to make a decision yourself??"
"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..."
"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."
"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
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
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.