Whether you’re an experienced adolescent, clocking at 22 years, or a ripe young 5 year-old, you have mastered the essential art of walking, and are, most likely, able to do it almost subconsciously. Come on now, you probably even take it for granted. Think back on the past couple of days. Were you perhaps, in Meridell? Taking a stab at guessing that darn Marrow’s weight? Or perhaps counting some potatoes? Gathering some berries? You were probably in a rush to get things done, weren’t you? Now think back once more. Have you ever decided to take the time out and go to Meridell for a nice stroll through Meri Acres Farm? When was the last time you stopped and smelled the dung?
I admit, I too had forgotten what a difficult task it was to take one’s first steps, until one day when I was sitting near the Healing Springs, up in Faerieland...
It was a day like any other. I had to go into Faerie City to get some books from the book shop, when my little baby Kacheek crawled over to me and sat by my feet. I waited for her to speak, but she just stared up at me, as if waiting for me to say the first word. At a second glance, I noticed that her little face was crumpled into a look of deepest thought mixed with anxiety.
“Kiki?” I started slowly, unsure of whether I was to speak with a sympathetic or a worried tone, but Kiki did not move. Instead, she continued to look up at me with the same mixed expression.
“Kiki?” I repeated. “Have you lost something?” I asked cautiously, but Kiki still did not respond. After what seemed like hours, Kiki, still silent, crawled a few feet away in a hurry. She then turned around and continued to stare at me with the same confused face.
At this point, I was utterly baffled. Thousands of thoughts flew through my mind, ‘Is she playing a game with me?’ ‘Does she want me to follow her?’ A sudden wave of worry passed through me. ‘Has she lost her voice?! Has she been cursed?! Has she crossed Jhudora on a bad day? Is she sick? Is she in trouble?!’ I thought. I began to grow frantic, and I quickly ran to her, “Kiki?! What’s the matter?” I asked, in a sorry attempt to keep my voice calm.
Little Kiki remained undaunted, and there was another silent spell. She had seemed to be studying me in silence, still as a statue, until she abruptly pointed at the ground by my feet.
I obeyed, and she crawled a few feet away once more. She then beckoned me with a wave of her paw and I, still completely dumbfounded, stood up and walked towards her a second time. Once again, she simply stared at me in silence, and crawled away.
This time, however, after distancing herself a good twelve feet away from me, she (rather unsteadily, I might add), lifted herself onto her feet as I had done, and wobbled in place for a few second. Then, with her tongue sticking out in concentration, she lifted her right foot not a centimeter off the ground before-- *FLOP*
An ear-piercing cry cut through the air, and I ran toward her and picked her up. “Kiki! My goodness!” I exclaimed, “I didn’t know you were ready to learn how to walk just yet!”
After a few sobs, Kiki hiccupped back, “Ace -hic- Ace said I’d never be able to walk -snivel- because -sob- I’m a baby— she said that -sniff- I’ll never be able to do things by myself!”
I set her back down and let out a sigh. To be completely honest, I was very ill-prepared for a situation like this, but if Kiki was ready to learn, I was going to be ready to teach her.
“Don’t listen to your sister, sweetie, I’ll teach you how to walk,” I said. I picked her up again and we headed back to our neohome. I took her up to her room and closed the door. “Let’s surprise everyone,” I said with a wink.
She gave a determined nod, and so began Kiki’s walking lessons. After a few hours of poring over unhelpful books such as Baby Kacheeks, Tonu Steps, and (my personal favorite) One Step Forward, Kiki and I abandoned the books, and decided to try to work it out by ourselves.
After a moment of pondering, I said, “I’ve got it!” Kiki looked at me curiously, and I continued. “The first step to walking (pun intended ;D) is, of course, standing!” And before I could say another word, my wobbly little Kacheek had lifted herself onto her feet again. “Good,” I continued, “We have the basics down. I think now we must perfect balance.”
Kiki and I must have spent close to three hours practicing balance while standing, and I could see that she was getting a tad impatient. Don’t get me wrong, those two hours weren’t a complete waste. In fact, there was much visible improvement. Kiki had started out as unsteady as a jelly blob hanging off the edge of a cliff, and now simply teetered in place every so often.
“Now,” I continued, “Lean onto the wall. Put all of your weight onto it, and just practice moving your legs.”
After an hour of that, I could tell Kiki was getting fed up with all of this. I was too. So I gave her a hug and picked her up. “You’ve done amazing so far--” I started.
She quickly interjected, “You’re not stopping, are you? I want to learn to walk today,” she said angrily.
“No, no,” I said, “I was just thinking we take a little break?”
Her big eyes lit up like the sun over the Lost Desert, and she looked at me hopefully. “Hasee Bounce?” she asked excitedly.
“You got it,” I answered.
After a few round of Hasee Bounce, we grabbed two smoothies and went back to our neohome. After a quick review of the balance and leg exercises, we were both ready to move on.
“Now we have to put both balance and movement together,” I said.
Kiki could now (rather slowly) move around the room, with me guiding her and her holding both of my hands of course. There were, understandably quite a few instances where her grip on my hands tightened to near breaking-point, and her body leaned dangerously to once side, but we were done with that exercise in about an hour’s time.
“I’m ready,” Kiki said, and her grip on my hands loosened.
“Are you sure?!” I asked her, unable to hide the shock and uncertainty I was feeling.
“I’m sure,” she said. I opened my mouth to protest, but there was a blazing determination in her eyes, and I snapped my mouth shut.
“I’m sure,” she repeated with another firm nod. She let go of my hands, and I inched away from her. And at that moment, little Kiki took her first steps. Her first series of steps, actually. She walked, unsteadily, all the way to her sister Ace’s room.
At the sight of Kiki, the Acara’s face flushed even redder than it already was. “Oh Kiki!” she squealed with excitement, “You’re doing it! You’re really doing it!” She flung her arms around her little sister and they both fell to the ground with a crash.
“Are you two okay?” I asked carefully, but they both just laughed together.
And to this day, every time we visit Illusen, Kiki and I take a stroll through the Meridell, stopping every so often to take in a whiff of air, filled with the aroma of an early morning’s dung.