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    COTY

    Aela -- Year 216

    QOTY

    "So she smiles prettily and steals away when she can. Feels the brutal pounding of others around her with a savagery that she has never comprehended—their emotions so vast, their hearts so wicked. It warps her more than she was already warped. It presses a thumbprint of cruelty into her darkness, shaping her into a thing of shadow, a thing of longing, a thing carved from the darkness between every breath." --Baptiste, written by Laura


    [private]  the clock is ticking and we can't stop
    #11
    Sometimes the way her brother speaks of their mother is puzzling to Myrna. The white mare has looked out for the palomino filly for as long as the girl can remember. But Malik references days of hunger, of uncertainty and walking on eggshells, of fears that Myrna’s young mind simply cannot fathom. She thinks of them mostly as stories (when she thinks of them at all), tales fabricated to scare a younger sibling.

    But there are some times when she is not sure. Like when her mother’s face goes so terribly sad for no reason at all.

    Mazikeen is crying, and Myrna blinks up at her with clouds of concern and worry in her dark eyes. She’s lost the manipulation, though she hardly notices, and her mother’s orange eyes are so very very sad. With her barely protruding horns again, she can better snuggle against her mother’s side, reassured by the warmth and the familiar feel of the feathers.

    Then Myrna hears ‘We’ll look tomorrow’, and is too thrilled to notice the strange way that Mazikeen’s voice sounds as she says it.

    “Tomorrow?!” She repeats, awestruck. Too young to understand misdirection, she takes her mother at her word. When Mazikeen apologizes, Myrna realizes that it had been the shape of her older self that had so upset her mother.

    “Okay,” Myrna agrees. This time when she reaches for Mazikeen with her small muzzle, it is not to comfort herself. Instead, she reassures her mother, smoothing the unmarked slope of her mother’s shoulder with her small cheek: “I’m not big for real yet, Mama. I’m still me.”

    Then she starts thinking about tomorrow and how that is so very soon! Her mother will surely feel the excited quiver of her muscles, and be unsurprised by the path her mind has taken. “Can grandpa shift like us too?”


    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #12

    m a z i k e e n .



    Guilt mixes with her sadness when Myrna reaches to comfort her - it should be the other way around, shouldn’t it? - but it does help. Even when she needs to close her eyes for a second and the tears leak out of their own free will, Myrna snuggled against her side and her small cheek against her shoulder means so much. It’s getting a little easier, not shying away from receiving comfort, and she tightens her wing a little bit around the (thankfully small again) filly when words fail her. For a little while longer, she can enjoy moments like these when she is lucky enough to get them.

    Mazikeen appreciates the excitement and the question asked and the change of direction it brings, a more genuine smile forming as she replies. “No, he can’t.” There’s no sadness or disappointment in her voice - Mazikeen had never thought less of her dad because he couldn’t change shapes, and she hopes Myrna won’t either. “But he has orange eyes like mine, and like Malik’s one.” She opens hers again, and though they are still too-bright with tears there is a warm smile returning to them.

    Orange like her dad, like Malik… and Sickle, but Mazikeen has not yet figured out how to bring up her other daughter with Myrna and Malik and the longer she waits the harder it becomes. ‘So we had twins and I tried to hide then but your father caught one and didn’t end up liking her so he made me kill her and then brought her back only to send her away and then he took Malik and turned him back into a baby so we could raise him and he’s actually a year older than he looks and just last year I tried to kidnap your sister but she got away from me and now I don’t think I’ll ever see her again, which is what I deserve’ just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

    “Your grandpa is very kind and patient, even when I brought back frogs and let them climb in his hair.” Mazikeen ruffles the short, fuzzy mane of her daughter as she says this, ticking her neck with her nose. Though the sadness persists as a dull ache in her heart, the last of her tears dries up as she thinks about finding her parents again and pretending she was ever good at being part of a family.

    A plan starts to form - little trips outside of Hyaline. Myrna’s goat form will be handy for the rocky paths they’ll take and Mazikeen can help her practice other shapes while they search. “We might not find them right away tomorrow but we will start looking.”


     



    @ Viszla
    Reply
    #13
    Her mother hugs her back, and Myrna knows that all is right with the world again. She smiles against Mazikeen’s shoulder, her eyes still closed. She imagines the mysterious grandfather, the one who cannot shift.

    Would it be strange, she wonders, to be trapped in a single form? Or is it more comfortable to never have felt the allure of unfamiliar shapes, to never know the thrill of pulling on a new skin? Though she can only keep her goat shape for long, the girl still likes to rifle through the others, donning them for a few moments and letting her imagination run the rest of the way.

    She’ll have to ask him when she meets him, Myrna decides. He has orange eyes, her mother tells her, and she looks up at her mother’s tear-glittering gaze. Her irises melt to the same shade, losing the stormy blue for molten orange that remains even when she giggles and pulls away from her mother’s gentle tickling.

    “He must get that from me,” Viszla says sagely, unaware of how inheritance works; only knowing that families share things (like eyes, and sometimes but not always shifting). She does try to be very patient, and now she will be being her best to be nice and kind to make sure Mazikeen doesn’t leave Hyaline.

    Still leaning against her mother’s side, Myrna closes her eyes for a moment - just a moment. She isn’t falling asleep, just resting her eyes, but her voice has gone a little soft when she asks: “Do you have a brother too, Mama? What about a cousin?”

    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #14

    m a z i k e e n .



    They return to the peaceful moment that existed before Mazikeen had ruined it with her tears, and though she knows that sadness is just hidden behind a thin veil it is easy to believe it’s faded away with Myrna pressed into her side. Or when her daughter looks up at her with molten orange eyes.

    Instead of correcting Myrna, she grins at the girl’s sage tone and nods in agreement. “Definitely got that from you.” There was no harm in not letting the logistics of inheritance weigh them down.

    She has to check to see if Myrna is falling asleep, glancing down to see the girl’s eyes closed. Mazikeen follows her lead and when she answers these questions her voice is soft and she keeps her head turned to brush it in soothing movements across Myrna’s skin.

    Soothing maybe for her more than the filly, but at long as Myrna will let her stand like this - Mazikeen will take every second she can. “I have a few sisters and at least one brother, but I’m not very close with them. We didn’t grow up together like you and Malik. And I don’t know about cousins.” If either Garbage or Agetta had any siblings, it had never come up once. “You do have aunts and uncles though. Lots of them.” Too many. Official and otherwise. “Even though I’m not close with my siblings, you’ve got the ones that were part of the Pack. Your Aunt Sabal used to live in the lake here. And Breach and Daye…” Her voice cracks a little but she doesn’t let herself fall into sadness again. She maintains the smile even if Myrna's eyes stay closed. “They were some of my first friends ever.”

    She tries not to think about how all the names she is listing, all the family she is telling Myrna about, aren’t here. Mazikeen knows where Gale’s family is better than her own and the guilt there twists at her heart. “And Barrow, I can’t wait for you to meet him. He only can turn into the one shape but it’s a puppy and he always makes me laugh.”

     


    @ Viszla
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    #15
    Myrna smiles contentedly against her mother’s side, emitting a soft snort of pleasure at being right about being patient and kind. The sensation of her mother smoothing gently along her neck is very nice, and the palomino filly would have soon drifted off to sleep if Mazikeen hadn’t answered just in time.

    The word ‘Sisters’ draws her out of a sleepy haze, and Myrna blinks rapidly to reorient herself without letting her mother know she’s been sleeping. It is about her naptime, after all, and she doesn’t need her mother remembering that before she is done telling Myrna this wonderful story about a very large family she’d known nothing about.

    Bolder has told her of sisters and aunts and uncles, and Myrna is filled with excitement at the thought of having such a large family. She very much likes all the family that she currently knows of, and so it seems to her that more can only be better. What must a Lake Aunt be like, she wonders? Will she be a seal? Maybe even a nereid?

    Breach, Daye, Sabal, Barrow; names she will surely ask about later. Her mother has so many friends, Myrna thinks; maybe someday Myrna will have that many too. It is a nice thought, one that makes her feel very warm inside.

    “Will I get to meet them too? I wanna see a...a...” She asks, and she almost manages to get the last words out before a yawn, “a puppy. ”

    She’s going to ask what a puppy is in just a minute, she decides, just after she snuggles in a little more comfortably for definitely not a small nap. 

    @ Mazikeen
    Reply
    #16

    m a z i k e e n .



    Despite the sadness that crowds in at the corners of Mazikeen’s mind, carrying the names of all the friends who she has no idea where they are at this moment, there’s a warmth spreading through her. Radiating from the point of contact where her daughter snuggles against her side.

    The simple fact that this moment is possible, that Myrna feels comfortable enough with her to snuggle in and fall asleep, means so much that it is overwhelming. This is part of what she had hoped for when she was pregnant with Sickle and Malik. And this had been what she was sure she would never have the chance to have when she had left them in Tephra.

    It feels like nothing short of a miracle that they can stand here like this, that she had been saved just in time to be able to have this at all.

    Mazikeen brushes a soft touch down the tip of the filly’s nose as she answers in a quiet voice, barely daring to breathe in case it jostles the filly too much and distracts her from this much-needed nap. “Yes. I hope you get to meet them all.” For a moment, her eyes remain down - watching as sleep takes over - before she looks up and watches the gentle tide of the lake, intent on staying right here until Myrna wakes up again. Mazikeen will take every second she can.

     


    @ Viszla
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