Isellta flapped his wings as he walked home. His teacher’s words warmed him deep inside. He imagined them as words on fire meant to warm instead of burn.
She told me that I did a good job and she didn’t say anything mean about my wings.
His wings flapped harder, floofing his hair.
Wait till Momma and Da hear! They’ll be happy for me.
I’ll finally make her happy with me. Maybe it will be just this one time, but it will be this one time.
And that will be enough.
Isellta held on to Maelin. “I’m sorry.” He closed his eyes as her hands moved up and down his back.
He thought about his dream.
Being free and safe in Robin’s arms.
Robin’s hands loving Isellta’s wings.
He laid his head against her. “I shouldn’t have reacted like that. I know you. I know you would never mistreat me the way Preyuna does.”
“It’s okay, angel. Don’t apologize for it.”
He opened his eyes.
“It was an involuntary reaction.”
“I couldn’t help it, Momma!”
“Yes, you could. Get out of my sight. Go to your room. Now.”
Isellta dug his fingers into the soft material of her shirt. “That doesn’t matter. I hurt you.”
“Angel, I’m part Chinese peace dragon. It takes a lot to hurt my feelings.” Her hands kept moving up and down his back. “Jay is the only one who can truly hurt me, but he is a good man. He would never be cruel to me. Not ever. I trust him completely.”
He relaxed his grip. “Jay is wonderful.”
Isellta heard the love in her voice as she continued, “Yes, he is.” He smiled and fluttered his wings.
Jay sat back in his chair and rubbed his hands up and down his face. “ugh. I feel like my eyes are all burned out.” He lowered his hands and slumped forward. “ugh. ohhh.”
Need to stay alert.
I don’t want to disappoint Isellta. Don’t want to let him down again.
Poor kid deserves some hope.
Some good news….
Jay startled awake. “Okay. I need some coffee and I need it now.” He stood and stretched. “ohhh…” He dropped his arms. “‘kay. Coffee.”
He left the monitor room and trudged down the hall. His mind was a morass of molasses. There were thoughts in his head but they were all gooey and glompy and all stuck together. Pulling them apart was too much effort. So, Jay didn’t bother.
It wasn’t until he’d rounded the second corner that one small coherent thought noodled out of the lot.
I’m heading this way, anyway. Why don’t I stop in and check on Isellta? I don’t have any good news for him.
But I can at least check on him. Make sure the poor kid’s okay.
“Momma! Da!” Isellta tried to get his wings to calm down, but he was too excited. He couldn’t keep them from flapping.
His father stood at the bookcase, searching for a particular book. His mother sat at her loom, weaving red, black, and blue threads. They both looked at him as he burst into the room.
“I did something right today! My teacher said I did a good job and she wasn’t mean to me!”
His mother gave him a long, quiet look before returning to her weaving.
His wing flapping slowed down as he approached her. “Momma?” He nervously twisted his fingers. “Are you…Aren’t you glad?”
She sighed. “Did I say I was unhappy?”
His wings stopped flapping. He flattened them against his back. “No?”
She cast a quick glance at him, but it wasn’t as cold as usual. “Then, you have your answer.”
His mind raced as he tried to make sense of her words, trying to draw them into clear, straight lines.
His father came over to him and patted his shoulder. “Good job, Isellta.”
Isellta looked up at him.
His voice was warm and kind inside Isellta’s head: I’m proud of you, son.
Isellta smiled and flapped his immature black wings.
Isellta smiled at the memory.
Maybe, in that moment, Momma was proud of me too.