keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 14: Brown 60
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 13: Slade 47
Derek was doing his best to get perspective on this new world. Compared to his new mother and father, he was tiny; yet he was beginning to realize that they were also small. His infant eyes did not focus easily, save on the faces of those who held him in their arms. But he was beginning to understand that they lived in the woods, and that the green backgrounds were leaves and shrubs seemingly of enormous size. It could be that they lived in some primeval prehistoric forest in which everything was many times the size of those plants he had known; but it somehow made more sense to believe that he was smaller than he had ever been. His parents were, it seemed, sprites. He was also a sprite.
They called him Theian Toreinu Morach; he couldn't have argued the point even if he had thought it worth the effort. It seemed unlikely that these people would believe his story of having lived as a human in another world. He was not even certain whether this world had humans. He was a sprite; he was going to have to live with that for now.
He could sense his gear in three directions, but suspected it would be impossibly large compared to his body. He had no idea how long it would take for him to grow large enough and strong enough even to move himself; at present, he mostly lay in a bed of what might have been dandelion seeds, or was held by his parents. He struggled to exercise, to bring the strength back to his limbs which they never had but he remembered from another body. He twisted his mouth into uncounted contortions trying to bring speech to it. He worked on focusing his eyes on objects farther from him. There was so much he could not do; when he tried to consider the things he could do, he could think of none. Exercise came down to a very few options. He could lift his head and put it down again; this was the most tiring, and he could not do this too many times before he was tired and needed to sleep again. He flailed his arms and legs wildly, not because he wanted to flail them wildly but because he had no better control over them than that. Otherwise, he struggled with the muscles in his eyes and his face, trying to see what he wanted and say what he wanted. It was going to be a long struggle.
He met his grandparents. It immediately caught his ear that when they spoke, they had some unfamiliar accent; and often when they spoke to their children, his parents, and sometimes when they spoke to him, they spoke in another language. It reminded Derek of immigrant families. The immigrant generation still retained the customs and language of their homeland, and struggled with the ways of the new home. The children of the immigrants spoke and even thought in the language of the new land, but conversed with their parents quite fluently in the old tongue. The next generation probably didn't get the old language at all; it was something their parents used with their grandparents, but not otherwise. But there seemed to be some tension between the generations for which he could not account. The older sprites seemed unreasonably concerned that the language be passed on to their grandchildren, while the parents did not think this a good idea. Derek was not eager to tackle learning a new language, but he felt like there was something behind this he did not understand.
It was still difficult to track time. He kept waking up and falling asleep. However, although hours escaped him, days were something he could now notice. He tried to work backwards to the day of his birth, but wasn't entirely certain how many that had been. Still, he tried to take note of whether it was day or night when he awoke, and to track the changes and start counting them. He wasn't sure what good it would do him, but it was something.
Several days passed before he remembered, what he now could not imagine that he had forgotten, that he could read his parents' minds. He had done it before he was born, but the shock of discovering that it was all real had driven that from his thoughts. Now he began again to pick up Lelach's thoughts. These weren't terribly revealing; when he could see her, she was mostly thinking about him, and when she wasn't thinking about him she was thinking about Morani, or about the mundane responsibilities of taking care of them. But it gave him contact beyond the sing-song baby talk with which everyone always addressed him.
It also got him thinking again about whether he could do more than just read minds. Lauren, he remembered, could do amazing things with her thoughts alone. She could talk to his mind when not around him. She could move things by concentration. He hardly guessed the extent of what she could do. If he could reach out with his thoughts and talk to his mother's mind, even now before he could get his lips and tongue to cooperate in forming words, he could start to learn about this world.
He tried to remember what it felt like when Lauren reached into his mind. He wanted to do what she had done, and guessed it must be something like that. He thought about Lelach's thoughts, about how he was able to read them, as if tuning them in on a radio or something. Could he tune his own thoughts to match her mind? Would that work? He imagined how that would be, and considered what problems it might involve.
When he was perhaps two weeks old by his reckoning, he decided to dare it. He again looked into her mind, again explored how it felt, and then tried to put his thoughts into her head.
Are you my mother? he asked. It seemed the best place to start.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #164: Versers Proceed. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: