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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 23: Brown 63
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After that, things were pretty normal, as far as Derek could tell. He still needed them to feed him and care for him, and although sometimes he would talk with them telepathically in general there wasn't much he could do except ask when there would be food and let them know he needed changing. This latter embarrassed him quite a bit, but it was obvious that he had not yet developed all the muscles he needed to get along in life, so he had to make the best of it. His mother told him not to worry about it. Even though he was the most remarkable baby ever born, he was still a baby, and would have to grow up like any other child.
His father spoke no more of informing the elders. Once he had accepted his wife's notion that Derek might be a special deliverer he seemed rather proud of the boy. Derek worried once in a while what expectations he was going to have to meet, but at least he was pretty certain he was going to live. It also pleased Morani that Derek, or Morach as they called him, didn't cry as much as other babies. He didn't have to, of course, as he could express his needs to them much more effectively than most. It did occur to him that their next child, should they have one, would be a lot more trouble.
He was starting to get more control of his mouth, but could not yet truly speak. He had never realized the complex contortions which lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, and throat had to coordinate to pronounce even simple words, and there were a number of letters giving him lots of trouble. This was complicated, he realized, by the fact that he lacked teeth. Still, things were progressing, slowly but surely. It wasn't long before he found he could stay sitting when his mother placed him that way. He would fall over after a few minutes, but it was good exercise to try it. All was going well. But then something happened that was more embarrassing than anything that he had done yet.
He started drooling.
It was silly. The saliva seemed to pour out of his mouth. He desperately tried to swallow it all, but it came constantly. To make matters worse, he did not have sufficient control of either his neck or his arms to wipe his mouth effectively; whether that would have helped he could not be certain, as sprite clothing seemed to be sleeveless. He kept apologizing to his parents, who kept insisting that it couldn't be helped, and eventually he'd get the hang of it. Still, he sometimes got the impression that it was because he apologized for what he could not help that his father, at least, recognized the inevitability of the problem.
Eventually he got control of the drool. He also got a lot more control of his neck, finding himself able to hold his head up, and to lift it when he was lying down. His body was more cooperative as well, and he could sit until he got tired if there was something on one side to steady him. He was getting more control of his arms, and realizing in the process that his eyes were not functioning quite so well as he imagined–he kept reaching past things he was trying to get. He could not work well with one hand, but surprisingly could coordinate both hands to pick up the same object, and then let one hand hold it. The world around him was looking clearer than he recently remembered; that too was a good sign.
Soon he was rolling over from his stomach to his back. This was a bit awkward, because once he was on his back, he couldn't do much from that position. Still, he realized that it was good exercise to do it periodically, particularly if his mother was coming to get him anyway. He could move his eyes faster, and follow moving objects more easily. He also managed to get enough letters into his diction that he was beginning to form words. Still, the effort was so great that he tended to rely on the telepathy for sentences. He also realized that he was well ahead of the curve on speech, so he tried not to talk around anyone besides his parents.
He also realized he was putting on weight. He remembered being a fat kid, and worried about this; but he was always hungry when his mother offered to feed him (and sometimes when she didn't), and she insisted that he needed to gain weight to stay healthy.
The leaves changed colors on the trees; to Derek's still weak eyes it was a wondrous kaleidoscopic shift in the world, from mostly green to a world of color. At the same time, he was beginning to have more control of his hands. He could pick up objects with one hand, and better see how far they were before doing so. He had enough letters now that he was practicing words. Perhaps other children his age babbled; his babble consisted of talking to himself, as much as he could, to practice the sounds he could make. He still had a lot of trouble with a few letters, so he could not always make himself understood when he talked to his parents; but he also recognized that if he was going to get his mouth back in operation he was going to have to exercise it, and talking or babbling were the only ways to do this.
He was pleased to discover that his legs were getting strong finally. When he was lowered, he could hold on to his mother's leg and stand, at least for a moment. He tried to be patient; there was not yet the strength or coordination to walk, and when he tried he invariably fell over. But perhaps patience was what he was to learn in this world; it certainly seemed to be imposed on him that he had to wait.
Then something happened which hurt more than anything he could remember since his rebirth. He could not escape the pain. He really cried for the first time since that day, the first time in longer than he could remember. His mother held him, told him it would be all right, tried to help him through it; but it hurt, and it kept hurting.
His first tooth was coming.
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 #170: Versers Explore. 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: