Another Legacy 2.8

Kiana, for that’s the name she decided to use professionally, discovered with delight that she loved her work. For the most part, she only had to communicate with her clients and contracting agency through email, chat, or text, and that suited her just fine. She didn’t always understand exactly what her clients asked for in their project descriptions, but she was good at guessing, and when she guessed wrong, they always gave her the opportunity to revise her work and resubmit it.

She got to choose which projects to accept, how quickly to complete them (as long as she met their more-than-generous deadlines), and when to accept a new job. In this style, she earned enough to pay a month’s rent, bills, and groceries in the first week, and she even had some income leftover for furniture. It was going to work out, and she was having fun.

For the first time, possibly ever, she had ample time for her own art, too, because she wasn’t on a soccer team, she didn’t have to study, and there was no homework. She had autonomy, and it made her feel that she could do almost anything.

She even had time to explore the city a bit.

One afternoon, heading to the Spice Festival, she felt Case’s presence so strongly. Rarely had he ever been sad in his life, but when she felt him, she felt, in addition to his usual warmth, a new heaviness. Was it regret?

“It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way,” she felt him say. “I wanted to leave you everything. It was all for you. Everything I did was for you.”

“It’s OK,” she assured him. She explained about the apartment, and how, now that she was getting furniture and had almost saved up for new appliances and counters, it was a pretty cool place to live. She told him how much she loved her work, how good at it she was, how the bonuses kept rolling in, how she was going to make it just fine, and then some.

“Plus,” she added, “Now I know I can do it! I can’t even express how that makes me feel. To know I can make it in life.”

She felt Case’s spirit grow bright, and she felt the pride he had in her. He really had given her everything she needed.

She wanted to tell him that, too, but by the time she formulated the thought into words, his spirit had left, and she wandered the city on her own again.

And the neat thing about living in a city is that even if you’re on your own, you’re never really alone. There’s always someone to talk to.

If she ever felt lonely or just wanted company, all she had to do was wander down to the courtyard in her district. There were food booths, street musicians, people walking, folks sitting and hanging out. It was even better than the college campus, because these people all seemed to have time, and not a lot of stress.

The people she met, without fail, were interesting, too. Kiana actually felt like she was kind of the normal one, which was nice, for a change.

And it was beautiful. There were views every way she turned, city art installations, twisting walkways through gardens, and over it all, an amazing sky that reached from city to country to mountain to sea.

It hadn’t taken long for Kiana to discover that her new life suited her very well.

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Another Legacy 1.17

Case sitting on Kiki's bet

In the morning, it’s silent. Kiki sleeps. Case listens to Joe Hisaishi’s “One Summer’s Day,” played by Hisaishi himself on piano, looping over and over again.

He swallows happiness with his vegan BLT. Tomatoes are the happiest, and crisp lettuce is a close second.

When Ira grabs a plate of leftover grilled fruit for breakfast, her #samefood, Case gives up the best seat in the house, so she can have it.

Ira sitting on Kiki's bed

“It’s nice how the sun comes in, right?” he says. “This is the best window in the house.”

Case and Ira talking

Kiki’s breaths come soft and slow, like a kitten’s. Something about having a small, warm, sleeping body next to us brings a comfort that can’t be found anywhere else.

Ira dimly remembers being that size, sleeping on her dad’s chest, rising and falling with each of his breaths. When I was Kiki’s size, my dad used to tuck me in by “squeezing me like toothpaste.” I’d crawl down to the foot of the bed, under the covers, and he’d push me up by the toes, until my head reached the pillow. I slept so soundly, under heavy blankets, with the soft moon shining in my own window over my little bed.

Ira looking happy and thoughtful

“Chirp, chirp!”

“Is there a baby bird in here?” Ira asks, as Kiki stirs.

“It’s Kiki!” Kiana laughs.

Kiki wakes up

“Where Cay?” Kiana asks.

“Case, this little bird wants you!” Ira calls.

Ira hears Kiki chirp

“Not a bird,” she says.

“Would you like a story, Kiana?” Case asks.

It’s the best thing.

Case reads to Kiki

About halfway through the story, the odors in the house are not the best thing.

“Let’s finish the story later,” Case says, “and get you cleaned up first.”

Case and Kiki looking happy

“No!” Kiki yells. “No clean!”

“Fu-” yells Case, “–udge!” Ugh, it’s their first morning, and he’s messed up already. What to do? Yes, stories need to be finished, and it sucks to have them interrupted midway, but also, diapers need to be changed, and some odors just can’t be allowed to linger! And what do you do when everything is important and needs doing now? Case should have realized he was not up for this. What was he thinking?

Kiki is mad and Case swears

He remembered when he was a kid, even a little one, how annoying it was to be interrupted when he was focusing on something he enjoyed. He also remembered how he hated to have his clothes changed. He had to choose them and put them on himself. If he didn’t the socks would somehow get on crooked, and the seams would be all wrong, and buttons would be pressing against his skin. It was awful.

Sit. Breathe. Case closes his eyes. Breathe. Breathe. Sit. Breathe.

OK. Really, he needs to change her, that’s more important. And he’ll either let her put on her clothes herself, or he’ll do it so carefully, that the heels of the sock match up with her little heels, and the toes of the sock are all straight, with no weird wrinkles, and the seams are not crooked, and everything feels right.

And it goes just as he plans. She’s mad through the whole thing, pouting, glaring at him. But he focuses on doing the entire process right, in the most comfortable way, and when he’s done, he asks if she wants more story, and she replies, “Hungry.”

Her vegan BLT makes her forget all about being mad. Crumbs fly! Vegan mayo is sweet and goopy! And lettuce! The sandwich is delicious, but it’s even more fun to smoosh.

“Good to see you enjoying your meal!” Case says.

“Yum-yum!” replies Kiki, angry no more.

Kiki comes outside. She's not mad anymore.

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Another Legacy 1.16

Kiana reaching out for Case

It takes a few months to complete CPR and First Aid training, put references in order, fill out the application and have it processed, and get licensed for Foster Care, but it only takes a few hours for to bond. By the time they step off the bus from San Myshuno, after a two-hour ride spent telling stories, eating snacks, watching for horses and cows out the window, and talking about home, with its new cozy canopy bed, fridge full of apple slices, raisins, cake, and peanut butter, and garden thrumming with bees and scented with flowers, Kiana has become fast friends with Cay–or as she sometimes likes to call him, “Cay-Cay.”

“Up! Cay-Cay!”

Kiana has bright red hair and red-framed sunglasses

But instead of picking her up, Case kneels down and wraps his arms around her. He wants her, even at such a tiny size, to feel that she can see him eye-to-eye, that she can stand on her own feet, supported by him.

Case hugs Kiana

“This home, Cay?” she asks.

“Yup, Kiana. We’re home.”

Kiana asks if she's home

And as those words leave him, Case feels butterflies. Happiness shouldn’t be this strong, and for a minute, he wobbles as he stands. And just as quick as the happiness, a dash of fear–what if he can’t keep her?

“Kiki coming, Cay-Cay!” she says, and Case pushes aside the worry, swallows the happiness, and steadies himself. He’s gotta be strong now. She’s counting on him.

Case smiles so widely as Kiana toddles after him

“Snack, Kiana?” he asks when they’re inside. 

She’s grabbed the tablet and all her attention is focused. 

“You like to read, eh, Kiana?” he says.

Kiana sitting on the floor playing with a table, while Case sits on her bed

“Kiki done reading!” and she jumps up and begins to dance, no music, just the little song she sings without words in a sol-mi tune.

Kiana stands up

Eventually, she asks for food, and Case makes her a peanut butter and banana sandwich, cut in little triangles. She gets the peanut butter all over her face and fingers, and Case finds a soft towel that he runs under the warm water. So gently, he wipes her cheeks, and wraps each tiny finger in the warm moist cloth. 

While Case washes the dishes, she wanders out the door. Case watches her through the window above the sink as she wobbles across the yard to where Ira stands in the dusk, finishing a small painting.

“Who you?” asks Kiana.

Outside at night, Kiana wanders over to talk with Ira, who's painting

“I’m Ira. Who are you?”

“I know Ira!” Kiana says. “Ira Cay-Cay friend. Kiki. Kiki friend Cay-Cay, too. Friend Ira.”

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