Author’s Note: Life isn’t just about achieving goals and desires…it can also be about finally letting go.
Samuel’s office completed its long overdue cleaning and began renovation the very same weekend that Diwa and Kaffi had taken their first flight together, so Diwa was understandably exhausted by the time his part in the clean-up came around. They’d cleared away the last of the boxes and furniture, leaving the room completely empty for the first time in ages and aired out overnight. The next day, Samuel had all three aanoupii construction experts come in – Tassh, Moffer and Kantah, with little Koie put in the more than willing care of Anna-Nassi, Cole and Mari – so they could give the room a thorough inspection. Nearly everything was still in fine and safe condition; their only suggestions were to clean and repaint the walls, replace the old window, and most definitely replace the carpet with new flooring.
Graymar stepped into the office early that morning, unexpectedly quiet and reverent as he scanned its space and shape, sinking back into memories of his own youth. Samuel stood close by, reminiscing with him. He’d remembered when his mentor Akkree had spent time in here with lolo Daniel, and the days when he’d come in to watch the two of them work together. He joked with Samuel, sadly admitting he was too old and too big to fit through that back window like Akkree could, and advised that it was probably for the best that Kaffi not try once the replacement window was installed. He would be happy, however, to come visit the room more often now that he could fit without fear of knocking so many things over.
Diwa had been tasked with bringing the old furniture to the trash bins, and he was more than happy to see them go. They were at least as old as Aldrine, possibly much older than that. The chairs were easy and both he and Kaffi brought them down to the community center for donation. They weren’t as in bad a shape as the couch was, and they knew of at least three tenants who would happily reupholster them and put them to good use. The couch, on the other hand, was not worth saving and would be thrown away. He and Samuel had ordered new chairs and a couch a few days previous and were still awaiting delivery, so for the next week or so, the room would remain completely empty, a blank canvas.
“I never realized how large that room was,” Kaffi said as they jostled the old couch around a tricky switchback in the stairwell. It had been stripped down to its basics with only the wobbly frame, threadbare cover and sinking cushions remaining. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in when it wasn’t stacked to the wings. Paddir would get nervous if he had to go in there. There was always at least one avalanche.”
“Lolo Daniel was the first to use it for the estate’s office,” Diwa said. “He and his bond Akkree would work together in that room. That’s why that old bay window looks the way it does. When Daniel knew Akkree was coming over, he’d swing it open and lolo Akk would fly right in.”
“Hmm,” Kaffi said, shifting the weight of the couch so he could better grasp it. “You called him lolo Akk.”
Diwa smiled. “I only knew him for a very brief time before he passed on,” he said. “I was just a little kid. You might have seen him, I know he was Graymar’s mentor. Mid-sized tintrite, had these wonderful iridescent blue-green wings. Bit of a conservative flier but had his own quirky style. Gray picked up a lot from him, so I’m told. Anyway, he was a part of the family just like lolo Daniel was, so Ali and I used to call him that as well. He was soft spoken and kind, and he really loved the family. They’d already retired by the time I came around, and Pop and Graymar already took over. Akkree was always a strong flier, but he was quite old. At least ten years older than lolo Daniel. He passed on when I was about five. Lolo Daniel passed about two years after that.”
Kaffi slowed to a stop.
“I’ve heard of that happening,” he said quietly, without a hum to accompany it. So quietly that Diwa had almost not heard him. “When tintrite and human bond, sometimes the connection is so strong, that when it is severed, it affects each one deeply.” He lifted his eyes towards him, worried and curious. “Dee…?”
Diwa felt a shudder run down his spine, especially at this moment where they were both halfway down a stairwell with a heavy and rickety couch between them, and Kaffi up front, carrying it down backwards. “Best not think about it right now,” he said lightly, hoping to dispel the dark mood as quickly as possible. “We’ll have a better opportunity to talk about those things, Kaff. We’ve got years ahead of us. I’ll keep an eye on you if you do the same for me. Deal?”
Kaffi broke into a small grin, his wings lowering to rest. “Don’t we do that already?”
“Then we’re good to go, yeah?” he said. “Let’s get this piece of crap down to the dumpsters, yeah?”
After two more switchbacks and maneuvering it through the back exit without having to disassemble anything, they ceremoniously carried it across the parking lot to the waste bins and slapped a large hand-written ‘bulk pick-up’ sign on it for the precinct waste trucks when they came by in the next day or so. Out of energy but glad to have finally gotten rid of the old and ugly thing, they both decided that sitting on it one last time to catch their breath seemed fitting.
“This thing was never comfortable,” Diwa said, stretching out and looking up at the sky. Five floors up, the office’s bay window was open and creaking slightly in the breeze. “I remember lolo Daniel used to nap on it in the afternoons. I’m glad we’re getting new furniture, though.”
“Has your father decided on the flooring?”
“Hardwood over the original flooring,” he said. “Easier to keep clean. We’ll have throw rugs in front of the new couches. And the window is going to be a slider instead of swinging outwards.”
Kaffi’s shoulders sagged. “Aww. I was looking forward to buzzing in. I wanted to see if I could nail that landing.”
“I’ve seen your landings,” Diwa grinned, prodding him in the arm. “You might make the window, but the angle’s much too narrow. You’d slide across the room, scratch the floor, and hit me in the process!”
Kaffi ruffled his wings in amusement. “At least I tried,” he said. “Balcony railing it is.”
“You don’t mind using that room as our office?” he asked, turning his way. “Rather than somewhere in C, or at the community center?”
“I like it here,” Kaffi said, flashing his fangs at him in a jovial smile. “I get to fly across the green to get there, and as your paddir says, the roof has a wonderful view of the estate.”
“I’m cool with that,” he said, and prodded him in the arm. “Come on, let’s get back up there. Our paddir are probably wondering if we’re off flying again.”
lolo (Tagalog) – grandfather