Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Mika's Birthday

Mika's birthday was yesterday, and I regret that I was unable to spend it with her. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last--she's always alternated between her mother, Laryn, and me--but it doesn't make her absence easier to bear.

Twenty-five. I can still remember the first time I saw her, how tiny she was, and how scared I was to hold an infant. Back then, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a father--I was more kid than adult--but Mika curled her little hand around my finger and squeezed with surprising strength. At least it was surprising until I realized that even as a baby, a half-demon child would be more powerful than a human. She took my heart right then. This was my little girl and I wanted to protect her from anything that would cause her pain. And knowing my daughter needed a father she could depend on helped me grow up. I took a good, hard look at my life and made some decisions.

As she grew older, though, I learned it wasn't easy to protect her. I know the other children were cruel at times because she was different than they were. What could I do about that? If it became too bad, I'd talk to the child's parents, but that didn't always help, and sometimes it made things worse. At least Mika had the good sense not to resort to magic or her physical strength against these bullies. I did tell her do use whatever she needed if she felt they meant her harm. She looked at me with her light brown eyes and told me not to worry, they were merely humans.

That's an attitude she's never outgrown. I don't think she counts me or the rest of the family as human. I'm sure that's some kind of compliment in her eyes, but it's difficult not to laugh about it. Not that Mika would mind. Her sense of humor is one of the things I enjoy most about my daughter.

Besides, her disdain of humans helped when she reached her teenage years. The boys flocked around her then, but I didn't have to worry about buying a shotgun. Mika scared them off on her own. What father wouldn't appreciate that?

I worry about her, though. She looks down on humans, and from what Laryn has told me, Mika is largely shunned by other demons because of her human genes. Mika evades the conversation every time I bring it up, and I'm not certain it's worth forcing the issue. What can I say? And any human who becomes involved with her would have to accept her Mahsei nature.

Demons have a different culture, a different set of morals and most humans can't comprehend or accept this. Lying means nothing to a demon; they shrug it off easily. When she was a preschooler, I had to insist Mika promise to be truthful with me. If I hadn't, she would have lied whenever the mood struck, and never considered that she was doing something wrong. And she's so skillful, that I never would have suspected from her words or actions.

Manipulation is another trait that's difficult for a human to accept. Sometimes I wonder if Mika or her mother are even aware of when they do it. It's as much a part of being demon as breathing. Even knowing my daughter, there are times I don't realize what she's doing until well after the fact. If I do catch on and call her on it, she looks surprised that it angers me.

It's difficult not to be judgmental, difficult not to ask Mika how she can prefer Orcus to San Francisco, but I've managed. It's harder not to expect her to spend all her birthdays with me. I know divorced parents with joint custody go through the same things, share the same regrets, but it still leaves an ache.

For her twenty-fifth birthday, my mom was planning a huge surprise party. It doesn't shock me that Mika caught wind of it and cut out. It was her year to spend the day with Laryn for one, and for another, Mika hates being surrounded by humans. Family is okay, but others? No. She acts normal, but I can almost see her surround herself with a shield to keep these strangers away. I've seen Laryn do the same thing at times.

Laryn. I've been thinking of her a lot this week. Maybe because I've been thinking of Mika's birthday. She hasn't aged much since I've known her, but then demons are much longer lived than humans. What surprises me is that she still shares my bed. I have aged. I'm forty-seven now and have all the drawbacks of a man who's fast approaching fifty. I know about the vishtau bond--both Mika and her mother have explained it--but it's hard to believe a beautiful, young-looking woman like Laryn can still desire me.

I'm not sure why I've written so much. Maybe there's something about a child reaching the quarter of a century mark that makes a man contemplate various aspects of his own life. Knowing Mika, I doubt anything about turning twenty-five has impelled her to reflect back on things. Maybe when she's a hundred and twenty-five.

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