Regaul has a new friend...kind of. A story about a little alien boy who just wants to keep what's his and the various kinds of loss that exist in this tiny universe of ours.
He picked up the little creature. Regaul liked how its skin felt on his own. It was soft. He wondered what sort of things the creature could do. His own pet could do many tricks: Jump, fetch things, speak, and even follow unspoken commands. Would this new pet do tricks? Regaul wondered. He couldn't wait to find out the sort of things this creature could do. He had never seen one like it before in all the many times he went exploring. It was the same color as the sun, Regaul liked that about it; yellow was his favorite color. The creature was also the perfect size because it was small like himself. He handled it easily. The creature didn't move much or make a fuss out of being picked up. This helped.
He gently caressed the creature, appreciating its soft body.
“Your name is Lo.” he whispered. He lifted the creature up to his face and stared into its eyes, smiling. The creature made no protest to being held, or named. It didn't even blink. Such inaction went unnoticed by the young, excited Regaul. He gave the creature a hug and, after saying its name once more, said “We will show you to mother later.” Excitement grew within him as he imagined how happy mother would be to have a new addition to the nest.
With the creature in hand Regaul continued exploring the valley. It was large, and in the many cycles he spent wandering he had never seen all of it. He often wondered how long it would take him to see every part. One, maybe two more cycles? His favorite so far was the river that wound through at the bottom. The sound of the river crushing the banks, the little creatures that lived inside it, the sheer power of the river, the smell of the river when its level dropped after flooding the valley. All of it excited him. Of course, he wasn't allowed to get in it despite his excellent ability to swim. Mother would never allow it. “You'll be lost, if you get in.” she always said.
He listened because even if she wasn't around mother would know Regaul went in to the river. Somehow, she always knew what he had been up to when he came back from exploring. Listening to mother's words long ago proved better than disobeying.
Regaul with Lo in hand set out along the edge of the river toward the darker part of the valley, where a canopy blocked out most of the light but had excellent branches for climbing. He was so happy he had a friend with which to share these adventures and explorations. He began telling Lo about mother, how she was always telling him “to do this” and “be careful of that”, but that she was also very fun, and how much Regaul loved her, and Lo would love her, too. He told of past adventures in the valley forest, and the river, the exciting creatures he encountered and the many fun things to do: Collecting rocks, climbing trees, pretending to be the ruler of the valley. He showed Lo many things on their trip. He took him to his favorite hiding spot and the only place to cross the river. He even shared with Lo all the names of the many creatures, places, and things in the forest, at least, the names he could remember. When he forgot a name, Regaul made something up.
When they finally reached the thick forest Regaul thought Lo might be afraid.
“I'm a great climber. Mother says I'm the best. So, don't worry, I won't drop you or fall.” He hugged Lo to assure him that his words could be trusted. Regaul wanted to show Lo the entire valley and the plains beyond, so he found the tallest tree in the forest and climbed. It didn't take the young Regaul much time to reach the top and when he situated himself, perched safely on the highest branch above all the other trees in the forest, he lifted Lo above his head.
“See, Lo? We're in the middle of the valley.”
He began listing the landmarks he knew, “Over there are the mountains, and over there the plains. If you look close, I think you can see the nest! That's where you will live.”
Regaul was very happy to be able to share this with Lo, a friend. He smiled at the tiny, soft creature in his hand. The wind blew gently, it was cool, but felt good. Regaul was having such a good time he didn't even mind that Lo was such a quiet friend.
After quite some time he finished pointing out and explaining everything he knew. He tucked Lo safely under his arm, taking care to make sure he would be secure yet comfortable and descended the tree to the forest floor.
It was getting late and Regaul knew mother would start to worry if he didn't get back soon. He followed the same path he took to get to the tree; along the bank of the river, up the steep hillside and through the tall grasses. The trip back seemed to take less time. The sun was set when he reached the safety of the area surrounding the nest. It was very dark but there was just enough light from the stars that he could see Lo's eyes were finally closed. Regaul wished he could go to sleep, too. He thought the day had been very fun and he was very tired.
When Regaul entered the nest he didn't know why but he felt he should hide Lo behind his back. He wanted to show his mother but something inside him told him he shouldn't. He didn't like hiding things from his mother but he couldn't stop himself this time.
When Regaul's mother, Nara, came upon him she immediately knew he was hiding something. Her maternal senses told her he was.
When Nara asked, “What are you hiding, Regaul? What did you bring?” Regaul shrank back, moving slightly away from her. “Don't worry, Regaul, you can show me.” She smiled at the young one, reassuring him she should be trusted. It worked.
“I have a new friend.” Regaul said, and slowly came toward Nara, taking Lo from behind him. With the tiny creature in both hands, he held it out for Nara to see. She didn't show it in her expression but Nara felt very sad, for Lo had obviously been dead quite some time. She didn't want to crush the young one's new-found pet but couldn't let Regaul keep the creature.
“Regaul, where did you find this new pet?” She knew he had no idea that the detter, a flying creature, was not usually found in the area and therefore would have been a wonderful find to him.
“The forest when I was exploring. His name is Lo. Do you like him?” He continued to hold up the creature, not understanding why mother didn't seem happy to meet Lo. At that moment he regretted his decision to show it to her.
Nara felt a sting inside her, a pain, knowing Regaul had named the creature and grown so attached in such a short period of time. She decided it was best to tell him the truth, and explain the only way she knew how.
“He is very nice, Regaul but you can't keep him. I'm sorry, but Lo is dead.”
Regaul's expression became forlorn. With sadness, and a small voice, he asked “Why? I kept him off the ground; he isn't dirty!”
Nara wanted to smile at Regaul's adorable ignorance but as enjoyable as it was, it also hurt to have to explain such a thing to someone so young.
“Regaul, dead doesn't mean he is dirty. It means his body stopped working.”
“Why?” He stared at the creature in his hands, gently rocking it, hoping to stir it awake, to prove his mother was wrong.
“Remember when I explained how you were born.” She put her hands under Regaul's, so that they were cupped in hers. “When you hatched, you came with a certain amount of energy. When that energy runs out, your body stops working. It's the same for all creatures, even Lo.” She smiled at him. “Do you understand?”
“Yes.” Regaul lied. He didn't understand. He just wanted his mother to go away.
“I want you to go put Lo in the ground outside.”
Regaul didn't argue, he didn't protest. He didn't have the strength to put up a fight. He knew eventually his mother would make him give up Lo. Sadness weighing him down, he slowly made his way outside. When he finally got far enough from the nest he dug a shallow hole in the ground, knelt, placed Lo inside and covered the hole.
That night, Regaul went to sleep and dreamed of having more adventures with the friend he couldn't keep.