Rise of Glie Chapter 3
Previous: Rise of Glie Chapter 2: A New Old Home
FHD Remix: The Rise of Glie
Chapter 3: Sorrow, Meet Sorrow
"Oh, not everyone has wings?" Aware remarks as they arrive back at the camp. It is still called a "camp" simply because it isn't where the city once was. It is a bustling little village with two streets and about twenty adobe buildings, all of very similar shade and profile. The forest over the hill is very young, with few trees taller than he is.
An old man approaches him, with a grey hair and even greyer beard and a very scowly look on his face.
"Kasei-san," Hagane says, "this is the first haibane of Old Home, Aware, meaning Sorrow after his cocoon dream."
Aware takes a deep bow, and says, "Ohayoo Gozaimasu." The dainty robe and gyrations of his new halo contrast sharply with the formality of the moment, and it is everything Hagane can do to keep from bursting out in laughter.
As Aware comes back upright, he sees an unaccustomed smile on Kasei's face, "Very well, Hagane. He has three days of rest, then find him something to do." Kasei walks away.
Aware seems more than a little nervous.
"Don't worry, friend," Hagane says, "The place is finally starting to loosen up. This way first, to Janice's shop. We need to get you into some proper clothes."
Aware feels very awkward at all the attention he's getting, especially from a young man who looks very much like him, of similar height and build, but with wider eyes that scare him, even though all he sees is curiosity. His hair is a bit lighter and a lot shorter. He turns away first, returning to his business of cutting wooden implements with a treadle powered table-saw. It looks like very hard work to get enough speed in the iron flywheel that the saw blade will continue to spin reliably for him.
In Janice's shop, she takes a few quick measurements with a string, and then browses a shelf for an outfit. Returning with a shirt and pants, she says, "I'll quickly hem these up," referring to the pants, "and this'll be a bit tight in the shoulders, but should be okay."
While she works on the pants, Hagane gets him two pair of socks and underwear and explains, "Take very good care of these, the used material acceptable for haibane use is getting hard to come by."
"Used?" Aware asks.
"We haibane are not allowed to own anything of new manufacture," Hagane explains, "Only things that the humans no longer need."
His gaze falls to the floor and he whispers quietly, "Aware desu."
"I know it's sad," Hagane confirms.
The blonde human tailor returns with his pants, and says, "You should get into these right away, Aware-san. You look as rediculous as you feel." After handing him the pants, she takes the shirt and says, "And now, for the first haibane to emerge since the battle, my extra special service."
Aware watches as she cuts openings for his wings, then starts work on a very advanced looking white sewing machine jimmy-rigged to a treadle. It looks as though the belt from the treadle turns a flywheel sprocketed to a spot where there must have been an electric motor. The machine runs so quietly and smoothly that he can't stop staring at it. Hagane finally persuades him to duck into the fitting room and get dressed.
By the time the timid newborn emerges from the fitting room in pants, and socks, his new shirt is ready. Hagane helps him get his sore wings through the new openings, and finally Aware looks like a normal citizen of-
Back on "main" street, he explains to Aware that the three days of rest Kasei referred to was to help him get used to his new world, and then he would have to start work or go hungry. Fortunately, Aware gets his first meal free, a soup containing something called "canned goose", which doesn't taste even slightly familiar.
The small white grains that bob around as he stirs the bowl seem a little familiar. Tasting a few grains all by themselves, he discovers that almost all of their flavour has been taken up from the broth, and thinks that by itself, this grain must seem awfully bland. Noting the texture, however, he figures that it does have a personality that he may later rediscover.
"What's this called?" he asks his guide to the new world.
"Oh," Hagane says, "I told you already, canned goose soup."
"No, I mean this," Aware clarifies his question with a spoon full of the white grains, where he has carefully excluded the bowl's other ingredients.
"Oh," Hagane blushes, "That's rice."
"Rice," Aware rolls the word off his tongue in wonder, then chews on the spoonful. "Rice. It does seem familiar."
"Good," a scruffy blonde-haired middle-aged man says, his wings scruffy and his halo bright. Aware would guess him to be about thirty, considerably younger than Hagane. He has a rugged smile and offers a callused hand in greeting. "I'm Shinzoo. I was a cardiologist for just three weeks and have been doing bricklaying ever since."
"Why'd you give it up?" Aware asks.
"Take a quick look around," Shinzoo spreads his hands, "How do you think I'm going to do heart surgery around here?"
"It looks like you could do it where I was born, Shinzoo-sensei," Aware offers shyly, "Is that where you worked?"
"Yes," Shinzoo says quietly, "And that too, was where I was born."
With semi-serious formality, Hagane puts his hands on both of his companion's shoulders, Aware wincing with the pain of his new wings, "First haibane of Old Home, meet the last haibane of Western University."
Aware feels the curious, very un-doctor-like texture of Shinzoo's hand as the elder takes his, but sees in his deep blue eyes a compassion that could be centuries old. "Brothers always," Shinzoo says.
He feels a gaze from his right, turns to see the young man who was at the saw earlier, wiping the dust off his fingers with a cloth. "Brother Aware," he snorts, then stomps away.
"Jabez," Hagane starts, getting up to follow him, "Wait a minute!"
The ticked off human swats his arm angrily through the air in front of the haibane to warn him off, then marches back to his shop.
Hagane returns to the table, obviously uncomfortable.
"Why? He looks almost exactly like me," Aware says, "well ... except for the obvious."
"That might be part of the problem," Hagane sighs, "Doubtless he's recognized the meaning of your name, Aware-san."
They all look as the angry teenager bangs a tool against his workbench, obviously upset.
"He was the youngest survivor of the battle," Shinzoo says, "I watched his birth when I was only three days old myself. But more."
Aware turns to look at him, "His name, Jabez, is Hebrew for Sorrow. Really, you two have the same name. His natural father beat up and abandoned his mother two months before he was born, and two weeks ago, his adoptive father, Haibane Kabocha, took his Day of Flight."
"I wish the pool of a haibane's life had a shallow end," Hagane mutters as he upends the last of his apple juice, "Come, let's see if we can find you something familiar."
The spring roll piece between Aware's chopsticks disintegrates into little pieces, and he realizes just how long he had been holding it in his half-bowl of soup while these events unfolded.
Next: Rise of Glie Chapter 4: Work to Do