A small crash nearby sent skeins of yarn rolling across the floor of the three sisters’ home. Silke turned to see a confused but not discouraged Cotton, who immediately used the fallen shelf to pull herself into a standing position.
The little tot cheered and bounced up and down with a celebratory giggle. Silke glared at her with a fuming intensity, burdened by the sands still caked the outside of her eyelids. Soon, however, her glare broke down, defeated by the infectious optimism of the child. She leaned to a seated position, stretching the sleep from her limbs, watching Cotton, who remained undeterred. The child shook and boogied like a drunkard at a soiree, determined to walk among the rest of them. That shelf was not the first casualty of her daughter’s new endeavor, and it would certainly not be the last.
After a couple hours of using any stationary object and thickest part of her mother’s tail to hoist herself into a wobbly standing position, Cotton is laid down for her afternoon nap.
Once she was sure her daughter was surely in dreamland, Silke went back into her crafting space and sat down on the stool in front of the loom.
She stretched out her long, green tail and concentrated, her body tightening from the exertion.
Slowly, a seam began to run down her tail before the scaly flesh splinted and reformed into two legs.
From an outside perspective, the painless, although unusual process looked less like a graphic process and more like someone slowly melting butter in a pan. Her legs were covered in soft, light, almost white scales around her inner thighs and strong, protective green ones that safeguarded her outer legs, down her shins, and all over her feet. Her toes boasted short, but sharp talons to replace her stone tail as he main weapon.
Silke took an unsteady step, then another. She wobbled a bit, trying to get her balance as she adjusted to her legs. It was an awkward transition.
Legs weren’t exactly commonplace among the lamias.
She only ever used them when harvesting cotton, a place where her six foot tail would only get in the way of things. The feeling each time was a lot like how bipeds felt when they first stepped out of a pool. Each step felt weird and haphazard; the weight distribution was completely off.
After walking back and forth across the living area once or twice, walking with an equilibrium at war with itself, Silke heard Satin enter into the room. Her twin immediately snickered at her wobbly gait and stuck out an arm for Satin to grasp as they paced the floor together.
“You look like a newborn deer, Silks.” Satin said with a poorly hidden giggle.
“Oh, shush, would you. I am a bit rusty, that’s all,” She retorted. “It has been a couple of seasons since I’ve done this, you know?”
Satin nodded. “I understand that.”
The twins made another pass through the room. Over time, Silke was starting to feel more and more confident.
“I hate using my legs. Why keep up with two things when one will do!” Silke let go of her sister’s arm and took a few steps unassisted. Much better! She stretched forward to touch her toes, having to catch herself on the first attempt. She started to walk around in a slumped position, initially, she did so very slowly, then, with increased speed as she began to trust herself not to face-plant into the ground.
Meanwhile, Satin eyed her with a smirk. “So, what’s the occasion? Harvest has long since come and went, after all.”
Silke stood and put her hands behind her before stretching back and straightening her form, letting out a sigh of relief. “Cotton is trying to take her first steps,” She pointed to the new scuffs on the walls and the floor from falling bins and shelves. “I thought it would be easier to teach her if I looked more like her, instead of slithering around while she is walking on two legs.”
She walked over to the stove and began to start on a pot of tea. Satin plopped down on a large cushion set off to the side. Silke joined her shortly after, carrying a warm cup of mulberry tea.
For a moment, she thought to herself on the best way to come to a seated position. Such a simple and thoughtless task was made trivial when ones’ tail was swapped out for, … these awful things. Slowly and awkwardly, she sat down her tea and began lowering herself, tucking those nuisances under her as if they were a tail.
A snore to her right tells her that Satin had already fallen asleep. She was queen of the naps.
Silke closed her eyes and enjoyed a rare moment of relaxation. Her work for the year was all prepped and ready to take to market and deliveries. After spending the last several weeks juggling the tension of a new child and her youngest sister’s ‘suddenly extended hunting trip,’ she was wiped out and fully depleted.
She felt the sweat precipitating off her mug before she brought it back to her lips and polished it off. The rising steam made her eyelids feel heavy and watery. As she listed the remaining tasks she had on the docket before hibernation, reciting them again and again, always afraid she would forget something, her mind began to drift until she faded into unconsciousness.
* * *
Sometime later, Silke is awoken again by a very wiggly Cotton. No rest for the wicked, Silke thought to herself. The child was persistent and determined, that was for certain. She had managed to crawl from the bedroom back to Silke and was now curiously and confusedly inspecting her mother’s newly sprouted legs.
Silke bent down and grasped Cotton’s tiny hands gently and smiled. In spite how tired she may have felt, and she did feel very tired, she would not have taken it any other way. They may have been a handful in their own right, but raising Satin and Suede had been one of the most satisfying challenges in her life. Things had quieted down since then. They had changed a lot.
Silke looked over to Satin. Her snoring, slobbery slumber was something shy of graceful, but home was where you were allowed such luxury. She may have had moments where she needed a compass to aim her in the right direction, but, for the most part, Satin could take care of herself. Silke had made certain of that. After all, she had been thrown into the deep end unceremoniously with their parents’ death, ready or not, responsibility came. She wanted Satin to have a readiness she had not been afforded. Meanwhile, Suede may very well have outgrown the both of them overtime. She was stubborn, but stronger for it.
Cotton would be a new challenge for her. When she raised Satin and Suede, it had been by doing her best impression of parenthood, following the examples of her mother and father. This time, however, she had no such example she felt compelled to follow. Cotton was distinct and unique, and that made the future both exciting and terrifying to think about.
“Time to practice, little one,” Silke said. She bent down and grasped Cotton’s tiny hands gently, and, with measured steps, the two of them did exactly that.
Cotton giggled, enamored by the new activity, and the two practiced together, hand-in-hand, until the small child tuckered herself out. To Silke’s surprise and dismay, that had been a much larger commitment than she expected.