“Ha ha, Mother,” Melsy laughs nervously, “good joke.”
There is an uneasy silence as we watch Melsy’s, no, our mother stuff her face. I look over at Sunshine, thinking maybe she feels forgotten, but she is also watching Melsy’s mother. A look of awe and concern is plastered on her feathered face. Me too, Sunshine, me too.
“Uh, Husband, I have some questions.” Melsy eyes swim as she tries to focus on me.
“Hah, yeah, I do too, but you go first.” It would be unrealistic for us to not have questions. It seems a lot has happened in ten days.
“Uh, so, ten days? What did you mean back there? It’s been thirty days since I left — a full light cycle.” Wait, what?
If I chased the sun, I should have spent a little extra time each day flying, but it shouldn’t have amounted to more than an extra day total, right? “I swear I only slept ten nights. I was chasing the sun the whole time, so maybe it comes to eleven days? But that still doesn’t add up to thirty.” What am I missing?
“Sun?” Melsy’s mother inquires.
“Ah, hah, haaaa.” Melsy laughs, still unnerved. She scratches her head before explaining. “Tristain says he came from another world? He calls the light in the sky the sun sometimes.”
Our mother tilts her head in thought. “Oh. Oh? Wait, you came from over the great ocean?” She wears a pained look, maybe of disbelief? I get the impression she thinks I’m lying.
“Well, yeah, that’s where I, er… was entrusted with Sunshine here.” I don’t think explaining this is going to make her trust me any more than she already does. And by that, I’m pretty sure she is confident I am lying now.
She shakes her head. “No, if you came over the ocean, the Deeps would have gotten you. No one goes over the ocean.”
“Naaah!” Sunshine makes a startling aggressive noise as she stares daggers at Melsy’s mother.
I pet her head to console her. “I don’t think she means anything bad by it. It’s not worth getting upset.” She growls, but looks away from my mother-in-law.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an avian get defensive,” breathes Mother-in-law, her jaw hanging open. “How interesting!”
“Husband, another thing, who is she and where did you,” pausing, Melsy waves a hand, struggling to come up with the right word, “acquire? Her.”
“Ah, well, I’ve been staying in the Gaia Trees as I’ve traveled. And it so happened that Sunshine was,” I also pause and think of the right word to explain what had happened. “Well, so, I sort of made a mistake, and then I tried to make good on it–”
“Husband,” Melsy interrupts. She is frowning. It’s an “you’re an idiot” frown.
Ah, hah hah. Yeah, I am.
“So, anyway, I gave a bunch of food from a dryad to the avians? As reparations. But they didn’t want more than one. Though it seems they wanted to get rid of Sunshine? So as a favor, I’m looking after her?” I am most certainly wearing a nervous smile. I feel a drip of sweat running down my forehead. I don’t think this is going to end well. I suspect that it looks much worse than I’m making it out to be.
“Husband.” I’m totally in trouble. That’s the “you screwed up” tone of voice.
Melsy clarifies, “when someone gives you a girl, what do they expect you to do with her?”
What? No. “She’s a child! I would never!” Maybe I yelled. Crap, calm down Tristain.
Melsy’s mother is watching with a smug smile on her face. This is not your entertainment!
Sunshine suddenly hugs me tight and makes that same aggressive noise at Melsy. “Naaah!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine! Melsy is family!” I pet Sunshine’s head to settle her down.
Melsy sighs. “I take my eyes off of you for just a moment, and suddenly you have another wife.”
“What?! No! She’s… a child! What is she, like ten years old? That’s so much wrong.” Petting Sunshine to keep her calm, I defend myself. Maybe I’m petting her head to calm myself. Her head is fluffy. And soothing.
Melsy sighs again. Mother-in-law chuckles as she eats, watching the drama. For some reason, I envision the nut in her lap as a bowl of popcorn.
“Oh.” The audience speaks up. She looks like she has made a revelation. “Assuming you did come over the ocean, the time difference would make sense.” Melsy and I both look at her in confusion. “There are thirty ‘suns,’ as you call them. If you watch the weather closely, each type of weather follows a different light in a cyclical pattern. Each one has a name too. So, if you went all the way around in ten days from you were following the suns, that would mean it would be thirty days for us.”
My head hurts. “But I didn’t go all the way around?”
Melsy explains for me: “yes, you did. We’re less than a Gaia Tree away from home.”
What. So if I went in the other direction, I would have found Melsy the following day? I’m such an idiot.
Melsy starts laughing. “You went all the way around the world to find me?! I don’t know if I should be overjoyed or make fun of you!” Pretty sure you’re just making fun of me, hun. “Mom, he flew all the way around instead of checking the other direction first!” She laughs hysterically and collapses into my lap.
Sunshine looks confused but doesn’t let go of me. No, she finally lets go and gets upset at Melsy, pokeing her with a finger while wearing a very disapproving look.
“Sorry, sorry.” She tries to calm herself while wiping the tears out of her eyes. “Husband, you’re the best.” Melsy hugs me.
It overlaps with Sunshine’s hug, but instead of getting upset, she wraps her wings around us and coos. I am so confused right now. Someone tell me when they’ve sorted all this out. I just wanted to come to find Melsy then go back home. Now I have some sort of harem?
It’s my turn to sigh. She’s too young! Nothing but a daughter! Er, another daughter. I already had too many kids.
Author’s Note: Thanks for reading and all the support! Sorry for missing… maybe 2 weeks? Part of it is my editor’s fault (he had school obligations) and part is my own. I have changed my meds, and hopefully that will help me focus and stay on track. I have ADD (which has it’s pros and cons) and depression… which mostly just has cons… Among other things (Autistic, tourettes, etc.) Sounds like I’m making excuses at this point, or that I’m looking for sympathy. I want neither sympathy nor pity nor praise. Just some understanding that I’m not slacking off, but real life is happening. Forgive me. People are welcome to harass the hell out of me in Discord. I am frequently online. It helps keep me motivated when I have my low moments (if you want more stable releases, otherwise just be patient).