Flipping the book to the place he held with his finger, Adrian read the next line, his desire to learn Bubastis' story overpowering his want to bask in his own sorrow.
Uncle Manhattan and Uncle Walter have seen me smile. They say you'd be proud of me if you could only see it…
Flying in a jet was like nothing I had ever experienced in my short life thus far. Actually, on the day of our departure, Daddy had told me I was now six months old. It seems like I was staring up at whiteness an eternity ago, yet the time in between passed by so quickly. According to Uncle Manhattan, the concept of time is relative to the person experiencing it. It's something I still struggle with. I never had a clear reference of time in my old life; all I knew were the things I was specifically told.
Maybe that's why my wish for the flight to never end seemed partially satisfied. Thousands of miles separated Karnak from New York City, Daddy pointed out as we took off, and an airplane can only go so fast. He sat me in his lap and directed my attention towards the window (I was still less than half my adult size). As we ascended the upward incline, the buildings of Karnak that were normally massive to me were rapidly shrinking into the expanding field of pure white snow. Just as it was becoming a speck against the blank surroundings, a new color diverted my sight. It was a deep shade of blue unlike any I had seen before. What's more, it was plain to see even from up high that it was alive.
"That's the ocean, Bubastis," explained Daddy, who sounded just as intrigued as I felt. "It's a large body of water that covers seventy percent of Earth's surface. That means there's more than twice as much sea as there is land. But it's not the kind of water you and I drink. Ocean water is very salty, yet all kinds of things are able to live in it without ever having to go on land." I was confused. How could anything live surrounded by so much wetness? "Here, I think it's safe to move about now." Daddy gently set me in the seat next to him and walked to somewhere behind me. "I'll show you what I mean. Come over here, girl."
I leapt out of my chair and nearly fell over. The jet was speeding along while I seemed to be sitting still, and I felt slightly disoriented with nothing to support me from behind. There was one more pair of seats beside me, and looking towards the back of the plane at the unfamiliar surroundings didn't help my small dizzy spell. A counter filled with glasses and bottles of all sorts lined the left side while a large sofa and coffee table were situated on the right. Daddy was sitting on the sofa with a book in his lap. He patted the cushion next to him, and I happily jumped up.
The book, it turns out, was all about sea creatures. Colored illustrations were accompanied by brief chunks of text for almost every page. Daddy pointed at each picture and told me the name of the animal or plant depicted, sometimes reading the words beside it. He told me how rifts were made and the difference between a fish's tail and that of a dolphin. And Daddy wasn't reading to himself, either. Every so often, he would look at me as ask me questions, even though I could never give him an answer that wasn't a growl or a purr. I felt like I was a person.
Outside, it was beginning to get dark. Daddy rose from his seat on the sofa and motioned of me to do the same. He called the attendant over and asked for a comforter and pillows. While these were being retrieved, Daddy tossed the sofa cushions to the side and scooted the table towards the bar. He then pressed a button on the wall, transforming the cushionless chair into an unfolded mattress, complete with fresh sheets. The attendant came back and arranged three pillows along the back of the former sofa, then spread the purple and gold comforter over the entire bed. Daddy went into the bathroom and came back a few minutes later dressed in light blue pajamas. They made his eyes stand out more than usual, warm and friendly yet steely and colored (I suddenly realized) like the ocean.
"Let's go ahead and get some rest, Bubastis," Daddy suggested. "We won't reach the airport for at least another eight hours." He lifted the covers and got in the bed, but he didn't close his eyes immediately. "You're welcome to join me if you want, Bubastis" he offered, motioning to the space beside him. "There's nowhere else on the plane for you to lie down comfortably and out of the way." I hopped onto the bed, which caused Daddy to bounce up a little and chuckle. He patted my head and repositioned himself under the sheets. For a while, we simply lay facing each other, and I enjoyed the feeling of his hand running along my fur. Soon, Daddy's eyes closed and he gathered me up in his arms. "Good night, my beautiful girl," he whispered as he drifted off to sleep. His breathing became slow and deep and everything about him seemed to relax, which helped me relax as well. As I was falling asleep, I suddenly found myself wanting to be able to say, "Good night, my beautiful Daddy."
As I was falling asleep, I suddenly found myself wanting to be able to say, "Good night, my beautiful Daddy."It hadn't even occurred to Adrian the number of times he had called Bubastis beautiful, precious, or sweet. In a sense, those were words that he usually tossed around. This Renoir painting is beautiful. That is a precious artifact from Ancient Egypt. What a sweet orange. All this he would say and rarely would he mean it. To know that his words had such a profound effect on another living thing somewhat baffled him. But looking back at all the instances he used beautiful, precious, and sweet to describe Bubastis, Adrian found that he meant it with all his heart every single time.
He continued reading.