Side A – Yasgrid
Despite what her mother might have believed at times, Yasgrid had paid pretty good attention during her Shatter Drumming classes. She understood both the musical theory that informed the performances as well as the magical theory on what a Shatter Drum performance could accomplish. To the best of her knowledge there weren’t any rhythms or arrangements which could do what her mother had asked Nia to do.
As far as Yasgrid knew, no Shatter Drummer had ever experienced what she and Nia had.
They were in waters they’d never charted, but perhaps Osdora wasn’t so unfamiliar with them?
“I think she’d like that as much as I would,” Nia said. “How would we do that though?”
Yasgrid studied her mother’s face, trying to catch a glimpse of the insight that might be hiding there. After all Yasgrid had been through on the Lost Road, it was strangely comforting to be able to just gaze on her mother from no more than a few feet away.
There were lines there that she couldn’t remember seeing before. They weren’t new, long years had etched them in like crags in the mountains. It was Yasgrid who was new, or at least looking from a new vantage point.
When she’d been living in her own skin, Yasgrid hadn’t spent time just observing her mother, taking her in for the woman she was rather than who she’d been to Yasgrid since before Yasgrid’s memories even began.
The woman sitting across from Yasgrid was so much quieter than the mother she’d known. Smaller too. Osdora had shrunken into herself, but she normally seemed to fill a space equal to the extent of her booming voice rather than stopping at the limits of her aged and worn skin.
For the others, Yasgrid suspected that Osdora’s quiet was an effective mask, a wall behind which anything might be hiding.
For Yasgrid though, the mask was a statement and a revelation all on its own. Her mother had never shown her what dread looked like, or guilt, or uncertainty. Osdora didn’t have time for those things, and any space they tried to claim in her life she bulled ahead through leaving those sorts of feelings trampled in her wake.
But not for this.
Not for her daughter.
Yasgrid’s heart broke with a pain that did nothing to wake the Troubles sleeping there.
It wasn’t a pain to be denied, or cast out. It was the love they’d shared since she was old enough to toddle after her mother. A love that stood true despite the space that had grown between them, and the vast gulf that separated them through neither’s choice.
For as much as Yasgrid seemed to fit into Nia’s life better than she ever had her own, she couldn’t deny, and had no desire to any longer, that there were parts of her first life that would always be fundamental to who she was, and at the center of all those parts, stood Osdora.
Osdora who could lead them back together if anyone could.
“I don’t know how,” Osdora said. “But I think you do.”
Side B – Nia
Nia knew she’d heard Osdora clearly, but she couldn’t have heard Osdora correctly.
“I’m…I can barely play at all though!” Nia felt like she was pushing it claiming to be able to even ‘barely play’. Her lessons were going well, but she had decades of work to even approximate the skills she was supposed to have.
“Oh?” Osdora said, an expression finally bringing her face to life. Nia grimaced. It wasn’t a great expression. “Are you telling me you fooled me? That I didn’t hear someone who should be part of the Shatter Band when I heard you play?”
Nia’s toes curled in panic.
“Margrada, is it possible that I’ve grown so old and feeble that I’ve forgotten what the drums are supposed to sound like?” Osdora asked, turning slightly to pull Margrada into the conversation before glancing over at Doctor Prash. “Or maybe my ears are numb? Could they have fallen off the side of my head while I wasn’t looking?”
“I would need to do a proper exam, but initial observations suggest that your ears are still attached in the correct locations,” Doctor Prash said, failing to fully suppress a grin.
“I haven’t trained enough though!” Nia said, painfully aware that she was digging her career’s grave with every word. “I’m still working on the basics.”
Margrada laughed. It was a kind laugh, but so abrupt that it left Nia struggling to find her balance.
Which she promptly lost when she saw that Yasgrid’s attempt to suppress her laughter had left the mirth dancing in her eyes.
“Are you now?” Osdora asked. “And when do you think you’ll be done with that?”
Nia glanced at Margrada who was having far too much fun and then at Yasgrid who took pity on her at last.
“A Shatter Drummer always works on the basics,” Yasgrid said. “All of the ‘advanced techniques’? Those are just the basics put together in useful patterns. My Mom says she barely practices those. Only the basics. Until she feels she’s finally learned them.”
“Wait, you’re still working on the basics too?” Nia asked.
“Every day,” Osdora said, to which Margrada nodded in agreement.
“Whatever else you are,” Osdora said, “whatever else happened to you, you’re a Shatter Drummer, and there’s no denying that.”
“Or denying how good you are,” Margrada said.
“But I’m nowhere near you, or you,” Nia said, turning from Margrada to Osdora. “You’re both incredible. So much better than me.”
“No, I’m not,” Margrada said. “I’m different than you. But you can do things I can’t.”
“Things I can’t do either,” Osdora said. “But that’s how it is. That’s what’s true of all of us. No two Shatter Drummers are the same. What we bring to a performance isn’t just the drumming and the rhythm. It’s ourselves. The magic we summon doesn’t come from the drum. Not really – though don’t let the roadies hear I said that – it’s what we give to the world.”
“So you think I can really do this then?” Nia asked, struggling to accept that it could be true.
“I think so,” Osdora said. “I think you’re the only one who can give me my daughter again.”