Side A – Nia
Nia wasn’t sure if Yasgrid’s idea was the answers to her prayers or the worst temptation she’d ever faced.
“A fugue state?” she asked, trying to wrap her head around the idea.
“It’s not common, but it’s definitely not unheard of.” Yasgrid was leaning back, her arms wrapped around one raised knee as her projection sat on Nia’s bed.
“But I’ve already talked with people here,” Nia said. “I can’t just start pretending that I don’t know who they are now, can I?”
“It’s not really pretending.” Yasgrid gave a little shrug. “And sometimes the effects of an intense drumming session aren’t felt until hours later.”
“Isn’t pretending to forget everyone, and forget who I am, going to seem a little convenient though?” Nia was picturing Osdora quizzing her on family history and growing disappointed when Nia couldn’t remember any of it. That seemed more likely to happen if Nia claimed to have lost some of her memories than if she kept everyone in Frost Harbor thinking that she was the same old Yasgrid they’d known and loved.
“I think most people will see it as the exact opposite of convenient,” Yasgrid said.
Nia was fighting against the idea, because she wanted so much to accept it. She knew that was irrational, but, when you grow up with the being told that you weren’t allowed to express your real desires, you wind up internalizing some fairly odd, and self-defeating behavior patterns. Nia could see that clearly as well, but it didn’t make it any easier to stop doing them.
“If I’m broken, won’t they keep me away from the drums though?” Nia asked. A part of her cheered at the notion. The Shatter drums were terrifying, and the desire to play one again was inexplicable.
Or maybe just hard for her to put in words.
In her heart, she knew what called her back to the madness she’d felt while she was playing. It wasn’t precisely a sense of control – the drums were too wild and powerful for Nia to have any illusions that she controlled them. Control was an aspect of it though. Control of herself. Control of her expression in the world. There were deeper elements to it as well, but all of her desire hinged on the simple ability to play again.
“You’d think they would,” Yasgrid said, shaking her head. “If I know my mother though, the first thing she’s going to do is stick a drum in front of you and see how much of my skill you’ve retained.”
“And when she sees that what I’ve got is basically nothing compared to what you knew?” Nia asked.
“That’s when things will get fun and interesting,” Yasgrid said.
Side B – Yasgrid
Nia looked terrified at the notion of being discovered when her skills were tested and came up lacking. Yasgrid had to bite back a smile at that.
“What’s so funny?” Nia asked, worry apparently boiling into irritation, and thereby confirming Yasgrid’s suspicions.
“When I said ‘fun and interesting’, I really did mean ‘fun and interesting’,” Yasgrid said, holding up a hand to placate Nia’s anger. “When my Mom sees that you’re not playing like I was, she’s going to do one of two things. Either she’ll sing praises to all the gods the volcano for ‘fixing her daughter’ and try to start teaching you from scratch, or, and this is more likely I think, she’s start teaching you without singing anyone’s praises in the hopes that in relearning the basic techniques, the more advanced ones will start to come back too.”
“That’ll mean the offer to join the Shatter band is off the table though right?” Nia didn’t sound particularly unhappy about that and Yasgrid could see why. Playing the drums was one thing. Playing in the premiere Shatter drum band of the Stonelings meant taking on a far greater amount of scrutiny and stress.
“I’m afraid it probably doesn’t,” Yasgrid said. “They’re short handed, and there will be sections you can play that are simple enough for a child to handle. It’s probably what you would have been stuck with anyways as one of the newest members.”
“Ok, that doesn’t sound so bad. I’ll get a chance to train, and they’ll have me playing the easy stuff when it comes time to play for real. I think I can manage that.”
“I should warn you; even if the sections you’ll be playing are easy, there’ll still be a lot of pressure,” Yasgrid said. “People were always hyper-critical of the Shatter band’s performances, comparing this years to last years, and the lead drummer to every lead drummer before them, with the newer works never measuring up to the old ones.”
“That sounds familiar,” Nia said, rolling her eyes.
“People don’t stop with just the stars either,” Yasgrid said. “Anyone who’s part of the band will get that kind of review.”
Nia shook her head and sighed.
“It’s funny. Our people are so different, but we can be stupid over exactly the same things.”
“The elves do the same with their performers?” Yasgrid asked.
“Our artists in general, and yeah, so I can’t say I’m surprised.”
“Does that change your desire to join the band?”
“Maybe? Or not really I guess. I mean, it would be nice to be able to play from somewhere off stage so no one could see how bad I am, but I think that would feel worse than the scrutiny in the end. If everyone else is going to be under a withering spotlight, then that’s where I’d want to be too.”
Yasgrid let out a breath and smiled. That was the other reason Nia wasn’t going to have insurmountable problems to face. Osdora would train her, but Nia already had the spark that was really needed to make a great Shatter drummer.
“You’re going to do amazing with the training,” she said and was rewarded with a small, hopefully smile from Nia.
“Maybe,” Nia said. “But that’s only if I’m still here for it, and we still have something important to talk about.”
“What’s that?” Yasgrid asked, confused as to what other problems could arise for Nia.
“I’m only half of this mix up,” Nia said. “You still need a chance to talk about what you really want.”