Two Hearts One Beat – Chapter 49


Side A – Yasgrid

Yasgrid felt herself stretched thin. Her grandmother’s words sounded comforting but they didn’t make sense.

“But I’ve changed so much,” Yasgrid said. “This isn’t even my own skin that I’m wearing. And I can see in the dark now. And jump like a spider.”

Grandma Lokona laughed.

“When you broke your arm, did you become someone else?” she asked.

“No, but that’s different,” Yasgrid said. “It was still my arm.”

“If you were out on your uncle’s boat and a Glowjaw chomped your arm off would you be someone else?” Grandma Lokona asked. “Would the Glowjaw be you too since it has your arm?”

“No. It’d just be well fed,” Yasgrid said, laughing too as she saw the point her grandmother was trying to make.

“It’s not the parts of us that make us who are,” Grandma Lokona said. “We’re more than the sum of our pieces.”

“Yeah, but all of my pieces are someone else’s now,” Yasgrid said, waving her hands at Nia’s pointy ears, slim elven shoulders and over large eyes.

“You’re sure about that are you?” Grandma Lokona said. “All of them.”

Yasgrid looked down and checked herself over again. Nia’s body was impossible to mistake for her own. Apart from the marked difference in size, Stoneling proportions were completely different than Elven ones.

Despite that though, it wasn’t strange to see Nia’s thin hands flexing in front of her.

“I don’t know,” Yasgrid said. “Which parts of this could be me? I mean, where would I even fit in here?”

The image of trying to put on a “Nia costume” flitted briefly through her mind. Just that thought of trying to pack the comparatively hulking mass of her Stoneling body into a ‘Nia’ space brought a smile to her lips. Nothing but absurd humor could come from that.

“Let me answer that with a different question,” Grandma Lokona said. “How well have you ever felt like you fit in?”

Yasgrid paused.

She’d always tried hard to appear like she fit in just fine. She was her mother’s daughter. People had expectations of her, and she had taken them as expectations of herself for a long time. Despite the distance that forced on her from the life she wanted to lead, she’d still tried to be a part of Frost Harbor. She had friends. She had work to do. She was a part of the community.

Except for all the times when she wasn’t.

After a long day her friends liked to go out and get rowdy. It was almost the required behavior for the beginning of any break period. Yasgrid had gone with them, many times, but it had been for their sake for more than for her own.

The times when she was sick, or had to pass up the chance to go out hadn’t always come as a disappointment. More often she’d been happy to be “stuck at home” either left to practice her deficient drumming or catch up on her reading assignments. Even when the drumming wasn’t fun, when it frustrated her with failure after failure, it was still better than spending time making noise with people she was otherwise fond of.

“When you said that I’m as much myself now as I’ve ever been,” she asked. “Did you mean that being Nia is the same as being Yasgrid or do you mean I’ve never really been Yasgrid at all?”

Side B – Nia

Nia choked. The surge of emotion that clenched her throat closed tight was as unexpected as it was powerful. Held in her father’s warm and accepting embrace, Nia felt barriers she’d erected inside herself fail at last to hold back the tears she’d walled up behind them.

Ayas said nothing more as she cried, only pulling back when the tears had run their course and Nia pulled away first.

“You suck,” she said.

He chuckled, understanding the meaning that lurked behind her tear streaked gaze.

“How could you go and die like that!” Nia said. She hit him on the top of the shoulder. “This shouldn’t be the only way I ever get to see you!”

“It shouldn’t be,” Ayas said. “A word of advice though, don’t go trying to change that with your new drums.”

“Is that possible?” Nia asked, knowing the answer as she did so.

“Possible? Maybe? But nothing’s ever simple and bring back the departed causes the sorts of problems that not even the gods did it when they active.”

“Maybe I could talk to you again though?” Nia asked.

“You can always talk to me,” Ayas said. “In your calm, quiet moments of solitude like your mother does will help keep people from wondering if you’ve gone a little moon touched. You won’t hear me, but I’ll always listen when you speak to me, or when you think of me. You’re a part of me and I’m a part of you. Nothing can ever change that.”

“What about when I’m playing?” Nia asked. “If I need to hear from you again I mean? I wouldn’t bring you back. I’d just like to talk sometimes.”

“I’ll bet it will be difficult, but I’m also willing to bet that if anyone can manage it, you’ll be the one,” Ayas said. “The thing is, I don’t think you will need me. Not like that at any rate.”

“I feel like I’m just barely holding on,” Nia said. “So much has changed. So much of me has changed.”

“That’s all ok,” Ayas said, “Change is what we do.”

“Into a Stoneling though?” Nia said.

“If we’re lucky? If that’s what we need to be? Then yes,” Ayas said. “You said you wanted to see where the life you’re standing on the doorstep of will take you? I think it’s going to take you to yourself. You’re going to learn things you could never have learned in the Darkwood, and you’re going to meet challenges you could have never seen coming before.”

“What if I can’t handle them?” Nia asked.

“Then you’ll learn something there too,” Ayas said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem though. You’ve already shown that you can handle a lot more than anyone expected you to, and for the troubles that lay before you, you’ve got the best weapon for dealing with them. Nothing that you have to face from here on out will be something that you have to face alone.”

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