Side A – Yasgrid
Grandma Lokona smiled at Yasgrid. It was the knowing, infuriating smile of someone who knows a lot more than they’re going to tell you.
“If you’re not my Yasgrid,” she asked, “then who is?”
Yasgrid knew that her grandmother wanted her to figure something out. There was some mystery there, or some clue, or some revelation that was supposed to be in reach, but no matter where she looked, Yasgrid couldn’t see it.
She felt like a failure. Her grandmother wouldn’t be asking what seemed like such a simple question if the answer was impossible to figure out. From how the question was phrased, it sounded like the answer was something really simple in fact, which made it even worse that she couldn’t grasp it.
“Maybe Nia is?” Yasgrid said, just to have some answer, even if it was obviously the wrong one.
“Maybe she is,” Grandma Lokona agreed and Yasgrid blinked in surprise.
Was that why Nia had fit in so easily into Yasgrid’s life? Was she ‘The Yasgrid Who Was Supposed to Be’?
“Do you think she’d know me if we met?” Grandma Lokona asked.
“I don’t think so,” Yasgrid said. “Unless I told her about you.”
“Could she make my Larkfish?” Grandma Lokona asked.
“No, but I can’t make it either!” Yasgrid said, feeling a stab of panic at the idea of failing something that would keep her connected to her grandmother.
“Well that’s good, then neither of you are me,” Grandma Lokona said.
“How could we be you?” Yasgrid asked, feeling more confused the more they spoke.
“I think it would be pretty hard, don’t you?” Grandma Lokona said. “I mean being ourselves is something most of us can barely manage. Being someone else though? How would you do that?”
“I don’t know,” Yasgrid said.
“Do you think Nia does?”
“No, but, I mean, it’s what we’re trying to do now isn’t it?” Yasgrid said, waiting for the judgment that she could feel her grandmother’s points leading to them too.
“You’ll have to answer that for yourself,” Grandma Lokona said, her smile gentle and supportive. “What I can tell you though is this; even if all of those bits,” she gestured to the body Yasgrid was wearing, “are ones you think of as being Nia’s, even if you answer to her name, and walk in her life, you are always still yourself. You will always be my Yasgrid, and I will always be your Grandmother, and we will always love you.”
“We?” Yasgrid asked, soaking in the relief her grandmother’s support offered.
“You didn’t think I was the only one who’s been keeping an eye on you did you?” Grandma Lokona asked as from the shadows out beyond the fire the figure of her grandfather stepped forward. Followed by a Great Aunt, and others, older and more distant but no less connected to her.
“You are not alone,” Grandma Lokona said. “Those of us who have come before you, we stand behind you, always.”
As though she was gazing back across centuries and millennia, Yasgrid saw the legacy that she was the latest scion of. There was pride in the eyes that watched her, and in her heart was the beating of every life they’d lived. They knew who she was because she was a part of them, and always would be.
Around her the dream began to fade, leaving Yasgrid with one last look at the love in her grandmother’s eyes, and the reassurance that they would meet again someday.
Side B – Nia
Nia had a question for her father, one last one maybe, given that she could feel their time drawing short. She tried to give it voice but the words wouldn’t reach her lips. The thought was too terrible, but it would explain why he’d been able to appear to her for the first time.
“I’m not one of the troubles that your sister has pledged herself to end,” Ayas said, reading the turmoil of her heart in the turn of her expression. “Your mother still carries the pain of my loss and she’s much too stubborn to give it up to something like Endings.”
Nia laughed. That made too much sense not to be true.
“So you’re not haunting me then?” she asked.
“Not like that,” Ayas said. “I’m here because you needed someone to tell you what you already know.”
“I don’t think I knew any of this stuff about Mom,” Nia said, wiping her eyes.
“That was just to help you see some things you might miss,” Ayas said. “The important thing to hold onto is that you’ve found your way, for now at least. Believe in yourself to see it through. I know I do.”
Nia could feel the dream starting to slip away, growing fuzzier the harder she tried to hold onto it. She had so much more she wanted to say, so many more questions to ask, so much she still didn’t understand. In the end though, she left all that behind.
“I know you don’t talk to her,” Nia said, choosing the most important words she could find in her final moments with her father, “but the next time you see Mom, could you tell her I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Ayas asked. She could feel him reaching across the shifting sands of the dream as they flowed away, anchoring the two of them together to scrape together one more shared moment.
“For doing this. For the distance I put between us. For not living up to what she wanted me to be,” Nia said. “I think she’ll like Yasgrid. Yas is nicer than I am, I think, and I’ll help her be more like the daughter Mom wants, if that’s what Yas wants to do.”
Nia hadn’t thought about how the change in the people living in Nia’s skin would appear to her mother once the secret got out. She hadn’t imagined what a betrayal it would feel like. Not until that moment. Nia couldn’t take back her desire to become a Shatter drummer, but she could regret the things it would cost her, even if they were things she’d never thought she would be sad to lose.
“Every night since you’ve been born, whether it was to my living ears or to my memory, your mother has prayed for only one thing for you,” Ayas said. “That you be happy. When she learns that you have begun to pursue that happiness and that you still thought of her, she is going to be relieved and full of joy, because a happy woman is exactly the daughter she wants you to be.”
And with that the dream at last faded and Nia woke to find a new day had begun.