Side A – Nia
Confession was supposed to be good for the soul, but Nia found it terrifying. It was easy to talk with Yasgrid about almost anything, anything except confessing how she’d felt about Marianne, a girl she’d pined over for years and had only had the barest hint of a relationship with.
“How old were you when you fell in love with her?” Yasgrid asked.
“I don’t even know,” Nia said. “I mean it was probably the first time we met? So fourteen. I think the first time I realized it was more than just a crush was at the Winter Festival, so I was an old and wise fifteen by then.”
“That was three years ago?” Yasgrid asked.
“Yeah. Kind of a long time to carry a torch isn’t it?” Nia asked.
“What held you back?” Yasgrid asked.
“Well, she was in a relationship at the time,” Nia said. “Then after she and Glima broke up? I don’t know. I was just scared I guess? I mean, we’d been friends for a while at that point and it just seemed weird to come out and say ‘oh, by the way, I’ve been madly in love with you for two years now’.”
“You don’t think she had an idea how you felt?” Yasgrid asked. They were running together, following Kayelle as she led them towards Bluefalls and a seemingly inevitable meeting with Marianne. At the same time, they were standing still in their home in Frost Harbor.
Nia found the juxtaposition as she switched her attention from one locale to the other as a mirror the last three years with Marianne. Her heart had always been racing while her feet were standing still.
“Before I eventually told her?” Nia asked. “No, I don’t think she did. I mean she seemed surprised when I asked her if she wanted to go to the Fire Flower Festival together, as a couple.”
“What was her answer?” Yasgrid asked. She was spending as much time studying Nia’s face in quick glimpses as she was paying attention to the obstacles Kayelle was leading them over and under and around.
“I thought she was happy,” Nia said. “She said yes. We went. We had a great time. Or I did anyways. It was my first real kiss.”
“Things didn’t go well afterwards?” Yasgrid asked.
“We had a few dates after that,” Nia said. “I don’t know what I did wrong with them, but on each one it felt like she was growing more and more distant.”
“And then it ended?” Yasgrid asked.
“Sort of?” Nia said. “Our last night together, she told me that her family was moving to Bluefalls. She didn’t have to move with them, but she wanted to. She apologized. Told me that she wasn’t being fair to me, but she left anyways. I…I didn’t want to believe it for a while. A long while I guess. I kept hoping that she’d decide to move back. Or ask me to come to Bluefalls. Or even ask me to visit. Anything.”
“But she didn’t?”
“No. After a couple of letters she didn’t even write back anymore,” Nia said.
“And now Kayelle’s taking us to see her?” Yasgrid asked. “Why?”
“Because she hates me,” Nia said, scowling.
Side B – Yasgrid
Kayelle did not hate her sister. Yasgrid knew that and could see it clearly, even if Nia couldn’t. Without the lens of years of sibling infighting coloring her perceptions, Yasgrid saw a bond between the two sisters which she had to admit she was at least mildly jealous of. The two would fight each other at a moment’s notice, but there was an deep current of affection between them as well. For all their feuding, Yasgrid suspected that Kayelle would be the first one in line to punish anyone who tried to hurt Nia and vice versa.
“We’ll have to see what Kayelle has in mind when we get to Bluefalls,” Yasgrid said. “You can leave it to me though. I can lean into the whole ‘Endings has changed me more than you can recognize’ thing so that no one will worry that we’re not the same.”
“That’s tempting,” Nia said. “But I don’t want to leave you unsupported like that, and I know being afraid like this doesn’t make sense either. I gave Endings my relationship with her because I know it’s over. If it takes my heart a little longer to move on, well, I guess it just means I need the practice right?”
“I don’t know if ‘moving on’ is something you can, or should, practice,” Yasgrid said. “Maybe just be open and honest with yourself and let your heart heal at its own rate?”
“Well, when you put it like that, sure, it sounds more reasonable, but practicing self control’s not a bad thing either,” Nia said, before shaking her head in disbelief. “Sleeping Gods, I sound like my mother!”
“Just so long as you don’t start sounding like mine,” Yasgrid said with a chuckle.
“I don’t know, your Mom seems ok to me,” Nia said.
“Wait till you see her in her natural element tonight,” Yasgrid said. “Or better yet, don’t. It’s still not too late to cancel going to the Black Orchard.”
“I am all dressed up already,” Nia said, spinning in a circle in their bedroom in Frost Harbor so that Yasgrid could observe the outfit she’d put together.
“Huh,” Yasgrid said, inspecting her own clothes being worn on her old body. “I think you pull off that look better than I ever did.”
“Uh, that doesn’t really make sense. As far as the clothes are concerned, I basically am you,” Nia said.
“Yes and no,” Yasgrid said. “You’ve got my body but you inhabit it differently. You’re more…I don’t know, present?”
“What, like I stand differently?” Nia asked.
“That and other things,” Yasgrid said. “The more I look, the more I don’t recognize you as being in my body. Maybe it’s just been too long, but it’s like that’s your body now. I mean, when I see you, it is definitely not like looking in the mirror.”
“Do you think anyone else is going to notice? Should I try to look more like you?” Nia asked.
“No,” Yasgrid said, a calculating smile creeping across her face. “I think we should both be exactly who we are.”