A Love of Music: Part Two
Lydia was pleasantly surprised to see Sophie already home, reading the Neopian Times. She ran into her owner’s arms.
“I’m glad your home so early, Sophie!”
“Yeah! I didn’t have school today. I wanted to come wake you up, but I was too late.”
“Are we gonna play games this weekend?”
Sophie’s hug loosened. “Uh, Lydia, I-well-I lost some of our Neopoints. I started playing this slot game today, and I lost 3000 before I knew it.”
The Shoyru’s arms dropped. “You lost our neopoints?”
“I’m so sorry! It just looked like I was winning, and then I wasn’t... I’m sorry...”
Lydia looked away. “Shachi was wondering if I could go to her house.”
“....Go ahead,” Sophie whispered.
“Then I’ll go now.”
“Lydia! I’ll get them back! I promise!”
She turned back to her owner. Sophie looked close to tears. Now she felt bad for being angry with her.
“I know, Sophie. I-I’m not mad.”
The storm receded from her face. “Okay. Thank you, Lydia.”
She started to walk down the street; Shachi’s house was a ten minute walk from hers, so if she was fast she could make it before sunset. As Lydia continued, she noticed that the houses got bigger and nicer. When she reached Shachi’s, Lydia checked the address again to make sure it was her house. It was the biggest house she had ever seen; it had to be three floors at least. She timidly knocked on the engraved door, and Shachi answered in a heartbeat.
“Lydia!” she nearly screamed. “Mom! Lydia’s here! Mom!”
“Shachi, you needn’t yell.” Her owner appeared behind her. “Welcome to our home, Lydia.”
The house was even more enormous inside; the low ceiling gave way to a spacious kitchen, and a little depression on the side held a carpeted sitting room. The rest of the floor was marble.
“You live here?”
“No, we stole it.” Shachi smiled. “Of course we live here.”
Lydia noticed all of the paintings and decorations on the walls, maybe she could draw something and put it on her wall...
“What’s that?” She pointed to the large object in the center of the room.
“That’s Mom’s piano. And that’s my viola on top,” Shachi replied proudly.
“We were practicing before you came,” her owner added.
“No! Don’t be! We practice every day. You’re not a disturbance,” she said.
“Do you wanna see us?” Shachi asked.
Lydia didn’t expect that. She just nodded dumbly,
“Mom! Let’s show her the new Sonata!”
The tall lady sat behind the piano, and Shachi stepped in front with her viola.
“You can sit on the couch over there,” Shachi said. So Lydia set herself on the sofa in the carpeted pit. It was cushiest thing she had ever sat on.
“This is Eccles Sonata in G Minor.”
The lady began with a huge burst of sound from the piano. Lydia had never heard anything like it. It started smooth and soft one second, and rough and loud the next. Then Shachi came in, sounding more beautiful than the piano. Hers also emitted a calming sound. Lydia loved it, the way the music blended and flowed. It excited her more than the thought of getting a Petpet.
The song finally ended on a perfect note; it sounded sad, but perfectly clear. Lydia felt goose bumps go up her arms.
“Whoops.” Shachi frowned.
“That’s alright, only we both messed up in the beginning of the first seven measures.”
“And I lost you in the middle; you were off pitch.”
“Was I? I figured-”
Lydia jumped up and applauded, “That was wonderful!!”
They both held blank faces.
“Really? You liked it?” Shachi asked.
“I loved it! I’ve never heard anything like it.”
The tall lady rose from her seat. “Then I’m glad you liked it; we’re still working on it.”
“No, it was nice, Miss-um-”
Juhi and Shachi Niraniya, Lydia thought, what weird names.
“Did you have dinner yet?” Shachi asked.
Lydia shook her head.
“Then I’ll make some meatballs and potatoes,” Juhi said.
Shachi talked the entire time during dinner. Lydia tried to listen, but her thoughts kept going back to the music. She had never heard anything like that.
“How do you play the viola, Shachi?”
“How?” The Zafara’s eyes looked away. “It’s kinda hard to explain, I’ve been doing it for so long. You just place your fingers, brush the bow, and read the notes.”
The answer didn’t exactly satisfy Lydia, she turned to Juhi. “How do you play the piano?”
“It’s very slow at first,” she answered. “You connect the notes to the keys, and you learn how to make it flow and sing. It takes a very long time. Many people give up before they can make real music.”
“Did you make real music?”
Juhi and Shachi glanced at each other. “I believe so,” she said.
Lydia looked back at the ebony piano; and instantly decided that she wanted to make music. She wanted to give people goose bumps; she wanted to make people feel things like she had just felt. She wanted it more than anything.
“Could I ever do that?”
Juhi and Shachi looked startled. “You, Lydia?” Shachi stammered.
“I don’t see why not,” Juhi started. “Would you really like to, Lydia?”
The Shoyru nodded. “Very much!”
Juhi smiled. “Then let us start.”
After dinner had been cleared, Juhi sat Lydia on the chair. The piano looked so big in front of her; there were a lot of those keys.
“Now first I’ll teach you where to place your fingers.” Lydia attempted the finger placement Juhi was showing her.
“Good, now keep this in mind, and I’ll teach you how to read a D scale.”
“What’s a scale?”
“It's the notes in a certain ascending pattern. Shachi, give me a D scale, please.”
Shachi’s fingers flew up the strings, and then back down again.
“You’ll be able to do that by the end of this lesson, well, not as fast, but you’ll know it.”
And Lydia did know it by the end of the lesson; it was just before her bedtime by then, and she hurried home just in time. Sophie was already sleeping on the couch when she got back. Lydia tried to shut the door softly, but she jolted awake.
“Uh, Lydia,” she rubbed her eyes, “I’m glad you’re back. Did you have fun at Shachi’s?”
“Yeah! Her owner taught me piano.”
Sophie blinked. “She taught you piano?”
“It was fun! I-” She thought for a moment. “-I think it’s the best feeling in the world. Hearing music.”
“O-okay.” Sophie scooped her up in her arms. “Why don’t we do something? Do you wanna play a board game?”
They played three games until Lydia nearly fell asleep at the table. She felt Sophie carry her up the stairs into her warm bed, but when she opened her eyes, it was morning. Now it was Saturday morning, she didn’t have school!
“I want to go to Shachi’s,” she said, but it occurred to her that she and Sophie should go and play games; she still had to keep up her efforts.
“Lydia! Are you awake yet?” her owner called from downstairs.
Sophie set cinnamon rolls on her plate. Lydia asked if they should go and play games after breakfast.
“Of course! I’m still getting our money back, and then we’ll save enough for your Kookith.”
“Okay.” But a cold feeling started somewhere in her body. The creeping cold told her not to trust her owner’s words, but she had always believed in Sophie. Whenever she said something, Lydia knew that she’d do it.... wouldn't she?
The cold feeling disappeared by the end of that day as they counted their savings to twenty-thousand neopoints. Lydia practically flew back home; she would get a Kookith in no time! And Sophie was equally delighted. She had worked the hardest and the longest. She had even played through lunch.
“Thank you, Sophie.”
“Are you happy now, Lydia?”
The Shoyru looked into her owner's face. “Happy? Why?”
She looked away. “You just haven’t seemed happy lately. I thought it was ‘cause of me.”
“No! I’m happy! I’m really happy!” Lydia pulled Sophie’s sleeve, to get her attention. “You’re nice to me, and so are Shachi and Juhi.”
The two were quiet until they returned home, and Shachi was standing on their doorstep when they got there.
“Shachi?” Lydia flew to her side. “What’re you doing here?”
Her face held surprise. She blinked a few times before she answered, “I-uh-I wanted to ask if you could come over for another lesson?”
“Yeah! I’d love to come over! Can I, Sophie?”
She nodded blankly and said yes. Lydia and Shachi cheered and started for her house.
“Do you have lessons every day, Shachi?”
“Yes. Mom and I practice every day. She says that’s what makes you good.”
“If I practice every day, will I get good?”
“Yup!” Shachi opened her door. “Mom!? Where are you?”
“In the kitchen, Shachi. Don’t yell, please.”Juhi smiled at Lydia. “Good to see you again, Lydia, would you like to practice again?”
“Okay. Shachi, you can get your viola out. Let’s start with a D-Scale and we’ll go from there.”
That night she learned “Mary Had a Little Babaa” and “Shenkuu Bridge is Falling Down”. When she told Sophie, she seemed proud of her.
“You know, Lydia, I’ve been thinking,” she said the next morning. “Do you want to go to Juhi’s and Shachi’s every day? I like the idea of you playing the piano.”
“Me too! I wanna be really good like Shachi, and she says that you have to practice every day.”
“I’ll talk to Shachi’s owner then, and I’ll make a deal with you.”
“What?” Lydia swallowed her cereal eagerly,
“If you can keep up with the piano, I’ll keep up with the Neopoints, so we can get a Kookith as soon as possible!”
“Yeah!” Lydia bounced in her seat. “I like that deal!!”
Sophie grinned. “Okay! I’ll tell Shachi tonight!”
-One Month Later-
Lydia stood backstage, watching Shachi finish her Viola solo. She thought about how hot it must be under all of the stage lights.
“And now...” Juhi stepped onstage. She looked like she was glowing in her golden dress. “Our last performance is a duet: featuring Shachi on the viola and Lydia on the piano.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and straightened the ribbon on her head. A barricade of applause startled her as she walked out. The music was already on the stand, it was way simpler than the stuff Shachi ever played, but Lydia still felt nervous all the same. Shachi looked back at her, and nodded to start. She began the first few measures, until Shachi came in, and soon the music started to flow. It was fun, and Lydia’s nervousness melted away. Lydia remembered what Juhi had said; she made the last notes quieter, until it faded away with Shachi’s sound.
Lydia could see the audience stand up and clap again, she found Sophie in the front. Even in the dark she could see the excitement in her owner’s face.
“Good job, you two!” Juhi met them offstage.
“Well, Lydia messed up a few times-”
Juhi shot Shachi a severe look.
“-And so did I!” she finished quickly.
Lydia didn’t mind at all; she thought she had done well, and Sophie did too. It was quite evident on her face as she ran up to meet them.
“Lydia! That was wonderful!” She squeezed her in a hug. “I can’t wait to see your guys’ next concert!”
“We were good?” Shachi asked. “Did my harmonics ring all the way down there?”
Poor Sophie’s face went blank. “Uh... Lydia, do you wanna go for ice cream now?”
“Okay!” She quickly turned back to her friends.
“Thank you for teaching me, Juhi, and thanks for playing with me, Shachi.”
“It’s fun!” Shachi smiled. “I want to keep practicing with you until we’re as old as my Mom is.”
“Which isn’t that old!” Juhi said suddenly.
“Come on, Lydia!”
They walked (Lydia flew) to the Ice Cream shop, but Sophie started going the other way.
“Sophie? The Ice Cream place is over here. Where are you going?”
“The Petpet store.”
Lydia’s eyes widened. “Why...?”
“I thought ice cream and a Kookith would be a great treat after your first concert.”
She smiled at Lydia’s gasp. “REALLY?!”
“I kept my deal too. Come on!”
The store was warm and bright, with all the Petpets still waiting to be adopted. Sophie approached the counter with confidence.
“We’re looking for a Kookith for my concert master.”
“Mistress.” Lydia giggled,
“Oh, right! Kookith for a mistress!”
The Usul clerk smiled. “Of course, right this way.”
They walked through the aisles, Lydia’s excitement growing with every step. Finally, a dinky Kookith stood staring at her through the glass.
“This one!’ she said. “This Kookith.”
She took the timid Petpet out, Sophie quickly paid her all of her saved neopoints and walked back out to the dark streets.
Lydia closed her shaky arms around her Petpet; he was so small.
“Do you like him?” Sophie asked eagerly.
“I- I love him!” She hesitated. “His name is Sonata; after our concert song. Thank you, Sophie,” she whispered as she stared into her Petpet’s shining eyes.
“This was my greatest day ever.”
“Mine too,” Sophie said. “I know I’m a bad owner, but if you’re happy, then I’ll think I’m getting better.”
“I never thought you were a bad owner.”
“Nope, and I know how.” She could feel her Kookith’s breathing become slower and deeper.
“Because I think a love for something makes it a whole lot easier.”