Cleetz 32, 1357
Paeline’s angry voice echoes down the hallway. She leans out of her room with her fingers hooked around the door jamb, levelling a dark glare in my direction.
With a frustrated sigh, I look up at my sister. She glares back. “What?” I ask. “What now?”
She doesn’t spare me a precious moment to breathe. “I’M TRYING TO EDUCATE MYSELF. SO STOP SINGING!”
I blush as I realize that Paeline’s right - I had been singing.
It happens a lot. I’ve lived in Dessely Village for my entire life - a huge trade center, one of the wealthier locations in the Kingdom. We’re not really overflowing with riches, but Dessely is an epicenter for performers - especially musicians - so I’ve had plenty of exposure to music.
I’ve been enchanted with music for longer than I can remember. I’ve never taken such an interest in anything else. Thus the constant humming that annoys everyone I know.
“Sorry,” I say with an eye-roll.
“It’s fine,” she says, then adds “NOT.” I wince at the sound of a loudly slammed door.
This is another commonplace thing in my house: Paeline slamming doors. I spend a lot of time cooped up inside writing music. Unlike me, Paeline goes completely stir-crazy when she’s away from people for too long. Paeline comes and goes faster than a hummingbird.
Ro came over earlier today and quieted Paeline’s antics by holing them both up in Paeline’s room to study for an assignment. Roinae - a sweet, carrot-haired child - has been Paeline’s friend since the two were very young. Her arrival is an immense weight off the shoulders of Kathhren, our mother.
And yet, Paeline refuses to shut up.
I sigh and focus again on the task at hand. I run the song through my head a few times, trying to figure out why the chorus lacks spice. Nothing comes to mind. No words rhyme with hope. Or, at least, none that match the song. “Elope, maybe? Rope?” I mutter to myself. “Cope, soap, mope…” My teardrop bracelet dances on my wrist as I lower my pen to the paper.
No sooner than the moment that I choose the word cope do I decide that the song’s useless. With a grunt of frustration, I ball the scrap of paper up and toss it across the room. My first mess-up for the day.
I scan the house, eyes searching for more unmarked paper to ruin with incoherent scribblings. My eyes fall upon a long, grayish piece lying across the floor. I stand and walk toward it, scanning it for ink marks, but it’s completely unused.
I pick it up and turn it over. The back is blank.
This song isn’t dead just yet.
Paeline bursts through her bedroom door.
“Azure, Ro says she thinks Peter’s cute! I told you! I’ve always thought you should be with him. It’d be gross, but that’s the definition of true love, right? One time you said you thought his eyes looked like melting chocolate. Then later that day was your birthday party and he kissed you! Why didn’t you start dating? You should have started dating! One time-”
“What?” Finally, she glances at my face. “You’re frustrated. I’m talking too much again, aren’t I? And too fast. And you’re writing music. Like that song you wrote last year, the one you called Fire-”
“-and when Peter spun you around and then ran out of the house because he said he had a curfew-”
How does Paeline know about that? Kathhren had sent her to bed. “Paeline.”
She clamps her mouth shut.
“I have a question. Why haven’t you entered the town speed-talking competition?”
Paeline stalks up to me, leaning down so that we’re face-to-face. “Two things. One, because there isn’t a town speed-talking competition. Two, how are you and Peter not in love?!”
The question stuns me into silence.
A bubble of pain wells up in my chest as I remember what had happened last year. How are you and Peter not in love?
If only Paeline could know how much time I spend wondering just that. Tears press at the back of my eyes.
I can’t make myself go anywhere near him - and even if I could, he’d get away from me as quickly as possible. For all the years that we’d been friends before our first kiss, it feels like something in the past year has changed.
It doesn’t make much of a difference for me. I’m still completely in love with him, no matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise. Still, every time I start a conversation with him… pain explodes in my chest at the thought.