Allegro 7: Decisions

There is no switch that flips when one becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. No magical changes or alterations, just the same thoughts in an older body.

Gone Without Water (Act 2, Scene 1)

Linsan had only been eighteen for a day and she was about to do the first adult thing she could think of: ask for money. Her mother had not had a job or show since last summer and her father's commissions for essays were dwindling.

Since her mother's confession during their summer picnic, Linsan couldn't help but notice the gradual tightening of the purse strings. It started with buying a little less at the store for food. Then her mother replaced her favorite tea with a weaker, local brand. Then the dairy delivery went from every three days to once a week and then every other week. Her mother's dresses changed with their fortune, the fancy materials carefully wrapped and placed in the attic. The ones she wore to clean house became her daily outfits, though she never stopped wearing hats and the occasional gloves. The fanciest she got was when her weekly students came in to learn how to sing. There were only three of them.

What started as a vague idea became a necessity when Linsan saw how anxious both of her parents were for the monthly monies that came from Dukan. He had continued to do well for himself with the occasional appearance in the newspapers or a notice about a new purchase he had made. She hadn't seen him in better part of five years though, true to his word, he didn't come around any longer and she only had a vague idea of what he looked like.

The only reminder came once a month like clockwork, two hundred and fifty cukdins on the third day. A bundle of currency cards that were carefully doled out in a matter of minutes.

Dukan had said the money would last until a few years after school. With her final days in a few weeks, she decided to head for his bank and ask for an extension and possibly more money. Maybe he would be generous. Just until her mother got another show or her father got a commission for a book or something more dramatic than the weekly newspapers.

What was the worst that could happen?

The day after her birthday was the best day to ask. From an article in the newspaper, she had learned that he only worked one day a week at the bank and she vaguely remembered that he had said the money would arrive until she turned eighteen. That meant the check her family hoped would show up soon might never come unless she asked.

To make sure she caught him, she left before the sun breached the horizon. It was a cool morning, not quite cold enough to cause her breath to fog but still a reminder that winter had ended less than a month ago. She tugged on her wool coat over her best dress and headed down the walk.

Doubt gnawed at her stomach and she clenched her hands tightly together. She wanted to run back home and just pray to the Couple that the money would remain. To ease herself, she let her imagination run wild to distract herself from her own nervousness.

In her mind, she imagined what he would say. Would he demand some sort of service? If it was to work for him at the bank, she couldn't say no to that. She was about to finish school and a steady job, even one that didn't have anything to do with music, was better than none. She would gladly help her parents with that. It didn't matter if he asked her to become a maid, factory worker, or even a herald.

She wouldn't give up the violin. Even though she didn't fully understand the emotional connection between Palisis and her parents, she knew it was more important than anything else. They were not willing to sell the violin despite a price in the millions. She wouldn't betray them by ever letting that violin go.

Linsan had no clue how Dukan had changed in five years, much less what the bank looked like inside. The newspaper articles had illustrations of him, but the block prints were nothing compared to seeing the real man.

The last time she had even gotten close was after he had moved. Her mother had taken a wheelbarrow to delivery the last of the crates from the attic to the bank vault. Everything of value, from centuries of log books, notes on crafting instruments, and even pieces of music composed by the Sterlig had joined Palisis in the vault, never to see light again.

That was the day when Tisin had made Linsan promise that she would never tell anyone that she had played the instrument. Even a simple melody played by a musician with magical powers would diminish the value of the instrument drastically, turning millions into hundreds. Linsan didn't understand why, but it sounded like superposition more than anything else; she didn't remember a feeling of power when she played it that one day in the attic.

A cold wind blew past her, tugging on her coat.

She ducked her head. Thankfully, she had braided her brunette hair into her best design and stole one of her mother's favorite hair ties to keep it in place. The heavy weight, a staff award for a long-forgotten play, bounced against her back with every step.

It was time to be an adult. Her parents needed it.