I was walking out of my interview, somewhat overwhelmed by everything I had been told, when my phone buzzed, indicating that someone had sent me a text. I looked at the screen and, seeing that it was Nova, immediately put in my passcode and went to answer it. She wanted to get out of her house for a bit and come see me. I would understand that, considering she had disappeared for nearly a month. I could hardly imagine what a rigorous process her independent study was. If I was feeling stressed just from trying to get into entertainment as a musician, I couldn't begin to picture how much reading and memorizing Nova would have to do of laws and science in order to be a government leader. I didn't understand half of the words that were mentioned in our weekly government news updates, let alone the monthly surface reports.
I let her know that I was heading for the high school chorus room and told her to meet me there. As soon as I was able to let myself in and shut the door, I plopped down into one of Mr. Kalypso's comfy office chairs and started to freewrite some song ideas in my notebook. However, no matter how much I wrote, no idea seemed good enough to present to the entertainment council, especially not if I wanted to completely blow them away.
"No. No. No, no, NO!"
I ripped the pages that I had written on out of my notebook, balled them up and threw them across the room, burying my face in my hands. I thought back to what they had said in the interview, how they told me that they needed a song by the end of this month to show them how far along I was and what I needed to improve on before official auditions took place in the Spring. It was all so overwhelming, and at that point in time, I didn't know if I would be able to do it or not. I started to cry lightly, as I often do whenever I get stressed out about something.
"Why...why is this so difficult? It shouldn't be this difficult."
"Maybe you're just making it too hard," a familiar voice replied.
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder and I looked up.
"Stella? Since when do you call me 'Stella'?"
"Since when does anyone call you 'Stella'?"
"Well, I'll be the first, and it's because I found out that it's another word for something beautiful as well as a scientific term that your name comes from."
"Well someone seems to be enjoying at least a bit of her government studies. How much have you read?"
"I've finished the law books, but now I'm getting into the sciences and boy, is it dense. Probably because we learned next to no science in school, so I nearly had to start from the very beginning, but it's so fascinating! There's so many cool things about the past surface that I can't wait to read about. There is even science that talks about things beyond the planet and the atmosphere. There's a book on space."
"Space as in the sky?"
"Well, yeah sort of, but also not. It's really hard to explain, and I haven't even read through the first couple of chapters completely yet."
"Then take your time and enjoy it, you have nearly a year to cover this stuff before you officially start your job like everyone else, right?"
She nodded, smiling wider.
"Right. So what's got you so frustrated?"
"Oh...well, I had my interview today."
"Yeah I saw entertainment interviews were on the government schedule today. How did it go? Not good....?"
"It wasn't that the interview didn't go well, it was more of the fact that it went almost too well. They really want me to step it up and write a song in a month that is entertaining and fresh and will blow the audience away."
"You write music all the time, Stell'. Whats the problem?"
"I compose music, but I'm not big on writing songs with lyrics. The ones I have written have been mediocre at best, and even then that is kind of tooting my own horn."
She made a disappointed noise in the back of her throat.
"How can you possibly know that if you won't play it for anyone?"
"Because nobody wants to hear it?"
I gave her a weak smile.
"Nova, you're my biggest fan. You like everything...even if it's absolute crap."
"You just have to have a little faith! I'm sure if we put our heads together, we can come up with something."
"I guess I'm just scared..."
"Of what, exactly?
"They don't just want me to write this song...they want me to sing it while someone else plays the piano. I've never done that before. Sure, in chorus I sing with an accompanist, but the songs were not my own. What if I write something wrong? What if they can't read what I've written? What if-"
"What if you blow everyone away? What if your song is original and entertaining and you're immediately inducted into the job? What if it only goes okay but they decide that they still want you on the entertainment council? There are a lot of "what if"s, 'Stell, but getting scared by them is not going to help at all.
I knew she was right, but I didn't want to admit it.
"Well, what do you suggest I do?"
"Have you tried writing about more personal things? I know it's a bit unnerving and kind of intrusive, but the most emotional pieces come out of subjects that relate to you specifically. I'm sure you have memories or people you can write about who have made an impact on you. All you have to do is add a metaphor and voila! You have a song that will knock any committee's socks off."
"I guess...but all of my metaphors have been used so many times by other writers. There isn't any new kind of metaphor as far as I can see..."
I also didn't want to admit that the idea of writing something personal terrified me, because I wasn't ready to let the person I would write about know that I thought this about them. I knew that something would change, and it was safer to keep my deeper emotions within. And Nova was right, it already felt intrusive, and I hadn't even written anything yet. I looked at a blank page in my notebook and tried to ponder this, but I could feel her staring me down, so I looked back up and immediately noticed the mischievous smirk on her face.
"Leave the new and exciting things to me. I think I have a few books that can help you out. I'll be right back."
She ran to the door.
"Wait...I'll come with you."
"No, you need to stay here and start writing, missy."
She turned on her heel and rushed out of the classroom, slamming the door behind her, but she even managed to make that sound optimistic.
I shook my head and laughed as I plopped down into the comfy chair again. What was I going to do with her? More importantly...what was I going to do without her?
"I hope you know that she'll be too busy to hang out with you all the time once she takes on that government position full time," my mother had said earlier in the year.
"I know," I had replied, rolling my eyes. I was going to be busy, too, I had thought to myself as I went to my room to practice my scales. However, as we drew closer and closer to job initiation, I began to realize just how busy she would be. We hardly see government officials...and I knew, deep down, that I thought Nova's schedule would somehow be different. So far I had accepted the fact that us not being able to see each other as much would affect me.
I just had no idea how much.