I walked briskly back to my house and practically flew through the front door and into the living room. Grabbing a couple of my favorite books, I headed for the door once again.
"Nova? Are you back already?"
My mother walked out of the kitchen.
"I just forgot a couple of things...Estelle needs my help."
"Really? With what?"
"She needs input on some music she's composing...this audition has her a little overwhelmed."
"Oh, well you're good at cheering people up. I'm sure you can put her at ease."
"Yeah...it's relaxing for me, too; listening to her practice. Sometimes I wonder if she'll ever realize how beautifully she plays."
My mother gave me a sideways glance and, for a split second, I felt as if she was looking right through me, but then the feeling went away when she spoke again.
"What books do you have there? Something to help Estelle brainstorm or some light reading I hope. I don't want you wearing yourself out studying today. You've done more than enough of that lately."
"I wanted to show Estelle a couple of the pictures in this book. There's images of what the surface used to look like. I was thinking that she could use that for inspiration...maybe write a song about rebirth and recovery...or make a metaphor about beauty being found in everything."
"That's a good idea, but don't be too disappointed if she doesn't seem as fascinated by the scientific part of it all."
"I won't...I just hope the pictures can inspire her."
I was surprised that she hadn't tried to talk me out of taking the books with me at all. After all, the only thing Estelle would really understand in the book was the pictures. Half the terms in the geology book were hard to understand, even for me, so I couldn't even begin to imagine how confusing the text would be for someone who was never taught more than a few basics of science, like gravity and the types of rocks we could find here. I figured she would say that the books wouldn't do Estelle any good if she didn't understand them.
"A picture is worth a thousand words. If she's speaking vaguely of something that the rest of the general community wouldn't understand, then it makes no difference if she does or doesn't know the science behind the imagery."
"She's right," Estelle said, as she flipped through the pages of my geology and landscape textbooks. "Writing music is the same thing as writing a poem or even a fiction novel...everyone is going to interpret it differently, so your possibilities are endless. The author sometimes just needs a vague understanding of the concrete thing they are shaping into a metaphor in order to use it correctly."
I nodded, smiling softly.
"Good, I'm glad you knew what she was talking about. So...can those be of any use to you?"
She furrowed her brow and made a small, disapproving noise in the back of her throat.
"Not sure...you see, people have written a lot of songs about what the surface used to look like...and there have been quite a few about the hope within our community and the possibility that we could someday return there seeing as we are the only ones left...but I...hey, what's that one over there?"
She pointed to the third textbook poking out of my backpack. That one I had brought as a last resort. To be quite honest, I wasn't even sure if I was allowed to tell her about this kind of stuff...it was never really mentioned on the news.
"That's my astronomy textbook."
"It's the study of stars. You can't see them from here. You can only see them from the surface. They're way up past the atmosphere, in deep space..."
"Oh...the place beyond Earth?"
"Yeah...and all around it. It's difficult to explain, but yeah...stars and galaxies are really pretty."
I handed the book to her. She eagerly flipped through the pages before stopping abruptly.
"My nickname...it's latin for star."
I smiled widely at her.
"They're bright, beautiful...and sometimes they go out...but they light the way for each other. You're such a kind person, 'Stell. Everyone in the community loves you. I know you'll shine at your audition...just like a star."
She hugged me tightly.
"You've taken a huge weight off of my shoulders...I know what I want to write about now!"
I pulled away.
"You do?! Already?"
"Yup! Just promise me you'll be there?"
"I promise. I wouldn't miss this for the world. You'll knock 'em dead....figuratively, I mea-"
"I know about metaphors," she giggled. "Believe it or not I use them all the time in this little thing I like to call 'music'."
"Oh, really? I hadn't noticed."
I laughed and beamed at her now bubbly mood over the space images. Maybe I could try and teach her more about it if she was interested...maybe I could validate my newfound passion for something the rest of the council tended to brush off.
Maybe I could finally tell her what I've been holding in for ages...maybe we could start over.