Chapter 4 (draft 1-3)

Madam Hapnes smiled and tilted her head toward Kira. “Pass.”

Kira took her seat, still sitting up straight as always.

“Don’t expect me to call you a master musician,” Dizzie growled.

To her surprise, Kira didn’t make any kind of retort or anything. She smiled and muttered, “I know you won’t, Dizzie. Thank you.”

Did she hear her right? What did she do for Kira to thank her? Dizzie decided to cool the snark while the rest of the senior year failed their exams one by one.

“How did I do?” Kira as they walked through the University gardens.

“What do you mean, how did you do? You passed.”

“Real talk, Diz.” She adjusted her mandolin strap. “I want to know what you thought.”

“What does it matter?”

“It matters. Now spit it out.”

Dizzie sighed and rolled her head. “You were playing for musicians. Technically, you hit every note. It was complex and daring. But nobody gives a shit about that except musicians. If you’re going to play something with purpose, you need to improvise. You need to feel it and pound it out.”

“I thought that’s what I was doing.”

“You were treating that mandolin like a tool. Treat it like an enemy, a lover, or whatever. But if you’re just worried about playing flawlessly, you’re missing the point.”

“What point?”

“Kira, you want to play like Jumoke, right?”

“More than anything. He’s my hero.”

“That’s wrong. You should be wanting to surpass Jumoke. You should be wanted to pound him into the dust.”

Kira scratched her head. “I guess you’re right.”

“I’m always right.”

“Why don’t you pay attention in class? You could be amazing. It’s like Hapnes said…”

“Hapnes can bite me. We’ve got our own path to being amazing.” Dizzie pulled out a parchment from her pocket.

“What’s this?”

“My gift to you for becoming a master.”

She looked it over. “Is this real?”

“Yep. Got it from one of his goons. We’ve been invited to play an impromptu concert tonight for Aquino.”

“He’s a radical, though.”

Dizzie snatched the invitation back. “Ah ah! Counterculturalist, Kira. Watch your language.”

“My parents are going to be pissed.”

“You just achieved mastery of the mandolin. How can they be anything but happy?”

“Do we even have a set prepared?”

“We’ll just do the usual. Maybe we can open with that ditty you played for music class.”

Kira raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t worry so much, babe. This’ll get us exposure right up the stinkhole.”

“When it comes to you, Diz, I can’t be anything but worried.”

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