Not Uncommitted, Not Unimportant, Not Unserious (Part 1/2)

Elmire went to bed around 2 a.m. that morning. A few hours later, she was up and eager, absolutely overflowing with excitement, to get to school a.s.a.p.

Today was the first day she could use one of the upstairs practice rooms.

To Elmire, every functioning piano was perfect in its own way, but the concert grand in Room E was a zero compromises, masterly crafted, impeccable instrument. It was the kind of piano that students fantasized about (e.g., they thought, “If I ever have the privilege of touching just one key on such a heavenly instrument, I will die happily and never slack off during practice again”). Elmire had Cocoa and nothing would ever replace Cocoa for her, not even this beautiful, less moody, supposedly easier-to-control piano with its heavier (but not too heavy) action, more overtones, and clear, bright and universally appealing sound.

As was her habit, she gave this piano a name layered with various meanings: Valodie. Firstly, the “Va” in Valodie hinted of vanilla and aligned with the piano’s color, its bright, clean, sparkling, rich sound, and its universal appeal, just like vanilla ice cream and every other vanilla thing that was a wildly popular standard-bearer.

Secondly, there was the “odie,” which represented the piano’s ability to give voice to the most exquisite and enchanting melodies.

Finally, the fanciness of the name as a whole and its beginning letter of “V” whispered of “virtuosity,” the piano’s allure, and its ability to delude certain dreamers into thinking that playing it would instantly reveal their hidden talents and true identities as virtuoso pianists.

Her fellow students left her to practice alone. They knew she was busy preparing for an upcoming performance and working on new compositions, but one of the teachers couldn’t resist. Enchanted by her playing, he entered the room to praise her. He also briefly interrogated her, in a friendly way, about her history with the piano.

Elmire had an art theory seminar with Britany that morning. Art was Britany’s least favorite subject because in pre-school she had loved coloring everything, which her cruel pre-school teacher had hated, and she had misunderstood shapes, which that same awful teacher had mocked her for.

Britany’s pre-school work. Image generated by DALL·E and edited by me.

Since then and until now, Britany had largely been able to avoid art. Before class, she’d tried to explain to Dr. Burden that art hated her.

Dr. Burden told her not to worry, that pre-school didn’t matter, that sometimes we got wrong ideas about ourselves because of thoughtless, heartless people, and that she should allow herself a fresh start. But Britany had had this complex for most of her life and it wasn’t going to instantly disappear.

Elmire tried to cheer her friend up with an overly perky greeting and by talking to her during class breaks.

It worked and by the end of the day, Britany was in a great mood. She’d survived an art class without being embarrassed.

Conversely, Elmire was exhausted and finally feeling the effects of staying up until 2 a.m.

Her solution: coffee. Chilled Chatter Coffee from a school vending machine was not at all what she wanted her first experience of coffee to be, but she was desperate for energy and others drank coffee when they were tired, so she would too.

It was cold and delicious, likely loaded with sugar to overpower any bitterness. Elmire may make a habit of drinking it

or maybe not. She hadn’t realized that she could get a brain freeze from a drink or what an awful bitter aftertaste it would have.

Disgusting. Why did people drink this?

Instead of chess, cheerleading, football … Elmire decided to join the dance club. She was put on a team with Britany, Brett, Luke, and Carrie, and then a second smaller team with only Britany and Brett. They practiced for a performance.

When they monitored their practice, they used their eagle eyes to find flaws they could fix.

Unfortunately, they didn’t need to look that carefully to find mistakes.

Mistake #1: They needed to improve their blocking. There were too many (near) collisions. To be specific, Britany should be careful not to kick Carrie again.

Mistake #2: Elmire should not get lost and freeze.

Mistake #3: Circles should be circular, not squiggly.

Mistake #4: If they couldn’t make eye contact with one another during their routines without laughing, they should avoid eye contact.

They uploaded their practice videos to a private account online so that they could continue to study them at home and improve. There was a lot to fix, but there were good moments worth celebrating too.

Like this lean …

Elmire went home that evening and crashed. She would give coffee another chance, but it seemed incredibly overhyped. Its effects only lasted for a couple hours. Afterwards, she felt as if she were a zombie in stand-by mode and rushed to bed before she passed out.



  • Yimiki
    December 28, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    I love how detailed your high school classes are, with art bits on the whiteboard, in the class, every student there and everyone showing up in similar school uniforms. Maybe that’s simply the way the pack runs, but I’ve heard a lot of complaints about high school, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is all you.

    Dance club! Elmire is doing well exploring everything and stepping out of her comfort zone to try out new things 😊

    • Haneul
      December 29, 2023 at 1:58 pm

      Thank you! Fortunately, the pack itself takes care of the whiteboards. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do much else automatically. 😖 I haven’t had any actual problems or notable bugs with it so far, though.


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