Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2019 finalist, Ksenia Baatz! Ksenia finished 7th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “Musical Mirth” 

Musical Mirth
By Ksenia Baatz

The girl slouched away from the undulating divas that rhythmically pranced to the jarring beat. Of course they weren’t real, just holographs projected from the side of the sleek building that quivered in the air with each beat, like liquid mercury. Tugging at her ashen hoodie, Veranica slouched below the cloud of long legged damsels on jetboots as they whooped and oh so perfectly mimicked the angular jerks that they so called “dance.” A dark spot between the quavering auric, masked girls, Veranica shied away from the gaggle of the foolishly sculpted humans. What was the purpose of their long spaghetti arms that where only useful to swing to the programmed movements they were given? What use were their bird boned legs that would crumble under the slightest pressure? Veranica found that the Sculptor that had for millennia worked to mimic such dainty results had become mistaken. Yet she should not complain, for her appointment for the masking was coming the following week. Though it was required by the government, she moaned at the idea of sacrificing her visage for such an asinine appearance. She soon shuffled around the corner and slightly loosened her onyx hood that had muffled the blaring beat for the time being.

Veranica flew into the golden spire that twisted in the sunlight and appeared to be coated in a slick, moist shell. In a couple seconds she entered the safety of her room through the ancient oak door that was prone to distributing splinters if you knocked incorrectly. In the mirror a mousy girl appeared. She had a frosted tone to her skin that was stark against the ebony waves of hair that cascaded down past her shoulders. The girl in the mirror had arms delicately threaded with muscle evidently from many days of exercise. She was short yet sturdy in a way that emanated self-confidence, strength yet also a certain delicate nature. Veranica sighed with the girl and slid across the room into her piano chair, already mourning the fact that her reflection would soon be gone. She placed her firm yet cultured fingers on the ash-colored keys and with a creak from her archaic chair she began to play. Her fingers twirled melodies that even the most complex holograms could not even fathom to mimic. Mellifluous melodies where intertwined with tintinnabulating staccatos. From the keys of the piano melodies of love, hate, grief, joy flew and hovered in the room. For Veranica there was a certain mirthful aspect to mimicking the flourishes of life. With a final chord Veranica paused and listened to the echoes of the music twirl through her room and fade. She remembered the days when she would fling open her window and allow the tunes of mirth and life to flee to the souls who hungered for more. For an explanation to the daily chaos that had leeched onto the world. Yet as the music faded in the room the rust-speckled windows firmly remained shut.

A week later the door slammed open before groaning shut. In a mirror a stranger appeared. The stranger had thin needle arms that stuck out from the neon pink smock that the Sculptor had provided. She was lanky, yet in a way that made her look off-balance, disproportional. The stranger’s hair was trimmed to close stubs and dyed a dirty blond. Her legs were noodle thin, pulled into weak strands from their former glory, and now were encased in a tight, buff skin. Worse of all was the visage. Gone were the strong sure chin and chiseled cheeks. Instead, a weak heart shape with an acute chin had been placed on a bug-like, elongated neck. Two storm blue eyes tilted on a slight angle had a permanently stern look as they eerily stared from beneath the two strings that claimed to be eyebrows. The stranger was similar to a lanky praying mantis that had just crawled into this new world, weak, terrified and pitiful. The limbs were programmed to perfection by the Sculptor himself who had taken the privilege of adding additional modifications. Veranica sobbed once and glanced at the stranger that glared back in a stern, disapproving way. She dropped her head to the ground and still the strange face judgmentally scowled in the puddle her tears had formed. Veranica had survived many gapes and gawks, yet now she was the one to punish herself. Closing her eyes she looked inside, searching for who she was. Inside the horrific mask, the strong snow-white girl was inside, yet she had slithered into the furthest and smallest corner, and hidden in such a way that Veranica didn’t believe she was still there. Veranica gracefully collapsed on her piano chair, bothered by how unnaturally perfect even her most angular movements seemed. Only now did she notice the fingers, the ten halcyon waves that weakly twitched on the keys. Veranica collapsed, wrapping her hands around her alien face and ignoring the ardent groans that emanated from the keys. After a final sob, she placed her fingers in position and began to play. First the music was hesitant, timid then raging, like a storm of grief, pain and sorrow of the past and the disappeared hope of a better future. Eventually the music began to sound of hope, mellifluous tunes oozed from the keys, and a strange change began to occur. The legs and arms began to thicken shorten and pale to their muscular previous state. Her chiseled face began to form and the blue leached from her eyes and darkened to a gorgeous onyx. Soon raven curls brushed her broad shoulders and her lips thickened to an oh-so-much kinder smile than the previous slash that had marred the stranger’s face. With a final scream the stranger relinquished her fingers and the beige waves returned to their former fair, gentle state. The mask that the Sculptor had oh-so-securely sown over Veranica had faded. She was free. As she struck a final staccato, the mirth of music bubbled up and over in a series of joyful giggles. Then Veranica fell silent to listen to the echo of the music, yet it did not quiet. It grew and spread and whirled in the room like a ravaged beast finally ready to be free. Finally Veranica threw open the windows and allowed the music’s mirth to gush out, long due to the people who hungered.

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