Sound in Color


brynn_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Sound in Color
Synopsis Wright escorts Brynn to a concert in the park on a rare sunny day.
Date May 28, 2021

Roosevelt Island

It's a gorgeous late spring afternoon, not too hot. The sky is blue, there's a light breeze, and puffy clouds dot the sky. It's definitely the kind of day that people want to get out and enjoy, and Roosevelt Park is one of the places that has recovered almost to the point that one could forget the war. Which is, of course, the point. The northern end has multiple small parks, and it is on this late afternoon that the university's music department, in conjunction with the (struggling to rebuild) New York Philharmonic, put on a small show in one of them.

It's nothing like the old days when such concerts were done in Central Park in the summer. But the attempt to rebuild what was once a thriving music scene in the city is certainly underway. Instead of a stage, there are movable wooden platforms, such as would be used in an outdoor wedding, on the ground for the chairs of the performers. Signs promoting the performance say to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on, and there is no admission fee.

It's not something Brynn would have ever thought to attend, but now that she can hear it is something that she's happy to try out. As they make their way into the park, she observes that a fair number of people are taking advantage of the performance and the weather – it's not a huge crowd, but there are enough people here to classify it as a good turnout.

Wright has two bagged, folding chairs slung over her back to keep her hands free. Wow, it’s really perfect for an outdoor performance, she signs. And not as busy as I thought it would be.

She looks around the lawn for a good place to sit where they can hear well without being crowded. She points toward the area left of the stage, sparsely populated for now, likely with a partially-obstructed view of the performers. We can try over there, and move if you feel too crowded?

With a backpack on her shoulders that carries water and some snacks along with a bowl for Doodlebug, Brynn scans the people sitting around. To her, this is a lot of people in one space. She pauses when Wright does, looking toward the spot, and then nods her head enthusiastically in agreement. That spot is fine by her; she prefers not to be in the middle of crowds anyway. Aiming the Goldendoodle at her side to that same place, the petite brunette is watchful as she walks. Though she doesn't need it as much for her balance anymore, the cane she carries in one hand is still present. It's more to help her when she stumbles because she can't feel where her foot landed.

It's slower progress to the spot than Brynn herself would like, but she's getting used to basically being a slowpoke now. When they get there, though, she sets the cane on the ground by where the chairs will be so she can talk. There's plenty of room to escape if we need to, she offers with a grin. And I have the headphones you gave me just in case it's too much. You said this was a different kind of music than what Lance plays on the radio or at home? Because she only so far has listened to the stuff on the radio station and Lance is trying to teach her to appreciate jazz. (She's not sure she'll ever appreciate that stuff, it sounds like uncoordinated noise and makes her dizzy.)

Yeah, Wright signs, most of this will predate jazz by a couple hundred years. Not that I’m a classic music snob, but people have been listening to it for hundreds of years for a reason. She pulls the chairs free and sets one down, pulling the other from its bag and plopping it on the ground in front of Brynn.

My dad is one of those assholes who thinks the Beatles are good, so my music selection growing up was pretty terrible. She chuckles silently, this is clearly only mostly a joke. The second chair is likewise shucked and planted beside Brynn’s.

Slipping out of her backpack and placing it between their chairs once they're set up, Brynn is cautious about how she lowers herself into the chair. She'd really rather not knock it over or anything. Once she's sitting, though, she leans forward to now fully engage in a whole conversation. I don't know who the Beatles are, she signs blithely. Music is not something she had any real interest in keeping up with, for a lot of reasons – war, middle of nowhere Canada, deaf, the list goes on. When you offered to bring me here, I looked up the musicians. I know there are genres and subgenres, and Lance loves to talk about music since I got my hearing. He gets all excited to put music on for me and tell me about it. I don't have the heart to tell him that most of the time, everything he plays for me has too many moving parts for me to really process. It just sort of comes as a jumbled wave of noise.

She looks regretful that it's the case. I can tell people apart by voice mostly now and he's played a couple of really slow songs with one or two instruments in them. But I told him where we were going, and he said I might be able to tell things apart when it's live.

Thankfully there are only a few moving parts for this performance, so there will be very little auditory chaos, Wright assures her. Jazz is a lot. Definitely not where I’d recommend you start, even with modern music.

She packs up the cloth bags that held their chairs and deposits them beneath hers. Finally seated, she makes sure they’re both comfortably situated before pulling the program from her pocket and unfolding it. Lots of classics, she signs. Well, lots of… She pauses for a moment before fingerspelling, baroque pieces, which is technically different from classical. Did Lance play any music you did enjoy?

Settling in comfortably, Brynn has to think about that. It's hard to remember song names, she admits. And identifying them by lyrics is straight out. Someone called Nat King Cole? He's what I imagined a strong voice would sound like, I guess? Made me feel… safe? And the music was easier to hear and process. Some others too. They felt smooth with enough beat that I could feel it.

Wright nods in recognition. We had a christmas CD of his that got played a lot when I was a kid. I don’t know that I’ve actually heard any of his not-Christmas music. She shrugs.

Music is all personal taste, though, she signs. Plus a lot of generational context. So you like what you like, other people’s opinions about what music you like aren’t really important. If you hear something and you like it, that’s good music. There isn’t any music that is inherently bad. Except maybe the Doors. I could use water if you don’t mind. She nods at Brynn’s backpack.

Leaning down, Brynn unzips the bag and brings out a couple of water bottles and Doodle's bowl. Passing one bottle to Wright, she uses her own to put water down for the service dog, who is politely curled up right next to her chair minding his manners. Her hand gets a lick of thanks and some tail-wagging, and she ruffles his ears before sitting up.

I'm finding that I like a lot of things that feel smooth. I can't explain it any other way – jarring sounds hurt, and if it's too high-pitched, that hurts too. Brynn grimaces. #1E90FF|Or too loud. Or too many sounds. I can't separate out the pieces.## She has no filter. Is it weird that I kind of miss the silence?

Wright shakes her head as she accepts the water bottle, stowing it in a mesh pocket in the arm of her chair. I can’t imagine what it’s like to suddenly have an extra sense with no way to turn it off. She actually can, to a degree, though she’s not looking to share the horror that was being unable to stop streaming Elliot’s perspective on Pollepel Island during the siege. How going back to only using her own senses felt as refreshing as a sensory deprivation tank.

I imagine that getting acclimated to it is challenging, she signs. And if you need to throw on the earmuffs go for it, I’ll fight anybody who looks at you weird. But I can promise you that this will not be high-pitch or jarring. String instruments like these are all about sympathetic vibration, and carrying notes smoothly through a piece so that if one instrument stops it isn’t immediately noticeable as the other cellos are still going. She opens her water and drinks once her hands are free.

Brynn grins, and as always she looks on the bright side. Well, at least I only got hearing and not something like telepathy, right? Cuz the noise is loud enough with sound, I cannot even imagine what a continuous barrage of people's unspoken thoughts would sound like. I'd probably go insane. She rolls her eyes. I think the main music that I have found that I like so far is certain kinds of singing. Like that guy Cole. Lower voices are easier for me. And Lance let me hear this song from a movie we used to watch – Highlander? It's really old, but all we had in Canada was the old videos. And he said it was a band called Queen. I really liked that voice. And uhm… a couple of other guys from I think the same time as the Cole guy. I don't remember their names. I heard one piece that had that Queen guy in it, but I had to shut it off cuz there was this really high screeching that Lance said was great guitar. Definitely not something I can handle.

As she settles in with her headphones in her lap just in case she needs them, she adds, Smooth notes sounds like I would really like them. The orchestra starts tuning, and they're far enough away that it doesn't seem to bother her at all. A faint frown pulls her brows together and she glances at Wright. Although if that's a song, I might be wrong.

Wright laughs. OK, I forgot about the part where they tune their instruments and warm up, she signs. After this it will be very pleasant. I listened to everything listed on the program on their website just to make sure they weren't performing any horror movie scores. Mostly classics and a few modern pieces.

Somebody nearby catches her eye, clearly trying to subtly point out to his friend that people signing are attending a concert. How bizarre? She flips him a quick bird to try to forestall any embarrassing behavior on his part.

Oh, oh! They're tuning up! Okay. That makes a lot more sense to Brynn – it certainly didn't sound like a noise she'd want to hear for very long. She grins at Wright as she nods her understanding. Thanks for thinking of coming here, she signs with an expression of genuine pleasure. I never really paid attention to shows in the park, unless I was coming with the others or using the show to work on sketches of people's faces.

Her gray eyes scan constantly, though. Even now, she's situationally aware of her surroundings. The last concert she attended went hell in a handbasket at warp speed. Brynn notes the interest of nearby people – it's not unusual to see a double-take here and there when someone notices the sign language. Brynn stifles a laugh when Wright flips them the bird.

They don't look like they'll be too much trouble, she points out. If they get stupid, I'm pretty sure we can take them. She is totally teasing Wright.

OK, but you'll have to do most of the fighting, I'm a pacifist, Wright jokes with a serious expression, not spending another second thinking about the gawkers. She's not afraid, and carries a small pistol everywhere she goes.

Anything interesting happen at the Lanthorn lately? she asks. How's everybody doing?

Laughing, Brynn retorts, That's fine, I have my knife! The one she was given by this very person years ago to keep in her boot. She still keeps it strapped to an ankle – never know when a good blade might be needed and pocket knives might be too small!

Relaxing back into her seat, though, the young woman lets out a long breath. I think we're doing okay. Hailey and Lance are doing their various law stuff, Joe is… doing a lot of the usual. Scavenging and working in the darker areas of the city to bring home his part of the house funds. After Lance blew out the wall with his ability it was a little crazy, but we're mostly put back together from that. The building is secure again. A couple more adoptees are around now. The LHK have a habit of sort of rolling through and picking up anyone who needs it. They're a real-life Katamari.

She pauses and admits, Me and Jac are just trying to keep on. I try mostly to not think about what will happen if they 'upgrade the software' again. Been working on my drawing, trying to see if I can get it back up to where I used to be.

Wright nods in serious sympathy, Brynn isn’t the only android she knows. Did I tell you that I work with Asi Tetsuyama? she asks. I wish I could be around for whatever operation is set up to help all of you, but I’ll probably be on another assignment by then. If you need anything at all, please do reach out to me. Even if I’m only available by phone, Marthe would definitely lend what help she can.

She throws up her hands as she remembers something. Ames made a drawing for you but I forgot it, you’ll have to swing by sometime soon.

No, I didn't know that, Brynn replies with a thoughtful frown. I've only seen her a couple of times when we all met up to talk. Everyone is kicking around ways to help us, but it seems like there are a couple of things – like a specific guy who worked on us – that are going to be able to fix us. She hesitates and admits, Your Brynn, the real one… she won't remember any of this, as far as I know. I think a bunch of the others might be trying to mount a rescue, but I'm not exactly useful in those kind of things.

The grin that flickers across her face about Ames's picture is real pleasure though. I can stop by anytime, really. I think the real Brynn will really love drawing with her.

You don't stop being Brynn just because you aren't as old as the one I used to know, Wright signs softly. You're a real person regardless of your origin. You didn't ask for any of this bullshit but I'll still be here for you when the other Brynn gets back.

She sighs, feeling mostly helpless here but unable to let this Brynn belittle herself. Elliot is friends with Asi, and the one we work with is the only one he's ever known. He won't just transfer his friendship to the other one when she gets back. This Asi is still important. You're still important.

Yeaaaaaaaah. There's a hint of skepticism in the glance Brynn offers Wright just now. We don't even know if any of us will still be able to be active when that all happens, she signs. I'm trying not to think too much about what's going to happen when she comes back, it's awkward and weird for there to be two of each person running around the same group of people. That's why Aunt Abby left, you know. I feel like an imposter in the other Brynn's life, kind of like I'm stealing this time and this life from her, even though I'm not lying to anyone about who I am and I'm not even the one who did it. She pauses and makes a face.

I'm not sorry to be here or anything, I'm just trying to enjoy the things going on now. Aside from existential dread over another stroke, I mean. She shrugs and grins. There's nothing I can do about what's going to happen, so it's useless to get all depressed about it, you know? I was scared – still am – but it's not worth getting hung up on. I can't really draw with Ames as well anymore, but I was thinking about seeing if I could find a good camera to take pictures with. Not my phone, although that's decent. Like a good one, to see if I could be any good with photography.

For a moment, she looks almost surprised, as if she hadn't meant to really say so much about any of this. It's supposed to be a good day! Sorry, I didn't mean to get all up in my head about stuff, Wright. She shakes her head at herself.

It’s OK, Wright assures her. I understand that it’s a whole lot to deal with. I’m here if you need anything either way.

Also Ames is five, so you don’t need to be producing photorealistic images for her. She’ll be happy if you blend a bunch of colors together in an interesting way. She laughs. Ames does have an eye for color, though her compositions rarely feature clear forms. She’d love to hang out either way.

What kind of camera are you looking for? she asks as the tuning and warming up begin to wind down. People begin to quiet across the lawn, but this conversation isn’t making any noise. Digital or film?

Brynn laughs at 'Ames is five' – the expression on Wright's face gives away the amusement factor even if it's not spoken word. Hey, don't mess with 5-year-olds – they're scary with paint! And she really has a great eye for colors.

Taking the other question seriously, Brynn considers it as she watches the orchestra take its final positions. I'm honestly not sure, she admits. It's not a medium I have much experience with – we didn't really have good computers to handle digital images from a camera – what we could get to on the internet was a bit limited most of the time. And film … I mean, it's pretty old school and I don't even know if the chemicals and paper and film are even available anymore, much less cameras.

Her childhood was so far from what most would consider normal, she has no frame of reference for film.

That makes sense, Wright signs. Digital is probably a lot cheaper, all things considered. But you can always branch out into film if you get a feel for it. A good digital camera won’t be inexpensive, though she doesn’t bring that up. She’s going to buy one for Brynn either way.

A conductor, casually dressed for the spring outdoors, takes center stage as the last of the chatter dwindles away. Wright translates as he speaks—at length—about the concert series, the sponsorship program to support their art, and the long list of sponsors charitable enough to have their names read aloud.

Good point, Brynn concedes. I'll have to ask around at the school. I'm not taking classes or anything, but there are some students who do stuff with cameras who can probably give me some tips on where to start. The idea seems to have given her a bit of a spark that she hasn't had in a long time. Her art has always been a huge part of her life – even now, when she thinks it looks like chicken scratch, she still carries a sketch book everywhere.

When the conductor comes on stage, she pays attention to Wright's hands. They need a lot of money to do this kind of thing, don't they? Brynn isn't surprised – everything costs. And arts were never a priority for anyone but artists, really.

When he finally turns and raises his baton, there's a palpable shift among the performers and the audience. Expectation has a feel to it. The opening strains are soft enough that Brynn has no trouble, and as the sound builds some, her gray eyes go wide. It's different listening to live music rather than radio or recorded!

Wright closes her eyes as the music begins, limiting sensations so she can focus on the music and the feel of the warm spring sun on her face. It's a habit when sharing through Elliot's network, allowing her to be more there than here. After a moment she realizes that she can't talk to Brynn with her eyes closed, and opens them just to check.

So many strings together are not nearly as jarring as some of the other kinds of music she's tried. Brynn is fascinated and when Wright checks, the young woman has her eyes closed too, as if she's shutting out all her usual stimuli to process just what she's hearing.

For a long time, Brynn just listens. She has no idea how long they've been there, it could be only minutes or it could have been an hour. The fact that she sits in a public place with her eyes closed at all is about her trust in Wright. When she finally opens her eyes and reaches out to touch Wright's forearm to get her attention, she marvels, It runs all together but it still seems like one thing! It makes me feel so many things. She doesn't have the language to express herself. Like a painting has so many different colors but it's all one emotion.

Wright had been watching Brynn's expressions with interest. I'm so happy I got to be here with you, she says. Seeing you experience it was nearly as good as experiencing it myself.

And I forgot how warm these sounds are,
she adds. It's different outside than in a concert hall too. Different acoustics. You'll have to go to one when you can. Though there is a lot of range between pieces, so some night be unpleasant.

The descriptor 'warm' gives Brynn something else to add. Her face lights up with delight and she excitedly replies, Yes! That's a good word! Warm! In her excitement, her signs become more fluid but a little less complete sometimes – it's like her left hand is sometimes not where it's supposed to be or got the signal for the sign a hair late, but after months of being without sensation there she has mostly got it controlled. Except when she's like this.

The first one made me feel floaty, like Magnes when he plays with gravity! And then it climbed and got faster, like something was coming and we were waiting for it! My heart got faster and it was almost like I wanted to run away. And when it got bigger and bigger and broke, like a wave at the beach, and it felt warm and relieved! Like it was time to rest!

You really know your music! Wright exclaims, smiling wide and happy. Music can be so expressive even without lyrics telling you a story. I don't know why, but specific sounds and notes and tempos just really dig into certain emotions. It's not something she's put a great deal of thought into until now, but looking back it seems a lot clearer too her.

Shaking her head negatively, Brynn demurs. Not even a little, she objects with a grin. I know what I want my paintings and sketches to evoke in people… and I mean, I knew that music did the same. It's just different to actually feel it…

It's such a strange experience for her, like a magic afternoon that could be just a dream. Maybe she'll wake up and all of this is just that. But not so far! So … she just accepts it for the gift it is.

Its what I love about my art, she admits. I want the person seeing it to feel … something. Everyone feels a bit different and sometimes it's not what I was going for, but it's still a success if they feel anything at all.

I know what you mean, Wright replies. I mess with Ames every time she shows me a new drawing, like, 'It makes me feel…' and then I just say something absolutely absurd. She loves it.

Which is obviously not actually the same thing. But music really can produce strong emotions, and not always the ones the composer was going for. Your personal experience colors the emotions you feel. And it isn't always the same emotions.
She knows this well enough from her experiencing memories of events she attended, then later streamed through someone else's perspective.

I knew from reading about art that music could evoke emotion, but I never– The signs abruptly cut off as the newest piece begins, a haunting melody line that sings in higher notes over a darker, deeper lament. Brynn freezes mid-thought, her expression stricken as her gray eyes turn toward the stage.

So many emotions all at once. The jolt of surprise at the depth conveyed in those bars of music is subtle but the emotions that cross Brynn's face are probably exactly what the composer wanted – sorrow and despair with just the glimmer of hope offered by the slow high notes. The young woman seems to have forgotten she was speaking, her eyes rapt on the stage. At several spots she catches her breath in gasps, once her hand coming up to cover her mouth as if to hold back a sound of her own. By the time the selection reaches its climax, there are slow tears slipping down each cheek.

If she had any idea how much of her own raw emotion shows in her face, she'd be mortified.

Wright beams at Brynn from out of line of sight. The emotions aren’t usually considered good, but something doesn’t have to feel good to be important. She lets the music wash over her as well, compelled by the sounds to think about what’s in store for all of them. How in a best-case scenario she may soon be separated from Elliot forever. She feels ashamed for assuming Marthe will find pure joy in that outcome; her wife has to understand what he means to her, doesn’t she?

A breeze alerts her to tears spilling haphazardly over cheeks. When she breathes in it’s a sniffle, and she has to scrub the tears from her face with the sleeve of her shirt. Great, my makeup must be absolutely fucked. Elliot doesn’t step in without permission, but he does ping her to check in. She grants permission but doesn’t speak when he sits in her stream; together they listen, and feel, and think about the future.

Brynn sits very still for a long time as the final notes waft over her sense. She lifts her hands self-consciously to her cheeks to wipe away the leaked water, although several more spill over dark lashes. When does finally look at Wright, there's a mixture of awe and regret. Her fingers stumble over the signs, as if can't quite find the right words.

She'll never hear this. They gave me all of her life, but she will never have this. This one moment in time is a strangely life-changing experience – there will always be one Brynn that heard this and felt it and one Brynn who didn't. It's a strange place and time, perhaps, to comprehend how a simple concert in the park can make such a profound difference in perspective. It's a kind of beauty that Brynn never thought to experience.

Swallowing hard, she wipes once more at slow tears. It's the only thing in my head that's mine. And I feel like I stole it, somehow. It's not fair that I get to have it. It cost her months of her life.

Wright dries her own eyes, not knowing what to say. Brynn’s experience here is unique, she can’t compare it to her own. She doesn’t know if she can help her get through, or if she even should.

You’re not stealing from her, she signs. You aren’t a thief. You’re a person experiencing a singularly beautiful moment and that will always be yours. She wouldn’t want you to think you took it from her, because she’s like you: kind and good and a victim of the same event.

And just because you can’t go to war over it doesn’t mean there isn’t help on the way. People who can are going to, and there’s hope that they can recover the components you need to live a full life.

She sighs, wishing she could go to war herself. Elliot and I are going on assignment soon. But when he gets back, if you want, he can help you share this with her.

Releasing a huff of air that might almost be a silent chuckle, Brynn shrugs a little and offers, On one hand that sounds so simple and easy to do. On the other– She pauses, searching for how to say it. Is it better or worse to never know what you're missing? And then her expression conveys guilt too. Am I horrible for not wanting to share it? Because part of her feels very selfish – nothing else in her whole life really belongs to her, even Wright and the other people belonged to the real Brynn first. And this one beautiful moment cost so much.

And suddenly realizing that she's yet again said more than she meant to, she flaps her hand as if waving it all away. Botswarf, I'm sorry. It's a beautiful day and I'm so glad you brought me, and here I'm all up in my own head about stupid stuff and making a spectacle. She feels stupid and definitely worried she's ruined their outing. It's a terrible way to say thank you for something so amazing!

Pondering the complexities of selfhood is not stupid stuff, Wright signs patiently. It’s OK that you’re having difficulty with all of this. I didn’t invite you here with a stipulation that you not emote. I’m glad you came and that you got to experience this. She smiles, honestly happy to be here. She remembers that she was also moved to tears, and pulls a compact mirror from a pocket and quickly checks her makeup; not as ruined as she imagined.

Making a face at herself, Brynn nods at the assurances, but she signs, I don't question that I'm a person anymore. Just who that person is. A constant wondering how someone got so good at cloning and then downloading a brain with all its neurons and complexities that we barely understand. How they got to the point that they could literally copy another person and that copy is so perfect it has no idea that it's a copy.

She pauses and admits, When we found out Devon was a clone and the original one came back, I was so curious how he felt. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Wright seems equally perplexed by the how of all of this, then slightly alarmed. Devon was a clone!?

Wrinkling her nose, Brynn replies, There were two of him for a while, yeah. It was like a whole thing. She pauses and something suddenly hits her. You know, what I probably should do is go home to Brian…. I mean, there are other Brians running around out there. I just never thought to ask how weird that was for one of his duplicates…. Of course they weren't all running around trying to take over his life.

She could facepalm for that realization. I wonder if he even knows which one is the original anymore. Oh snap! I've been so weirded out about being kidnapped and having a stroke and worrying about getting the real Brynn back that I literally forgot Brian had duplicates. And they do okay! Don't they? How many are actually out there? Brynn's not sure she ever even knew. But I really don't want him to worry about stuff. He's got the rest of the kids to look after. So I probably won't.

Hey, at least it cheered her up. She just never looked at the man who took care of them in this light before.

Wright tucks away the news that there used to be a clone of Devon. He's never brought it up, and there's enough existential dread in the idea of it to easily explain why. It's not something she'll bring up unless he's done so first.

Wright's relationship with Brian was only ever transactional. Delivering kids to the Lighthouse then heading out to do it all again. There's one Brian that she doesn't like to think about. In a shattered memory in the first moments of being unknowingly locked into the telepathic network she remembers a dead Brian. There's barely an image of the man left in the memory; his mortal wounds grievous but forgotten, now just a knowledge of carnage. Just his slack face and a pistol in his hand still warm when she experienced Elliot picking it up to shoot shoot shoot shoot the man who was going to kill her and then


What were we talking about? Ah, yes. He's a good guy, she signs. You kids lucked out as far as war time illegal guardians went. You adults, back when you were kids.

Rocking a little in her seat, Brynn ponders the words. She searches her memories of life with the Lighthouse Kids. There are many good moments mixed with catastrophe.

I barely remember my first Ferry parent, she admits. I know I stayed with her for a little while. But I don't even remember her name. It makes her a little bit sad. The only clear memories I really have are lots of things exploding, and then the Lighthouse. The Pickles and Joe were there and … Just a lot of chaos. We were split up for a while cuz I got sick – I remember running from Pollepel. After that, things finally settled down. The compound was mostly safe even in the war, and it finally sort of felt like having a real home.

Brynn pauses. It was hard when Aunt Gilly left. She was unhappy a lot though. She was never privy to the arguments about Brian training the kids to fight. She just saw Gillian's body language. It was nice to have a mom for a while. Her gray eyes flicker toward the stage as music continues to flow. Brian was maybe a little more like an uncle, but he really cared about all of us fiercely. He made sure if something ever happened to him, we'd be okay. We'd be able to take care of ourselves. We figured out how to be a family.

Her chin tightens a little. I've always been pretty certain I was the least useful person in our family. She grimaces. We always said Lighthouse is forever. Looking at Wright, she signs, If I were the one in RealBrynn's position, I think I would feel … really sad and mad. I keep thinking I would feel like I got replaced … and was replaceable. It might be telling a secret, but maybe it'll help RealBrynn if someone knows she feels that way when she gets back and can help her not.

You don't have to be useful to have a place in your family, Wright signs. You're not buying love from them. Everybody makes the choice to be family and shares the burden of getting by together. It's important for the other Brynn to know that too. It's important for you to know that. Other Brynn, not real Brynn. She tries to keep frustration out of her tone, not because Brynn is frustrating her, but because Brynn's situation is difficult and there's not a lot Wright can do about it. She trusts Asi to do what needs to be done while they're on assignment.

Is anybody making you feel useless, or like you're not Lighthouse anymore? she asks, expression serious that slowly betrays that she's trying to raise Brynn's spirits. Because if so, I will absolutely drive Marthe over to the Lanthorn and she will use her nurse voice until she makes them cry. I swear to God I'll do it. All the power of a Wolfhound contractor is second to Marthe's nurse voice.

Brynn laughs at the idea of Miss Marthe using a nurse voice. She's sort of starting to learn tones, but it's an inexact art. And somehow she bets Marthe's nurse voice matches her really stern Nurse Expression – Marthe has a look almost as scary as Nurse Megan did!

No, even when we were training nobody made me feel useless. I mean… I'm still working and pulling my weight. I can do all the things we were taught, Wright. A moment's pause and then she makes a face.

Well, sort of. Not being able to feel the whole side of my body is awkward and uncomfortable. I trip all the time because I don't know where I am and I drop things all the time. Don't tell any of them but I fell down the stairs yesterday. Brynn rolls her eyes. It's just really hard to explain without feeling like I'm whining, I guess.

Letting people you love know about your needs isn't whining. I'm sure they help if you ask them to. If you need any accessibility aids or improvements to the Lanthorn to help you get around safely, Elliot and I will happily cover the cost, Wright replies. Though maybe don't use the fire pole in the meantime.

That makes Brynn laugh, a huge genuine grin pulling her cheeks. Yeah, I'm not as dumb as my brother – he slid down that pole after he was shot! The roll of her eyes and the look she gives Wright is an obvious BOYS! statement.

When the music that's being played shifts from the slower tempo to something a little more intricate and faster, the brunette looks toward the stage. She hasn't stopped listening this whole time, but it was a soothing kind of sound that she'd been able to process more in a background state. This piece has a different feel. Wright, what does this one make you feel like? It's… got urgency to it. Demanding. I feel like I should be… running away because something dark is coming. Should music make you feel uneasy?

Definitely, most of the best movie soundtracks use that to keep you engaged in the moment, Wright responds. Action, horror, and suspense movies, anyway. Obviously there's a lot of range there too. For instance, the TV shows Ames watches use music that makes me want to scream all the time but only because it's so annoying.

She smiles, joking, and thinks of this piece in particular. This one definitely feels like building dread, though it can build up to something totally different. Like being worried but it turns out that you were worrying for no reason.

Brynn tips her head, considering that information. Honestly, I don't need things in my life that build dread, she finally signs, making a face. Her life has been filled with things that cause dread, and she fights every day to find good things in each moment. It makes me wonder how horrible the soundtrack of our life would be.

Then she grimaces again. That's a thought I didn't need. Maybe it's good that I don't watch those kind of movies anyway. I don't like seeing movie explosions and violence. It's entirely unreal anyway, and it tends to bring up bad memories. Being able to now hear music and realizing it could make her feel fear or dread? Yeah, that's just going to make her steer even more clear of that kind of thing.

Wright nods. There's plenty of things not to like about dread; she and Elliot have gotten a handle on on their own in order not to overwhelm co-hosts. She's sure no therapist would ever call the method healthy.

There are times when it's great, she signs. In a movie. Feeling engaged and sympathizing with the characters so that when they overcome their various perils you feel as happy and relieved as they do. But you're not wrong, there's a lot of bleak shit too. Feel free to message me about movies if you want a soundtrack warning. She's serious but smiling, they've both been through enough real-life dread. It's fine if Brynn doesn't want to subject herself to any more.

Brynn offers a sweet smile in reply to that. Maybe I can just watch movies with Ames. That seems like just about my speed when it comes to movies, she jokes. Maybe it's only partially a joke. But then again. All those old cartoon movies we had on tapes in Canada had music. At least those won't scare me. Or make her have nightmares of things exploding. She hasn't had many in recent years – Aunt Gilly and Brian worked pretty hard to try to make sure the kids recovered as much emotionally as they could despite the world they knew.

Her attention drawn back to the stage, the girl visibly winces as a crescendo of tension builds to its climax and then her shoulders relax. The sudden release of tension in the music's story brings the same to Brynn, and she slowly breathes out. It feels like relief, she observes in awe. So much said with no words at all… emotion, a whole story, without anyone saying anything. The experience brings images to her mind, things she wants to paint. She's always worked more in realistic styles, but…. Can she capture what she sees in her mind's eye with her defective body?

It makes abstract paintings in my head, she admits to Wright. Colors with no form. I've seen pictures of abstract works, and I never really understood them… Until now.

You absolutely should come watch movies with Ames, Wright says. And not just because if I have to watch Toy Story one more time I'm going to throw myself off the balcony. She likes to draw while she watches so that's an easy combo. Also if you need a teacher for abstract art Ames may actually be your girl; she's been producing absolute nonsense lately and giggling when I describe it, I'm sure she's messing with me but I'm not sure how.

That makes the brunette laugh as well. I told Kendall … art is about how it makes you feel, and not everyone feels the same thing when they look at something. It's just as valid to be a good cartoon artist as a realistic style or an abstract one or playing music to make someone feel things. But to me, abstract art was kind of a bunch of paint thrown on a canvas ….. until this. It's hard for her to explain but she tries. I kind of feel like with abstract art … I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to be seeing because I wasn't supposed to be seeing, I was supposed to be hearing it?

That doesn't even make sense in her own head but it's as close as she can get.

I think I get what you mean, Wright signs. Her eyes are on the stage for a moment as the music behind a light but slow escalation to something warmer than earlier pieces. At least, this music has been inspiring people to create art literally for centuries. It really taps into the brain and hits a lot of nerves. So I can see how somebody would listen and then… let the art move in unexpected directions.

There's a brilliant smile and a nod. That's exactly it, she signs thoughtfully. She needs her own style of art. Ever since she first woke up from the stroke, she's been trying to regain the skills that Original Brynn developed over the years with her art. Maybe instead of doing that, she can work on her own style – because this musical experience has definitely had a major impact on her. I want to paint what I heard today, she tells Wright suddenly. In oils. Acrylics won't have the depth. It will have to be oils. She wonders if she'll even be able to find any of those or canvases either. Besides wall art and murals, she hasn't really done any paint– She's never painted. Not really. She was not awake when those paintings were done. The only painting she's done has been touching up the mural in the Lanthorn after Lance demolished the wall.

I need to paint what I heard today, she repeats, her expression hard to read for the jumble of emotions she's feeling. Brynn's stomach twists at the desperate urge to leave something of herself behind, something that says she existed if a software upgrade destroys her. Something that is just hers.

I'll be absolutely thrilled to see them, Wright signs, smiling wide and honestly to see Brynn's enthusiasm. As people begin to mill about and break up their blankets and chairs, she sighs contentedly and stretches.

Do you need anything before I get shots to KC? she asks. I'll still be reachable by phone but if you need anything that could be helpful to you we can go on a shopping spree. I'd be happy if I knew you were as set up as you can be.

Waving her good hand as if waving off a fly, Brynn offers a smile and then signs, I think I'm okay. When I need things, we can usually get them. She pauses and then reaches for the cane to push slowly up to her feet, careful of her balance. Only when her feet are secure under her does she look up and lean the can against her hip to sign again.

Wright… In case something happens before he gets home… will you pass on to Elliot too – Thank you for everything you've all done to help since the crash. Brynn remembers how much out of your way you both went to bring something for her when she was younger, and it always meant a lot to her. But I am grateful for all of this. She gestures at the park and everything around them. And for all the small things you've both done for me. It feels important to say it.

From both of us, Wright signs with an expression of warmth and kindness, You are always welcome. We’re glad we got this chance to help however we can.

Brynn's smile is soft and she signs, Just getting to do these kind of things is amazing, Wright. She gathers up her backpack and Doodlebug's leash while Wright stows the camp chairs in their bag, and then she grins wickedly. If you wanted to get me and Ames some oil paints and canvases, she and I can make Elliot some paintings for when he gets back. Because cutting Ames loose with oil paints isn't a disaster waiting to happen or anything.

The petite brunette is giggling her near-silent giggle at the thought of the look on Marthe's face as they make their way slowly out of the park.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License