A beautiful, poignant story weaving the concepts of memory and music into a tale I will remember for a long time…
Eri is a thief, and a very peculiar one since she possesses the ability to open magical locks: her skill landed her in a prison from which she was “saved” by her current employer, a shady character for whom she must secure the bounty from five ships’ holds – after that, she will be a free woman. But Eri’s talent requires a high price: for every magical lock she can defy, she must surrender one truth, a part of herself she never shared with anyone.
Once relinquished, however, that truth, and the memories associated with it, are gone forever: as the story starts, Eri already lost a great deal of her memories, of her past, and she wonders what will remain of her, of the person she is, once her contract is fulfilled, and the hope of freedom is the only thing lending her the strength to go on.
One day, toward the end of what is her last voyage, Eri is in the ship’s hold plying her trade when she meets with Anea, a musician from a troupe contracted to play at a lavish wedding. In this world, music is considered dangerous because it could drive people to recklessness, or worse, and therefore it’s strictly regulated, but Anea needs some practice and she asks for Eri’s help, which casually leads to the discovery of the power of music on memory, and to the alliance of the two young women, both yearning for a better life.
I was unprepared for the depths of both sorrow and wonder I encountered in this story, and it left a profound impression on me, all the more precious because it was unexpected. The theme of memory, which is the core of this short tale, is indeed a powerful one, and when paired with the evocative power of music gives birth to what I’ve come to see as a small, but quite precious gem.
This is the first time I encountered a work by Ms. Curtis, but I fervently hope it will not be the last, because this short story holds great promise for some compelling future reads.