As time went on, Krystina stayed true to her end of the bargain, and Evelyn stayed true to hers.
The little girl continued practicing diligently each time she visited her grandparents’ house.
And, on the nights she slept over, Evelyn began to teach her.
As she’d expected, it was much easier to give Krystina lessons after she’d developed a foundation to build upon. And though she was not quite the prodigy Evelyn had been, Krystina was a quick and eager student with a genuine desire to learn.
Krystina’s parents and grandparents marveled at how quickly the little girl’s musical skills had begun to develop, though it was not entirely surprising to them – Krystina had a love of all things having to do with creativity or imagination.
She had a deep passion for visual art, and loved spending hours at her drawing table making new creations.
She spent long, lazy weekend afternoons laying in the backyard with her parents, taking turns finding new shapes hidden in the big, fluffy clouds.
She loved playing make-believe and coming up with her own games and stories to act-out with her toys and stuffed animals.
Of course, she loved playing make-believe with her friends too. Krystina had so many fun adventures with Noah and Sam’s kids and her two best friends, Lily and Mitchell, who both lived on her street.
But there was another friend, too – a special, secret friend who Krystina thought was the coolest person in the world… Evelyn.
Between all the violin lessons, the two girls would play games together, share funny stories, and even have the occasional dance party (with the music turned down low, of course).
Though they only saw each other once a month or so, it was not long before a strong bond formed between the two of them. Evelyn looked forward to every evening spent with Krystina more than the little girl would ever know.
There were still times when the pain would come back, of course – The way Krystina would smile, or pronounce certain words, or crinkle her nose when she was concentrating too hard – It would bring back so many memories… Ones Evelyn had hoped she would never have to think of again.
It was hard to look beyond all that at first – to be able to look Krystina in the eye and not see Lucas staring back at her every time. But eventually, Evelyn was able to appreciate Krystina for who she was, too – not just what she represented. Because as much as she was like her father, Krystina differed from him in other ways.
Krystina was louder than Lucas, and a little less shy. She had an ear for music and an eye for artwork where her father had none. She was more curious, and, in many ways, more clever too. But she was also not quite as deep or sensitive in the way she looked at the world. Krystina seemed to always be looking outward, while her father looked within.
She was a completely different person – but still wonderful, in her own ways. Evelyn loved watching Krystina grow and change as time went on. And, just as it had with Lucas, it happened fast.
One year went by. Then two. Then three. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, Krystina went from a bright-eyed little third grader to a spunky sixth grader – the same age Lucas had been when he’d moved to Newcrest all those years ago.
Krystina was now a member of her school’s orchestra, and received professional violin instruction after school every Tuesday. But while her lessons with Evelyn gradually came to an end, she still played for her friend often, eager to show off all she’d been learning. And Evelyn was thrilled to hear it.
As the girl got older, however, the frequency of her sleepovers with her grandparents began to slowly diminish – she was simply getting too old for them. So Krystina began staying up later and later each time, desperate for as much time with Evelyn as she could manage.
Every time her parents came to pick her up, poor Krystina would be exhausted. But whenever she was asked about it, she’d simply shrug, and say she slept just fine.
Lucas and Mel were not convinced. They even sat down with Damien and Becca, and tried to explain (gently, but firmly) that Krystina had a bedtime for a reason.
But they had been sticking to her bedtime, Lucas’ parents explained, confused. Every night.
Unaware of her parents’ suspicions, Krystina’s sleepovers continued, and so did her long nights with Evelyn.
They played round after round of chess together.
They watched silly movies on TV.
And when things got rough (which, as Krystina learned the hard way, they so often did in Middle School), she had someone to confide in about all her worries and problems.
Evelyn was so easy to talk to, and always gave the best advice. To Krystina, she was like the big sister she never had.
And to Evelyn, Krystina helped fill a deep void in her heart that had been empty for a long time.