She wanted to tell Sparrow, “No matter what happens, you must finish your symphony. Please don’t let it disappear.”

Did it matter more to love or to have been loved? If anyone answered her question, she didn’t catch the words. 

And so, even as one pair reunites, another pair is separated: barely a paragraph elapses between the moment we see Swirl and Wen the Dreamer ride away on a single horse and the time we discover Sparrow and Zhuli taken away, one after the other. And though they eventually return to the same house again, it is Zhuli who brings herself out of her life with Sparrow and Kai, out of life altogether. Two journeys then: the long trek of Wen the Dreamer as he chases down copies of copies to find Swirl, a homeward path; and the shorter but altogether more final trip that Zhuli makes back to the Conservatory, also a homeward path, because it has always appeared more like her space.

Homeward, because at the end she makes one last mental journey back to her first secret space, a dark place hidden within the earth, womblike:

She thought of the hidden library. She opened the lid and looked inside, she saw the ancient instrument on which she had first learned to listen.

Perhaps, all she ever wanted, which was simply to play pure music, was already there: alone in the dark with an instrument she did not understand, she was at home with what she wanted. Do we spend a lifetime searching, and failing to find, what we already had before but lost and cannot find again?


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