As the little blurb for this sweet little story says:
Join Nolwenn, a young concert pianist, and Nevenka, her best friend who flits through one interest after another, on their spaceliner flight as they take to low orbit for spa treatments and makeovers under the light of the sun, the stars, and the spinning globe of the Earth beneath them. Share in their happiness as the two darlings get pampered and glamoured for a whole day, returning to Earth with smiles, giggles, wonderful memories, and a whole new image, in this short story, their Trip to Starlit Spa.
Yes, after featuring makeovers for romances, makeovers just to have makeovers, and all manner of hairstyles, clothing, makeup, and jewelry in my five novels I finally decided to make a story that was just about a makeover!
Well, there’s a little more substance to it than that, as you get to know these two darlings over the course of their conversations. The story begins when they’re in their spaceplane heading to the station where they’ll transfer to a more spacey spacecraft (a thin long tube without wings) to their ultimate destination, the Starlit Spa, a place that’s not all-out in luxury nor nearly as extensive an image change as what the likes of Chrysalis (from “Dear Future Me”) offer but still overflowing with the spirit of feminine leisure and beautification.
One thing it’s not overflowing with is men and boys; indeed, there’s not a single male character in the story, which is a first for me, though the unnamed and unspecified mass of passengers they see in the transfer station undoubtedly include some men. The salon and spa, or at least the section of it they go to, is exclusive to women and girls.
In another first for me there is not a single romance in the story; although not said absolutely explicitly, the two young sweethearts are intended to be unattached with no real romantic prospects in sight, their only immediate concern with boys being a desire to look so good they turn their heads whenever they pass by.
They are also intended to enjoy an entirely platonic friendship of the kind that was more common in Western cultures before the late 19th and especially 20th centuries; perhaps this timeline’s version of the counterculture has revived the tradition in the alternate-historical early to mid 21st century the story is supposed to take place in, the same setting as in my novels, such as “The Hunt for Count Gleichen’s Treasure”.
As for the girls themselves, Nolwenn is a fair (but far from pasty-white) Breton girl with a pleasant but modestly-proportioned hourglass figure, her knee-length red mane being her best feature, but also enjoying a pretty face and striking green eyes.
Nolwenn is a pianist, having dedicated most of her young life to a greater or lesser extent to that vocation, and is said in the story to play in concerts. Whether she is playing at a world-famous high level already or merely on her way up and aspiring to that level, with her makeover designed to help her get there, is left ambiguous, though I lean toward the idea that she’s a young pianist who hasn’t reached the top echelons of the field yet but is on track to do so in a few years.
Her best friend and companion in life, Nevenka, is a Croatian girl from Dalmatia, a complexion very white European but much tanner and more olive next to Nolwenn’s. Blessed with shapely long legs, she unfortunately doesn’t have much of a figure, forming only the gentlest of hourglasses, and her dark brunette hair is only waist length. She can take heart, however, in her pretty face and beautiful blue eyes whenever she thinks she can’t measure up to Nolwenn’s beauty.
Nevenka is an admirer of Nolwenn’s and is something of a protege for her, and not just in beauty. While Nolwenn has become the master of a specific discipline, playing the piano, and has risen to the ranks of the best in the world, Nevenka, though a really smart girl, is curious and easily bored, not being a master of much of anything, nor even really having any hobbies aside from learning new things and dancing, which she loves and has a talent for. In this she’s much like yours truly, though at least for now I’ll leave the extent to which she’s like me to your imagination!
I like to think that back on the homeworld they make a hobby together of Nevenka dancing to tunes that Nolwenn plays on her piano, though there’s no reference to this in the short story (seeing as I just thought of this aspect!). Perhaps in a sequel?
Nevenka doesn’t hold any particular job, much less a career, but she earns enough from the investment portfolio she inherited to live on. This is actually the norm in this timeline’s 21st century, with economic advancement having expanded the capitalist classes so much they envelop virtually all the population. There are still plenty of people working jobs – if nothing else there still seem to be plenty of pilots, event hosts, and spa employees in my setting! – but it’s no longer something all or most people do at any given time.
Having no real calling in life aside from an interest in dancing, Nevenka admires how Nolwenn is able and willing to stick to one discipline and achieve such mastery, playing the piano with the same kind of passion and skill the likes of Anna Federova display in our timeline. Nolwenn, meanwhile, makes no secret of her admiration for just how smart, curious, and broad-minded Nevenka is, how she’s always telling her about some fascinating new thing she’s learned or some insight she’s had.
I hope you’ll crack open “A Trip to Starlit Spa” and come away with the same feeling reading it as I had writing it: they’re a pair as well matched as they are adorable, the kind of girls who make you feel grateful that you let them whisk you away into their world.