When did music begin? Did it begin with a question? Or an exclamation? Was somepony laughing? Or sobbing? Was that pony alone? Or was there an audience?
When I first attended Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns, I thought that I would find out all of the answers of how and where music began. What I discovered was that the best pieces of us—the artistic, soulful, and melodious pieces—have been lost forever. Equestrian Civilization is over ten thousand years old, and of those ten millennia only the last fifteen hundred years' worth of music has been recorded, preserved, or recited to this day.
What became of the music that is now lost to us forever? How many masterpieces disappeared into the great void of time? Just what kind of prodigies and geniuses exist in the past, and how many of their masterpieces will go unheard? Does the fact that their music no longer resonates in the halls of our kingdom mean that they've lost their worth?
Years ago, I became a student of music theory, thinking that I would find answers. What I found instead was that making music is merely a means of proposing questions with our hearts that our minds can't formulate. Every time we sing or play an instrument, we are searching. Every time we fill the air with notes of rhythm and tonality, we are endeavoring to get in touch with the parts of ourselves that our words cannot contain.
I would like to think that the ponies of ancient times were searching for something just as much as we are in this era. This means to me that even though the music of the past is gone, the drive to simultaneously express and discover ourselves is still there. Our entire civilization is the beautiful encore to a symphony that has fallen on deaf ears, but not on unfeeling heartstrings. So long as we are feeling with music—embodying the same curiosity and ambition of our ancestors—then all that is important isn't forgotten, for we have it locked away in our very pulse.
Today, I play music. I do it because I am also searching. For one, these magical notes that I am endeavoring to construct may be a way to release this curse that has been placed upon me. For another, I am adding to the same heartbeat that has kept a constant rhythm since the beginning of time. So long as I am a part of that, so long as I am making melodies that the Equestrian soul cannot help but dance to, then maybe I have a chance to actually reach somepony.
Maybe, I won't be forgotten.
Just the other day, I stood in the corner of Ponyville's Main Street, playing the latest experimental number on my lyre. I had decided to call it “Lunar Elegy #7.” It was the same tune that I’d been attempting to flesh out all week. You know the one; I wrote about it in my last letter. It's the tune that I awoke to during that stormy night—the one that almost knocked the tree over into my carrot garden. I had always felt that that was an omen, and that finding a way to write down this melody would somehow benefit my quest in the end. So far, though, I hadn't noticed any magical qualities to the tune, but that was probably because I hadn't seen Twilight and played it to her yet.
Miss Sparkle always has the solutions. She's gifted like that. Now if only she could put those talents to making music herself, I'm certain she'd make Princess Celestia even prouder.
Oh shoot! I always get side-tracked with these entries. Anyways, I was in the corner of Ponyville's Main Street. I was playing my lyre and—well—I'd been running short on money as of late. So, I brought the jar with me. It didn't take long for the citizens of Ponyville to show their gracious qualities. In less than two hours, I had earned nearly twenty-five bits. I had gotten more than that, of course. Several smiles and appreciative grins were thrown my way. I merely said nothing and kept playing my music. I must have looked so engrossed. Little did everypony know that I was observing them with as much attention as they were regarding me.
Carrot Top was the first to donate, of course. I’ve written about her before. She's usually up and about earlier than any other Ponyvillean soul, and she trots back and forth across the village the most, considering all of the random jobs that she juggles around town. That day, she tossed a bit into my jar and smiled at me. I remembered that same face, stained with dirt and flakes of grass at the end of a day when she taught me how to plant a garden. She waved at me like it was the first time ever—for it was, for her—and then she was gone.
The Mayor strolled by next. Her mane looked less gray that day. I wonder if she's recently switched dyes. The Mayor is a fantastic pony. If Ponyville was any other town, the elected leader would likely disapprove of musical riff-raff like myself. The Mayor is obviously made of far more cultured stuff. She gave me a smile, praised my talents, and tossed a golden bit into the jar before trotting off. I wonder if she ever got the nerve to speak to her daughter. She's very preoccupied with the emotional wedge that's been driven between the two of them as of late. She'd never tell any pony about how sad she's been, not like that one time I roped her into confessing it to me. It was a heartfelt conversation over tea that we both had. I shall always remember it, for her sake if not for mine.
Several more ponies trotted by as the day waxed past the bright noon. All the while, I was practicing “Elegy #7.” The fact that other ponies were enjoying my music or dropping coins my way was just a fringe benefit. I magically plucked each string of the lyre in practiced precision, repeating the tune over and over again. Nopony ever complained about the repetition, but I never expected them to. The only awkward glances I got were aimed at the sweaterjacket I was wearing—the one that I always wear during these excursions into town. I thought I had gotten used to that, just like I had gotten used to the chills that come with the melodies I wake up to. Still, I couldn't complain. I simply had to keep practicing the elegy. I knew that only Twilight Sparkle could help me figure out what the tune meant, just like most of the others before it, but that didn't stop me from trying to feel it on my own, for as long as I could afford to.
And then there was Rarity. The sight of her gorgeous mane and sparkling eyes nearly broke my concentration as she paused on her way to the general store to listen to me. “My, what a heavenly tune!” were her exact words. She dropped three whole bits into the jar, more than anypony else. I always feel bad when that happens, but a part of me thinks that Rarity needs to be generous more than other ponies need to experience her generosity. So, I played my part, especially when she leaned forward with sympathetic eyes to say, “But dear, you look positively freezing! Tell me, are you ill?”
It was true. My teeth were chattering, and—no—it wasn't an act. When the chills come, there's very little I can do to stop them. My hoodie has always been a first line of defense against the inexplicable side effects of this curse. I can't even pretend to explain that to any of the ponies I meet. If I bundle up like my shivering body silently screams at me to, then even more ponies than Rarity would stop to ask me the same question over and over again.
“Oh, I'm perfectly fine, ma'am,” I remember replying to her. I usually don't respond while I'm in the middle of performing, but I'm a unicorn who can afford to multi-task. “My blood temperature is just lower than the average pony's.” It was a lie. But, relatively speaking, everything I say to these villagers is a lie. After all, even when it's the truth, it has the same effect on them.
“Well, I cannot stand to see a gifted musician such as yourself freeze to death!” Rarity said. Then she did something that I should have predicted. She reached into her saddlebag and produced a yellow scarf. “Here, darling. Keep it as long as you like.” Her smile sparkled as much as the glowing telekinesis she used to float the golden article my way. Clearly I didn't have a choice in the matter. That didn't make accepting her gift any easier.
“Oh, thank you, ma'am.” I smiled and paused in playing the elegy to wrap the scarf about my neck. To attempt a polite refusal would have been too complicated at the time. “You're too kind.”
“Oh, I can make a hundred more like it back at my boutique. Besides, yellow is not my color—but it does match your eyes delightfully so.” Rarity smiled. Some beautiful faces last forever in the mind's eye. Rarity’s is no exception. “You should stop by sometime. I can make you a new sweaterjacket. Yours is nice, of course, but I daresay it's starting to look worn-in.”
I giggled and smiled. “Thanks. I'll think about it.”
“You do that!” Rarity trotted off, humming her own whimsical version of the tune I was playing. She disappeared into the front entrance of the general store across the way.
I continued playing my music, warmed more by the sincerity of Rarity's generosity than the actual thickness of the scarf that she had given me. The afternoon was drifting by. A crimson glow gave the many coats of ponies a bright shine as the Sun lowered towards the Western horizon. I must have played the Lunar Elegy ten times before I saw Rarity trotting back with a full saddlebag of newly bought things.
I can't lie. My heart sank a little when she immediately strolled my way and dropped three golden bits into my jar. “My, what a heavenly tune!” she said, then leaned towards me. “But dear, you look positively freezing! Tell me, are you ill?”
It was a little harder to smile this time. Nevertheless, I murmured gently above the melody I was still making, “Oh, I'm perfectly fine, ma'am.” I couldn't help but add with a wink, “As a matter of fact, a very kind mare gave me this scarf just an hour ago.”
“Well, she must be a pony of exceptional taste!” Rarity said with avid admiration. “It does match your eyes delightfully so. You should stop by my boutique sometime. I can make you a new sweaterjacket. Yours is nice, of course, but—”
“It looks worn-in?”
“Yes! I was just about to say that!” Rarity exclaimed, her breath escaping her in a gasp. “Do you also read minds besides playing such gorgeous music?”
“Something like that,” I said. “I'll be sure to drop by your lovely boutique someday, ma'am.”
“You do that.” And she was gone, once more humming, once more an elegant and care-free stranger.
I decided then that I was done for the afternoon. I gathered my lyre and jar full of bits and put them away into my saddlebag. My mouth was dry, so I made straightway for Sugarcube Corner. Ms. Cake was working. As soon as I sat down at a table, she strolled up with a smile as bright as her apron.
“Good afternoon to you, miss! Are you new to town?”
“Hmmm... Yes and no.” I smiled up at her. “How much for your finest herbal tea?”
“How about three bits for a cup of tea and a daisy sandwich?”
“Will do, hun!” Ms. Cake cheerfully said. I wonder if she knows just how harmonious her words always sound. I could write a thesis on the tonality of her voice alone. She hurried away towards the kitchen at the back of Sugarcube Corner while I reached into my saddlebag for the jar of golden bits.
Just then, I heard a sobbing sound from two tables away. I glanced over to see Ms. Hooves and her daughter Dinky. The little unicorn foal was crying—a sad, distraught sort of a cry. I've never known Derpy's child to throw a tantrum in public, and that occasion was no different. Dinky hid her face in a pair of hooves while her mother leaned over and whispered reassuring words into her ears. I couldn't tell from where I sat just what Derpy had said, but I could see the genuine smile on her face... and somewhere in the midst of it, her consolations must have worked. Dinky dried her tears and managed a smile to match that of her mother's.
Around that point, Pinkie Pie had shown up—cartwheeling wildly as she always did into the center of Sugarcube Corner. She then proceeded to entertain several young foals inside the eatery with a series of outrageous jokes and charades. The children giggled and clapped their hooves at Pinkie's antics. Derpy pointed Pinkie Pie's way and patted Dinky's flank, ushering the foal to go and have fun with Pinkie and the others. The young unicorn eagerly bounded away, the sorrow on her face briefly replaced with childish euphoria. Derpy watched Dinky with one good eye, though she couldn't hide the sigh escaping her lips or the depressed look on her face as the young mother all-but-slumped against the table.
I was so engrossed in these observations that I barely noticed the image of Ms. Cake in my peripheral vision. I turned to look at her. The baker was standing in place, gazing blankly across the lengths of Sugarcube Corner. She held a tray with a steaming cup of tea and a daisy sandwich, but she hadn't a clue what to do with it.
“Funny...” Her eyes blinked as her lips lingered upon every word dripping out of her mouth. “I could have sworn I just...” She turned and looked behind her at the kitchen. “Where was I going with this? I swear, I'm getting senile...”
I cleared my throat.
She looked down at me and instantly gave a polite smile. “Good afternoon to you, miss! Are you new to town?”
“Hmm...” I smiled gently. “Yes and no. You seem puzzled. Is everything okay?”
“Oh, absolutely! I just wish I knew what I was doing with... with...” Ms. Cake frowned at the tray as though it was full of ants. “Bah! I should be baking that cake for the Mayor's banquet tomorrow anyways.”
I craned my neck to look at the tray. “Is that herbal tea and a daisy sandwich?”
“Why, yes. Yes it is.”
“Hmmm...” I dropped a few golden coins onto the table. “Would three bits pay for them?”
“Oh! Erhm... Do you want it?”
I smiled. “Seems like a nice order. I'll give it a try.”
“Very well then! At least they won't go to waste!” Ms. Cake gracefully placed the cup and plate down onto my table as I slid the bits her way. She took them and performed a curtsey. “Enjoy your time at Sugarcube Corner! Just holler if you need anything else, dearie.”
“Will do,” I said. After she left, I sipped slowly from the tea, reveling in the warmth as it drove the shivers away. I had time to relax, to reflect, to think about my music. I should have spent every minute contemplating the missing movement at the end of “Lunar Elegy #7,” but instead I kept looking over at Ms. Hooves table.
Derpy is a sad pony. Not many in town know this. Many commit the sin of treating Ponyville's mailmare at face value. I've been included in that guilty party myself, but that's because during the many times I've tried learning more about her I've been at a loss to figure out the source of her troubles. However, having just seen her consoling a distraught Dinky, I may have been given a clue.
So, after finishing my tea and not so gracefully scarfing down the daisy sandwich, I hoisted my saddlebag and trotted over towards her table. There is never an easy way to go about “introductions,” so I've long since learned to skip much of the pretense.
“Why do you look so glum, Ms. Hooves?”
Derpy gazed up from the table. Her eyes blinked in opposite directions. I knew just where to stand so that she could see me. “Uhm... I'm sorry. Have we met?”
I smiled. “Who in town doesn't know Ponyville's most faithful deliverer of the mail?”
“Oh, well I guess you have a point.” Derpy chuckled nervously, then ran a hoof through her mane. “I haven't... uhm... flown into your house window or anything like that, have I?”
“Hehehe... Nothing of the sort.”
“Whew. I'm glad. My memory isn't all that good.”
“That's a boat that everypony shares a seat in, Ms. Hooves. Believe me.” I sat down beside her and pointed towards where her child stood with the other giggling foals and Pinkie Pie. “Dinky is extremely gifted for her age. She's scored the highest in her entire class the last three tests in a row. Did you know that?”
“I-I do!” Derpy exclaimed, squinting at bizarre angles on either side of me. “How did you?”
This is what I mean when I write that it isn't easy. Thinking quickly, I replied, “I'm a music teacher from Canterlot. Not that long ago, I was sent to assist Miss Cheerilee with expanding her curriculum. She's thinking of putting together a band class for young foals. Did you hear about that?”
“Why yes! I have,” Derpy said.
I was wrong about one thing I wrote earlier: some things I say are the truth, but that's only because I'm an observer of them. Over the last month, Cheerilee had indeed been trying to establish a school band. It didn't particularly appear to be a subject of joy for Ms. Hooves.
“My little muffin's so excited about it,” she said. “It's all she talks about every morning before I drop her off at Cheerilee's.” She sighed and gazed lethargically across Sugarcube Corner as her child lost herself in Pinkie Pie's whimsical show. “She's got a natural talent for making music. As a matter of fact, I took her to the music store just last week. They had this flute that she was allowed to test out. I swear, I've never heard anything so amazing... and my Muffin had barely even practiced. She's so gifted... just like her father.” The last words in particular were the hardest to get out, and I saw the sadness once more pale over Derpy's face.
“I saw her crying earlier,” I said. Some songs don't have a bridge to them. At times, all you need is to hear the chorus, no matter how much it hurts. “I'm guessing she's not able to join Cheerilee's band.”
Derpy openly winced, but I knew she wasn't about to stop speaking. So many ponies in town have a lot to say, and the times they choose to say them happen to be the times I ask about them about it. Perhaps that is my purpose? I think of this a lot. For what it's worth, I'm the only pony who has to.
“I wish she could,” Miss Hooves eventually said. “But I'm afraid her mother can't help her.”
“I don't tell many ponies this, and I certainly won't tell her, but things have been tough lately.” Derpy gazed down at the table and spun lazy circles with a hoof, as if in a desperate attempt to counterbalance her eyes. “I barely earn enough to squeeze by. Being a mailmare just doesn't earn enough bits for a single mom. If Dinky's father was still around and working, then maybe I could afford some disposable income to do more than just get food on our table. But a school band...?” Derpy sighed again and ran a hoof over her moist eyelids. “Dinky is such a sweet, beautiful foal. She’s so selfless and supportive of her mother. All she wants for herself is to play the flute. She has a gift, and I still can't believe how talented my little muffin is...”
“Musical proficiency is the best kind of talent, Ms. Hooves,” I said with a gentle smile. “You should be proud. Your foal's on the way to moving the souls of other ponies just like she moves yours by simply being alive.”
“She won't be moving anything if I can't give her what she deserves,” Derpy murmured, her voice wavering. “My little muffin is so polite to everypony—both young and old. And she does her best in school. She studies hard. She's so... so sweet...” She sniffled and rubbed a tear dry before it could grace her gray cheek. “Her passion is to make music, and I can't help her. Her mother isn't as talented as she is. I can't even earn us a better place to live, much less a flute to make her dreams come true. What kind of love is that?”
I leaned over and placed a hoof gently on hers. “Your love is the sincere kind of thing that your daughter will cherish and remember forever. There are parents who think that money can buy anything, but won't give their child attention or respect. You're not that kind of parent, Ms. Hooves. I believe that one way or another, you will find a way to give Dinky what she wants. But you're already giving her what she needs. If you forget any of the words I'm telling you right now, at least remember the same feeling that is bringing you on the edge of tears as I speak. For that is real, and a very eternal thing.”
Derpy sniffled again. For the briefest of moments, I could have sworn her eyes had centered upon me. She smiled with an expression that still warms me to this day. “How could I possibly forget the words of a pony as kind and understanding as you?”
I only smiled at that. “Be there for your child, Ms. Hooves, as you've always been. Someway, somehow, her dreams will come true. I promise you this.”
Before Derpy had a chance to respond, Dinky hopped back over and bounced all around her mother, giggling and repeating many of the silly things Pinkie Pie had said to the foals earlier. Derpy could barely hold her daughter still, so she finally resorted to a tackling hug, enfolding the tiny unicorn in her hooves. Dinky giggled and squirmed in Derpy's grip while her mother gently nuzzled her.
It was around this time that a sudden chill ran through me. I shuddered and tugged at the edge of my sweaterjacket's sleeves. For a moment I could see vaporous breaths escaping my lips, and that's how I knew—as I always know—what had been lost.
One of Derpy's eyes blinked my way, and her body jolted in surprise. “Oh, hello there! Can I help you, Miss?”
I cleared my throat, fighting off the last of my shivers. “My apologies.” I stood up. “I didn't realize that this table was occupied.”
“Nonsense!” Derpy's voice matched the gigglish tone of her daughter. If anything was certain, she was happy now. “This is Sugarcube Corner. A pony's free to sit anywhere. Isn't that right, my muffin?”
Dinky merely giggled. I've always envied Pinkie Pie for the effect she has on children. Nursery rhymes and lullabies are still on my list of things to master.
“Really, I must be going,” I said. It was true. The Sun was setting outside, and I still had to see Twilight. Soon, it would be night, and I wouldn't be able to afford talking with any pony. “I wish you both a good evening.”
“Heheh... I'm not sure why exactly,” Derpy said, “but it already is one.”
I left Sugarcube Corner and slowly made my way to Twilight Sparkle's library. In the advent of night, the evening hung over my horn in a deep, purple blanket. All around me, bodies of equines swiftly galloped their way home. I can never understand why so many ponies are in such a hurry when the Sun sets, especially in Ponyville. I sometimes wonder if I'm the only pony who does this: who takes her time and allows the cool and crisp murmur of the falling evening to lull her into submission. I gave into the moment with a soft hum, reciting a piano number that my mother had taught me when I was a little foal. My family had been better off than Derpy and Dinky. I don't think I ever once imagined that I could have lost all that I had—both emotionally and materialistically. I still wonder what my family is up to now, but I try not to. Thinking about the piano melody carries with it all of the warm memories of the past. I wish I could say the present was any less cold.
The lampposts in the streets of Ponyville were being lit by the time I reached the door to Twilight's library. It was open; Twilight's assistance must have been carrying something in. As soon as I stepped inside, I realized I was correct. Spike was trucking several parcels of antique books mailed from Canterlot back and forth. He looked my way and waved cheerfully.
“Hi there!” He walked by, carrying a package toward the opposite end of the room. “Dig the swell hoodie!”
“Thanks,” I said. “Is Miss Sparkle around?”
“Why, did you have an appointment?”
“Spiiiiike!” Just then, the lavender unicorn in question marched into the front foyer from an adjacent hallway. “Did you open the package yet that contains all eight volumes of Heroes in Equestrian Literature—?” She stopped and let out a slight gasp upon seeing me. “Oh! I'm sorry. I didn't know somepony was here!” She blinked wide then smiled, her small dimples showing. “Can I help you?”
Have I mentioned that Twilight Sparkle is ridiculously adorable?
“As a matter of fact, you can.”
“I see. Well... uhm... I'll do my best, but it's only fair to tell you that the library's closing soon and I have an important letter to write to—”
“Princess Celestia.” I nodded. “I know.”
“Hi there!” Spike walked by once again. “Dig the swell hoodie!”
“Yes, I bet you do.” I turned to face Twilight once more, smiling. “Trust me, Miss Sparkle. I think you'll be very... erm... intrigued by what I have to share with you, and then I'll ask your help with just one thing.”
“I promise that you won't be tardy with sending your letter to the Princess.”
“Tardy?” Twilight Sparkle's teeth showed as she let loose a nervous laugh. “Wh-who's afraid of being tardy?”
“Heeheehee... Indeed.” I trotted over to a wooden seat and plopped down, reaching into my saddlebag. Glancing up at her, I murmured, “Miss Sparkle, have you ever had a beautiful melody stuck in your head, but you don't know where it came from or what it's supposed to mean, only that you have the natural urge to hum it, regardless?”
Twilight Sparkle squinted curiously at me. Her eyes were crooked, the undeniable look of confusion. I could write a book about that expression on the face of every pony I meet. Then again, that's what I'm doing right now, isn't it?
I chuckled as I pulled my lyre out of the bag and held it before me. Gazing softly at Twilight, I spoke, “My name is Lyra Heartstrings, and you will not remember me. You won't even remember this conversation. Just like with everypony else I've ever met, everything I do or say will be forgotten. Every letter I've written will appear blank; every piece of evidence I've left behind will end up missing. I'm stuck here in Ponyville because of the same curse that has made me so forgettable. Still, that doesn't stop me from doing the one thing that I love: making music. If my melodies find their way into your heart, then there is still hope for me. If I can't prove that I exist, I can at least prove that my love for each and every one of you exists. Please, listen to my story, my symphony, for it is me.”
“I...” Twilight Sparkle blinked rapidly. She ran a hoof across her forehead and shook it before processing her words past a wincing expression, “What do you mean? I don't get it. Is this some kind of—?”
“Shhhh.” I smiled and floated the lyre in front of me. “Just listen.”
I closed my eyes and concentrated, telekinetically strumming each string in succession. All of my instrumentals in the heart of downtown Ponyville that afternoon were just rehearsals. There, before Twilight, in the acoustical heart of her wooden home, I performed “Lunar Elegy #7” as sweetly and eloquently as I could. Though I didn't know the ending, I danced my way through the cords with no less confidence. When the performance was over, I reopened my eyes to see Twilight Sparkle sitting before me, her face aglow with the melody of the song still echoing in her gifted mind.
“That...” Twilight Sparkle began to murmur, “That was... was...”
“Tell me,” I uttered firmly, my gaze strongly piercing her for a moment. “Is it familiar?”
“It... It is!” she exclaimed. “I feel as though... as though I heard it from...”
I leaned forward. My heart was beating. I did all I could to keep my composure.
Finally, Twilight Sparkle stammered, “Th-the lunar archives! Yes! Yes, I believe that's a symphony from the early Neo-Classical Era!” She beamed as the information blossomed in her mind, as if unfolded from a hitherto unkempt part of her mental library. “Princess Celestia shared it with me once before the return of Nightmare Moon. She told me that it was one of the few things she had to... remember her sister by, before Princess Luna was tainted by the spirit that turned her malevolent.”
“Tell me, Miss Sparkle,” I spoke firmly. “Do you know how it ends?”
“The musical number you just performed?”
“It... It wasn't finished?”
“No. But you've obviously heard it before. Do you know how it ends?”
“I... I don't understand what this is all about!” Twilight gazed sideways at me, her brow furrowed beneath her violet bangs. “Sure, I've heard the tune before. But that's because Princess Celestia personally pulled it out of the lunar archives and shared it with me! How could you know about it?”
“Because I hear it,” I murmured. “When I'm sleeping. When I'm awake. When I close my eyes. When I open them. I hear this tune—and many more like it—bouncing across the walls of my mind, resonating through the leylines connected to my consciousness... as if my own horn was picking something up beyond the frequency of the living in an attempt to tell me something and me alone.”
“But... B-But how? Why?”
“For the same reason that you don't hear it, I suspect.” I took a deep breath and said, “For the same reason that nopony will ever remember that they've ever spoken to me. For, to them, the tune is just as forgettable as I am.”
“Huh?” Twilight Sparkle slumped to her haunches, blinking hard. “Miss Heartstrings, I don't understand. What do you mean you're forgettable?”
I smiled. Spike was walking by again, and I whistled at him. “Hey. Mr. Green Spines.”
“Hi there!” he said, standing before the last parcel. “Dig the swell hoodie—”
“Yes, we know, Spike!” Twilight Sparkle frowned at him. “Haven't you said that enough to our guest?”
“Our guest?” Spike made a face, his crooked gaze bouncing back and forth between Twilight and myself. “I'm sorry, Twilight. I was away unpacking the shipment, remember? This is the first time I've seen her!”
Before Twilight's voice could say something to match her flabbergasted expression, I spoke up. “Spike, do me a favor, if you could. I'd like to check out Zoology of the Zebrahara by Jockey Goodall. Would you mind grabbing that for me while I have a chat with Twilight here?”
“Sure thing! Zoology of the Zebrahara coming right up!” The eager young assistant bounded down a distant hallway.
“Uhm...” Twilight scratched her head with an errant hoof. “Why the sudden interest in Goodall's writing?”
“I could care less about the nature of the book,” I said. “I just happen to know that you shelve it at the furthest part of the library from here.”
“And how could you know that? This is the first time you've visited the library—at least since I came here and became chief librarian.”
“Hmmm... As a matter of fact, I have come to visit this library. Lots of times.” I smiled steadily at her. “And they were all after you came to Ponyville, Twilight.”
“But I don't—”
“As a matter of fact, I arrived in Ponyville not long after you did, Miss Sparkle.” This next part was hard. I've always had a hard time keeping my composure here, but I think I've been getting better at it. “I used to live in Canterlot, just like you. My parents and I lived in the upper Alabaster District, on Starswirl Street.”
“Starswirl Street?!” Twilight's ears twitched as her eyes lit up. “Why, that's two streets down from where I used to live!”
“484 Nebula Avenue,” I said, my eyes reflecting hers. “Your apartment flat was just above Moondancer's.”
Twilight couldn't help it. She let loose the same awkward giggle I have heard hundreds of times. “That's uncanny! You mean to say you knew Moondancer too?”
“Yes. We were good foalhood friends.”
“The two of you? How come she never told me?”
“No, Twilight,” I said. “I meant the three of us. You, Moondancer, and I. We attended Magic Kindergarten together, and the rest is history... well, it was.”
She stared at me, her eyes narrowing and her mouth agape. “But that's...” She gulped and shook her head. “I-I would have remembered! Moondancer and I—”
“We went to Magic Summer Camp together for years. One summer, when you were only seven, you tried a teleportation spell and got yourself stuck atop a royal guard tower. It took the entire afternoon for us to flag down a pegasus to give you a lift back down to the street. You were so embarrassed, you cried. So Moondancer and I took you to the local doughnut cafe, and we made you feel better. That's when you finally told us about your acceptance into Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. You had kept it secret from us for so long because you were afraid we'd become jealous and not want to be your friend anymore. That couldn't have been any further from the truth. We loved and cherished every moment we had to hang out with you. Years later, when Moondancer and I were also accepted into the school, you showed us around the campus. Our first year in class went off without a hitch—unlike so many other new students—and we always had you to thank for that.”
Twilight listened to all of my words. When I was done, she gazed towards the far end of the room and muttered quietly, “I... remember all of those moments. But, it was only Moondancer and myself every time. I... I don't remember you at all, Miss Heartstrings.” She glanced up and briefly bore a frown. “How do I know that this isn't some sort of stupid prank? Did Rainbow Dash set you up for this?”
“You mean like the time that she and Pinkie Pie switched your writing jar with invisible ink?” I said with a smirk. “Or the time Rainbow Dash doused your mane with a hidden bucket full of ketchup, and so you trotted off to the bathroom... only to find the tub filled with packages of frozen curly fries?” I chuckled and took a deep breath. “Or what about the one time she convinced you that your horn was falling off, and like a true hypochondriac you spent the entire night reading up on unicorn ailments and fell asleep in the middle of the library? I do recall her treating you to a lunch at Sugarcube Corner to make up for that last one...”
“How... How could you know about all of that?”
“Because you told me about them.”
“You mean to tell me that we've talked before?”
“Dozens of times.” I said, though it came out as a drone. It's tough trying to inflect one's words when they've been repeated so many countless times. I did my best to stay pleasant and approachable. “You're a highly intelligent unicorn, Twilight. I knew that when we were foals. I'm glad to see you becoming a shining member of the community here in Ponyville. But, just like every conversation we've ever had, you won't remember it any more than all the other ones previous.”
“That... That sounds too crazy to believe—”
A young voice from the side spoke up. “Uhmm... Twilight?”
Twilight looked over.
Spike stood, blinking, his expression blank. He held a book in his hands, but he remained still in the middle of the hallway he had walked in from. “You asked me to do something, and I... I...” He squinted at the tome in his grasp. “Zoology of the Zebrahara? Ugh, this book is so outdated. They call zebras bad names in it. Why do we even keep this in stock?”
“Spike, that's the book Lyra Heartstrings just asked you for a moment ago.”
“Hello!” I waved with a smile.
“Oh!” He blinked at me. “Hi there! Dig the swell hoodie!”
“You mean to tell me you don't remember her?” Twilight's voice rose in confusion and frustration. “She's been sitting here and talking with me for minutes! You must have passed by—like—three times!”
“Yeesh! I'm sorry, Twilight! I didn't know! Besides, aren't we supposed to be closing the library soon? It's a little late for strange visitors, don't you think?”
“Twilight and I are just having a simple chat, kiddo,” I said, waving a reassuring hoof. “Don't let us bother you.”
“Ugh... Whatever.” He waddled off with a groan, practically dragging the thick tome after him. “I'm a magical assistant, not a gate-keeper.”
As he left, I glanced back at a dumbstruck Twilight and said, “You see? He walked away from me. Distance is the one thing that causes others to forget about me.”
“And... uhm... wh-what's the other thing?”
I glanced up out the nearest window. The sunset’s red kiss was all but gone. The blackness of night was falling, and with it would come the pale glow of the moon.
“Time,” I eventually said, my nostrils flaring. “It's a matter of minutes. Sometimes an hour. Very rarely longer, but you won't know that I ever existed. That's what makes explaining all of this so tough to do—every time—because I hardly get to the point asking for what I really need from you.”
“You must forgive me, but I need an explanation!” Twilight exclaimed, her voice as sharp and desperate as her twitching expression. “This kind of a thing is unprecedented! Even if it were true, how could anypony possibly survive in such a state of existence?”
“I manage. It hasn't been easy, but I'm doing quite well for myself.”
“I still find it very hard to believe, Miss Heartstrings. I'm afraid you're going to have to show me more to prove that what you're saying isn't—”
“Your first week in the Royal Palace as the magical apprentice to Princess Celestia...” I began. “Her Majesty showed you a gallery that featured the portraits of many esteemed unicorns from Equestrian history. You were so proud of yourself, because you instantly recognized the painting of Starswirl the Bearded. Then your mentor took you aside and explained something to you. She said that all of the portraits had one thing in common. They were all former students that she had once tutored through the ages, just like she was starting to tutor you.”
Twilight's eyes remained fixed on me, soft and vulnerable as I leaned towards her and softly continued speaking.
“That was the first time that you truly understood death. You were a young foal, full of energy and life. You found yourself the inexplicably lucky student to Princess Celestia, and you didn't have a prior concept of the end of all things. Staring at those portraits, you played out the history of Equestria in your head, and you realized that even the future would have its own history, and you would be only a piece of that—to be immortalized in a picture at best. You suddenly began crying, and you didn't understand why. Princess Celestia stayed by your side that whole night. She didn't leave until your tears were dry. She even delayed raising the Sun just to make sure that she had solaced you. To this day, very few ponies know why that one morning was so dark nearly fifteen years ago.”
I smiled and planted a hoof on one of hers, feeling the sudden trembles in her frame and doing my best to drive them away like a wise monarch once did.
“You told me before, Twilight, during a very deep conversation that we managed to have several weeks ago, that the reason you study so many books, the reason why you prefer reading over seeing daylight, the reason why you can't for one solitary second of your life stop processing information, is because you want to fill yourself with as much knowledge as possible, because history is here for a reason. Countless generations have lived and died before our time to ensure that we have the data we need to apply to our existence and make the world a better place. To do anything less than exercise our intelligence is to forget the legacy of the ponies who predate us. Princess Celestia—you told me—is more than a mentor to you. She's the very heart of Equestria. And as the central spark that holds together the Elements of Harmony, you want what's best for Equestria, and you want what's best for our Princess. In that vein, you've endeavored to become more than a mere portrait on her wall.”
I smiled, my face reflected in a pair of eyes that grew glossier as my words rolled on.
“So many times, your friends ask you why you've never bothered meeting a young stallion to spend some romantic time with. You keep brushing off their good-humored inquisitions, pretending that the whole notion is silly, but deep down inside you realize that you won’t afford yourself companionship so long as you have this incessant need to make a difference in this world. But it's more than just a quirk of your personality, isn't it? Someday, Twilight, you plan to write a book—a comprehensive almanac to all of the most important and timeless bits of magical knowledge that your entire life can ever hope to compile. And the title of this book, you’ve told me, is 'The Path to Harmony.' Every morning that you wake up, you think of this book, and you think of Princess Celestia reading it every day after she raises the Sun, long after you are gone, in constant praise of your contributions to this world. For if there is one thing that you are mortally afraid of, Twilight—as everypony is—it's of being forgotten.”
When I finished speaking, Twilight was no longer staring at me, but I knew that I had her ears. A shudder ran through her body, and a single tear ran down her cheeks. She wiped her face with a hoof, shuddered, and murmured in a voice that was a little too shaky for her own good.
“How... H-How did all of this happen to you?”
I knew that I once again had her as my audience. My heart skipped a beat, but it was approaching night. I glanced out the window. The moon wasn't out yet. Still, I sighed and said, “All I know is that happened while I was in town to visit the Summer Sun Celebration last year.”
“Last year?” Twilight sniffled, then blinked wide. “You mean the night that Nightmare Moon returned?”
“Something happened to you then that caused this... this...”
“Curse,” I muttered. “At least, I'm pretty sure it's a curse. Heh... I don't know what else to call it.”
“But... How? How does it work? What are its connections to Princess Luna—I mean, Nightmare Moon?”
“I've already taken enough time as it is,” I said in a low voice. “To explain everything is impossible at this point. You will stop understanding what I'm even trying to say halfway through the whole thing.”
“Then write it down!” Twilight exclaimed, her wet eyes darting every which way to find a pen and paper. “Put it down in words so that we can read it and—”
“The pages will appear blank to you, as well as to any other pony.” I said with a soft, bittersweet smile. “Believe me, I've written several words... on several surfaces... in several spots all over Ponyville. Nopony can see anything, so long as my writing is somehow involved.”
“Because of the same factor of distance or time?!” Twilight Sparkle remarked. On the edge of a panting breath, she suddenly brightened. “I know! We'll send a letter to Princess Celestia! Right now! The power of green flame could get news of your existence to her in an instant! Surely she could take care of this 'curse!' Spiiiike—!”
I held my hooves up, silencing her. “We've already tried that.”
“Mmmhmm. Three times, on separate occasions, months ago. All that the Princess will receive is a puff of green smoke, then black ashes. So long as you write something while possessing short-term memory of me, nothing you send gets through the teleportation process.”
“Then... Then...” Twilight was fumbling for ideas at this point. She was trembling all over. I will always admire her concern and sincerity when she comes to this point of “knowing,” but I also can't stand to see her so distraught. My only solace is that it never lasts long, and I knew it would only be a matter of time then. “Oh! A photograph!” She started trotting across the library to where a camera rested inside a cabinet. “We can take a snapshot of you and—”
“You already have a photo of me.” I said. Getting up, I walked over towards a windowsill and pointed at a wide-framed snapshot featuring two colorful ponies in the streets of Canterlot. “That is to say... it would have a photo of me, only... well. See for yourself.”
Twilight looked at the photo of her and Moondancer standing and smiling before the camerapony. She squinted, as if truly studying the image for the first time. “Funny... The photographer must have been really off. There's a lot of space on the left edge of this photo.”
“Room for a third pony, perhaps?”
Twilight bit her lip. She placed the photo back down, gulped, and looked at me. “You... You could leave town, go to Canterlot, and ask for an audience with... Princess Celestia...” Her words were already trailing off after seeing the expression on my face.
I shook my head slowly and said, “The same curse that keeps me out of the minds of ponies keeps me stuck within the town limits of Ponyville.” I walked back to where my lyre and saddlebag were. “I've hypothesized that it's because both Nightmare Moon and I were here when the curse began. Whenever I try to leave Ponyville, I'm overcome by a horrible temperature drop, like I’m entering the bitter cold vacuum of space.” My teeth chattered slightly at the thought of it as I yanked on my sweaterjacket's hood strings for emphasis. “It's why I have this and the scarf. Sometimes the cold of the spell creeps in and becomes unbearable.”
“I...” Twilight shuddered and slumped down in the middle of the library. Her voice resembled that of a helpless, whimpering foal. “I wish there was a way to help you, Lyra. While I still know enough to do something...”
“Then do this one thing for me,” I said, lifting the lyre up with magical telekinesis. I took a deep breath, steeling myself. “You've done it before, and it's helped me out immensely. I'm sure you can do it again.”
“Absolutely!” Twilight stood back up, her eyes bright. “Tell me what it is!”
“Help me finish this song.”
“The one you played earlier?” She gulped. “Miss Heartstrings, you're right about one thing: I am doing my best to become a living repository of knowledge, but I'm afraid that music just isn't my forte.”
“It's not your knowledge that the music should appeal to,” I said softly, grinning. “It's your heart, Twilight. You know this tune. You've heard it before. I don't need an expert thesis, I just need to know how you feel it should end.”
“I...” She bit her lip and stepped up closer, sitting down next to me. “I think I need to hear it again.”
I nodded. Gently, I played the tune for her. The tempo was a little faster on this playthrough, for night had fallen and I was starting to feel a little bit pressured for time. Soon enough, the number was finished, and what I had up til then called “Lunar Elegy #7” was suddenly—
“'The Threnody of Night,'” Twilight murmured.
“Oh, is that the name of it?”
“Yes. At least I think so,” she said with a nervous smile. “According to Princess Celestia, it was something Luna herself wrote just decades before her banishment. Luna went through a period of mournful, artistic expression... at least before her jealousy and envy fused with the bitter taint that transformed her into Nightmare Moon.”
“Do you know the last few bars of it?”
“I...” Twilight Sparkle fidgeted. “I'm telling you, Lyra. I'm not good at writing down musical notes. Besides, it'd just turn up blank if I wrote it while in conversation with you, right?”
“Then hum it,” I said. “That's what we always did before. I promise you.” I winked. “I'll remember it.”
“I... I should just hum it?”
“Okay. Uhm... Here goes.”
The sound of the library interior drowned out as an angelic voice navigated a series of invisible chords in the center of the hollowed-out tree. I listened closely, my heart providing a beat to the melody wafting from Twilight's soul. Sooner than I had expected, the song came to an end. It would have brought a tear to my eye if I wasn't so busy chuckling.
“But of course. Heehee... how bleak.”
“I swear. That's how it ends!” Twilight said. “I remember it now like it was just yesterday. The threnody stops abruptly. I recall questioning the Princess on it. It was the first time I heard Celestia laugh. 'Luna never knew how to make a graceful exit,' she said. Huh...” She shook her head with a goofy grin. “Funny how I forgot about that moment until now...”
“It's always funny at first,” I muttered, concentrating as I poured a wave of magic into my lyre and repeated the last few cords that Twilight had hummed for me. The melody echoed with haunting resonance throughout the wooden chamber. I now knew how the threnody ended. Another week, another elegy. It's so simple, it hurts. “And that's that.”
“Aren't you going to play the whole thing?”
“No,” I replied swiftly. “No, not in here.” I quietly slid the lyre back into my saddlebag. “It wouldn't... be safe.”
Twilight Sparkle squinted. “The threnody—it has a magical property, doesn't it?”
“Most of them do, but only after I've salvaged the melodies I hear in my head and compiled them together with my instruments. They're merely pieces to a grand puzzle I'm struggling everyday to figure out, though I'd be lying if I said that I worked on them completely on my lonesome. I have you to thank for another elegy's completion, Twilight.” I smiled at her. “Somehow, you never fail me.”
“If only I could do more than that.”
“Well...” I stepped back from my saddlebag and turned towards her. My face avoided her gaze, though. “I kind of lied earlier when I said that I needed one thing from you. As a matter of fact, there's something else...”
“It's...” I couldn't look at her straight. Even now, I have a hard time believing that I said what I did—that I had made such a request. All these months that have gone by, I've told myself that I should be stronger. I had already gotten what I really needed from Twilight that night, that which could truly help me in my quest for understanding. There was no point in asking for anything else. But, I guess I was weaker than I thought, and that's the real reason why I'm writing this otherwise inconsequential entry “It's something really weird-sounding, and you can say 'no' if you like. It's perfectly fine, and I really could't blame you...”
“Lyra...” Twilight walked closer to me. “What is it? What else do you need?”
I like to think that I'm pretty good at smiling. It's the best expression to have in any circumstance. I wear it all the time because I want ponies around me to be happy. It's what the world deserves, after all. But standing there, upon the precipice of Twilight's gaze, my smile was as solid as ever. My eyes, however, weren't. The image of her fogged over as I finally looked up.
“Can I ask for a hug?”
I've talked to Twilight Sparkle no less than fifty times since the curse began. I've had this same conversation with her about two dozen times. This occasion, however, was the only time I made this request. I can't guess exactly why. Perhaps that afternoon was colder than normal for me. Perhaps I was thinking about Derpy's sweet child. Perhaps it was just the threnody—it had ended too terribly short, and I felt as empty as Luna's composition was meant to feel.
My thoughts ended short too, for I was at the receiving end of Twilight's embrace, and it stole the breath from me... to suddenly be someplace so warm once again. I let her hold me, my forelimbs dangling across her back as I closed my eyes over the shoulder of my foalhood friend. If forgetfulness was a sin, then I was hardly a saint, for being held in her arms suddenly made me realize that I had lost track of what it was that I was truly searching for. Music is a gorgeous thing, but it is still only an artifice of the real rhythm that pumps through our veins, heated by our hearts.
Oh, what fragile things we ponies are, such separate yet special creatures—that we need the felicitous sounds of laughter and harp-strings to bridge the frigid gaps between us that are otherwise filled by dust and tears. I wanted suddenly to tell Twilight so many things, but I knew that words would fail us both. Besides, words will only be forgotten. Our loving friendship is immortal, and the best thing to have conveyed such truth is the one thing that we did. If that hug had lasted forever, I would have been fine with my name losing all meaning.
“Thank you, Twilight,” I said, once more embracing the chill as we parted ways. I sniffled only once, and the smile returned to fill the brief void that had swallowed my expression. “That means more to me than you can imagine.”
“I only wish it was enough,” she murmured sadly. She stared for a moment into space, then suddenly brightened with a happy gasp. “I know! A memory spell!” She scampered towards a tall bookcase looming on the far end of the foyer. “If I can cast a powerful enough incantation, maybe we can counteract whatever this curse is and keep you from being forgotten until the Princess and I can come up with a real solution!”
I sighed. “Twilight, save your energy. It didn't work the last time you tried, nor any of the times before that.” I stood still as she dashed all around me, collecting more and more tomes from the walls of the place. “It's best that you don't work yourself up—”
“No, seriously! This is a spell that Starswirl the Bearded invented!”
“You mean the Concentration Buffer?” I murmured, gazing up at the window. I saw a sliver of moonlight, and my heart sank.
“Yes! How'd you know? Anyways, if I can find the formula and cast it with a sprinkle of mana-dust as a reagent, I just might be able to—” Her words stopped just as soon as her hoofsteps did.
A chill ran through my body. Vapor escaped my lips. I didn't want to turn around. I never want to turn around and look at the pony when this happens. But everytime, I do. And I did then.
Twilight Sparkle was standing dead-still in the middle of the room with a glowing horn. She had several books hovering all around her. She looked at them curiously, as if they were a swarm of annoying moths.
“What... What was I...?” She blinked, frowned, and floated the books back to their respective holes in the shelves. “This is no time for side projects! I've got Heroes in Equestrian Literature to unpack.” She finished putting the books away, turned around, and instantly yelped upon the sight of me. “Eeep! Wow... uhm... h-hi there! Where did you come from, Miss...?”
“I apologize,” I said. I was already sliding my saddlebag on. “I didn't mean to startle you. I was just finishing with... with a project of mine.”
“I see. Well, I don't mean to sound rude or anything,” Twilight said with a sheepish smile, “But the library will be closing in about—” She glanced up at the clock and did a double-take. “Oh! It’s past seven! Uhm, we're closed! We've been closed for... goodness, about fifteen minutes now?”
“I see. Well, I'll be on my way.” I curtsied and made for the door. “So long, ma'am. I wish you a pleasant evening.”
“Hehehe... Same to you, miss.” As I trotted away, I heard her calling towards the far end of the hollow tree, “Spiiiiike? Where the hay are you? These parcels won't unpack themselves! We can have supper after we're done!”
Today, a few hours before writing this, I stood once again on the corner of Main Street in sunny, downtown Ponyville. I knew better than to play the entirety of “Threnody of Night” in public, so I only performed tiny snippets of it, so that I would learn them by heart when it came time to perform a true recital in private.
Many ponies stopped by, and a good few of them dropped bits into the metal can I had lying beneath me. I saw Dr. Whooves, Granny Smith, Carrot Top, and several more pleasant faces. However, I didn't lose concentration until one pony in particular showed up. Before she got too close, I stealthily nudged the box of bits with my rear left hoof, hiding it beyond view of a green bush behind me.
“My, what a heavenly tune!” Rarity said, her sapphire eyes bright and sparkling in the noonday sun as she stood before me with her saddlebag. “But dear, you look positively freezing! Tell me, are you ill?”
“I'm... uhm... I'm perfectly fine,” I said with a smile, not once losing the rhythm of my telekinetic string-strumming. “I'm not sick. I just tend to feel colder than the average pony. But I've got this wonderful hoodie and this lovely scarf, see?”
“It is a good thing too!” Rarity said, pacing around me. “I cannot stand to see a gifted musician such as yourself freeze to death! Good choice on the scarf, darling. It matches your eyes delightfully so.”
“That's what the pony who gave it to me said,” I remarked.
“Well, if you ask me, I think you deserve it. Your music really makes a stroll across this town of ours all the more beautiful. I daresay I'm tempted to hoof you some bits just to show you how appreciative I am.”
“Heheh...” I cleared my throat and struggled to maintain the melody. “Believe me, that's not necessary. I... I-I wouldn't even think of it,” I said, though my lungs were already deflating shamefully.
“Nonsense!” Rarity waved her hoof and said, “Haven't you heard, dear? Generosity is the lens of the heart! How else are we going to see how truly lucky we each are for being alive?” She tilted her head up. “But, if you insist, I will leave you be to your smashing instrumentation. Perhaps we can meet again?”
I found it easier to breathe. I looked up at her and smiled. “Yes. I'm sure we will.”
“Splendid. Ta-Ta, madame maestro! Heeheehee...” And she was gone.
An hour later, I was seated inside Sugarcube Corner, cradling a cup of tea in my hooves. I didn't take a single sip. All I did was stare into the tiny wisps of steam rising from the drink, unenthused at how cold it felt against the memory of my first gracious hug in months.
A jar full of bits rested on my table. After four consecutive days of performing in the center of Ponyville, I had once again accumulated enough money to buy the materials I needed for my little experiment. I now had the “Threnody of Night” down pat, but it wasn't just enough to perform the musical composition in full. I needed to purchase the right magical ingredients for in case something went wrong. After all, I had gone down that road before—and not even the world's entire supply of scarves or sweaters could have saved me from the coldness that I found lying beyond the final notes played by my lyre.
If I didn't keep working on this project of mine, then I might lose any opportunity I had of climbing out this accursed pit I was in. Why, then did I feel as though I was about to commit a sin with those bits? I've taken advantage of my “situation” before, procuring many things that I've not been entirely proud of even though the ends justified the means. But suddenly now, after how far I've come—after the hug—I wondered if I could really live with myself after I... find myself.
“Oh, wow! A lyre. Tell me, are you a musician?”
“Hmm?” I looked up. I admit it—I did a double-take. “Oh, uhm. Yeah. Something like that.”
Twilight Sparkle smiled at me from where she stood in the middle of the cafe. “I've always admired musicians, cuz so many of my unicorn friends went on to study music while I stayed in other fields at Canterlot. I wish I had taken time to understand music theory. It's both fascinating and beautiful.”
I exhaled softly. “It's remarkable how so much in life can be those two things at once, isn't it?”
“Oh! Uhm... I'm sorry. Listen to me going on and on and on,” Twilight muttered, rolling her eyes above a goofy grin. “Ahem. I'm Twilight Sparkle. I'm in charge of the Ponyville Library in the east district.”
“You're also the apprentice to Princess Celestia and the living Element of Magic responsible for banishing the tainted essence of Nightmare Moon.”
“Oh...” Twilight smiled sheepishly, her lavender ears drooping. “So you've heard about all of that stuff too, huh?”
“Is it so hard to believe?” I took a sip of the tea finally. Perhaps it wasn't so cold after all. “Some of us do more to be remembered than others. I play music—you save all of Equestria.” I lifted the teacup in “cheers” and smiled. “Somewhere, you and I will meet. Hmmm?”
She blinked steadily at me, then giggled. “Eheheh... Yeah. To each their own, right?”
“Most practical rule in my book.”
“Well, you should come by the library sometime. I'd be more than happy to show you all the volumes we have on music theory. I've got at least twelve books written on ancient Equestrian lyres alone. I bet you'd eat them right up.”
“Heeheehee...” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I already had. Twice. “If the need ever comes up, Miss Sparkle, I just may take you up on that offer.”
“I hope you do,” Twilight said with a soft smile. “We each have our own talents. Sharing them is... is like a way to get to know each other better. And what better way to not feel alone in this world than to do what we do best and share it with other ponies? That's the essential key to harmony, at least I think so.”
I listened to her, and instinctively my eyes fell upon the jar of golden bits. It suddenly became clear to me. “I believe it was a wise pony who once said that 'Generosity is the lens of the heart. How else are we going to see how truly lucky we each are for being alive?'”
“Hmmm... Whoever said that sounds really eloquent.”
I nodded. “Fabulously so.”
“Well, enjoy your tea. I'm off to go meet my friends. So long.” Twilight Sparkle waved and left. I turned towards the front of the the eatery, when suddenly I heard something. Tilting my head around, my ears pricked to capture a hauntingly familiar threnody. Twilight was humming the last few bars of the most recent elegy, and she had a smile on her face as did she so. I almost wondered if she understood it, but then I realized it wasn't important.
I breathed happily and snatched my things up, starting with the jar of golden bits. I knew suddenly what to do with my afternoon. My experiment could wait. What's one more week dropped into the well of nothingness?
That evening, a long slender package magically floated up to the front entrance to a Ponyvillean residence west of downtown. It brushed up against the doorbell. I struggled from afar to push with my telekinesis, and soon the package was ringing the door. After the gong had rhythmically begun and ended, I lowered the package and squatted behind a tree in the front yard.
After several seconds, the door opened. Derpy Hooves stared out, teetering, her googly eyes tired and bleary from a full afternoon of delivering parcels and letters all around Ponyville. She glanced left and right, and for a moment I was afraid she was going to miss the recent purchase I had made at the store before coming there.
Finally, one of her amber eyes rotated down—and she caught sight of the item. Her brow furrowed. She knelt down and nudged it, as if afraid that the box might come alive and jump out at her. The experienced mailmare fiddled with the package, looking all over for a tag or some sort of identification that might indicate the sender. On a whim, she gripped the edges of the box and flung it open. Immediately, her jaw dropped.
I watched quietly, biting my lip.
Derpy fell on her haunches. A shuddering breath left her as she removed a slender, golden flute from the box and cradled it in her gray hooves. Her eyes focused on the instrument—both of them—and soon they filled with tears. Stifling a whimper, Derpy smiled and scrambled up on all fours.
“Dinky! My little muffin!” She bolted back into the house. “Look! Look what Mommy found for you!” The door slowly creaked shut behind her, but not without letting the squeaks of a gleeful foal escape through its frame.
For the second time in days, I felt the warmth of Twilight Sparkle's hug, but I didn't need another pony to be there for it. I was alone, like always, and though I may have been several bits short of starting the next leg of my musical experiments, it was something I was willing to wait out.
Perhaps... just perhaps, the sweetest things that happen in life are the ones that history isn't there to record.
With a smile, I pulled the hood of my sweatjacket over my head, turned around, and trotted under the crimson kiss of the sunset. Ponyville didn't stop being gorgeous, not for one second.
Have you ever had a beautiful melody stuck in your head, but you don't know where it came from?
That melody is me.