85w, 1dCadance: Devoted and Loving
I had no memories of my mother, but I had many of her things. In the attic, locked behind the trapdoor, my father had stored everything he had of my mother. On the rare days I was home alone, I would sneak the key out of his room, fly up to the trapdoor, and strain my weak telekinesis to unlock and pull the door down. It was an ordeal for my weak wings to fly high enough to even do that much, but it was worth it, because the attic was a world of marvels.
Faded posters, rolled up or proudly framed, proclaimed the talents of Capriccio and Cadenza, taking the music world by the storm. Boxes of their records made towering cities over my head, and treasures were tucked into the most unlikely of places. Racks full of her gowns, cases of jewels from ardent admirers... even a perfectly preserved rose from Celestia herself.
In the dusky half-light that filtered in through the one lonely window, the attic felt like another world. Whenever I had the chance, I would spend all day looking through pictures of my mother or trying on her dresses and wondering what she had been like when she was alive.
I had a mission now; I was after pictures. Shelves and shelves of photo albums lined the walls, and I was willing to bet my horn that somewhere in the boxes of faded polaroids was a picture of the purple filly. And fortunately for me, my father always spent the day after my birthday out of the house. He would take his violin and a bouquet of roses and spend all day out. Of course, he never told me where he went, exactly, but I suspected he went to visit my mother.
This year was no different. I kissed him goodbye, watched him walk away, and as soon as he was out of sight I was upstairs, pulling down the trapdoor and bounding up the ladder into the attic. It was just as I remembered it, a maze with walls made of memories.
I searched for hours, but the attic was a labyrinth. I knew that I had seen a photo of the purple filly before, but the attic refused to give up its secrets. Finally, I admitted defeat. The light coming in the window had grown rosy from sunset and my father would come home at any time. I trotted over to the trapdoor, only to find that it was closed.
Well, that’s strange. How could it have closed? I went to open it agian, but the handle didn’t budge. Oh no. No, no, no! Panicked, I jumped up and down on the latch, only to twist my ankle on the stupid thing. “Aieeow” I wailed in equal parts pain and frustration. I was trapped, and my father would be home any minute!
Desperate times called for desperate measures. I half hopped, half flew to the window, kicking up clouds of dust in my wake. I clambered up a box and pushed on the window with all my might, both with my magic and with my sore wings.
The window didn’t budge, but the box I was standing on did. It slid back and I fell flat on my face, my forehooves catching on the window sill on my way down. To add insult to injury, a cloud of dust flew up around me and sent me into an uncontrollable fit of sneezing.
“Achoo! Ahh... Achoo! Achoo!” I could feel myself tearing up again. Where had this gone so terrible wrong? “Achoo!”
I gasped mid sneeze, and it dissolved into a coughing fit. Tears in my eyes, I turned around, trying to see through the dust. “Who’s,” I said through my cough“there?”
“It’s me, of course!” That voice... It was my shadow, the purple filly! But where was she? In the midst of the settling dust, there was a darker shape, about my size... a patch where the dust stayed suspended. And as more dust fell, it became clear that there was a pony made of dust standing in front of me. Purplish dust, an ashy version of the filly from the cake.
“You!” I managed to gasp between coughs.
“Who else would it be?” The dust filly giggled into her hoof. “You’re looking for something, right?”
“How did you...”
“Over here!” She bounded off into the deepening shadows. I followed after her, but I couldn’t keep up on my sprained ankle. I fell behind, and I had to follow her molted feathers, little gossamer things that would crumble into glittering dust as I passed.
“Wait, please!” I huffed as I turned another sharp corner. “I can’t keep... up.” She was gone. I was at a dead end, alone with a cloud of glittering dust dancing over a box I had never seen before.
I walked towards the case slowly, feeling a sense of gravity for reasons I didn’t understand. It was a deep viridian, embossed with two golden interlocking C’s. The glittering dust fell all around it, but it stayed untouched. With a shaking hoof, I opened the box.
Music poured out of the box, like a symphony in the middle of a dream. I screamed like, well, like a filly, and fell back on my flank in shock. In the deathly silence of the attic, the music was terrifyingly loud, but once I got over the shock, the tune was comforting, familiar. I frowned in puzzlement, listening carefully, but the box tinkled to silence.
My heart still pounding in my ears, I leaned forward and took another look into the box. It was a box of memories, photographs of what seemed like every minute of my mother’s life! Her childhood, her rise to fame, her heavily publicized courtship with my father... how strange to see him happy! Clippings from tabloids traced their courtship, two talented unicorns from two of the most distinguished families in Equestria.
It had been a match made in heaven. Their marriage was across every front page, and then when they were with foal, the media exploded. Everyone wanted pictures of the happy couple, and I was fascinated to read how everyone had loved my mother.
There was a single picture of her heavily with foal, my father holding her hand, and then the pictures were over. Only a film canister and an official looking envelope were left in the box. My racing heart beat faster as I lifted the canister and the folder out. This was it, I was sure of it!
I shakily opened the canister and drew out the film. It had never been developed. I tried to see what pictures were on the film, but it was too dark. I carefully put the film back in the canister, and then opened the envelope. The folder was filled with strange pictures. They looked like x-rays, but not quite. There was something medical typed across the top and bottom, and the image was oddly fuzzy, not like bones at all. I held one up to the fading light, and saw there was something scribbled in the corner, but it was too dark to see anything more. I slid the photograph back into the folder, and closed the music box with a soft click.
“Creeek!” A rusty screech came from behind me but I kept calm. Somehow, I knew it was only the trapdoor opening back up. I had found what the filly wanted me to. Folder and canister clutched tightly in my telekinesis, I climbed down and closed the trapdoor behind me. I hid my new found treasures in my room, put the key back in my father’s chest, and took a bath to wash the dust out of my coat.
That night, when my father came home smelling of roses and fresh cut grass, he took me aside to begin my lessons. We stood together on the balcony, serenading the night with the tune from the music box, the same melody he played every night. He called it “Cadenza’s Lullaby,” and I couldn't help but cry as I played it with him, the memory of the music box sweetening my own scratchy notes.