All of Which Makes Me Anxious | At Times Unbearably So

by shortskirtsandexplosions


It is early morning.

Before first period.

Vinyl Scratch shuffles through the hallways of Canterlot High School.

Her head hangs low. Her expression has no substance—no mirth. Her shades obscures any leftover semblance of a soul.

None of the students talk to her.

None of the students look at her.

One zig in a zag of zombies, and it eventually limps her to her locker.

She opens it and props her backpack up to get to its contents. The thing is covered all over with patches—all of which had been sewn on by Vinyl herself over the semester. Mostly pop culture-ish things: band logos, album covers, video game character sprites. There's a big empty spot of canvas on the top center of the backpack—the most visible part of the bag. Even as Vinyl fetches one textbook and replaces it with another, her gaze remains locked on the unmarked spot of canvas. It's blank to everyone else—but not to her mind.

With a loathsome breath, Vinyl starts shuddering. She hates it whenever it comes to this, but she surrenders to the meditative urge nonetheless. She zips open a pocket in her backpack. She reaches in... reaches in deep. Somewhere in the furthest resources of the canvas compartment—buried beneath colored pencils, erasers, and crumpled-up music sheets—there's a rectangular-shaped patch. She knows it when her fingers touch it. Vinyl takes the thing out and scrunches her teenage body against the locker so only she can see it. As she does so, she slides her shades up, momentarily exposing her sad, rosy eyes.

Four bands.

Four colors.

Four reasons to be proud of.

And yet four reasons to hate herself.

It would fit so easily against the empty space of her backpack. It would take less than half-an-hour to sew on. And yet...

“Vinyl...?” The voice comes from a corridor away. Musical. Echoing.

She clenches her eyes shut.

“Vinyl...?” Closer. Playful. Warm and endearing beyond an impenetrable veil. “Where are you, love?”

She clenches her teeth. She wants to scream—mostly at herself—but she can't even do that.

Who else will talk to her?

Who else will smile at her?

Everything is just so awkward as it is. Even the best of her ends up crumpled, thrown into a pocket, unread.

It would fit so easily...

“There you are!” Octavia's voice rattles through the moment. A solitary anchor to the flood. She can feel the smile without looking; swim to it blindfolded. “Running a bit late, are we?”

Vinyl sucks her breath in. She shoves the patch back into the backpack, seals it tight, and drops the shades over her tears.

When she turns to Octavia, she is smiling. A calm, neutral, friendly smile. All she has ever given anybody.

Octavia takes it and returns with a tender hug. “Well, no fret. I'll just tell Miss Cheerilee you and I ran into a rival gang of bass fiddlers along the way to class.”

Her hand enfolds with Vinyl's without asking.

Vinyl walks along. Silent. Tethered.

Hugs are the hardest thing to come out of.

“I heard the most awful thing on the radio this morning!” Octavia smiles aside at her double reflection. “Tell me—have you ever listened to that Rebecca Black song straight through?”

A head shook.

“Well, evidently I was trapped into giving it a listen. The DJ was attempting to make a point about post-modern musical aesthetics and did you know what he said...?”