It just didn’t feel right.
In her bed, Octavia writhed, drowning in the silence and stillness. The still night air surrounded and suffocated her like a giant pair of hooves pressing down on her chest. She flopped onto her side, her hair glinting in the faint moonlight.
All day, there had been ponies coming and going: moving ponies, relatives, friends, acquaintances, neighbors. They had stomped, trampled, yelled, and made various other noises that she had sworn she would be glad to be rid of.
But now the silence hung over her like a shroud.
Octavia reached out a hoof, turning on the lamp on her nightstand. Her eyes scanned the empty bedroom. Take a good look, Tavi. It’s all yours.
She smiled, despite the embarrassing nickname. Vinyl’s voice—or rather, the memory thereof—added a touch of comfort to the warm, stagnant room. She opened the window, letting in a cool night breeze. Crickets chirped outside. Had she been at home, Octavia would have pressed her pillow over her ears and cursed the noise. Instead, she leaned on the window’s edge and listened to the symphony of a thousand familiar chirps that pierced the silence.
The pressure in Octavia’s chest eased a bit, but she still felt its impact. Groaning, she turned away and regarded the pile of boxes sitting in the corner. She flung herself to the floor, trotted over to the pile, and opened each box.
The first held a few photos and some sheet music. Looking around the room, she pondered where she could put them. Lacking a place for them—the rest of her furniture would be delivered the next day—she set that box to the side.
Atop the contents of the second box sat an old, wind-up clock. Briefly, she considered placing it with the pictures, but she then decided to wind it up and put it on her nightstand. The faint sound of ticking filled the room. She nodded in approval.
Yes, now the silence was weakened, a wounded presence unable to fully oppose her. Yet it still brought its weight upon her, refusing to relent until it had been vanquished. A sigh echoed, drawn out to fill as much of the silence as possible. But she couldn’t sigh forever, and when she finally stopped to gasp for air, the silence returned.
Octavia flopped back upon her bed. Idly, she clutched at the sheets and tugged them toward her. Something was missing... something familiar and obnoxious, the bane of a thousand nights—
Snoring bled through the wall from the apartment next door. Yes, of course! Her father had never been a quiet sleeper; his snores had always found a way around every set of soundproofing blankets, pillows, and earmuffs. Every night, it would ring out clearly and distinctly in her ears. She giggled. Perhaps now, with the silence completely disrupted, she could finally close her eyes and sleep.
Sleep… in her apartment, where she was all alone.
She buried her face into her pillow. No matter how hard she tried, there was no ignoring the fact that she was alone. The snores from the next apartment weren’t those of her dad, and her mom wasn’t there either. Whether she liked it or not, her sisters would not barge in unannounced and ask her to play them a lullaby either.
No, the apartment was completely empty.
Octavia’s eyes stung, and the room began to swim before her eyes. She thrust herself from the bed, stumbling as her hooves hit the floor. Inch by inch, she crawled toward the far corner. Trembling hooves tore open the box and picked up the pictures. She scanned each picture, her eyes resting for a while on each familiar face. A sob escaped her, and she clutched the pictures tightly to her chest. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
She collapsed against the wall. Her hoof swung, kicking the box over. All of her sheet music spilled out onto the floor.
Great. Octavia dragged herself over, picking up each sheet. Sorting the music was impossible—every piece looked the same with her vision as blurred as it was. Still, one sheet seemed different. For starters, it didn’t look like a series of smeared, black rectangles. Secondly, it was blue.
She sniffled. Her hoof wiped her eyes as she looked the paper over. It was a note! Taking a gasping, unsteady breath, she began to read.
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably opened up the box of pictures already. Ooh, I wish we were there to wrap you up in a big hug!
I had figured that you might get lonely. Why, I remember my first night by myself. I didn’t even last till two in the morning before I returned to my parents’ house. I was banging down the door for at least ten minutes! They were not impressed, hehe.
Not that we don’t love you, Octavia, but… please don’t do that.
Oh, ignore your father! I know you’ll make it through the night, because you are a strong, independent mare, even if it hurts sometimes to be mindful of that. We love you, and we miss you terribly. Don’t forget to write and visit!
Mom and Dad
Octavia sat still for a moment, dabbing at her eyes. Despite herself, she felt a laugh rumble through her. So they saw this coming. Her eyes glistened again, and she held her hoof over her mouth. For a while, a mixture of sobs and laughter racked her body. However, it eventually settled, allowing her to calm herself.
She pored over the note again, mouthing all the words to herself. This time, she saw a small note at the bottom.
P.S. In case you’re still in need of something soft and cuddly, I packed Sir Snugglesworth in his own box. Maybe you’re too old for him, but it never hurts!
Octavia raised an eyebrow. She walked back over to the corner and grabbed the third box. Slowly, she peeled back the tape, pulling back the flaps. Inside lay a very old, very worn teddy bear. She picked it up in her hooves.
He was greyer than she remembered, his coat now a dull khaki instead of the rich tan that he had once been. Noticeable lumps covered his body where the stuffing wasn’t falling out of the seams. One eye hung loosely off, and she gently pushed it back on. A small smile sprouted on her face.
Clutching the old plaything, Octavia made her way back to her bed. She yawned, stifling it with her hoof. She flopped onto the bed and held the teddy bear close against her. Her hoof reached out and turned off the lamp.
In the darkness, Octavia closed her eyes. Strange and unfamiliar as her apartment might have been, Octavia felt better with her reminders of home. Her heart lightened at the realization that her parents missed and loved her as much as she missed them. The smile she wore grew into a grin. She rubbed her cheek against her teddy bear, settled against her pillow, and slowly drifted into a pleasant slumber.