Vinyl woke up at roughly seven ante meridium. Quietly she escaped the wretched building she somewhat hesitantly referred to as an apartment. Just as she thought the coast was clear, she heard her auspicious landlord’s voice.
“Trying to leave without paying rent again, Scratch?” She sighed inwardly.
“I’ll pay you on monday. Today’s my day off, and payday, so I’ll get my paycheck when I get there on monday.”
“Fine. Don’t be even a second late.” The old coot stepped back inside her destitute domicile, slamming the door behind her. Vinyl cringed as she heard something fall, and a string of curse words so varied in quality and timbre she thought that either her landlord was a genius, or practiced it often. She shook her head, turning around and heading out of the neighborhood. After just a few minutes of walking, the decrepit, rust stained houses of her current residence faded into the pretty apartments of the uptown area. She worked her phone out of her mane, making a soon forgotten mental note to buy a pouch to keep it in. She magically pressed the buttons, finding her way to her contacts, dialing Octavia’s number.
Octavia’s phone did ring, for once, but she didn’t hear it. She was still sound asleep, half on the bed, half off. Alcohol still coursed through her blood, though it had mostly filtered out now. She wouldn’t wake up with a hangover this morning, she hadn’t consumed enough Merlot for that. In the awkward position the bed forced her neck into, she snored loudly. The rest was much needed though, her circadian rhythms had been thrown heavily off by the varied amounts of sleep she had gotten in the past few days, including an almost complete inversion.
Vinyl lowered the phone from her ear, knowing the second call would find no answer if the first one hadn’t. She felt petty for having called twice, now, so she canceled the call. She didn’t think it would be socially appropriate to go down to Octavia’s apartment so early in the morning. She resolved to spend her time at the edge of the river, her personal river of styx. It was there that she put the souls of her worries and sadness to sleep forever, when she could. She didn’t really have any problems today, though, so she just sat by the edge, looking into the water. A few minnows swam within their small voluntary boundaries at the surface of the water, snatching the insects unfortunate enough to decide to take a rivertop rest. The weeds at the edge kept the water still there, so they were able to maintain their positions. She stared into the water, at some point ceasing to look into it but instead introspectively considering her situation. It had been a long time since she really hung out with anyone. She hoped she wouldn’t screw it up this time, like every other time before. She hadn’t really stopped to consider why her friendships always seemed to fail before, but she assumed it was her fault. She always seemed to have the wrong thing to say at the wrong moment, and it always came back to bite her. She stood, walking along the riverbank, alongside the road that would take her near her friend’s apartment. She didn’t know what she would do there, but stalking was not in her plans. After a while, she was able to see the roof of her second story abode, but just turned and walked back along the riverbank in the other direction. At some point during her small trek, her phone rang. She fumbled with her mane to get it out, answering it and jamming it to her ear.
“What’s up Octavia? I was waiting for you to call. And you said you’d be up first.” Vinyl said, trying to sound like the call wasn’t important to her.
“I ain’t ya girlfriend sweetheart. I’m your landlord. And I want my money today, I decided, so you better get your skinny butt over to your job and pick me up my cash.” Her chest tightened. Please don’t have an anxiety attack now, please no!
“I, uhm… I, uh…” She stopped. The truth was that, while she had indeed started a job recently, it was by no means going to be enough to cover her rent by monday. She thought she might be able to pull a gig over the weekend, gather enough bits to tide her over until her steady job brought her funds.
“Unbelievable. All you ever did was party. You’re broke aren’t you? You lived here on whatever money your parents left you before they kicked your lazy ass out, and now you’re broke. Did you actually even start a job?” Vinyl recoiled, never having heard venom like this in the mare’s voice before.
“I do have a job! I only worked one day so far, though, and it’s not enough to cover rent. I have no money left right now, but I’ll do a gig over the weekend and I can get you enough by Monday, I promise!” The mare on the other line thought pensively, and Vinyl scratch felt the anxiety attack coming back.
“I think you need to come back right now, give me whatever money you got, and get out. I’m sick of the late rent, hearing you come in late, and never getting full payment from you. Not to mention the constant blaring music, which I always tell you to stop with.” Her throat closed up completely now, anxiety attack in full force. She would have given herself credit for having held out for so long if she weren’t struggling to breathe.
“Wait, please!” She choked. “I can get you the money, just give me a few more weeks! I don’t want to be homeless!” Vinyl would have been mortified to know that the mare was smiling.
“It’ll be a good experience for you. You’ll learn a little something about hard work, perhaps. Come pick up your things in an hour, or they’ll be in the yard.” A click, and they were disconnected.
Vinyl was dazed, never before had someone who had known her for such a short time ostracize her like this. She was disconsolate. She began to cry, quietly. She counted herself lucky that she doubted it could get any worse. There truly is no way that this could be any worse… She decided, and while it was little consolation, she was able to work her way out of her anxiety attack. She walked tremulously back to the place she could no longer call home, the dread building in her chest. Where am I going to sleep? Where will I keep my equipment? The questions occupied her mind, an adamant protest against getting anything done.
She arrived fifteen minutes later. Her landlord was in the kitchen making herself breakfast. She offered Vinyl a pancake.
“N-No thanks, I’ll be okay…” She went into her old room, gathering all of the bits she had and holding them in the air in front of her eyes. She estimated she could feed herself for a week, including the free meals at the Pomegranate Promenade, for about thirty bits. She hid those in the pouch that she placed back inside her mane, giving the mare the other twenty-two.
“You only have twenty-two bits left? This is pathetic! Get out of my sight, and take your garbage with you.” The tears renewed themselves but she didn’t let the mare see them. She couldn’t believe it. Never in her life had anyone been this cruel to her, not even her parents were this mean about kicking her out. She gathered all of her belongings carefully in her magic, carefully bringing them through the doorway. It was a couple hundred pounds of musical equipment, including a large record table with all sorts of buttons and switches for making music, and a touch screen. She had bought this with her parent’s money, it was one of the reasons they kicked her out. It was top of the line though, and she treasured it. Her favorite headphones and all of her work to date were stowed away inside the locked cabinet that made up the lower part of the table. Where will I put this? If this gets destroyed, I will have nothing. More tears escaped her eyes, and she stood in the lawn of the home of her eviction, deep in rumination.
Octavia opened her eyes only to be assaulted by a ray of sunlight from her bedside window. It was nice being able to look outside at the river through the trees, but not when the sun made its mind to blind her. She rotated her neck on her shoulders, still stiff from having fallen asleep in an embarrassing position. It had been a while since she’d been that tired, she kept herself to good sleeping habits. Groaning softly, she rolled over, putting more of her body on the bed. In the process, she felt the bulge of the phone in her mane pouch, realizing she hadn’t plugged it in last night. She pulled it out of its pouch, preparing to put it on the charger on the nightstand, when she saw the time. Ten in the morning? Ten? I promised I would be awake sooner than this. She checked the phone. Two missed calls, both from Vinyl. You did a good job this time, Octavia. She took her phone back from the charger, not bothering to hold the cord in place. It followed the bottom of her phone until it could stretch no more, and snapped out of the port, falling disappointedly back to the nightstand. She placed a call to Vinyl, delicately holding the phone to her ear.
Her phone rang while she hid in the bushes at her old house, still staying out of sight of the windows with her machine. She didn’t want to walk around town with it, so she just hid there while she brainstormed. She set the machine down carefully, and answered her phone.
“Hey, Vinyl speaking!” She said, as cheerily as she could muster.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened Vinyl, I slept in. Forgive me.” Vinyl would have laughed at her overreaction if she weren't still in a fugue.
“Hey, it’s no problem. You want to go catch breakfast?”
“Catching it implies that we’re going to be doing hunting. But I would be open to having some breakfast with you.” Vinyl steeled herself, an idea just having come to her mind.
“Hey,” She paused. “could I, could I store my mixing table at your place for a little while? I know we just met but my apartment is really tight and I don’t have anywhere for it.” She took in a breath and held it.
“What’s a mixing table? Something for drinks? As long as it is small enough to fit inside my closet, I don’t mind.”
“Well, it’s for making my kind of music. And I dunno if it’ll fit in your closet. But I could get it out in just a few weeks, I just need time to clear out room in my apartment.”
“Viiiiinyllllll… How could it possibly take multiple weeks to clean a room in your apartment? I could come help you if you like.” She cringed.
“No! No, you don’t have to do that. I’ll get it clean, I just need to know I have a place for it for a little while, if it gets wet in the rain, it’ll be destroyed. It was expensive.” Octavia sighed.
“You can store it here, just for a few weeks.” She acquiesced. “Bring it over and I’ll make some food, we can walk down to the river and have a picnic or something.”
“Sounds romantic. I’ll be there soon.” Vinyl hung up, relief shooting through her like a bullet. Her mixer would be okay. She made the short trek back in a mere ten minutes, at a well paced gallop. She wanted to get the table inside before the dismal sky turned to a downpour. Her instincts were spot on, and just as soon as she got under the overhang of Octavia’s apartment, the sky let loose a week’s worth of evaporated water. She was uncomfortable having the table outside even in such humidity, so she rushed up the stairs with it, being careful not to smash it into a wall or the railing. The area in front of her door was much too small to fit in beside the table, so she gently knocked the table into the door a few times. Octavia answered it seconds later, gasping at the size of the table.
“You neglected to inform me of its gargantuan size, Vinyl. How am I supposed to fit this thing inside? It’s taller than me, two of me wide, and one of me thick.” She spat, in a huff.
“I dunno, I can get it out of here soon I promise!” She smiled widely, her best ‘forgive me, for I know not what I do’ smile. Octavia was no help bringing the table inside. It was difficult to maneuver, due to the size of the balcony. Eventually, she managed to levy it inside, with a combination of tilting it as steeply as she dared, and twisting it sideways through the doorway. She set it down in the makeshift mudroom, gesturing at Octavia to show her where to put it. Beyond the kitchen, there was a corner of the living room large enough to fit the machine. Octavia moved her regal lamp out of the way, in favor of its new temporary guest. Not that she was in favor of it in any way.
“I was looking forward to going out for that picnic, but I presume you would also like to reconsider, in accordance with the weather.”
“Yeah. Sounds like a bad idea now eh?” Octavia felt just slightly irritated.
“Why is it that you speak in such a dull manner? Your brazen use of colloquialisms is hardly breathtaking.
“Duly noted. I’m starving, I could go for that picnic food now. Put your TV on the nature channel and we can still pretend it’s a picnic.” She said, laughing, to Octavia’s chagrin.
“Whatever you say, Vinyl.” She procured a little basket from under the edge of the counter, and inside it were two sandwiches, a small blue blanket, and two bottles of water. When Vinyl saw it, she lost her marbles.
“Bahahahahahahahaha my Celestia is that a basket? You were serious about this whole picnic thing weren’t you?” She questioned, riotously. “You’re too much Octavia.” She continued to snicker, as Octavia pulled the sandwiches out of the basket and set them on the counter on napkins.
“Here’s a sandwich. Eat.” Vinyl was instructed, and she listened. The sandwich was surprisingly good, for just a couple pieces of cheese and lettuce beneath bread. She looked expectantly at Octavia for more, but there was none. She hadn’t stopped to consider that her friend wasn’t a binge eater like her. Not to imply that she purged, just that she liked to eat until she was full. The day passed slowly, she and Octavia went out for a walk, and Octavia dropped into a few different diners along the river in the opposite direction of the Promenade, asking around for a job. One of the diners extended an invitation for her to come back when the manager had time for an interview, an invitation she graciously accepted. By the time the day ended, their legs ached, and they had gotten to know each other a lot better.
“Thanks for walking me home, Vinyl. You should really be getting back home yourself now, it’s late.” Vinyl stiffened.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ll see you some other time, then.” Octavia stood on the other side of her doorway, staring oddly at her as the door lazily swung shut between them, cutting them off from each other. The DJ checked her phone, it was running on twenty percent battery. She might have time for one call tomorrow morning, and that would be it. She would have to plug it in again on monday when she went to work. But the charger was inside her mixer cabinet... She felt claustrophobic, standing on her friend’s doorstep. She didn’t know where to go. She padded her way down the stairs and set out toward the river. The river always listened, the river never judged. She walked slowly up to its edge, looking into the clear free water. She looked out over it, at the woods beyond. Where am I going to sleep tonight? She tested the water. It was too cold to swim across, and the nearest bridge was a long walk away. She didn’t want to sleep out in the open, she wasn’t going to be a vagrant. Besides, it was only until she could get back on her feet, right? She was dejected. The world had rejected her. She had done her best, and it was not enough. More tears escaped her eyes, and she looked back over the river. It was only thirty feet long, maybe longer. She could easily swim that far, especially with a good jump start. Besides, it wasn’t that deep, at least she thought. Oh no, my phone! She debated on throwing the phone across, before deciding it would be better just to find the bridge. One step at a time, Vinyl. One step at a time. She eventually found the bridge, and gratefully crossed it, heading into the woods until she could no longer easily see the light of the city. She looked forlornly at the sky, the branches of the trees obscuring the stars. They were difficult to see anyway, through the fog. She heard the howl of a wolf, and the rain chose to start back up at that moment. I can’t believe this. She curled up in a ball, and cried. Cried until there were no more tears. By that time, she was already asleep.