"It's not that I haven't thought about it," Tavi says.
I turn to look at her, blinking curiously.
Somehow she notices. Only this mare can tell what my eyes are doing behind the shades.
"Moving back to Trottingham, that is." Her purple words dissipate momentarily. It takes a second or two for the redness fountaining from my chest to subside. "I mean, I would pursue a place of my own, of course... hypothetically speaking. Not that I would ever really do it. But... it has occurred to me... in casual ponderings, I do suppose"
I bite my lip. The wheels of my speakers bump into a rock. I fumble, but Octavia reaches over, helping me steady the machinery. I give her a thankful smile, and we continue our shuffling trot across town. The wedding's over, and everypony is walking home, retreating to their lovely little niches in this loveliest of towns.
At least, I do think it's lovely.
I'm not alone, am I?
"If you think about it... I mean really think about it, there are simply far more opportunities there. I have family there. Well... family besides my father, of course."
I gulp and nod.
"Not to mention several gracious acquaintances who would be more than happy to lend a hoof to me if I simply asked for it. I mean... I know enough ponies who know ponies who know other ponies that I'm quite certain I could land first chair in some respectful orchestra. Just... it wouldn't be Canterlot's Finest. And... and I would have live with the unmistakable feeling that I didn't earn it. But, then again, how many of us in life can be lucky enough to say that we have earned our lot with full confidence?"
I stare past her, past the cello resting on her flank. I see the newest addition to Ponyville, a glaring crystalline structure towering above all else. To everypony who sees it, it shimmers with reflective brilliance. To me, it's a jet black silhouette. I still can't stop myself from shuddering with even the most casual glance.
"I don't know, Vine," Tavi says. "I try not to compare myself to my father. I really do. It's just... I'm a great deal older than he was when he became successful, but what do I have to show for myself? I've done all I could to pursue a thriving musical career by my own means, and... and sometimes I wonder if it's even working. Maybe it is all luck and nothing more. Should I torture myself with this... boundless ambition that issues forth from my soul day in and day out? I mean, where do I draw the line and just... leap over to a smarter, better place of opportunity instead of stressing and toiling needlessly for so long?"
I can't remember when it began... this blissfully silent, precious pact between us. She who seeks answers and she who gives none—dwelling in harmony with one another.
Well, that's a lie. I do remember when. I just try not to dwell on it often. Things are agonizing enough as they are.
"I... I just need to put myself out there, Vinyl," Tavi murmurs. She's stopped in her tracks, so I stop pushing my speakers while I gaze at her. That's when I see it—a tan cloud encasing her, trapping the indigoes and violets deep within. It draws the rest of the world away on granite streams. "My music... my strings..." She shudders, eyes drifting up into the stars, getting lost in their twinkling dirge. "Father compares me to Mother a lot. He used to ramble incessantly about how we 'had the same faults.' Maybe she... wasn't as detestable a creature after all. Maybe she was forced into settling when her heart... her heart wanted more. Wanted something far more complex. Something invigorating. I... I'd almost have no reason to... to blame her... considering we both suffer from the same itch..."
I feel myself fumbling. Each exhale is a loose, frail thing, covered in brown hues. I feel sick, hollow, and suddenly there is only one cure.
But by the time I've reached daringly to remove my shades, I'm overwhelmed—as is Octavia—by a purring fountain of orange. I glance over, blinking in utter curiosity.
As the colors fade, I see a siamese cat having pawed its way out of its owner's lawn. It brushes past Octavia, rubbing against her legs, tickling her fetlocks with a flick of its tail.
"Why... hello hello!" Octavia chirps. The tan dissolves instantly, and the purple explodes in every direction at once, radiating, exultant. "Why, if you aren't the friendly type. I sure do hope you've had your shots."
The cat brushes past her three more times, meows, meows again... then promptly becomes bored. It stalks off to the far edge of the road, disappearing into the night.
The orange is gone, replaced by the tranquil green haze of Ponyvillean softness.
"Hmmmmfff..." Octavia exhales, and the indigo is still bright. "Well, that was quaint." She strolls ahead of me, and her gait is considerably more energetic. "This village never stops being full of surprises."
I look after her, then glance curiously in the direction of the feline. Crickets chirp, sparkling golden raindrops down on us, and I smile.
"Come along, Vinyl. No need to get condensation on your expensive equipment."
I jolt, obediently scurrying after her as we scale the remaining distance to our apartment.
"Now..." Octavia muses. "...just what were we talking about again?"
I try not to chuckle. It wouldn't be a good thing to faint this late in the evening.
"Eh... bollocks. I do hope I have some wine saved from last weekend. Have I mentioned how much I love this charming town?"
Life is full of nods.