It's around the time that the train arrives at Ponyville Station, and the green hum tickles my ears, that my regret begins to outweigh my self-pity. If sighs didn't exist, then I would have fallen blissfully asleep long ago. Instead, I'm an exhaustingly wakeful pile of deflated baggage, and I pretend to stand up and limp out of the train car upon hearing the conductor's call.
Being outside doesn't warm me. My shades glint along with my gritting teeth, and it's as if I'm marching through a blizzard of numbing sensations, all clouded and complex. There are days when I cherish and savor each of the many individual slivers of the spectrum.
This is not one of those days.
I should have stopped and listened to Beau.
I should have gone back and apologized to all the musicians at the bar.
It was very foalish of me to have skipped out on all those ponies like I did.
And yet, I know... I can taste it—
That if everything was to fall into place again just as it did thirty-six hours ago, I would simply repeat history.
DJ Capricon likely had no idea what she was doing, but it doesn't matter. Nothing ever matters.
When will I stop being such a pathetic little foal?
When will I stop running away from everything that makes me feel uncomfortable?
Am I going to become DJ-P0N3 completely? With no room for Vinyl?
A deep shudder runs through my body. I take the side routes home, ducking in and out of the alleyways of Ponyville in an erratic attempt to void the eyes of anypony that might recognize me. I drag my equipment behind me like an undertaker's cart.
That color... that damnable color...
How did Capricorn even find it?
How does anypony ever find it? It's far more buried than I am right now. So what hope is there for avoiding this in the future?
I've been staring at the ground for a long time. I don't realize this until the grass gives way to mulch and gravel, painting the canvas of a familiar path.
I'm home. The front stoop looms before me. I am neither elated nor saddened.
I just simply am.
I can only hope that Octavia isn't home. The last thing she needs is to be burdened by a miserable equine such as myself.
As soon as I put the key in the door, I'm awash in purple and orange surf. For the first time in as long as I can remember, this disheartens me.
I try to carry at least a neutral expression on my muzzle as I slink inside.
"Well, good afternoon, Vine!" Octavia places Scribbler elsewhere on the couch and gets up from her favorite cushion. Her voice is the brightest shade of violet. "Fancy seeing you back so soon!"
Sweet Celestia, I'm going to implode.
I throw half-a-salute before about-facing. I pretend to struggle with my equipment as an excuse not to show her my face. She then reaches forth and helps me drag the cases through the door, which only makes me hate myself even harder.
"Had a safe trip to and from, I take it?" Her voice is a velvet cushion all around my head. She's in a terrifically good mood. Usually, this sets my senses on fire, but right now I'm on the virge of trembling. "No doubt raking in the bits, hmmm? Well... as much as the likes of us can afford, I bet." She follows this with a giggle. If it weren't for the weight of the lump in my throat, I'd teeter over entirely. "Well, it's been rather uneventful here in Ponyville."
Her voice ends, but her breath doesn't. She's clamping her muzzle shut, struggling not to burst with violet mirth. It's the first time since arriving that I've realized she's dying to make an announcement. If I provide any resistance, then she'll suspect something. So I tilt my ears towards her, and start listening.
And upon seeing my invitation, she allows the dams to burst. "Well... uneventful... save for the summons that we've gotten from Princess Twilight!" She bites her lip tightly, and even still the air twirls with violet and purple fireworks above us. "Oh Vine! Do you have any idea what this means?!" She clears her throat, pretending with mock eloquence to be the polar opposite of ecstatic. "Granted, it could mean anything. A royal rejection does have its own polite merit." And then she bubbles up again. "But something in my veins is telling me that this is it! This is it! Thisisit!" A deep gasp, and the next salvo of purple is a murderous one. "Can you believe it?"
I smile at her. Or at least I think I do. I open my mouth wide.
Tavi knows there's only one reason I would do that.
"Oh... yes... but of course." She leans back with a sly grin. "You must be exhausted from your tour. Do forgive me, but I just had to share my jubilation somehow." She waves a dainty hoof. "Don't bother with setting up your equipment so soon. By all means, head off to bed. I feel in the mood to cook us something tonight. Something celebratory."
The sight of her recedes, even as she picks up Scribbler and happily twirls her way into the kitchen like some enchanted princess. The violet notes paint the walls with joy, and I have to spin towards the doorframe of my room or else I'll suffocate.
I fling the door open and fling it shut—pausing just at the right moment to not produce a slam. When I throw myself atop my bed, it's with numb legs and even number limbs. Still, it doesn't stop the penetrating waves of magenta wafting out in every direction, pinning me in place by the tiny wheezes of my relentless sobs.
Everything is so beautiful
So simple... so beautiful...
Why do I let myself despair like this every so often?
She reminds me... she always reminds me...
I swear, Tavi deserves a better friend than this...
I have to make it up to her somehow...
For everything she's ever given me... that she continues to give me...
Maybe with this Royal Invite thingy... if it means what we think it means...
And for the first time since my exhaustive trip began, I fall asleep...
...and it is with a delirious smile on my muzzle.