• Published 26th Jul 2015
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The Things Tavi Says - shortskirtsandexplosions



Let me tell you a few things about my roommate, Octavia. After all, she saved my life.

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Cyan Things

Author's Note:

And so I sit.

And so I waste.

Hugging myself with my back to the bed.

The sun has burned its way beyond the river, sinking past Detrot's sprawling horizon. Bloodlight burns the skeleton of the bridge into my retinae. It's hard to think that there was a time when this pain bothered me.

As the daylight fades, I start to see my reflection in the sliding glass window of the balcony. That—more than anything—disgusts me.

And, at last, I stand.

I turn around. The gesture is as much a surprise to me as it is to the shadows. I find myself fiddling with my luggage. Somewhere inside is a sheet of paper and a pen.

What for?

A note?

I suppose there's always one of those things involved.

I open my bag and I rummage around. There are socks... shirts... clothes and more clothes.

Why did I bring so many clothes?

A magenta titter rises up and fountains through me. One last absurdity for the road.

My fetlock brushes up against a sharp corner of cardboard.

I raise an eyebrow.

I reach in... reach deeper... and pull out the thin square package.

Huh...

There've been so many sights... sounds... thoughts since I began my train ride that I completely forgot about this... this...

Just what is this?

I turn the thing around, squinting. In the last sliver of sunlight, I catch the return address: Carousel Boutique.

Ugh...

Goddess... ...

Just what I need right now... ... ... more of Rarity's contempt... ... ...

And yet, on some curiously masochistic urge, I open the thing. All it takes is a few telekinetic stabs with a pen, and soon I've slid loose a glossy black vinyl inside a transparent white sleeve. Curious, I pull the record out, looking it over, searching for a label.

There is none—save for an indicator for which side is up... not that I would need help in knowing such a thing.

I bite my lip... then bite it again. I exhale, filling the room with magenta. Then—as it fades—I spot my other piece of luggage atop the bed.

Meh...

...what the hell.

I takes two minutes to unpack my turntable. It takes two more minutes to pull out the record player from even deeper within the container and set it up. Finally, in the fifth minute, I switch the machine on and lay the record down onto the spindle. I draw the needle over, and...

It's Sweetie Belle.

It's Sweetie Belle and her blue voice singing...

Oh for Celestia's sake...

I face hoof, my ears twitching—for they instantly recognize the crooning voice of a dead pony from a dead time. "Mellow Mare" is the lead single from the one and only Cyan Sings album. Coincidentally, it was also the track that Sweetie Belle and her friends were listening to when I stormed in on them at my home.

So... what? Did the little scamp conspire with Lyra to resurrect a derelict song from the past?

Give me a break.

My magenta grumbles do nothing, though, but crash against blue bluffs, made thicker and richer with each of Sweetie Belle's perfectly delivered dulcet tones. The words of "Mellow Mare" flood this putrid room with irony. After a while, though, I listen past Sweetie's voice. If I hold my breath and simply... drift in the currents of the music, it's almost as if I'm listening to an echo.

And for a brief moment, I am back in the underground nightclubs of Manehattan... Fillydelphia... Chicacolt. A spotlight shines on me... beautifully bright. I can't even see the crowd. I close my painted eyelids and sing to the stars. The heavens go on forever, and yet they're all within reach, just a mane-toss and skirt-twirl away. Cyan was all about glitter... glamour... showing off and sharing her voice like oxygen. She never knew the price of failure... and she never would. This mellow mare never got the opportunity to teach her.

Seven years later, and I loop back around to meet myself, and the regret is as bitter as ever. I suppose, in a way, I should be thanking Sweetie Belle. One must never underestimate the artistic value of a reprise. I think I would have missed my mark without the catharsis of blue-toned bookends to... well... to all of this.

Before I know it, the sliding glass door is opening. A dull, smoggy breeze vomits into the room, kicking at my short bangs. Sweetie's voice crackles behind me at a distance, warbling through lines that I thought I had long forgotten. I suppose all of us memorize the words that burn painful demarcations into our lives. I wonder what I'll be remembering five minutes from now.

I step onto the balcony. Sweetie rolls halfway through the song. There's a bridge behind me and before me. My ears tickle, hungry for something deliciously violet. It never comes. I feel free as a bird.

I lean against the railing. The world looms rancid below me. All the beauty's been shoved away. It doesn't matter who comes or goes—or where to. Life is a tide that only teases us with sandy glimpses of the vomitous surface beneath. I was given a second chance. I spent years remixing what I knew, what I experienced, and what I thought I loved. And for all of my sounds and sighs, I am still mute. I suppose we all are, in a way. The only time we ever hear voices is when we speak to ourselves, and even I don't have that luxury. I never did—I only pretended that I did.

Through you, Tavi.

I... always pretended.

I wonder if you'll be angry with me. Not so much over how it came to be, but that I didn't do it earlier. That I didn't save you the grief.

There's one last note. Sweetie Belle belts it like a child. Of course. And when it ends, all is crackling silence on the crest of white noise.

At last, the song is over.

My hooves are shaking right now. The railing is rusty... sharp in some places. I wonder if it can even support my weight.

That's what I think about as I pull up one hoof above other: Will it support my weight?

I'm just curious, that's all.

I'm not depressed.

Only... curious... and hungry.

Starving so very... very hard all these years...

"... ... ...Miss Scratch?"

I jolt. The railing wobbles with a groan, and my body jerks back. Shivering.

"I'm sorry for listening to your music without asking."

Clinging to the rust, I turn and look over my shoulder.

"But I-I guess I couldn't help it," the record player says. "It was all so... very beautiful. It must take really... really special talent to not only write all of that... but to be able to sing it and perform it on stage as well. It's... kinda what I've always wanted to do with my life. That's why I fell in love with it so much. I can tell you really put your heart into it. I hope you don't mind that I asked Miss Heartstrings to let me record my own cover of it. I... kinda remember the words to the song. At least, I think I do. If I've butchered the lyrics or anything, then I'm sorry."

I stare at the instrument, blinking hard.

Sweetie Belle continues: "Actually, uhm... Miss Heartstrings doesn't even know I'm recording this right now. She'll be back in the studio at any moment, so I have to make this quick. I mean... I-I don't even know if you'll even bother to listen to this. My sister's still kind of angry some reason or another, so maybe you won't care to open any package sent from the Carousel Boutique. Still... everypony I talk to is worried about you. They say that you've given up on being a royal minstrel and that you barely come out of your house anymore. I also heard that Miss Melody left town. If I were you, I'd feel devastated. And... you know... it's okay to feel sad. I feel sad all the time. That's why it's so nice to have friends. They're the kind of ponies you can rely on to help you when you need them the most... even if you don't think you need them. Or don't want to.

"And... and I dunno if you feel the same way about me, Miss Scratch, but I consider you one of the bestest... coolest friends I've ever had. I mean... heehee... you showed me that my singing wasn't so annoying. But, in fact, it was something awesome! And... and I could sing such beautiful tunes to music. There was a time when I only sang when I knew nopony could listen to me because I thought it would bother them... like I thought it bothered Rarity. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom helped me come out of that shell, but that's nothing like what you did. You made me feel like a superstar! Those moments recording here at Miss Heartstrings' house were... yes... they were some of the b-best moments of my life.

"Which is why I was so confused at... how angry you got when the Crusaders and I started listening to your album. I mean... I think it's so wonderful that you got to sing just like I did at one time! Only waaaaaaaay better. I thought I was impressed you before, but wow! Cyan Sings is absolutely amazing! I wanted to share her with all my friends! So that they could know how truly awesome you are!

"I... I guess I went a little too far. I should have asked for your permission first, and I'm sorry. I just... don't understand why you would be so angry about. Sure, maybe you can't sing anymore, but there's more to it. There's a super special talent that just breathes in you, Miss Scratch. And you don't have to sing to do it. You just gotta... reach out and make other ponies feel special. And you've been doing that all your life. You do that with Miss Melody when you two hang out together. You do that with Miss Heartstrings and her friend Bon Bon; they're always smiling when they talk about you. I've seen them.

"And... you've made me realize how special I can be, Miss Scratch. But... much more than that... you... you saved my life. You jumped in and rescued me from a horrible, squishy death. I'd be buried in the ground if it wasn't for you. And... and ever since then, I've been wondering what I should be doing every day... y'know... make it all worth it. Worth it to you and worth it to me.

"And then I realized... you made it worth it. You not only saved my life, but you helped me grasp my talent... you made me enjoy what I could do with myself... when I th-thought that there was no opportunity or point to it at all. So... I just want to thank you, Miss Scratch. And I want to thank Cyan Sings. Both are amazing ponies, because I know—at some point or another—they both became the mare who gave me a second chance. And that's such a good thing.

"Maybe you're feeling really sad right now and you don't want to hear from anypony. But if you are listening to this, please know that... I'm so... so very thankful that you did what you did for me. That you gave me a chance to live... I-I mean to really be alive. Because... wh-what are we here for if not to make more and more music together? You certainly never quit, so why should I? Thank you, Miss Scratch. And when you're feeling better... maybe we can see each other again? I've been... working on some songs of m-my own, and I'd like to know what you think of them. Rairty doesn't even have to know—Whoops! Here comes Miss Heartstrings! Uhhh... gotta go! Bye!"

The record scratches.

A crimson punctuation to pure poetry.

And I'm left breathless.

The railing is cold to the touch... like a gravestone.

Nausea rises up in my throat.

I turn towards the river. The sky's dark. I can scarcely tell the struts of the bridge from the shadows anymore. It's all black, like a castle named after friendship—but colorless and unfeeling. I can't stand it. I back away. I stumble away. I teeter until I'm collapsed on the floor, hugging myself and convulsing.

I close my eyes, but I don't like what I see. Phantoms of a fluffy filly, lying in a pool of her own juices somewhere in an Equestrian field. All because a mare wasn't around to catch her. To save her.

I thought I've been selfish for seven years. I know nothing of selfishness.

Tavi.

I shudder. I squeak.

Magenta waves and waves.

Tavi...

I cover my face as the first of several sobs fountain out of me.

You left me...

...you abandoned me...

The tears are like fire. But I accept them... and melt into the moment.

... ... ...but only because I made you think there was nothing left to salvage... to foster.

I should have been honest with you.

You should have been honest with me.

These last few years, we could have grown together.

Instead, I left you alone with your shadows. I assumed you were the healthy one. And now look at where it's gotten us.

You saved me... and I should have been trying harder to save you.

Oh goddess...

Oh goddess, what have I done...?

I hug myself, crying into the dirty carpet.

I have so... so much potential.

I only wasted it because I'm afraid... just like I'm afraid now...

My teeth gnash. The walls are closing in. I shred my way through the damn magenta with a snarl.

I have to get the Hell out of here.

And so...

...I go for a walk.

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