• Published 21st Oct 2016
  • 2,321 Views, 36 Comments

Make a Mistake with Me - CoffeeAndCigarettes



Behind you: juvie. Before you: Canterlot High School.

  • ...
6
 36
 2,321

Track #4: Orange Blossom Special

Track #4: Orange Blossom Special

Coffee and cigarettes.

That keeps on being what you have to your name. At least for the moment.

You are North Wind, and you are sitting on the stone steps behind Canterlot High School. The end of autumn keeps rolling on mercilessly, and it’s definitely getting colder. You retreat deeper into your fur-lined leather jacket.

The cold kiss of the harmonica on your lips isn’t helping, but it’s not like you to stop at this point either. You just let the melody continue, hoping that it sounds at least something vaguely Billy Joel-ish. It’s not the Piano Man, but hey, you’re trying. At least it’s more entertaining than trying to trudge through yet another math class.

Oh did you despise calculus. Thus, here you were.

Staring at the empty soccer pitch and wondering why you had nicked the harmonica you were playing in the first place. Sure enough, this morning the band room was once again unlocked (thanks to certain trio, no doubt) and since there was no one around, you had helped yourself to a discrete instrument to amuse yourself with. Your own was getting rather old and sounded a bit out of tune, after all.

It was a welcome change of pace anyways. Usually when you were playing hooky, you were bored out of your mind, but now you could busy your hands with something other than smoking.

You sigh and let the lonely melody fade away, leaning back on the steps. You expect to get an eyeful of crisp-blue October sky with nary a cloud in sight.

Instead you find yourself staring at a massive amount of copper hair and two skeptical eyes.

“… Oh. The Poofy Haired One.” you comment.

Never call me that again.” Adagio scowls at you, not amused in the least.

You shrug your shoulders and lean back up, moving your things a little so the girl can sit down. She ignores your showcase of goodwill and decides to plop down on a step higher than you. In other words, putting a good distance between you two.

Distrust just oozes from her. Unlike Sonata, this girl’s not eager to talk with you.

“So? What can I do for you?” you ask from her. It was weird for this blimp-head to come talk to you.

Adagio scoffs and folds her arms. Now that you look at her, you realize something strange. She’s dressed rather conservatively for someone of her… nature. Sure enough, when you think about girls like Adagio, you think of people dressed in flashy, if careful, manner. But this poofy miracle is wearing a simple hoodie and jeans, as if trying to downplay her already impressive hair.

“I have questions. And I need answers,” she states rather bluntly, not bothering to hide her distaste of you.

You shrug again and gesture her to continue while fishing out a cigarette from your pocket. As you light it up (despite Adagio’s annoyed glare), she begins talking.

“This past week, Sonata has been acting, shall we say… weird,” she says. “And it started after she spent time with you for the first time.”

Ah. Figures.

You had expected it to be something to this effect.

After your first impromptu jam session with Sonata, the girl had gotten rather excitable. More than usual, that is. Just about every day she launched a surprise assault on you at school, whether in the band room or somewhere else. There you played guitar while she sang her heart out, until Adagio and Aria came to kick you out.

You had to admit, Sonata was getting a bit better.

It was rather strange, all things considered. It was as if Sonata knew how she should sound to be considered “Good.” However, she simply had no technical expertise to recreate that.

Mysterious, that.

“So? What about it?” You cock an eyebrow at Adagio and take a drag from your cigarette.

The girl shivers a bit as a particularly cold gust of wind blows through the yard, but she quickly recovers with sheer annoyance. Thrusting her finger in your direction, Adagio nearly hisses through her teeth.

You did something to her! She’s somehow gotten into her head to practice singing, of all things!” Adagio growls at you. “As if we didn’t have enough problems.”

“And you consider singing a… problem?” You have a hard time not grinning lopsidedly at that thought.

Adagio seems to catch your expression, as her own darkens considerably.

“Let’s just say it’s not our number one priority right now. We are living in the school.”

You have to admit, she does have a point. However, you can’t help but to feel like you should defend Sonata’s choice. Remembering what she told you the first time you met her, you’re pretty sure it’s not that Sonata’s priorities are skewed. She’s simply doing the best she can considering how much world has shat upon her.

“So I would very much like to hear the reason why she’s doing something idiotic like that.” Adagio ends her sentence with another thrust of her index finger.

It’s like a miniature sword she tries to threaten you with.

You fiddle with your cigarette and blow a stream of smoke high up into the endless-looking sky. The silence between you two grows ever longer as you try to think of an appropriate answer. You could try to explain why you think Sonata’s keeping up with her new hobby.

It might not be the correct answer, but hey, at least you tried. And that would get Adagio out of your hair for today.

No doubt she would be back to tear your throat if you tried to bullshit your way out of this, though. And you felt that outright making stuff up would be rude to Sonata. After this week, you did consider her something of a friend.

Days at CHS had gotten much more bearable when you knew that there was at least one blue-haired goof you could make music with. It was no longer a total pain in the ass to wake up each morning.

In other words, you owed Sonata enough to not screw this up. She had helped you out, even if she didn’t know it. It was your time to try to do something to repay her for that.

“You know… why are you asking me this?” You look at Adagio with a slightly accusing glare. “Shouldn’t you just ask about this from Sonata?”

Adagio looks taken aback by your question.

Her mouth hangs slightly open, and her eyes are darting around, trying to look just about everywhere but you. She shoves her hands into the pockets of her hoodie, but you can see from the way they’re shaking that’s she’s clenching them into fists. She’s biting her lip to the point you’re surprised she hasn’t drawn blood.

As you wait for Adagio to come up with an answer, a stray cloud slowly travels across the sky, and ends up blocking the sun. The shade that suddenly covers most of the yard, including the stairs, makes both of you shiver.

Autumn’s showing zero mercy.

Somewhere from the distance, most likely from other side of the school, you can hear the sound of students chatting aloud. Some of the classes must’ve ended already. It wouldn’t take long before the soccer pitch had gathered players once more.

That would be the end of this private moment between you two. Adagio seemed to realize this too.

She clearly didn’t want to answer your question… but she wanted to do it in front of others even less. Glaring at you from beneath her brow, she finally started speaking.

“T-that… that girl is an idiot,” she answers. “I can’t trust what comes out of her mouth.”

You simply snort at those words. She might be cleverer than Sonata, but right now, she’s lying just as bad as the latter did.

“You know, if you really believed that, you wouldn’t put up with her anymore.” you say, and Adagio jerks back in slight shock. “I’ve seen my fair share of hate. Dabbled with it, too. And if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that people who hate each other don’t stick together for long.”

You stared at the happily burning tip of your cigarette.

“Neither are they worried when some stranger causes the one they hate to act oddly.” There’s a slight accusation in your tone.

You don’t want to put it in direct words what you think, but you still manage to make it clear. To you, there’s a bit more to this interrogation than just Adagio being pissed off that you hang out with Sonata.

No, it’s more about Sonata herself.

As you lean back on the stone steps once again, you notice Adagio staring at you with an unreadable expression. Her lips form a tight, unwavering line across her face.

“Don’t mistake me for some sappy fool. I’m not like that goody-two-shoes, Sunset Shimmer. Despite what happened, I’m not planning on turning over a new leaf.” She says and frowns at the mere thought. ”If you think that I’m ‘worried’ about her because she’s my ‘friend’, you’re even bigger idiot than she is.”

Her words sound final. Adagio turns back to look at the empty football field, hiding her face from you. She hugs her knees softly, slowly rocking back and forth on the stone step.

“But… I suppose I do feel some responsibility for her.” She blurts that out like an awkward confession.

You wait in silence, expecting Adagio to continue. However, she refuses to say another word, leaving you with nothing but the distant sounds to listen to.

With a sigh, you take another drag from your cigarette. The white surface is replaced by burnt ashes. Just like her annoyance was replaced with delicate truth.

“So? If that’s the truth, why don’t you just go and ask her?” you inquire. “She might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but she’d give you the answer.”

You hear her draw breath sharply.

Adagio is still refusing to look at you, hiding her face quite well. And to be honest, you feel it would be rude to pry too much. She’s approaching you about this one particular subject. Getting involved in more than you bargained for was always a good way to get burnt.

“Like I said, she’s been cheerful as of late. Bizarrely so. After all, she’s singing, and singing, well… it’s what got us into this mess,”Adagio says, choosing her words carefully. “From the very start when we met to the time we got stuck in this place. From our arrival to our humiliating loss during the Battle of the Bands.”

She lets her fingers run through her hair, like scratching old, invisible scars.

“Songs were always what drove us forward, and they were integral part of us… and still, again and again, they brought us here,” she speaks softly. “To a yet another dead end where our lives a barely worth living.”

The way she keeps talking makes you frown. Sonata’s sorrows were always mixed with her natural cheer. But with Adagio, there was no such buffer. She simply sounded… incredibly bitter. Like her life was simply going through the motions, and nothing else.

“By all odds, Sonata should hate singing at this point. I know I do.” Adagio finally looks at you, having finished.

Her face is a mask of stone, bearing upon it that wounded swagger of hers. She’s just as prideful as before, but something in it has changed. Even you can see that she’s only showing it because she does not know any other way. It could be easy to classify it as arrogance. But you know better than that. What’s inside Adagio is pure confidence born out of her belief in herself and her skills.

Still now, after her face has been pushed down into the mud, that belief is slowly shattering. You have to admit, it takes great mental fortitude to act the way Adagio does, after all this time. If anything, she deserves applause for it.

“You know, I don’t think Sonata even thinks about it that way,” you grunt.

“What?”

You wave your cigarette in the air, drawing a rough circle with the smoke.

“You said songs were important to you from here to your childhood? In that case, crashing and burning a few times is nothing,” you continue.

Adagio’s confusion is clear on her face. You can’t help but to grin.

“Sonata’s not remembering those times. She remembers all the other moments. The ones that actually shaped songs to be so damn important to y’all.” It’s your turn to thrust your cigarette towards Adagio. “Sure enough, we might remember the bad times better, but, you know… good times often outnumber them vastly.”

You chuckle a bit. Turning your gaze towards the off-white clouds hanging far above your heads on the crisp-blue sky.

“She now knows how it feels to be without a home, like a complete unknown. And that’s why she does her best to bring back the good times,” you say.

You couldn’t read the expression on Adagio’s face even if you tried. Her eyebrows are reaching towards her magnificent hairline, and her mouth hangs a bit ajar. So, instead of trying to find more words to pile upon what you said…

… You simply hand the harmonica that was on your other hand to Adagio.

“Want to put my theory to a test?”

Adagio takes the harmonica, looking positively befuddled. She stares at the instrument with frightening intensity, perhaps thinking whether she should keep it or shove it in your gullet.

While she does her best Pawn Stars impression, you stump your cigarette and flick the butt away. To replace it, you fish out another harmonica from your pocket. Both that and the one in Adagio’s hands were blues harps, though yours was much more worn out. Simple C-tuned instruments without too many alterations.

You wave your own harmonica slightly, catching Adagio’s attention once more.

“And what am I supposed to do with this?” She doesn’t look too happy with this sudden development.

“Like I said, I’m willing to bet that if you give it a try, even if in different form, you’ll see why Sonata returned to singing,” you explain.

Adagio takes this in with a face of someone listening to a particularly unfunny joke.

“Really? A harmonica? That’s all well and fine, but need I remind you I no longer have any musical talent?” She says and throws a dirty glare at the silvery instrument. “Not that I ever bothered to learn this in the first place."

You shrug and play a few a notes with your harmonica. It sounds, much to Adagio’s chagrin, like a mocking laugh.

“I’m willing to teach you. Or do you have anything to better to do right now?”

Adagio opens her mouth for an angry retort, but suddenly comes to a halt. She looks around. The only ones at the stone steps are you two. Few students are out on the soccer field, but that’s it. Nothing but the lazy autumn afternoon, some stray clouds on the sky, and your instruments.

Eventually, Adagio sighs in annoyance… and defeat.

“As much as I hate to admit, you have a point. And I’m the one who wanted answers.” Looking impatient, she peers into the holes of her harmonica. “You just blow air into these, right?”

And then, without a warning, she inhales and blows air into a random hole like she was a fairytale wolf. The wailing that comes out the other end is enough to make you wince.

“Okay, first things first: don’t just blow into it like that. You’ll give me an ulcer.” You gesture for her to look at you. “You’ll want to use your tongue to guide the airflow. Place it against the holes and leave a bit of space there, as well as the corner of your mouth.”

You demonstrate what some call the “Hohner Method.” At least that’s what they tend to slap on their instruction booklets. Adagio peers at your face, and snickers at the sight. You have to admit, it’s far from a dignified look now that you’re deliberately using it as a teaching material. Still, you silence her with a well-timed glare, urging her to focus.

She mimics the way you hold your harmonica more or less perfectly, catching on surprisingly quickly.

“You might want to hold the harmonica with a few low notes to the right. That’s what I do. Still, the aim is to find a way that you feel comfortable with,” you say. “Oh, and remember to angle it down to your lower lip.”

She does as instructed, struggling a bit with the unfamiliar shape in her hands. You watch as Adagio, showing surprising amount of determination now that she’s gotten some instructions, adjusts her hold.

Then, without any warning, she suddenly blows air into the instrument again.

However, instead of a particularly nasty screech from the silver slab, you hear a crisp and clear note. Flawless 6 Blow. A-note without too much force behind it.

You look at Adagio with a mild surprise. What stares back at you is that incredibly smug, haughty expression of hers. But this time, it’s slightly different. Almost like… she’s enjoying herself.

“What? That’s it? And here I thought it would take a bit longer to learn. Then again, if a base monkey like you can do it, it can’t be too hard…” There’s a challenging glint in the corner of her grin.

“You learn quick, I’ll give you that. Alright, onto the next part.” You smirk in retaliation.

Teaching Adagio about the scales of harmonica turned out to be almost unnecessary. The moment you gave her quick run-through of the holes and their corresponding blows and draws, she seemed to naturally grasp it.

It reminded you of Sonata, in a way.

But instead of knowing what she should sound like, yet having no technique yet to get there, the situation was reversed. Adagio knew nothing about the direction she wanted to head to, but immediately understood “how.” You switched into the blues scale, and she managed to play it back to you top-down before you even mentioned it.

Arpeggios were even less of a trouble. She looked practically annoyed by the slow pace. However, listening her to play with a reduced pace made you notice something critical about her technique.

“Oh. You’ll want to keep your jaw free to move, not lock it in place. It helps getting a richer sound.”

Without even thinking too much, you reach out towards Adagio’s cheek to demonstrate what you’re talking about. The reaction is predictable. The flash of anger in her eyes and instinctive jerk away from you aren’t that surprising.

What you did was pretty much on par with trying to pet a wild coyote that had sat down close to you.

What does surprise you, though, is that after few seconds of awkward silence and glares, Adagio suddenly leans back forward.

“S-show me.” Her words are less like a request, and more like an order.

Feeling still a bit hesitant, you reach out with your index finger and softly poke her cheek, just under her ear. Then you draw a line on her skin with your fingertip, tracing the edge of the jawbone. The gesture naturally makes her clamped mouth relax a bit, and allows her to take a deeper hold of the harmonica with her mouth.

It also, apparently, stifles her breath, as she stares at you without making nary a sound. It doesn’t take too long for you to realize that you, too, are holding your breath. Before things get far too awkward, you retract your finger and clear your throat.

“See? You’ll need to keep the jaw free so you’ll have easier time to eventually bend the notes,” you say.

“I suppose, yes. Now… let’s continue, shall we?” Adagio smiles at you stiffly.

You nod and bring the harmonica back to your lips, dispelling all the strange thoughts you just had. As you had previously assessed: girls like Adagio were dangerous.

In more than one way.

To keep your head in the game, you start teaching Adagio about various techniques, such as trills and hand effects. To be honest, even you realized that your impromptu lesson was disjointed as all hell. You had never been the one to teach anyone.

But still, throwing your random knowledge at Adagio was like giving booze to local hobos. It was absorbed and regurgitated with incredible speed. It also was just as fun. Seeing the glee in her eyes every time she managed to replicate your techniques after one or two explanations was… kinda endearing, actually.

That wicked, victorious grin of hers was especially contagious. It was like watching an evil overlord experience the joy of learning for the first time.

Before you knew it, the so-called “lessons” had transformed into something completely else. Time had passed as if on wings, and without you realizing it, the sun had made well on its way down the canopy of sky.

It must have been numerous hours since you started, yet neither of you was showing any signs of stopping. Even the sound of students leaving through the main entrance, heading most likely home, was not enough to deter either of you.

Hell, it barely registered in your ears.

After all, after Adagio had mockingly thrown back one of your practice patterns with an added flourish of her own, you had picked up the pace. You didn’t simply play something and have her repeat after you. Now you were doing the best you could just to keep ahead of her.

Weaving licks together you try to create a complex enough melody to fool her into a misstep. But, with a lag of just few seconds, she follows your example with frightening ease. Not even your homebrewn riffs stop her at this point. Now that she had gotten into the groove, hearing something once seems to be enough.

This reminds you of how Adagio had said her whole life had been about songs and music. Slowly but surely, you begin to realize she might not have been using a hyperbole. You have never experienced a learning-pace this fast. To be honest, it was scary to think just what this girl could accomplish if she combined her forces with Sonata.

This past week, you had heard a couple of times some girls refer to the trio as “Sirens.” It was not hard to guess just how such nickname came to be.

It was no longer about teaching Adagio to just play harmonica. Your dignity as a musician was suddenly on the line. There was no way you’d allow yourself to be outplayed by a girl who had just picked up the instrument, dammit!

Throwing a curveball into the poofy-haired girl’s direction, you ease into the melody of Bob Dylan’s most famous song. Something in the back of your head has been nagging about this song the whole time. You take that as a sign and transform the basic tune of the chorus into a wild version that almost mimics the lyrics themselves.

Adagio’s eyebrows rise in surprise. But, just as quickly, that is replaced by competitive glee.

Jesus Christ, this girl wasn’t going to let anything stop her.

You shred like two madmen, each wrestling for the control of the song. As a result, your melodies intertwine and become something beyond the scope of what either of you could achieve alone. You feel like you are drunk. The almost maniacal grin on Adagio’s face is reflected on your own, and you can hear the pumping of your heart give you the rhythm.

… Wait.

No, it wasn’t just that. Somebody was actually clapping you two a rhythm.

Both you and Adagio shoot a startled look in the middle of your frantic playing, only to see a surprising sight.

Sonata, her ever-energetic blue hair bopping along her movement, claps her hands in perfect synch to give you 4/4 beat. Next to her, a certain Purple Stuff is staring at you and Adagio with eyes of someone witnessing high treason. And beyond them, well… it seems you have gathered quite the crowd.

There has to be at least 30 students watching you two. Not only that, but slowly some of them are joining Sonata’s clapping. Most of them, though, look like they have no idea what to think about the sight of you and Adagio nearly devouring your harmonicas.

You are drawn out of your thoughts by the sound of Adagio forcibly taking the lead. The sound of her harmonica nearly drowns yours, forcing you to double your effort. You lock eyes with the copper-haired girl. The challenge in them is plain to see.

Suddenly, you dove into a furious riff by utilizing the momentary drop in the melody as it comes out of the chorus. Well, whatever was left of the original chorus at this point, anyhow. This takes Adagio by surprise, and she struggles to keep up with you. Feeling a rush in your head, you continue to lead her along, enjoying the feeling of victory.

… At least until you suddenly feel an odd tinge of iron in your mouth.

Jesus, are your lips bleeding?!

You see Adagio’s eyes widen at the almost exact same moment, and she glances down at her mouth. Seconds later, she looks at you with slight panic. You both knew it. This had gone on long enough.

Without a need to exchange any words, you both bring your melodies to the end with one furious and short note. The two of you swing your harmonicas outwards, away from your mouths. What follows was a great inhale as you two calm your breathing.

The silence at the yard is like a heavy cloak draping over everything. Only your heaving breaths break it. It was only now, after it was over, you realize that both you and Adagio were sweating profusely. You were exhausted.

How the hell things had escalated to this point, you couldn’t figure out. Still, you have to admit it. You are feeling pretty damn good. And judging by the exhilarated grin on Adagio’s face… so is she.

What eventually draws you out of your stupor is the sound of a single person clapping. You know who it is even before looking.

Really, there was just one possible culprit.

And indeed, when you turn your head, you see Sonata’s excited face as she applauds your performance amidst awkward silence. Next to the blue-haired goof, Aria looks like she wants to dig a hole and disappear into it. Or, perhaps, bury Sonata in it. One or the other.

Seconds pass as the pitiful sound of Sonata’s sole ovation falters more and more, teetering on the brink of quieting down completely.When suddenly, out of nowhere, it is joined by someone else.

Both you and Adagio barely believe what you are seeing.

Not far away from Sonata, your old accoster Baconswirl is hitting her hands together again and again. The taste of exhilaration in your mouth immediately sours. The last time you two met, she talked your ear off about how you were a jerk to her friend. So why is she here now? To mock you?

You didn’t get her.

Adagio seems to know her too, as her expression morphs into that of pure rage.

The other students seems to think otherwise. One-by-one, still looking a bit confused, they join in the applause. Before you know it, you are suddenly the reason for a thirty-plus people clapping their hands together in appreciation.

You glance at the redhead again. Her attention is solely on Adagio and in contrast of your poofy-haired companion’s anger, she looks… conflicted. Happy, but conflicted.

And then, for a split-second, she looks at you. In those eyes, you see the need to say something. Something which goes unsaid.

“Well… I can’t say I expected this.”

Adagio’s words draw your attention back to her. She flashes another wicked grin and winks at you.

“The crowd and the ovation is the norm for me, but… to think I’m actually starting to understand what you meant,” she says. “That’s just shocking.”

“I told you you would. Sonata’s onto something, you know?” you answer.

Adagio chuckles and suddenly extends her hand. She offers her fist towards you.

“So it would seem. Even a blind chicken finds a kernel of corn every now and then,” Adagio admits. “Who would have thought?”

After a bit of hesitation, you extend your own hand. Your fist meets Adagio’s with a gentle bump.

“Damn right.”

You are North Wind.

Cigarettes and coffee are still the only things you have to your name. But surprisingly enough, you had went and gained another friend.