• Published 1st Sep 2019
  • 1,731 Views, 231 Comments

No Longer Living In A Van Down By The River - Peni Parker

Since The Dazzlings agreed to be motivational speakers at CHS they're no longer living in a van down by the river, but the job may make them wish they still were.

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Sonata and Octavia Melody

“Unbelievable.” Sonata Dusk confoundedly stated as she stared at her tacos.

“What’s wrong, Sonata?” Pinkie Pie curiously asked her from the other side of the table.

Sonata was currently having lunch with Pinkie in the CHS cafeteria. She often tried to eat lunch in the cafeteria because it gave her a chance to just hang out with the students and talk to them as a friend instead of as a faculty member. She usually ate with her girlfriend, Rainbow Dash, or Sunset Shimmer, but today she was eating with Pinkie because Aria had requested that she ask the party girl for help planning a housewarming party once renovations were done on the emu farm.

Also unusual today was the fact that she’d had her lunch delivered to her via one of those food delivery apps she’d heard so much about. Normally she just packed her lunch, but she wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. She was regretting her decision to have her lunch delivered to her via one of those food delivery apps.

“These aren’t tacos.” She remarked, still sounding confounded. “I don’t know what these are.”

Pinkie looked down at Sonata’s lunch and saw what looked like, at least to her, three perfectly normal tacos.

“They look like tacos to me.” She cheerfully said aloud.

Sonata brought her attention up from her tacos and stared at Pinkie with a puzzled expression. She quickly broke the stare though as she pulled out her phone and started scrolling through it.

“Look at these.” She instructed Pinkie as she showed her her phone, which now had a picture of some tacos on it. “They’re big, they’re crispy, and they’re filled with all sorts of taco-y ingredients.”

It was hard for Pinkie to argue that the tacos in the picture were the pinnacle of perfection. She even started to feel her mouth water up because of how tasty they looked

“Now, look at these sorry, sad things.” Sonata said as she put her phone away and pointed to the tacos in front of her.

Pinkie took another look at Sonata’s tacos and, after having seen the picture, realized that they did look pretty sad by comparison. They weren’t all that big, the shells didn’t seem very crispy, and there were hardly any ingredients in them.

“See what I’m saying?” Sonata asked after as few seconds.

Just as Pinkie was about to open her mouth and reply, a loud noise was heard coming from the other end of the room.

“ENOUGH, VINYL!” Octavia Melody emotionally shouted as she stood up from her seat so violently that the chair fell over with a loud thud, gaining the attention of the entire cafeteria. “I TOLD YOU, I’M DONE!”

“Tavi, listen to me! You’re overreacting to all this!” Vinyl Scratch replied, not quite as loud as Octavia but still fairly loud, as she too stood up.

“YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU?!” Octavia shouted back just before she ran for the exit, tears now flowing down her cheeks.

“Tavi!” Vinyl yelled out as she pursued Octavia, but stopped halfway to the exit for some unknown reason.

The drama now apparently over, most of the students went back to their lunches and various conversations. Sonata, though, continued to concernedly look on at the distraught Vinyl Scratch, who was still standing where she’d stopped.

“I should probably go see what that was all about.” She tepidly said as she turned back to Pinkie, giving her friend an apologetic look for cutting their time together short.

“I understand.” Pinkie replied, accompanied by a simple nod. “And tell Aria I’ll get started on planning that housewarming party later this week.”

Sonata nodded back and gave Pinkie a small smile before she got up and made her way over to Vinyl. While she walked over, she contemplated what could have caused such a loud and emotional argument between Octavia and Vinyl. The two of them always seemed like such good friends, and even though they had the occasional public tiff, it was hard to imagine anything could cause them to argue so…vehemently.

“Vinyl?” She gently said as she reached the DJ, placing a supportive hand on her shoulder. “Is everything alright?”

Almost as soon a Sonata placed her hand on her shoulder, Vinyl poignantly shook it off. Sonata, in response, took a small step back, having been startled by Vinyl’s action.

“I don’t wanna talk about it, Sonata.” The glasses-clad girl quietly, but intensely, replied as she returned to her seat.

As she watched Vinyl walk away, Sonata couldn’t help but hear the girl’s words repeat over and over in her mind. It wasn’t so much what Vinyl had said that caused her words to echo through her head, it was more the way she’d said it. There’d clearly been some anger in her voice, but there was also sadness and, if Sonata wasn’t mistaken, guilt.

It was clear that to Sonata that she wasn’t going to get any answers from Vinyl, which meant that she’d have to go and try to talk to Octavia.

Sonata wandered around CHS for what seemed like hours searching Octavia, when in reality it had only been about twenty minutes. As she searched, she kept thinking about how Octavia had run out of the cafeteria, and how upset she was. She hadn’t spoken to Octavia much, but every time she had the cello player had always carried herself in a very calm and composed manner. Whatever had managed to upset her so much must have been big, something that shook her at her core.

Eventually, Sonata got to a point in her search where started to wonder if Octavia was even still on school grounds. No matter how hard or where she searched, the girl simply couldn’t be found. Dejected and exhausted from her failed search, she decided to head back to her office to consider her options. She considered asking either Celestia or Luna for help, but she feared that Octavia might face some disciplinary action from them if it turned out she had indeed left school grounds, and she didn’t want to see that happen. Octavia was already upset enough as it was.

Once she reached her office, Sonata opened the door and, much to her surprise, found Octavia sitting in one of the chairs in front of her desk with tears still flowing down her cheeks.

“Octavia!” She amiably exclaimed as she ran over to comfort the distraught girl, getting down on her knees to be at eye level with her once she reached her. “I’ve been looking all over for you! Are you okay?!”

“Oh, you…you must have been in the cafeteria earlier.” Octavia said through her tears, not making eye contact with Sonata. “I…I didn’t know you were there.”

“Yeah, I was.” Sonata affably replied as she took a hold of Octavia’s right hand. “What happened back there between you and Vinyl?”

Octavia didn’t answer right away. Despite having come to Sonata for help, she was still hesitant to tell the Dazzling her story. She gave a small sniffle and wiped away her tears with her free hand before bringing her eyes up meet Sonata’s. Once she saw the compassion and concern in the pony-tailed girl’s eyes, however, her hesitation quickly faded.

“It’s…a long story.” She confessed, sounding a little more composed now.

“I’ve got all the time in the world to hear it.” Sonata replied, giving Octavia a friendly smile and a gentle hand squeeze as she said it.

There was a brief moment of silence as Octavia took a deep breath, preparing herself for what she was about to share with Sonata.

“It all started a few weeks ago.” She began. “Vinyl and I learned about this new music program being offered at Baltimare University next year. Baltimare University is one of the best music schools in the country but is very expensive, so most people who attend come from wealthy families. This new program is supposed to be a way for more middle-class musicians to have an opportunity to attend the school. Hundreds of people auditioned to be a part of it, myself and Vinyl among them.”

As Sonata listened to Octavia’s story, and remembered her brief encounter with Vinyl earlier, the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place, and she had a pretty good idea of what Octavia was going to say next.

“There were, of course, limited spots available.” Octavia continued. “Vinyl got accepted, but I didn’t.”

“And so you’re mad at her because of that?” Sonata inquired, having been right in assuming that that was the case.

“No, no, I’m not mad at Vinyl at all because of that.” Octavia very quickly clarified. “I’m happy that she got in, honest. She’s worked really hard on her music and deserves this opportunity.”

That, Sonata hadn’t expected to hear. She was happy that Octavia wasn’t bitter about her friend being chosen over her for the music program, but if that wasn’t the cause of her outburst in the cafeteria then what was?

“So, what was that argument about then?” She curiously asked.

Octavia broke eye contact with Sonata as she felt new tears began to form in the corners of her eyes.

“Vinyl won’t accept that I’ve given up music.” She morosely admitted. “She’s been bothering me about it ever since I told her.”

“What?!” Sonata exclaimed as she let go of Octavia’s hand and stood up, unable to believe what she’d just heard.

There was no visible reaction by Octavia to Sonata’s shock. She just sat there with tears in her eyes, as if lost within her own world.

Sonata didn’t know what to say to the despondent girl sitting in front of her. She wanted to tell Octavia that she shouldn’t give up music just because she didn’t get into the Baltimare University program, but she also didn’t want to appear to be taking Vinyl’s side in the argument. Not knowing what else to do, she got back down to Octavia’s head level and tried to comfort here.

“I know what it’s like to feel discouraged.” She began to softly say. “When my sisters and I lost our magic, we didn’t know if we’d ever sing again. But you know what? We still do. We go out to karaoke every now and again because we enjoy singing, even if we’re not as good at it anymore.”

Still no response from Octavia.

“The point I’m trying to make is this.” Sonata continued. “Just because you aren’t good enough to get into some fancy-shmancy music program doesn’t mean you should give up music. Do it because you enjoy it, and for no other reason.”

There was a few seconds of silence as Octavia brought her head back around so she could meet Sonata’s eyes once again.

“I didn’t give up music because I didn’t get into the program.” She somberly began to explain, fresh tears staring to stain her cheeks. “I gave it up because I can’t play anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Sonata confusingly asked.

“I…I can’t hear the music anymore.” Octavia clarified as she started to feel choked up. “I know it sounds crazy, but…whenever I play now I can’t hear the sound of my cello.”

Despite Octavia’s clarification, Sonata was still confused. There was clearly nothing wrong with Octavia’s hearing, she’d been talking with her for the last few minutes no problem. How was it that she couldn’t hear the sound of her own playing?

“I’m…not quite sure I understand.” She admitted to Octavia.

“I figured you’d say that.” Octavia sullenly replied as she stood up and made her way to the door. “Follow me, I’ll show you.”

Sonata did as instructed and began following Octavia over to the door and out of her office. As she walked behind her, however, she couldn’t help but notice how she was carrying herself. Octavia usually composed herself in a very refined manner, but right now her shoulders were sagging, her head was lowered, and she almost seemed to be shuffling more than walking. There was not doubt about it; this was a girl who was feeling broken inside.

Not surprisingly, Octavia brought Sonata to the music room, which was thankfully empty so she could show the Dazzling what she needed to show her. She quickly grabbed the cello from the far corner of the room and brought it over to the center of the room. Sonata quietly took a seat on the steps located on the right side of the room and prepared herself for whatever was to come.

Ready to play, Octavia took a long, deep breath just before putting bow to strings.

It couldn’t have been more than five seconds after Octavia started playing Cello Concerto – Elgar that Sonata clenched her teeth and felt the need to bring her hands up to cover her ears. It was bad. Really, really bad. The Dazzling tried her hardest not to give any kind of pained expression in response to the noise she was hearing, but knew that she was failing.

The strangest part of the whole thing was that Octavia was hitting all the correct notes, there just wasn’t any flow from one note to the next, no connection between them. The resulting sound was unlike anything Sonata had ever heard. Frankly, she didn’t even know such a sound was even possible. Despite the unpleasantness of the sound, however, she swore she could hear something behind it all, some emotion that was causing it.

“See what I mean?” Octavia dejectedly said as she stopped playing, having noticed Sonata’s visibly uncomfortable expression. “I can’t play anymore.”

“Keep playing.” Sonata sternly instructed her, much to her surprise.

“W-why?” Octavia confusedly asked. “I sound terrible.”

“Trust me, Octavia.” Sonata pleaded. “Just keep playing.”

Octavia really didn’t want to keep playing, but as she stared at Sonata’s determined face she decided to trust the girl. She put her bow back up to the cello’s strings and picked up where she’d left off, still producing an awful sound that could hardly be considered music.

With Octavia now playing again, Sonata closed her eyes and simply listened. She drew upon all of her musical knowledge and training and tried to listen beyond all the disconnect. She tried to focus on the emotion she’d heard earlier, tried to find it amongst all the broken notes. It was there somewhere, she could feel it. It wasn’t an emotion created from the music, no, it was an emotion that Octavia was putting into the music, one that was causing all of this.

After a few more seconds of focusing, Sonata finally realized what it was; bitterness. Now knowing this, she quickly opened her eyes and sprang up from her seat.

“I know what the problem is!” She enthusiastically exclaimed, causing Octavia to suddenly stop playing.

“You…do?” The cellist skeptically replied as she gently lowered her instrument onto the floor.

Within the blink of an eye, Sonata was standing in front of Octavia with a tenacious expression and both of her hands on the girl’s shoulders.

“Octavia, you said that you’re not mad at Vinyl for being chosen for the music program when you weren’t.” The Dazzling fervently started to say. “Are you sure about that?”

An aporetic look crossed Octavia’s face as Sonata asked her question. She was already confused why the girl had grabbed a hold of her shoulders, but now that confusion was doubled.

“W-well, yes I’m sure.” She tentatively replied, avoiding direct eye contact with Sonata.

“Are you absolutely sure?” Sonata fervidly asked again. “You didn’t have any kind of negative reaction when you learned that you weren’t chosen but Vinyl was?”

There was a brief moment of silence as Octavia shifted her head slightly to the left, averting her gaze from Sonata entirely.

“I-I mean, maybe I was a little upset, initially.” She hesitantly admitted.

There was something in Octavia’s voice that suggested there was a piece of information that she wasn’t sharing, and Sonata picked up on it. The Dazzling knew she was getting close to the truth now.

“What did you do right after you got the news?” She inquired.

There was another brief moment of silence. This time, Octavia’s eyes started to water up.

“I didn’t do anything right after I got the news because I was with Vinyl when I got it.” She answered in a defeated manner. “But when I got home that night I threw all the sheet music that was on my desk on the floor, yelling as I did it.”

And there it is. Sonata thought to herself as she let go of Octavia’s shoulders.

“But that was it.” Octavia continued, sounding almost defensive now. “It was just a one-time outburst, I’m not mad anymore.”

“Yes, you are.” Sonata solemnly said as she made her way over to a nearby piano bench and took a seat. “You’re just not as mad as you were in that moment.”

“Excuse me?” Octavia irksomely replied, feeling slightly offended that Sonata was apparently trying to tell her what she was or wasn’t feeling.

“Did you tell Vinyl about your outburst?” Sonata pensively asked, even though she was pretty sure she already knew the answer.

“Of course I didn’t.” Octavia vexingly responded.

As soon as Octavia had answered her question, Sonata gave a meager but still noticeably sad chuckle.

“If that’s the case, then yeah, you’re definitely still mad.” She said as she began staring at the floor, as if she were slowly descending into her own little world.

At this point, Octavia was just about completely irritated. She quickly closed the gap between her and Sonata and stared down at the Dazzling with a cold, hard stare.

“Why are you even asking me these questions?” She heatedly inquired. “What does any of this have to with my terrible playing?”

Sonata briefly brought her head up to meet Octavia’s stare. She saw the building fire and fury within the girl’s eyes, but wasn’t fazed by it. She just lowered her head again as she prepared to speak.

“Feelings of anger, they can start out small.” She ruminatively began to say. “Sometimes they’re so small that we don’t even notice them. Other times we do notice them, but think that we can get rid of them by simply giving in for one, brief moment; doing something like yelling or throwing sheet music. But those things don’t get rid of the anger, they only make us think we’re rid of it. See, when you don’t actually confront that anger, it grows and spreads like a fire, and it starts affecting your everyday life. It affects your attitude, your relationships, even your musical abilities.”

As Sonata went on, Octavia began to listen more intently with each sentence. It slowly became clear to hear that Sonata wasn’t just repeating something she’d read in a book or heard on TV. No, Sonata was talking from personal experience.

“It’s pretty gradual too.” Sonata continued. “At first you’re only angry about one thing, like not getting into a music program, but then you find yourself getting angry about other things too, things you never used to get angry about. Eventually, the anger becomes familiar to you and you just get used to it. Next thing you know, you’re yelling at your friends and loved ones over the most trivial of things because you can’t remember ever feeling anything but angry.”

It was hard for Octavia to dispute what Sonata was saying. After all, just a little while ago in the cafeteria she’d yelled at Vinyl, something she’d never done before.

“And even if at some point you realize just how angry you’ve become, it might be too late. You might have already lost the one you cared about most.” Sonata somberly concluded.

Octavia just continued to stare down at Sonata, only now she was staring down at her with empathy and heartache. She could tell that the Dazzling was recounting some time in her life when she’d let her anger get the better of her and drive someone she cared about away. While she still had doubts that she’d ever become so angry that her friendship with Vinyl would end, she felt that she couldn’t disregard the possibility, not after hearing Sonata’s lament.

Not knowing what else to do, Octavia walked over to the other end of the piano bench and took seat next to Sonata, who was still staring at the floor.

“So how do I keep all that from happening?” She softly asked.

Sonata slowly brought her head up and stared at Octavia with the most melancholy look the girl had ever seen. The Dazzling’s eyes were filled with so much sadness that it was surprising to her that she wasn’t crying.

“You need to talk to Vinyl and tell her how you feel.” Sonata staidly stated. “I know you might be afraid of how she’ll respond, but if you don’t share your feelings with her than they’ll only get worse.”

As she continued to stare at the distressed Dazzling, Octavia felt a single tear flow down her left cheek. She didn’t know why though. Maybe it was because she was afraid of sharing her feelings with Vinyl, or maybe she was feeling sympathetic towards Sonata’s feelings. Either way, she took a hold of Sonata’s left hand with her right and gave a small nod.

“Okay.” She simply said.

Octavia’s willingness to talk with Vinyl brought a tiny smile to Sonata’s face just as the bell rang and the sound of students flooding the hallway outside could be heard. Both girls briefly turned their attention towards the door before returning it to each other.

“Come on.” Octavia said as she let go of Sonata’s hand and stood up. “Let’s go find Vinyl.”

It didn’t take Sonata and Octavia long to find Vinyl. They’d started their search at the girl’s locker and that was where she was at. She was currently gathering her things for her next class with a glum expression on her face, so she didn’t notice them standing only a few feet away. With a short and deep breath, Octavia took a few steps forward towards her friend. Sonata stayed back.

“Vinyl?” Octavia softly said once she was close enough.

Vinyl quickly turned her attention to towards Octavia after hearing her friend’s voice.

“Tavi!” She emotionally said as she wrapped the girl in a hug. “I’m so, so sorry I didn’t chase after you when you ran off! I just got confused and didn’t know what to do!”

“It’s alright, Vinyl.” Octavia assured her friend as she returned the hug.

A few seconds of silence followed as the two girls continued hugging. Eventually Octavia broke the hug though and stared at Vinyl with a very stern but tender expression.

“Vinyl, there’s something I need to tell you.” She gingerly began to say. “I’m…mad that you got accepted into the Baltimare University program and I didn’t.”

Even though it was sometime hard to get a read on Vinyl’s expression because of her glasses, the single raised eyebrow on her face seemed to indicate surprise.

“Well, yeah, I kind of figured that. What with saying you were giving up music and everything.” She said, sounding surprised that Octavia felt the need to say something so obvious aloud.

“No, you don’t understand!” Octavia replied a bit more intensely then she intended, causing her to take another short, deep breath to calm down before continuing. “I’m not just mad that you got accepted and I didn’t, I’m mad at you. I know it’s completely irrational because none of this is your fault and I don’t want to be mad at you, but I am, and I need you to know it. I don’t want my anger to grow and ruin our friendship.”

By now, Octavia was on the verge of tears. She closed her eyes as she prepared for the verbal assault she was sure she was about to get from Vinyl.

“I don’t blame you for feeling that way.” Vinyl compassionately said, causing Octavia to quickly open her eyes in shock.

“Y-you don’t?” She anxiously replied.

“Of course not.” Vinyl reassured her with a sad smile. “To be perfectly honest, I’d probably feel the same way if things were reversed. Those feelings are natural, Tavi. I’m just glad that you told me about them instead of keeping them bottled up inside.”

Tears of happiness started to run down Octavia’s cheek as she hastily embraced Vinyl in a hug.

“Oh Vinyl, I feel so stupid.” She said through the tears. “I should have known you wouldn’t be upset with me. You’re such a good friend.”

“Don’t feel stupid, Tavi.” Vinyl said as she returned the hug, tears now flowing from her eyes as well. “And by the way, you’re a good friend too.”

“Aww.” Sonata, who had witnessed everything, couldn’t help but let out as she was moved by the touching display of friendship.

The bell for next period suddenly rang throughout the hallway, causing Octavia and Vinyl to break their hug.

“We better get going.” Vinyl frantically said.

“You go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” Octavia replied.

Vinyl simply gave an acknowledging nod as she speed down the hallway so fast she could have given Rainbow Dash a run for her money. Once she was gone, Octavia turned around and swiftly gave Sonata a hug.

“Thank you, Sonata.” She gratefully expressed. “Thank you for everything.”

Before Sonata could return the hug however, Octavia quickly released her and started running after Vinyl.

“Don’t mention it!” The Dazzling shouted down the hall, though she wasn’t sure Octavia heard her.

Now alone in the hall, Sonata began walking back to her office. On the way though, she couldn’t help but think about everything she’d said to Octavia back in the music room about anger, and how she wished someone had told her those things a long time ago.

As Sonata walked home after a long day of work, she still found herself thinking about what had happened with Octavia. She was glad that she was able to help the girl, of course, but in doing so she’d inadvertently dredged up some fairly unpleasant memories. Memories she wished would just stay buried forever.

Once Sonata reached the apartment, she opened the door and found that Aria was the only one home.

“Hey.” Her sister casually greeted her from the couch as she watched TV. “How was school?”

“A bit more exhausting than usual.” She nonchalantly admitted as she made her way over to her room. “Think I’m going to lie down for a bit before dinner.”

“Sounds good.” Aria replied as she continued watching TV. “Oh hey, did you ask Pinkie about the party?”

“Yeah.” Sonata said as she stopped in front of her bedroom door and turned back around to face Aria. “She said she’d do it and get started later this week.”

“Awesome.” Aria remarked as she averted her attention from the TV to Sonata for a few seconds. “Thanks again for asking her.”

“No problem.” Sonata said just before opening the door and stepping inside.

Once she was inside, Sonata quickly closed the door and made her way over to the bed. She wasted no time throwing herself face first onto the soft mattress as she allowed herself to unwind from the emotionally exhausting day she’d had. She stayed face down on the bed for about a minute before she sat up and took a seat on the side of it next to her nightstand.

Sonata looked at the nightstand with a despondent expression for a few seconds, contemplating whether or not she should open the top drawer and remove the single item that was inside. She hadn’t looked at the item ever since she’d placed it in the drawer when she first moved into the apartment, and even then she hadn’t really looked at it. After the long day she’d had she didn’t really feel like looking at it, but some strange force told her that she should. She quickly opened the drawer and removed the item before she started double guessing herself, holding it tightly in her hand.

Inside Sonata’s hand was a small, oval beaded gold locket. There was no necklace attached to it though, it was just the locket.

Sonata relaxed her tight grip on the locket and slowly opened it, revealing the picture held within. As she stared at the picture she felt like crying, but couldn’t. There were no more tears to shed, she’d cried them all out years ago. She closed the locket back up and fell backwards onto the bed as she held her precious item up to her chest.

Staring up at the ceiling, Sonata began to wish that she could turn back the clock and let go of all the anger she’d once had sooner, so that she hadn’t lost the person she cared about most.

Author's Note:

If you have a suggestion for a future chapter let me know in the comments.

The next chapter will feature Aria and Pinkie Pie.