Ever since her birth, she had been born with music in her veins. When she took her first breath, a cry that was brash and loud and nothing ladylike - exactly who she was - it was clear she wasn't just going to fit in. Which to her parents was a curse, but to her, it was a blessing, one she didn't know would help her so much in her life. She was a small child, a child full of rhythm without even a clue what music was, she was a child who would tap on her desk, the chairs, the floors, not monotone taps, but hits that made a noise and made kids jump at their uneven sounds. While other young elves enjoyed math from their early ages, walking in straight lines pointing with rulers, she was the student getting chastised for spinning and dancing through the halls by teachers with postures stiff as a pillar. She was a musician who never was allowed music in a town where math and science were worshipped.
The town she lived in, a blindingly clean, white, precise, and accurate city surrounded by thick woods, was unlike any other elven town she had ever heard of. The cities she read about in history books - the cities that got criticized for their many rich-colored buildings in all different shapes and sizes, cities that seemed more alive on the pages of a worn book than anything she'd ever seen as a young child - were nothing like her own. These older worlds seemed like something out of a dream she'd had sick in bed, something that never existed but felt so real when her eyes would close. No no, her city was successful and had no worries, a city full of mathematicians, political figures, scientists solving the many mysteries of their world, inventors fiddling with contraptions for items to work by themselves, even the lower level elves finding their places as teachers and simple 'rich people.' Everyone knew what they excelled in early on in life but when the emerald-eyed girl who spun in the hallways was asked about her future, she'd just shrug with a smile and be on her merry way, much to her family's demise. The girl's parents loved their daughter, they truly did, but the way they showed it was never the best. Her mother was a distant woman who stayed up in her study, her smile only bright when she threw her monthly parties for the other wealthy adults in the town, only talking about her 'eccentric' daughter when other people bragged about their young scholar children, and only seeming present when she felt sorry for her daughter, something that didn't happen often. Her father was quite the opposite, but in a way that was anything other than kind. He was a tall elf with jet-black hair and even darker obsidian eyes and a forceful voice, one that she learned at the mere age of 12 years old wasn't a voice used for praise. He was the father who only wanted the best for your future, even if she wasn't happy, and his way of showing it was through overbearing reminders and talks about the future - talks that often ended in yelling from both sides. Yelling that would get loud enough to be heard even by her distant mother in the study, yelling that was anything but weak. The young elf would shout and make points, sounding nothing like the sweet melodies that she hummed at school, but aggressive movements that rolled and ended abruptly as well as lasted as an echo when they were quiet.
She learned early on that her parents weren't people she could rely on, no one in the towns of greys and whites was, except for one. Whereas most wore small polite smiles with dull stony eyes and held textbooks, she had a friend who was different, like her. The first time she saw him, she was in the forest, spinning and dancing in the woods with the birds and the bugs to music only she could hear, and she was dizzy sure, but when she first saw him he looked like a deer. He wasn't paper pale like everyone else or like the schoolwork she was handed before leaving school hours earlier, he was tan like an oak log in the sun with unruly, spongy, curly copper hair, looking almost as twinkly as his bright silver eyes, eyes that were magnified by the small glasses resting on his nose. She might have seen him once or twice in the market with her mother, but as the 8-year-old took in his appearance, she could tell he wasn't like everyone else. Just like her. Where other kids would have seen her twirling and ran the other way, afraid she was crazy or harmful, he looked at her with such curiosity and awe, taking in the silver shining girl and wondering who she was. Not her name or age or even why she was spinning but who she was, what her story was. So she ran over to him, taking his hands in hers and turning again, her flowing fanning skirt hitting his twiggy skinny legs peeking out from the black shorts he wore and glasses bouncing on his nose every time they stumbled. She decided then and there that she would show him not what she was - a musician forbidden from expressing the song in her heart in a small eight-year-old's body, a kid who scared other kids away with her big ideas and loud sing-songy teasing - but who she was. She was Victoria, an elf who would make it big one day, no matter how long it took, and he could see it as soon as she took his hands.
When they stopped twirling, the two fell in the tall soft grass and giggled for what seemed like ages, watching as the clouds began to dance like they had minutes earlier, minds dizzy and the world below their feet never stilling. Then the two sat up with big childlike smiles and squinty eyes and talked. He told her his name, Theodore, and she told him hers, beginning a friendship that lasted decades. It was a promise, that even though they both were so different from the world around them, they would have each other no matter what. A childlike promise for two childlike elves, but a promise nonetheless. The two would spend hours away in the forest, talking about their big imaginations and even bigger emotions, Victoria explaining the world of her taps and whistles - something she learned at age 10 and didn't stop doing for a good six months - and Theodore talked about the stories behind his writing, a small wood elf with stories of worlds far away he had only heard of from the elders who still worked in the library. If any other kid was with them, they would have seemed insane, but their mindless chatter of larger-than-life ideas was melodic to the trees and squirrels who listened. The years they hung out were full of sneaky escapades where they felt like spies in the emotionless lives of the elves passing, getting yelled as from stealing pastries from the morning market and Victoria running away laughing, Theodore right behind her apologizing profusely whilst calling after his best friend holding back his own quiet giggling, their friendship was one that never seemed to rest, but that was ok. Even if they were only looking at clouds, Victoria trying to find the pitch of her humming so that it sounded nice to the tanned elf's ears as he scribbled descriptions of the clouds he saw, it was a never-ending friendship of light and happiness.
One day, a cloudy July afternoon, the two sat in the shaded trees eating lunch, Theo writing in his notebook. They were about 60 now, both still young and continuing their separate paths in schooling, spending less and less time with one another and more time where they interned. The copper-haired elf had begun interning at the newspaper shop by the library, both places he was whenever he wasn't with the other, and Victoria? She just cycled around, trying every last place and never having succeeding marks, trying one month to pursue a chemistry internship that left her with burns on her hands and a heavy fine for ruining the lab, the next month working in the library - with Theo's help - but messing up the precise book system every time she tried, even if it was messed up only a sliver. So instead, today the two sat on a log watching as the rain drizzled around them, the refreshing clear water falling into her mass of thick silver hair making her mood even sourer. Her foot couldn't find the energy to tap and there was no way she could whistle on a day like this. Suddenly, she turned to the other, thinking back to the fight she had had with her father the night before, and poked him, getting his attention. It was only a simple dispute about curfew and her getting back too late, but it was long past the moon had risen and she just didn't want to deal with the words she had grown accustomed to simply agreeing with to not cause a fight. A simple dispute that had risen to much higher heights than she wanted, so she fought back, fought back harsh and clear and tired, ending in the middle of the argument by furiously wiping her hot tears off her cheeks and running to her room, curling up on her cot and going to sleep. A simple fight that resonated with her more than she'd ever allowed herself to admit.
"Do you think I'll find my place? I know I don't seem to think about it and such, but, but I mean just seeing you so happy and successful, and having to deal with my dad's pressure, it just kind of feels like, like I'm not gonna find a place here," She explained, stumbling over some of her words in a way she only did when she felt lost, something she couldn't help but feeling now, sitting on a log eating a bland sandwich with her best friend. Theo blinked slowly, thinking over his words before tugging at his sleeves and looking out at the forest around them, opening his mouth and closing it again.
"You'll find it, no doubt about it. Vicky, you have more talent and spirit than anyone in this place, and I know you'll find your place," He began and she opened her mouth about to interject before getting cut off by the hand in front of her face.
"But, I don't think that place will be here. Which is weird to say, y'know? It seems impossible to want to leave, but I think, I think the place where you will settle won't be this town. It'll be someplace better for you," He finished, eyebrows furrowed continuing to look out at the forest, as though he had said something he never thought he'd say out loud and was waiting for some sort of backlash, backlash he didn't receive. Victoria instead went silent, looking out at the trees, just like her friend did beside her. The words had to bounce about her mind for a moment before fulling taking in what he had said, but when the thoughts settled, it made sense, even if it sounded preposterous. Living somewhere that wasn't pristine crisp white edges without a smudge, somewhere that wasn't endless intelligence and infinitesimal emotion, living in a world she'd only ever heard about in Theo's writing and her fever dreams. It sounded so nice, so refreshing, but it also sounded like an echo, something that could've happened, but it was just out of reach, something unattainable. Then again, finding a friend seemed like an echo at first too, but now as she looked over to her silver-eyed friend sitting with her in the rain like there wasn't anything he'd rather do, she smiled. He was right, he almost always was, she'd find her place, but even if she didn't that was a problem for future Victoria. Present Victoria had other plans, plans that surely meant she'd come home soaked in rainwater and leave puddles in the stone-floored hallway of her home, so she got up, stretched, and clapped loudly, startling the boy.
"Enough sulking though, I was thinking, wanna go splash in the puddles outside your neighbor's house?" She asked, a smile coming back onto her previously melancholy face. Theo simply sighed and began packing up too, scratching his neck knowing he couldn't say no but still wanting to nonetheless, even if only a little. The kid in him nodded along excitedly, but he wasn't a 10-year-old, he was in his 60s now. Still, like he always did, he took her outstretched hand and the two ran into town, getting soaked with rain but laughing and shouting joyfully the whole time, even when the tan elf's neighbor shooed them away with a broom and Victoria had to run back to her house. She might not know her place in their dull clean-cut city, but she still could smile in the rhythms of the rain.