Author’s Note: This is my first ponyfic, please be gentle.
Every pony has a streak of insomnia, at least once in their life. Those long nights where your mind is racing and you just can't get to sleep? Many ponies doesn't even take into account what it is that's keeping them up and eventually, they just doze off into the warm comfort of slumber. However, there are a select few whose minds never stop processing. They often sit up late, doing nothing but going over both important and trivial events. Maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll get an hour or two of sleep before they have to get up and earn their bits.
Sleepy Head was not one of these few ponies.
No pony really knew much about the small, grey stallion. He never stood out, never spoke up, never made scene. All he did was eat, work, and sleep. On the rare occasion other ponies did get to hear him speak, they were greeted with a soft, fragile voice. Anytime he had to say more than one sentence, he’d often get tongue tied, a blush would cover his face, and he’d leave.
Some might call Sleepy Head mundane. For someone who lived in Ponyville, you’d figure he might have gotten some life knocked into him by his fellow townsfolk. But no, Sleepy was more than fine with just being himself.
Every morning, he’d wake up, eat breakfast, and head to his job at the Ponyville Post Office. He was the only earth pony they had employed in years and it didn’t go unnoticed. The other pegasus ponies would often talk behind his back. Sleepy didn’t pay much mind, he’d heard worse insults in his life. Naturally, he didn’t like his job, but what pony would? He didn’t get to deliver mail like the other ponies. Instead, he worked behind a desk, sending letters up tubes and in slots, filing paperwork, and helping other ponies buy packaging. There wasn’t much to say about it, really, but it paid the bills.
In the afternoon, after his shift was over, he’d go to the same restaurant and buy the same lunch. Some days, when he felt he’d earned it, he’d go to Sugar Cube corner and have a small cup of ice cream. Just a scoop of vanilla. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Cake would try to have Pinkie Pie brighten his day. She’d try putting a sparkler in the scoop or sing a song about it. The latter method was shut down after Pinkie realized there were only so many lyrics you could sing about a cup of vanilla ice cream. Sleepy never really said anything in response to these attempts, but he didn’t stop them either. Pinkie had always hoped that one day, he’d give her a smile.
Then at night, he’d retire to his small cottage on the east side of Ponyville. Sometimes, he’d stay up for a bit, just staring out the window looking at all the lights in town slowly go out one by one, until all he could see were street lights. Other times, he would just read a book he checked out from the library. Most of them work short, slice-of-life novellas that Sleepy could digest without thinking too much. Of all the things in his quiet life, these brought him the most comfort. Peering in on happier lives made him feel warmth that he couldn’t get from reality.
After all was said and done, he’d turn out his lights. He might make some tea and a small sandwich, but most of the time, he’d just tuck himself in and drift off to sleep, making sure to place his glasses on the nightstand. A song from his childhood would always be playing in his mind. There were no lyrics to it, just a soft melody that he’d remember for years upon years. He took solace in the fact that nothing could ever taint the purity of that. Never was there a night where he couldn’t fall asleep to that soothing melody.
It’s funny how one object can change everything.
Something had been off all day. From the very second he stepped out of his house, Sleepy Head felt this overall sense of dread in the air. However, that was only a passing thought in his mind. The real issue was with the envelope that lay on his nightstand.
It had been three whole hours since it had arrived. He hadn’t done much else with it other than glance at the return address and take note of the stamp which prominently featured Princess Celestia. It was an odd hologram stamp that must have cost a little extra. Sleepy had an odd fascination with stamps, ever since he was a colt. In recent years, it had died down to a passing interest, rather than the hobby it had once been.
Sleepy stood a good five feet away from the nightstand, almost as if he were trying to avoid the letter. He glared at it, breathing deeply. A feeling of fear had rushed into the stallion, something that he hadn’t felt in years. Then again, he hadn’t felt much at all in the past five years. That number raced through his head. Five. Five full years since he had found himself in this town. Five years since he had started a new life. Most importantly, five years since he had heard from the sender of this letter.
He didn’t want to deal with it. Not tonight, not ever.
Sleepy grabbed the letter in his mouth and trotted outside. It was very late. The streets were dark, the dim flames of the lights were the only thing providing safe passage through the various cobble stone roads. He pressed on, unsure of where he was going. All he knew was that he had to get away, at least for tonight.
Never before had he been out this late, save for one or two Nightmare Nights, when he tried to socialize. Those attempts only ended in Sleepy stumbling on his words more. He had never been a great at socializing, even as a foal. Back then, it might have been easier to look at is as shyness or a cute lack of social skills, but now it was embarrassing. He couldn’t even muster up the courage to talk to other ponies on his own. The majority of the time, the ponies that were unlucky enough to get caught in his tangled web of mushed up words, started the conversation.
Sleepy Head continued to the Ponyville limits. Turning around, he was at a high enough point to see all of Ponyville. He hadn’t even realized he’d climbed up a hill, the only thing he’d been thinking about this entire time was just getting away from everything. Something had finally snapped. The stallion realize something larger had compelled him to come up to this high of a point.
He turned back to the way he’d been running and saw a bridge. This was a bridge few ponies had used in recent years. It was old, rickety, and a bit creepy. It wasn’t quite the highest point in Ponyville, but nopony would dare risk trying to forge the rapids below. Several mothers warned their foals to avoid it at all costs. That didn’t stop fillies like Scootaloo from crossing it to win the admiration of her class. Sleepy had read that in a school paper a colt left at the post office once.
At this point, he had nothing to lose. If anything did happen on that bridge, nopony would know or care enough to make mention of it. At best, he thought it might merit a small two line article in some paper that would probably read; “Stallion Lost To Faulty Bridge”. He wasn’t even sure if many people knew his name outside his boss and a handful of coworkers.
Sleepy Head set hoof onto the bridge, a loud creek escaping the artifact from another time. He finally moved his whole body onto it, looking around. For all intents and purposes, the bridge actually seemed fairly stable. He even shifted his wait a little to see if anything would snap. To no avail.
As he continued to walk over the bridge, he trotted over to the left side of it and looked over the edge. He set the envelope on the railing. It hadn’t been windy that day, so he wasn’t worried about some stray gust coming to blow it away. Then again, looking at that return address, maybe that was just what he wanted. The sender wasn’t someone that Sleepy Head particular wanted to hear from at this point in his life. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone? Why couldn’t anypony in Ponyville just leave him alone? All he wanted was a little privacy. Any pony that had spoken to him knew what he was like, so what did somepony like Pinkie Pie care about him?
There, below the bridge, he saw those raging rapids that led into Ponyville. They looked rough, but Sleepy saw an odd peace in the river. For all its frantic splashing, he couldn’t help but feel like there was something calming about it. He continued to gaze upon it. He wondered what it’d be like to be a pebble. Just flowing through the river, not having any control over anything, but at the same time, not having anyone expect anything of him. Most importantly, nopony could blame anything on him.
That’s when the memories came flooding back.
Green Neigh, Whoofsconsin
Five Years Ago
Sleepy Head sat on a doctor’s table, staring directly across the room. On the other side, a doctor, holding a pointer at an eye chart.
“OK then, young stallion, can you please read me the bottom five letters?” The horned doctor asked, smiling.
Sleepy looked rather nervous. He glanced over at his mother, who was standing there, smiling back at him. She nodded, her head gesturing at the eye chart. Sleepy Head took a deep breath and looked right at the chart. He opened his eyes as wide as possible, thinking that would help him.
“Um, OK. Z, O...T...N...E? I think those are them, right?” Sleepy asked, as he squinted to make the last couple out. He’d tried so hard to get those last couple right. He felt confident in at least the first two, but rest looked almost blurry.
The doctor shook his head and walked up to Sleepy. He took a small flashlight and pointed in into Sleepy’s eyes, making them dilate. Sleepy Head felt a bit of discomfort as he did so, he wasn’t a fan of lights. Most of the time, he liked spending his free time with as little light as possible. He always felt that was relaxing. Just as the doctor finished doing that, Sleepy Head’s mother walked up to them both.
“What’s wrong, Dr. Manner?” She asked with genuine concern.
“Well, it’s not so much something that’s wrong, it’s simply something that some ponies find out faster than others. After a few exams, I think it’d be in Sleepy Head’s best interest to get a pair of glasses, he seems to be a nearsighted.” He smiled, as if he’d memorized that speech, so as to break the news easier.
Not knowing how to react, Sleepy Head didn’t say anything. He just sat there, blinking each eye, testing them out to see if anything would help him read the eye chart better. Sleepy’s mother ruffled his hair.
“Bedside, you’ve been our physician for years. You know that nopony in our family has ever needed glasses. Couldn’t this just be a temporary thing? I mean, his brothers are always a bit rough. Who knows? Maybe they hit his head a bit too hard. Did All Star throw you off the couch again?” she said, in her thick midwestern accent.
“Mom...” moaned Sleepy.
“Fleet Feet, pony genetics can be a bit odd. Not every every single child you have is going to be the same.” Bedside Manner retorted.
“Yes, but, I have four children who have amazing genetics and perfect eyesight. I know Sleepy Head is the youngest and some might even consider him the runt with that small stature of his...” as she continued to talk, all Sleepy Head could do was blush.
“Fleet, calm down, please. It’s not the end of the world. Some ponies just need glasses and others don’t, simple as that. Unless there’s anything else you’d like help with, I say we just move on and get a prescription filled out. What do you say? I know the best frame designer in all of Green Neigh and I’m sure he’ll make you look great.” Dr. Manner said, patting Sleepy on the back.
It was then Sleepy noticed a small, small sharp pain. He let out a small yelp and nodded. A look of concern ran over Dr. Manner’s face.
“Sleepy, did that hurt?” he asked.
“Oh, well, he got bruised today, playing in the yard. Like I said, those colts are always too rough. But, what can you do?” Fleet Feet said, rubbing his arm and smiling. Sleepy just nodded again, in agreement. He had been playing awfully rough with his siblings...even when he didn’t want to.
“Well, I’ll fill out the prescription and you can go straight to pick them up. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to have Sleepy Head back in a week for a follow-up appointment and a check-up.” The medical pony finished, leading them out the door.
“Thank you, Dr. Manner. Say thank you, Sleepy Head.” Fleet Feet said, scooting Sleepy out the door.
“Thank you.” He said, in a defeated tone
Sleepy Head had been thoroughly embarrassed, but he was used to it. He’d grown up in a big family and was constantly the subject of ridicule by his brothers. As his mother mentioned, he was indeed the runt of the family. Everyone else had achieved some kind of athletic prowess, while Sleepy...well, let’s just say that Sleepy Head was never really cut our for sports. His brothers were all well built stallions, model ponies to anyone who looked on. Sleepy knew he could never compete, so he never tried. That didn’t stop the others from teasing him.
They’d constantly poke fun at his small stature and shy demeanor. Often pushing him around the house and piling on top of him when he wasn’t looking. However, Sleepy’s parents always wrote this off as colts being colts. To an extent, it was true. It wasn’t weird for young male ponies to be rough, but Sleepy had always felt there was something beneath the...well...for lack of a better term, horseplay.
As Sleepy Head and Fleet Feet walked down the road to get the young stallion’s prescription, Fleet had noticed her son hanging his head down. This wasn’t an odd pose for Sleepy to go into, but after that appointment, Fleet Feet was concerned.
“Honey, are you OK?” She asked.
“Yeah, I’m, um, fine.” He replied, his voice indicating that he wasn’t really interested in talking.
“Sleepy, what did I say about saying “um”, all the time?”
“That it’s not appealing to other ponies’ ears.” The young stallion replied.
“I know it’s hard being the smallest in the family, but there are so many things you can do keep up with everypony and proper diction is one of them, dear. I’m sure a lot of your brothers wouldn’t hassle you so much if you’d just speak up once in awhile.” She remarked, hoping to instill some confidence in Sleepy.
“I don’t think it’s my speaking that starts all of our fights.” He said, almost glaring at his mother.
“Oh, Sleepy Head. You know that your brothers don’t want to fight with you, they’re just messing around. When I was a little filly, my brothers did the same thing. They’d always be giving each other noogies and tickle attacks-”
“I don’t think you can get bruises from tickle attacks.” Sleepy said, cutting his mother off. “I also don’t think glasses are going help my case. They’re going to be ugly and stupid.” He finished, hanging his head back down.
“Well, to be honest, I was a bit shocked at first. I mean, nopony in our family has ever needed glasses at a young age, but Dr. Manner is right. This is something all ponies must deal with at one time or another, so it’s best just to stick it out. If you can get through this, you can get through anything.” Fleet said, sticking her hoof out as if to inspire him.
Sleepy just walked into the frames store. Fleet Feet let out a sigh and walked in after him.