Rainbow Dash had been staring at a blank piece of paper with a pencil in hoof for a half hour. A million different conflicting emotions ran through her head at once, distracting her from a task that she had been putting off for far too long. Her eyes were shaky from either sadness or exhaustion. She wasn’t quite sure which.
Dash glanced up out of her hotel room window and took a deep, thoughtful breath. The night sky was cloudy, yet the clouds were illuminated by what Dash assumed was a brilliant moon behind them. She didn’t do a lot of heavy thinking in her life, but she had recently learned to appreciate the value of a few moments of solitude and reflection - though only a few moments.
With newfound concentration and determination, Dash put her head down and pressed the tip of the feather pen against the paper, creating a dark dot on the page where the metal tip steadily leaked ink. After many months, Rainbow Dash was ready to write home to her friends.
She would get to all of them eventually, but this particular letter was to be addressed to her best friend in the whole world: one whom she hadn’t spoken to in a long, long time.
Upon realizing that she had yet to move the tip of the pen, and that the ink blot was growing larger, Dash began writing.
Hey! How’s it been out on the farm? Ya miss me? Oh, what am I talking about, of course you miss me! I hear Ponyville’s having a bit of a dry spell and that your crops are suffering as a result of it. Well, I wasn’t head weather pony for no reason! I’ll have a word with the weather team next time I’m in town.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I don’t think a lot, I know, and you’re probably laughing just at the thought of it, but hear me out. I’ve been thinking a lot about our friendship, how it started, how long it’s lasted, what we’ve been through. I sound so cheesy right now. Fluttershy would be proud. Don’t let her read this for me, will ya?
Anyway, Spitz was talking about her little sister, you know the one you met the last time you came to Canterlot to visit? She talked about how they used to race around their old family ranch, and how Spitz always won. Sound familiar? Okay, I didn’t always win our races, but it was always close!
I suppose I have never thanked you for being nice to me when we were young mares. When I moved to Ponyville, the only friend I had was Fluttershy, and well, you know how much excitement she brings me. If you hadn’t caught me stealing apples from your orchard (sorry about that, by the way), I doubt I would have stayed in Ponyville very long.
Then I challenged you to a race. If I won, I got a free bushel of apples. If you won, I had to help you buck the rest of the trees. Well, I’m not as fast on my feet without my wings! Of course you won! You know what, though? I know I complained a lot about having to do work on the farm, but I got to know you, which made it all worth it.
At one point, we had begun to do more than just race each other from time to time. We’d slow down a bit (if only for a few minutes). I know you’re not quite the speedster I am. Some of those sunny walks in the orchard were the best times of my life. I know now how important it is to slow down every now and then and appreciate the little things, but come on, even now I wouldn’t be able to sit still while you list off every known species of apple, their uses, nicknames, and common misconceptions about them.
When you weren’t talking about apples, though, we shared some things that I have never told another living soul, and you did the same for me. You think I ever told anypony about your crush on Caramel? You think I ever told anypony about that time you got so drunk you thought becoming a pegasus was as simple as strapping two lids from cider barrels to your back and jumping off the barn?
And I listened every single time. I listened when you came to me, heartbroken when Caramel turned out to be gay. I still totally called that. I secretly rushed you to the hospital when you sprained your leg jumping off that barn, and even hid all the whiskey and hard cider so that your reputation wouldn’t be ruined, and I’d do it all again.
Then, of course, there was that pipe dream of ours. Remember AppleDash Delivery Service? I totally do! Don’t even pretend like you don’t. A dream to buck apples and have me send them all over Equestria at unheard of speeds, spreading the Apple Family name and my flying skills for all to see. Yeah, we were pretty naive little mares.
Even after we matured, I never thought I’d leave Ponyville. If it meant leaving my friends behind, I would have no part in it. It didn’t seem to occur to me that joining the Wonderbolts would mean just that. Remember that part about how I didn’t think too hard very often?
We made a pact one summer. We swore that no matter what happens, we would never leave each other’s side. No matter what happens in either of our lives, we would always be together.
If I remember correctly, it was around this time that Twilight moved to town. Heh, should I even get started about all that? Well, because I want to I will. The whole Elements of Harmony thing aside, Twilight moving to town was, I have to say, the major turning point in my life. How does that even relate to you? I don’t know, just let me talk, er... write. I guess.
As I listened to everything you said, you certainly returned the favor. Almost as soon as Twilight moved to town and I began to talk to her a little more, you saw how much I started to like her. I mean, she still annoyed me from time to time (and she still does...), but that never stopped me and hasn’t stopped me to this day.
So time passed. Our lives were just about perfect, aside from that one blemish when Discord returned and we all turned crazy for a day. I tend to not count that. Everything was wonderful, and we were all happy.
That is, until Twilight’s brother’s wedding.
The wedding itself was totally cool. You remember. I pulled off that sonic rainboom on the first try! Okay, I realize that I’m skipping over the most important parts, like the whole changeling war and Queen Chrysalis, but I’m getting to what I really want to talk about.
That sonic rainboom apparently was enough to impress the Wonderbolts. When I talked to Soarin that night, he told me how awed he was that Celestia chose me over any of the Wonderbolts to be the featured flier over such a royal affair. I was flattered to say the least, and that night was the first time I ever considered going after a colt.
Oh come on, even you admitted Soarin was hot once!
You and I both remember one month after that night. You remember when I showed up on your doorstep with my new blue Wonderbolts uniform on. I was the happiest mare in Equestria, and you were proud of me, but there was something wrong. I could tell. I can always tell when something’s wrong with you. You don’t hide your emotions very well, and I’m glad for that.
Boy, when I’m right, I’m right. You exploded on me. You demanded to know what happened to our pact. You wondered why I would leave Ponyville just like that. How could I just get up and leave Ponyville to follow my dreams? How could I abandon our friendship?
It’s not like I wasn’t conflicted about it! I mean, things had never been better between me and Twilight. We had been dating since about a year before her brother’s wedding, and it’s not like I wanted to leave her (we’re still together to this day, if you haven’t noticed).
It wasn’t enough, though. You wouldn’t talk to me. You wouldn’t even acknowledge me. I don’t think I have ever seen a rift in our friendship as bad as that, and I’m including the incident with Discord. All of us grew apart because of that, and I regret every moment of it. It was stupid how we acted.
So, winter wrap-up came that year. We finally started talking again. It was mainly out of necessity, because the teams couldn’t exactly function if the blue team leader and green team leader wouldn’t communicate. I remember how silly we both felt. You know you’re best friends with somepony if you can just pick up where you left off like that.
It didn’t last, though. The end of that month came and went, and two days later I left for Canterlot. You were there. You and all of the girls threw that huge going-away party for me. It was the first time I had ever seen you so close to tears. Sorry for telling you to buck up... that was a little harsh. In my defense, though, it was all in good fun!
I will always remember the last thing you said to me before I took off flying.
“Don’t get yourself killed now! I won’t forgive ya if you do!”
Well, you’ll be happy to know that I am still alive and healthy. Well, my hoof is starting to cramp a little from writing so much, but I’m still gonna keep going. This is important.
I always loved hearing from the girls. Twilight and I wrote to each other every week it seemed. Pinkie also sent me letters a lot, but not as often. Fluttershy and Rarity always wrote their letters together for some reason. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there’s something ‘going on’ between them if you know what I’m saying.
You never wrote me, though. I know you said that writing wasn’t really your thing, so I don’t blame you. Well, I’m wrong. You did write me once. I have your letter sitting right by me, actually. I don’t think it ever left this desk. It was simple; you just told me about how the farm was going, how the family was, how the town was holding up without me. You told me about how Granny Smith had passed away. That was very hard to read.
There wasn’t much more to the letter, though. I tell you, though, just hearing from you was enough for me. Anything at all was more than what I expected you to write!
Then I came home for the first time. It was a whole two years after I left. You had written to me many more times since then, so I knew what was going on in your life. It still didn’t properly prepare me for that visit, though.
Pinkie threw the most insane party I had ever seen. Like, this was the thousandth anniversary of the Summer Sun Celebration big! I swear she had all of Ponyville packed onto the streets of town, all to see me.
…I don’t really want to go into the rest of that visit. Let me just say I forgive you for missing the party.
Um... I don’t know how much more I can write. Sorry for getting kinda sappy there. I swear I’m not like that all the time! I’m still the same old Dash! I’m still the fastest pegasus in Equestria! It’s true now. Spitz tried to top my fastest speed, but she couldn’t break the sound barrier. I’d love to see her create a sonic rainboom. THAT would be awesome!
I suppose that’s all I really need to get out of my system for now. I hope you’re still having a great time back in Ponyville. I can’t wait to see you again.
I really, really miss you.
Rainbow Dash felt emotionally exhausted from writing the letter. Trying to smash three years of her life into one letter was nearly impossible. Dash wasn’t quite as wordy as her marefriend, Twilight, so she managed.
Dash folded the piece of paper in front of her and placed it into a blue saddlebag that was draped over the edge of her chair. The limp bag was then shut tightly using the buckle shaped like the Wonderbolts logo. The pegasus then put the saddlebag around her body and opened her window. With a powerful kick, she flew out the opening and into the night sky.
The chilly air clung to her body as she soared. Her conditioned flying had improved ten fold from what it was back in Ponyville, which allowed her to travel ten times as fast as usual. She didn’t go for the sonic rainboom, though. She had already gotten in trouble enough times for waking up half of Equestria in the middle of the night.
Rainbow Dash looked back at Canterlot and her hotel room, then continued on with a determined frown. The early autumn wind chilled her to the core, but it didn’t stop her. Rainbow Dash had to complete this journey. She needed this.
The trip to Ponyville took her an hour at most. She had gotten very good at travelling back and forth between the two cities over the past year. It acted as a pretty good workout, and she got to use the opportunity to visit Twilight.
Rainbow Dash landed at the entrance of Sweet Apple Acres. The moisture from the air that had collected in her mane had begun to join and trickle down her forehead. Dash wiped away these horrible tickling drops and walked forward bravely.
Dash had this path memorized now, even to the point of knowing a shortcut. Cut through the yard and over to the apple orchard. Fifteenth row from the right, walk to the end of the row. Rainbow Dash completed this walk with much less urgency than her flight. She wasn’t quite so eager to reach her destination this time.
At the end of the fifteenth row, Rainbow Dash came upon a clearing. Off to the right was the normal path that led to the clearing:: the one that Dash avoided in favor of the shortcut. As much as she wanted to take her time, sometimes Dash still had trouble shaking her instinctive need to cut corners.
In the middle of this clearing, there was a single Apple Tree directly in the center. The pale light of the moon obscured by clouds provided enough illumination for Dash to see the shape of the pony she was looking for beneath the tree.
“Hey,” Rainbow Dash called out.
She didn’t expect an answer.
Rainbow Dash walked forward steadily with a heavy breath. She looked up at the single tree in the middle of the clearing and placed a hoof on the bark. The tree was much larger than the apple trees in the orchard surrounding it.
“Don’t know how you got this one to grow so big,” Dash remarked with a little chuckle, “Nice going, I guess.”
Dash took another step forward and sat down next to her friend. She refused to look at her. She knew that Applejack was there. She didn’t need the reassurance of vision, especially in such poor lighting conditions.
“I, uh... wrote you a letter.” Dash said.
“I didn’t want to have it delivered, so I just thought, you know... I’d deliver it myself,” Dash continued.
Applejack remained silent.
“I, heh, got a little sappy in the letter. Hope you don’t mind,” Rainbow Dash continued, not caring that she wasn’t getting any feedback, “I’m sure you’ll like reading it anyway.”
Rainbow Dash flapped her wings a few times while remaining seated. She looked back and forth for lack of anything better to do. She caught a glimpse of Applejack once or twice, but always looked away immediately as she did so.
“So, um...” Dash continued in order to fill the silence, “I heard that Fluttershy and Rarity are a thing now.”
Applejack remained as silent as ever.
“Told ya so,” Rainbow Dash chuckled, “I saw that one coming a hundred miles away.”
Dash laughed out loud, trying to diffuse the tension. It wasn’t working so well. Her laughter died quickly and was replaced once again with a stoic expression and a sigh.
“So it’s me and Twi’s four year anniversary next week,” Dash continued, “Please don’t tell anypony, but... I’m gonna propose!”
Still no answer.
“Yeah, I know it’s exciting...” Dash said thoughtfully, “Our wedding’s gonna be so much better than her brother’s snooty-puss royal wedding!”
Rainbow Dash smiled and reveled in the weight of her words. Twilight was the most important pony in the pegasus’s life. She had never felt love like the way she felt towards Twilight, and here she was: sharing her feelings with her best friend in the whole world.
Life was pretty good.
Yet, Applejack remained silent.
“It’s really great to be here with you, AJ,” Rainbow Dash said, “I miss all those times we used to spend together. I wish I didn’t have to travel all the time, but I guess then I wouldn’t be able to be in the Wonderbolts, would I?”
Rainbow Dash stood and nodded her head. She looked at Applejack one more time and pulled the note out of her saddlebag along with a bright red apple.
“I brought you this too,” Rainbow Dash said, “I know you see enough apples in your time, but I figured you’d like to taste a Canterlot apple.”
Rainbow Dash bent her body and set the letter and apple down next to a granite block protruding from the earth. The block stood a foot above the grass and had a polished face that angled only slightly above parallel to the ground. There was a depiction of Applejack’s cutie mark etched into the stone accompanied by one word:
Dash sniffed and wiped a tear from her eye.
“See you around, AJ,” Dash said with a shaky voice. The cold stone didn’t respond. It never responded.