“Have you reached a verdict?”
Those words were the most important I’ve ever heard; the words that would change my life forever, regardless of the outcome.
“We have,” the head juror pony said solemnly.
My entire body began to shake as I awaited the decision. I tried to calm my breathing, but it was no use; his next words would either be the beginning or the end of my life as I knew it.
“Be strong, Pinkie,” my lawyer soothed me as he patted my hoof.
I nodded and blinked back tears. Despite his words, I was restless as a newly fledged pegasus.
What will they say? Will it matter? Even if I’m found innocent, will they take me back?
“We find the defendant, Pinkamena Diane Pie...”
My entire body froze as I awaited those next words, my breathing seemed to stop. I knew the verdict couldn’t be good, no matter what he said.
The very blood in my veins turned cold as he uttered that word. I sat back with wide eyes; his words echoed in the packed courtroom. My mouth hung agape, my eyes started to fill with tears as the weight of his statement finally hit home.
My lawyer could only look at me with a crushing expression; his mouth quavered as his eyes displayed a horrified emotion.
The judge nodded slowly at his words. “Understood.”
He turned to me with cold eyes. “The minimum sentence for second degree murder is typically twenty-five years.”
My eyes widened; twenty-five years?
“However,” he gave me the slightest glimmer of hope, “due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the crime, we’ve decided to be lenient.”
I looked up at him with a pleading expression, begging for the details my punishment.
“Rather than a prison sentence, we have decided to send you to Autumn Acres, a mental health facility in Ponyville. This way your friends can come to visit you, and attempt to bring you back to full health.”
What does he mean full health? I’m already at full health, nothing is wrong with me! I’m not crazy, and I’m not guilty! I’m innocent!
“Please escort the defendant to her transfer vehicle,” he addressed the police officer standing to his right.
The officer approached me, brandishing a pair of hoof cuffs as he walked.
“I’ll go quietly,” I told him as my tears fell to the courtroom floor. “There’s no need for those.”
To my shock, he actually placed the cuffs back in his utility belt, taking one of my hooves in his as he led me from behind the bench.
As we walked down the aisles of spectators, I saw a myriad of emotions. Regret, pity and malic were on the faces of everypony in the courtroom. But there were five that jumped out at me.
Those five, the ponies that I had once called friends; they stood there with bittersweet smiles on their faces, smiles that made it seem as if I were simply going away on vacation. Nothing about their expressions said that their testimonies had just doomed me to a life of Celestia knows what.
“Are you happy now?” I whispered to them as we approached the courtroom doors. “Is this what you wanted?”
“No, it wasn’t,” Twilight replied with a shake of her head. “But we had no choice; we needed justice.”
“Then why? I’m not guilty, this isn’t justice!”
“We all saw what you did, Pinkie,” Dash said. “We can’t blame you for it after everything that happened, but something had to be done.”
“After what happened? Nothing happened!”
“We all saw it, sugarcube,” Applejack spoke up. “You can’t keep lyin’ to yourself this way.”
“I’m not lying to myself!” I shouted as the tears streamed down my face. “I’m innocent! I’m-”
* * *
I’m back. That memory always brings me back.
It’s a shame, really; before that memory forced its way in, I was having the most wonderful dream.
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, Fluttershy was... fluttering? Whatever. It was our first spring picnic: a perfect way to celebrate another successful Winter Wrap-Up.
I was bouncing all over the place, happy as could be. The weather hadn’t been this beautiful in a long time, and I was determined to enjoy it.
We were all playing tag! Spike was it, and Twilight kept teleporting him away every time he got too close to one of us. Even Rarity joined in! I know, that’s a shocker, right?
Spike was about to quit as soon as Rainbow flew away. Maybe I was being too soft, letting him catch me; it didn’t matter. I wanted a turn!
Feeling the wind in my magenta mane, the grass under my hooves and the rush of adrenaline in my veins... it was incredible. Fun is my life blood; I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t mess around.
I was closing in on one of them. No doubt she would have complained I only caught her because she had a hoof cramp, but that’s just Rarity for you.
I was almost there. I reached out, inches from touching her tail. Just a little more and-
But then that memory came floating into my mind, it shook me awake just like it always does. I wish every morning that it was just a dream, that it never really happen.
Yet it did happen: that courtroom, the verdict, that jolt back to reality; all of it was real, and every time I’ve recalled it reminds me of the horrible world I’ve been forced into
I just wake up in my bed every morning, shackled to my own banisters and wishing with all my heart what I just dreamed was true; all the while knowing it can never be.
Part of me has just given up; this is my life now.
“N-nurse?” I say nervously to the intercom. “I’m awake.”
“Good morning, dear.”
She says it sweet as can be, as if she’s talking to a newborn filly. But I know how she views me: she thinks I’m a monster.
“I see your probation is up today; would you like to eat in the dining hall?” she asks.
Even though she can’t see me, I give a slight nod as my lips quiver. “I’d like that. I haven’t seen my friends in weeks.”
There’s a slight stutter in my voice; even I can hear it.
The sound of a door slam replaces her voice. Finally, she’s coming to let me out.
A tear escapes my eye. I can’t help it; I don’t want to help it. Sometimes I need to cry; I need to let a little pain out every once in a while.
From what little I can move my head, I look around the room I’m in. I wonder why I even bother to look at it anymore? It never changes.
Never... not since the first day I came here.
* * *
“What do you think?”
Those were the first words ever said to me; the question always made me laugh. She showed me a completely blank room with little more than a bed and a toilet, and she wanted to know what I thought?
“It’s fine, I guess. It’s just a little bit... white.”
A little white? They might as well have doused the whole room in bleach. The metal bed frame was even painted that same boring color. Except for the desk and striped carpet, everything was completely colorless.
“I guess so,” Janice admitted. “But you get used to it after a while. Think about it: you get a whole room to yourself!”
I sighed deeply before slumping on the bed. “Whatever you say.”
“Aren’t you going to come to breakfast?” she encouraged. “There are other patients who would just love to meet you.”
“Are there really?” I asked as my spirits became the tiniest bit brighter. “I think I could handle that. Maybe this place won’t be so bad.”
* * *
It seems like that word applies to everything that happens here. “Maybe this place won’t be so bad!”
What a joke.
Maybe part of me wants my polyester rug to burst into flames, or sprout legs and run away. Maybe I want the desk to grow a mustache and sing show tunes, or the window to grow arms and start finger painting; maybe something will happen that will finally break through the monotony of the white walls and bolted door.
I can’t help but sigh as a tear slips onto my bedsheets. That door is always locked, always the barrier between me and the outside world. How many years has it been? Should I even bother counting anymore? What do these notches on my headboard mean? Days? Weeks? Months? Should I care?
No, my conscience tells me. You know you’re never leaving.
Of course I know that. I’ve always known that, even from my first day here. Does it matter that I didn’t commit that crime? Not at all. Does it matter that I’m not responsible for that murder? Goodness, why would it?
They’ll never believe me; I’ve just got to take the good with the bad.
Amazing how little “good” there is to take. I’ve got nothing left but optimism.
I hear the loud click of my door being unlocked. It swings open quietly, yet with a slight creak. That’s strange; it must not have as much oil as it usually does, or else it wouldn’t creak at all.
Ugh, I know I’ve been here too long when I can tell how well the door’s hinges are oiled.
A white-clad unicorn trots into the room. “How are you doing this morning, dear?” she asks.
Are you serious? I’m chained to my own bed, and you want to know how I’m doing? Let me get up from this cotton tomb and I’ll show you how I’m doing.
But I swallow my pride; it takes a lot more willpower than one might think. “Just fine, Janice,” I say with a smile so fake it hurts. “I’d like to go to breakfast, if that’s okay.”
She nods, smiling that sickeningly sweet smile of hers. “Of course, sweetie.”
Dear Celestia, the way she addresses me is fitting only for a blank flank. Either she’s oblivious to how much I hate her, or she’s trying to provoke me.
But I shake it off. If I lash out, I’ll be put back on probation, and there is no way I’m spending another month in this room. It’s worth being treated like a filly to get these stupid shackles off.
Finally, she unsnaps the bindings. It feels wonderful to have those restraints off; it’s as if I haven’t moved my hooves in days.
She leaves the room momentarily and returns with a metal wheelchair in tow.
No, this I will not do. Are you kidding me? I may be stuck in this place, but my hooves haven’t been amputated. “I can walk, thank you,” I say as politely as possible.
“Pinkie, we’ve been through this before,” she replies. “It has nothing to do with whether or not you can walk; it’s a rule. When you were placed in our care, there was a specific request-”
“What, that you don’t let me use my own four hooves?”
I can’t help but snap; she’s asking for it.
“Please, Pinkie,” the nurse begs, “Don’t make me do it.”
A syringe starts to glow on the cart just outside the door. Would you look at that? They brought a whole cart full of downers just for me. I guess I’ve built myself a bit of a reputation here.
I let out a deep breath; my glare never wavers. “Fine.”
I sit reluctantly in the cushy seat as she wheels me out the door and down the pure white hallway.
“This place isn’t really that bad, is it dear?” she asks as we pass the numerous barred windows and locked doors dotting the hallways. “Everything is taken care of for you! You don’t have to worry about a thing.”
I sigh deeply. “Tell me how you would feel, not even being able to walk on your own hooves for-”
“Six years?” she interrupts. “It’s your sixth anniversary with us today.”
“If you say so.”
So that’s how long I’ve been here. Six years of betrayal, seventy-two months of being treated like a foal twenty-four hours a day. 2,190 days since the last time I stood in the sunlight, or felt the breeze through my mane.
I barely notice as we exit the hallway and roll into the dining room. I’ve got to come here to eat, sure, but being in this room never ceases to depress me. Every time I come in, every time I roll through the door sitting in this stupid wheelchair, every time I see ponies either drooling over their oatmeal or flailing and screaming at other patients, I can’t help but think-
“I don’t belong here.”
And I don’t. I really, truly don’t. They all say I did something horrible, but I know I didn’t. They’ll swear I’m in here for a reason, but they’ll never listen to me.
“What was that, dear?”
Shoot, I must have said that out loud. “It’s nothing,” I tell her. “I think I can take things from here.”
She beams down at me as if I’m five years old. “I’m sure that’s alright, considering what day it is.”
She lets go of the wheelchair and makes for the door. Finally, a little solitude. Maybe I’ll even see one of my friends today.
I get up from the rolling chair and stomp away from it in disgust. There is no way I’m sinking to that level; rolling everywhere when I’ve got four hooves that aren’t broken... no thank you.
I walk at a simple trot. I’m not quite sure where my old, bouncy step went. Maybe this place sucked it out, like the rest of my old personality.
Funny, I say that as if there was another personality. I’ve been in here so long, it feels like my old life was just a dream. Just one long, happy dream.
I walk to the buffet line, enjoying the sunlight as I pick up a tray. At least the shades are drawn today; there are so many windows in this room, it could be a lot brighter most of the time. I haven’t a clue why the maintenance ponies feel the need to bathe the dining hall in perpetual darkness.
Sure, why not make this depressing place more depressing?
I load a few pieces of fruit onto my breakfast tray. I never have much of an appetite in this place, even though the food is decent. I sit down at one of the large, circular tables. I guess management decided having big tables would get the patients to hang out with one another and make friends.
That worked out well; everypony is sitting at their own table like it’s their personal kingdom, their castle. Double-taking in every direction, they look suspiciously at everypony. Then again, the management never really understood the concept of “counter-intuitive”.
I guess it helps to have something to live for in this place. Maybe guarding a table like it’s her own foal is everypony’s way of staying sane.
Heh. Sane... yeah, that word definitely applies to most of these ponies.
I set my tray down on an empty table and start to chow down. Everything about this place seems to be dull and colorless: the dining room is a plain square; every table is a uniform circle. The food isn’t awful, but there’s nothing exciting about it; it’s just... food. Worst of all, every other patient just does their own thing, never trying to make friends.
I’ve tried; oh boy, have I tried.
* * *
“Hi, I’m Pinkie Pie!” I had said on my first day here, six years ago. I may have been forced into this place for no reason, but I could at least make these ponies’ lives a bit better. “What’s your name?”
I laid my tray down at his table and looked at my new potential friend expectantly.
“Mrpmph,” the pure gray pony responded through a mouthful of food.
My eyes narrowed slightly in confusion, but I shook it off. “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. What’s your name?”
“M-Murphy,” he said slowly. He glanced around nervously before looking silently back at his food.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Murphy!” I said enthusiastically, extending a hoof toward him.
And he just stared; he looked at my extended hoof as if it was a ticking time bomb about to explode. “How did you know my name?” he demanded quietly.
“Well, you just told me,” I said with that same bewildered expression. “Don’t you-”
But before I could even finish my sentence, he tackled me to the ground. I could barely see what was happening; all I knew is that he was pounding me with all his might, and then a bunch of white clad ponies burst in and carted us both off. Only a few more minutes went by, and I was tied down to my bed with those horrible leather straps.
I spent two weeks like that. It wasn’t my fault, of course; they don’t care. They see a fight going on and both parties are punished, no exceptions.
This place seems to get more like a prison every day.
* * *
“Havin’ a good lunch, Pinkie?”
I jolt out of my daydreaming; I would recognize that voice anywhere.
I turn to the left and sure enough, there she is. “Hey there, Apple Bloom! Have a seat!”
After giving me a smile, she accepts my offer and plops down in the metal chair.
It always confused me: Apple Bloom is the last pony I would expect to see in this place. She was the sister of a truly down to earth mare. I’d have pegged her for the fields, or maybe the classroom. Not here, not with these freaks. In fact, how did she end up in this place? I thought there were two reasons.
“I’m so glad you’re around, Pinkie; all the other cool ponies seem to have graduated.”
Graduated? Now I remember; there’s the first reason. “Graduated, you say?” I ask cautiously.
“Yup! Evelyn and Gracie already got their degrees, so the lab has been quiet lately. I’ve had a hard time keeping up with all the work we’ve been getting.”
That’s right... Evelyn and Gracie Graham. Just two of Apple Bloom’s creations since she came here. I decide to play along, I have no reason to upset her. “I had no idea they’d graduated already! When do you move on?”
“Next year!” she replies proudly. “Just watch, I’m gonna be the first person in the Apple family to be educated. Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and I are going to open a store in Ponyville together.”
I feel my heart drop into my stomach. I want to burst out crying, but I can’t, not here.
And there’s the second reason: Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. “Are you, now?” I ask, slightly teary eyed as I try to hold my smile.
“Yup! We decided we want to open a grocery store. I’ll be the brains, of course, and we can all-”
Her face is blank. She knows from my expression that something is wrong; her eyes are piercing me like daggers. I know she knows what I’m thinking.
“What’s the matter?” she demands earnestly.
“It’s- it’s nothing,” I assure her.
Oh, way to go. She’s not going to buy that; off her rocker or not, she’s a smart pony. She’s going to see right through you.
“Don’t lie to me; I know what it is,” she says. Her eyes are already starting to glisten. “I know it’s about Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.”
I can’t help but be shocked, my mouth hangs agape. Could she finally be snapping out of it?
“What about them?” I encourage her. “What about Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo?”
“I know what I did to them,” she tells me tearfully. “I know why they’re not around anymore; I know why I’m here.”
I feel like the sun has come up in my heart. “That’s fantastic, Apple Bloom! That means they can finally let you out!”
She shakes her head hopelessly. “But they can’t. I know what I did, but there’s somepony else in here. Somepony that prevents me from knowing the truth.”
I never quite understand what she means. “But you’re talking to me right now!” I insist.
“I know I am; the problem is that at any moment, I’ll go back to how I was before,” she says shakily. “It’s like I’m two different ponies. Just please, don’t forget this. Don’t forget that deep down, I know the truth.”
She’s shaking, obviously terrified of herself. She knows about the monster inside her; even worse, she knows she can’t get rid of it.
But there is no way I’m letting an opportunity go. “No, Apple Bloom. We’re going to go find somepony right now; we’re going to get you cured and get you out of here!”
She tilts her head, clearly bewildered. “Out of where? Why would I want to get out of college?”
My mind can’t quite register what just happened. After a long pause, I hang my head in resignation. “You’re right; how silly of me. You’re about to get your degree, after all.”
“Yeah!” she confirms. “And did you hear? Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and I are-”
“Going to open a grocery store?” I interrupt with a watery smile. “Yeah, I heard. That’s wonderful, Apple Bloom. You must be so excited.”
She nods, blissfully oblivious to her state. “Well, I gotta go study for an exam! See ya later, Pinkie!”
A sniff escapes me as I wave her off. “Have a good day, Apple Bloom; good luck on your exam.”
So she just wanders off to another table and does the same thing I’ve seen her do for four years. Every day, she comes in here and tells me about the grocery store and the college, about Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. Every day she tells me she knows the truth, and every day, she snaps back to her old self: that same tortured filly, refusing to let reality catch up to her. Just like every day, I hoped she would finally come back for good.
I wonder why I still listen...
Fool me once, as they say.
“Good morning, Pinkie!” a voice speaks up behind me.
Oh joy, here we go again. “Good morning, Dr. Joule.”
My words are half-hearted, empty. This is always a bit problematic; Joule is no amateur when it comes to sniffing out liars.
“My, my, aren’t we chipper today?” he quips. He noticed. But of course he did; he always notices. “Are we going to have any trouble today?”
I want so badly to give him a hoof in the chops, to squeeze the life out of him, to stamp him into the ground. Every day of being treated as either a newborn or a nightmare pushes me closer. Every time I feel those drugs slide down my throat.
Just like the first day.
* * *
“Good morning, Ms. Pie!
I had only been here for four hours, and I already had a chip on my shoulder. My voice was flat and surly, my expression was nothing if not vicious. But then again, the fact that I was tied to my bed frame might have had something to do with that.
“Alright then, Pinkie,” he emphasized that world almost maliciously. “I’ve heard you caused a little trouble in the dining hall this morning.
“Me? I caused the trouble?” I demanded, turning my head to face him. “I caused that trouble? I just asked his name and he jumped me!”
“Well, be that as it may, I’ve brought a little something to help you relax.”
And then he pulled that paper cup out. That horrible paper cup.
I started straining against the leather straps with all my might. “I swear, if you put anything down my throat-”
“Shh,” he cut me off with an almost malicious grin. “No, no, Pinkie. No trouble today.”
I wanted to lash out, to hurt him for trying to put that trash in my body, but-
* * *
But I don’t, of course. I never do.
“No, doctor,” I sigh in resignation. “No trouble today.”
What’s the point of fighting anymore?
“Good.” He takes a small paper cup in hoof. I can’t see them, but I know they’re inside. I always know what they’re trying to do in this place. “Now, open wide.”
I open my mouth and allow him to dump the tiny blue pills inside.
“Now swallow!” He says it brightly, encouragingly, as if the narcotics he’s giving me are candy.
Nevertheless, I do as he commands. I won’t spend another minute chained down to my bed. I feel the sugar coated cylinders slip down my throat and into my stomach.
“There’s a good filly,” he says with a patronizing clap on the back.
Come a little closer, Joule. I’ll show you what a good filly I really am.
“Is that all then, doctor?” I inquire.
He nods. Most of the dining room is clearing out by now, so I follow suit and make for the door.
“Please, Pinkie, stay out of trouble, will you?” he calls after me.
“Trouble?” I say without looking back. “You know me; I’m not the trouble-making kind.”
“If you say so,” he chuckles. “Have a good day, Pinkie.”
And how could I not? Their pathetic motto always comes floating back into my head:
“Every day is peaceful at Autumn Acres”.
The Diamond Transient
It always makes me laugh.
I can’t wait to get out of this room in the morning. But as the day goes on, I long to get back to the only thing that brings me joy anymore.
Joy? What a joke.
The waking world hasn’t brought me joy since-
Since six years ago, as a matter of fact.
I sigh as I pass by the portraits of old hospital headmasters. Try as I might to hate those ponies I used to spend so much time with, I just can’t. Dubiousness, lies, betrayal... all of those stop mattering when I realize how much I miss my friends.
Finally, I reach the door to my “suite” as they call it. I always laugh at that; anypony else would be convinced this was a five star hotel.
Instinctively, I reach down to grab my keys. It amazes me how long my habits stuck. Six years later, and I still go to get my keys. Staff doesn’t lock the doors except at night; of course, we can’t be trusted with such a great responsibility.
So I open the door and step inside. Nothing has changed, nothing is new; it’s the same place I left it a few hours ago. The same stainless steel bed is tucked in the far left corner, the same hardwood desk is against the back wall, and the same mirror is embedded into the right wall.
Funny, I never quite figured out why they put that mirror there; it’s just stuck into the concrete and dry wall. After all, there’s a mirror in the bathroom.
Ah, yes, the bathroom. There’s still one important task to complete.
I stroll across the blue and red center rug and into the bathroom on the far left of my humble abode. My bathroom is a place of solitude for me; that door is the only one in this whole building that I have control over.
Well, I had control over it. I didn’t even know you could tear a lock out of a door.
But you can, apparently. And they did. Boy, did they. As I enter the pure white bathroom, as I see the scarring on the wood, I’m reminded of everything I hate about this place. I’m reminded of that day, five years ago.
* * *
What a fun way to spend my one year anniversary here: locked in my bathroom with the nurses yelling at me to come out and take drugs.
“I’m not coming out!” I bellowed to the ponies crouching outside the door. “I’m not going to spend another minute under the influence of those stupid pills!”
“Pinkie, they’re supposed to make you feel better! They’re supposed to help you!” one of the nurses pleaded.
“Help?” I chuckled derisively. “You’re trying to help me by shoving downers in my throat?”
“Come on out, Pinkie,” I heard Janice’s voice call. But this time, it wasn’t amused or patronizing; it was livid. “We’ve been through this before, do you want to do it the hard way?”
I leaned with all my might against the door. “Do your worst.”
It took me exactly four seconds to regret that statement. Before I even knew what was happening, the lock tore itself from the wood explosively. As it left the door, I saw a faint green glow around it.
I cursed my own stupidity; I should have known that they would get the maintenance unicorns involved.
Even with all my might against the door, the four ponies ponies outside forced it open; only a second later, I felt a hypodermic needle plunge into one of my hooves.
“Not to worry, Pinkie,” Janice said as my vision faded and my hearing receded. “It’s going to be just fine.”
* * *
I snap back to reality. I’ve just got to forget the memories for now; there’s a job to be done.
Out of habit, I thrust my head into the toilet. I’ve gotten quite good at this, as it turns out. With one self-induced heave, my breakfast fills the porcelain bowl; I sigh as I see those little blue pills swim among the half digested mess.
It may not be the most dignified thing to do, but anything is more dignified than drooling on myself all day.
I shrug and flush the toilet. I pause for only a second to watch the water spin gently down into the pipes below before exiting the bathroom with a flourish.
Sighing, I re-enter the main living area. Heh, “main living area”. You’d think I was talking about a mansion. But hey, my world consists of three rooms anyway; it might as well be.
And the window... funny how a barred sheet of glass can be my lifeline and my curse at the same time; it lets me see all my old friends and relive all the happy memories. Then it reminds me that I can never be with them again.
I can get a pretty good view of Ponyville from atop this hill; sometimes I just sit and watch for hours. Some days, I’ll see a purple pony carrying a box of chalk, a gray mare carrying a bundle of scrolls, or a big red stallion pulling a plow.
Maybe today, I’ll see the glint of a diamond cutie mark on the flank of a bright white pony, or a multi-colored mane fluttering in the wind; maybe I’ll get to see a cream colored blur running in a foot race, a blot of purple reading through a pile of books, or a pink and yellow streak floating in and out of the trees.
Or maybe I’ll go back to where I know I can see those things: a place where I know I can be happy and forget about the pain, if only for a while.
What am I waiting for?
I lay down in that cotton cloud, my only escape, and pull the covers up to my neck. I go to a place with no bars, or locked doors, or little blue pills.
The blissful oblivion of reverie.
* * *
Muffled static comes floating into my ears.
Ugh. It’s always something. My clock, the intercom, screams and just about anything else will always shake me from that heavenly abyss.
We were in Canterlot this time. Twilight had somehow convinced us to go to the Grand Galloping Gala for the second year running. I don’t know how she and Rarity managed to get Rainbow into a dress again, but they did it. Dash wasn’t too happy about going back to the Gala, but then again, none of us were. After all those disasters last time, I wonder how she got us to-
Oh yeah, it was just a dream.
On the bright side, they usually have a reason for bothering me. I wonder what it is this time? Free cake? Mail? Maybe one of the attendants filed a complaint about me... at least that would make for a little entertainment.
“Pinkie?” a familiar voice calls over the electric box. “We’ve got a visitor for you, if you’d like to see her.”
A visitor? Gosh, that hasn’t happened in quite awhile.
Part of me wants say no; what are the odds it’s going to be someone I actually want to see? Then again, surprises are nice every now and again. “Sure, send her in.”
I leap out of the bed and do what little fixing up there is to be done. My mane and tail never really lost their frizzy quality, no matter what pills these people shoved down my throat. At least I still have that...
Tapping a hoof, I wait patiently for the visitor. Who could it be this time? Cheerilee? The Mayor? Derpy?
A knock on the door saves me the trouble of guessing.
“Pinkie Pie?” the voice calls out. “May I come in?”
It’s melodious, accented and extremely proper. Try as I might to hate that sound, despite my best efforts to forget it, there’s no mistaking who she is.
Should I let her in? Should I tell her to get lost? Should I open the door, just so I can slam it in her face? She would deserve that, wouldn’t she?
“Come in,” I hear myself say in the midst of my internal battle.
My guest turns the knob and, sure enough, there she is: as milky white as the day I met her, bright blue Cutie Mark glinting in the sunlight that cascaded through the window. I always wondered how she managed to stay so clean... bleach, maybe?
“Pinkie,” she says breathlessly.
She rushes forward and wraps me in a tight hug. Half of me wants to break her, to hurt her, to make her pay for putting me through all this.
But I’ve waited so long to see a friendly face; the other half wants to share the embrace.
The latter wins in a landslide. My body engulfs her, hooves wrapped around her neck. Finally, she breaks off and stands back for a moment.
“It’s wonderful to see you, darling. How have you been?”
Suddenly, the joy brought by seeing her slips; every fiber of my being wants to burst out laughing, to kick her out on her flank with gusto. How have I been? Is she really asking that question? “Have a seat,” I gesture to my desk chair. “I’ll tell you all about it.”
Ugh, how does the polite side of me always win?
She accepts my offer, albeit cautiously. I can see it in her eyes: she’s terrified of me; she’s been that way for years now. But what could she be afraid of? There’s not even anything dangerous in here, unless she thinks I plan to strangle her with my restraints.
“So, dear,” she says immediately after sitting, “how is life here?”
I flop down on the bed and brandish my shackles with a chuckle. “You tell me.”
A rumble emanates from her throat. Amazing: even after all these years, I still know how to put her on edge.
“Well, I’m sure those aren’t all bad,” she says in a careful voice.
Every word she speaks seems to be going through a filter, every phrase carefully monitored for the slightest danger. It’s as if she thinks she’s disarming a bomb.
In a way, she is.
“I’m sure there’s more to this place than that, darling,” she prompts. “Why not share some of your stories with me?”
Stories from the wacky shack, eh? Why not?
So I spend the next few hours recounting my life in the asylum. She leans forward intently, seemingly hanging on every word. Even though she does her best to look interested, I can tell she’s only here because she feels like she needs to be; she’s a terrible liar. But it’s all the same to me; having someone even pretend to listen is quite rare.
“Well, that’s just fascinating,” she says at almost four o’clock.
“Really?” I raise an eyebrow. “My breakfast was that interesting, was it?”
She clears her throat yet again. “What I mean to say is... well, never mind.”
I pause for a moment and stare her dead in the face. She glances around my room, pretending to look at the cracks on the walls and the spiders crawling in their webs above. But I know she can see me; I know she can feel me staring at her.
“What do you think, Rarity?” I ask after a long pause, reclining on the bed.
She tilts her head with a quizzical expression. “What do I think of what?”
“Of me,” I reply simply.
That searching expression remains on her face; she does her best to look confused.
But we both know that she understands what I’m asking.
“Well, dear, I think you’re quite the fun-”
I can’t take it anymore, I’m not going to keep waltzing around the elephant in the room. “Do I belong here?” I blurt.
This conversation is in dangerous waters, and she’s not the most experienced sailor. She takes the helm of the social ship carefully, doing her best to dodge the oncoming waves. “Of course not,” she says definitively.
Her tone is convincing; she may even believe it herself, but her body tells another story. She’s looking at me with dead eyes, standing as still as a statue. Her hoof is cradling her chin, and her pupils dilate the moment she utters that phrase. Classic tells.
Her expression suddenly shifts to surprise. No, not surprise, shock is on her face. From that expression, she might have just been struck by lightning. “W-whatever do you mean, darling?” she asks unconvincingly.
“You were always a horrible liar, Rarity, and you know it. You even tried extra hard to hide those tells.”
She pauses, searching desperately for a response. “Well, what was I supposed to do?” she demands in a whisper. “Was I supposed to tell you I think you’re insane?”
“You could have been honest,” I answer. “You may think I’m crazy, but you at least owe me the honesty of a friend, don’t you? Isn’t that what you really think?”
Wordlessly, she waits for me to make the next move; every passing second is taking her out of her comfort zone a bit more.
“I’m not, if you were wondering.”
She gives me that same quizzical look, but we both know she knows... the jig is up.
“I’m not crazy,” I continue without her admonishment. “Though it’s possible that I’m socially stunted after being in here. You know, being trapped in an insane asylum with one visitor a week if I’m lucky?”
A bead of sweat appears on her forehead; “out of her comfort zone” no longer applies; getting farther and farther into her terror zone might be more accurate.
“Oh, and how did that happen?” I ask, putting on my best, sickly sweet voice. “Oh, that’s right... you put me here. All of you.”
She opens her mouth to speak. Her jaw moves up and down, but no sound comes out. “What were we supposed to do?” she asks in a tense whisper, matching my tone. “After what happened with-”
“Don’t you dare say his name.”
My calm and collected persona suddenly slips. I couldn’t care less under these circumstances; a weaker pony would have been screaming by now.
“Don’t you ever say his name. I cared about that stallion; I had nothing to do with what happened to him. Do you hear me? Nothing. You may think I’m out of my mind, but telling yourself that story over and over won’t change the truth: I’m not capable of murder; you know I’m not.”
She’s growing progressively more fearful, obviously on the verge of breaking out in tears. “I’m... glad to hear you’re doing well Pinkie. Have a good day.”
The chair creaks as she stands and makes for the door. Her hoof connects with the doorknob, and my voice seems to come forth without being asked.
“Pretending like this didn’t happen won’t make it go away,” I assure her. “You can ignore me all you want, but will you be able to live with yourself? Knowing you let one of the ponies you were closest to rot in this cage, trapped with these patients who can’t be left alone because the attendants are afraid they’ll commit suicide?”
She stops dead. I can see her entire body shaking, desperate to let open the floodgates, desperate to let her tears fall.
“Thirty years from now, will you be able to stand over my grave? Will you be able to look down at my cold, lifeless body and swear you were my friend?” I continue through the silence. “Will you be able to go on like that?”
She doesn’t move. She can’t move. I can see she’s hurting, struggling; shaking as she grips the cold metal.
Her declaration is almost silent; she makes the statement with a quavering voice as a single droplet of water collides with the floor.
But no tears escape me; not for her, not for that monster. I only find myself with enough words to mind my manners. “Good day, Rarity.”
The door shuts quietly behind her; I can hear the clip clop of her hooves on the linoleum floor as she scampers away.
And so another visit comes to an end. They all start with that same promise, that same hope that something might be accomplished...
And end with that same pain and darkness.
I lay back on my polyester sheets, their milky white embrace already setting me adrift toward a surreal world. It’s early, but what else should I do? What else can I do?
Nothing. I ask myself that question every day, and every day, the answer is the same: there’s nothing more to do.
And so I lay back down; fighting that same misery, putting on that same brave face I’ve put on every day for six years. It’s time for me to go back to a place where there’s no worry, no strife and no pain.
My head hits the pillow. Maybe I’ll see Big Mac and Applejack; maybe I’ll help Twilight reorganize the library, or help Rainbow Dash practice her moves for the Wonderbolts.
All the while laying in the same place I’ve always been.
Free and yet trapped; unrestrained and yet imprisoned.
There’s nothing left for me in the real world; there is no joy, or happiness or love.
There is only pain, the darkest pain I’ve ever felt.
A nightmare... the first one I’ve had in a long time.
It was nighttime, but more than that: something about the word felt dark, gloomy, macabre. Something was very, very wrong on a night that should have been happy. Even the air seemed to feel sharp and unfriendly on my coat.
Still better than waking up here...
Ha... you can tell your reality is a harsh place when you prefer your darkest dreams to the waking world.
It’s early in the morning. I must have slept since Rarity left, it’s already almost eight o’clock. I wonder what the day will hold for me this time?
Breakfast doesn’t sound appealing right now... to be honest, it rarely does. Maybe I’ll write some music, or spend some time drawing. Maybe I’ll take a walk though the hallways, imagine that I’m out in a world I can’t be a part of, place my hoof on the barred glass. Maybe if I try hard enough...
But then that nightmare swipes my attention. I don’t have it very often, yet it’s always the same, and it gets more vivid every time: A river, at night. It’s dark, but the moonlight reveals a stallion’s mustard yellow coat; his eyes are glinting, he’s standing over two blood spattered corpses on the ground. He’s whispering to me, egging me on, taunting me to react.
And so I do. I’m not sure how, but I do... something to him. I hurt him, I make him pay for what he did to those two fillies he just killed.
I can never tell... is it real? Is it a memory, forcing its way back into my subconscious? Is it guilt? Something deeper?
I can’t bear to think about it any more right now.
With a sigh, I look around the same world I wake up to every morning. My striped rug, my hardwood desk; these things are the only anchor I have to the waking world.
I sit down in my beige desk chair in an attempt to pass the time. The sun is streaming through the locked windows, just like it has every day I’ve ever been here. With a sigh, I reach inside one of the drawers and remove a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.
And so I sketch the world I want. If I can’t be out there with them, I can create a place to be. With shades of midnight and charcoal, I can shape a universe where I’m truly happy, I can bring a little joy to this dull and depressing world of gray.
As my writing instrument dances across the blank paper, I make that place: a world free of restraint or rules, where I can finally escape the monotony and humiliation this “hospital” has to offer. If I try hard enough, sometimes I can almost reach out and touch it. I raise a hoof to the thin glass as the graphite pencil creates that shining bliss.
I can almost...
...but then I shake back to reality. You need to stop hoping, Pinkie; the bars are still there, the doors are still locked. I’m still here, a beautiful bird trapped in a cage, never to leave.
Just like I always have been.
“Pinkie?” comes the soft voice over the intercom.
What could it be now? Have I done something else wrong?
“Yes, Janice?” I ask wearily.
“You have another visitor, would you like to see her?”
Another visitor? Amazing; I get to see two traitors in as many days.
“Send her in,” I say without thinking.
Moments later, the knob turns without a knock or an introduction. Only one pony could be so devoid of manners; it must be-
Of course. A being of vibrant color has decided to grace our dreary world with her presence.
“Hello, Rainbow Dash.”
I say this without enthusiasm, without turning, without even looking up from my work. She doesn’t deserve my kindness, not after all she’s done.
“What are you working on over there?” she asks, her voice becoming more audible as she enters the room.
“Drawing,” I say simply.
I can feel her breath on my neck, she’s glancing right over my shoulder.
“I never knew you drew!” She marvels at the graphite impression of the nearby trees and glowing sun.
“Neither did I, until I came here,” I reply. “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you’re confined to a single room for the better part of the day.”
“Well,” she says with a glance at my other works of art. “Maybe this place has been a positive experience for you then?”
She asks cautiously, tentatively; nothing like the Rainbow Dash I used to know. Impressive, I even put Ponyville’s bravest mare on edge with my new persona.
“Positive?” I laugh derisively. “What, that I’ve been trapped here all these years while you get to enjoy the sunlight I can only imagine, while you get to bathe in the warmth I can only dream of? Are you serious?”
She shuffles her hooves uncomfortably, scraping them on the stripes of my carpet. “Now, Pinkie, you know you’re here for a reason. It’s so you can-”
I’ve heard that same statement a hundred times. It gets old quickly. Spinning around in my chair, I dare her to continue. “Get healthy? Healthy from what, Dash? What did I do that was so terrible?”
From a shake of her head, I can tell she doesn’t buy a word of what I’m saying. “Pinkie, don’t start that again; you know why you’re here. After what happened with Snails-”
At the mention of that name, I bow my head and let the hot tears flow from my eyes. I don’t care if she sees me like this.
“You don’t need to cry over it,” she says with a soothing expression. “You weren’t in your right mind when you did it, that’s why you’re here: to get back to normal.”
“Back to normal from what?” I demand through my tears. “I keep telling you, I didn’t do it, I cared about Snails.”
“Maybe you did,” she replies, “but we all know what you did. We all saw how it ended up.”
“That was all a lie!”
My voice is raised, intense, explosive. But I don’t care. Nothing could make me care under this circumstances.
“I don’t care what you think you saw, I know what I did!” I bellow. “I’m innocent, and you know it! I never would have done something so terrible, I couldn’t have!”
“Pinkie,” she says with a heartbreaking grimace. “This is why you’re here, you won’t accept the truth. You need to come back to reality, you need to come back to us.”
“I’m not going to accept any ‘reality’ that I know didn’t happen,” I answer viciously. “You could show me a photo of myself standing over that body, and it wouldn’t matter. I know the real truth.”
“You can keep telling yourself for the rest of your life,” she tells me with that same heart-rending expression. “It’s not going to change what you did. If you just snap out of it-”
“Snap out of what?” I dare her to answer. “Snap out of what I know is reality? Live a lie just to escape this place?”
I shudder as I take a breath. “Never.”
“Please, Pinkie.” She’s practically begging now. “Don’t do this.”
I swivel in my chair to face my unfinished sketch. “Get out.”
Even though I can’t see her, I know she’s shaking her head. “Pinkie, I can’t do that. I’ve got to-”
“Get out!” I shriek. “I’m not going to sit here and take this anymore.”
She knows the battle is lost. I hear her turn to leave as I take up my pencil.
“Someday, you’ll see the truth,” she whispers. “Until then, there’s nothing more I can do.”
“No,” I say with a bowed head. “I have the truth, and I’ll never give that up as long as I live. Even if it means that I die in this room, I’ll hold on to the truth.”
She sniffs as the doorknob turns.
I hear the door slam behind her. Finally, I have solitude once more.
I wonder who else will come? Who else will try to convince me of that lie?
Without another thought of the matter, I return to my work.
Thus is my life, always stuck in the limbo of paradise.
Trapped in Eden.
A Sunshine Duo
There it is again... that dream, that nightmare.
Why is it so prominent all of the sudden? Why does it keep coming back? It’s starting to seriously cut into the happy memories...
I’m face down at my desk; my pencil is on the floor and my are sketches askew. Gosh, it’s been a long time since I fell asleep in the middle of a project... I wonder what made me...?
Then all of the sudden, I remember the fight Rainbow and I had. It seems like every waking minute is marred with bitter memories these days.
My stomach growls loudly. Ugh, I don’t want to go out into the dining hall today. I can’t bear to listen to Apple Bloom talk about that grocery store for another minute.
I start to put away my writing instruments and... well, what’s this?
Someone snuck a cupcake into my room while I was asleep, apparently. Evidently, one of the nurses still cares about me. Or, she’s just faking it. The latter is more common around here.
But then again, it’s a nice looking cupcake. White batter smothered in violet frosting with little blue sprinkles all over it...
Wait a second; blue sprinkles? Oh, I get it. They know I’m not taking my meds, and they’re trying to sneak them to me. Whatever, I’ll play along; I’m hungry anyway; there’s not much of a way around it.
I pull the wrapper off the morsel and swallow it in one bite. I can almost feel the drugs reacting with my body as they slide down my throat. I doesn’t matter, though; they would’ve gotten me eventually. They’re quite clever, really, just bad at dealing with the second degree burns I used to give other patients. It’s a bummer; I miss my curling iron.
It’s morning again. I slept through another day after Dash left. These emotionally charged conversations are really starting to take a toll on me.
I look over to the right. There it sits, as it always has: that mirror, embedded inexplicably into the wall. Sometimes, I can make out the silhouettes of other ponies behind it, watching me, taking notes, talking about me.
But then, it just turns out to be my imagination. Huh, I wonder what else I’ve imagined while I’ve been here?
So what will today hold for me? More drawing? More sleep? Maybe I’ll write a song, or a story. Change it up a little.
Heh, “change”. Yeah, that’s definitely the word to use here. The most exciting change that’s happened to me in months was the addition of an overhead lamp in my bedroom.
I hear static flow from my intercom. Its red light begins to flash rapidly.
The voice is as soothing as it always is; patronizing me. Mocking me.
“What is it now, Janice?” My tone is sharp, unfriendly; I think these visits are starting to get to me.
“You eh... have a visitor. Two, as a matter of fact. Would you like me to-”
“Why not?” I interrupt with feigned pleasantness. “Send them in.”
So, who could it be this time? Another one of the traitors? Maybe the mayor decided to show her ugly face.
But why am I so resentful? Just days ago, I was complaining about being lonely. Why in Equestria would I be angry that someone took the time to come and see me?
Am I cracking up? Is this place getting to me?
NO. I’m defiant. No matter how bleak things look, I will never become one of them; I will never become one of those ponies drooling on themselves in the hallway, never become one of those perfect little drones. I’m stronger than that, better than that. This place will never change me.
The doorknob creaks slightly. A soft voice speaks out from behind the wooden entrance.
“Um, don’t you think we should knock? She might be showering, or something.”
“Aw, there’s no reason to do that, sugarcube! Pinkie knows us better than anyone, she won’t mind!”
A soft spoken, distinctly feminine voice and a southern drawl. I’d recognize those voices anywhere.
“You don’t have to debate whether or not to knock,” I call out. “Come on in.”
Their discussion stops abruptly. “Right!” one of the voices says after a brief pause.
The door swings into my bedroom. Sure enough, Applejack and Fluttershy strut in, happy and healthy looking as they day I met them.
“Well, if it isn’t Pinkie Pie!” Applejack exclaims as she and Fluttershy rush forward to pull me into a hug. “How are you doin’ sugarcube?”
I want to be angry at her; I want to make her pay for asking that question. I want her to regret making me relive all the bad memories. But for some reason, I can’t. I guess I know that manners and tact aren’t exactly Applejack’s strong suits.
I just let it slide and take her for simply being impolite. “Not too badly, other than the fact that I’m in an insane asylum,” I answer pleasantly.
“Oh, yeah... that,” Fluttershy says meekly. “But the nurses say you’ve been very good lately, isn’t that true?”
“Heh... you make me sound like a filly in pre-school, Fluttershy. But then again, school fillies get to go home at the end of the day.”
Applejack bows her head with an expression of... fear? Goodness gracious, even Applejack is afraid of me. Rainbow and Rarity must have told her I’ve been in a bad mood lately. This is good, at least now-
But is it good? my conscience retorts internally. Is that really how you want to live your life? Should you really be happy that you’re terrifying the ponies you used to call friends? Is that really how you want to be remembered, Pinkie?
“But enough about my misery,” I say, putting my personal debate away for the moment. “How are you both doing?”
Applejack looks up, clearly grateful for a lifeline in the awkward conversation. “Well, the farm’s doin’ just fine! We planted three dozen new trees last week, and they’re growin’ like weeds. We’ll be able to triple our harvest by next year, at this rate!”
“And I’ve been able to keep the bunnies out of her fields, for the most part,” Fluttershy says with a small smile from under her rose mane. “We had several new litters of them born. It’s been difficult, but I think they’re finally starting to calm down.”
I force a smile. “That’s just wonderful, you two. Why don’t you have a seat on the bed? We can all catch up for a little while.”
Even as I turn away, I can see them glance nervously at one another. Their hesitation, their cautious statements; they’re just as afraid of me as the others were.
But why are they so afraid? Where did our old conversations go, our old adventures? Where did the old Pinkie go?
I used to be happy that I had control over people. It gave me something to be proud of; it gave me something to help me forget where I was. But lately, all I want is to be treated the same way I used to be treated; all I want is to be treated like the fun pony I was, like the pony that couldn’t resist throwing a party. All I want is for those nervous smiles to be replaced with the genuine grins that I used to see when I was with other ponies.
To be treated like the pony I am, not the monster they’re so determined to see, that’s my dream lately.
Applejack and Fluttershy sit gingerly on my bed, trying to hide the fact that they’re looking at my shackles. They’re all such terrible liars... every one of them. It’s part of what makes hanging around them fun, I’ve got a leg up on them. Or I used to, at least.
“You don’t have to pretend like you’re not looking at them,” I say gently. “We can all see them, they don’t have to be an elephant in the room.”
Applejack looks up awkwardly, brandishing the restraint device. “Well, I guess I do sorta want to know... what are they for?”
Fluttershy nods; she clearly wants an answer as well.
“Well, they’re just a precaution, I guess. All the patients have beds like mine, in case we get... ‘unruly,’ they call it.”
Fluttershy looks exceedingly anxious to ask her next question. “And have you ever gotten... unruly?”
She blurts the question out like it’s a piece of food stuck in her throat. I can’t help but laugh... they really want to know if I’ve gotten “unruly”, do they?
“Once or twice,” I say after pausing to examine the straps on the leather bindings. “It’s rarely my fault, though. There have been times when all I did was try to introduce myself to another patient; they just fly off the handle on occasion, and then we both take the fall for it.”
Both Fluttershy and Applejack push their front hooves together, guiltily examining their own appendages, not meeting my gaze.
“We heard you’ve ‘flown off the handle’ a couple of times in the past few days...”
Ah, so Rainbow and Rarity did tell them about my outbursts. “I suppose I have,” I admit. “I guess I shouldn’t have reacted that way to them...”
“Don’t worry about it, sugarcube,” Applejack says soothingly. “We all have outbursts every now and again, and you’re not exactly-”
Oh, so now it comes out... that’s the reason they all came to visit me. It takes a lot of nerve to visit someone in a mental hospital just to tell them they’re out of their mind. What are they trying to accomplish? I already know what they all think of me.
“I’m not exactly what?”
My tone is demanding; I’m practically begging for a reason to give her what-for. I can see the gears cranking in Applejack’s head as she attempts to come up with a safe response.
“You’re not exactly the most... meek pony,” she says.
Man, am I right about their lying abilities or what? But then again, it’s a nice attempt at trying to keep me subdued. Most ponies don’t come nearly this close.
“Are you here to talk about him, too?” I ask. “Are you going to try and tell me what really happened?”
Fluttershy’s face brightens. “Does that mean you-”
“No.” My voice is suddenly distinctly unfriendly. Is that really what they’re here for? Are they all visiting me just to try to bribe me into believing a lie? Is that what being a friend means now? “No, I don’t believe it; I never will.”
“That’s not what she was going to ask, sugarcube!” Applejack insists with a wave of her hoof. “No need to go crazy on us, we just came here to talk.”
“About what?” I demand. “If you’re going to say something other than an accusation, spit it out!”
“About you, about the incident,” she answers. “We believe you.”
My heart practically stops beating. They believe me? Could they really, truly believe me after all this time? “You believe what?” I ask, attempting to contain my excitement.
“We believe your story, and it’s not just us,” Applejack says. “The court wants to drop the charges.”
The court wants to drop the charges, eh? Now this I have a hard time believing. “And what do they want in return?”
“A confession,” Applejack replies. “But it wouldn’t mean anything, I swear! Under the circumstances, they just want to have it on file for the sake of the legal proceedings.”
A confession? For the sake of legal proceedings? I’ve never heard of anything like that.
Look closely, Pinkie. She’s got to be lying, there’s got to be something she’s not telling me.
But as I look into her eyes, I can’t help but think... could she be telling the truth? Her pupils, they didn’t dilate. She’s not rigid or unmoving, she’s not touching her face, she’s not looking up and away, or speaking in monotone. Nothing about her body language implies she’s lying. Either she’s just gotten excellent at hiding it or...
“Are you telling the truth?” I ask tentatively.
My question sounds stupid, fillyish as it leaves my lips. What are you asking that for? It’s not like she’d tell you if she was lying.
She nods. I can’t help but sigh; all these years of being told what a monster I am on a daily basis, all these years of being lied to, of being deceived constantly... it’s made my heart hard. I want to think she’s lying. I want to think the worst of her.
But at the same time, I want to believe her. I can’t explain why, but for the first time in over six years, I really want to believe her. Maybe I just want to get out of this place... maybe I just want to be free.
“And they’ll... let me go?” I ask with a narrowed gaze.
Both Fluttershy and Applejack nod enthusiastically.
“Hmm...” I simply hum as I swivel and face the mirror in the wall. They’re hiding something. They’ve got to be. No court would drop this kind of charge without a good reason, even if it is wrong.
Facing the silvery sheen of the polished glass, I try to calm the torrent of emotions running through my mind.
Should I do it? Should I sell myself out just to escape this place?
All I want is to be back with my friends. All I want-
Wait. Fluttershy... she’s whispering in Applejack’s ear?
They’re oblivious to how obvious they’re being. I wonder if I can pick up on what they’re saying? Get an inkling of what’s going on?
I focus closely on Fluttershy’s mouth as it moves up and down. Through the stream of hushed speech, I can make out three words.
“She’s buying it.”
Well, what have we here? “Did you know I can read lips, Fluttershy?” I murmur.
Even though I can only see their reflections in the mirror, I can practically see the beads of sweat appear on their bodies; I can feel their hooves shaking on the bed frame and feel their heart rates quicken. Their conversation stops dead, their eyes are trained on my back.
Fluttershy looks straight forward, attempting to keep calm. “What do you-”
“It’s a little skill I picked up a few years back. I’m impressed, you two; I never met a pony that could slip through my lie detector.”
I spin back to face them. Applejack has a good poker face, but I can see the terror in her blank expression and the fear pooling in her eyes. She knows she’s caught.
“You were doing a good job of fooling me, until Fluttershy went and wrecked it for you. But I guess she didn’t expect me to read her lips.”
They don’t move a muscle, they’re just waiting for me to continue... just like the others.
“‘She’s buying it’,” I begin. “That’s all I picked up. But that’s all I really needed to pick up.”
They’re right where I want them: terrified. It’s amazing how fast the tone of the conversation can shift, amazing how fast my trust can turn to anger.
“Why did you do it? Did you want me to confess so they could haul me off and throw me in jail? Did you five want to put me in someplace worse than this? Am I not miserable enough yet?”
“Please, Pinkie, we’re only trying to help!” Fluttershy insists.
That much is true; they are trying to help me, aren’t they?
But I don’t care. “I don’t need your help. I don’t need anypony’s help! I’m in my right mind already, getting me to sign off on a piece of paper isn’t going to change that! When are you all going to understand that?”
“We just want you back, sugarcube,” Applejack pleads. “That’s all we want, that’s why we put you here in the first place! To help you!”
I can’t help but giggle. “Help me? Is this ‘help’ to you? Sticking me in a place where my whole life consists of three rooms? Is that help?”
“You’re only here because you won’t come back to reality!” Fluttershy attempts to soothe me. “If you did-”
There’s that phrase again. “I won’t come back to reality”, hmm? If I had a bit for every time I’ve heard that...
“I am in reality,” I tell her in a shaking voice.
My hooves are quivering, my teeth are chattering; every ounce of my willpower is spent keeping my hooves at my side. My restraint is at breaking point. They’re asking for it, why not give it to them?
But I won’t. I won’t prove them right. “Get out. Both of you, get out now.”
“Are you going to let his death be a mystery to you?” Fluttershy asks tearfully. “Are you really going to go through life without knowing the truth?”
“I said get OUT!” I bellow.
My anger explodes into white hot rage. Containing myself is no longer an issue; they don’t deserve my kindness. “I am not a murderer! I will NOT be told by my own friends that I killed another pony!”
They leap from the bed and scamper off, tearing down the hallway in abject fear. I slam the door behind them; I will never let anypony tell me I did that.
I walk slowly to the center of my carpet, attempting to regain my composure. I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
And I’m back: the same cold, calculating Pinkie Pie is back.
Cold... calculating. Would I have called myself that before? Would I have been this monster they think they see?
Is it worth it? Being a beast to these people, screaming at your oldest friends, just to hold on to the truth?
More importantly, is it worth compromising your morals, just for comfort? Should I live a lie just to escape?
Water pelts the carpet below me. I feel as though the tears are appearing from thin air, my face is numb to it. There are so many questions and so few answers.
Why not escape to a place with no questions? Why bother with a world that despises you, why care about a world that holds you captive?
Why not go to a place where I can be free? A place where I can fly a kite, or run a race or make new friends? A place where I can forget.
It seems I ask that same question every day, and every day give the same answer: why not indeed?
I crawl into the covers with the shades drawn; there is no pain here, there is no suffering. Only the bright light I can never touch.
Even as I begin to drift off, a thought pushes its way into my mind. Who’s come here so far? Rarity, Rainbow, Fluttershy and Applejack. That leaves-
I can’t help but chuckle. How’s she going to handle me? Maybe a little magic action? That would be exciting. Or maybe she’ll give me a book. Oh, that would be just like her: giving me a book on conquering mental illness.
But a better question is, how will I handle her?
I roll over in my bed; it’s funny how I can make myself uncomfortable with my own questions. Maybe I’ll just have to deal with it when it happens. Until then, I have one thing to do.
My eyes close slowly, I calm my breathing. Time to drift off to a simpler place, a happier place.
The sweet pain of a false reality.
It came back again.
That stupid nightmare, haunting me every time I put my head to the pillow.
It was more clear this time. A mustard yellow unicorn with a turquoise mane, standing by the river. He laughed as he stood over the two bloody masses. I was pleading with him, I couldn’t even understand what I was saying. All I knew is that I was begging for him to tell me why. But his answer couldn’t explain his actions... he just chuckled, whispering something.
I didn’t want to believe what I saw; he wouldn’t do something like that!
...Yet here he was, standing over their bodies, covered in their blood.
I wish I didn’t have to do it, but I had no choice. He needed to pay for what he had done. As he turned away to dump those bodies in the river, I take up a large rock, and-
I awake in a cold sweat, shivering under the blankets. It’s only a dream, Pinkie, it’s only a dream.
Throwing the covers off, I leap from the bed in disgust. So it’s come to this, has it? My only comfort left in the world has become a curse? Fine.
I can’t spend any more time in this room right now... I need some time to think.
Amazingly, the door is unlocked. That’s a little peculiar, actually... they usually lock the doors this early in the morning.
Well, who am I to complain about an unlocked door? I should take advantage of it while I still can.
I slip into the hallway. Though the windows, I can see the glowing orange orb of the sun peeking over the horizon, waiting to grace the world with its light.
Ugh, why am I getting all sentimental over this?
But still, it’s beautiful out here this early in the morning. It’s been so long that I’d forgotten what it was like: the sunlight streaming through the window, the reflection of light from the tiled floors, the solitude, the silence...
Walking aimlessly, it can be therapeutic to me. It reminds me of when I was out there with them, helping Twilight find books, watching Rarity fuss over fashion designers, or seeing Rainbow Dash crash for the umpteenth time while she tries a “quadruple, over the back, through the barrel and out the shoot back flip”.
Well, it was something like that.
I can’t help but sigh. Where did those times go? What happened to the glory days?
My left front hoof begins to shake violently as I pass another window.
A Pinkie Sense? I haven’t had one of those in years... what did a shaking left front hoof mean? There’s nothing remarkable about this-
I can feel my heart drop into my stomach as I turn and look through the thin glass sheet. Not three hundred feet away, I see a group of ponies trotting toward Ponyville’s eastern river.
One of them is lavender, and a picnic is floating gently on the air in front of her as she heads the group. The next is cyan, her multi-colored mane glinting in the morning sun as she glides through the group; I can’t hear her, but I see her lips moving; she’s mouthing the words of a song. Behind them, a white pony is walking gingerly through the mud as they traverse the hill; at the rear are two cream colored ponies, each carrying a blanket.
They look so happy... not a care in the world...
I feel hot tears burning their way down my cheeks. I don’t care anymore, I don’t want to care anymore! Every day spent in this place, watching others play in the sun and live their lives while I can only dream...
Being forced to watch through gated windows, looking at a world I can only touch through the glass.
I’m just a ghost to them now; I’m meaningless.
“Is it worth holding on to the truth if it means losing everything I love?” I whisper to the empty world around me. “Should I care about the truth if it means dying alone?”
Tears drip to the linoleum, there’s no point in holding back tears any longer. Of course I miss them, I’ve always missed them! I don’t care what they did to me, I don’t care if they betrayed me! I just want to be back there; playing in the sunshine, living life as the Pinkie I used to be, not the Pinkie this place has turned me into.
“Do you remember, Pinkie?” I ask my reflection in the glass, unable to look away from my own teary face. “You used to be happy... you used to care about other mares, you used to be the party pony; where did the vibrant Pinkie go? Why is she trying to hard to hide?”
Why should I care about the truth if it means living without my best friends? I can’t go on like this anymore... I need to do something.
But what can I do?
It’s the same question I’ve been asking for six years now... you think they’ll believe you, with the outbursts you’ve had these last few days? You think they’ll buy your confession?
“No,” I say aloud with a choked sniff. “They won’t... and I wouldn’t blame them.”
They may be wrong about Snails, but are they right about me? Do I really belong here? Look at yourself, Pinkie; you’ve been flying off the handle at the slightest comment these last two days. Are you really fine?
I sigh as I turn back toward the hallway. Maybe this place has gotten to me... maybe they finally broke me down.
It doesn’t even matter anymore, I know I’m never leaving...
That’s just the way it is now.
I reach the door to my suite a few moments later, opening the door just as I always have.
Walking back in to the same room that... Wait, what?
“Twilight?” I ask incredulously.
She leaps from the chair and bounds toward me, wrapping me in the same hug that Rarity gave.
“It’s so good to see you!” Her smile is glowing, her cheeks are positively bursting with happiness. I can’t help but be joyful with her.
“It’s good to see you too,” I answer, matching her smile. “But what are you doing here? I didn’t hear anything about you coming!”
“I got here when you were, eh... out,” she explains meekly, “The nurses said I could wait for you to come back!”
“Well, it’s great to see you,” I smile. “Why don’t you have a seat so we can talk?”
My usual anger from seeing any of my friends is gone. I’m not sure what did it, but I feel nothing but joy from seeing Twilight right now.
“Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about-”
“Pinkie, we need to talk seriously for a minute,” Twilight tells me. Her expression is excruciatingly serious as she raises a hoof to silence me.
“Twilight, if this about Snails...”
“It is,” she confirms. “We need to talk about what happened with him, we need you to see the truth, we’re running out of time.”
“Time?” I inquire. “Time for what?”
“Please, Pinkie!” she begs. “We need to get you to snap back to reality!”
I simply stare at her for a moment. It’s something I never noticed before, but Twilight is a remarkably genuine pony; she really wants the best for me, even if she doesn’t know the truth.
I trot from the doorway and lay a hoof on my metal bed frame. There’s no anger in my expression, no rage in my movements. “Do you know what it’s like, Twilight?” I ask as I glance up at her.
My fury is gone, my tone is calm; my persona is no longer fueled by rage; all that’s left is anguish.
She tilts her head in the exact same way Rarity does. Funny, habits seem to run in groups. But this time, it’s not deception, not some feeble feigned ignorance. She really, truly doesn’t know.
My eyes glisten with tears as I prepare to pour out my heart. “Do you know what it’s like to wake up shackled to your own bed?”
“Or be force fed pills every day? Do you know what it’s like to need to vomit constantly, just to keep on being who you are?”
She tries to interject, but I can’t let her; not just yet. She needs to know how it feels to be here.
“But you want to know the funny part?” I ask as my sparkling tears begin to sprinkle the bedsheets.
She shakes her head resolutely. It’s amazing, she’s listening. For the first time in years, someone is really listening to everything I have to say.
“The funny part is that I could tolerate that.”
Her face is incredulous. It’s almost cute, how oblivious such a clever pony can be to the truth. “You can tolerate that treatment? I would’ve thought-”
“You would’ve thought it’s horrible?” I ask in a low voice. “It is, believe me. But I could tolerate it, if not for one simple problem.”
She motions with her hoof for me to continue. “What problem?”
“The reason I’m here,” I explain, flopping onto the bed again for the umpteenth time. “I could tolerate it all: the abuse, the glares, the indignation... I could tolerate all of that, if it weren’t because of what they think I did.”
“What we know you did.” she corrects. Her statement isn’t unkind, it’s not the same “scientific” sort of answer I would expect from her; it’s a gentle reminder. “We saw you standing over his body with a bloody stone.”
“I don’t care what you saw,” my defiant whisper comes. “I don’t care what you think. I know I didn’t do that. I know who I am.”
“You killed him,” Twilight says with a sad shake of her head, eyes filling with tears just as mine did. “Everypony knows it; even you do. You just won’t see the truth.”
“No,” I reply. My statement isn’t made in anger or disgust with her blindness. I only want her to believe me. “I didn’t kill him, I loved him.”
Those last three words echo in the tiny room as if they were shouted from the top of a mountain, or bellowed from Canterlot’s Grand Hall.
“Our anniversary was only a day away,” I continue, “We were about to celebrate three years together. We were going to celebrate the happiest years of my life. Why would I have taken his life?”
She just shakes her head sadly, her tears beginning to mat her violet fur. “I can’t answer that question, I don’t know what was going through your mind. All I know is what I saw.”
“There’s more to the truth than what you can just see,” I answer, wearing that same defiant frown; that frown of horrific depression, but also of happy memories. “There’s hope, and care for another pony. There’s love.”
“We know you were in love, it was obvious,” she replies. “Everypony could see how tenderly he held your hooves, the way his eyes lit every time he saw you. But that can’t change what happened. You murdered him in cold blood.”
My lips stop dead, I glance down at the mention of those three short words: you murdered him.
Why can’t this just be simple? Why can’t life be easy, the way it used to be?
“He was going to propose to me,” I whisper as I raise my head to meet her piercing gaze. “We talked about it for weeks before our anniversary, I even helped him pick out an engagement necklace. We were going to be the two happiest ponies that Ponyville ever saw. Did you know that?”
She gapes at me before breaking down in wails; after this revelation, holding on to her memory of what happened won’t help the emotional strain.
“That may have been true, Pinkie. I know you wouldn’t lie to me,” she says, wiping her tears. “But you’re lying to yourself. You were there, you sobbed in my arms after dropping that blood spattered rock. Deep down, even you know the truth.”
“I do know the truth,” I reply almost inaudibly, making the statement more to myself than my guest. “I know the truth that I loved him, that I cared for him more than any pony I’ve met in my entire life.”
“And we know the truth,” she replies through her tears, “That we saw you standing over his corpse, shaking from the cold and misery. That’s the truth we know.”
“You can keep telling yourself that story; tell everypony in the world if you want! It’ll never change my mind.”
She sighs, the torrent of liquid streaming from her eyes finally coming to a halt. “If that’s what you think, then-”
Her voice is suddenly overpowered by another sound. I glance around rapidly as my friend is interrupted by a burst of static from the intercom. “Pinkie,” comes the voice through the metal box, “you need to listen to me.”
That voice... it belongs to...? No, she’s here with me right now, she’s sitting in this room!
“Twilight?” I address the intercom this time. “Is that you? What’s going on?
No response. I turn to the Twilight sitting across from me. She simply looks up with a tortured smile.
“Twilight-” I begin as I close my eyes. I open them once more and she’s-
I shriek in fear at her sudden disappearance. “Twilight! Where did you go?”
The voice from the intercom breaks down in tears. “I didn’t go anywhere, Pinkie. I couldn’t because I was never in there with you.”
Random images begin to flash through my mind. “What in Celestia’s name do you mean?” I demand loudly.
For the first time in my life at the asylum, a light flips on behind my bedroom mirror. What I thought was a mirror, until now.
My heart skips a beat as I see Twilight, along with the rest of our friends and my nurse standing behind the one way glass.
“None of us ever came to visit you,” she explains tearfully. “We never even left this room; we’ve been watching you these last few days. Every meeting you’ve had with one of us, everything you thought you saw... it’s all been your imagination.”
The images begin to spark in my mind, becoming more vivid, fading into clarity. “No!” I shout to the group behind the one way mirror. “It can’t have been, I’ve talked with every one of you, I felt you all touch me!”
“No, you haven’t,” she shakes her head. “Every time we ‘visited’ you was only your imagination inventing situations to reinforce the lie you’ve believed all this time. Situations created to reinforce what you want to believe.”
The pictures flash across my consciousness, forcing their way into my thoughts. “This isn’t possible! Everything I’ve seen here is real! I saw Apple Bloom, how can you explain that?”
“That was all a lie,” Twilight explains. “Apple Bloom was part of the world you created to escape reality.”
“No, that can’t be!” My defiance remains intact, this isn’t possible! “I talked to Apple Bloom, she told me what she did to Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle!”
“That was all part of the fantasy, Pinkie, you made it all up to avoid the truth.”
“Apple Bloom was here with me the whole time, I know she was!” But even as I say it, my confidence is starting to wane... the images are more clear now, I’m seeing more every minute.
“Apple Bloom was never here,” she repeats firmly. “She’s been in Ponyville this whole time; she’s been going to school and helping Applejack with the farm.”
“What if it is true?” I ask, finally resigning to her revelation. “Why did my mind bring Apple Bloom to this horrible place? Why would I even want to imagine that she’s here?”
“To explain away the truth. You needed a way to keep those happy memories intact, so your mind found a way.”
“To explain away what truth?!” I scream, rocking my bed’s foundations.
“The truth you know!” Twilight shouts in response. “You can remember it if you just try! Do it now, Pinkie, remember!”
Her final words set my mind into a furious gallop; my visions of the world in front of me start to fade, it’s as if I’m going into a dream while still conscious.
“The truth...” I say quietly as the vision overtakes me. “The real truth...”
* * *
I’m standing by a river, the sky is pitch black.
I don’t want to believe what my eyes are telling me, I don’t want to believe it could be possible. But here he is, standing over them with a knife in hoof.
My tone is horrified, petrified. The word “sweetheart” comes forth lovingly as I attempt to block out the truth.
“You can stop that ‘sweetheart’ bull any time you want, Pinkie; we both know by now it’s not true.”
“Honey,” I begin as my eyes fill with tears, “We were going to be married, we were going to be happy as can be.”
“Marry you?” His laugh is derisive, mocking. “Why would I marry someone like you?”
I’m stunned. That’s the only word that comes to my mind as he utters that sentence. “But you and I... what about all this time we spent together?”
“Don’t you get it?” he shouts, turning toward me as he drops his weapon to the ground. “I used you to get what I wanted, to get the gratification I needed. I used you just like I used Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. The only difference is I had to take what I wanted from them by force, not scam it from them like I did to you.”
My expression is haunted, horrified at his statement. Only two words come to mind: “But... why?”
He gives that same mocking chuckle at my question. “Oh, just stop being all melodramatic, would you? You’re turning this into a soap opera. I did it because I wanted something. And I got what I wanted from all three of you in different ways.”
“You’re a monster!” I shriek to the midnight sky. “How could you do this to them? They were innocent fillies!”
“And you were just an innocent mare,” he shrugs. “Don’t you get it? I don’t care who I hurt; all that matters is that I get what I want.”
He doesn’t even give the bodies a second glance as he kicks them into the river; not a single tear comes from his eyes as their corpses plummet to the water and enter their final resting place with a resonating crash.
“The wedding is off, needless to say.” His statement is matter of fact as he watches the bloodied corpses flow down the river; he’s not even looking me in the eye as he tears out my heart. “And this,” he gestures to the river as he turns toward me once again, “Is going to stay our little secret, unless you want to end up the same way.”
His eyes glint menacingly as he turns back to the flowing water.
I close my eyes, the flow of tears is unceasing as I attempt to process what I’ve seen.
As my eyelids creak open to the moonlight, my gaze falls upon an object:
A single sharp stone.
“I’d just let this go, Pinkie,” he says, his head bobbing back and forth as if he were listening to a catchy tune. “You’ll live longer.”
I grasp the rock firmly between by hooves, raising it high above my head. “No. I won’t let it go.”
“Well then...” he says with yet another chuckle. “What does that mean?”
I approach him with my makeshift weapon held aloft. “It means I will live longer.”
His chuckles cease to echo, the shaking of his body halts abruptly.
“But you won’t.”
He begins to turn and face me. “What does that-”
Without a second thought, I bring the heavy object savagely down on his handsome face. The sound of his nose shattering is deafening, it rebounds on the faces of nearby mountains.
He falls to the ground, desperately attempting to shield his face from the onslaught. His screams echo in my ears, pleading for mercy as I attack him. He begs for respite from the attack; he’s as helpless as a newborn colt.
But his shrieks ring hollow; there is no plea for salvation strong enough, there is no cry for safety loud enough. There is no mercy left in my veins for him.
He deserves the worst.
With one last savage blow, his hooves fall limp at his sides.
He’s finished, and so am I.
I hold my weapon as if it’s a beloved stuffed animal, refusing to let go of the only lifeline I have in this nightmare. My sobs ring through the valley as I hear hoofsteps make their way up the hill.
“Pinkie!” I hear Rainbow Dash’s voice cry out. “What in Equestria happened? We heard-”
But as her voice nears, the rant comes to a stop. I turn and face them, eyes flushed with tears. Along with my closest friends are the mayor and Miss Cheerilee.
Turning to face my closest allies in the world, their expressions are nothing more than abject terror and shock. I drop the stone in my hand, not watching as the murder weapon falls to the dark earth with a dull thud.
I rush forward and hang on Twilight’s neck, sobbing relentlessly into her shoulder. The torrent of misery fails to stop as I cling to one of my closest friends.
“I’m sorry, Twilight,” comes my echoing declaration. “I’m so sorry.”
* * *
“I killed him.”
My mind is reeling, the truth is coming back into view. I finally snap back to reality, and it’s all made clear: everything I’ve believed all these years, everything I had fought to hard to protect... it’s all a lie.
“I killed Snails,” I mutter in complete shock. “That’s why I’m here.”
“Yes,” Twilight nods behind the glass. “Do you understand now? Apple Bloom was just your mind’s way of getting around the truth. You needed a way to explain why Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle are gone, but you couldn’t accept that Snails was responsible. You created this false world to hold on to your happy memories.”
“I wanted to protect other ponies,” I say more to myself than the others. “I knew that no one would believe what Snails had done. I had to take matters in to my own hands, I needed closure after what he had done to those fillies. I needed justice.”
“And to hold on to the pony you loved, you convinced yourself he was innocent; you convinced yourself his death was an accident. Most importantly, you had to find a way to explain Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle’s death. That’s why you’ve seen Apple Bloom here all this time.”
The light behind the glass shuts off, the mirror becomes dark and reflective once more. I hear steps outside my door as it swings open.
Time seems to pass imperceptibly slow as I wait for them to reach the door. What do I do now? Maybe I was responsible... No, I am responsible for what happened to Snails. But should that change anything? Should that change the fact that I’ve been imprisoned here for six years? Should it change how I’ve been treated?
Maybe it’s wrong, but I still feel betrayed! Do I take them back? Do I forgive them? More importantly, do I ask them to forgive me? Do I even have anything to be forgiven for?
I grip my head in my hooves and stand abruptly, facing that window that’s stuck in my mind all these years. With a tortured groan, I attempt to work my feelings out.
I remember the shining face of my mother, the mare who was always there for me.
What do I do, mommy? You were always the one who helped me when I was in trouble... do I take them back? Do I even deserve them after all I’ve done?
But my question is about to be answered. Twilight and her companions enter the room, all giving me that same heartbroken expression. I can tell each and every one of them is regretting this situation just as much as I am.
I rush forward and embrace Twilight just as I did on the night of the incident, sobbing loudly in just the same manner. “I’m so sorry, everypony; I’m so sorry for all those horrible things I said, sorry that I ever doubted you. You were right about me all along.... I’m a monster.”
My sobs grow all the louder as the realization finally hits home. But Twilight won’t be deterred in comforting me.
“You’re not a monster,” she tells me firmly. “You were just horrified at what Snails had done. You only did that to protect everypony in Ponyville.”
“But I still killed him!” I respond, face buried in Twilight’s shoulder. “There must have been a way I could have avoided all of this!”
“Maybe there was,” she says gently, “But this is the way things turned out.”
I finally break from her firm hold, nodding and wiping the moisture from my eyes. “But then... what happens now? I understand now, can I finally leave?”
But does it matter if I can leave? Even if I left, could I forgive them for leaving me here, all alone? Forgive them for failing to find an alternative?
From what I see next, though, it’s irrelevant. All five of them shuffle their hooves uncomfortably. Even though nopony says a word, I know the answer.
“There’s... a promise we have to keep,” Twilight replies, tears swimming in her eyes once more.
Janice enters the room, rolling a wheelchair toward me with a somber expression.
“There’s one last thing we’re all going to do together,” Twilight says, following my suit as she wipes her tears.
I glance all around, the decision isn’t easy. No, it’s not just “not easy”, it’s heart-wrenching! What do I do? Do I go with them? Do they deserve my forgiveness? More importantly, do I deserve theirs?
Where will this wheelchair ride lead me?
But even though I hate that chair, despite all the pain my old friends have caused me, despite all the torture I’ve endured because of them...
I sit down without another thought. Even through all the horrible memories, even though part of me wants to kick them out, even though part of me never wants to see them again, I know that my best friends will help me through whatever comes next.
My best friends. For the first time in six years, I can call them that truthfully. I’m with my best friends right now.
Janice pushes the wheelchair through the door, making a left turn as we exit my bedroom. A left turn? But all that’s down this hallway is...
I shudder as I think of what might await me there. What are they planning on doing?
But my worrisome battle comes to an end as Twilight places a hoof on my shaking shoulder.
None of the others speak; even as Twilight’s tender hoof rests on my shoulder and my physical shakes end, I can’t help but wonder: could this be it?
The final gathering?
Our last hurrah?
The ending chapter in our brave story?
Only time will tell as we approach the imposing infirmary doors. Even as fear wreaks havoc on my thoughts, I know this is how it should be, how it should always have been.
Encircled by my closest friends as we plunge into the great unknown.
She used to sing to me.
Almost nopony knows about it, I’d even forgotten about it for a long time.
When I was a filly living on that dark rock farm, I was always afraid. Afraid of the wild animals, fearful I would disappoint my parents; I was a wreck almost all the time.
One night, I was awake in bed. I hadn’t slept in days, but I didn’t know why; all I knew is that something was keeping me from resting.
As I shivered under the blankets, the door opened and closed quietly. I froze in fear, not turning to see who it was. Who would come into my room at three in the morning?
“Pinkie?” a loving voice whispered to me. “Are you awake, dear?”
I shifted to face her under the blankets. “Mommy?” I asked, rubbing my eyes as they adjusted to the darkness of the room.
“Yes,” she smiled as she trotted to my bedside. “What are you still doing awake at this time of night?”
I wriggled around under the covers. “I’m just... scared again, I guess.”
She sat on the edge of my bed and reached out a hoof to stroke my mane.
“You know, there’s more to the world than being afraid,” she said tenderly, looking down on me. From her loving gaze, I might have been the only other pony in the world. “What’s bothering you?”
I shrugged, what else could I do? Even I didn’t know what the problem was. “I’m dunno... I just can’t get these bad feelings out of my head.”
She gave a tiny laugh, but she didn’t want to detract from my feelings. “You know, I wasn’t the bravest filly when I was your age.”
I turned my head to face her. “You weren’t? But you’re so-”
“Strong?” she interrupted. “Maybe I am now, but I wasn’t always this way. I used to be just like you; sometimes, it seemed like I was scared of my own shadow.”
Pulling the covers closer to my neck, I couldn’t help but laugh a little; my mommy always knew how to cheer me up.
“But there was something that always made me feel better,” she continued as she ran a hoof across my back.
“What was it?”
She gave a tiny little chuckle. “Well, when I was afraid and shivering under my covers just like you are now, my mommy would sing me to sleep. Did you know that?”
I shake my head, sniffing the tiniest bit as a happy tear rolled down my cheek. “What did she sing?”
“There’s more to life than pain, if you only use your eyes,” she sang softly, “You can have much more than shame, if you only care to try. So open a hoof, reach out to the stars, give the world a great big huff, and blow away the bars...
“Believe me when I say there’s so much more than dull and gray, hear the words I softly speak, your happiness can reach a peak. So give up the fight, there’s no need for hate or strife here, bid the night farewell, feel the love you know so well...
“And now you can see, what we all can be, if we only try, we can give our fears a soft goodbye. So open your heart, feel the grace of another’s arms, wave the night away, you’ll see there’s nothing left but day.
“Rest your weary head, put your pain wracked thoughts to bed, you’re safe here in my arms, I won’t let that harm come to you. So now you can feel the love, the glinting sunlight from above, you needn’t be afraid here, you needn’t shed a tear.”
I had never felt so loved in all my life. She smiled down on me like it was the happiest moment of her life; it was the happiest of mine as well. I always knew she cared about me, but I had never felt like this. I had never felt so safe before. Tears slid down my cheeks as if my eyes were fountains, but these were no tears of pain; they were tears of joy like I’d never felt before.
“Do you feel better, sweetheart?” she asked, still stroking my mane.
I nodded. I had never felt better, as a matter of fact. For the first time in days, I could feel myself drifting to sleep. Tonight, there would be no nightmares, there would be no fear; I could rest knowing she would always care about me.
She kissed me on the forehead before turning to leave. With closed eyes, I heard the door open and then begin to close slowly.
The chirp of the crickets and the wind in the trees was audible as I heard eight words. Those eight words that were uttered through a tiny crack in my door, the whisper that would stick with me for the rest of my life:
“I’ll always love you. I’ll always love you.”
Even with my exhaustion, my mind found the strength to respond. Five words were all I could gather. But those five words were the most important phrase I ever uttered:
“I love you too, mommy.”
I never forgot that night. Even when I tried to push my happy memories away, even when I tried to forget there was ever a time that I was happy, those lyrics, their tune, my mother’s words... they never slipped away.
And even now, as I sit in a hospital bed waiting for Celestia knows what, they refuse to leave my mind. I needn’t be afraid here, I needn’t shed a tear. I may be surrounded by imposing machines and mysterious beeps, but I’m also surrounded by my best friends. I’m encircled with love.
“Are you OK, Pinkie?”
Twilight’s concern for me never left as we walked down those hallways toward the infirmary. She stood by my side, never letting her hoof relinquish its hold on me. She must have noticed my tears as I was enraptured by the memory of that lullaby.
She lays a hoof on mine; I can’t help but flinch slightly. Part of me still wants to be angry, part of me still wants to hate them for what they’re done.
But the better part wins.
“Yes,” I say, astonished that I can answer with that word, returning the pressure in my hoof. “I am. I was just remembering something that happened a long time ago.”
She nodded, a shining tear leaving her eye. “It feels good, doesn’t it? Remembering things as they truly are?”
I bob my head up and down with a smile. It’s true, I haven’t felt so amazing since that night.
“Twilight, you five can tell me,” I say finally. “I need to know why we had to come here.”
For the first time in years, the real Applejack speaks to me. “When... all that stuff happened, we made a promise. A promise we have to keep now.”
Her statement is slow, careful. She’s not afraid of me, but she seems to be afraid of what her own words mean. “What promise?” I inquire cautiously.
“After what happened with Snails, we knew you couldn’t be blamed for your actions; you weren’t in your right mind. When we first sent you here, we were willing to let you say indefinitely, if that was what it would take for you to get better. We wanted to help you so badly.”
They did, didn’t they? I’ve tried so long to hate them for leaving me here, but deep down, I know it was because they wanted me back. They couldn’t have handled the old me, professional nurse ponies have a hard time handling me.
They could never have managed.
But they still left you alone, my conscience insists viciously.
No, they didn’t! They came to visit me every week, every day! I was never alone, I just wanted to think I was. All this time, I put these horrible faces on them; faces they never deserved. It’s been my fault all along.
“After a while, it actually seemed like we were making some progress,” Dash speaks up after a long silence, “We would come and visit you as much as we possibly could. Then, one day, you finally came back to reality.”
My eyes widen in utter shock. “I came back? But then what’s going on? Why can’t I remember any of it?”
Fluttershy shuffles her hooves uncomfortably. “You...you regressed.”
Regressed? What in Equestria does that mean? “What are you talking about, Fluttershy?”
“Only a day after you finally saw the truth, you went right back to being that same ol’ Pinkie Pie,” Applejack answers for her. “You went right back to being that same cold pony.”
“But I’m better now!” I tell them desperately. “I may have done that once before, but now I’m fine! C-can’t I leave now?”
Twilight looks away for the first time since we arrived at the infirmary with teary eyes. “Pinkie, do you remember last week very well?”
“Well of course I do!” I answer right away. “I ate in the cafeteria, slept in my bed and-”
But I stop in my tracks. I close my eyes and strain to remember more, but it’s no use. Other than those isolated moments of lucidity-
“No,” I answer, laying back and marvelling at that truth. “I can’t remember a thing.”
“And the week before that?” she asks. “How about your birthday last year? Can you remember any of that?”
I shake my head in her direction. “Why is this happening? What’s going on?” I plead for an answer.
“It’s because you’ve done this before,” she finally reveals.
“You mean I’ve...regressed before?” I ask with eyes the size of saucers.
“Every week,” she confirms tearfully. “Every single week, you would come back to us; you would finally see the truth as it really was! But then, you would always snap back to insanity.”
I gape at her. I’ve done this before? I’ve done this that many times before?
“Celestia saw what it was like for you,” Rarity tells me. “She saw how miserable you were; she knew better than any of us that you didn’t belong in a place like this, and that it was destroying you. It was destroying her as well.”
“After one year of you regressing every week, the princess made a decision,” Rainbow tells me. “We all agreed that if you weren’t back to your old self within a certain deadline, we would...we would-”
She breaks down sobbing into my bedsheets as Fluttershy strokes her mane tenderly.
“We would choose another option,” Fluttershy finishes heavily. “Celestia decided it would be merciful; she couldn’t bear to see you so miserable.”
My heart practically stops. “When was the deadline?” I ask tentatively.
Twilight breaks her gaze, looking down with closed eyes and tightly clenched hooves. “It was four days ago, on your sixth anniversary of being here.”
I feel as if I’ve been struck in the chest, as if my lungs have imploded. “So that means-”
Twilight nods solemnly. “That’s why you’ve been seeing all these visions lately. Your conscience was trying desperately to break through; you were trying so hard to see the truth before it was too late. So every day, you saw a different one of us trying to convince you.”
“But if I’m past the deadline, what does that mean?” I ask in horror, dreading the answer just like I’ve dreaded the asylum all these years. “What are they going to do to me?”
Twilight’s tears spring anew as she looks up to meet my glance once more. “We’re going to send you to a better place.”
I look around the room in desperation, searching for a way out. I begin to hyperventilate as her words register in my mind. “Do you mean... they’re going to kill me?” I shriek.
“No, no! Nothing like that, sugarcube!” Applejack says, shaking her head vigorously. “We’d never let them do something so horrible!”
“Celestia knew you would never be happy here; she knew you couldn’t stand being in a world where you hated your friends, she found something that’s a little better.”
A little better? What does she mean? “So what will happen to me?”
Twilight gulped, obviously preparing herself for the horrible words she was about to speak. “We’re going to put you to rest. A deep sleep where you won’t have to feel pain ever again.”
My rapid breathing begins to calm, but only slightly. A deep sleep? How deep?
“Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t I just go back?”
“It’s better this way,” Twilight says simply. “We’ll hate ourselves every day for the rest of our lives, but we just can’t bear to make you live in this kind of world.”
I sniff, bringing a hoof to my eyes and wiping the tears away. “Okie dokie lokie, then.”
Everypony in the room breaks out in tears at this point. They can all see it: the real Pinke Pie is back. The fun lover, the party thrower. I’ve finally gone back to the way I should have always been.
Only six years too late.
“You’d better carry on my traditions,” I say to the sobbing Rainbow Dash. “You’d better throw a party for every new pony in Ponyville; you’d better play fun pranks and be crazy just like me, and you’d better eat an extra cupcake for me every time you go to Sugarcube Corner. You’d better be just like me when I’m gone.”
Rainbow nods, letting her tears fall to the tile floor. “Always.”
“We’ll come back and see you,” Rarity said. It’s not a promise, it’s a statement of fact. But those words are the most meaningful I’ve ever heard. “Even if you can do nothing but breathe and dream, we’ll be here to see you every day.”
“I’d like that,” I nod with closed eyes. “I’d really like that.”
I shift around in the hospital bed, I don’t want to sit still right now. “Can I get up and walk just one more time?”
“No,” Twilight says regretfully with glistening eyes. “It’s almost time.”
My heart rate quickens once more, my breathing intensifies. Even though I’m comforted by my friends, I’m too restless to just sit still.
“Just relax, Pinkie,” Twilight says quietly. “The nurse will be here any moment.”
I close my eyes and attempt to calm my quaking body. Sit still, Pinkie, you’re almost there.
As if on queue, Janice strolls through the door to my private room, magically carrying a bag of clear liquid.
“I’m so sorry it has to be this way, Pinkie,” she says. Even though she’s not crying, I can see she’s tortured; I can see she hates what she needs to do. “I wish there was another way.”
“So do I,” I look up to face her. “But it’s not your fault, it’s mine.”
She grips my hoof as she hooks the IV bag to a stand on my right.
“I’m so sorry,” I tell her. I have so much to apologize for, so much needs to be forgiven. “I’m sorry for all those horrible things I’ve said to you, sorry about all the trouble I’ve caused you.”
“None of that,” she says in a sharp yet kind tone. “I know you, you didn’t mean any of it. I forgive you.”
She whispers those last words as if she’s saying them to a newborn. But I don’t feel patronized, I feel renewed. After all I’ve done to her, she still cares; she still loves me.
“Now take a deep breath,” she commands gently, taking a thin needle in hoof. “This will only hurt for a second.”
She’s right, I’ve felt those pinpricks before; it will only hurt for a second.
But the result will last an eternity.
I close my eyes as the thin metal tube approaches my outstretched foreleg. I feel the tiniest pinch, and then relief washes over me. It’s done.
With tear streaked faces, each of my friends lines up to embrace me a last time. This is the end.
My multicolored friend approaches me first. My very first friend, the pony that was always willing to have fun.
“Sweet dreams, Pinkie,” she says gently. “Don’t ever forget us, wherever you go.”
“Never,” I shake my head as she grips my body tight. “Not in a million years.”
Up next is the shining white pony; the generous one, the mare who refused to compromise, who always gave no matter what.
“Make wherever you go fabulous,” she says as she follows Rainbow’s lead, hugging me close. “I know you won’t let me down.”
I nod solemnly. “I won’t ever let you down.”
She and Rainbow step to the side to allow the others closer.
Here she is, next in line. The hard worker, that beautiful southern belle. “Eat two apples for me, sugarcube. I’ll be with you somewhere, even if it’s not here.”
I nod as she steps away; my tears just won’t stop coming.
And now we have the caring one, the kind one, the animal lover. “Make me proud,” she says with a gentle embrace. “Care for all the little critters of your dreams, just like I did.”
My head bobs again. I’d never let that gentle mare down.
“Goodbye, sugarcube. We love you,” Applejack says in a low voice. The others nod, waving their shaking hooves as they walk through the open door. It shuts behind them with a loud slam.
“Are you going to leave too?” I ask Twilight.
“No,” she shakes her head. “I want to be with you until the end.”
I give a sad smile. She cares. She really cares.
“I’ll give you a few moments,” Janice says, walking through the door in the other’s hoof steps.
Twilight embraces me fiercely, refusing to let go.
“Isn’t there any other way?” I ask desperately. “Can’t I just... come back with you? Isn’t that possible?”
“I would give anything to have you back, Pinkie,” Twilight says genuinely. “I would give anything to have crazy adventures with you again. But tomorrow, none of this will have mattered; you’ll be the same hateful Pinkie Pie.”
“I know, I know,” I answer with a nod. “I just wish there was some other way.”
“So do we,” she says, placing a comforting hoof on mine.
What is there left to say? What can you say when the end is so near? “You’ll remember me, won’t you?” I ask quietly.
She draws back and takes my hoof in hers, gripping it tightly. “Always.”
I close my eyes and reflect on that night; I can finally see the truth clearly. Even though I now hate that stallion I used to love, even though his actions give me nightmares every night-
I still care.
“Was he given a proper burial?”
She nods. “They all were. They were all honored as the good ponies they were, even after what Snails did.”
I nod slowly; I can go happy knowing that they were given proper last respects. “There’s still one thing I don’t understand,” I tell her.
I take a deep breath. “If you knew I would just keep regressing, if you knew I wouldn’t stay sane, why did you keep trying?”
“Because we were hopeful,” she says tearfully. “We were always hopeful you could come back to us for good, but the pain kept you in that dark ignorance.”
“But why did you bother to bring me back?” I ask desperately. “If you knew I was going to go to sleep, why did you bother with me?”
She smiles for the first time in several minutes. “Because we needed you to know. We wanted to badly for you to understand why you had to go. And you do, don’t you? Do you understand now?”
I nod again. I do know why the world needs to be this way.
But that doesn’t make this any easier.
“I do understand,” I tell her finally, the truth flowing from my lips.
“That’s exactly what we wanted,” she says, nodding with a smile.
“But I’m just not ready to go yet!” I break down, sobbing intensely. “There’s so much more I need to do, so much more I want to do!”
I glance up at the ceiling, eyes flowing with tears; but a smile is still on my face. A smile born of all those beautiful memories, of all those wonderful times I had.
“I want to go to the Grand Galloping Gala again,” I say without meeting her gaze; I’m talking more to myself than her. “Even if it was a disaster, it was fun! I want to do it again! I want to help with Winter Wrap Up, and score the lakes just like I did before! I want to hear the birds singing and see the animals running as spring starts again!”
I lock eyes with her once more; our eyes are mirror images as the glistening beads flow from them. “I want to celebrate Nightmare Night; I want to have picnics, see Rarity fuss over new fashions, and watch Dashie practice for the Wonderbolts. I want to help Applejack at Sweet Apple Acres, I want to help Fluttershy with the sick animals, and help you study new magic techniques. I want to be in the Hearth’s Warming Eve pageant, hear those ponies clap as we tell them about how things used to be.”
But the last memory is so much more than all of that. It’s so simple, yet so profound. “And I want to run. I want to run through Ponyville’s hills and fields of flowers; I want to be happy just like I was before.
My last two words echo in the small room as if it were a cavern. Even before Twilight speaks, I know the answer.
“No,” she shakes her head again. “We’ve wished for that with all our hearts; we wished for that every day of the last six years. We want all that for you; it just can’t be. This is how it needs to be.”
I lean back on my stack of pillows at her last words. It does have to be this way. It needs to end; but this is no bitter end, no horrific end.
This is the only way I would want to go: alone with my best friend in the final moments of my life.
So tragic, yet so beautiful.
I hear the door open again as I close my eyes. Janice is coming back.
The time has finally come.
My eyes creak open for the last time as I glance toward Janice and Twilight. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the nurse touching the clip of the intravenous bag.
“Will I ever wake up?”
I utter those words as a filly would; a filly who’s about to receive their first shot, maybe. I’m more afraid than I’ve ever been in my life, I can’t help it. What’s waiting for me beyond this room?
I look toward Twilight. She pauses before shaking her head. “No, you won’t.”
She says this so quietly I can scarcely hear her. There are no words of comfort to go along with that short sentence.
Even though I can’t see her, I hear Janice remove the clip from the bag hanging above me. The liquid begins to flow through my veins, I can feel myself begin to drift off.
What lies beyond? What’s awaiting me?
“Will it be dark?” I ask Twilight simply, sniffling. “Will I be alone? Will there be other ponies there with me? What will it be like?”
“I’m not sure,” she replies with a heart-rending face. “Only you’ll know.”
The realization finally hits home: these are my last moments with Twilight. What do I do when I’m about to leave this world forever?
“Twilight, would you do one last thing for me?”
She nods with a tearful smile. “Anything.”
My vision begins to blur as I prepare my last request. My body becomes weak, I can scarcely move. “When I was scared as a filly, my mother used to sing me to sleep. Would you sing me one last song?”
“Of course,” she says as she grips my hoof tightly.
“Rest your weary head, put your pain-wracked thoughts to bed,” she begins quietly, stroking my mane. Stroking my mane the exact same way my mother used to...
Even though my thoughts are clouded, even as my consciousness fades, she suddenly has my rapt attention. How does she know that lullaby?
But I realize that it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she does know it. All I need to know is that I’m leaving this world hearing the same tune that used to comfort me. That same tune that never failed to make make the monsters go away, that same beautiful melody that always sent me adrift to paradise.
“You’re safe here in my arms, I won’t let that harm come to you,” she continues, cradling my head lovingly. She’s so gentle, I might have been her own child.
“So now you can feel the love, the glinting sunlight from above,”
My final thoughts gallop through my mind. For the first time in six years, I feel comfort; I know they care for me. I know I’m loved.
Drying her eyes, she utters the last line of that song. The lyrics that always gave me a carefree world. Running a hoof through my mane, she sings quietly. “You needn’t be afraid here, you needn’t shed a tear.”
And to my astonishment, my tears stop at the mention of those last words. My pounding heart calms, but it isn’t the drug coursing through my veins; this is comfort. Real, true comfort, the first I’ve felt in as long as I can remember.
“I love you, Pinkie,” she utters the most blessed sentence I’ve ever heard. “I’ll always love you.”
My eyes drift shut, I can no longer hold them open, I can no longer fight the drug induced exhaustion. But there is no fear as I close them, no shaking in my hooves, no terror plaguing my mind.
She loves me; she’s my mother, and I’m her child. Those same words spoken by my mommy in years passed... their meaning is intensified a thousand fold.
There is no strength left in my body, I can’t fight it any longer. But I still find enough will to utter five more words. Five words that I’ll remember as long as I’m alive, whoever I become, wherever I go.
“I love you, too, mommy.”
With those words, with Twilight’s hoof on mine, with her gentle stroking of my hair, and with her gentle sobs echoing in my ears, the world fades away. There are no menacing beeps; there is no pain, there are no tears.
As my hearing recedes and the real world fades into the backdrop, as I drift to places unknown, I realize what I have; I realize what there truly is.
There is only love. The truest love I’ve ever felt.
The bittersweet beginning of a rose colored reverie.