A Helping Hoof
(By: Flame Runner)
“I know Angel,” said Fluttershy sweetly to her bunny friend, “I’m supposed to meet Rarity and Twilight at the spa in a few minutes.”
Angel was pointing vigorously at a brochure for the spa in Ponyville with a worried look on his face.
“But I can’t leave until Applejack gets here. She promised that she would watch all my animal friends while I was gone.”
Angel stared at Fluttershy with a straight face; he clearly thought that Fluttershy was being overprotective. A few knocks came at Fluttershy’s door.
“Oh! That must be her!”
The yellow Pegasus opened the door to her tree cottage and Applejack stepped inside.
“Aahhh-chooo!” sneezed the orange pony. “Howdy Fluttershy.”
“Oh my! You don’t sound so well. Maybe I should cancel on the spa day so you can get some rest.”
“Now you don’t be silly. Us in the Apple family don’t git sick. It’s just a runny nose that’s all. Go and have fun at the spa.”
“Are you sure? Because I could…”
“I’m jus’ fine. Now go and relax.”
“Well, ok then. Bye everyone! I’ll be back in a few hours.”
Fluttershy waved to all of her animal friends and left for the spa. As she closed her door she could hear another powerful sneeze coming from Applejack.
“I think Applejack might be getting sick,” commented Fluttershy to her friends at the spa. The trio had been talking about events and rumors around town, but now the conversation turned more serious.
“Well why would you think that darling?” questioned Rarity.
“You see, she came over to my house to watch my animals and started sneezing quite violently. She told me that it was just a stuffy nose, but I know better. I’ve taken care of enough creatures to tell when one is under the weather.”
“So what do you want to do about it?” asked Twilight.
“I’d like to help her out, but she seemed quite adamant on the fact that the Apple family doesn’t get sick. I’d hate to tell her that she really was sick and make her feel like she wasn’t part of her own family.”
“Fluttershy, that’s just an expression,” stated Rarity. “Of course the Apple family gets sick. We all do from time to time and it’s rather nasty business.”
“So, you think I should see about helping her out?”
“I’d think that after all the times she’s helped us out that she would more than happy to let you help her,” responded Twilight.
“Alright, I’ll ask her about it then.”
“Now, have you heard about Zecora?” started Rarity. “Why she’s gone and…”
The trio finished their relaxing afternoon with plenty of talk, laughter, and rumors. Fluttershy headed back home where she would make sure to help her good friend.
“No,” stated Applejack adamantly, “I’m sorry Fluttershy, but I’ll be jus’ fine.”
“It’ll only take a moment to see what’s wrong.”
“I said ‘no’. I told you before the Apple family doesn’t git sick and even if we do it’s never stopped one of us before and it ain’t goin’ to stop me now. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to git home and finish my jobs.”
The stubborn pony headed outside with another ear piercing sneeze.
“Oh dear. Angel, I’ve got to do something to help her, but it doesn’t look like she wants any help. What am I to do?”
“So she wouldn’t even let you tell her what she was sick with?” asked Twilight.
Fluttershy had come to Twilight’s house the next day to speak with her purple friend.
“That doesn’t sound much like Applejack,” continued the unicorn. “I would think she would be more than happy to have you help her out.”
“I know, but she’s firm on it. I even went over this morning to check on her. She seems to be even worse today, but she still won’t let me help her.”
“Hmm…this sounds serious. Maybe I should check into this with you.”
“Are you sure that wouldn’t be too much trouble?”
“For a friend? Of course not! Plus, I’m not all that busy today. How about we both head on over to Sweet Apple Acres for a little chat with Applejack?”
The ponies headed outside to check on Applejack and to make sure their friend was doing alright.
When the friends arrived at Sweet Apple Acres they calmly knocked on Applejack’s home door, but nopony came to answer. They checked the barn, but still nopony was to be seen. That left only one option, Applejack had to be out in the orchards. This was normally a problem because of the sheer size of the property; however, Applejack made it easy to find her this time.
The friends followed the sound of the earth pony’s loud sneezing and soon came across their orange pal. She was hard at work bucking apple trees, but something was definitely wrong. Applejack kicked back with all her might, but only barely managed to knock the apples out of the trees. She would wobble around and move on to another tree. This was not the same Applejack the two knew. No, Applejack was strong and powerful. She could buck apple trees with the best of the best and then keep coming for more. Seeing their friend in such a shaky state made them hurt for her; she needed some rest and medical attention.
“Applejack!” called Twilight.
“Aaahhh-choo!” replied Applejack.
“Oh! Applejack you really don’t look well,” said Fluttershy.
“Fluttershy,” slurred out Applejack, “if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times. I’ll be jus’ fine so stop worryn’ ‘bout me.”
“Um…well I really think I need to…”
“Fluttershy, I’ll be alright. Thanks for your concern, but you don’t need to git me looked at.”
“If that’s really how you want it,” mumbled Fluttershy in defeat.
“Oh no! Not this time Applejack,” Twilight defied her stubborn friend. “This time we’re going to get you some medical treatment or at the very least have you examined to see what’s wrong with you. You’re sick and there’s no denying it.”
“No. We’re getting you some help and you can either let us help you or we can do things the hard way.”
“…Fine,” surrendered Applejack.
Fluttershy had Applejack get inside the large barn and began to examine her sick friend.
“Oh dear,” said the kindhearted Pegasus with wide eyes. “You have Hoofmans’ Disease.”
“Yes, Hoofman’s Disease. It’s nothing very serious, but you need rest.”
“Well, what exactly does this disease do?”
“Alright, the symptoms start small, with just a stuffy nose and some sneezing. Then, it starts to make whoever has it to feel weak and shaky. The next symptom includes mild headaches and then a throbbing in the knees. Finally, it will debilitate whatever pony got the disease so they can’t get out of bed. Luckily, the cure is super simple.”
“Ok, well why don’t you cure me and then I can get back out to apple buckin’?”
“Oh no, it doesn’t work like that.”
“What do ya’ mean?”
“The only cure is to stay in bed all day and rest. It’s rather ironic really that the disease cures itself it you let it go that far, but it’s very uncomfortable until you get rid of it.”
“Spend an entire day in bed? I can’t do that! I’ve got chores to do and Big Mac is gone off on a delivery job for the next few days. I’ve got to take care of Sweet Apple Acres and no disease or nothing else is goin’ to keep me from doin’ so!”
Applejack unsteadily rose and huffed out of the barn with a defiant sneeze.
“Oh dear. Twilight, what are going to do?”
“If that pony refuses to see wisdom then we’ll just have to help her without her knowing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Come on Fluttershy, we’ve got to get everypony else together. I’ve got plans for this evening.”
Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, and Spike were all meeting inside the town library discussing Applejack’s problem.
“Hoofman’s Disease? Why that sounds just dreadful! Absolutely dreadful!” commented Rarity.
“Yes and the only way to cure it is to get an entire day of bed rest,” Twilight continued her explanation. “Now, Applejack refuses to rest because she needs to do all the chores around Sweet Apple Acres. So, I say we give her a surprise and finish all of her jobs tonight while she’s sleeping. Then she’ll have no excuse as to not get some rest; it’s foal proof!”
“Oh boy! A surprise for Applejack! She’ll be so happy!” giggled Pinkie Pie.
“I’m game,” said Rainbow Dash, “but when and where are we meeting?”
“We’ll all meet at the entrance to Sweet Apple Acres at midnight. We’ve got a long night ahead of us so I suggest you all rest a little right now because we won’t have much time to sleep tonight.”
“I could certainly do with a nap,” yawned Spike.
The small group laughed and then headed their separate ways until late that evening.
All was quiet on the farm. Not a single light could be seen, not even from the farmhouse. A beautiful moon hung lazily in the sky. The moon and stars gave the group enough illumination to do the deed they had come to do. Going for a stealthy look, many in the group had dressed in black. Rarity was wearing a fashionable and slimming garment that covered her from head to hoof while Rainbow Dash had pulled out her jumpsuit-hoodie combo she used to break into Ponyville’s hospital. Even Spike got in on the act with a slightly too large plain black shirt.
“Everypony here?” asked Twilight as the group came together.
“Here!” whispered Rainbow Dash exuberantly.
“Present,” said Rarity.
“Of course silly,” giggled Pinkie.
“Here,” breathed Fluttershy quietly.
“That’s everypony Twilight,” stated Spike.
“Good. Now, I want to remind everypony to be quiet as we certainly don’t want to wake Applejack. She needs as much sleep as she can get and we also want this to be a surprise. So, for job assignments: Pinkie, you and Rainbow Dash are going to buck the apple trees on the far east side of the land. Rarity, you and Fluttershy are going to help clean up the barn…just be sure to not wake the cows. Finally, Spike and I are going to get the apples on the far west side of the farm. Everypony got that?”
A general assortment of nods and “mm-hmm’s” came from the members of the group.
“Excellent, we’ll meet back here at around four, whether your job is done or not. Keep track of the time and tomorrow we can all meet here again to surprise Applejack. Alright, head out!”
At the east end of Sweet Apple Acres, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were busy harvesting apples. The moon leisurely made it way across the sky as time slowly passed on the quiet farm.
“Pinkie, we’re not supposed to eat the apples; we’re supposed to harvest them.”
“But they’re soooo yummy!”
Pinkie was bouncing from tree to tree and grabbing the apples from their branches instead of kicking them down. She would gently place them into the buckets where the apples were gathered and usually eat one.
“Here! Try one!”
The pink earth pony handed her Pegasus friend a juicy, red apple.
“Pinkie, we’re here to help Applejack by harvesting the apples, not eating them. But tell you what, I’ll eat one when we’re finished, ok?”
“Alright, more for me!”
Pinkie again jumped into the air and nabbed all the apples off of a tree while Rainbow Dash gave a hard kick to another tree. The apples fell right out and landed into the buckets placed around the trunk.
“Whew! This is hard work,” stated Rainbow Dash. “Maybe I can make it go faster!”
The Pegasus quickly thundered into the night sky and flew around a tree at super speeds, knocking all of its apples out and all of its leaves off.
“Aw, that tree looks kind of sad without its leaves,” said Pinkie sorrowfully.
“Rats! It worked a little too well. I guess we’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way.”
“Got that right!” declared Pinkie as she again leaped high into the air and managed to snatch every apple out of a tree.
“How are you doing that?”
“What? Jumping? It’s easy! You just squat down a little on your hind legs and then spring up. See? Like this!” Pinkie once again bounded into the sky to grab another load full of bright red apples.
“That’s not what I…nevermind.”
Rainbow Dash wondered if she would ever figure Pinkie Pie out.
“And I thought the outside needed a good touchup,” said Rarity in shock.
The white unicorn and Fluttershy had just entered the barn on Sweet Apple Acres.
“Try to be quiet Rarity, the cows are sleeping and we don’t want to wake them.”
“Yes, of course,” Rarity regained her composure. “But where to begin?...Ah yes! We shall start with the windows, those looked absolutely filthy.”
“Um…I don’t think that Applejack needs the windows cleaned. I would think that she needs the troughs taken care of and the floor put in order.”
“But of course she needs the windows cleaned! How else will the beautiful sunlight get in? And what is one of the first things ponies notice when they look at a building? Windows!”
“But I don’t look at…”
“Time’s wasting we must hurry!”
“But Rarity…oh, nevermind. I’ll just start on the troughs.”
Rarity hurried to find a wash cloth for her to use in cleaning off of the barn’s high windows while Fluttershy set about cleaning the feeding troughs for the cows. As time passed and the moon slid across the sky, Rarity found it increasingly difficult to reach the high placed windows and turned to Fluttershy for assistance.
“Fluttershy?” whispered Rarity. “Could you help me with something?”
The yellow Pegasus came over quickly to see what Rarity needed.
“Would you mind flying up to those windows and just wiping them off? I can’t seem to reach them.”
“Alright, but I’m almost done cleaning out the troughs. Maybe you could finish them?”
Fluttershy grabbed the wet cloth handed to her and flew slowly up to the window at the top of the barn. Rarity went over to the feeding troughs to see what needed to be finished. The unicorn found Fluttershy’s cleaning to be adequate and then came across the ones that had yet to be cleaned.
“How dreadful! And to think that they eat out of those things.”
She kept a good distance from the unclean troughs as her magic began to tidy up the mess. Suddenly, the moon, which had been providing light for Rarity’s work, was blocked by Fluttershy.
“Fluttershy! I can’t see!” shouted Rarity while whipping her cleaning rag around.
The rag hit something solid.
“Oh dear,” said Rarity.
The barn was soon alive with the sound of confused and startled cows.
“Shh! Calm down! Oh, be quiet!” pleaded the white unicorn.
But the bovines could not hear her nor would they calm down. Luckily, Fluttershy came to the rescue. She quickly flew above the group of rowdy cows and quietly whispered for their attention.
The barn grew silent in an instant as Fluttershy explained what was going on.
“I’m sorry to have woken you all. My friend and I were just trying to help our friend Applejack. She’s sick and we wanted to surprise her by helping around the farm. Please, don’t make so much noise or you’ll wake her up and ruin the surprise.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet,” said one of the cows.
“Thank you. My friend and I were sent to clean out this barn for Applejack. Now that you’re up, is there anything that you would like cleaned or fixed?”
“Oh golly, there’s that squeaky hinge that just drives us all bonkers, don’t cha’ know.”
“Alright, I think we can take care of that. Thank you all for your understanding and I’m sorry if we woke you.”
Rarity and Fluttershy soon got back to work and some of the cows even joined in. The barn was looking shipshape in no time.
Twilight and Spike were at the west end of Sweet Apple Acres collecting apples from the trees. The purple unicorn’s magic was of great help in taking the apples gently off of trees and the young dragon would haul the large buckets, full of juicy fruit, to where they were needed.
“Hey Twilight, I’m getting tired. Can we switch jobs or something?”
“We could, but how would you get the apples down Spike?”
“I don’t know. All I know is that I need a break. What time is it anyways?”
“Judging by the moon, I’d say we only have around a half hour before we’re done.”
“And then I can actually sleep.”
The duo kept working as Twilight would carefully use her magic on one tree at a time while Spike gathered the buckets.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to finish tonight, but we’ve gotten a lot done. Applejack shouldn’t have to worry about apple bucking tomorrow,” commented Twilight.
“If you want to finish why don’t you just use your magic on the entire field? You know, like you did with the Flim Flam brother’s competition.”
“That was different. We were trying to get as many apples as we could in as little time as possible. Not only would that be very loud and have a good chance of waking Applejack, but it’s not very detailed. If I’m going to help Applejack the right way then I need to pick the apples more thoroughly and that means going through them one tree at a time.”
“Alright, if you say so. I still think finishing it off would be much faster. Plus, then we could take a break and go to bed.”
The pair continued working as the moon traversed it’s celestial round in the heavens. The time for work soon ended; however, and everypony met back at the entrance of Sweet Apple Acres to tell of all they accomplished and then head off for a short slumber.
Early the next morning the band of friends met back at the farm to see Applejack and tell her that she didn’t have to worry about working but could instead rest. They all looked excited to see their orange friend’s reaction except for Spike, who was snoozing on Twilight’s back. Slowly, Applejack could be seen coming from her house, looking quite wobbly and letting out a powerful sneeze. The group rushed over to their sick friend.
“Howdy,” called Applejack in a weak voice.
“Oh Applejack, darling, you look positively green,” remarked Rarity.
“Applejack, you really need to get in bed. You’ll feel much better after just a day of rest,” worried Fluttershy.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve got work to do. I can’t rest today.”
“You don’t have to worry about work today. We did your jobs last night,” said Rainbow Dash happily.
“You did what?”
“Last night we came and did your chores while you were sleeping. We wanted it to be a surprise to thank you for all the times you’ve helped us in the past,” explained Twilight.
“No!” Applejack did not look very happy.
“No? What do you mean, ‘no’?” asked Rainbow.
“Now looky here. I made a promise to Big Mac that I would take care of Sweet Apple Acres while he was gone. I told him that I could do it alone and I meant to prove it. Plus, no sickness has ever kept me down before and I refuse to let this one be the first. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find some jobs to do.”
“Applejack! I don’t believe this!” declared Rainbow Dash. “After all the times you’ve helped us, you won’t accept our help? Look, even I don’t like to admit it, but there are times when I need help from my friends too. You’ll just have to let your pride sit this one out.”
“Rainbow Dash I…”
“No,” interrupted Rarity. “Applejack, we can all see that you’re sick and Fluttershy knows that some rest will get you better. You just need to let us help you.”
“Please?” softly pleaded Fluttershy.
Applejack looked over at her friends and slowly let their words penetrate her pride. She let out a vehement sneeze and collapsed on the ground. Twilight quickly ran over to her and helped the earth pony back to her feet.
“Of course y’all are right,” Applejack surrendered, “I just wanted to prove myself to Big Mac and also not give in to this disease. Thank y’all and you especially Fluttershy, you never gave up on me. Now, I think I’m goin’ to take a lesson from Spike and git some rest. I’ll see you tomorrow at Sugar Cube Corner, my treat.”
“Applejack you don’t have to do that,” said Twilight.
“No, but I want to. Jus’ a way for me to say ‘thank you’ for all y’all have done. Alright, night everypony!”
“Good night!” called Pinkie.
Dear Princess Celestia,
My friends never stop amazin’ me. It’s a known fact that in Ponyville I’m the go-to gal for jus’ about anythin’. I really like to help others out, but, you know, sometimes I can find it hard to accept help, even from my closest friends. But everypony needs help from time to time; we really can’t do everythin’ by ourselves. I guess what I really learned is to accept help when it’s needed and to not let myself git in the way.
Always a pleasure writin’ to ya’,