hey there. just posting stories. Please comment or favorite. it helps my self esteem, that is, if its okay with you.
Applejack’s father stood over her, looking down at his bewildered daughter. This day, as long ago as Applejack could remember, was one that would never completely leave her memory. Every detail of what happened was still vivid and crystal clear. It was also an autumn day, although the sky was rather dreary and the trees were stripped of all but a few leaves. Sweet Apple Acres had completed another harvest, as the farm was quiet. Applejack, at this time a tad older than Applebloom stood at the gateway looking between her father and the wagon that had both her parents’ belongings loaded up. Applejack’s father, a burly stallion with a red coat like Big Mac’s rubbed his daughter’s bare head who looked worried and wore a confused expression. Big Macintosh, now smaller and not quite as built, stood by in his silence of understanding. He had already said what he wanted to say. Applejack just came out from the barn, perplexed.
“But daddy!” pleaded the filly, “Whyd’ya gotta leave now?” Her father only smiled. He fixed the brim of his favorite hat that flapped in the wind of the morning breeze.
“Applejack, we’ve talked about this.” replied her father. He tried explaining the concept again slowly. “Our family wants to start a new business venture out west.”
“But what’s a venture?”
“We want to start a new farm.” said her mother patiently. Her voice, although accented, was gentle and dignified. Her demeanor matched her voice. She was a bit young, but everypony knew of her wisdom and wit. She was a mid-sized mare who had a cream colored coat like Applebloom’s and a beautiful, flowing orange mane.
“Daddy and I need to go out to claim the land first, though.”
“Only cause we got screwed over by that louse of a cousin we have!” the father growled under his teeth.
“Mac Macoun!” said Applejack’s mother firmly, but not angrily. “The Apple family does not disparage one of their own, especially around our children.” she whispered. He looked sheepish as he kissed his wife.
“I’m sorry Gala.” he said apologetically. Applejack opened her mouth to ask another question when she heard a noise. It came from the porch of the barn where Granny Smith, who walked with a little difficulty, but without the need of any support, came out with a bawling bundle in her arms. Swaddled in the bundle was a baby Applebloom, not even a month old, crying out of hunger. Granny gave the bundle to Gala, who rolled back the sheet to reveal her newborn daughter’s wriggling head that had a small, red bow protruding from the sheets. Gala rolled her eyes.
“Honestly, Granny!” she protested quietly. “How many times have I told you to throw out that old bow? Not even I wanted to wear it. Why must you insist that my daughter do so?”
“I don’t care.” said Granny Smith as she looked lovingly at her newest granddaughter with a smile. “I think she looks beautiful with it.”
“Let it go, honey.” pleaded Macoun with an amused smile. “I think she likes it too.” Applebloom started crying again in the middle of her meal against her mother’s chest as Gala tried to remove the bow. She started wriggling again in protest and frustration until she put the bow back on. Gala looked annoyed, but Granny embraced her daughter-in-law gently.
“You be safe now.” She warned. “And if anypony passes by your way, send ‘em back with a letter, ya’ hear?”
“We will mother.” assured Macoun.
“Why?” shouted Applejack who felt ignored. “They’ll be back soon right?” Macoun’s smile disappeared. He sighed and knelt down to eye level with his daughter. It was time to break the truth to her, and it wasn't going to be easy for either of them, for Macoun knew that this would be the last time for he didn't know how long until he saw his daughter again.
“I’m not gonna lie to you, Applejack. You’re a big girl. And you’re my daughter, so I know you can handle the truth.” Applejack started to tear up. She sensed something bad was coming. She didn't know precisely what, but it hurt all the same. She shut her ears and embraced her father pleadingly.
“No! Say you’ll be back soon! I know you will!” Macoun held his daughter firmly by the shoulders and forced her to look into his eyes.
“Listen!” said her father sternly. “A lie is easier to take. But you’re to be honest, ya’ hear? Never tell a lie, and never take one. Only the strong can be honest with themselves and others. And you are strong. I know you are!” His face and tone softened as he pulled her in to return the embrace. “Be so for your mother. For your brother. For your Granny. For me.” Applejack was still crying, but she promised to listen.
“We won’t be back for a while, AJ. We don’t really know how long your mother and I will be gone for.”
“D-does that mean you won’t be here when I get my cutie mark, daddy?” He sighed again.
“Probably not.” said Macoun. “We probably won’t even be here when your sister gets her cutie mark.” The words stuck in Applejack’s ears the way bad news does. The tear flow only increased as her father rocked her back and forth in her arms.
“But when am I gonna see you again?” Her father looked at her and smiled.
“Soon enough. I'll be back before you know it.” He promised.
“Mr. Macoun, we’re ready to go!” cried one of his workers, who would pull the cart with him while Gala sat in the wagon. She would have walked with her husband, but she was still weak from giving birth to Applebloom. She climbed into the wagon with some difficulty. Applejack sniffled.
“I’m gonna miss you, daddy. Are you sure you both can’t stay?” Macoun smiled and took off his hat.
“Not a day will go by where I won’t miss you.” He said. “But take this.” He placed his hat on his daughter’s head. It sunk over her eyes, as it was a bit large for her.
“That way, a little bit of us will be with ya’.” He said with a wink. Applejack smiled up at her father and hugged him one last time.
“Bye daddy! I love you!”
“I love you too, AJ.” Said Macoun as his eyes became glassy with tears that he thought had dried up long ago with his long years of hard work. He quickly turned and headed toward the cart and saddled up. He shouted to Big Mac, whom he had already taken the news and said his goodbyes.
“Bye son! You’re the man of the house now! Take care of your sister!”
“Yes, sir.” He said quietly.
“I can’t hear ya’ Big Mac!” he shouted with a challenging smile. “Are you gonna take care of the farm?” Big Mac smiled back with a knowing look mixed with sadness.
“Eeyup!” He yelled. Macoun and his porter pulled the wagon away as the wheels bounced down the dusty road toward Appleoosa, and onwards. Applejack stood at the gate with her hat over her eyes and waved her parents goodbye.
That was the last time Applejack had ever heard from her parents. Out where their business venture was, reports had come from the area that bison brigands were raiding prospecting farmers who were never heard from again. Granny Smith took the news quietly one evening when a Pegasus who looked worn from a week’s travel told her what had happened. Big Macintosh didn’t take the news as well though. He became more morose and taciturn for weeks, refusing food, sleep, and conversation before he seemed to move on. Applejack was still rather young to properly understand what had happened. Granny Smith only told her that her hat was all that she would see of her father for a while. From then on, Applejack treasured that hat as her link to both her parents with the utmost care.
She would never let anything happen to it.
Applejack’s hat was soaked in the pouring rain. The brim drooped from the weight of the absorbed water, dropping water onto Applejack’s mane. It was a miserable feeling as the cold water dripped down her back, chilling her to the bone as she and Big Mac walked home from the hospital. They walked down the muddy path that led to the barn. They shook the water out of their coats as soon as they reached the porch. Applejack took her hat off and set it by the fireplace mantle to dry. Afterwards, she reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the poster. It was a bit wet around the top where water had leaked into her saddlebag. The flier unfurled with a wet slap against the dining room table. As Big Mac set out a pot of oats, a familiar feeling rocked Applejack to her core. She grimaced as she felt like sinking to the floor, but pushed off the feeling and put on a straight face as she sat down to dinner with her brother. Applejack couldn’t stand her brother’s silence as he ate. He simply closed his eyes and chewed as if he wasn’t aware of what was happening. To some extent that was true. Big Mac liked to take on his tasks one at a time. Right now, the task was to eat. Applejack wolfed down her food and pushed her bowl away and continued to wait in unbearable silence for Big Mac to finish. Once he did, AJ pulled the poster in front of him impatiently. Big Mac just stared at it for a while and sighed.
“Well? Is that all ya’ gotta say?” asked Applejack indignantly.
“Sis.” He began slowly.
“Don’t ‘sis’ me Big Mac, I’m not a filly anymore!”
“But you do know that with a prize comes a wager, AJ. And I don’t know if we can afford to gamble.”
“Can we afford Applebloom’s operation?” Applejack retorted. “And besides, we’re both athletes! We can win it! Around fifty racers are gonna run that race, and the entrance fee for each pony is two-hundred and fifty bits. If either of us wins, do you know how much we would win?” she asked in amazement. Big Mac didn’t even flinch. “Twelve thousand, five-hundred bits!” she exclaimed.
“Only twelve thousand bits.” He said plainly. “Don’t forget we pay five-hundreds bits to get in.”
“Oh don’t go using yer’ fancy mathematics on me again!”
“Arithmetic.” He corrected.
“Whatever it is!” she shouted in a huff. “That takes care of all our problems!” she paused. Big Mac still didn’t look convinced. He kept staring at the floor with a calculating scowl like the gears in his head were still trying to find another way. She went up beside him and sat down to eye level.
“Please, Big Mac.” She said meekly. “I just wanna help Applebloom.”
“Don’t you wanna do the same?”
Big Macintosh took a deep breath and sighed. At first he wore a look of defeat. How could he possibly refute an argument with such heart wrenching pathos? But then looked up with his face full of conviction; a whole new look that almost startled AJ.
“Alright.” He stated firmly. “We’ll do it. We’ll win that race.” Applejack leapt up and hugged Big Mac and squealed with joy. Big Mac smiled, but pushed her back gently and said, “But we train, ya’ hear? And we train hard if we’re gonna win this.” He didn’t need to tell Applejack twice. Together, the two would stop at nothing to win.
“You won’t regret this!” exclaimed Applejack, unable to contain her excitement.
“Then let’s get some sleep, eh champ?” To her surprise, Applejack yawned at the offer.
“Boy howdy!” she whistled. “Guess I didn’t know how tired I really was!” They both laughed and started to their rooms. Applejack entered her room and started to shut the door behind her. Big Mac held it and wished her good night.
“Night’, Big Mac!”
“May the best pony win!” he said with a wink. The smile on Applejack’s face immediately disappeared and was replaced by a look of fright and terror. Big Mac didn’t notice and slammed the door with a bit more force than he meant to. Applejack limped over to her bed and sank under the covers as her stomach decided to put on an acrobatic show with twists and turns into anxious knots that was sure to keep AJ up all night.
The rain outside pitter-pattered against the window.