A loud knock jarred me from my sleep. A familiar voice followed suit shortly after from behind my door.
"Wakey, wakey! Rise n' shine!"
I grumbled aloud. "AJ... What time is it?"
"Well, I reckon about six AM. Why?" she inquired, entering my room.
I grumbled again, and turned over in protest. AJ cocked an eyebrow, before ripping off my sheets.
"Now, come on, don't make me do this the hard way."
"But it's so earrrrlyyyy..." I complained. AJ didn't bother with a reply, but instead, chose to bite down on the waistline of my pants, and pull me away from my fluffy domain of comfort down onto the far less fluffy and comfortable floor with a loud thud.
"Ok, ok. I'm up, I'm up!"
"Good. Breakfast is waitin' downstairs."
With that, I stretched, admired myself in the mirror a bit, and made my way downstairs. The smell of hot cereal with- of course- apple slices filled the downstairs of the farmhouse. I entered the kitchen, and sat at the table. Directly across from me sat Applejack, to the right of me, Big Macintosh, and just beyond him was Granny Smith. I glanced to my left and noticed Applebloom, gazing at me with skepticism.
"So, where are you from mister?" She asked with bewilderment.
"Well," I began, trying to figure out exactly how to explain it to her. "I'm from far away."
"I could'a guessed that..."
From across the table, AJ stiffened. "Applebloom! Where are your manners?"
I laughed a bit, and resumed eating. When I looked back up, I saw Applejack eyeing me rather intently.
"Uh, something wrong, Applejack?" I asked.
"Ain't those the same clothes you wore yesterday?" She asked me with a critical look. I looked down at my pants and shirt, and realized that they were, in fact the same clothes I had arrived in.
"Uh, yeah, I suppose," I replied plainly.
"Well, Sugarcube, we can't have you walkin' 'round town in those messy duds," she said in a tone that somehow made me feel welcome and accepted. Could the simple fact that someone in this alien world cared for me in the slightest have such a large effect? I came back from thought when I noticed AJ looking at me intently from the other side of the table.
She continued. "You know what? I'll bet Rarity'll fix ya up somethin' mighty nice. She's always excited to try out different looks, and you're, well... Different." I didn't take the last statement too seriously, and shrugged it off. This was Applejack, after all, the element of Honesty.
After breakfast, I made my way through Ponyville town square, and once again the smell of fresh baked goods wafted by. Before long, I found myself in front of a familiar carousel shaped building with a large set of wooden doors marking the entrance. I walked up, and knocked on the door, awaiting a response.
"Just a minute!"
The voice was, no doubt, Rarity's. It was easy to distinguish even with such a small sentence, due to her tendency to enunciate far more clearly than most ponies, and the rather amusing sing-songy quality it possessed. Not a minute later, the door swung open to reveal a familiar white coated, purple maned unicorn standing with a pleasant smile.
"Oh, you must be the new resident! The mailpony was quite exuberant with her explanation of you- oh what was her name? Derpy, I believe it was?"
"Oh, Derpy mentioned me?" I asked curiously.
"Oh, but of course. You must've made quite the impression." With that, she came a bit closer and hushed her tone a bit. "Not many ponies around here are too kind to the poor dear. I'm glad to see you're being so friendly to her."
I backed up a bit in surprise. "Wait, there are ponies who've picked on Derpy?"
Rarity cocked her head a bit. "Now, from Twilight's description of your world, I do understand how this may seem like a simply wondrous place, but do understand that not all is as it seems."
"What do you mean? I thought this world was supposed to be full of love and compassion," I responded, quickly realizing just how naive the statement sounded.
"Look around, dear. Look past all of the smiles, and laughter. Look past all of the superficial, and observe. You'll soon find that despite its pleasant exterior, our world still holds many of the problems your world faces as well."
I looked at the ground, and thought it over a bit. I looked up, and noticed Rarity was beckoning me inside.
"Well? You want to look marvelous don't you?" She asked, her voice returning to its pleasant tone.
The next couple hours were a blur. The impact of that statement had hit me hard, and my mind had spent the entire time coping with it. Could Equestria really have anywhere near the cruelty or prejudice of Earth? I shook the thought out of my head. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the thought of Derpy being excluded from my mind. I wasn't sure why it held so much impact, but the thought lingered on.
By the time I walked out of the Carousel Boutique, my arms were full of pants, shirts, socks, and even underwear, all tailored by hand- or, well, hoof. Waiting for me, just outside, was Big Macintosh, hooked up to a wagon. He perked up upon noticing me, and motioned his head backwards, toward the wagon.
"Hop in." The statement was short and to the point, as was Big Mac's usual style of speech.
Without hesitation, I threw the stack of freshly sewn clothing in the back, and hopped in, closing the tailgate behind me. The ride back was much more pleasant than walking. What had taken me twenty minutes to do earlier, had now taken less than half that. Before long, we pulled into the barn. Big Mac unhooked himself from the wagon, and walked towards the farmhouse, me pursuing closely after.
Upon entering the large wooden structure, I was immediately struck with the mouthwatering aroma of what I assuemd to be dinner. I meandered through the living room, and found myself peering into the kitchen, observing the careful process of Apple Family cooking. Near the stove was Applejack, stirring away at a stew of some sort, and just to the left of me, pulling a pie- apple of course- out of the oven was Granny Smith. AJ, turned slightly, and motioned for me to sit at the table, which was already set with plates, spoons, forks, napkins, and glasses.
"Need any help, AJ?" I asked.
"Oh, don't worry yourself, none, Sugarcube. Dinner's about ready."
With that, I took a seat near Applebloom, who'd already found a spot to her liking. It didn't take her long to turn to me, and explain, in detail, her misadventures for the day. Despite the near endless drone coming from Applebloom, I found myself listening, nodding, agreeing, answering questions, and even asking some myself. A tiny, strange warmth stirred in me. It was a feeling I haven't felt in a long time, and It was hard to place.
I didn't have time to recall exactly when and where I'd felt it, before several pots, platters, and dishes were laid out on the large oak dining table, pushing out all other thoughts than of food. Despite the Apple Family's renowned reputation for, well, apples, several dishes consisted of greens, potatoes, corn, wheat, and a myriad of fruits and vegetables
Several plates, three glasses of apple cider, one belt, and twenty minutes later, I'd had enough. Even the heartiest of eaters was no match for a heaping round of Apple Family cooking. With a full belly, I trodded upstairs, bound straight for bed. After what seemed like an eternity, my door came into view, and with a heavy thud, I fell onto my fluffy domain of comfort.
Sleep, however, did not come easily. After hours of tossing and turning, desperately fighting consciousness, the beginning tendrils of sleep began to take me. Choppy images of cruel laughter interrupted my slumber however, gnawing at the pit of my stomach. A grey shape lay shaking, the object of the laughter's torment. The grey shape came into focus, revealing it to be a familiar figure, and my heart hit the pit of my gut. A heavy pang of guilt was all I felt before slipping into a deep sleep.