Rainbow’s alarm clock went off early as usual. I opened my eyes and watched her getting out of bed. She looked up and saw me glaring at her.
“How are you?” she asked.
“I don’t know how you can ask that. You tried to tell me my boyfriend was cheating on me.” I rolled over in bed. My head ached a little from the alcohol.
“That’s what it looked like he was doing,” said Rainbow. “Wouldn’t you be more angry if I saw that and didn’t tell you?”
“I just thought you and Carol were better friends than that,” I said, facing the wall.
“We didn’t do this to hurt you!” shouted Rainbow. “And anyway, if I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t have followed you back here to make sure you were all right. Carol said she was going to send a text message to check on you.”
I turned. “How did you follow me?”
She flared her wings. “Duh.”
“I thought the rule was you weren’t supposed to fly around here,” I said.
Rainbow shrugged. “It was dark. Besides, I think keeping you out of trouble is more important than that.”
I hesitated a few seconds before reaching for my phone. “I think I need to talk to Nathan.”
Rainbow let me be, leaving the room. I sat up, pressing the phone to my ear. The call was answered on the third ring. “Hello Denise.”
“Who were you with last night?” I asked.
“Huh?” I wondered if he was stalling for time or just sleepy.
“Rainbow and Carol said you were with someone,” I pressed.
“Oh, her,” said Nathan. “Yeah, we went to high school together. Her brother was on the football team with me. I didn’t expect to see her there last night. We talked for a few minutes, and then I went to find you but apparently you were gone. I tried to call.”
“I was drunk and I went home early,” I told him.
He seemed to accept that, although I wondered if he suspected me of dishonesty the same way I suspected him. Yeah, our relationship wasn’t going to last.
I told Nathan I had to get ready for class. He asked when we could hang out again. I didn’t know.
I went out the door, intending to have a cigarette for breakfast. I found Rainbow at the end of the hallway. She hadn’t listened to my conversation, but it was clear that she was waiting for me.
Without being prompted, I said, “I’m sorry. I understand what you were trying to do last night, and I appreciate you looking out for me.”
“I was just trying to help,” she said. It didn’t sound like an apology, and I didn’t think she owed me one.
The two of us walked downstairs. “Where are you going?” Rainbow asked.
I pulled out my pack and lighter. “I was on my way outside to smoke.”
“Would you like to take a walk?” she asked. I shrugged. I was already up, so I might as well do something to work off the hangover.
Outside, I lit up and put my free hand in the pocket of my hoodie. A little bit of autumn chill had begun to creep into the mornings, and I wasn’t used to being up early enough to feel it.
We walked west. The rising sun cast long shadows ahead of us. I had finished my cigarette by the time we got to the street corner that designated the edge of campus. Further out, there was nothing but fields and scattered trees. Even the sidewalk ended.
Rainbow stepped off the curb and kept going. Curious, I followed her. I had never been out this way before.
“This is where I come to be alone,” she said.
“Alone from what?” I asked.
She laughed. “You, mostly. There’s nothing out here, and no rules that say I can’t fly. I need my exercise.”
Rainbow spread her wings and wiggled them just a little to stretch. With a few gentle flaps, she hovered up near my eye level.
“Sometimes I feel sorry for people,” she said. “You can’t experience this. Well, I guess you don’t like flying anyway, Denise.”
I shrugged. “I’ll keep my seventy words per minute on the computer, and you can keep the wings.”
She laughed and zoomed straight up faster than a rocket. My jaw dropped. I had never seen anything like it. For perhaps five minutes, Rainbow performed all sorts of rolls, twists, and other maneuvers for which I had no name. It was spectacular.
Where’s my camera when I need it? I thought. YouTube would love this.
I saw Rainbow climb high into the air until her light blue coat almost disappeared against the sky. She came hurtling downwards so fast I thought for sure she would slam into the ground. There was a crash of thunder and a rainbow-colored trail erupted from behind the speeding pony. She leveled out just before meeting the ground and flew in a wide arc, losing speed. The trail of color gradually began to fade.
“Oh my God,” I said. “What—”
Rainbow landed nearby, panting from exertion but grinning. “That is what you call a Sonic Rainboom.”
“Oh my God,” I said again. “That was incredible.”
“We all have something we’re good at,” said Rainbow.
The two of us began walking back. I was at a loss for words and was thinking about having another smoke to calm my nerves when a campus police car drove up.
The officer leaned out the window and looked at Rainbow and I. “Did either of you hear some kind of loud noise?”
“Uh, yeah. I think it was back that way.” I pointed over my shoulder. The cop stared at the two of us a little more. I think Rainbow was trying as hard as I was to keep a straight face.
“Well, if you remember anything else, don’t hesitate to call the dispatcher.” He drove away.
Rainbow and I burst out laughing as soon as the car disappeared. “I guess that’s why they don’t let you fly around campus,” I said.
“Yeah,” she agreed. “Too cool for school.”
We returned to the dorm and went our separate ways from there. Whether Rainbow had intended to cheer me up or not, I was in a pretty good mood. I even decided not to get mad at Justin when I saw him at work later.
That afternoon, the dorm phone rang. I answered it to find myself talking to Twilight again. She must have had a terrible sense of timing, because Rainbow was again out of the room.
“So how are you and Rainbow getting along?” asked Twilight, sounding like a concerned parent.
“I think we’re still getting to know each other,” I said. “We’re getting better.”
“That’s good to hear,” said Twilight.
“Today she showed me her Sonic Rainboom.” I was still excited.
Twilight laughed. “It’s really something, isn’t it? Did you know that most ponies thought it was a myth until Rainbow actually did one?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” I told her. “I don’t think anything on Earth compares.”
“Speaking of Earth, I’m actually going to be in Indianapolis next weekend,” said Twilight. “That’s sort of near your school, right? Can you and Rainbow meet me there?”
“I don’t have a problem with it,” I said. “I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”
I said I would tell Rainbow about it and said goodbye. I went back to browsing through my computer. One of my unread e-mails was an alert from the campus security system.
At approximately 8:00 am this morning, a large explosion of some type was heard west of campus. Police are working to determine the cause and ask students to report anything they may know about the event.
I figured I should probably tell Rainbow about that, too.
When my roommate came in later, we talked about meeting up with Twilight. Rainbow was all for the idea.
“Hey, if we’re going there could we also stop by the Navy Recruiter’s office?” Rainbow shrugged. “He wants to meet face to face, and I’ve been putting it off.”
“I guess so,” I said. “Oh yeah, have you checked your e-mail? A lot of people noticed the Sonic Rainboom.”
“Yeah,” Rainbow laughed.
Both of us thought it was pretty funny until the next day when the school newspaper ran an article about it. It sternly warned that any student caught with an explosive device, or the means to even simulate an explosion could face fines, jail time, and expulsion from the university.
Rainbow decided that maybe she’d just stick to flying for exercise from now on.