Ditzy Doo "Derpy Hooves"
The train from Canterlot to Ponyville was relatively short, only a few hours. Minuette passed most of the time reading, or taking apart and tweaking her watch. One of the springs had a bad habit of catching a gear and locking the mechanism in place. They simply didn't make the gauge of spring this watch needed any more, and the previous one was so worn that when it finally broke, it snapped into several strands of warped brass that had rattled around within the watch when she shook it. Minuette was skilled, but making a square peg fit in a round hole was beyond even her. Perhaps there was someone in Ponyville who could machine components for her?
Minuette contemplated the bits of luggage she carried with her, an overnight bag with her essentials and duffel filled with some clothes in case she went out. The rest of her things were packed with what she had salvaged from the store in the boxcar behind her.
She sighed, putting down the book. "Daring Do and the Legend of the Jade Claw" was entertaining enough, but reading amongst the jostle of the train was making her a bit queasy. Still, something to check out from the library when she got there. Actually, Minuette had two reasons to go to the Ponyville library now, the second being she wanted to see if she could run into Twilight Sparkle.
It had been over two years since Twilight had left Canterlot to come here, though under much different circumstances. Since moving to Ponyville, Twilight had barely kept correspondence with Minuette, Moondancer or Melodia. Not that any of them would have called Twilight a friend before she had moved away. That pony had always seemed to gravitate toward solitude, rather than away from it.
Minuette gave a little shiver.
I might be a quiet pony, but spending all day locked up with a bunch of books and nopony else to talk to isn't my idea of a full life. I hope Twilight found friends that were able to break through her shell. We certainly never could.
Not that Twilight had ever been cold or cruel, she was just…distant.
Well at the very least it would be the courteous thing to drop in and say hello.
The train cleared a tunnel and burst forth onto the plains of the Equestrian countryside, the low rolling lands that surrounded the massive peak onto which Canterlot had been hewn. The train terminus in the foothills directed coming and going rail lines from every major city in Equestria, and Minuette could see rows and rows of engines and train cars being stored or repaired, grease and oil covered ponies and even the occasional Griffin could be seen crawling over them, Unicorns tearing off large chunks with their magic, Pegasi flitting about carrying messages and tools, Earth Ponies operating equipment and moving carts laden with coal or components. Minuette found herself reaching for her duffel and fishing out the sanitizing lotion. She did not much care for the rustic outdoors or the hustle and muck of heavy lifting. Sure a little lubricant or varnish on the hooves and mane was part and parcel of clockmaking and carpentry, but Minuette took great exception to activities that would expose her to dirt and related filth, especially germs. She liberally lathered her hooves' imaginary bacteria with alcohol scrub, and put the bottle away.
Minuette pulled out the catalogue of the property she had bought in Ponyville. A two story cottage with a lower floor living room suitable for greeting and entertaining guests, plus a kitchen and dining room that connected to the living room, upstairs bedroom and bath, guest bedroom and powder room, and a cellar underneath the bottom floor. It was the open first floor that had sold it for her. She would convert the living area into a storefront, making full use of the open space, and use the cellar for materials storage. It wasn't half as big as the shop in Canterlot, but if she was economical and didn't unpack much, the cellar would go far. She could probably even get away with converting the guest bedroom into an office or parlor of some kind where she could entertain company if the need arose. The powder room was probably going to become a closet filled with the overflow from the cellar, she thought morosely.
Minuette was feeling a bit better when she finally got the last of the boxes off the moving wagon and into the living room, gave the movers their tip and sank onto the blank hardwood floor, resting her head against a rolled up carpet, making the cellophane crinkle. One of the movers, a grey and blonde Pegasi with an eye that she appeared to only have marginal control over was happily waving goodbye through the front window. Minuette managed an awkward smile and wave from the floor, and the Pegasi grinned and drifted erratically off into the sky. After a minute or two of just laying there, hooves splayed out, rotating her shoulders to pop the aching joints from the four hour train ride, Minuette could feel the silence pressing in again.
She tore off the tape and bubble wrap, lifting out from its sheath the giant grandfather clock with her magic. She cast her eyes around, before settling on a place next to the staircase leading to the second floor, but still facing the living room. Reaching inside with her mind, knowing the shape and feel of the parts from memory, she started up its ancient gears, the silence was banished once again.
I need to make myself busy, and then I'll treat myself to a visit with Twilight this afternoon. If she isn't home, I could always explore the town.
Several hours later, as the late afternoon sun rolled over to the western horizon, Minuette realized two things. She had barely made a dent in unpacking, boxes and carpeting still strewn about everywhere and, as her stomach began to rumble with surprising volume, that she had forgotten to eat. Again. She chuckled even as the groaning made her clutch her belly.
"Gosh, did Moondancer call it or what? I'm lucky I haven't accidentally passed out from malnourishment at least once over the years."
A second grumble answered, and Minuette decided that the visit to Twilight could wait in favor of some food.
A quick look in the mirror told her that some freshening up would be in order before she left though. Moving boxes around, telekinesis or no, had left her covered with sweat and feeling slightly icky. Her normally straight blue and white mane was matted and tangled around her horn, and her tail could do with a brushing. She absently pulled a strand of packing tape from her flank with her teeth, where it had been adhered for who knew how long. Some of the fur that made up her hourglass cutie mark came away with it, painfully. Minuette massaged the spot with a forehoof, wincing.
She dropped the box she was currently carrying with a dull thud, that was the great thing about woodworking tools, most were cast iron or steel and one didn't have to be very gentle. Trotting upstairs and pausing to turn the shower on for the first time, she saw that there was a backlog of old stagnant water that had been fermenting in the pipes since this house had been put up for sale. Minuette gave a little strangled *Eep!* and turned the shower on full blast, resolving to let it run for ten minutes at least before she dared step inside.
No doubt the sinks are the same. Ugh.
She retreated to the skeleton of her new bedroom, currently consisting of an undressed bed with a pile of blankets atop it, surrounded by boxes. She fished out her clothing duffel from underneath the mound of fabric, rifling through the outfits and lamenting how most of them needed to be hung and pressed before they would be fit to wear again.
She was able to find a summer dress that was made from a fabric soft enough that it had not creased overmuch from being stuffed in a bag all day. It was a simple thing, with light yellow cotton that was essentially unadorned save for some wispy floral print stitching. From a distance barely noticeable, but up close the pattern was quite extensive, with ghostly leaves and flowers seeming to crawl up from the hem and all about its surface. Yellow had always complimented her coloration so well. Minuette wasn't even going to attempt to find the wide brimmed hat that went with this. Besides the sun was going down soon anyway, she scarcely needed it.
She left the dress draped over a box and fished out as much from her overnight bag as she would need. Shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush and paste, bar soap and scrub brush. Makeup had never been much of a thing with her, as a craftsmare she had a tendency to work with her hooves and horn a lot, things like polish and manicured nails just tended to chip or split. And frankly she wasn't very good at makeup application when she tried it herself either. Having a deep blue coat meant that the barrier between not enough and too much eye shadow and blush was crossed long before she noticed it. Sometimes she envied ponies like Moondancer with their bright pale coats that could take a color with the lightest application. For the same reason, her mane and tail style had always been pretty much what she woke up with that morning. If need be a quick brushing smoothed it out to near straight, with a few shocks of errant grey or blue curling up here and there. As long as it was clean, Minuette was happy.
She noticed with distaste a few spots of brown mold growing in the cracks of the tiles when she returned to the shower again. The water no longer smelled of old copper, and holding her bath items, she gently stepped into the rushing stream and shut the door behind her.
Minuette was almost embarrassed to admit that showering was one of her favorite parts of the day, not only did it soothe the accumulated aches and pains of the day, but the warm water had an almost spiritual restorative property, washing away the cold and the dark of worry and pain that little else seemed able to excise. It was an almost elemental pleasure, letting the water run over her body, down her hair and pool at her hooves, the steam filling her lungs. Ponies, indeed all life in the world, had begun ages ago in the sea, and this felt like a return to the beginning, the blank slate of being before time was counted and things like civilization and all its inherent sufferings had arisen to coat ponies every day in the accumulated filth of toil and regret and missed chances.
Where the in the bowels of Tartarus is all this damn melancholy coming from? I have got to find something to do with myself tonight. This isn't me at all.
Minuette shook her head to clear her mind, spraying water against the glass of the shower stall and causing her mane to slap wetly against her eyes and adhere to her face. Cursing and sputtering, she rinsed her eyes of shampoo. A few moments after some particularly colorful oaths, mostly involving anatomically difficult things to do with springs and gears, Minuette heard a distant noise from the bottom floor. She frantically shut off the shower to have a closer listen, and after a moment realized that it was a short chord from a sappy sounding song.
What in the…gods above is that what the doorbell sounds like?
In her panic, she slipped on the wet bathroom floor just as she swung open the door to the hall.
Why didn't I unpack the towels? Who gets in the shower without a towel?!
Dripping all over the hardwood floor as she barreled down the stairs, she managed to lose her footing again and slide with a low *Thud* against the front door. Groaning, the work of the shower at relaxing her muscles totally undone in less than twenty seconds, she fumbled with the key she would have to use until she got a feel for the interior of the lock in a week or two. On the other side of the door was the concerned face of the grey Pegasus mare from the moving company. Both eyes went wide at Minuette's appearance, even though one seemed to be focused on something happening somewhere to their left.
"Oh! Um. I-Hello again!" She smiled nervously and flapped her wings, then, when Minuette said nothing, awkwardly brandished a hoof. "The name's Ditzy Doo! Mail and delivery mare from the Absolutely Everything delivery and moving company."
Minuette could not help but smile at the absurdity of it all. After a moment of indecision, she stuck out a dripping hoof herself, the two met with a wet squish. "A pleasure, my name is Minuette Romana. What ah-what can I do for you Miss Doo?"
"Ooh, too formal for me, you can just call me Derpy, that's my nickname. But um, actually I was here because it looks like we misplaced some of your transport this morning. Not really sure how, but we sorted it out and I was sent to bring you this." She reached back and pulled a box out of a wagon that was parked a few yards back, trotting up and setting it at Minuette's hooves.
"We're awful sorry about the mix up, but we can assure you that this was the only package that was misplaced, I double checked the ledger myself!" Her head bobbed happily, and Minuette nodded thanks in turn, levitating the box into the living room to set it next to the sofa.
"Thank you very much uh…Derpy."
Suddenly, inspiration struck. "Hey…you wouldn't happen to know of any good places to get a bite and maybe meet some ponies here in town would you?"
Ditzy Doo's face lit. "Oh sure! I always love visiting Sugarcube Corner, it's a sweetshop near the center of town where they make the most delicious muffins you've ever seen! And tasted. Mostly tasted!" She tapped a hoof against her chin, her wandering eye rolling up, presumably to examine some clouds, or perhaps the setting sun. "Only problem is, they close pretty soon since it's not the weekend, that's when most of the parties and stuff tend to happen."
Minuette stared in fascination as the eye completed its roll and returned to near level with her face, where it stayed for the moment. "Actually Derpy, I was thinking more like dinner? Maybe drinks and dancing and stuff like that."
Ditzy Doo mumbled something about muffins being a good dinner, but then smiled again as a new thought arrived. "I got it! Café Celeste has great food, especially dinner, and there's an open bar after 6pm every day except Sunday. You should definitely try the eggplant and zucchini lasagna, it's got real goat cheese and everything." She appeared to practically salivate just thinking about it. "I'd go myself if I didn't have tons of paperwork tonight. But you should totally try it!"
Well that answers my next question, she's too busy to come with me. All right, but that open bar sounds promising, so long as I don't overdo it. Stick to meeting and greeting, that's the ticket.
"Thanks for the info, I think I will. Once I get ah-myself sorted out." Minuette was actually starting to shiver as the evening air evaporated the warmth from her body.
"Yeah, I hope your plumbing isn't busted or something, that house isn't exactly new." Ditzy Doo looked with concern as she hitched herself back up.
"No no, it's all right, just a temperamental shower is all. Thank you again for coming by so late!" Minuette yelled as Ditzy Doo took off with the wagon in tow, listing wildly to the right and left before leveling out.
"No problem at all!" And she was gone.
Going back inside, Minuette quickly pulled a pair of scissors off the table, hoping that the contents of the errant box had not been fragile if they had been exposed to the kind of erratic flying she had just seen, the thought of glassware or perhaps plates bouncing around in the back of Ditzy's wagon sent shivers up her spine that had nothing to do with cold.
She cut the tape free and threw open the box, peering inside.