"So, Bruce. This is what's going to happen." Spring Meadows and I were sitting in what she called her 'talking room' on the ground floor of the hospital. Painted to look like a warm spring meadow (yes, Meadows, I see what you did there) with a glorious and gaudy bright green carpet, it was fairly large with pillows scattered across the floor for seating and a few bookcases with titles like 'Dealing with Grief' and 'Mom Mare's Monthly.' A single filing cabinet overstuffed with paper was the only thing that separated this room from a hippy drug den. That and it smelled clean.
Man, I could go for a smoke. NO! Bad brain, we're trying to be good. We're ... still thinking about it, shut up. The mare is talking.
Spring was sitting on one of the smaller pillows, having dragged it over to where I had plopped myself down. Confused as the dickens. I wasn't one for floor pillows - my mother's house had been filled to the brim with them (and drugs and other unmentionables but I got out alive right?) - but I didn't feel right just standing in the middle of the room while this mare talked AT me. Yes, at me. I never realized this but kids get talked AT a lot. Very rarely with. I guess you just don't expect much conversation with someone who still has trouble tying their shoes or something.
Uhm, I think I missed something important.
"Wait, what?" I blinked at her smiling face as she spread a few folders in front of me. "I spaced out a bit, what'd you say?"
"Well, these are the three families currently available as fosters for you. Until we find your parents, I'm afraid we'll have to choose the best fit for now." I don't think my horrified expression was what she was hoping for. "Is, is something wrong Bruce?"
Be nice, be nice, be nice, be ni-
"YES! I'm not a kid, damn it!" I hopped to my feet, my face flushed. "I keep trying to tell you, I'm not a child. I look like one, sure, but I'm really not!" Spring quirked an eyebrow at me.
"You're a very big pony, Bruce, but not big enough to deal with the issues adults have to. A family is supposed to help keep you safe, help you make good decisions, and help you learn how to be a nice pony." Ouch, right in the 'how I've been acting.' I sighed and facehooved.
"I know I've been acting like a jerk, Ms. Meadows. I know my behavior has been really bad. I know it's a really, really, really hard thing to grasp-slash-believe but I assure you, I am an adult human." I did not have to remove my hoof from my face to know she was smiling sweetly, understandingly and - above all else - condescendingly at me. I've been feeling that a lot lately.
"Bruce, that's a really hard pill to swallow. Not only in how you look or how you behave but everything you've been doing points to you not being what you say you are." I removed my hoof and gave Spring a confused look. She sighed, dropping her smile. "The 'humans' are a fantasy creature that have been getting more and more media attention ever since that book series came out. We've actually been dealing with a few cases of ponies really wanting to be human. Or even really thinking they are human 'trapped' in a pony body."
"Wait, what? You've heard of humans too? Wait, books? What books?" Confusion reigned supreme. I think she broke something. Probably my mind. My 'will to live' was also under severe assault.
"Oh, you know. Those 'human' books that are popping up everywhere, the 'Glorious Adventures of the Knights Supreme' or something. We've had an increase in ponies seeking help dealing with their feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy." She smiled knowingly at me. In return, I stood in stunned silence staring at her. Books on humans? Oh bugger. "Mostly those affected are Earth Ponies, Bruce. I think it has to do with how hard it is to be an Earth Pony compared to other types of ponies and that there are really only one type of human with their 'magic hands.' Do you feel that you have it 'rougher' or less 'cool' than other ponies your age?"
"Wha-what?" Oh bugger, she's trying to talk at 'my level.' This is going downhill fast. Brain, we need something to head this problem off at the pass and now! "Uhm, huh?"
Come on brain, you can do better than that. She took my inability to form coherent words as a sign that she was getting to the 'root' of my 'problem.' I think.
"I know it's tough being an Earth Pony but that doesn't make you any less special or wanted. Your parents loved you, even if they didn't know how to show you that. And if they had to move out of Cloudsdale or any of the other Pegasi cities to help you, that was a decision they made very proudly. I know you might feel 'different' or just plain 'less' but you're not, ok?" She reached across the ... floor and put a hoof on my shoulder in what I think was supposed to be a reassuring gesture. I was just too completely weirded out to notice.
"...eep." Oh bugger! As the vocal center of my brain shut down, I realized I made a terrible error somewhere, somehow. I also got the feeling that the growing expression of fear on my face was not lessening her desire to 'get through to me' or some psycho-mumbo-jumbo.
"Now, because of your situation, I think placing you with some other Earth Ponies would be the best idea. The only option we have right now are the, well, the Cakes." She pushed a folder toward me and flipped it open, showing the Cakes holding two slightly older than I remembered twins. Pinkie Pie was waving at the camera in the background, covered in flour. There were various forms and sheets filled out, foster parent paperwork I guess. I felt the ground go out underneath me and sat down rather heavily. Meadows continued as if it was perfectly natural for a pony to drop down from shock in front of her.
"They're a good Earth Pony couple with a multi-tribal family. Twins, actually! They're a bit younger than you but it's a very loving and nice household." Her brow furrowed as she continued, a slight down turn of her ever-present smile showing deep thought. Or gas. I'm pretty sure it was thought though. "Pinkie Pie, uhm, boards with and works for them but I will make sure she doesn't cause you any issues, ok?"
We can salvage this, brain! We need something smart and witty and really, really, really effective but we can do this! Are you with me?
Yeah, fuck you too brain.
In Equestria, the grass really was greener on the other side. I took a deep breath, crystal clear air filled my lungs to bursting. The air was fresher than I've ever smelled it. Of course, I lived in Nashville for years so there is that. Birds were flitting about in the trees, squirrels were bouncing along the ground, and I was still in shocked silence as I was led along a dirt road into Ponyille proper by two mares. At least I had stopped hyperventilating in the atrium.
On my right, Pinkie Pie was bouncing along at a merry pace. Her hair had returned to its usual 'cotton candy' style after Counselor Meadows had taken her aside and explained something to her. I guess it had to do with her beliefs about who and what I was. The only bit about that conversation I caught was Pinkie Pinkie-Pie-Promising to never do something or other. I was too busy at the time trying hard not to pass out to listen in very closely. On my left, Counselor Spring Meadows herself, humming a merry little tune and trotting along at a not-very-brisk pace. Probably used to walking little colts and fillies home.
And in front of me was the object of every bronies dream, Ponyville. A dusty dirt road led down to the fairly spread out town of thatched roof cottages and smokey chimneys. Though my mind was still trying to come to grips with the comedy of errors my life had become, I still found myself drinking in details. I could see in the distance the city of Canterlot sitting precariously on the side of white-topped purple mountains, a duo of snaking lines showing roads leading to the heart of Equestria. It was a great deal bigger than the show ever tried to depict. I could see a huge hill of trees beyond the town itself, red dots showing it to be Sweet Apple Acres. The distant whistle of a steam engine made my ears flick. No cars. No air conditioning units buzzing loudly. No airplanes distantly taking off.
Ponyville. It exuded an air of peace and slow life. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, I thought.
And then I remembered we were going to visit my new 'family.'
"Oh joy," I mumbled under my breath. Not only am I stuck in a child pony's body but I was going to be living with two little hellions. Three, if you counted Pinkie. The 'fun' has been tripled. Suddenly, Pinkie Pie in my face.
"So, Bruce! Are you happy to be getting a new family, huh? Huh?" Yeek, personal space wo-mare. I jerked my head back, one foreleg lifting in instinctual surprise. "And it's so super-duper awesome-tastic you're coming to live with the Cakes! They're so nice-erific and bubbly, they're helpful and nice and fun! They live in a bakery - I'm right above it - so it's always full of yummy goodies. OH! That means we'll be like roommates, almost!" As Pinkie continued to babble on, I glanced nervously at Spring.
"Uhm, is this -" She cut me off with a nod.
"It's fine, we discussed appropriate boundaries while you were sitting excitedly in the waiting room. Everything is fine." 'Excited' is not panting in fear. Spring began to walk again toward Ponyville, motioning me to follow. I skirted the pink party mare and caught up to the counselor. Pinkie, after a moment, began to follow, still letting her mind empty through her mouth. "Pinkie's really a responsible mare, she's just not used to ... unique cases like yours, Bruce."
"-and then we'll make brownies together and maybe you could show me some recipes from where you're from and -"
"One question." Spring's ears perked up in response. "Does she stop talking? Ever?"