Rarity exhaled deeply as the warm mud encapsulated her body, the steams filling her nostrils with a relaxing scent, “Honestly, Rainbow Dash, you really should join us more often. I keep telling you.”
Rainbow Dash groaned, “You know I don’t like it here. Why’d you drag me here, just so I could talk to you?”
Rarity only smiled, picturing Rainbow Dash in the bath beside her, “Because, dear, you really need to culture yourself more. And what better way to do it, than with your wonderful pal Rarity?” She closed her eyes, enjoying the ambience of the spa.
She had made sure to invite all of her friends to the spa today, so they could at least catch up on the week’s news. She hadn’t seen them in four days, since the hospital, and she was just as eager to hear about the news about Twilight. Having spoken to both Applejack and Fluttershy, before Rainbow Dash arrived fashionably late, she noted that they were keen for the information as well.
“So...” Fluttershy started quietly. Rarity had seen her on the bed in front of her, before she had put her mask on. “How is Twilight doing?” The strain in her voice was noticeable.
Rainbow Dash was quiet for a moment before sighing deeply, “She got the news two days ago.” She paused again.
Rarity’s stomach lurched, her features tightening. She had waited so long for the news that it was torturous to have to wait any longer.
“She’s blind,” Rainbow stated darkly. From the sound of her voice, she had yet to get over the shock.
The room filled with various gasps and cries, before going quiet once more. The cucumbers over Rarity’s eyes fell off, landing in the mud with an audible slunk.
Twilight had voiced her concerns in the hospital, when she’d taken Sweetie Belle to visit her. She had been worried for the worst, but had sounded as if she were still hoping for the best. She could feel the gut wrenching sympathy for her friend, only imagining the pain that it must be causing her.
“She’s been silent since she heard the news. The last time she spoke, was when she went to sleep. She didn’t wake up for almost a day. And now...” Rainbow sighed, “she just lays there, stari—” She shook her head, clearing her throat, “just lays there.”
“This can’t be right,” Applejack said, now lying on her back on the bed next to Fluttershy, “I mean, she’s smart, ain’t she? Ain’t there some spell to make her see or somethin’?”
Rarity shook her head, “No.”
The others looked at her, mouths agape.
“Well, not to restore her sight. At the most, she could temporarily see shapes. However, she would need to maintain her magic for long periods of time.” She regarded their incredulous looks coolly, “My grandfather’s vision deteriorated in his old age, it’s not like unicorns have ignored such disabilities, you know.”
“But... what about reading?” Fluttershy asked.
“Well... my grandfather would use a similar spell on books with engraved letters. He says it was almost as if he could see the skeleton of prose. I’m still not sure what he meant by that, honestly.”
“What about Pegasi and Earth Ponies?” Applejack asked, giving an irritated look. After all, Granny Smith was heading down a similar path, if age didn’t catch up with her first.
“The scientists in Canterlot research solutions for all ponies, Applejack.” Rarity felt a little betrayed at Applejack’s inference, if that is what it had been.
Applejack simply nodded at that, shuffling on to her stomach with her hooves hanging limply off the edge.
Rarity sighed, “There is no magic that is able to make her see again. There are only provisions that can help her through life.”
She couldn’t help but question what Twilight could see, what the world looked like to her. When she tried to visualise it, her brain would spin, accompanied by a tingle down her spine. Calling it black seemed unfitting, while ‘void’ seemed too extreme.
The air sat silent for a while as each pony sat within their own thoughts. Such big news had to settle in, before it could be comprehended completely. Rarity knew that soon, she would understand what had happened to her friend.
“Does Pinkie Pie know?” Rarity asked, shocked at her sudden jump in subject.
Rainbow rolled her eyes, sinking into the mud more, “Does she ever. She spent all of yesterday trying to get Twilight to talk, and then started accusing her of being a stuffed toy. I haven’t seen her since she went off looking for the ‘real Twilight.’”
There was a stifled giggling around the room.
Rarity moved to the edge of the bath, leaning on it with muddy hooves, “Rainbow, dear, I hope you haven’t been disadvantaging yourself for the sake of Twilight. It would kill her to know that she’s burdening you.”
Rarity frowned at the amount of mud the cyan mare had splashed around the bath from shifting around in the bath so much. She now lay in a position as if she were reclining in a beach chair.
Rainbow shook her head, “Nah. I got enough time off. I’ve spent most of the time reading to her,” she gestured in the air, as if explaining a point.
Rarity smiled, “That’s lovely of you. I’m sure she really appreciates it. Even if she doesn’t seem to be listening.”
Rainbow nodded with a sigh, “I know she can hear me. It’s lonely in there, y’know? Like she’s not even there at all.”
“Y’ can’t blame ‘er for that,” Applejack said, “she’s the one who’s gotta deal with it.”
“I know that!” Rainbow Dash snapped, jumping on to her feet defensively, “It’s depressing in there. You go spend a day with her and see how you feel!” She stared Applejack down.
Applejack grimaced and Fluttershy cowered to the corner of her bed.
“Rainbow Dash, calm down,” Rarity chided, “we understand. That’s why I asked if you’re okay.” She tried to sound calming, and hoped it could be enough to dent the pegasus’ emotion.
Rainbow flapped her wings and hovered out of the bath, spraying mud around the room. Rarity in particular, was treated to a face full of mud. With a scowl, Rainbow Dash zipped out of the room leaving the other three mares stunned at the outburst.
Rarity sighed, tutting under her breath, “The poor dear. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, having been with Twilight the entire time.”
Rarity’s empathy hung in the air, in hopes of enticing her friend back. Yet, she did not return.
Having met so many ponies in her time, Rarity had heard many stories from many ponies. Rainbow Dash’s story was typical of a friend reaching out to somepony in a spiral of depression. At times, it was if nopony was there at all.
A gurgle emanated from the bath that Dash had occupied. Fluttershy further cowered into her gown, whilst Applejack and Rarity stared at it in disbelief. A form slowly rose from the depths of the mud, its featureless body facing each pony separately before blowing a bubble of mud. It shook its head energetically, throwing mud over the entire room.
“Have you guys seen Twilight anywhere? I know the real her is around here somewhere!”
Rarity rolled her eyes, “No, dear. She’s grieving at the moment. She’ll be okay, soon.” She furrowed her brow at the pink pony. Pinkie had always been the odd sort, but it was hard to believe that she was actually looking for the ‘real Twilight.’
“Oh. Well I’ll have to have a Twilight’s Back To Normal party then! Oh! I’ll make her special Get Well Soon cupcakes, she’ll love them, I just know it! What’cha think a blind pony wants at a party? They don’t see too well, so I guess we gotta find other games, right? Oh! We could have musical games! And ‘Guess That Sound,’ it’s not a game yet, but we can make it one by then...”
Rarity couldn’t help but stare at the pink pony as she continued her tirade. It wasn’t so much for what Pinkie was saying, rather, it was that Pinkie had just moved on and accepted that Twilight was blind. It was almost admirable that Pinkie had simply added ‘blind’ to Twilight’s profile, without any negative connotations.
She realised that she had no idea how she would treat Twilight. She couldn’t imagine seeing Twilight as a different pony, but now, she would need help getting around and doing things. Surely, the available spells weren’t cure-alls for her condition, magic was functional. Twilight would need to know who or what each shape was, she’d need doors opened for her, or help crossing the street.
Twilight wasn’t helpless, but she would need taking care of. That much had to be true.
Rarity, Fluttershy and Applejack simultaneously cringed as the smell of various chemicals and cleaning agents filled their noses. The smell of a hospital was very hard to be used to, and often smelled of ‘sick.’ They exchanged a grimace with each other as they walked to the reception desk.
Rarity could feel the anxiousness, fear, sickness and confusion in the air from the ponies not just sitting in the lobby, but from every pony in every room in the entire hospital. The atmosphere stung her senses, bringing her mood down to a low. Gravity seemed to force its weight upon her. She had never enjoyed hospitals for any reason.
The white mare behind the desk looked overly bored as she reclined lazily in her office chair, taking careful consideration of filing her front hooves with a metal hoof file. She glanced up to the three mares with an apathetic stare, seemingly waiting for them to talk first.
“Hello,” Rarity started, trying to ignore the dirty look from the receptionist, “we’ve come to see Twilight Sparkle. However, we’d also like some information on the various programmes for the blind.”
The receptionist huffed, shifting through the records in front of her, “Twilight Sparkle, Room 42. Just follow the signs and you’ll find her.” She gestured to the large stand at the far end of the lobby, “information is there.” Without further word, the reception turned away from the three mares and returned to her delicate task of filing her hooves.
Rarity gave her a sour look before wandering over to the stand of brochures, looking through each title individually, mildly curious as to what variety they had. It was an extensive variety, ranging from wing rehabilitation to magic depletion, and even a couple on Wild Cutie Mark Syndrome. As she passed them over, Rarity plucked out three brochures on dealing with blindness. One for the patient, one for relatives and friends of the patient, and one detailing certain rights and services a blind – visually impaired – pony was entitled.
“Excuse me, aren’t you Twilight’s friends?” a mare’s voice sounded behind them, accented slightly with the typical Canterlot sound.
Applejack and Rarity turned around, while Fluttershy disappeared into the closest pot-plant. Behind them, stood a blue stallion and a grey mare, wearing each other’s teary-eyed and depressed expressions.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Applejack said curiously, “Can we help you?”
The grey mare nodded, “My name is Twilight Velvet, and this is my husband, Night Light.” She offered a weary smile, “You’ve come to see my daughter?” The resemblance between this mare and Twilight was uncanny.
Rarity’s smile widened, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Twilight has told us so much about you. I remember seeing you at the wedding, I always had wished we could have spoken sooner,” she pulled back quietly, coughing quietly into her hoof, “yes, we’ve come to see Twilight. We did hear the news.”
Velvet nodded, her face growing dark as tears welled in her eyes, “You’re aware that she’s...?”
The two mares nodded, “Yes. I was going to read these to her, so she may feel more at ease.” Rarity said, holding up the brochures.
Twilight’s parents smiled. Whether it was genuine or forced, Rarity was unable to tell. “I’m sure she’ll appreciate that. She was awake when we left. The doctor mentioned this was the first time she had even sat up since she heard the news,” Velvet said.
“Rainbow told us,” Applejack nodded, “good to see she’s gettin’ up at least. I’m sure she was glad to see you.”
Night Light shook his head, “No,” he spoke with a deep voice, “she was surprised to see us. She was unaware that the hospital had notified us of her condition. It was if she didn’t want us to know.”
Rarity raised a brow, “She didn’t? Why on earth would she not want her own parents to know?” That didn’t sound like Twilight at all. They were her family, and yet she had not intended to tell them?
“I believe it has to do with how close Shining Armor is to Princess Celestia,” Night Light replied factually, standing tall, “she continuously mentioned that we are not to tell the Princess of her condition, granted that is quite an absurd notion. However,” he mused, “Twilight has always been like that.”
“Y’ don’t say,” Applejack said sarcastically.
Rarity rolled her eyes. It would make sense for Twilight to be worried about such a detail. She had hoped that Twilight could have learned by now that Princess Celestia was far too kind-hearted to throw a pony aside, purely because of a disability or minor mistake. It struck her as odd, however, that Twilight’s thoughts did revolve around the Princess as such.
“Twilight has said she’ll learn to adapt to a new life,” Velvet said with a sigh.
Rarity smiled lightly, “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”
Velvet nodded, “Perhaps. “
Rarity restrained herself from prying further. The mare seemed as if she was about to burst into tears again.
“Perhaps we should return home, dear,” Night Light prompted, “we have a long journey home.” He offered a smile to the other two mares as he draped a hoof around his partner’s back.
“It was a pleasure meeting you,” Velvet said with a smile, before turning away. The pair walked out of the hospital quietly, leaving Applejack and Rarity beckoning a mud-covered Fluttershy out from the pot-plant.
Rarity opened the door slowly, peeking into the quiet room. Twilight was hunched over the side of the bed, her back towards the opened window. Today had been a particularly glorious day outside. Twilight’s ears twitched slightly as her friends filed into the room, standing around her.
“Twilight, dear. It’s us,” Rarity said.
“Us?” Twilight asked in a tone that chided Rarity for being obscure. Rarity grimaced.
“Applejack and Fluttershy,” Applejack offered, bringing Fluttershy forward with her hoof, “We’ve figured we’d come ‘n visit you today. Y’r due out anytime soon, ain’t ya?”
Twilight grunted in response, and then nodded, “Yes.”
Aren’t you being too depressive about this, Twilight? Rarity thought bitterly, instantly scolding herself for it.
“How are you doing, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked innocently.
Twilight replied with a sigh, “Rainbow Dash told you?”
The three nodded, exchanged a look to each other, and replied in chorus, “Yes.”
“Are you feeling any better? I mean... aside from... you know... every... thing.” Fluttershy lowered her head, blushing furiously.
Twilight shrugged, her gaze never left the floor in front of her. Whether she knew what she was looking at, was a different thing all together.
“Well, we met your parents outside, dear. It was lovely for them to come all the way from Canterlot to see you, even for a while. It’s a shame we don’t have a hotel in Ponyville, isn’t it?”
Twilight nodded, “I should have told them myself. But... I’m glad they came.”
Rarity smiled. Twilight loved her family, as it seemed. Based on what Dash had told them, Twilight had made an improvement after her parent’s visit. Rarity could only imagine the pain she felt, having realised she hadn’t told them, or perhaps, had decided against doing so.
“Where’s Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked, finally raising her head. Her eyes stared straight ahead, as if looking at something on the far wall. Suddenly, Rarity felt invisible as those warm eyes stared through her.
“I’m not sure,” Rarity replied, “she didn’t say where she was going.”
Applejack tutted under her breath.
Rarity shot her an icy scowl, mouthing a warning for her to be quiet. Applejack pulled back, hanging her head apologetically.
“Oh... I was hoping she could continue the book,” Twilight said with a smile.
If only you knew, Rainbow Dash Rarity thought fondly. She was listening, and she loves it.
“Well actually, I do have some material for you, Twilight,” Rarity grinned, holding up one of the brochures in front of her, “I can read it to you, if you’d like. It details certain things that will make your life easier, henceforth. I glanced through it on the way through the halls, and I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised.”
Twilight raised a brow, “The echolocation spell.”
“Uh... well, yes. That’s one of the things mentioned in here. Although—”
“It can only be maintained for short periods of time, so as to not drain the caster’s magic. Furthermore, it allows the caster only to see their surroundings during each pulse. If the surrounding were to changing during that pulse, it could be hazardous without a guide.” She lowered her head again.
“That’s right...” Rarity paused, “however, Spike could guide you. I know he wouldn’t mind. In fact, any of us would be happy to help you, Twilight.”
Twilight nodded, “I know. Thank you, girls.” Her words sounded haunted by whatever thoughts were going through her head. “I’ve had a lot of time to... think things through. I’ll need my books to be transcribed, so as to have a deep etching in each page. That will require a lot of time, and bits.”
Rarity glanced over the brochure in front of her; Twilight had covered the next part of the list already.
“Well, dear, you’re entitled to a disability allowance. It can used for such things.”
“A disability allowance would mean that Princess Celestia would need to approve it. I can’t tell her.” She sighed, “And I can’t afford the transcriptions.”
“Twilight, you need to stop thinking so negatively about Princess Celestia. She loves you, and you know that. Why would her acceptance change, simply because your life’s circumstances have? Quite frankly, she would be offended that you think of her in such light.” Rarity chided authoritatively.
Twilight looked directly at her. Rarity could feel her gaze, yet it wasn’t the gaze she knew. Twilight’s eyes no longer held a warm and soul-filled smile; it had diminished to something different. Those bright, purple eyes that had once been a welcome sight were now a blank slate.
“She’s right, Twilight.” Applejack said.
Fluttershy gave a quiet agreement.
Twilight shook her head, “You don’t know that. I don’t know that. After all, I didn’t see another disabled unicorn in the Princess’ school. None of the photos on the wall showed any disabled unicorns. It can only lead to the logical conclusion, that she doesn’t accept them!”
Rarity placed a hoof on Twilight shoulder comfortingly, trying to console her ever-stressed friend, “Dear, you know that’s not true. Have you considered talking to her? Ask her in a letter if there have been any disabled ponies in her school.”
“She’s too smart for that. She’d see right through it. Thank you, but I know what I’m doing. As long as Princess Celestia doesn’t know I’m blind, everything should be fine. I know it.”
Rarity looked to Fluttershy and Applejack for support. Both frowned at her, just as stumped.
“In any case, dear, we’re here to support you. Pinkie’s already organising to throw you a party.” Twilight’s incredulous look spoke volumes.
“I don’t know either.” Rarity said with a shrug.
The four mares sat around, now only idly chatting between each other. Rarity, had moved the conversation along to the goings on around the boutique, for any form of conversation. Now, they spoke of anything they could think of, simply trying to bring normalcy into Twilight’s life.
Twilight had taken to talking more than when they had first arrived, and had even managed to giggle once or twice during the conversations. She reclined on her bed lazily, staring towards the ceiling, as she joined in the conversation every now and then. To Rarity, that was the best she could have expected from Twilight’s present condition, and it was nice.
Rarity watched her friend carefully, trying to decipher what her thoughts were. Outwardly, Twilight seemed to be trying to cope with everything, yet her voice betrayed her with a sense of pain, confusion and fear. Rarity could only guess that Twilight was mentally tearing herself limb from limb.
“Those are wonderful flowers, Twilight. I don’t think I’ve seen those before.” Fluttershy smiled gently, wandering over to inspect them in detail.
“I was looking forward to seeing them. I’ll need to wait a little longer until I can try the spell, and hopefully I can get some sort of understanding of them,” Twilight replied.
Rarity glanced at the white flowers; they hadn’t bloomed, and presently resembled a star. She could swear that she had seen those flowers somewhere before. They were apparently rare.
Behind them, was Sweetie Belle’s picture. Rarity frowned as she realised that Twilight would never see the details of Sweetie Belle’s effort. It was a shame, considering she had put so much effort into it.
“I’m sure whoever gave them to you meant well,” Rarity hoped.
Twilight sighed deeply, suddenly changing the conversation, “Life is going to be so different.” The depression seemed to have mellowed from her voice slightly. This was a statement.
“I know, dear. Remember, we’re here for you. If you need any help at all, you only need to ask. I’m sure I can close the Boutique for an hour or so.”
“I can help you, too. I mean, if you would like it.” Fluttershy smiled sweetly.
“I can try, if I’m free,” Applejack added quickly.
Twilight smiled and nodded, “Thank you, girls. It means a lot. Did the brochures have any information about... living with somepony like me?”
Rarity felt a stab of sympathy as Twilight stumbled to find a comfortable way to refer to herself, “Actually, dear, they do. We have a whole brochure on what we can do to help out, as well as things that you’ll be able to do for yourself, given the right amount of time.”
Despite this, Rarity still wondered just how much help Twilight would need. She was unsure if she was truthfully able to be there whenever her friend called. Can I continue my life, without directing it to helping Twilight? That’s what Spike is doing, isn’t it? Perhaps he’ll be able to help enough without any of us needing to be his assistant.
“Y’ know Spike will do anything for you, right?” Applejack prompted with a smile, “He’s lookin’ forward to you comin’ home.”
“I know. I don’t want to burden him, or you... or anypony. I’m sure I can manage to do things on my own soon enough,” Twilight’s hopefulness broke half way through the sentence, her voice returning to the darker tone it had carried since their arrival.
Her mind must be an absolute mess, Rarity thought concernedly.
“What... am I going to do with myself, when I return to the library?” Twilight questioned, “I don’t have any transcribed books, and no materials that I can study.”
Fluttershy, Applejack and Rarity exchanged glances with each other, seemingly unable to answer the question.
Rarity furrowed her brow, thinking for a moment. She brightened as the light bulb in her head flickered on, “I’m sure you have something, dear,” she said, trying to keep her voice level, “however... I think I forgot to lock the... laundry in my... uh... pantry this morning, before I left the house. Silly me! I should best go and do just that, before it gets too late! I’ll come by again tomorrow, Twilight!”
Without a second to engage in farewells, Rarity found herself rushing out the door barging through the hospital, intent on her new idea.