I write stories. I like to hear what people think and tips on how to improve. I'm also looking for an editor/someone to regularly criticize my work to help its formation. Thanks, and enjoy the fandom.
A light rain fell silently across the open ceremony. Lost in a thick shroud of trees, the preceding continued despite this. Dark suits and dresses surrounded a box of a recently deceased. At the front stood a pony with a white-collar, speaking words of condolence to each as they paid their last respects to the dead, but for one pony, this bereavement was too familiar.
“Ah never wanted you ta go Granny,” the orange mare spoke, holding tears back, “Ah’m not ready yet.” The gravity of the moment got to her, and she erupted in tears. She hadn’t brought her hat to this event, both out of respect and for the sake of it now being a memory from Granny Smith.
Her friends could only watch. None could try to comprehend the feelings she carried, although some thought they could understand. Applejack was a strong, independent mare, the strongest most of them knew. To see her breakdown was heartbreaking, but it was a natural sense of anguish; Granny Smith was the parent figure Applejack wanted so badly after her parents moved on.
Big Mac put a hoof around her sister’s shoulder. “Easy now sis, she’s in a better place,” he said soothingly into her ear. He was just as upset as Applejack, but, for the sake of Applebloom, had to stay strong. He turned her to walk away, but she stood firmly.
“Why’d ya have to go?” said Applejack between sobs. She could no longer tell whether it was rain water on her face or tears, either way she allowed them to run off her unprotected face.
“Applejack others have to pay respects as well,” said Big Mac, still holding onto her shoulder.
She nodded reluctantly and turned to walk away with him. Her friends watched in dejection as she passed. A wordless melancholy passed for the rest of the service, each pony in different stages of the grievance.
At the end of the ceremony everypony went their separate ways; others still had jobs to attend to by the end of the day, but each pony gave kind words to the family of the deceased.
One orange mare’s life was corrupted by this loss. She had never turned down hard work but, upon returning home, she locked herself in her room for the night. To others this was understandable, but to Applejack it was much more; this was the beginning of a gradual attrition of her psyche.
I’m all alone now, she thought. Granny Smith had looked after Applejack when her parents had passed away, and now that she was gone, tears welled up in her eyes, like opening an old wound, the few memories of her parents passing came back. She wasn’t capable of dealing with this sort of thing, if it wasn’t for Granny Smith she may never have gotten over her parents and now that she was gone, she was totally alone.
She sat upon her bed holding onto her hat it like it was the last thing left in the world, but to her it was her world. The hat was given to her by Granny Smith when she was a filly; it was a gift from her parents for her fourth birthday. A birthday they never got to see. She had so few memories of her parents, most of them were told to her when she was young by Granny Smith and she only knew what they looked like through old photographs of them.
Her mother died giving birth to Applebloom, and after that her father just walked out. He had promised to return but never did. She would wait up some nights and just watch out her window, watch and hope to see him come back to see her as he said he would.
This new heartache was a sickly reminder of the few things right in her life. Her family was one of the few she was comfortable about. She had lived in a relatively indigent household her whole life, but money wasn’t an issue, as she would still far prefer to keep her family. Despite this, it pained her to see those who she valued the most torn away from her as they were once before. It was the idea of being helpless, but to watch as those she loved die from something beyond her control.
She hated knowing that nothing, no matter how much she willed it too, could stop the impending force which, as easy as flicking a switch, could take away all she held dear.
She slept little that night, shifting in and out of a dream of eternal running, running from an unknown antagonist, reaching for her like an absolute evil beckoning her into its fatal maw.
She awoke just before dawn as usual, but felt just as tired as she had upon entering her bed. The pains of yesterday were by no means healed, but despite this, she was in no state ready to refuse hard work. She left her hat upstairs as she came down. It was the last belonging of remembrance and if she lost it or damaged she would have nothing to remember them by. Retention of the hat forced her to fear wearing it.
Big Mac, like always, had laid her breakfast out on the table for her in the morning. He was up long before she was every morning and, to some, she was generally considered an early bird.
She ate the same for breakfast, day in and day out: porridge. She didn’t dislike the meal, but it had been an eternity since she had tasted something other than oats for breakfast.
“It’s the nutrition you need,” the voice of Granny Smith echoed in her mind. She had heard that phrase many times before, and now more than ever she longed to hear it again. To hear a frail voice speak a perpetual line which would, like clockwork, strike when anypony complained about their meal.
She stopped eating her food abruptly. The sadness of the preceding day opened again, tears began to appear in her eyes.
“Mornin’ Applejack,” the golden playground voice of her sister came behind her.
Applejack didn’t want her sister to see her like this; she had to keep up the sound impression she always had. More than anything, she didn’t want to seem weak in front of Applebloom.
“Mornin’ Applebloom,” she replied, refusing to turn around.
She wiped her eyes briefly and smothered her thoughts, she couldn’t handle letting her emotions crumple her.
“Ya sleep well?” asked Applebloom sitting at the table, readily beginning to eat.
“Course,” said Applejack, still staring down at her meal.
She sighed and got up quickly, as she couldn’t keep her mind off the despondent thoughts. Some hard labour will distract me, she thought. She left her bowl in the sink and made her way outside.
* * *
Applejack had continued her work until late in the afternoon, several buckets were, and the day was pressing on. Dark clouds were slowly moving across the horizon of the valley, their shadow fell across the land enveloping it in its hazy embrace. The clouds spread thick and fast toward her, but still gave her twenty minutes, at a guess, until the downpour would be upon her. At the other side of the valley, the descending of Celestia’s sun spread an orange light across the far hills with its long reaching fingers. The trees atop the hill stood as sentinels over the valley, the light shone through their branches highlighting their long swooping curves, posing them like dancing figures froze in an instant.
The bright light shone through the low canopy of trees to the ground below, the path illuminated by its golden touch. The ground was wet due to the recent downpour but had absorbed enough that no puddles were formed.
She lay down one of the buckets at the foot of a tree and proceeded to buck it. Her powerful hooves slammed hard against the base of the tree, swaying the tree violently. Gentle thuds were heard as the apples landed on the loamy earth. A few landed in the bucket, but most surrounded the base of the tree. She picked them up slowly, examining each to see if there was any bruising or damage to them, if so, they were placed in a separate tub by the path. The whole process took about five minutes per tree depending on the trees size, but most were relative to each other.
She placed the last apple in the bucket with a heavy sigh. Granny Smith had never needed to look at the apples to determine if they were of sufficient quality as she just smelled them and could figure from that. Applejack shook her head at the thought.
She frowned and hit her hoof off the tree. I just wish I’d spent more time with her, she thought. In her last few weeks, she had become more ill, but you just claimed it to be a cold, you stupid foal. Anypony could see that somepony, especially one as frail as Granny Smith, was vulnerable to something like that. She slumped against the tree and stared up its branches. The leaves caught the light perfectly; the veins of each leaf became silhouetted in the orange light of the setting sun. In her mind, she thought back to when she found her.
The lights hung low in the house.The passages were always dark in all but the brightest parts of the day. The rhythmic tapping of branches on the window reverberated throughout the house. But for her all else stood still, nothing moved, nothing made a sound, nothing else mattered. She crouched on her knees next to the cold family member. The unwavering glare of those orange eyes penetrated her very being. A lifeless, raw glare with the spark of life diminished behind them.
She rocked her back and forth trying to wake her from her last slumber but to no avail. The tight clutch of death was already firmly grasping the body of the pony she loved. She cried loudly and screamed for help. Her brother came and was reduced to tears in an instant, he fought back Applebloom, but she broke through. Applejack would never forget that face. The face of a normal bold smiling filly became corrupted by the sight it saw, a look of indescribable horror filled those eyes, and soon after, tears followed.
She called the hospital immediately after and requested a doctor. The time of night and the distance out of Ponyville slowed the doctor considerably. She knew there was nothing he could do other than confirm what she already knew was true, but she never left her side. The moment the doctor declared the deceased her heart sank, the words of condolence were not heard, the cry of a younger sister were unnoticed. She just stood there swaying by some unseen breeze. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Her life seemed to grind to a halt at that moment. It filled her with an empty feeling, like taking a step but finding no stair. A confidence you always count on, taken away so you fall and nobody can catch you.
She sat still at the base of the tree. Tears fell down her cheeks as she recited a painful memory. Her cheeks became matted with the drying of her tears while others still ran down landing on her shaking hooves. Her breath wavered, and her eyes focused on some unseen point above her head. As a family, their protector-their guardian was gone. They were of age to live alone, but all the same they were lost without her. She got up from the tree base and began walking through the densely packed orchard, leaving the two buckets of apples behind her.
She didn’t have to walk for long until she came to the crest of a desolate hill. Atop the hill stood a mighty tree, thick in both trunk and in leaf, it towered noticeably above everything else. A few metres out from the base were two stone plaques, the ground around one still upturned from the recent burial. She walked slowly toward them. Her breathing grew heavier, and she felt her legs become loose. She sat down between the two and faced the sunset.
“Whys it never easy,” she said aloud. She collected her thoughts to speak again, “It just ain’t right.” Only the very top of the orange sun was visible now as it slowly descended over the hill on the other side of the valley. The tree was cast in a perfect orange glow, as were two plaques of the ground. Pleasant warmth was felt in the area as the tree shrouded them from the prevailing winds. “Ah’m sorry Granny, ‘bout everything,” she added, looking at the newest plaque. She closed her eyes and just felt the warmth.
She sat there until the sun disappeared over the hill and the night grew into power once again. A cold chill crept in causing Applejack to shiver. Only the gentle swaying of the tree was heard as the moaning of the winds carried across the land. “Ah just wish Ah could have been there like Ah shoulda’ been,” her voice broke toward the end as another set of tears fell off her cheeks again.
Eventually the dark clouds moved over and the gentle patter of rain on leave was heard. The droplets of water danced over the top of the leaves and jumped down to the leaves below; she used to watch the rain and sunset like this every night when her mother had passed away.
She got up abruptly and walked toward the crest of the hill. “Imma’ come back soon ya’ hear,” she shouted back.
She followed the path down the hill and toward the buckets. The rain gradually became heavier, but the fog of regret in her head caused her not to notice.
She picked up the few apples she had missed and put them in the buckets, then, with a sudden heave, lifted the buckets up and placed them on her back. She had worked all day and, combined with the lack of sleep, she was utterly exhausted and could no longer be bothered with anything.
She wasn’t too far away from her home. In relation to the size of Sweet Apple Acres, she wasn’t far at all, but it was a seven minute walk through the rain, made worse by the heavy load on her back. She trudged through the mud, dark splashes of muddy water licked up at her hooves as she walked aimlessly through them. She cursed softly to herself.
The house was in just about in view now, she began walking down the steep hill toward the foot where the path would take her to the door. She just wanted to go home. She sped up slightly but, in her haste, lost her footing and slipped over. The apples in the buckets fell and rolled down the hill, she was still trying to stand back up when she noticed.
“Ah horsefeathers,” she said to herself aloud. She tried to shrug it off as an accident, but it felt like another loop in her recent chain of torment. She picked up the buckets and moved slower this time down the hill. She was wet and covered and in mud on her left side. She didn’t mind getting muddy, but the day’s events were taking their toll.
Carefully, she reached the bottom of the hill and began picking up the apples. There weren’t too many to gather, but it was needless effort she could have avoided if she had slowed down.
She picked up the buckets once again and made her way to the house.
The door was left ajar. Likely Big Mac waiting for me to get home, she thought.
She entered the house groggily. She could no longer be bothered, and she just wanted to sleep. After a quick glance, she dropped the buckets to the left of the door and wiped her hooves. She walked up to the bottom of the stairs and glanced through the window to her right, Big Mac was sleeping on the sofa. Applebloom must be in her room, she thought. She walked up the stairs slowly. She had memorized the creaking ones to avoid waking anypony.
She felt quite hungry, but the desire to sleep was the most notable job on her mind. She entered her room and shut the door, placing her lasso on the desk to the left of it. Then she fell on her bed.
The thoughts of Granny Smith filled her conscious mind, but the desire to sleep suppressed them. Within minutes, she was in a deep sleep.
* * *
“Applejack,” said a voice faintly.
“Applejack,” it said again.
She stirred slightly, beginning to awaken.
“Applejack!” she awoke suddenly to find Big Mac next to her bed.
“What is it? Too tired,” she said and rolled over to the other side.
Big Mac jumped on her bed, he was a colt again. “He’s here, he’s here!” he said excitedly whilst bouncing on her bed.
She propped herself up and stared at him, “Who’s here?” she asked, rubbing her eyes.
“Daddy, Dads home,” he said with utter enthusiasm, a smile gleaming on his face.
She smiled happily and jumped out of bed. She fell further than she was used to as she was the height of a filly. She ran out her room excitedly, and Big Mac was just in front of her. They reached the bottom of the stairs, and he ran in through the door, he sped straight through and jumped into Dad’s arms. Her Dad looked just like she had remembered him.
She ran through the doorway but got stopped abruptly by a barrier blocking the doorway throwing her backward. She ran up to the doorway again and placed her fore-hooves on it. She couldn’t push through it.
“Daddy I’m here, I’m here,” she shouted pitifully through the transparent wall.
He raised his head to stare at her, but no love or compassion came with that stare.
“Come to me Applejack,” he spoke in a slow and deliberate pattern.
“I can’t daddy...” she pushed harder now. Tears of despair formed in her eyes.
Big Mac joined in with their Dad, “Come to us Applejack,” they said unison, beckoning her with their hooves.
“I can’t, please I can’t,” she said, now tears were streaming down her face. The wall behind her slowly faded into pieces and began to spread across the floor.
Her mother came into view with Granny Smith by her side. “Applejack,” she spoke slowly in a soft and angelic voice.
She pushed harder against the invisible barrier and cried loudly now. The floor behind her began to fade.
“Help me Mom, please help me,” she screamed between sobs.
They all stared at her, all still beckoning her into the family.
The floor beneath her hooves became transparent.
“Please,” she spoke quieter this time.
The floor suddenly disappeared, and she began to fall. She saw all their faces, frowning down on her.
* * *
Applejack awoke from the dream suddenly. Tears were visible on her face. She curled into a ball and rocked herself gently. The images from her dream still lanced her mind. She whimpered as she cradled her broken form. Dark shadows enclosed her peripheral vision, lurching into her field of vision, drawing her eyes to dart wildly around the unlit room.
“Applejack, what the hay’s the matter?” Big Mac burst into the room and ran over to her. He wrapped her up with his fore-hooves and hugged her tightly.
She didn’t respond, she just whimpered but was comforted by her older brother.
“It’ll all be okay...it’ll be okay, I’ll sort it out,” he said soothingly still holding her tightly.
Her ragged breathing slowed with the warm embrace of her brother, but in her mind, it felt like that of her father. The confusion of the dream stirred upon waking faded, and the gentle lullaby of her brother’s regular breaths soothed her back to a peaceful domain.
He maintained the embrace until she fell asleep again, then as quietly as possible, left the room to make a quick call for tomorrow.
* * *
She awoke slowly to the sound of voices. Big Mac’s was one of them, the other she wasn’t too sure about. She glanced over to the window; the sun was up.
“Shoot,” she said to herself. She should have been working long before now.
The voices were coming closer to her room. She propped herself up to get out of bed to start a late day’s work.
“Now you stay there Applejack, this nice young doctor has just come to see you,” said Big Mac entering the room.
She gave a puzzled look and opened her mouth to speak.
“I don’t know why this is so urgent,” said a short stallion with a case entering shortly after Big Mac, “And the other thing, I’m not a doctor yet, I’m just a shrink.”
She got up in alarm, “Ah don’t need no shrink, Ah’m jus’ fine.”
“Well from what your brother tells me, I would disagree,” he said without looking at her. He pulled a clipboard out of his suitcase and a book of some sort and sat down on the desk chair which he pulled out.
Applejack glared at Big Mac. “Well Ah’ll leave you to it,” said Big Mac leaving the room.
“Well then Applejack,” said the doctor loudly, still staring at her. “I heard from your brother that you had a nightmare.”
She spoke calmly, “It weren’t nothing serious, jus’ some dream Ah had-“
“Nothing serious!” he interrupted, “My dear the experience you had was a large deal more than nothing serious, you woke In the middle of the night in heaps of tears, unable to answer your brother and you come to me saying it’s nothing serious.”
She scowled at him. She knew he was right.
“Tell me Applejack, what happened in the dream?” he asked, leaning forward out of his chair.
She explained to him the dream, about how they were young again and how desperately she tried to reach him about the reappearance of those she had lost.
When she had finished talking they sat in silence for a moment, he stared at the notes which he had made while she was talking.
“It’s a good thing we found this now,” he said without looking at her.
“What do you mean?” she asked, getting out of bed.
“Well if what you’re telling me is true, then you seem to be on the brink of what we call a depression spiral, and in your case a very complex one at that,” he said packing his things away. “There are two options, one of which is medication I coul-“
“No, Ah don’t do medication,” she said sternly.
“Well a-alright, the other option I would suggest is part of a social trial which has, from what I’ve heard, proved effective in Canterlot,” he said placing down his suitcase again.
“What is this here social trial?” she asked, approaching him.
He pulled out a notepad and began reading it, “Basically, you will be spending time with another pony who has gotten over depression, and through that pony, you will hopefully recover, but as I said it is only a trial.”
“Well who will pony this be?” she asked.
“There’s definitely a pony in Ponyville who did suffer from depression,” he scanned his hoof over a list of name, “Oh yes, patient #119 recovered 3 months ago,” he announced cheerfully.
“Who?” she asked, cocking her head.
“You shall be spending time with patient #119, but you’ll probably know her better as... a Miss Pinkie pie,” he said smiling.