He slowly extended his hoof reaching for the door, “Good luck over the next few weeks, I know that Pinkie is an excitable one,” he said smiling.
“Not to worry, Ah’ve had enough experience with that one,” she said returning the sincerity. She just wanted him to leave. He’d been questioning her for the past two hours, and she had grown tired of him.
“Right you are, I’ll check up on you later this week to see how you’re coming along. Remember the schedule we set mind,” he said with a glare. He took a step outside still facing her.
“Don’t worry doc, Ah won’t forget it,” She said slowly. It was the fourth time he had reminded her and, needless to say, it was becoming tiresome. He was a nice stallion, of which she was certain, but he lacked a certain motivation in his work, she had felt this even through her brief encounter. An ardour for something in his line of work was necessary, even if it was feigned for the sake of comforting the patient, she thought.
“Goodbye anyway Applejack,” he said slowly.
“Yeah, G-bye,” she replied.
He turned to walk away with a brief smile. The suitcase swung from side to side with every step as he travelled down the golden path out of the farm.
She watched him reach the end of the path before shutting the door. She gave a deep sigh when the door closed with a click on its metal latch. She was relieved he was gone, but, all the same, it was a loss of the company.
Pinkie, she thought. The schedule suggested spending four days a week with that crazy mare. Pinkie was a nice pony, she thought. The reality was that she was rather annoying. Moderation in all good things, she thought.
She turned and began walking up the stairs, her hooves tapped gently on the wooden steps as she went. She was rather apprehensive about the upcoming trial. She didn’t mind at all spending time with friends, but spending time with that one particular friend was going to be a gruelling experience over the initial four days.
She pushed her bedroom door aside to find Big Mac standing in her room.
He stared pensively at her for a moment. She wondered what he was thinking; his deep green eyes give away nothing. She had known him her whole life but still found it difficult to read his all but his most archetypal expressions.
“So what did the doctor say?” he finally spoke.
She glanced at the floor then back up at him, “he said Ah need to visit Pinkie, over the week Ah mean.”
“Pinkie, why Pinkie?” he asked curiously.
“She suffered a lot from depression apparently, sorta’ like what I’m supposedly going through,” she replied calmly.
“Ah see your still in denial about your condition,” he said slowly. He walked toward the door past Applejack.
She paused for a moment, “Ah wouldn’t say denial, jus’ Ah don’t think it’s as serious as y'all think.”
“Ah understand,” he said smiling. He turned and walked out the room.
He was right, she thought. He was always right. She almost hated him for it. She heard his heavy hoof fells as he walked down the stairs, when she heard them no more, she fell upon her bed. She closed her eyes and tilted her face upward taking a deep breath.
The doctor had been talking to her for two hours, and she was tired. Most of the questions he had to ask her seemed futile. It would serve no use to anypony knowing how often she exercised, and it was a stupid question anyway considering she worked on a farm and so labour was unavoidable.
She opened her eyes and rolled onto her side. The brim of the hat was visible on the desk. She rolled back onto her back; until she could dwell on the occurrences of the previous days, without becoming overly emotional, she was told not to think of them at all. She knew she wasn’t ready yet, but choosing not to think about something is much easier said than done.
She sat upward quickly. Until her situation was dealt with, all her duties were going to be attended to by a hired hand on the farm. Big Mac had hired him, but she hadn’t met him yet, and she was in no rush too. He was new in Ponyville and just needed a short time job, and this fitted the description. His voice was noticeable downstairs. He sounded nice, she thought. She had never been one for meeting new ponies; besides Twilight, she grew up with most others in Ponyville and was dependant on just them. She was content with whom she knew, but meeting new ponies was unavoidable.
She rolled off her bed and landed standing on the floor as she had done many times before. Might as well go greet him, she thought.
She walked down the hallway and proceeded downstairs. She glanced in through the door. Big Mac was casually leaning against the kitchen counter. She glanced over to the worker. He had a deep brown coat and gleaming turquoise eyes. He stood upright, clearly keen to look as presentable as possible. She looked down and chuckled to herself, in this line of work presentation was the least valued aspect of anypony, the build and efficiency of a worker was all they needed, but she did admire him for trying.
She walked into the room casually trying to look as formidable as possible.
Big Mac tilted his head toward Applejack, “Ah was jus’ telling him ‘bout your situation an’ the timespan he was required to work, wha’ you say your name was again?” he looked back toward the worker.
“Hoeland,” he said quickly.
Applejack walked up to him, “Howdy, nice ta’ meetcha,” she said, wearing a fake smile.
They shook hooves. “Nice to see you too,” he replied politely. “Best of luck with your, situation, my sister went through the same thing a few years back.”
“Well thats mighty kind of you,” she said realising Hoeland’s hoof.
She looked over to Big Mac, “Well Ah’m gonna head over to see Rainbow, Ah’ll see you two later,” she said walking out the door.
Hoeland seemed somewhat relieved at the gesture, but if he was he didn’t make it too obvious.
She shut the door behind her, and immediate conversation was heard again. Rainbow was one of the few ponies who actually understood how annoying Pinkie can be, and somehow the others were blind to that fact.
She walked up the path leading away from the farm; the sun was high, and she realized she still hadn’t eaten.
* * *
After an hour of searching, she came to the conclusion finding Rainbow was a rather difficult thing to do. The cyan mare was by, all accounts, a wanderer, and she would be either in the sky or asleep in a tree. The only problem with these locations soon became immediately apparent, the sky is very big, and there are lots of trees.
She was now walking through the town, word appeared to have spread about her ailment quite quickly it would seem, as already various ponies were staring and gesturing in her direction. She didn’t particularly care what they thought, it was her friend’s opinions that mattered. She glanced into a few of the shops on her way past; she didn’t expect to see Rainbow in there but tried anyway to no avail.
She looked up into the sky to try and find but a trace of the cyan pegasus but was met only by Derpy on her usual mail route.
She passed through the park gates into the open area. The bright midday sun was high, casting small shadows from each tree in the park. The fountain in the centre trickled a slow and continuous melody which could be heard from almost anywhere in the park. A thick iron railing surrounded the park, and, although decorative, she felt it to be somewhat of a useless feature.
The park, on a whole, was surprisingly quiet despite the glorious weather which she expected to lure ponies for picnics and such. The trees in the park could be considered to be Rainbow’s favourite, but every tree seemed to fit the criteria. She spotted the rainbow tail peeking out of the far birch tree on the other side of the pond. She walked over to the foot of the tree; a snoozing cyan mare was sprawled out across its branches.
“Erm...Rainbow,” she called up the tree hesitantly.
“Rainbow,” she said again.
“Rainbow!” she shouted.
She rolled her eyes. She knew the pegasus was a deep sleeper, but this was ridiculous. She turned the other way and got on her front hooves. She gave a gentle buck on the base of the tree with her powerful hooves. A gentle buck was all it took to send the cyan mare tumbling out of the tree landing with sharp exhaling of breath on the impact.
“Ow,” was all she could manage. The wind was knocked out of her.
“Sorry ‘bout that, Ah only meant to wake you,” she said apologetically
Rainbow got up slowly, clearly dazed by the rude awakening, “You could have just tapped me or shouted or something,” she said annoyed.
“Couldn’t reach you an’ do you know how deep you sleep?” she asked.
Rainbow stretched out, and rolled her shoulders to work out the kinks of the fall. “I suppose so, what did you need anyway?” she asked, not looking at Applejack.
“Ah’m guessing you heard ‘bout my, erm...situation?” she asked. It seemed wrong to have to refer to it as a situation or an ailment but it was the only way to reference it.
“Sure I have, everypony in Ponyville knows by now,” she said confidently, stretching out her wings.
Applejack sighed. It was going to be rather annoying having to explain herself to everypony when they asked, which she knew they would. “Well the doctor gave me a schedule to follow for my recovery,” she said plainly.
“Cool, you’ll be fixed in no time then,” replied Rainbow happily already gesturing that she wanted to go and fly.
Applejack was rather taken aback by the ‘fixed’ remark, she didn’t see herself as being broken, but equally wasn’t sure what to expect, and Rainbow wasn’t the best for dealing with these sorts of things. “Well the schedule is part of the problem, you see I’ve got to spend 4 days a week with Pinkie,” she said reluctantly.
“Pinkie? What’s Pinkie got to do with anything?” she asked.
“Apparently Pinkie suffered from depression like Ah supposedly am, and I’ve been told to spend time with her to solve my own problem,” explained Applejack.
“Pinkie suffered from depression? And you think you know somepony. How are you going to manage 4 days with her though?” asked Rainbow reaching the same point as Applejack in the dilemma.
“Ah don’t know,” she said quietly.
“You’ll be fine. I’m sure of it, just focus on what you’re there for, and the days will fly by, trust me,” offered Rainbow supportively.
“Thanks,” said Applejack. She knew she could always count on Rainbow to make her feel better.
“I’ll be off now, I’ll see you later sometime probably,” She said with a smile. The cyan Pegasus crouched and, with a happy glow, leaped into the air unfurling he large wings and with a few flaps drove herself hard away from the ground into the smooth expanse of the sky.
Applejack smiled. She loved seeing Rainbow in-flight, she was so majestic.
* * *
The sun was warm at her back, her long shadow stretched far in front of her along the path as she walked. The trees either side of the path swayed, ever so gently, in the unseen breeze. The autumn was coming, and the leaves had begun to adopt an orangey yellow tinge whilst some had already fell, littering the ground with a golden carpet. She loved this time of year; it reminded her of the close times she had spent with her friends, some of these times long before she had even met Twilight.
The sky was a deep red, darker toward her and lighter in the distance. The thick clouds cast a red glow down across the far hills of the valley in the distance, the sun behind her gradually lengthened the shadows as she walked, and, step by step, they seemed to adopt the darker tone of red.
She distinctly recalled one night she and Rarity had watched a sunset similar to this together. The two had never seen eye to eye, but at that moment, neither of them had said a word. The cordless sun had set gradually, and they had both sat in silence, comforted by the others presence.
Her hooves flicked up dust as she walked which settled in the red lights soon after. She walked slowly focusing on the events of the next day. She would have to keep her cool no-matter the situation, if Pinkie wanted to bake, bake with her- if Pinkie wanted to par-tay-par-tay with her. It’s for my benefit, she thought, be grateful. Even more so than Rarity, Pinkie and Applejack didn’t socialize as a pair. The two were so different, one a hardworking, level-headed pony, the other a partying, near crazy pony.
She chuckled to herself as she walked. At least it’ll be interesting, she thought, with Pinkie things are always interesting. To some extent she was even excited, but nervous all the same.
Tomorrow and the numerous days after, she would be spending time with a friend, a close friend- a crazy, close friend. She chuckled to herself again, she could hardly wait.
* * *
With a quick flick of her hoof, she covered an icing rim around the top of the prestigious cake. It was to celebrate the 1st birthdays of the two new-borns in Ponyville- Pound and Pumpkin Cake. With the pallet in hoof, she wiped it across the side of the cake, smoothing the icing. She applied more pressure and moved it lower down the cake, pressing the glistening candy pieces further into its thick, sugary cream.
She licked her lips at her creation. Many a cake she had produced, but, even still, few could match this one. It had taken up the last four hours of her night, slowly baking the individual layers and cementing with icing of different consistencies then stacking each layer perfectly. It was hard work, even to a pony of her baking stature, but, for it being the first birthday of Ponyvilles youngest, it had to be the best it could.
She let out a sigh of relief and relaxed for a moment, wiping her brow. It was nearly completed; the hard part was done, now for presentation. She gathered a sieve of icing sugar and sprinkled it evenly over the top; it fell down on the cake like snow in the winter, but was more similar to dust descending in the light as it fell. She picked up an icing tube and positioned it over the cake. It would read ‘Happy Birthday’ when it was done, but would have characteristic swirls of that most her cakes were familiar, sort of her signature held by each and every cake she produced.
She carefully moved her hooves up and down the cake, squeezing out the thick icing at a constant speed to prevent uneven parts. This would be the part everypony, even if they couldn’t as of yet read, would look at, so it had to be perfect. She stuck out her tongue in concentration. With a final flick, she finished off the first word. She took in another breath to steady her breathing, something she learnt from a show about military snipers.
She placed the nozzle above the surface of the cake once again and began applying pressure.
A loud rapping came at the door causing her to jump, and almost spilled the content of the tube onto the cakes surface. She retracted the tube quickly and placed it on the bench beside the cakes display stand. She glanced up at the pink rimmed clock, it read 7:10. Too late for any scheduled visitors, she thought, and the bakery had closed 40 minutes ago.
She bounced over to the door. A silhouetted figure was visible through the blinds; they were definitely a stallion, of which she was sure, but an unfamiliar stallion.
Her heart leapt as she came to realized. He must be new in Ponyville, she thought, this is a chance to make a new friend. She quickly ran over to a table and picked up a party popper and a kazoo.
With party popper in hoof and kazoo in mouth, she opened the door quickly.
“Hello mis-“he managed.
She quickly pulled the popper and covered him and his suitcase in coloured streamers then proceeded to blow loudly into the kazoo. “Welcome to Ponyville!” she shouted wildly at him.
He stood still for a moment. A look of confusion set on his stone face, the situation not having quite sunk in yet. The pink pony stood with hooves held high, breathing heavily from her demonstration.
His eye twitched slightly, and a streamer slid down his face to the floor, the same, unchanging look froze on his face.
“H-hello,” was all he could muster.
“Hi,” replied Pinkie quickly, leaning in close to him, “I’m sooo happy to see you, because you were all new to Ponyville and I thought awwww that’s so sad, so you mustn’t know anypony so I thought I’d welcome you to Ponyville so, WELCOME,” she shouted again and gave another chorus on the kazoo.
His expression changed slightly as a warm smile spread across his face, “I thought you might have recognised me,” he said.
Pinkie quickly racked her memory to try and recall the unfamiliar face before her, and, like a checklist, she ran through all 367 ponies she was familiar with, then all 12 she wasn’t too familiar. None of them looked even similar to him.
“May I come in Pinkie?” he asked, wiping a streamer of his shoulder.
She finished the checklist with no matches, “sure of course,” she said gesturing inside the bakery.
He walked in slowly and began lifted his head up, “something smells delicious,” he said looking back at her.
She locked the door and trotted toward a table, and two sets of chairs in the corner of the bakery, “Oh that’ll be the cake I’ve made, it’s the two baby’s birthday tomorrow,” she said excitedly, a wide grin spread across her face as she spoke.
They both sat down on a chair each, he stared politely at her, and she smiled back. “I’m here about Applejack,” he said abruptly.
“Oo, Applejack makes the best applepie, have you ever had it? It’s amazing, better than mine, and that’s saying something becau-“
He stopped her before she could continue, “She’s been having some trouble Pinkie,” he said plainly with a grim expression.
“Oh,” said the pink mare innocently.
“Yes, she’s been feeling very down since the death of-“
“Yeah, I know,” Pinkie interrupted. She hated the mentioning of death, and, if possible, she would prefer to keep the context of the conversation away from it.
He adjusted himself in his seat and pulled his suitcase onto his lap, and, unbuckling the straps, opened it. He moved some papers around with his hooves and began sorting through them.
Pinkie tried to peer around the side of the case to see what he was doing, almost falling off her chair in the process.
He placed a thick stapled document on the table in front of them. She stared at it and began trying to read it upside down. Noticing her concentration, he spun it around to face her.
She read the title at the top, it read ‘Dealing a loss- The companions guide’. She put on a puzzled expression, “what does this have to do with me,” she asked.
“The majority of it is explained in there, but, to put it simply, Applejack is suffering from depression which if you’ll allow me to use an analogy,” he leant forward on the desk and began interpreting with his hands. “Applejack is on the edge of a whirlpool, and if she goes in, it will be very hard to get her out, not impossible, but hard.”
“And how am I at all related to this,” she asked again.
He leant back in his chair. She doesn’t remember a thing, he thought in surprise, 4 months of intense treatment, and this is what has happened. I suppose it is for the better.
He sat forward again. “Well Pinkie, if anypony can make somepony smile, I’d place all my bets on you,” he said with a smile of confidence.
She took the compliment, “Thanks, I will, I know I will,” she said, a smile beaming from her pink face.
“I knew we could count on you Pinkie,” he swung his hoof to emphasis the point, “ she’ll be visiting tomorrow and a few days after depending on how well things go.”
Her eyes were glistening brightly, in her mind she was already planning out their first day together. They both sat there for a few moments in silence as he closed his suitcase.
“If you need me, I’ll be staying in Ponyville for a few more days before heading back to Canterlot,” he informed. She nodded in response.
He glanced up at the clock on the wall, regardless of the time he would say he needed to leave. “Well I’d best be off now, first night to settle down and all,” he said standing up from the chair, “I look forward to finding out about tomorrow.”
She stood up quickly, “don’t you worry, I won’t let you down,” her enthusiasm never let her down.
“I’m sure you won’t,” he said smiling. He approached the door and pulled it open. “It’s been good seeing you again Pinkie.”
She would have responded likewise if she’d meant it, instead, she simply nodded. He began to walk away with a smiling glance.
She finished off the cake and went to bed early that night, all the while checking through her memory trying to answer the question, ‘Who was he?’