The sun was shining brightly down onto Ponyville, giving a soft heat that was ideal for an afternoon nap. Napping, in fact, was one of Rainbow Dash’s favorite activities in any type of weather. It was just after lunch, which usually meant the only way to find the multicolored mare was by the sound of lumber being sawn in two by what could be described as a very dull wood saw. The sound was infamous around certain areas around Ponyville. Her favorite napping locations were the low branches of trees near Sweet Apple Acres, the sun-heated tops of buildings, and any suspiciously low floating clouds. This day, however, was very different.
Just outside of town, behind a tree that normally provided wonderfully comfortable boughs, paced the Rainbow mare. She nervously walked back and forth over a small piece of ground, the abuse of her hooves slowly obliterating the rich green grass. The pegasus jittered as she strode over the patch of earth and frantically turned her head to regard the small device nestled in the roots of the oak with an eager and troubled expression.
Still not ready. The little plastic instrument resembled an ear thermometer with a small rectangular window that, currently, remained blank. It definitely hadn’t been enough time, but the mare diligently twisted her neck to observe the item. Dash let out a sigh of anxiety and continued to pace, beginning to mumble to herself.
“It’s just some bad apples, that’s all. Stop freaking out about every little thing. In a few minutes the only thing I’ll need to worry about is letting Applejack know some of her product has turned.” In usual form, Dash spoke confidently to herself, but she had woken up sick for three mornings in a row now and, once regurgitating the supper from the night before, the sickness had dissipated until the next sunrise. She also realized she was running rather late this month, not that that kind of thing was unheard of, but her normal schedule would have been about two weeks before. How long had it been since that Wonder Bolts Derby after-party anyway? Six weeks? Seven? The evidence was stacking up against her and she let out a frustrated shout to try to expel the stress that was building within her, “Just calm down, already! Everything is fine! Everything is just dandy, so stop working yourself up!”
How much longer before she knew? Who knew that five minutes could be so long? How much time had passed? A week? A month? More like a decade! Dash kicked a loose piece of earth with her hoof and watched it flip into the air, falling apart in mid-flight and bouncing to rest a few yards away. Dash grumbled and turned back to the plastic device, the pregnancy test, and realized there was a symbol in the little window. She quickly closed the distance and peered down between the roots of the tree to the test, her breath catching in her chest and her future pending on this moment.
The plastic instrument bore a pink plus symbol and Rainbow Dash’s world seemed to crumble about her.
Pregnant? She was pregnant? It had to be some sort of mistake. She couldn’t be. Sure, she wasn’t the most careful, but she knew her rhythm and usually took the necessary precautions as a secondary … most of the time.
Dash thought back to the night of the Wonder Bolts Derby. She had watched from the stands as her idols raced around the track in competition with one another. Spitfire had won, of course, but it had been a close race with Blue Streak and Soarin really putting pressure on their team captain. Dash had been thrilled, but the best was yet to come.
Rainbow had adhered to a strict training routine in order to qualify for the last event, the Amateur Speedsters Competition, where the best amateur flyers could showcase themselves to the Wonder Bolts. As far as Dash was concerned, this was just one more step to becoming a Wonder Bolt and she was going to win.
The race had been tougher than she had thought, but the days she had put into training provided her with a victory. There were no prizes, other than satisfaction, cheers, and approval of the Wonder Bolts, but the top three ponies had been invited to an after-party hosted by the famous ponies. Dash was ecstatic and eagerly accepted the invitation. She had been to several such parties by now and felt that her time as an amateur would soon come to an end. She half expected an offer from Spitfire before the night was out and couldn’t wait to get her own, official, uniform.
The party was fun and she talked to all of her favorite racing ponies, but, before long, the gathering began to wind down and the once large event settled into pockets of grouped ponies. Rainbow had been consuming the hard cider with more enthusiasm than usual and felt more than a little tipsy. Spitfire hadn’t offered her anything yet and that forced a surly sort of competitive urge to the forefront of Dash’s mind. She had challenged Spitfire, Soarin, and another pony she couldn’t remember to a drinking contest. Unable to resist a good challenge, and already somewhat drunk themselves, the Wonder Bolts happily accepted. Her memory from that moment on seemed like lint on a dryer screen—fuzzy and abstract.
Dash recalled little about the drinking game or the actions that went on afterward. Just fragments of the fun she experienced were all that she could recover from the drunken haze: Spitfire, Soarin, the other stallion she couldn’t name, separate, together, and finally, waking up with the others piled on her, still snoozing, and feeling like the Friendship Express had been parked on her head most of the night.
Rainbow Dash stomped the pregnancy test to pieces and defiantly grunted through clenched teeth, “No, no, no, no! This is not happening! Stupid thing must be defective!”
The multihued pegasus quickly flew back into Ponyville, bought another test, and tried again. These things were constantly inaccurate; she should have known better than to trust just one. This one would come back negative and she could go on about her life and hope that she had either really impressed the Wonder Bolts or that they couldn’t remember and didn’t want to talk about what had happened.
Another grating few minutes passed, but this test resulted in the same answer: Rainbow Dash was with foal.
For several minutes, Dash crashed her hooves into the innocent tree, breaking chunks of bark away from their home and leaving them to dry staring up from the earth. She roared in outrage and shouted partial curses towards the tree, taking time to break the new test to fragments, mixing with its predecessor in a pile of plastic shards.
It just wasn’t fair. She had worked so hard and it was all going to go down the drain. She wasn’t the motherly type; she never had been. Fluttershy would have been that kind of personality, but then again, despite how good of a parent she might be, her shyness probably foreclosed on that eventuality. Dash was going to be a Wonder Bolt and was closer, now, than ever before. She could practically see herself spinning round and having kicks with them. That was over, at least for the next year or so. What did she have to look forward to; months and months of torturous pregnancy, confinement to low altitudes and slow speeds, followed by intensive training after the foal was born, and then dealing with the baby! It just wasn’t fair!
Rainbow Dash began to tear up and stopped striking the defenseless tree, her hooves were sore and she felt suddenly drained of energy. Slowly she sank down against the oak and felt sorry for herself, taking a long while to grieve for her possible career. She had been obstructed from the Wonder Bolts once before and it had taken a long time to get back to competition form. She couldn’t stand the thought of giving up on her dreams for another year and a half to two years. After building up her strength and skill for so long, it would seem a shame to allow it to depreciate all for a mistake growing inside her womb.
Sulking wasn’t something Dash did well and, before long, her chin was propped up on her forelegs as she weighed her options. It seemed to the rainbow mare that she had a few routes before her; have the foal and keep it, have the foal and give it up for adoption, or…
Scootaloo. Dash’s eyes rolled at the sound of that familiar voice that haunted her on a daily basis. This day was perfect now. If she hadn’t been so consumed by thoughts of the end of her career, she would have heard the sounds of the orange pegasus filly’s approach and could have flown away before being discovered. As it was, she would have to endure the presence of the annoying filly for the time being. She rubbed the tears from her eyes as the filly came into view around the tree.
“I’m so happy to see you! I’ve waited all morning to see you again,” the excited filly exclaimed, her voice cracking from the mirth overwhelming her small body.
“Yeah … good to see you, Squirt.” Rainbow did not reflect the joy beamed upon her by the filly. Her expression was one of disdain and a hint of remorse. She used this tactic nearly every time Scootaloo showed up in hopes to deter her from staying, but it never worked, as if Scootaloo couldn’t understand that the lack of enthusiasm was directly linked to her appearance. The filly was either incredibly persistent or mildly retarded. Dash thought the latter was more likely. Dash didn’t exactly hate the pegasus, but she certainly didn’t enjoy her accompaniment. Scootaloo was a walking, talking reminder to use protection during sexual activity—dumb, crippled, and possibly the most mind-shattering form of annoyance ever known to ponykind. Rainbow sighed resentment and resigned herself to the worst day ever.
The spectrum mare was nodding half-heartedly as the young pegasus rambled about her day when Dash suddenly realized what time it was. “What are you doing out of school?” Dash cut the filly off in mid-sentence, stunning her for a moment, possibly glimpsing the thought that Dash didn’t care about her day.
“Oh … well we got out at lunch because all the adults are going to some kind of meeting,” Scootaloo said, an almost imperceptible quiver of hurt in her voice.
“What kind of meeting?” Dash asked, her attention pulled away from her predicament for a minute.
“Something to do with a new clinic that has opened up outside of town. Some of the adults seemed mad about it.
They called it …” Scootaloo’s mouth was agape and her eyes rolled up and to the side as she sought the word she had never heard until that morning. What had she heard Ms. Cheerilee call it?
Rainbow’s brows furrowed and she regarded the filly with aggravation and the slightest hint of pity while she made that unflattering face. Definitely a retard.
“OH! A … borshun clinic! Apple Bloom asked what borshun clinics did, but Ms. Cheerilee just told her that it wasn’t for younger ponies to know and let us all go home. I was going to go with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle to try and …”
Rainbow stopped listening to Scootaloo; her valuable information had already been spilled and the useless facts that were rolling out of her mouth could easily be ignored. An abortion clinic, near town? She hadn’t heard of that before, but she had been in isolated training the last month. She had heard something new was being built somewhere in town … or close to town … but she hadn’t been interested enough to find out what. Abortion clinics were a new thing in Equestria and a new option for unwanted pregnancies. That was something Dash hadn’t thought about. If she had the foal medically terminated, she would be able to continue her dream of becoming a Wonder Bolt. Abortion was a hot topic in Ponyville; many were against it, but many thought it was fine. Dash leaned back against the tree trunk and thought about her options while Scootaloo continued to expel words to which Dash paid absolutely no attention.
If she had the foal and kept it, Dash would be bound to it for a very long time. She glanced over to the filly and pretended to be listening to the endless strings of words coming from her mouth. Scootaloo just wanted attention, but sweet Celestia, why did she have to be so useless? If only abortion clinics were around before her birth. If anything, she was the poster-foal for abortions. Dash scanned Scootaloo’s tiny malformed wings; she would never fly. She was crippled and bound to the earth. What a cruel joke to play on a pegasus, not to mention the parent of such a filly. A winged pony that would never get off the ground, would never see the pegasus home-city of Cloudsdale under own power. What if the foal growing inside of her was crippled as well? She already had Scootaloo chasing her everywhere, did she need another foal as well? Letting a crippled foal be born was unjust and cruel in Dash’s eyes.
Having the foal and giving it up for adoption, Dash could see as a possibility. She had never wanted a foal, although she had fooled herself into thinking she did once. After looking again at the talkative orange filly, she knew again she would never consider keeping it, but perhaps adoption would work. Dash frowned as she considered that path; adoption was a perfectly good option, but she would spend so much time unable to train that the re-training process would be arduous and tedious. She would lose valuable time and all of the credit she had already won and have to start over. The Wonder Bolts had never been so attainable before to the mare. She didn’t want to have to give up now and wait to try again. It was now or never; hell, they sort of owed her after that party.
Abortion. She could could sneak over to that clinic and have the thing terminated. Some ponies called it murder, but it wasn’t even a pony yet, it was a … well, it. It wasn’t identifiable inside of her yet, just a clump of cells growing—a mass, a tumor on her life. Was it wrong to get rid of something that would ruin her life? It wasn’t wrong to take antibiotics for illnesses or to have growths removed, and they were living things, as well. Dash looked at her tummy and rubbed her hoof gently down it. Sometimes mistakes happened, and it was better that they were corrected before they could mess everything up for others. “Where did you say this clinic was, Squirt?”
Scootaloo, once again interrupted, stopped talking to think and smiled as she recalled where the ‘borshun’ place was. “It’s outside of town, just before the Everfree forest. You want to go see it?” She smiled hopefully; she didn’t know what they did there, but anything Rainbow Dash was interested in, so was she. Dash rarely did much with Scootaloo, so going to see anything with her was a thrill to the filly.
“Yeah, I think so. Do you think you can get us there without getting us lost?” Dash had very little faith in the filly, but having the reminder of why she needed to get an abortion probably wasn’t a bad idea.
Scootaloo leapt and did a spin with excitement, her purple tail swinging and catching Rainbow across the face, stinging lightly, and coming to rest behind the prancing filly. “I sure can! Let’s go, Rainbow Dash!”
Dash rubbed her cheek and fought the urge to yell at Scootaloo for whacking her in her clumsiness. Somehow, she pushed it down into her gut and stood up, “Well let’s go. Lead the way … and if anypony asks what we’re doing, we’re just taking a walk, okay?”
“Sure, Dash! Whatever you say! I know the way. Come on!” Scootaloo cantered happily towards town, happily leading her hero.
The pair had just made it into Ponyville, Dash numbly nodding or emotionlessly saying, “uh huh” at the correct intervals to fool the filly into believing she was paying attention when Scootaloo actually asked something that caughther attention.
“What is a borshun clinic, Rainbow Dash?” Scootaloo asked quizzically, her smiling face looking up to the larger pegasus, earning a scowl.
Dash quickly looked around at the ponies going about their lives to see if anypony heard the idiotic filly blurt out her question. She didn’t want any rumors about herself flying around town when she had the procedure. She sure didn’t need Scootaloo’s loose lips yammering about where they were going. Thankfully, it seemed that nopony else had paid Scootaloo any attention either and Dash’s nerves stopped prickling the flesh of her back and legs. “Shut up, already. Nopony needs to know about what we’re doing. Wait until we’re out of town and I’ll tell you, okay?”
“Okay, Dash … sorry,” the filly lowered her eyes to the ground as she responded, upset with herself for agitating Rainbow Dash. She reveled in their time together and hoped Dash would want to spend more of her free time with her, but it looked like she might have messed up the chances of that. She wanted to know why all of the adults were so concerned with a place called a clinic. Wasn’t a clinic where you went when you were sick or hurt? Why would they be so upset about a new one being built outside of Ponyville? Maybe they wanted it inside Ponyville, instead?
As they walked by the school, both pegasi turned to watch a mother pushing her daughter on a swing in the playground. They were laughing, the mother and daughter, enjoying each other’s company and showing their love for one another as they played happily together. Both of the pegasi felt something as they halted on their journey long enough to take in the scene.
The filly in the swing’s voice pitched up as her arc hit its apex and quickly descended to the low vertex and back up to where her mother placed her hooves on the foal’s seat and pushed again, continuing the back and forth motion. “Mommy! Harder, push me higher! I can see the roof of Sugar Cube Corner from here!”
The mother, a beige pony with green hair, chuckled and sent the filly on her parabolic course, “Maybe after we finish playing, we can go there and get a snack before dinner. What do you think, honey?”She wore the features of a mother, slight wrinkles from being the adult she needed to be in order to care for her foal, but also the warm mirth that fills a parent’s heart when with her children.
Scootaloo felt sad as she watched the pair. Nopony had given her a push on the swing like that. She knew that there was something different between her and her mother, but was sure that the love she didn’t receive was there somewhere. Parents had different ways of showing love; wasn’t that what Cheerilee had taught them once in class? No two ponies were ever the same and each showed caring in his or her own ways. Scootaloo just wished she could experience it like the filly on the swing did, at least sometimes. She looked up at Rainbow Dash, a tear forming in her eye, but turned before Dash could look at her.
Rainbow Dash suddenly experienced a wave of uncertainty as she watched the scene of the playground. There was something about being a parent that she didn’t understand. Something she wouldn’t understand until she really became one, like that mother pushing her foal; a caring, unselfish, and truly adult mare that would give up everything for the foal, one that would happily abandon her own dreams. Her heart warmed and she found herself touching her tummy again. Perhaps the foal inside of her could be different … something that meant more than her dreams. She suddenly felt like asking Scootaloo if she wanted to swing, but when she gazed down to the filly, that urge died.
“Let’s go, Scootaloo. We’re almost out of town,” Dash’s voice quivered slightly as they began to move again, leaving the happy pair to swing and enjoy each other. Dash wasn’t like that mare. She had potential. She had her dreams.
They had traveled in silence the rest of the way, each lost to her own thoughts and each battling with inner demons about her life and the routes that brought her to this point. Before long, the pegasi were facing the newly constructed building. It was a very professional building; it had a white exterior with only one floor and was larger than most of the buildings in Ponyville, but with an inviting look. It looked sanitary and sterile, not what the idea of abortions could bring up—back alleys, coat hangers, filthy doctors, and shame. Dash stopped at the door and looked at the name of the clinic, reading it aloud, “Filly Planning Center.” She looked down at her follower and nodded; her decision was final. She pushed the door open and held it for Scootaloo. “Go on, Squirt.”
Scootaloo walked inside the building first, followed by Rainbow Dash. They stood for a moment; the room was divided into two waiting rooms full of chairs, a few with mares of different stages of pregnancy filling them, eyes down and minding their own businesses, and the check-in desk that was behind protective glass with only a few openings for the signing of papers or conversations. The room was decorated professionally and looked like any other doctor’s office inside of which the pair had ever been, with plush seats standing in rows and light reading material on little side-tables, a shelf of pamphlets of varying subjects, and a smiling receptionist eager to help them. Dash looked down to Scootaloo and nodded, walking up to the glass-enclosed desk.
The receptionist was a nurse as well; a little nurse hat rested between her ears on her brushed back and ponytailed mane. She was middle aged and pink-coated, a cutie-mark of a syringe on her flank. “Just sign in here and I’ll call you up in a moment, dear.”
Dash looked down to see a sign-in sheet and carefully printed her name with her mouth, then placed the pen connected to the desk by a string of tiny balls back into its place and walked Scootaloo over to a pair of seats away from other ponies. She sighed and waited impatiently for this to be over; it was getting to her and she just wanted to be free on the other side of this stressful event. She felt Scootaloo take the seat beside her and the filly’s front legs wrap around her. Dash looked down into the smiling face of the young pegasus. For a moment, she might have felt something, but her decision was final and she knew what had to be done.
Scootaloo laid her head into Dash and hugged her, sensing her hero’s distress and wanting to help her feel better. “It’s all right, Rainbow Dash. I’m here. You don’t have to feel so bad. Even if other ponies might not like it that you came here, I still care about you.”
Dash gently placed a hoof on Scootaloo’s head and tussled her mane. She hid her disgust at the filly’s actions inside, much as she had for a long time now. “Thanks, Squirt.” Having a foal might not be such a bad thing, as long as it didn’t turn out like Scootaloo.
“Ms. Rainbow Dash,” the nurse called her and she absently wondered why they even had to go sit down if it would be that short of a wait, but it was probably better Scootaloo wasn’t at the desk with her this time. She stood up and motioned to Scootaloo to sit tight for a moment. She approached the desk and stood on the outside of the glass while the nurse smiled cheerfully at her and inquired, “So what can we do for you today?”
Dash spoke quietly, almost as if with embarrassment. “I … need an abortion.” Her eyes made contact with the smiling nurse; her nametag read “Nurse Hope.” The name was ironic to Rainbow Dash and a small grimace crossed her features.
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Ms. Dash,” Nurse Hope explained. “This is a common practice and completely natural. It’s for the best of the mother and the foal. We don’t pass judgment here. So, how far are you along?”
Dash smiled a little; it was for the best for both parties and she knew it. “Almost two months, but that’s not the issue.”
“Oh?” The nurse asked with a little confusion, “Well, then how may we help you?”
Rainbow looked Nurse Hope directly in the eyes and moved slightly, just enough for the nurse to see past her and to the form of Scootaloo kicking her hooves anxiously above the floor as she waited on Dash to return.
“Oh, I see. Well, just sign this form here and we’ll take care of it for you.” The nurse spoke in a soft, motherly tone, which made Dash hopeful for the future. She quickly scanned the paperwork with a box checked next to the words “extreme post-natal.” She signed and nodded to the nurse, who simply smiled and nodded back. “Just take a seat and we’ll be with you shortly, Ms. Dash.”
Rainbow Dash walked back to her seat and smiled softly at Scootaloo, who had remained silent and waiting.
“So, what’s a borshun clinic do, Rainbow Dash?” Scootaloo asked, having forgotten to ask after they left Ponyville. Her young eyes were interested and full of wonder.
“An abortion clinic, Scootaloo … they … they fix mistakes,” Dash tried to explain vaguely to the filly, not wanting to divulge the whole story.
“Waddya mean, fix mistakes?” Scootaloo’s eyes were questioningly looking up to Dash, but a sudden noise distracted her; a few ponies in medical garb were pulling a table through a doorway that led to the back of the building, back to the rooms where the actual deeds were done. They navigated the door and turned towards the pair of pegasi. Scootaloo’s expression turned dark with worry and she looked back to Rainbow Dash.
The look was too much for Dash to take and she sighed in irritation, the last irritation Scootaloo would give her; she might as well spell it out for the filly. “They get rid of unwanted pregnancies, Squirt. They kill unwanted foals.” Dash could see the dawning of realization in her daughter’s purple eyes. It was cruel to let a crippled foal live; this was the right thing to do.
Scootaloo’s eyes brimmed with tears and she turned to see the ponies in medical clothes closing in on them. She knew what Dash meant now—unwanted pregnancies, unwanted foals. Scootaloo had always felt her mother had treated her differently than others. She had hoped that the years of neglect were, in some way, a form of love, but now she knew the truth. Her mother wished she didn’t exist. She stared up at her mother, Rainbow Dash, and cried. “Mom, please! Haven’t I always been good around you? Please give me another chance!”
Dash’s eyes were hard and unfeeling; even in this moment Scootaloo could see the lack of emotions in her mother’s features. Her silence told Scootaloo all she needed to know and the filly turned and leapt with all of her strength, needing to escape this place before they took her away on that table and fixed her, killed her. For a moment, she thought she might have a chance, but the medical ponies were too close and she felt their grasps around her, yanking her from the air to land hard on the rolling steel table. Scootaloo saw stars for an instant, but the adrenaline coursing her system snapped her out of the lapse and she struggled as the medical ponies held her down and began to roll the table away. She fought and turned enough to see her mother watching from the seats they had shared until a few seconds ago, staring blandly back, as if Scootaloo meant nothing to her. The filly screamed, pleading to the rainbow mare. “Please, mom! I never told anypony! Just like you told me! I didn’t even tell Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle! Nopony knew you were my mommy! PLEASE! PLEASE MOMMY! PLEASE! PLEASE! I LOVE YOU! MOMMY!”
The door to the back slammed and Scootaloo’s cries were getting farther and farther away until they could no longer be heard. Rainbow Dash didn’t mourn her daughter; Scootaloo had always been a burden on her. She would have had her aborted if these clinics had been in operation back then. She was forced to have the crippled foal, and had kept her hoping that one day she might love the filly like all the other mares she had seen. She never did, her irritation with the filly growing until she could barely tolerate her presence. Gingerly, the multicolored mare rubbed her tummy and thought of the future. Seeing the mare and her daughter in the playground had changed things for the foal she carried inside of her. She thought that she could change this time, be a good mother. As long as this foal was different from Scootaloo, she was certain of it.