Chipping Away Dusk

by Ice Star


Ashes and Memory

"It's all set."

...

The junkyard was deeply infused with an array of grimy odors as prominent as the bags under Delta's eyes. She could never scrub the smell of smoke from her coat and shirt. Her every feather reeked of the stuff, and had been for a long time. When she managed to remind (or convince) herself to shower, she still couldn't get the stench out of her. Perhaps her brain was still left on the edge of the junkyard, where she liked to sit at night and chip away at dusk with her thoughts. ('Like' was an exaggeration.) That had to be why her thoughts were so scattered.

Delta Vee groaned and thrashed, on the border of slumber. Her mind dripped an uneven world of dreams into her mind, and it was there she was dragged. In the roiling fragments of star-bound rockets and tire-fire taste of the morning's inevitable cigarette, Delta Vee was dreaming. When the lingering bits of fantasy that tantalized her mind in the grip of sleep faded, she was left to be feed with only memories of her gritty reality. Those were her dreams now that her waking life could not leave her.

Princess Luna never visited her, but Delta didn't need her to.

(Not at night.)

There were still times when she dreamed only of stars.

...

"Let's enjoy our last night together..."

...

Rockets were her passion, and with their flights, her heart would soar too. The final frontier was on the lips of ponies who wanted a new adventure. To Delta, the construction was a quest all on its own. Every engine was a labyrinth to ponies who did not have an eye for the future.

Junkyards were monotony. Or, at least Delta was sure that it was the junkyard. (That was how she said it, and allowed it to remain in her head.) This was an echo of her passion that she was trying to call a song.

When everything was just numb enough, just good enough, entirely blurred enough, and all tumbled together in a way that took her focus away from anything else, Delta could hear that song again. Delta could feel the deep euphoria that came with doing what her cutie mark told her, what she loved. It wasn't a junkyard she stood it. It didn't have to be. She could enjoy something, just pull herself out of...

Of...

...of the Delta Vee she was. The Delta Vee with canyons under her eyes, no food in the kitchen (again), and who was always going to end up staring down her muzzle at the glow of a cigarette, bright or otherwise. The Delta who lived a sour life and was always squinting out at the nightly horizon at many different things and places, but was in a junkyard every time. Her junkyard.

That was the Delta who thought that she could be junk too. (And that she could stand to clean her hooves more often.) Here she was, festering away with all the elegance of a picked-at infection and enjoying nothing.

And for the love of Luna, Celestia, and all of Equestria, she could not remember the last time she really did.

...

"...and have some drinks together."

...

When the moon was new in the sky is when the night bled a magic even Delta could put no name to. The coldness of the stars touched her and the ember-glow of the cigarette dangling from her lips might as well be the last light when the sun sank below the horizon.

The horizon always held puzzles she could not peel away with squints, just like she could not remember when exactly this ritual began, only that it was after Delta Vee's Junkyard really became 'Delta Vee's'. She knew she couldn't bother to answer anything out here if she never bothered to ask any question, but for the most part she stayed out here every time. It was only when Apogee visited that some broken rhythm in her called for sleep, however irregular.

Peering out at the line that divided the earth from the sky had somehow managed to become a sport to her. What kind of sport it was, she didn't know. Especially not when she was so tired, Celestia dammit. (How could any sleep in the world erase this? Or anything else?) Delta did know that as the sway of the night dragged on, the more that line, that single horizon was erased by an encroaching sky, pressing down on a world that only wanted to...

Delta Vee surprised herself with a cough, and attempted to roughly rub away the blurriness sapping her tired eyes with the brusque motions of her foreleg. Dizziness struck the inside of her skull, but that wasn't all that out of the ordinary. Maybe it was even extra ordinary at this point.

(The blurry vision didn't go away.)

Luna dammit, she wanted a cigarette. Tartarus knows she could've sworn that she had one right in her mouth too. At least, tonight she should've. She usually did.

Why didn't she bring one?

Delta wanted a cigarette. Badly. Every one of the cursed packages sat not with her, past the junkyard's edge, but at the heart of it. Home. Her junkyard. Where only junk belonged.

(Delta had wanted those drinks too.)

(Just the drinks.)

...

"What'd you say?"

...

Not enough.

She hadn't said 'yes' either.

Delta never said yes, not to what Jet really wanted.

Not to anything but drinks.

...

"Heh, I would love that."

...

Flushed cheeks, freckles, and two dark eyes stared down at her from above.

Her own face was doubly flushed and spinning with...

...with alcohol, because her and Jet...

...Jet and her had drinks.

She wanted drinks.

Just drinks.

Drinks.

...

Tomorrow, Delta Vee would wake up to Celestia's sun shining over her junkyard like nothing was ever wrong. She would wake up because she knows that exhaustion usually overwhelms her, and that she'll have dragged herself off to bed. Figuratively. Delta rarely makes it to bed. Not on these nights.

Sometimes she'll half remember stumbling somewhere when her sleep is disturbed and fitful. Those kinds of nights are the nights she spends entirely, completely, and utterly alone in the junkyard.

The junkyard that is hers. Delta Vee's.

It is the junkyard that is always there, always waiting.

And just like any other junkyard, there is nothing that isn't broken inside.