Cafe Harmony

by River Shy

Dinner and A Walk

Given all the events that transpired, Katie’s mind was occupied. So the girl was utterly stricken to realize, she stood with Rocky naked in the middle of the living room. Everyone turned to them as they entered. To her credit Katie didn’t run or hide. Instead she merely stood as tall as she could, and decided to power through it.

There were three adult ponies and Strawberry, the three new ponies were all unfamiliar to the girl. Katie searched for Strawberry’s eyes in the group. There eyes met and she tried to convey her apologies. But given how different human facial reading was, it was most likely lost on the mare.

Strawberry was laying comfortably on the floor, her legs stretched out in front of her, and her back legs were tucked in. Katie left Rocky’s side and went right up to Strawberry, the plush doll obediently following. Without asking Katie sat down between her legs and under her muzzle. The mare looked down at her, she quietly adjusted so the little human could get more comfortable. Katie grabbed the doll and used it as a makeshift shield to hide her nakedness, she tucked herself against the warm fur, she could hear and feel her heart beat. Looking up at Strawberry, she was about to give an apology when the mare leaned down and whispered quietly, "We'll talk later love. For now I'm glad you are feeling better."

Rocky watched the exchange with every other pony in the room, after everything settled he sat himself down. Conversation picked up as if nothing at all had happened. Katie had a hard time focusing in on the banal and perfectly ordinary pleasentries, she was much to preoccupied by being naked and exposed. No pony seemed to mind in the least, the girl wondered if it was mere politeness, or if they really truly had no hang ups regarding her lack of clothing.

Watching so many ponies talk and socialize was difficult though. Over time Katie began to feel a sense of isolation and alienation, it always grew the more she became involved with them. It took hold of her slowly, their subtle tones, word choice, lack of artifice; their colours, smells, and even forms of contact all sat at odds with her expectations. What she wouldn't give for another human, to for example be embarrassed for her, another human to read emotionally. It made her head swim with incongruity and loneliness.

The conversation turned towards her unexpectedly. Since there had been no introductions, Katie didn’t know the name of the unicorn who addressed her.

“I love your little guard doll, what’s his name?”

“Virgil,” Katie replied without thinking. Rocky’s eyes narrowed but he didn’t speak. She wasn’t entirely sure why she lied, maybe it was the all the openness in the room. Or maybe she was subconsciously testing the ponies around her. How would they respond to a deception. Katie’s face smiled up at the unicorn, playing up the sappy tones of a child, “His name is Virgil,” she repeated again.

“Oh.. well that is certainly an interesting name,” the mare spoke carefully. “My little filly collects all the Canterlot guards. Never heard of that one.”

“He’s special,” Katie continued. Hugging the soft fabric closer. She felt Strawberry’s confusion in the stiffening of her body. In the moment playing a child felt like the right thing to do. It’s purpose was get the attention off her, and it worked.

“Well of course he is sweetheart,” the mare smiled kindly. The conversation raced on to other topics.

Loud shouting noises started, and four foals burst into the room. Three of them Katie recognized as the fillies she met a few days ago. The fourth was a colt, a unicorn, and unfamiliar. He had a brownish green coat, no mark on his flank and he wore a sour look on his face.

Before Katie had time to understand what was happing, she was rushed outside. They all went out through the back door in the kitchen. A large clearing stood in front of a line of trees. Strawberry’s house backed onto the forest which surrounded the small town.

Katie felt the sun kiss her naked form, warm and golden. She looked towards the sun, using her hand as a visor taking it in. Something felt off about it, it took a moment before she realized she wasn’t squinting. Her hand didn’t seem to be needed. Slowly she moved it, fighting every impulse she slowly looked. In all the time here she had not thought about it, or noticed. She was looking into the sun directly with no consequences.

“That should be impossible,” she spoke softly, continuing to look with awe.

All four foals were watching. “What she looking at?” Fad whispered to Chinook Wind.

“I don’t know the sky? Maybe it’s a human thing,” Chinook replied. Before Chinook could say anything the brown unicorn colt spoke up.

“What are you looking at it’s just the sun,” his voice was dismissive and carried irritation.

“Just the sun,” Katie whispered to herself transfixed by the orb. She lowered her gaze. “I shouldn’t be able to look at it like that, right, right?” Asking aloud of the four foals around her. Obvious confusion and panic in her expression.

“Why in Equestria wouldn’t we be able to look at it? What are you slow?” The unicorn colt snapped.

Cloud Arch stepped between the girl and the unicorn, her wings flaring slightly. “What’s your problem Glow?”

“My problem is I didn’t sign up to be a foal sitter,” he took a step closer to Cloud.

“So why are you here?”

“My Mom made me come, said I had to be nice to this human. I don’t see why? She is slow, small and sick looking. I betcha I could even pick her up with my magic.” His horn began to glow.

“Don’t you dare.” Fad stepped up beside Cloud. A sickly smile crossed Glow’s face and he flicked his head suddenly. A loud shriek came from behind the two as Katie was lifted suddenly, and violently into the air. The girl had been to preoccupied to notice the brewing fight. She was trying to explain to Chinook Wind why looking directly at the sun was so unnatural.

It all happened in a blink, Cloud and Fad rushed Glow. Chinook, who had been sitting next to Katie took flight immediately. The magic released and Katie felt herself begin to fall. It was a quick act, but it had tossed her easily twenty feet into the air. Closing her eyes she tensed for the fall. Two hooves slipped under her arm pits. Her decent slowed. Opening her eyes the first thing she saw was Glow storming away towards the house. Chinook spoke, “Don’t worry I got ya.” The filly lowered her to the ground gently.

Touching the ground Katie curled into herself, tucking her head between her knees. Due to all the adrenaline still running through her system she found herself rocking back and forth. Chinook landed beside her extended a wing and wrapped it around her.

Fad and Cloud trotted up with worried expressions. Chinook spoke with anger. “That was mean, even for Glow that was mean. What is that colts problem.”

“One of his Moms was at the Cafe when Katie was there. Apparently she saw some stuff. Hasn’t been the same, Glow blames Katie for it,” Fading Stars answered simply.

“That’s stupid,” Cloud added.

“Well Glows has never had the sharpest horn,” Fad added.

Katie stood up gently moving the wing. Her tolerance had reached its limit. She did not want to stay with the fillies, nor did she want to go into the house. Standing tall she looked straight at Chinook Wind and thanked her. Looking towards the clearing of trees she spoke. “I’d like to be alone, I’m going for a walk. Spear follow me.” Katie didn’t wait, just started walking with the doll following.

“Should we follow her?” Cloud asked.

“She said she wanted to be alone,” Chinook responded.

“I know but I don’t think Strawberry would be happy if we let her wander off,” Cloud countered.

“I think we should tell Strawberry,” Fad added.

“Well you two do that, I’m going to follow her.” Cloud took off into the air. She wrangled a cloud and used it for cover as she began following the girl from the air.

Strawberry had lied to her, she said the ponies in the town were not suspicious of her. She said they didn’t blame her, but here clearly was evidence to the contrary. Deep in thought Katie walked towards the trees, grass tickling her legs with every step. Solid Spear following mutely behind her.

Maybe Strawberry didn’t know? Maybe most of the town hated her? Reaching the forest she took in a breath. The scent of pine and decaying wood greeted her senses. It was familiar, and she really needed something familiar. Finding a large stick on the path she picked it up. Examining it closely she deemed it passable for a walking stick, or spear. Following a small path it lead towards the sound of rushing water. Eventually the trees opened up to a river, specifically, Hay River.

By human standards the river was small, more of a stream really. You could cross it, but you would have to swim at the deepest point. It was clear and no matter how deep it was, it’s transparency remained untouched. Katie sat down placing the stick beside her on the bank and watched the life teeming underneath.

Solid Spear arrived, and sat down beside her, magic ceasing to radiate from him. Katie turned from the water and looked at the doll. His stern visage staring out at nothing in particular.

Every pony in this world had power, wether it be strength, flight, or magic. What did she have? Bullied by a foal, bullied by the very forces that glued this world together. Equestria didn’t want her here, well it didn’t want her as she is. She never agreed to be changed, or controlled. Even now the girl could feel it, that irritating pressure all over. The weight associated with the ‘magic of harmony’ pressing down on her.

How do you fight a world? What if she didn’t agree to the terms? Katie picked up a stone and threw it into the river angrily. The fish scattered and all looked at her with annoyance. She shuddered at their looks, mumbled an apology, and turned away from the water. Katie had lived a life of stress, and over time she had developed many ways to cope with it. Her default method was to close her eyes, lay down and listen. She'd listen to her own heart, to the wind, anything really, straining for the smallest imperceptible noise drew her mind away from problems. Closing her eyes she lied down on the impossibly soft ground, listening to the sounds of the river and forest.

But over time she had added another item to this pattern of hers, and that was focusing on the little pushes and pulls of the magic on her body. Strawberry was somewhat correct, the magic changed with her moods; panic it pushed down into her like a weighted blanket, fear and anxiety it bumped her around and made her fidget. Now it was almost caressing her. She could feel increases in places like there was more of it in one direction than another.

Suddenly the magic stabbed her in the side forcing her to roll over in shock. Just as she rolled a mess of twigs and branches landed snarling in the place she just moved from. The beast was terrifying looking, it was about half her height, yellow eyes glowered under the shrubbery it called a body. She rocketed upward into a crouch. Her limbs froze and she crouched there staring at the creature frozen in fear.

It began to circle, she watched it with wide calculating eyes not moving. Looking at the stick near the bank and the water. Was it all bush, did it have flesh to wound? Could she outrun it? Katie made a split second decision. She yelled loudly.”SPEAR JUMP!” The little doll jumped on the spot. The creature glanced at the movement. Katie took the split second to run toward the river, and the discarded stick.

The creature was alarmingly fast, as soon as she moved, she judged she wouldn’t make it to the safety of the water in time.

Reaching the stick she grabbed it, but before she could dive into the water it caught up to her and pounced. She fell downward turning her body and the stick towards it. She watched the creature fall towards her in slow motion. An agonizing pressure pushed though her body. Her head felt as if it would split, her very self was being pushed in, than ripped outward. The pressure in the air had collapsed inward without mercy or kindness. She screamed from the pain.

Cloud Arch cursed the tree tops, it made it so hard to follow the little thing. She had taken a wrong turn and lost Katie, she had to double back to try and find her. These forests were not always the safest places to be alone. Shrub coyotes though not a problem for ponies, could easily see her as a snack. Suddenly an ear piercing scream broke the stillness. Cloud Arch banked sharply towards the noise ditching the cloud she was using as cover.

A river bank came into view. A creature was snarling, leaping, and throwing itself against a small and very weak magic bubble. Parts of the creature would push though but never the whole thing. Katie was inside screaming.

Cloud dropped out of the jet stream she was riding, and dove with urgency.

She descended on the creature, stopping just above. Flapping her wings hovering she kicked at it with her back hooves. With each kick she’d yell at it. “GO! GET! GET LOST!” One savage kick connected and the beast backed away. As if noticing the Pegasus for the first time. It froze.

Cloud landed and flared her wings to their full, making her self as big as possible. She took a step and yelled again, “GET!” The shrub coyote flinched and ran back into the trees away from the two.