Derpy Can't Breathe Good

by darf

Chapter 5ive

When she woke up, Derpy wondered how much of what she remembered had been a dream and how much was real. That happened a lot. One of the things she would always dream about was being at work, going to get her lunch, and finding somepony else had taken it. In the dream she was always really hungry, so hungry she felt starving, like if she didn't get something to eat at the halfway point of the day, there was no chance of her making it home, let alone out the door to deliver more letters. So in her dream, every time, she did the sensible thing and took somepony else's lunch that was in the fridge, plastic-wrapped and unlabeled. She ate it alone in the break-room, looking nervously over her shoulder towards the door every time she heard somepony walking along in the hall. But nopony ever came by to notice her. She would finish the sandwich or pasta or whatever else the dream had served up, and go on her route. And just as she was taking flight, with her bag of letters thrown over her back, somepony would yell 'Hey!' behind her, and without even having to turn around she knew what they were about to say to her.

But she always woke up before she could turn around. And then she wondered for a long time if she had ever taken somepony else's lunch and forgotten about it, and it made her nervous in the morning before she went to work.

This morning before work, Derpy felt like she had a lot more to remember. Now, instead of remembering to take time to breathe when her chest got tight, she had to remember her breather, and where it was, and how to use it. And if she put it in the same spot every time she was home on her bedside table next to her lamp and picture of her mom and usually a glass of water, that was fine. But when she was at work she had to keep it in one of her bags, and not getting it mixed up with the mail would be tricky. She had to make sure to have it with her all the time, and to remember to pop the cap and inhale and hold her breath for at least three seconds. And she had to not lose it.

Derpy wondered about her pills too. The new ones, which was to say, the only ones she'd taken besides the few times she had a really bad headache or her stomach felt extra icky, and those she just got over the counter at the convenience store cloud just down the way, and they didn't have any fancy warnings or names she could pronounce except for the ingredients, and that was everything anyway. Plus, when you took these pills, you didn't feel them do anything right away. Derpy had been taking them for one day, and when she came home tonight would be day number two. She didn't worry about forgetting that because she put the pills in their package next to her alarm clock, and she always set that before bed, so she was pretty sure she would see the package of pills and remember she was supposed to take them before bed. That was a pretty good strategy, she thought.

Derpy didn't remember in school learning about how a pill you took could fix an icky stomach or a hurting head. She definitely didn't remember learning about any pill you took that worked on you secretly, hiding away in your head and mixing itself up with your brain chemicals and doing whatever it was it did that was supposed to make you think and feel different. Or remember stuff better. Or not start crying for what felt like no reason when you were lying in bed at night.

Were there other pills she could take that would fix different things, things she wondered about being wrong with her? Could she take a pill to make her more eager to greet the morning of each work-day, that would help her uncross her eyes when they got stuck every so often?

Could she take one to sleep forever, and never wake up?

Derpy shook her head. That was strange. It felt like somepony else was talking to her. They were using a voice she recognized, but not one she could place by name. Just somepony familiar, murmuring to her over her shoulder. When she turned, of course, nopony was there. Just the kitchen walls, and the cat-clock with its swinging tail mounted above the stove.

Well, it was time for cereal, anyway. That's what Derpy had every day before work, a bowl of cruncy sugar-crusted oats swimming in milk. She wondered about the cows that gave away their milk for ponies and their cereal, but she had never met those cows, and didn't really know what they thought about the whole situation. The sugar-crusted oats were yummy and they crunched in the milk if you ate them fast enough and didn't let them get all mushy. Then at the end you could drink the milk, and it would be extra sweet with the sugar that it had soaked up off the bits of oats. Derpy loved that taste. She wished she could buy it in a jug by itself, and maybe even pour it in the cereal again to super-charge it with flavour. Flavour and sugar.

Mom hasn't called in over a week. She's probably mad at us.

Probably, Derpy said in her head as she got up to put her bowl in the sink and wash it. But she's usually kinda mad at us about something anyway.

Derpy washed the bowl and spoon with a tiny dab of soap, 'no bigger than a pea', just like she remembered her mom saying. She liked to giggle when she imagined a pea made of soap. It sounded silly.

You're gonna be late for work if you don't hurry.

I know, just let me finish cleaning up. Derpy rinsed her hooves in the same spray she'd used on the bowl and spoon, turned off the faucet with a dry part of her foreleg, and dried her hooves on the dish-towel hanging over the stove-handle. She checked the cat-clock up on the wall, which confirmed that she only had ten minutes to get to work on a route that normally took her nine. One minute to go and she hadn't packed lunch yet. But she wasn't going to forget, but she didn't think she was somepony who had taken anypony else's lunch, and she was going to keep it that way if she could.

There. Enough time for a cup noodle and some puddings. Derpy really liked the banana-cream ones, and you could get a deal if you bought two at a time. She liked to mix and match the flavours too, chocolate-ice-cream, vanilla-caramel swirl... it was like getting a little synthetic bite of a flavour vacation. You could stay there for as many spoonfuls as you could stand the blatantly manufactured taste of the dessert selection. Three was usually enough for Derpy in one day.

I don't think we have enough milk to last until payday, the voice said, taking on a tone eerily similar to Derpy's mother. You need to do your budget better. This week by week thing keeps leaving us in trouble.

Derpy shook her head and opened the front door. She could put on her bag and hat when she got to work. No time for fussing about the milk. Even though she was right—they always ran out of something before payday, and it was usually a compromise between cereal without milk, milk without cereal, or neither in favour of the caffeinated soda Derpy liked to have at twice a day, one at lunch, usually to go with her noodle cup, and one when she got home, after she'd started relaxing on the couch and usually turned on something to watch that was funny or had cute animals in it. Derpy smiled uncontrollably whenever she saw a cute animal, and rather than question the phenomenon, preferred to give into it whenever possible.

With a last few blinks to clear her eyes, which were as clear as they were going to be, anyway, Derpy took off to work, eight minutes on the cat clock. While she'd remember to shut the door, her key remained hanging in the lock, unturned where she'd left it mid-way.