Tennyson's Time

by Learn For Life


Tennyson's Time

Dark clouds loomed overhead, but that didn’t stop Tennyson from showing his vibrant green leaves to Apple Bloom. The wind was blowing, and with it he swayed his branches down to stroke her face with those leaves, causing her to giggle. She sighed, taking the time to sniff and nudge his newly-grown Golden Delicious apples, the first he’d ever made. She exhaled, eyes closed and bearing a proud smile.

“Look, Applejack!” the filly yelled. “Tennyson’s grown his first apples!”

Apple Bloom's older sister trotted over to them, carrying a basket with Granny Smith apples in them. Despite the wind, her stetson stayed on top of her head. She took a look at Tennyson's apples and smiled.

“Well, Ah'll be, Apple Bloom,” she said, patting the filly's back. “He's gonna grow up to be a nice, strong, healthy Apple Family tree. Ya' just wait an' see.”

Apple Bloom turned to her sister with a large smile. “D'ya really think so, sis?”

“Shoot,” she replied, pulling her sister into a hug. “You've been takin' care o' him since he was nuthin' but a tiny li'l seed. Now look at him, he's growin' his own apples, an' fine ones at that! He's gonna be a big one; heck, he may even be bigger than any o' his brothers!” She saw Apple Bloom swell with pride, not taking her eyes off Tennyson. “Now, come on!” Applejack shifted the basket off of her and onto Apple Bloom, who accepted it with an audible oomph. “The storm'll be here any second now, an' we need to get this last row bucked!”

She watched as Applejack cantered away to the western fields. Apple Bloom then turned to Tennyson. “Hey, champ. Ah gotta go an' help my sis with the rest o' the apples. Ah'll see ya' after the storm, okay?” The wind picked up, and Tennyson reached his branches out to her. “Hey, it's okay,” she said in a soothing tone, wrapping her hooves around the trunk. “Don't be scared, Tennyson. Everything's gonna be fine. The storm'll pass on over an' you'll be safe an' sound. Ah'll come see you after, okay?” She kissed him and let go. He stood proudly upright for her. "That's my boy."

“Apple Bloom!”

“Oh, horsefeathers. Comin'!” With one last proud look at him, she adjusted the basket on her back and galloped after Applejack.

The clouds raced to cover Ponyville in their dark shadow, but the Apple sisters were quicker, filling the basket with the rest of the Granny Smith apples that needed to be collected. Apple Bloom was in a state of scrambling and galloping, barely catching the last tree's batch of apples before racing to barely catch the newly-bucked tree's apples. They soon finished that row, with no apples missed, and they galloped off to their house, the basket on Applejack's back.

They reached the barn as the first drops of rain came down. Winona was waiting for them on the front steps, wagging her tail excitedly and barking at them. Apple Bloom kicked the door open, and Applejack ran inside with the basket. The first flash of lightning and crash of thunder arrived, making Apple Bloom jump.

“Could ya' hurry up in there?” Apple Bloom squeaked.

“Hold yer reins, Ah'm comin' out!” Applejack ran out and they both galloped under the eaves. They stood there for a moment, panting and watching the rain begin to pour down. Winona sat there, wagging her tail.

“We did good, Apple Bloom,” Applejack said after they calmed down. “Let's go inside.” She opened the door and let her sister and Winona rush in. The door closed behind them just as another flash of lightning came.

Apple Bloom stared out the window for a moment, shrinking back each time she saw another bolt of lightning. Thunder continued to rumble. Just then, they both heard a rumble very close to them, and Apple Bloom looked at her sister.

“So,” she began, “when's dinner gonna be ready?”

Applejack laughed. “Now, we just got in here. Can't you think of nuthin else besides—“ Just then, her own stomach growled. She smiled sheepishly. “Ah guess Ah'm a bit hungry as well.”

“A bit?” Apple Bloom smiled. “Ah'm famished!”

“Yeah well, why don't we go wash up before we have dinner?”

Apple Bloom was about to protest, but her older sister gave her a stern look that stopped her. She groaned. “Fine.”


After a shower and a family dinner of mashed potatoes, green beans and bread and butter, Apple Bloom was feeling rather tired. The wind whistled and thunder shook the house. She followed Applejack closely up the stairs to the bathroom, where they began to brush their teeth.

“Hey, sis,” Apple Bloom began, toothbrush in mouth, “How bad d'ya think the storm's gonna get?”

Applejack spat into the sink. “Huh?"

“Ah mean...” She let go of the toothbrush, letting it hang out the side of her mouth. “What if the storm's so bad, one o' the trees falls over?”

Applejack chuckled. “Now, that's just plum silly,” she said, ruffling her sister's mane. “I doubt there's a storm out there that could knock down an Apple Family tree.”

“Are ya' sure, AJ?” Apple Bloom's voice quavered.

“Are ya' doubtin' yer big sister?” she asked playfully. When she saw the concern on her sister's face, she sighed. “You're worried about Tennyson, ain't ya'?” Apple Bloom nodded. “Now, look here, sugarcube,” Applejack began, “Tennyson's been through storms before, and he'll go through many more. He's always come out fine, just like his brothers. He's an Apple Family tree, and Apple Family trees are strong. Besides, ya' raised him since he was little, and now he's growin' up. He's gonna be strong enough to survive any storm that comes his way.” As she finished this, the house shook harder, and Apple Bloom squeaked. “Don't you fret none, okay? He'll be fine.”

Apple Bloom smiled and spat into the sink. “Thanks, sis. I can always count on ya' to say the right things.”

Applejack chuckled. “Yeah, well, Ah am yer big sister, after all.” There was a roar of thunder, and the house shook even harder. The next second found Apple Bloom clutching onto Applejack's foreleg. Applejack sighed. “Ya' wanna sleep with me tonight?”

Apple Bloom nodded quickly, and could only manage a high-pitched, “Mhm.”

“Alright then, let's go.”

Apple Bloom let go and raced to her sister's bedroom. She pushed the door open and dove under the coversj ust as lightning flashed. She stayed there, trembling, until she felt a hoof push her over. Once another body was laying next to her, she cuddled against it, intent on getting as close to it as possible. Despite the noise outside, from the pitter-patter of rain against the glass and thunder rumbling, she took comfort in her sister's warmth.

Applejack put a hoof around her sister's neck. “G'night, Apple Bloom."

“G'night, sis.” With a deep breath, she closed her eyes.


Apple Bloom awoke with a start to a very loud clap of thunder. She ventured a look outside and saw the rain cascading down and the wind blowing the trees back as if trying to take them from Sweet Apple Acres. Two bolts of lightning illuminated the sky, and thunder roared at Apple Bloom. She darted underneath the blanket.

“Why do thunderstorms have to be so loud?” She turned to her sister, who was snoring. “Darnit, why can't Ah fall asleep like AJ or Big Macintosh?” Apple Bloom curled up tighter into herself as the roar of thunder shook the shutters. She could hear Winona whining. “Don't be such a scaredypony, Winona. It's just a stupid—“ Boom! “Comeonoverhere, Winona!”

Winona crawled over to her, huddling herself with Apple Bloom. “Dont'cha worry, Winona. Applejack's here to protect us. Yeah, Applejack'll protect us! And Big Mac and Granny Smith! We'll be fine.” Winona stopped whining.

“Good dog,” Apple Bloom whispered. “We'll be fine.” Two more bolts flashed, but she didn't pay it any mind. “We'll be safe as long as we're in here.” The wind blew harder, and the house began to creak. “Gee whiz, this storm ain't lettin' up, huh Winona?” She perked up and saw the trees swaying with the wind, seemingly unperturbed.

“Tennyson's been through storms before, and he'll go through many more. He's always come out fine, just like his brothers. He's an Apple Family tree, and Apple Family trees are strong.”

“Applejack's right,” Apple Bloom said to herself. “Tennyson's been through many storms before. This one's no different.”

“He's gonna be strong enough to survive any storm that comes his way.”

“Ah just need to relax an' not worry so much.” She let her head touch the pillow again. “He's gonna be fine.”

The wind picked up again, making the house creak more. Apple Bloom sat straight up. “O' course, it wouldn't hurt to check up on the li'l fella.”

She tossed the blanket off of her and crawled out of bed, making sure not to touch Applejack. She deftly hopped down and felt her way through the room until she was in the hallway. The stairs creaked as she made her way to the kitchen. Once there, she fumbled around in a drawer until she found a lantern and lit it.

She stared at the flickering flame and sighed. “Tennyson may be big, but he's still young. He's still a baby...”

***

“Settle down, Winona! We're almost there.”

The puppy yapped at Granny Smith's hooves as Apple Bloom, still in diapers, was giggling and riding on her back. They had woken up early to check on something. Neither Applejack nor Big Macintosh were awake, leaving Granny Smith all to the excited filly on her back.

"Awe we a'mos dere, Ganny Smid?"

"Patience, child!" Granny Smith laughed. "We're here."

She remembered how they approached a very small plant, newly sprouted. She jumped with joy on Granny Smith's back. “Ganny Smid, Gammy Smid! Look!”

“Yes yes, I see it child.” Granny Smith took Apple Bloom and placed her next to the plant. “He's startin' to grow.” Apple Bloom stared at it, and then heard her say “And you helped it, child.”

“I did?” The first touches of its few leaves sent a smile to Apple Bloom's face. “I did!”

“Ya' gotta keep on helpin' him, child,” Granny Smith said seriously. “Ya' can't expect him to continue on his own now. Ya' gotta be there for him.”

“I will, Ganny Smid!” She felt herself being lifted up and put back on Granny Smith's back. “So wha'cha gonna call 'im?”

Granny Smith looked back with a smile and said, “He's your tree, Apple Bloom. You name him.”

She sat there for a moment, thinking of a suitable name for the sprouting plant. Then, as they reached the house, she yelled out, “Danzun!”

“What was that, child?”

“Dan-nu-zun,” Apple Bloom tried to say again.

“Tennyson?”

“Yeah!”

Granny Smith chuckled. “Tennyson it is. Now, don't forget to water Tennyson later on.”

Apple Bloom hugged her. “I pomise, Ganny Smid!”

***

“He's still a baby.”

She heard whining to her right and jerked her head to see Winona staring at her. She chuckled. “Sorry, Winona. I was just reminiscin' about things.” A roar of thunder brought her back to reality. “Ah'm gonna need to get mah coat.”

She ran upstairs with the lit lantern and ran into her room. She threw on her raincoat and galoshes, then ran back down. Winona followed her the entire time. Once she made it back downstairs, she raced to the front door and took a deep breath. She opened the door.

She was greeted with a barrage of rain, wind and a flash of lightning. Apple Bloom trembled and brought the raincoat closer to her. Before the door closed, Winona hurried outside.

“Winona!” She spit out the lantern and opened the door again. “Go on in, Winona.” Winona whined but refused to do so. “Ah can't have you followin' me out here. It'll be dangerous and—” Lightning flashed. “Eeep! Sc-scary.”

Winona brought herself to Apple Bloom and licked her face. “Are ya' sure? Ya'll probably get all soakin' wet, too.” Winona barked, her tail wagging. Apple Bloom smiled and hugged her. “You're the best dog a pony could ask fer!” She shut the door, and the duo made their way into the orchard.

Apple Bloom couldn't see very far in the rain and dark, even with the lantern. The wind kept howling at her, and the thunder kept booming angrily at her; the rain continued to pour down, chilling her through the raincoat. The puddles of mud soon became ponds, and she and Winona had trouble trudging through them. The only thing that gave her comfort was the trees above, for no matter how far backward they were blown, they wouldn't give in to the wind. Apples fell from them, but it was a small sacrifice for their well-being.

At last, covered in rain, mud, bruises and cuts, she made it to the small tree.

“Tennyson!” Apple Bloom yelled, dropping the lantern. She rushed over to Tennyson, who looked like he was trying his best just to hold ground. “Don't ya' worry none, Tennyson, I'm here now.” Winona ran after her, keeping close. Apple Bloom pushed the flailing tree back upright. The wind died down a bit, but Tennyson still drooped. “Momma's here now, don't ya' worry. I'll take care of ya.”

Just then, lightning illuminated the sky, and thunder bellowed at her. Apple Bloom squeaked, and then screamed as two lightning bolts came from the dark clouds.

“O-okay, Apple Bloom, just c-c-calm down.” Apple Bloom hugged Tennyson. “You've got to be strong. Fer Tennyson—yeah, fer Tennyson. Don't let him see yer fe—“

The sky angrily roared, shaking the very ground. Apple Bloom screamed and hid herself under a nearby tree. Winona dashed after her, huddling herself against frightened filly.

“Th-this wasn't a good idea at all!” Apple Bloom cried. “I shouldn't have come out here, I shouldn't have let ya' come along with me Winona.“ She sniffed. “Ah shoulda listened to Applejack!” She broke down in tears, burying her face in Winona's fur. Winona continued to whine, yet she placed her muzzle on Apple Bloom's nape, resting it there.

The rain would not let up; it mercilessly poured down upon them. The lightning continued to attack Sweet Apple Acres, sending bolts flying everywhere, some almost hitting the treetops. Thunder roared across the land, shouting at everything to fear it. The wind, not to be outdone, swept over everything, sending apples and branches flying haphazardly. All Apple Bloom could do was cry, feeling hopeless amongst the forceful storm and the struggling apple trees.

A knock on the head brought her out of her sobbing. She saw that it was one of the Golden Delicious apples from Tennyson. She looked over to him, and her face froze in shock at what she saw: he had been putting up a good fight, holding firmly in the ground, but now she could see his roots were beginning to come up from the muddy ground around him. His branches were almost brushing the ground, reaching out for her, and his trunk was beginning to crack.

Tennyson!” Apple Bloom stopped crying and darted towards him. She was soon reduced to labored steps fighting the wind. Before she reached him, a small branch caught her coat, dragging her back; she threw it off and continued her pursuit.

“Don't worry buddy, I'm comin'!” She finally made it to him and, still fighting the wind, pushed him upright again. “Don't worry, Tennyson, I'm here now.” She panted, and then she continued in a soft tone, “I'm here fer ya', Tennyson. I'm not gonna leave ya' again, I promise.” She hugged him. “I promise.” Lightning and thunder called to her again, but she ignored them.

She stayed that way for some time, her fur, mane and tail soaked and her hooves aching. The brotherhood of trees looked upon them and seemed to strengthen their resolve, not giving an inch to the wind. For an instant, the rain, lightning and thunder were ignored by all; even Winona, still hiding under the tree, stopped whining.

“See, Tennyson,” Apple Bloom panted in a quivering voice. “No need to worry. We'll get through this—“ As she said that, the gale knocked at them again, bending the brotherhood back suddenly and knocking Apple Bloom to her back. Tennyson's arms almost enveloped her as his trunk cracked even more.

“Come on!” Apple Bloom yelled as she uprighted herself. She hastily put him back upright, finding her galoshes covered in mud and hard to lift. She threw them off and kept her hooves on him. “I ain't gonna let anythin' bad happen to ya', Tennyson!” she yelled and then in a much softer and quivering tone added, “I ain't gonna let anythin' bad happen.”

They stayed that way for a minute, and for a moment neither the lightning nor the thunder interrupted them. The wind calmed down a bit, but the rain refused to do so. Apple Bloom's hindlegs began slipping in the hill of mud surrounding them.

“I love you, Tennyson,” she sobbed. “I don't wanna lose you. I grew you since I was little, and you were nothin' but a seed. I've taken care of you, Tennyson, and I don't want you to die.”

Her body shook and she was panting, but she continued to hold him up. “Hey, d'ya remember that time we all stayed out here so ya' wouldn't feel scared? When the timberwolves were howlin', and I forced Applejack, Big Macintosh and Granny Smith to stay out here an' keep an eye on ya'?” She giggled as thunder called for her attention. “We pitched a tent outside an' had roasted marshmallows and s'mores an' we played charades an' poker? Ya' were just beginnin' to grow those apples that...” She looked at his branches. “Still, we had fun, right? An' it's not like ya' can't grow yer own again.” She suppressed a sob.

Then, simultaneously, three bolts of lightning came hurtling down at them, thunder announced its return with an earth-shaking roar, and the wind crashed into them. Apple Bloom wrapped her hooves around Tennyson.

“This isn't the end, okay?” she yelled with determination. “We're gonna get through this. Ya' just wait an' see!” She threw her forehooves into the ground and bucked him with her hindlegs. “We're gonna—OOF!” Apple Bloom's hooves slipped in the mud, and her underside was soon covered in it. Without hesitation, she jumped up and bucked him before he could bow to the wind. “Just you wait, Tennyson!” She felt herself slipping again, but she dug her hooves in. “We'll make it!” Winona was whining a ways away. “I'm not gonna—“ Her body shook with exhaustion. “let anything bad happen to ya'!”

As the army of lightning bolts scattered everywhere, thunder continued to cry out like a madman, the wind tried to blow everything away, and the rain continued its onslaught, Apple Bloom dug her hooves into the mud and held Tennyson up with all her might.


Applejack opened the door to see the result of the storm: past the glistening raindrops that fell from the eaves onto the porch, everything was a mess. The rocking chair propped up on the porch had rolled some way to hit a nearby tree and was partially sunk in a pond of mud. Apples and branches lay across the ground, some hidden by the mud, and the farm animals made a racket in the barn.

Applejack sighed. “Well, this is gonna take a few days to clean up,” she mused to herself. She stepped out into a puddle, hearing a mixture of mud and leaves slosh under her galoshes. “That was a right nasty storm last night.”

With another sigh, she began walking into the orchard, not waiting for Big Macintosh to come out and help. “Apple Bloom! Winona!” she called out. She waited for a few seconds before calling out again. “Apple Bloom! Winona!” She heard a barking a ways away in the northwest field. She smiled; there was only one place over there Apple Bloom was even remotely interested in.

Applejack began trotting in that direction. “That darn filly had me worried this mornin'. I guess she really cares about Tennyson.” She chuckled. “Reminds me of my first tree. Bloomberg was a good one. Always knew how to cheer—“

Her thoughts were halted by a sound. It was like whining, but it wasn't coming from Winona. “Apple Bloom?” she asked worriedly. She began cantering towards the noise, where Tennyson was. “Apple Bloom, are ya' alright?”

She pushed past a bush to get a look at the scene and gasped. There, in the clearing reserved for Apple Bloom and Tennyson, was Apple Bloom, lying face down over an uprooted apple tree cracked beyond saving. Her body went from fits of sobbing to moments of stillness and crying. Winona had her head laying on the filly's nape. The trees surrounding them had raindrops falling off their leaves.

“Oh, Apple Bloom,” she began quietly, only to be interrupted by mumbling from the filly. “What was that?”

“Uh Fld.”

“Come again, sugarcube?”

Apple Bloom lifted her head, revealing a bruised face covered in cuts, with red swollen eyes. “Ah failed.”

Applejack gasped. “Apple Bloom,” she began with a hoof to her sister's cheek, “what happened to ya'?”

She sniffed. “Ah came out here last night to check on Tennyson, and—"

“Ya' what?” Applejack yelled, her brow furrowing. “Didn't ya' see how bad the storm was?”

“But—“

“An' didn't ya' see everything flying around? Ya' coulda been hurt, or worse!”

Apple Bloom bawled. “Ah'm sorry! Ah just wanted to make sure he'd be okay!” She flung herself over the tree again, sobbing. “And Ah failed!”

For a moment, Applejack couldn't speak. Apple Bloom continued to cry over Tennyson's trunk, his branches lying on the ground, no longer trying to touch her face. The only noise that could be heard was the occasional drop of rain from the trees and Apple Bloom's crying.

Then, when Applejack couldn't take it anymore, she walked over to her sister and placed a hood on her back. “Hey, it wasn't yer fault.”

“Ah couldn't save him,” she said without lifting her head.

“Darlin', these things happen.” Applejack stroked her sister's back. “Ya' faced a big storm last night, an' he just wasn't ready to face it. These things... they just happen sometimes.”

“But why did it have to happen to him?” Apple Bloom looked up at her. “Why? Why'd the pegasi have to make a storm that big? This is all their fault!”

“That's the way the world works, sugarcube,” Applejack replied with a sigh. “Sometimes, we lose a tree, an' there's nuthin we can do about it. Most grow to be very old, while some... like Tennyson, move on to that great orchard at a young age. Don't be mad at the pegasi. I'm sure they didn't make a storm like this on purpose.” She continued stroking her sister's back as Apple Bloom continued to cry over Tennyson's trunk.

“Ah'm... Ah'm worthless.”

At this, Applejack nudged her sister's head up, forcing her to look her in the eye. “Now, you listen here: you are not worthless. Most ponies would've stayed in their homes, nice and warm, while their tree fell to the ground without a second thought. You ran out here and tried to help Tennyson make it through the storm.”

“But why couldn't Ah save him?”

“Because you're young an' little,” Applejack replied, drawing her sister into a hug. “But ya' showed a lot o' guts, an' Ah'm proud o' ya'.”

Apple Bloom didn't stop crying as Applejack released her. “Hey, Ah gotta begin cleanin' up this mess the storm left behind. D'ya wanna help?"

Apple Bloom looked back at Tennyson. “Could I... could I have just a few more minutes with him?”

“Take all the time you need,” Applejack replied with a simple nod. She sighed and began to walk away with Winona in tow, leaving Apple Bloom there to cry over the trunk of Tennyson. His arms were still, his leaves were gone, and only a few of his roots still clung to the ground, fully intent on making his mother proud. The trees around him continued to cry in mourning for a lost brother.