By: Brookwood Bronco
Children are more aware of differences with each other than older ponies would like you to believe. Sure, at first everypony is equal, but as pegasi learn to use their wings and as unicorns learn to use their horns, there is an obvious gap between them and the Earth ponies. Earth ponies are said to be masters of the land, but when you’re in the middle of Manehattan there isn’t much land for you to tend to.
It began in the third grade; the grade that pegasi get the hang of having feathers and unicorns get the hang of having a magical tumor growing out of their skulls. Suddenly all the attention goes to them, inside and outside the classroom. They’re hard not to notice when you’re crammed in a dinky inner-city classroom with them. The unicorns would show off their spells and tricks during class, most of the time levitating things. They would mess with the teacher by balling up paper, levitating it to another part of the classroom, and firing it at the teacher’s back from that position. It was easy to blame the kids from that part of the classroom, and the shrimpy Earth ponies primarily took the fall. It’s not like they can do anything about it.
It got worse on the playground. The majority of pegasi kept to themselves in their own hovering clique, but if there was a bully, eighty percent of the time it was a pegasus. The other twenty percent was reserved for the unicorn bullies. Since the pegasus fillies and colts were perpetually intimidated by their unicorn counterparts and vise versa, the only ponies that they could exhibit their dominance over were the Earth ponies. It was a sad sight; the pegasi ponies maliciously shoving down Earth ponies, calling them names, stealing and tossing around little filly’s dolls. Hell, pegasi tossing around little ponies in general. But what could you expect from a bunch of rowdy colts and contemptuous fillies? They weren’t going to turn out like their impoverished parents, kissing the feet of their greedy, callous bosses. They weren’t going to accept their destitute lives, and enforcing their physical superiority on lesser ponies was a fun way to forget.
I spent the majority of my time in the first semester of the third grade stuck in social limbo. School was, for lack of a better term, sucky as hell. Not only was I horrible at studying, I was also an Earth pony, which means I had nothing to show off. And don’t forget talentless. I hadn’t gotten my cutie mark yet and I hadn’t the faintest idea where to start. I could have joined the rest of the Earth pony students in their huddled mass of deficiency, but they stuck out like a rotten patch of dead grass in a beautiful field. It was better to just lay low and not attract attention to myself. Yet, every day I propped my book up and slept in class; every day I hid behind trees at recess, a pressure slowly built up inside my chest.
I was sick of it. Sick of cowering in a corner, hoping that the bullies wouldn’t see me. Sick of watching those stupid ponies act like all-powerful kings. Sick of having to act ignorant when it came to the obvious lack of interest from the teachers monitoring us. It was about time I took matters into my own hooves.
It was chilly winter afternoon. The overcast skies reflected the miserable mood of every pony without foresight enough to bring thermal gear, which included me. I was squatting under the slide trying to shake off the cold when I spotted too pegasi picking on a smaller filly. They hovered in the air tossing her scarf back and forth while she hopped around; desperately trying to get her warmth back. My teeth chattered and I was certain that if I stayed still for any longer, I’d become a pony popsicle. I gathered my courage, heaved myself up, and trotted over to the brutes.
“Hey!” I shouted, “I want that scarf.” At first the two stopped and exchanged a glance of disbelief, but then they busted out in scornful laughter.
“Why don’t you come up here and get it, Dirt Scraper,” the one without the scarf sneered. I flinched and looked around to see if any teachers heard it. The teacher’s area was several meters away, far enough so racial slurs died in the surrounding playground noise. Not that they cared.
“Why don’t you come down here and fight me, fatty,” I replied. I was grinning on the outside, but metaphorically bashing my head into a wall on the inside. Really? ‘Fatty’ was the best I could come up with?
“Fight you? Why would I want to fight you?” the tub-o’-lard said with a condescending frown. That was a good question, because the words seemed to flow unceasingly out of my mouth. He was clearly bigger than I was; he had a dirt-brown coat with a black mane and a head full of nothing. His voice was dull and simple, and his eyes were an uninteresting grey. He was a pony notorious for ending things violently, yet I still persisted.
“What are you, chicken?” I got up on my hind legs and flapped my elbows while clucking around like a maniac. As I spun around in a mocking demeanor, I noticed that a crowd was quickly forming. It’s as if the children knew that something was about to go down, and stood in utter disbelief at my antics. I felt humiliated, but not as humiliated as Dumbo up there.
“Well, since you asked so nicely!” he shouted as he careened down toward me. He was faster than I expected, and I quickly shielded my face as he rammed into me. Landing on my back, I skidded across the dirt pavement as the brute flew back up to safety. I flipped around to my feet as the pegasus prepared his second dive tackle. As he swooped down, I nimbly dodged to my left. The force of his wings was powerful enough to create a dust cloud as he ascended toward the skies for a third time, and this gave me an idea.
The third time he dove toward me, I didn’t move. Instead, I kicked some dirt into his eyes at the last second. Needless to say, this wasn’t the best idea. Without time to dodge, the pegasus smashed into me and dragged me across the ground and into the school wall. I’m sure some of the onlookers were gasping, but the only thing I could hear was the blood pumping in my head trying to keep me conscious. Gritting my teeth, I shoved him off of me and gathered my bearings. The bully hovered in the air; still rubbing his eyes to get the earth out.
Seizing the moment, I stood on my hind legs and started my counterattack. I began by sinking my left hoof into his exposed underbelly. Predictably, he doubled over and grabbed his gut. My right hoof seemed to automatically smash into his chin as I followed up with a heavy uppercut. He somersaulted backward; all of his concentration going into keeping himself afloat. I grinned and jumped onto the wall behind me. With all my strength, I launched myself at him, yelling at the top of my lungs. I can still see his surprised face as I dug my right forehoof into his chest. The force of the blow drove him into the ground and he tumbled for a few feet before finally stopping; face up and breathing unevenly. Like roqueting a croquet ball, he went flying while I landed nimbly under where he previously hovered.
I could see that standing was becoming difficult for him, let alone flying. Still, he got on his hooves and scowled at me. I was about to charge over there and finish the job when a sharp pain from my ear crippled me.
“That’s enough,” the teacher mumbled as she tugged me away from the circle. The spectators quickly shuffled away, not wanting to get involved in the trouble that was inevitably coming. Out the corner of my eye I saw that my opponent was also getting the harsh treatment from another teacher.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, fighting in the school yard. I thought you were better than that,” the mare said sternly. I tried to look as repentant as possible as she blabbed on and on about nothing.
Lastly she said, “Meet me after class today for detention,” and walked back toward the teacher’s area. I breathed a sigh and spun around looking for the two stupid pegasi. I finally spotted the glittering pink scarf in the mouth of the pegasus with the healthy body. He was looking shocked at his companion as the two walked slowly away. I caught up with them and demanded they hand over the scarf. The one with the scarf glared at me with total enmity.
“After what you did?! No way we’re gonna give you thi-”
“Give him the scarf Smoke,” his battered friend muttered. He turned to face me, but kept his eyes at the ground.
“GIVE HIM THE SCARF!” Confused, the companion tossed the scarf onto the dirt in front of me. I stared at the bright pink scarf as it flopped softly onto the ground; a grin slowly replacing my frown. The light tassels on the ends, the embroidered dark-pink heart on one side, the soft woolen warmth, this was my prize. I quickly snatched up the scarf, my face beaming with unbridled joy.
“You saved my scarf!” I jumped at the sound of the hushed exclamation. I turned and faced my new foe: the little filly and otherwise owner of the scarf. Her sapphire eyes gleamed with newfound admiration and she was hopping up and down with giddy delight. I cringed openly and hastened back toward the slide.
“Wait! What about my scarf?” she called.
“My scarf now,” I mumbled, wrapping the cloth around my neck with a flick of my head. As I walked, my mind raced back to the fight. It had only been a couple seconds, but those precious seconds had been the time of my life. All my fear, all the anger and sadness simply dispersed from my body and was replaced with utter bliss. For the first time in a while, I had felt happy, and it was in the middle of an all-out brawl. As the blood started to slow down, I could feel the pain finally settling into my bruises, but pain was temporary. The heat of the battle, the pressure from the opponent, the thrilling turn of the tides, that would last a lifetime. Nothing could compare to the emotional high of dominating your peer, or better yet a pony once considered imperious.
“That was amazing! I’ve never seen anypony move like that!” the filly chirped as she hopped beside me.
“Stop following me.” I gave her a look of disgust. From the tip of her grayish blue mane to the bottom of her pale amber coat, everything about her disgusted me. Especially her annoying voice.
“My name’s May. May Ormare. I’m the top of my second grade class,” she said, jumping in front of me.
“I don’t care,” I said, walking around her.
“I can’t wait to get out of this city! One day I’m going to be super rich and run a town and help everypony and everyone will love me and everyone will be happy!” I had finally reached the slide and promptly collapsed in a heap underneath it.
“Oh my goodness, are you alright?”
“No,” I groaned. The pressure in my chest was replaced with broken ribs and triumph. Unfortunately, the broken ribs were a little more resilient than the triumph.
“What can I do to help?”
“Just… stop talking to me,” I wheezed, finally laying my head on my hooves. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but I suddenly heard the filly move around behind me.
“What are you doing now?” I asked May, who was obviously up to something behind my sore back. I could feel her soft coat as she snuggled in close; her warmth sheltering my body from the biting cold. I felt my face get red when I realized she was lying beside me.
“Thanks,” she whispered and quietly dozed off behind me. Her heartbeat was steady, and her breathing was calm. Did that mean she felt safe?
“Whatever… do what you want,” I mumbled. It was cold, so this was probably the best way for her to stay warm anyway. That and I still had her scarf.