9. The Cycle Begins
The sun was setting through the open windows of Slant’s house, giving everything inside a surreal orange tint. The house was different in other regards though. For starters, everything was clean. The glass had been scooped up and thrown away, as had been all the trash, food, and the letters he had received. Slant had never been particularly messy to begin with, but the effect of these changes was drastic. The house no longer felt lived in. It felt empty.
The upstairs bedroom was completely bare, except for Slant’s purple bag (which was laying by the doorway), the bed, and the pegasus weeping softly into the mattress.
It had been close to twenty-four hours since the conversation. In that time, Slant had cleaned the house, grabbed what he would need, discarded anything perishable, and arranged what he was leaving for the next pony to inhabit this place to use. He told himself it was because he “wouldn’t need it anyway.” All the belongings he would be taking were packed into his purple bag, which included his bag of bits, the journals and books he had brought with him, a few food items for his trip, and his old green dress. The new one was carefully draped over a chair downstairs. He would not be taking it.
“It’s not really mine anyway,” he thought. “She would not have given it to me if she had known what I was…”
He was planning on leaving the door unlocked after he left, figuring that they would come to make sure he had left town. That way she would see it and take it. In case that didn’t happen, it was still in a place where anypony moving in would see it immediately. Anypony who knew about any type of fashion would probably assume that this was Rarity’s design, meaning that one way or another, it would find its way back to her.
He had even thought about writing a letter apologizing again and thanking them for all they had done… and for their silence. Despite everything, he had come to think of them as friends, and it felt wrong leaving without saying something. However, it only took two drafts before he gave up on that idea. It seemed he wasn’t good at writing when it really mattered, as evidenced by his lack of ability now, his coming out letter before that, and his goodbye letter before that. He stopped his train of thought there, deciding to deal with one painful event at a time, and went on packing for his departure.
He was now done, and had been for a few hours, but he still could not make himself leave. Instead, he mourned the things his condition had cost.
“That’s the best way to describe it,” he thought. “Cost. Things I used to pay for my lot in life.”
He thought back to that solitary trip after his escape from Canterlot. He had been hungry and thirsty, with no available food or water save for whatever stray flower or puddle he came across. His wounds were raw, especially those which touched the ground whenever he collapsed while walking or while he dragged himself onwards. His dislocated leg was a constant purveyor of pain, sending a jolt of agony each time it bumped something or turned in a particular way. Everything ailed him, and yet, that was not what caused him the most pain. That honor was reserved for the knowledge that he could never see his family again. Being trans had cost him that. It had cost him his home.
He turned his head to look at out the window. From there he could see the rooftops of the houses that usually overlooked the market square. Being trans had cost him his home in Canterlot, but he had managed to find a new one here.
“And now it’s cost me that too.”
He sighed. He had always known that he might have to flee this town. It had been on his mind every day since his arrival. What he had not expected was how much it would hurt to leave.
This town had really turned into his home, and not just because he had a building where he could stay. Everything about it said home to him. The community was vibrant, the ponies were kind, and his friends were wonderful. A thought struck him.
That’s right, he had made friends. It had never really crossed his mind as something remarkable, but now that he thought about it, it was. He had really only had one friend in Canterlot, but here he had found some, despite his attempt to not be noticed by anypony. And now he would miss them dearly.
He would miss Applejack’s intelligence and intuition, the way she was always honest but was respectful of those with something to hide. He would miss Pinkie Pie and the way she earnestly tried to do whatever she could for others to be happy. It was rare to see somepony care about others that much, and that fully; he appreciated that. He would miss Rarity’s generosity, and not even just with how she had given away a dress to a mare in need, but in how she always tried to be fair and giving in regards to everything in her life. He would miss Rainbow Dash and her sense of humor, and he would miss Fluttershy’s soft spoken grace. Overall, he would miss their friendship.
“That’s really it, isn’t it though?” he asked himself. “I shouldn’t let myself make friends. Not because of what I am. It only leads to suffering once they realize it and I have to leave. Maybe this is my lot in life and I have to accept it.” He sighed.
“At least I learnt something from all of this,” he said as he headed downstairs, grabbing his bag on the way down. Standing by the door, he took one last look around his empty house. He would miss this place.
He turned to leave when he heard it.
Somepony was knocking at the door.