Chapter 3—What Ponies Wallow In
For the next few weeks, Caramel tortured himself. One night, the mystery pony of his fantasies turned red. On another night, it grew a yellow mane and tail. Then, the green eyes and freckles. He fantasized every night about that perfect stallion. Sometimes he cried when he realized he could never have him—never.
Rose noticed something was wrong when his flower arrangements were filled with dark colors and depressed symbols. She was only able to sell them because of an upcoming funeral. Even though his hooves were better, she could tell that there was something in his mind that broke along the way.
“Bye, Rose. I’ll see you on Thursday.”
“Hold on there, Caramel. Can I talk to you?”
He stopped at the doorway and paused for what seemed like a couple of minutes. He slowly walked backwards, backtracking until he met Rose again. “What is it?” His voice had lost all of the brightness that it held before. His voice was usually like a set of wind chimes, ringing with happiness and high-pitched dings. Now, it was like a soft gong, emanating out in a low, depressing sound.
“Okay, come here, sit down, and tell Rosy all about what’s bothering you.”
“Nothing’s bothering me.”
“Caramel…” Rose put a hoof to her forehead. “I know something’s wrong, okay? For the third week in a row, you’ve made funeral bouquets—funeral. I want to stress that part. If truly nothing is wrong, then I’ll eat a block of foam. Now tell me what’s wrong.”
Caramel’s lower lip quivered for a moment. Suddenly, all the emotions that he had been trying to squeeze into a little box burst out and he exploded in tears. “I…I…You…You were right!” he bawled. “I do love him…”
“Who…?” She gasped. “Big Macintosh?!”
Caramel only nodded, continuing his excellent impression of Yellowtail Falls.
“Oh…it’s okay…” Rose said, wrapping her hooves around the shaking yellow colt.
“Have you told him yet? Or asked him out?”
Caramel violently shook his head, almost knocking out the mare. “He’ll…he’ll hate me…and…”
“You have nothing to lose!”
“I have everything to lose!” he shouted, almost becoming angry. His eyes were red and he was shaking and gasping very frequently. “He is my everything…” Maybe I’m being a little too melodramatic…
“You need to tell him, Caramel. You know I’m right. You’re just going to feel worse if you bottle it up inside.”
“What if…What happens when he says no?”
“Then you come tell me and we’ll deal with it if—if that happens.”
Caramel remained silent. He was shaking less and less, and his sobs had died down to occasional sniffles. The sky was already dark by then. “I’m going to take you home, okay? I don’t want you walking home alone.”
Caramel nodded in thanks.
The small stallion lay in bed, tossing and turning, folding up the sheets and still occasionally inundating them with tears. He hugged his pillow, wishing that it was actually a red stallion. He’d never felt like this before, and he wanted it to end. Rose was right. As much as I hate to admit it…I have to tell him…I have to get it over with. I know he’ll say no…But…isn’t there a chance he’ll say yes? Didn’t Twilight once say something about Bayesian probability and how that—no, never mind, that doesn’t apply here. But still…couldn’t he say yes?
Caramel focused on the small chance of an affirmative response from the stallion. He hoped and hoped and found that a small sliver of what could possibly come to fruition was a comfort to him. It was unlikely, sure. But there was always a chance. He’s never had a marefriend. That could mean that he’s…like me… His heart lifted a little. Outside his family, he really only talks to me. The corners of his muzzle twitched upward. We’ve had so much history together. He formed a smile. And no matter what happens, we’ll still be friends. The harrowing in his heart disappeared. He lay back down on his pillow and sighed with content, complacent with himself. I’ll tell him tomorrow.
Caramel spent the whole morning making himself presentable. He took three showers in fear that the first two were inadequate in cleaning off his body. He had gotten so worked up over getting dirt off of him, that he tried for nearly half an hour to get rid of a light brown spot on his coat before realizing that was his natural color. He brushed his teeth and rinsed six times, each time for a longer time than the last. He became frustrated with his hair because it was impossible to shape and he thought it made him appear “phony.”
After he felt ready—or more accurately, after Rose had knocked on his door as a reminder to go see Big Macintosh—he left his house and set out for Sweet Apple Acres. By the time he left, Celestia’s sun was already at its highest point, just after noon. With a special bouquet that Caramel had made just for the occasion, he ambled down the path, each step quickening his heart rate. Oh this is so nerve-racking! How am I going to say it? “Hi, Mac, I love you and I’ve loved you for awhile now. Please go out with me!” No, that sounds too desperate. “Mac, will you go out with me?” Too plain. “Mac, it all started many years ago when you caught me admiring your apples. But I was really admiring you.” Too cliché. “Mac, are you a coltcuddler? Because if you are, we should totally go out and all, especially because of my undying love for you that’s more intense than a million stars.” Way too blunt. Or exaggeration-y
His preparation did not prepare him for the fact that he had already arrived at the farm. He spotted Applejack planting apple seeds, but didn’t see the subject of his adoration anywhere in his central nor peripheral vision. “Howdy, sugarcube, haven’t seen y’all in awhile.”
“Erm…hi Applejack…” Maybe she knows where Mac is.
“Uh…Caramel? Ya know that Ah’m dating Fluttershy, right? Ah mean, you’re a nice colt and all, but Ah’m not interested. Sorry, sugarcube. No hard feelings?”
Caramel stood still, trying to figure out what had prompted such a confusing set of sentences. Then, the realization hit him like a dodgeball to the cheek. “Oh…uh…I’m sorry! These aren’t for you…” he said apologetically, gesturing to his flowers.
“Oh…sorry for the confusion there…who’re they for?” Applejack’s eyes narrowed. “They’re not for Applebloom, are they? She’s way too young to start datin’ yet!”
“No! I mean! It’s not for her, either!” I gotta find Mac. “Totally unrelated, but do you know where Big Macintosh is?”
“Er…yeah, he’s in the barn. But why do you—”
“Thanks!” Caramel said, speed-walking away. He desperately wanted to run to the barn, but resisted from doing so, for that would cause him to perspire more than he wanted to.
“I wonder what that colt’s up to?” Applejack thought, “He probably didn’t mean Granny Smith, so that leaves…Oh horseapples!” She ran off to find Caramel.
Meanwhile, the tan stallion leaned against the door of the barn, having a miniature panic attack. His hooves were shaking and his heart wasn’t beating anymore—it was vibrating. His teeth clashed against each other despite the absence of a daisy sandwich. Okay, relax. It’s just a confession! NO! It’s not a confession! That’s a bad word! It’s—it’s just a friendly conversation! Yeah, one where I reveal my unconditional love for him! That’s it! It’s just a friendly conversation where I reveal my unconditional love for him. Why is this not calming me down?! Okay…when I count back to zero, I’ll go inside and tell him.
Ten…Nine…Eight…Seven…Six…Five…Four…Three…Two…One…Zero…Negative One…Negative Two…Negative Th—Stop stalling! He took a few big breaths and pushed the door open with one big push. Okay, the door’s open. There’s no way out but forward.
“Hi Mac, can we talk?” he asked.
“Can it wait?” the red stallion said softly.
His eyes adjusted to the lower levels of light inside the barn and he suddenly wished they hadn’t. “Oh buck!” Applejack cursed as she arrived, panting, “Ah tried to warn y’all that…” Her voice died in her throat when her vision had accommodated to the lighting as well.
Right in the middle of the barn, lying on a large mound of hay, was Big Macintosh. Lying on top of him was Twilight Sparkle, who still had a red ear in her mouth. They both froze in surprise at the sudden intrusion. The unicorn released her hold on it and closed her mouth.
Caramel’s eyes watered and his grip on the bouquet of flowers weakened more and more until it disappeared, and the bundle of red and yellow petals fell to the ground with a soft rustle.
“Um…this certainly is awkward…” Twilight said, looking down.
“Oh horseapples, Ah didn’t make it in time.”
Twilight slid down, off of the stallion’s back and approached Caramel. “I uh…I didn’t know you felt this way about me, Caramel. I guess that does explain why you like coming in for tea so much. I’m sorry you had to find out like this.”
Caramel stood still, tears slowly rolling down his cheek. No other part of his body moved, with the exception of his heart, which was pounding to the point of fracture. Twilight continued, “I should have known, and I should have told you everything that was going on. I’ve liked Big Macintosh for awhile now, and I’m really sorry! I hope this doesn’t change things between us, but I know they will…If you don’t want to talk to me for awhile, I’d understand that. Or, if you want to run away now, that’s fine, too.”
Caramel had already run out the door, leaving tiny droplets behind that stained the dirt. Despite the crepuscular rays that shined down upon him, the world was dark—darker than Luna’s night, and darker than space. He ran all the way home, not caring about the puddles he stepped in, the bushes he ran through, and the ponies and crashed into. He just wanted to be home.
He slammed the door shut and flopped down on his couch. He finally opened his mouth, closed his eyes, and cried. He cried, and cried. For what seemed like days to him, he heaved and whimpered and whined and moaned. His sobs echoed around the room and then back into his ears. He thought about all the times he had hoped for a happy ending, all the fantasies he had, and all the dreams. They were all worthless—every single one of them. They meant nothing. They had no sustenance. They were ghosts of what could never be. He had no chance from the beginning. Mac wasn’t even like him, and he would never belong to him. He could never be wrapped in the red stallion’s forelegs, hear him say endearments, or feel his lips on his cheek.
According to Twilight, there’s a universe somewhere where we could be together forever. Oh Twilight! How could you?! I thought you were my friend! He gave a shuddering gasp. No, that’s not fair to her. It’s not her fault. And Mac wouldn’t like me anyways if he liked her. I hope you’re happy with her. Because I know I’ll never be happy with you, without you, or ever again.
His thoughts wrapped around in a loop, going through his violent sobs of sadness, to his wistfulness of what he wished could have been, to hatred for the meretricious Twilight, to berating himself for hating her, and back to the wallowing again.
I wish I could just die. I mean it this time. I should just kill myself. Maybe Mac will be happier without me. I know he doesn’t need me. He probably hates me. He probably told Twilight that he hated me. Why should I be here anymore? I don’t anything to live for anymore. I can’t go back to Sweet Apple Acres anymore. I can’t go to the library. I don’t have any friends left, except for Rose and Derpy. Oh, and Lyra…but they don’t know what it feels like…No…I’m being melodramatic again…I can’t kill myself…I can’t even do that…maybe I really do deserve to die, even if I can’t do it myself.
There was a knock on his door. Unbeknownst to the yellow colt, he had forgotten to lock the door in his hazy and desperate marathon of sadness. After a few knocks, the door had opened by itself and in came the intruder. Actually, in came the two intruders.