Cheer for Me, Cheerilee

by Written Out

Maybe I Can be Taught, Too

Birds twitted and flew about Cheerilee’s head as she walked down the empty road. She frowned and waved a hoof at them, chasing the irritants away. “It’s way too early to deal with this,” she grumbled. Her bleary eyes blinked sleepily as she nearly staggered off the pathway. “The sun’s not even up. Why am I awake before Princess Celestia?”

“Life on th’ farm starts bright and early,” a sickeningly cheerful voice said from behind her. Cheerilee turned her head to glare at the creature walking behind her, a demon in pony form, who had cruelly stolen her away from her comfortable bed to go on this unwelcome excursion. Oh, she might wear a friendly face, but no reasonable mare could possibly be this perky at this time of day.

“Do I look like a farm pony?” Cheerilee complained, her tail sharply swishing back and forth in irritation. “If there isn’t any coffee waiting for me at the end of this road, I’m going to find a tree and fall asleep in it.”

Applejack chuckled, slapping heartily on Cheerilee’s back. “Well, all ya need is some toughening up. Good food always tastes better after a hard day’s work.”

“And good coffee always tastes better before doing anything,” Cheerilee grumbled. “Why am I out here without any coffee?” Her voice took on a plaintive whine as she shot Applejack a pleading look, silently begging for the cruel mare to release her from her torment.

“Don’t you worry about a thing,” Applejack assured her, oblivious to Cheerilee’s silent pleas. “We’ll get ya yer coffee. We got a big pot on the boil waiting for ya at the farm.”

“Super,” Cheerilee said flatly. Despite her complaints, her pace picked up quite a bit and Applejack almost had to start jogging to keep up with her. “So why am I out here without any coffee, again?”

“Well, I had heard what ya did fer Rarity and Sweetie Belle,” Applejack began, “and I was hopin’ ya could work yer magic on Apple Bloom.”

“Uh huh,” Cheerilee said, not really paying attention to what Applejack was saying. She was starting to doze off even as she walked and her steps were becoming erratic and uncertain.

“That’s right,” Applejack said, misunderstanding Cheerilee’s grunt as a request for more information. “She just won’t leave the farm anymore. Ah’m at my wit’s end.” She reached up and pulled her hat down over her face. “Ah’m ashamed to have to ask fer help, but Ah don’t know what to do. Could you…”
She pushed her hat back, but stopped when she realized that the purple teacher that had been walking in front of her had vanished. Turning around, she saw that Cheerilee had stopped in the middle of the road with her head down. “Hey. Are ya okay?” Applejack asked, walking back to Cheerilee.


“Ah!” Cheerilee proclaimed, slamming her empty coffee mug on the table in front of her. “I feel like a new mare!”

“Ah’ll just bet,” Applejack said from her seat beside Cheerilee. Her sides were streaked with the faint hint of sweat, and her breathing was just a little bit heavier than usual. “Ah can’t believe Ah had to carry ya all the way here. Ain’t never seen anypony just fall asleep in the middle of the road like that before. Thought’d be simple, but nooooooooo, have to make this difficult. ‘Specially since ya weigh a lot more than Ah thought ya would. It was like trying to lug Big Mac around.”

“Why, Applejack,” Cheerilee said, adopting a snooty, high-class posh accent and sticking her nose in the air. “Don’t you know it’s rude to talk to a lady about her weight?” The two of them sat at the dining table inside Applejack’s house, an empty coffee pot sitting in front of Cheerilee’s seat. The light yellow drapes fluttered gently in the early morning breeze, giving the room a very down-to-earth feeling.

“Does a lady normally drink enough coffee for four ponies?” Applejack asked sarcastically, gesturing at the empty coffee pot. “Granny’s the only pony here who normally drinks that stuff.”

Taking the hint, Cheerilee stood up to start making more coffee. Pouring about one cup’s worth of beans into the grinder, she grabbed the hoof-crank on the side and started turning it. “So,” she asked Applejack as the sound of grinding coffee beans filled the kitchen, “what’s the problem with Apple Bloom? I know she hasn’t been showing up to school lately, but that’s about it.”

Applejack groaned, staring despondently at her hat on the table. “What’s the problem with Apple Bloom? Ain’t that the million-bit question?”  With a depressed sigh, she began to run her hoof in circles on the tabletop. “Ah think there’s something she’s scared of, but that’s all Ah really know fer sure.”

“Scared?” Cheerilee repeated, looking over at Applejack. The sound of grinding stopped for a few seconds before it started up again. The purple mare’s tail twitched as she glanced over at the other mare. “What’s she scared about?”

“Ah wish Ah knew,” Applejack said with a groan. “Ah asked her about it once, and she just acted like she didn’t know what Ah was talking about.” Her head thudded dully against the table, and her next words were muffled by the wooden counter. “Ah’m jest at the end of my rope, here.”

“Fear, huh?” Cheerilee mused quietly to herself as she turned her attention towards the coffee grinder. If Apple Bloom was refusing to leave her house, then fear was certainly the likeliest reason. But what could the filly be so scared of? As she was pondering that question, a masculine voice with a slow drawl filtered into the kitchen.

“Applejack, the jars of honey are ready for storage. Where do you-” The voice cut off, followed by the sound of breaking glass. “You!

Cheerilee sighed and turned around, already knowing what she was going to see. As she expected, Applejack’s older brother stood in the kitchen’s entranceway, his short blonde mane failing to cover his clear green eyes. Big Macintosh was the buffest pony in town thanks to all the work he did on the farm, and was arguably the cornerstone of Sweet Apple Acres. Five years ago, his muscular physique and handsome features had made him the most sought-after stallion in town. He wasn’t the greatest conversationalist in the world, but he had always been there if you needed an ear to bend.

He looked almost the same as Cheerilee remembered, other than the gobsmacked expression on his face. If anything, the intervening years had only added more muscle to his frame, giving him an almost rugged look. He stared in shock at the school teacher, taking a slow step towards her, completely heedless of the broken glass all around his hooves. “Cheerilee,” he whispered quietly, as if he could barely believe what he was seeing.

“Big Mac,” Cheerilee said simply, returning her attention back to the coffee grinder.

“It is you,” he said softly, standing beside her. Cautiously reaching out a hoof as if he was afraid she might vanish at any moment, he gently ran his hoof through her mane. When she didn’t respond, he reached up and gently tucked her mane behind one ear. “I thought I would never see you again.”

“Maybe that would have been better,” Cheerilee said, stepping out of his reach. She continued to stare down at the floor, either unable or unwilling to look him in the eye. “I’m not the same mare you used to know.”

“No,” Big Mac replied, stepping closer to her and laying his hoof lightly on her back. “You’re still the same mare I fell in love with.”

With a quick shake of her body, Cheerilee threw off his hoof. Before he could react, she ducked under the outstretched limb, nodding at Applejack as she strode out the door. “I’ll go talk to Apple Bloom,” she said curtly. “If I need to ask you anything, I’ll let you know.”

Applejack stared at the doorway before slowly turning he gaze to her brother. She had known there had been… something between her brother and Miss Cheerilee back in the day, but it looked like things were different then she had thought. “Is there something Ah should know about?”

Big Mac turned away from her, gripping the coffee crank and slowly beginning to turn it. “Nope.”

Cheerilee made sure she was out of sight of the house before she ducked behind a nearby apple tree, collapsing on her hindquarters. Stupid! she thought, mentally cursing herself. Of course he would still be here! Where else would he have gone? She pressed a hoof over her heart – she could feel it pounding like it was about to leap right out of her chest. When Big Mac had touched her, she had nearly broken down right then and there. She just wanted to hug him tight, to apologize to him. For him to hold her and tell her that everything would be alright, just like he always had.

“No,” she whispered to herself. Her head dropped, her chin falling limply against her chest. Big Mac deserved far better than her. She had caused too much pain, too much suffering for everything to ever be alright ever again. Cheerilee wrapped her forelegs around her hindlegs, drawing her knees in close to her body.

“What do you think you can do for him?” she whispered harshly, her voice quivering with suppressed emotion. “He’s a wonderful stallion. You?” She laughed bitterly, smiling despite the tears that threatened to pour from her eyes. “You’re a failed teacher. You’ve got nothing. Everything you’ve got now is only because somepony’s given it to you.”

Her body started to shake as she hugged her hindlegs even tighter against her. “You own nothing in this world. Big Mac deserves far better then you. He deserves somepony who can be there for him, who can help him when he needs it. What could you possible do for him? Could you comfort him when he needs it? Could you be a pillar for him to stand on?”

“Of course not,” she said, answering her own question. “You’re a pathetic wreck of a mare that couldn’t even do the one thing she set out to do. What could you possible give him? What could I possible give him?” A frantic edge entered her voice as she finally stopped referring to herself as “you”, completely destroying the disconnected dispassion she had tried to hold. She clenched her head in her hooves, her voice rising to a high pitched shriek as her emotions finally broke. “I’m nothing more than a worthless murderer!”

Tears began to run down her cheeks, big fat drops slowly falling to stain the ground below. “What students?” she choked out, barely suppressing a sob. “What teacher?” They didn’t know what she had done. If they had, there was no way any of them would have let her anywhere near the children. Maybe she should just run away.

Maybe that would be best.

“Well, there’s a face I never thought I would see again. You’re that teacher, ain’tcha?”

Cheerilee’s head shot up at the unexpected voice. Her tears blurred her vision, preventing her from making out the speaker. Wiping them away, she blinked as the other pony quickly came into focus.

With her light green coat and white mane and tail down up in a bun, Granny Smith was an unmistakable figure in Ponyville. By far the oldest living pony in town, her saggy skin limply held onto her shriveled frame. She pushed a walker in front of her as she slowly made her over to Cheerilee. Cheerilee made to stand up as the elderly mare approached, wanting to treat the venerable figure with respect.

Granny Smith was having none of it. “Now don’t you go standing up on my account,” she complained. “In fact, I think I’ll join you. Just wait right there.” Granny Smith slowly shuffled over to Cheerilee’s side at the base of the tree before lowering herself onto the ground, her joints cracking and popping as she inched her way down.

Cheerilee watched the whole process with concern. As Granny Smith began to sit down, Cheerilee moved to help her but a stern look from the elderly mare had her beating a quiet retreat.

“Ahh,” Granny Smith sighed as she reclined against the tree trunk. “That feels good. I tell you, youngster, don’t ever let yourself get old. It’s not worth it.”

“Are you sure you should be out here?” Cheerilee asked in concern. It looked like the mere act of walking was a trial for the old pony.

Granny Smith snorted in annoyance. “Hmph. Don’t go burying me yet, youngster. I get enough of that from my grandkids. I had to sneak out of the house just so they would stop hounding me. I just want to walk in peace, thank you very much.”

Cheerilee laughed weakly. “I see. Sounds like you’re doing well for yourself.”

“’Course I am,” Granny Smith said, sounding satisfied with herself. “I helped my pappy grow this farm with my own four hooves when I was just a filly, and I’m going to keep walking it ‘till the day I die. What about you?” she asked, looking over at Cheerilee. “What are you here for? Going to finally patch things up with Big Mac?”

“I…” Cheerilee trailed off in the silence. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. No.”

Granny Smith gave Cheerilee a meaningful look before turning her attention upwards, watching the morning sun through the gently swaying leaves. Minutes passed in silence as the breeze played in the trees, the shadows dancing on the ground like playful parasprites. “You hurt him, you know.”

Cheerilee stared down at the ground, unable to say anything.

“He kept hopin’ you would write him back,” Granny Smith continued. “Month after month, he would keep writing to you, hopin’ that one day you would finally return. As the months turned into years, he finally gave up.” She sighed, groaning as she absently kicked at her walker. “I ain’t never seen him that sad since the day his pappy died.”

Cheerilee remained silent, still unable to say anything. She knew what Granny Smith was talking about. She had received the letters, but she had never opened a single one. “Maybe that’s all I’m good for,” she muttered quietly. “Hurting ponies.”


Cheerilee stared at Granny Smith in surprise, not sure if she had heard the elderly mare correctly. “…Pardon?”

“You heard me. Hooey.” Granny Smith poked her hoof hard into Cheerilee’s chest. “You’re a sweet mare, and don’t you be thinking otherwise. My grandson wouldn’t fall in love with just any dame off the street.”

Grinning in rueful amusement as she rubbed the sore spot on her chest, Cheerilee decided to try teasing the older pony. “It takes a special dame off the street for your grandson to fall in love?”

Granny Smith snorted. “Too right! And don’t give me any of this woe-is-me pity party. I don’t want to hear it. You’re a kind mare who would easily go out of her way to help anypony in need.”

“I just… I don’t know,” Cheerilee sighed, slumping forward. “Maybe I used to be, but now? What could I possible do for anypony else? OW!”

“I said no pity party,” Granny Smith said, giving her hoof a little shake.

Cheerilee silently stared at the older mare in surprise, rubbing the sore spot on her forehead where Granny Smith had just struck her.

“Now you listen up, and listen good,” Granny Smith said, a scolding tone entering her aged voice. “You keep talking like you’re not good enough, but that’s a big ol’ pile of nonsense. You think nopony’ll be hurt if you just up and vanish? Hooey!” She hocked and spat on the ground beside her. She became more and more animated the more she talked, spittle flying freely from her mouth “Ya already got ponies that care about ya, and I know fer a fact ya’ve already made a difference it at least one young life. And there’s a lot more that’re just waitin’ for ya, even if they don’t know it.”

An image of Sweetie Belle flashed in front of Cheerilee’s eyes before she could suppress it, the cute young mare crying openly as she hugged her older sister. One memory led into another and soon a parade of images sped through Cheerilee’s mind. From Rarity to Fluttershy, to Twilight, to Pinkie. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo, Dinky, Derpy, Pipsqueak, Twist, Snips, and Snails. Even Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara passed through her mind for an instant before fading out, blow away by the cool wind rustling through the apple trees.

 Cheerilee sighed, letting her head sag forward. “Maybe you’re right,” she admitted.

“’Darn tootin’ I’m right!”

Cheerilee smiled at the green pony’s confident proclamation. “So then what?”

Granny Smith shrugged. “Not my problem. You figure out what you’re going to do with Big Mac. And go talk to Apple Bloom! That’s what you’re here for, ain’t it?”

“I… alright.” Letting her head rest against the cool bark of the apple tree, Cheerilee reached up and rubbed away the last traces of the tears staining her face. When Granny Smith put it that way, she only had two real choices. She could stay in Ponyville and try to be the teacher the children needed, or she could return to her old life. Using the tree as leverage, Cheerilee pushed herself to a standing position. She wouldn’t return to that life. “Anything I can get you before I go?”

Waving off Cheerilee’s offer of assistance, Granny Smith leaned back against the apple tree. “Just let me know when you patch things up with Big Mac. And do it quickly! I want grandfoals before I die.”

“You have grandfoals,” Cheerilee pointed out with a smile.

“Great-grandfoals, then,” Granny Smith huffed without any hesitation, crossing her forelegs and shooting Cheerilee an annoyed look.

Shaking her head in amusement, Cheerilee began walking through the rows upon rows of apple trees. Maybe a good walk was what she needed to help clear her head.