Rainbow Dash grinned in sheer ecstasy as she soared through the air at blistering speeds, the wind whipping behind her and crackling for all on the ground to hear. They gazed up into the air and saw her, but only for a fraction of a second.
She would break the all-time speed record from Manehattan to Ponyville, for sure!
Rainbow Dash always loved to fly. She loved everything about it, from the feeling of complete and total freedom, to the weightlessness when dive bombing towards the earth, to the slight terror and sheer elation from pulling up at the last minute before hitting the ground.
She checked her stopwatch, which was on her hoof. She was making decent time, but was about two seconds behind the record. Maybe she could speed up just a little bit more and beat Fleetwing Frank, the fastest pegasus to ever have lived.
“Not for long, Frank!” she cried, her wings straining and aching under the pressure. But she didn’t care; she even enjoyed the pain of exertion and pushing herself farther than she thought she could.
Rainbow Dash glanced down at her stopwatch and looked at the time. She was now a second ahead! As long as she kept up this speed, she’d break the record for--
She collided into the side of a house while she wasn’t looking, just on the outskirts of Ponyville.
“I’m afraid that I have some bad news, Rainbow Dash,” said the caramel-coated unicorn doctor.
He levitated some X-rays in front of Rainbow Dash. “It appears that you have fractured your spinal column just below the neck. I am sorry to say this, Rainbow Dash, but you will never walk, fly, or use your hooves again.”
Rainbow’s mouth gaped open in shock.
“Is there anything that you can do to help me? Is there a procedure? A magic spell?” asked Rainbow Dash.
The doctor shook his head. “We’ve been doing research on how to help quadra- and paraplegics for years, but, unfortunately, haven’t come up with anything. Of course, if there are any promising developments, you’ll be the first to know.”
“W-w-what comes next?” asked Rainbow Dash.
Doctor Stable sighed and shook his head. “There’s no easy way to tell a patient this, particularly one who is as physical as you. You will require constant care for the rest of your life. You will need help moving, eating, drinking, and using the bathroom. The medical bills may be high, and we can try to work something out with your insurance provider, but you may have to take money out of your savings and ask your family for what will likely be hundreds of thousands of bits over the rest of your life.”
Rainbow Dash didn’t say a word. Instead, she just sat with her eyes staring off into space.
“I know that it’s a lot to process, Miss Dash,” said Doctor Stable, putting his hand on her chest consolingly.
A week had passed. Rainbow Dash would often fall asleep and dream of the crash into the house, of her last ever flight, and wake up, and attempt to jump out of bed and avoid the house, only to realize that she couldn’t. Her wings and her hooves were as unresponsive to her desires as the hospital curtain or the shades.
The nurse couldn’t be in the room all the time, and Rainbow realized how much she needed her for. Every time she needed her pillow adjusted, or the shades of her room opened or closed, or even had an itch that she needed to scratch, she might or might not get it.
Her friends all came to visit her one by one. Pinkie baked her a cake. Fluttershy sang her lullabies. Rarity made her a hat.
None of it helped.
Nothing could help Rainbow Dash's cold, hard realization that she would never fly again. Every day she would gaze restlessly outside of the window, watching the other pegasi fly around, change the weather, play air tennis, and do any number of things that she would never be able to do again.
She spent many hours a day crying her eyes out. She spent the rest of her time reading, but every time that she picked up a Daring Do book and read about the brave adventurer flying away from danger or swinging on a rope, it simply reminded Rainbow Dash of that which she had once known, but now knew no more.
Twilight Sparkle researched every magical spell that she could find. A lot of the books had been destroyed in her library when Tirek attacked, but that didn’t stop the princess, who was determined to help her good friend. She went to Canterlot every single day and researched every spell in the Canterlot Archives.
After a few months, though, Twilight simply gave up.
She arrived in the long-term care facility where Rainbow Dash was now living and delivered the bad news.
“I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash, but not even magic can restore a broken spinal cord. It’s one of the few things that magic can’t do.”
Rainbow Dash shook her head. “It’s okay, Twilight. You did your best.”
“But there’s always science, Rainbow Dash. They’re making great strides in stem cell research, and in brain-computer interfaces. And, of course, I’m always discovering new magic spells. I’m sure that somehow, you’ll walk again someday. You might even someday fly again, and--”
Rainbow Dash frowned. “No, I know. It’s really unlikely. I’ll never be back to normal. The doctors have all told me.”
Twilight blushed sheepishly as she sat down in the chair in Rainbow’s room. She tried to make small talk with her friend, but Rainbow Dash just wasn’t interested. Finally, Twilight left.
Over the next few months, Rainbow’s friends visited her less and less. Her normally rambunctious demeanor had been replaced by a melancholy depression, and try as they might to cheer her up, they simply couldn’t. Even Pinkie Pie eventually gave up.
Two years passed, and Rainbow Dash sat in her bed, reading a book. She had burned through all of her life savings. She didn’t know how she would stay here. Who would take care of her? Would her friends even want to? They hadn’t been to see her in six months. She didn’t blame them. She was a worthless pile of bones and fur that could never amount to anything anymore. The best days of her young life were behind her.
She didn’t cry anymore. She didn’t scream. She didn’t even shrug. She did the one thing that she still could do, and could do rather well. She closed her eyes and went back to sleep, to dream of soaring through the sky once again.