After a period of time Derpy found herself empty of feelings. Her mind was blank again. Her head hurt from her crying fit. Her throat felt parched, but she couldn’t muster the energy to get up. Reliving the regrets of the past only made her wonder how competent of a mother she really was.
With a groan she forced herself to turn over, flopping off the bed. The jolt of pain as she collided with the floor lent some strength to her, like the physical pain was leeching off of her emotional pain. Forcing herself up on her hooves she slowly walked towards her door. She opened it, and she let out a little groan as she saw Dinky sitting against the wall right next to the door. She was curled up into a ball, her little body shaking.
“Dinky.” She took a deep breath. “Why didn’t you go to bed? You didn’t need to hear that.”
Dinky looked up at her with her good eye, tears still leaking down her soaked coat. “You… you don’t have to do everything alone. I told you I wanted to help you. You always help me. So if you wouldn’t let me be right next to you I still wanted to share your pain, because I was the one who made you think about all those painful memories.”
Derpy let out a tired sigh. “It’s like I keep telling you, Dinky. None of this is your fault. It’s mine, okay? So just be the kid you are and stop worrying about all the adult problems.” She left Dinky behind as she went down to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. She drank it down, but still felt parched. She had to drink two more glasses before she felt satisfied. Her head was still throbbing, and she couldn’t wait to go to bed. Maybe things would look better in the morning.
When she got back upstairs she saw no sign of Dinky, so she assumed her daughter went back to her room. That notion was broken when she went into her room and saw Dinky sitting on her bed. She let out an annoyed huff, not saying a word as she got under the covers and turned over on her side, away from her daughter.
Dinky started crying again. “So now you’re just going to ignore me?”
In a short voice she replied, “I promised when you were born that I would never make you suffer for my problems and mistakes. I told you what you wanted to know, so go to bed. It’s not your problem what dumb things I did in the past, alright?”
“Do you think I’m not suffering now because of how much pain you’re in?”
“I’ll deal with it! I always have! Alone! Without any stupid stallion by my side.” Her anger rose. Why wouldn’t Dinky just leave her alone? She flipped over, sitting up. “Besides, wasn’t it better when I wasn’t looking at you? After all, you didn’t want to look at me before. “I can’t look at you right now, mom. THOSE EYES!” Hmph!” She clicked her tongue. “Maybe you’re more like your father than I thought. At least YOU’RE normal, unlike a freak like me!”
Dinky’s mouth hung open, her eyes going wide for a few moments before they narrowed to slits and she let out a shuddering breath as her mind grew hazy with rage.
Derpy recoiled, seeing stars as Dinky slapped her.
“HOW DARE YOU!” Furious tears poured down her face. “I’m nothing like that jerk! I got into that fight at school to DEFEND you! Those two rich snobs made fun of your eye condition and called you a freak, and I lost it. I wanted to smash them into the ground for what they said. “Oh, your mom always has one eye on you. NO! I mean ONE… EYE! She’s always looking at you and the couch. You and the fridge!” It made me so mad.
“YOU’RE NOT A FREAK! YOU are normal too! You understand me? It doesn’t matter one bit to me if your eyes are lopsided. I never thought you were any different than the other mom’s and dad’s I’ve seen. I never cared that your eyes don’t point in the same direction. It doesn’t stop you from doing your best to raise me and teach me and be a good mom.
“I LOVE YOU! I’ve always loved you! And I wouldn’t want any other mare for my mom. You’re my one and only, and I’ll always be by your side. YOU GOT THAT? But you need to trust me too. I’m not just a stupid kid anymore! I’m growing up. I mean, I get that I won’t always understand what you’re talking about, but sometimes you just need someone to listen and give you a hug. I can do that!
“You told me about your mistakes, and now it’s time to get over it! It’s time to stop blaming yourself and punishing yourself. You don’t have to be so strong all the time. You don’t always have to try to make it by alone. It’s not gonna destroy me to let me see you crying. It destroys me much more to see you suffering and not asking for help when you need it the most.
“I’m here for you, mom, and I’m not going anywhere. Unlike that monster I defended you because I love you. I fought for you because I love you. I’m here, not because I want to use you or I’m expecting anything, but because I want to be here for you. Okay?”
It was quiet between them for a while. “Dinky,” started her mother. From the tone Dinky was sure her mom was going to start her usual spiel of her being too young, but before Dinky could voice her objections Derpy continued, “I need a hug.”
Dinky wore a small smile as she hopped onto Derpy’s lap. She held onto her mother, closing her eyes as she said gently, “It’s time to forgive yourself. You always forgive me whenever I screw up, but you need to forgive yourself too. Stop hiding away alone and trying to do everything by yourself. We’re a team, aren’t we? So I’ll share your pain, just like you always do for me, because seeing you happy makes me happy too.”
Tears poured down the mare’s face as she held her daughter close. “Dinky, I told you before that I have many, many regrets about the things I‘ve done in my life, but not a single regret I have is aimed at you. You… you’re the one and only thing I’ve never once regretted doing with my life, and that’s why I promised myself I would never let you suffer for my choices. That’s why I always made sure you eat well and get something a little special every paycheck, even if it means I have to make due with a little less. As a parent I felt it was my duty to sacrifice and suffer for you, but really… you’re right. I deceived myself into making myself believe that, when really I was only trying to punish and hurt myself for all the foolish decisions I’ve made.”
She gave Dinky a tender kiss on her forehead. “Thank you, Dinky. I’m sorry for taking things out on you. I guess, like you said, I’ve been suffering silently for far too long. I just… I didn’t want to burden you. It’s easy for me as your mom to listen to your childish problems because I’ve already been there myself when I was your age and I can offer my advice on the matter. But you don’t know anything about running a household, making money, and being a parent.”
Derpy took a deep breath. “I’ve made up my mind. I’m letting the past go as of tonight. I’ve told you the truth, I’ve felt the pain, and now it’s time to release it.”
Dinky smiled, kissing her mom back. “I’m glad to hear it!”
Derpy tilted her head a little, joy on her face at her daughter’s happiness.
“You know, mom, I wish you had just been more honest with me from the start. You always make me too big of a lunch. I usually wind up either giving some of it away or just throwing whatever I can’t finish in the trash.”
She let out a little sigh. “You’re right. I’ve been a fool. I just didn’t want you to worry about me. Now that it’s all out in the open I’m already feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
“Mmm.” Dinky snuggled into her mother, but her smile faded as something came to mind. “Mom?”
“I don’t want to cause you any more pain, but you said you didn’t want to talk about dad again after tonight so this is the only chance I’ll have to ask.”
“Ask away. I’m done crying over him.”
“Well, I guess I just… want to know what he’s doing now.”
“Are you planning to see him?” Derpy asked in a serious voice.
“No! I don’t EVER want to see him. He doesn’t care anything about me. I guess I’m just curious.”
Derpy relaxed. Shooting Star was Dinky’s father, like it or not, so she couldn’t stop Dinky if she wanted to make the attempt to contact him. She just knew that the end result would be Dinky that would end up devastated. She felt relieved that Dinky was making the smart decision.
“Following him dumping me he got a scholarship for a university. He got with that mare he told me about, another pony with status, money, and authority. He became a sports big star. After school ended I didn’t see him anymore.
“Following that event where he sent back the pictures I was so furious I didn’t know what to do. As I said earlier I’ve come to terms with a lot of the mistakes I made in my relationship with Shooting, but that crossed the line for me on so many levels. I wanted to make him pay. I wanted to see him suffer. Anger and revenge were the only things on my mind for a while.”
Dinky looked up into her mother’s face. She couldn’t tell what her mother was feeling. “So what did you do? You said you never tried anything before because you said you were scared of him ruining your life.”
“Well, in the end I didn’t do anything. But I did have a big plan. I had an idea that would ruin his status, his reputation, and turn him into an even bigger outcast than I had been. And to top it all off he would have to be your father like he should have been at the start.”
“How were you planning to do all that?”
“I got a ticket to one of his games. Because of his massive ego whenever he played a home game in Ponyville he would let a few ponies come up and talk about how helpful he had been to them. I was planning to disguise myself a little bit and be one of the ones picked out. Then, in front of everyone around I would tell the whole audience exactly what kind of pony Shooting really was. I would tell them all about the pony who used a mare as a fling and then abandoned her when he found out she was pregnant. A simple blood test would confirm he was your father. He could try to deny everything else, but he couldn’t escape that truth.
“A scandal of that level would send his precious great guy reputation crumbling to the ground. He would become hated and scorned and possibly kicked off his team. And it wouldn’t just affect him either. His dad was wealthy and prominent. If his son was accused of something like that it would hurt his dad’s reputation as well, possibly leading to him losing the wealth he relied on. He, in order to preserve what little reputation he had, would have to leave behind the mare he left me for and come back to care for you. It gave me a savage pleasure. For once he’d understand exactly what he had done to me. He would lose everything just like I had.”
In a quiet voice Dinky said, “So… why didn’t you do it?”
“Because vengeance was only a short-term success. Even if it did work it would cause many more problems than it solved. If Shooting lost everything he valued and felt forced to live with me he would despise me. Then there was the fact that after the way he played with my heart and used me I didn’t want to be near him anyway. There was also the possibility that he could weasel out of my accusations. True enough he couldn’t disprove being your father, but there was no proof of anything else. All anybody saw in public were two ponies very much in love. Up until he dumped me so coldly I thought he was the greatest stallion ever. Only those that had been screwed over by him would know how heartless he could be.
“As for why he wasn’t around to be your dad? There were any number of lies he could have used. He could have claimed I never told him. He could have said that I broke things off between us. He could have said I refused to let you near him and that I was only doing it to be a jerk or to milk him for money.
“Above all else, though, was the single most terrifying thought: that he might try to take you away from me. Looking at things from a logical standpoint I was a struggling single mother, barely making ends meet, with no nearby family and only a few friends as a support group. On his side he was popular, well-known, and had more than enough wealth to ensure you would live comfortably without worries the rest of your life.
“After losing my parents and the love of my life I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing you too. So I did nothing at all. I chose to keep you close to me and just do the best I could.” Giving Dinky a tender smile she kissed her daughter. “In the end I think it makes the most sense that you took after your dad and were born a unicorn.” She poked her daughter’s horn. “Because you make my life magical every day. No matter how badly I feel just thinking about you fills me with love and peace and happiness.”
Dinky gave her mother a teary smile. “Well, right back at you. It only makes sense that you have wings, because you’re my guardian angel!”
Both mother and daughter cried as they embraced. “I love you so much, Dinky!”
“I love you too, mom!”
“You know something… those bullies at school may be right, but maybe I should consider myself lucky to have this condition.”
“Huh?” Dinky pulled back in confusion.
“What was it they said? “I can only keep one eye on you?” Well, these eyes allow me to pull double duty. I can keep one eye on you, and one eye on a world that might try to hurt my baby. So even if others want to see me as a freak or a weirdo I wouldn’t be where I am today without these eyes.
“And even if Shooting was a dirtbag he still helped me make it through school without all the other jerks and bullies coming after me. Things haven’t been easy for me, that’s for sure, but all the other garbage and pain and despair mean nothing to me so long as I have the best gift in the world: you, my little Dinky. So long as I have you I can endure anything. Even when you’re not right next to me I look forward to seeing you whenever you’re not around.
“So you’re totally right. It’s time to stop looking at the past as one big mistake I can’t take back, and time to start looking at all the good things that came of my life.”
“I’m so proud of you, mom!”
Derpy snickered, rolling her eyes a little at her daughter talking to her like a filly. Getting a little more serious she said sincerely, “Thank you, Dinky. There were so many things I was holding onto that were only holding me back. If you hadn’t pushed me to open up I might have held onto them forever.”
“You’re welcome, mom. I’d do anything for you.”
With a slight blush Derpy said, “Dinky, can I ask you for a favor?”
“Do you think I can borrow some bits from you?”
“Well, um… I don’t really have any. I mean, I got my piggy bank. I wouldn’t mind breaking that open for you, though.”
“Oh, no. I’m not talking about that. You might not have been paying much attention earlier, but I told you I deposited most of the inheritance I got from my parent’s accident into an account for your future. Each and every paycheck I’d deposit about twenty bits or so into that account so it will keep growing as you do. I know that I chose to do it, but I consider that money yours and yours alone, so I would never touch that money without your permission.”
“Of course you can borrow that money. All of it is yours. Take as much as you need.”
“I’m not asking for much. I just want to do some food shopping. I’ve been pushing you to always have a good meal, while I tried to eat as little as I could while still being able to function. It would be nice to eat lunch again.”
“See, mom? I know it was hard, but doesn’t it feel better to ask for help?”
“Ah, Dinky. Just because I’m older than you and know more doesn’t mean that you can’t teach me anything. You taught me a valuable lesson tonight, and I’m not gonna forget it. Like you said, we’re a team. I kept trying to shield you from all my problems, not even realizing that I was still hurting you regardless because kids aren’t as unobservant as we think they are. So from now on I give you my word that I’ll try to depend on you where I can. I can’t promise I’ll tell you everything or I’ll come solely to you because it isn’t fair to force all my burdens onto my child, but on every occasion I can we’ll work together to improve. Okay?”
Dinky nodded hard. “Good, because I don’t want to see you suffering by yourself anymore. Even Miss Cheerilee knows it. You’re a fantastic mare and a wonderful mother.”
“Thank you, Dinky.
“Now, it’s late. Now that everything is settled what do you say you go back to sleep? You do still have school in the morning.”
Dinky got a deep flush on her face. “Mom?”
“Do you… do you think… I mean, just for tonight… that I can sleep with you?”
A tender smile came to the mare. “I think that’s just what I need. Get over here, you!”
Dinky let out a little happy squeal as Derpy grabbed her and began tickling her. Dinky squirmed and kicked and squealed as her mother ran her hooves over her sensitive tummy.
When she was done the mare got under the covers. “Well, are you coming or not?”
“Yes, yes,” she replied with a huff, getting her breath back. She joined her mother, the two of them face to face as they held each other.
Derpy closed her eyes. “Goodnight, my little sun and stars. You shine brighter than Celestia’s sun, are more beautiful than the night sky, and are more valuable than all the muffins in the world. I love you so much, my precious little baby.”
Dinky grinned at the compliments. “I love you just as much.” Dinky couldn’t think of something as thoughtful as what her mother had said, but she still wanted to do something special in return. Her mind was blank for a short time, but then she got an idea. Beginning to sing she said, “Stars and moons and air balloons…”
Derpy heard her daughter’s voice, and she began chuckling. “Dinky, are you really…”
She stopped singing, and said, “Do you remember this?”
“Of course I do. That was the lullaby I always used to sing you to sleep.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
A few warm tears poured down the mare’s face as she squeezed her daughter tight. “No. Keep going. I could listen to your voice all night.”
Dinky started over. “Stars and moons and air balloons, fluffy clouds to the horizon…”
Derpy began singing along, her mind going back in time to when Dinky was still a little foal. “…I’ll wrap you in rainbows, and rock you to sleep again.”
More and more tears came down her face as the two continued singing together. “Teddy bears of pink. Ducks and lambs of white. Don’t you cry, dear, I’m here now. I’ll be your nightlight.”
After a short time Derpy stopped to just listen to her daughter’s voice, loving every second of it.
Her mind turned to Shooting Star, and she thought, “He has everything he could ever want. He has wealth, riches, popularity, a good career, and a mare of class. I am poor, single, barely able to get by, plagued with lopsided eyes, clumsiness, and others who mock me. And I wouldn’t trade it away for anything, because I have you close by. He chose to give up his daughter for the sake of his career and status.” She squeezed her daughter close, peace in her heart. “Heh! His loss.”
She continued listening to the rhythmic tone of her daughter’s voice, feeling so calm and peaceful, feeling like she had everything she could ever need right in her hooves.