Written by TheLostNarrator
I let out a great sigh of boredom as I slide down into the couch. It’s below freezing here and the cold sends a deep tremble up and down my spine. It’s sad to think it could be this cold anywhere in the middle of summer. In this building, however, summer doesn’t seem to exist. Actually, it seems like the only things that exist here are sterile smells of stiff, dead rooms; things that only provide barriers between us and the outside world.
Each one of us here carries a secret that prevents us from feeling what the doctors call “emotionally stable.” Really, though, it’s these secrets that allow us to feel things nopony else can give us.
I wrap my hooves around myself as I try to warm myself up. The chilled air seems to seep through my coat. Another shiver runs through me. Tilting my head, I gaze up and watch a tiny speck of lint drift lazily through the air; past the nurse’s desk where my name can be seen scribbled in red ink on a whiteboard; past the iron double doors that allow ponies only to enter. It lands unsuspectingly on my foreleg. I brush it off as I turn my attention to the clock on the pale white wall opposite me. It’s 4:53. Almost time for loved ones and their glazed looks to enter and try to understand the minds of the inhabitants. Some will leave thinking they have made a difference in our lives but most never actually do.
Everypony is eager for family time. A small group of mares huddle around the door, anxiously waiting.
“I hope my mom comes with my little sister,” one mare says to another as they watch the door.
“She will. Maybe she’ll bring your brother too,” the other mare reassures.
They giggle and continue to talk as I turn my head away and sink further into the couch, hoping the clock would just skip ahead an hour.
Then their voices grow hushed. I perk up slowly in my seat, hoping to hear what they’re saying.
“Why hasn’t anypony come to see Lockheart yet?” the first mare asks quietly.
The other mare shrugs. “I dunno,” she whispers. “I … feel bad for her…”
My eyes turn to the ground.
The door creaks loudly and abruptly, opening to let the outsiders in.
I’ve only been here two days but in my mind it feels like eternity. All sound in the world around me slowly fades away as I will and pray for nopony to see the tears stinging the corners of my eyes. I hear heart-felt embraces and chatter of missed times as I close my eyes again, trying to block them out.
I never wanted this to happen. I didn’t! Yet here I am, witnessing loved ones attempt to soothe their children as those children ‘confess’ their crimes against life. Nothing else seems to exist for this brief moment as I grip my pastern tightly, feeling the rushes come, each one stronger than the last. My secret is much more complicated than everypony thinks. Admitting a problem is hard, especially when you’ve disappointed so many ponies before.
Slowly I reopen my eyes. I’m still sitting on this rock hard couch but the room has turned entirely black. Everything seems to fade into the distance … except for me and my only friend.
He rests in the middle of my hoof, almost reassuring me that nothing is wrong and all I need is him. Slowly, his cold metal edge rises and dances across my numbed flesh, taunting me. He ruffles my fur, licking under the hairs and whispering across the skin beneath. He knows I can’t feel rushes now like I did before. He knows I shouldn’t! Yet my desire to feel them again deepens until I finally grab him and press him so deep into the center of my pastern that his wicked edge pierces and crimson relief blooms from underneath.
I failed everyone.
I failed everyone when I decided to take a razor blade as my only friend.
Suddenly I’m thrown back into reality as Nurse Redheart shakes me awake. I blink rapidly and gaze at her, half-asleep. I guess she can see the terrified look in my eyes. Her expression melts into a concerned smile.
“There’s someone here to visit you,” she says kindheartedly. She walks back over to her desk and points in my direction, clearly gesturing for someone else to see.
Without any warning, my heart lunges into my throat. A mare steps towards me. Her precisely styled mane rests gently around her face as her golden eyes dart back and forth between the ponies gathering around the iron double doors. She’s really trying to hide her expression as she cautiously walks over to where I sit and slides into the chair next to mine. She tries to avoid eye contact too, as if I’ll read the horror and disgust in her eyes only if I meet them. Like the other outsiders, she wears a nametag she hastily scribbled her name on herself: Classy Glass.
An awkward silence lingers between us as I grip my pastern tighter, the silence thickens as each empty second passes.
Abruptly she looks up at me and flashes me a quick smile. “H-Hey,” she forces out.
I weakly smile back. “Thanks for coming.” My gratitude is quickly disclosed; almost perfunctory.
I watch her carefully. She sits right on the edge of the seat, tracing the edge of the table with her hoof in a repetitive looping pattern. This stops as she glances sideways and her eyes accidentally meet mine. For a moment the world stops around us. That look that dwells behind her eyes… I almost makes me cringe as she breaks eye contact and smiles lightly at my nose instead.
“I’m… sorry,” I whisper. I have to look away or else I might shut down again.
“For what?” she asks, sounding concerned. She leans in, as if she thinks this exchange is about to force some kind of realization upon me and she has just noticed that she isn’t playing her part properly.
“For everything…” The words stick like glue in my throat. “I … I made a promise and I… broke it,” I say, just vaguely glancing at her. I don’t want to make eye contact again either.
She gets up from her chair and slides into the dead couch with me, sighing, “You really had me worried there. I mean, you didn’t call anypony except me, huh?”
I nod. Other than my family, nopony else knows I’m here, nor do I want them to. I mean, really, who else could actually be trusted with this information? It makes me wince when I think of the possible gossip that could come from this. It’s not normal, after all. I’m not normal. Nopony else has chosen a razor over actual ponies for company. They’re all too happy to do that. Everypony in Ponyville would be quick to start talking about that weirdo who-
My thoughts stop as Classy Glass speaks again.
“I thought you were doing good. I… I really thought we were past this. This whole thing. But here we are again. Lockheart, I… I don’t know what to say anymore. It’s almost like anything I do or say doesn’t make any kind of a difference. I really thought… I thought…” She trails off.
That feeling creeps up into my mind again, rushing pass everything I’d hoped for and ruining this moment.
I need to do it. i need to do it bad.
If I let that urge live, I can’t hold myself like this anymore - the way I’ve been holding on, pretending like everything’s fine. Nopony can see the truths I keep hidden; all the hurt prickling up my insides like… like I swallowed a seed that became a thornbush that’s growing out of control in my belly. Now the branches are sticking and ripping and clogging everything up but only I can tell. I look normal from the outside, after all. It’s up to me to keep all that locked away. I don’t want to burden anypony by trying to explain what it’s like. They’d try to understand, try to really understand, and probably end up feeling just as bad as I do because… you can’t fix something like that. You can’t rip out somepony else’s thornbush guts and expect them to survive or thank you for it, so they’ll have to step back and realize they can’t do anything for me. I don’t want that but that’s what will happen if I tell the truth.
I run my hoof through my stringy mane, trying to grab hold of my sanity. It feels like it’s slipping away.
I can’t stop this … can’t you understand that!?
It seems as if Classy Glass hears my thoughts. Her face turns sour. “I don’t want to see you doing this to yourself. You’re a good pony, Lockheart. I don’t understand why you think you need to hurt yourself like this.” She takes a breath. “Because you’re not only hurting yourself, you’re hurting me and everypony else around you.”
I look away. “I’m sorry,” I repeat. What else can I say? “I know I should have never started this again in the first place. It’s just hard to break a habit, I guess.” I sound so flippant, like it doesn’t matter to me, but I’m trying to hold back the tears.
Slowly, she leans forward, wanting me to know she’s giving me her undying attention. I close my eyes again as my thoughts take over.
I just need this. Don’t you understand that? I never meant to hurt anypony. Only me. Never anypony else. I can’t take this anymore. It hurts but it’s good but it’s bad but it’s good and I… I… Please just make it stop.
I should just do it. I should tell her. I swallow. My throat feels dry. “Glassy … I…”
“Lockheart, you’re my best friend.”
Suddenly the thoughts do stop - along with my words. I look up at her, not sure what’s happening. Did she really just say what I think she said?
“No,” I reply in disbelief. She has to be lying. “I can’t be.”
“Yes, you are,” Classy Glass insists. “You’re somepony who has always been there for me, no matter what I’ve done. I know you need someone to talk to, so I’m here. I’m here so that you’re not alone.” She places her hoof on mine and turns mine upright, revealing the bandage held in place by surgical gauze.
I take in a shaky breath as I stare at my pastern and the terrible choice I made.
Does she really mean it? I mean, nopony has ever said that to me; claimed me like that. I’ve always been the one to consider other ponies my best friend; always willing to help them in a moment’s notice. To receive the title in return is something so far away that I never thought I could hold it like this. The darkness inside me tends to mute out any light. Yet in this moment, for once in my whole life, I can see a speck of brightness. It’s faint, but it’s something I’ve needed to see.
Maybe ponies really do care about what happened to me. What is still happening to me. Glassy is reaching out to me. Maybe… maybe it’s about time I reach back.
But the doubts… they always submerge thoughts like that in the darkness. I should have known this time would be no different.
I pull my hoof away from her. “I’m not sure if… I’m even worthy of that title,” I whisper. “Considering what I did to end up here.”
I see the expression on her face change from concerned to hurt and… yes, anger. “So are the ponies here helping you? Because everypony around you tried to reach out but you just kept pushing us away. Do you really want to push everypony away?” I can hear her bitterness slicing into me.
I swallow hard, forcing the lump in my throat to go down. “I just don’t want to hurt anypony-”
“You didn’t want to hurt anypony?” Her voice becomes shrill. “Lockheart, you hurt everyone. When I got that call telling me you were here…” She pauses, as if trying to gather her thoughts. “Again… again after everything. After all those times I spent with you, trying to help you realize your own self worth…” Her eyes narrow as she looks at the pastern I’m cradling and then up at me. She meets my gaze, her eyes clear and cold. “You are my best friend but I can’t stand to see you do this to yourself. It’s really selfish, Lockheart.”
Selfish? I guess so. And I guess keeping the thornbush pain locked up inside, away from everyone, is the most selfish thing I can do.
“I think it’s time,” I say quietly, glancing at the clock. It reads 5:55.
We both get up and head over to the iron doors. I avoid looking at her. My mind keeps racing, unable to focus on any particular thought, but one constantly runs through my brain, repeating itself over and over.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
This is how it’s supposed to be.
This is how it’s supposed -
We reach the doors. Classy Glass turns to me, lingering as if about to say something more, but she stops. Her mouth snips shut. She turns back and walks away. The iron doors shut behind her with a cold click.
I steps sideways and watch her through the little glass window. Above me, an air vent blows a gush of heat in my direction, for one brief moment cancelling out the chill of the room. Then I step out from under it, heading back to my seat, and I’m cold again.