I take ten more steps and come to a shuffling stop at the edge of the sidewalk.
Muzzle grimacing, I look down at the medical sheets floating in my magic grasp. There's a doctor's name on it, along with a scheduled appointment for when he can be found at Ponyville Central.
Gulping, I tilt my head up and gaze across the road in the noon daylight.
The three-story hospital looms, its central structure and large wings aglow with soft beige colored siding. Parked outside, I see a carriage with Canterlot license plates.
There's no turning back now.
I'm dizzy enough as it is, and more sighing exhalations isn't going to help the situation any. After all, if the doctor reports me as being dead on my hooves, then Octavia's going to be completely alone on the royal stage, and we can't have that happen.
Okay, so maybe that's a tad bit melodramatic. But... Celestia-on-a-bike I hate this.
Nevertheless, I look both ways, then sluggishly cross the street. My ears twitch, hungry for a sound—any sound—that could distract me from the inevitable.
Somewhere, in the midst of my march, my mind latches onto one such distraction. And it's a hauntingly familiar one... at least until it isn't. My mind flickers back to a few nights ago in a bar full of tipsy musicians. Then—in one fell swoop—that entire cloudy memory evaporates. I feel elated, but soon I'm feling confused, for the familiar sound persists... along with its familiar color.
I look to my right and I see nothing.
I look to my left...
...and have to leap forward to avoid being run over by a fatefully homicidal red wagon.
"Gaaah!" The tiny orange filly pulling the cart screeches her scooter to a sideways halt. She frowns up at me. "Hey! What are you, blind—Oh." She instantly winces, her ears folding beneath her scrappy pink mane. "Oh jeez..."
"Land's sakes, Scootaloo!" Applejack's sister pokes her head out from behind several tufts of tight yellow fabric. "Do ya think this mare has a death wish or somethin'?"
"This is the second time ya nearly killed her—!"
"Look, I'm sorry, Apple Bloom, okay!" Scootaloo's voice explodes in amber beams. She frowns back at her friend. "And I didn't almost kill her! I'm a bit more graceful than that!"
Scootaloo sighs. She calms herself with a deep breath, then looks up at me with puppy dog eyes. "Sorry for almost killing you again, Miss."
Apple Bloom giggles, a delightfully golden thing.
"Mrmmfmf-mmfmff!" And there it is, the blue cloud from the back of the wagon, muffled... undulating. A pale unicorn pokes her pretty face through a stack of ribbon and twine. "What's going on, girls? Are we going to reach the hilltop or aren't we?"
"Sweetie Belle, your shortcut brought us by the hospital!" Scootaloo barks. "I could have run over a little old grandmother with a trotter by going this way!"
"Don't put the blame on Sweetie Belle!" Apple Bloom chides. "After all, if this here plan of hers works, then we'll be getting aviation cutie marks!" The farm filly squints. "Ain't that what you've always been wantin'?"
"Don't pretend like you know everything about me!"
"Nah, you just want Rainbow Dash to."
"Heeheeeeeee..." Scootaloo coos, her tiny wings buzzing. "That's exactly—Hey!"
Sweetie Belle rolls her eyes and smiles up at me. "Don't mind my friends here, Miss. They're just crazy excited, because this is a fool-proof plan!"
I simply stare at her.
She points at her blank flank and her voice reaches a sapphire-blue pitch. "To get our cutie marks, of course! What do we have more than anything? The sky, of course!" She giggles, and it sounds like diamonds raining down all around us. "And once we've mastered the sky, we can master anything!"
"All it takes is a little hoof and elbow grease!" Apple Bloom adds.
I glance at the materials gathered in their wagon: fabric, metal and wood reinforcement, string.
Well... I guess somepony could call that "aviation."
In a foalish sense...
I smile and give them a mock salute.
They take it as well as kids can.
"Wooohoo! Thanks for the good luck, Miss!" Apple Bloom says. "Hop along, Scootaloo! The sky's awaitin'!"
"Don't have to tell me twice." Scootaloo kicks at the ground, shoving the scooter along. "So long, lady! And... y'know... would it kill ya to put a bell on?"
"Scootalooooo..." Sweetie Belle grumbles, and even still it has an ocean blue tone to it. She smiles at me and waves while she's dragged towards the hills outside of Ponyville. "Next time, we'll be seeing you from the skies! So... no running into you by accident! 'Kay? Byyyyye!"
The melody of her departure is practically giggle-inducing. I hold it in with a firm smile, waving back.
Then, the purpose of the day falls back on my shoulders, huge and heavy.
With a slumping sigh, I turn and resume my shuffle towards the hospital, dragging the appointment papers behind me.