I stumble across the ice.
Each step I take is perilous, and I nearly slip on the slick surface over two dozen times.
Gnashing my teeth, I struggle to keep my balance.
I pant with vaporous breaths, looking around in desperation for a shoreline.
All I see is monochromatic grayness.
A fog surrounds me on all sides.
Biting my lip, I pick a random direction and shuffle forward, piercing the white emptiness.
Once again, I slip, and I struggle to stay upright.
My knees wobble and I feel the cold biting its merciless way through my coat.
I fight to keep my shuddering breaths straight.
This is no place to collapse or faint.
And then... something parts the fog.
I look forward, blinking hard.
My shades are gone, and yet I can somehow see clearly.
On the far end of the mists, she stands, grasping her bowstring.
She's slicing at the lengths of her cello, but I cannot hear a single note.
I cannot see a single color.
Panicking, I wave my hooves, desperate to get her attention.
Her back is to me, and she can't see my manic motions.
Holding my breath, I fight the ice and elements, gliding forward as evenly as I can muster.
The vision of her draws closer and closer.
Once I'm within shouting distance, I try whistling... blowing... whimpering...
At last, she turns and looks my way.
She smiles, but all the color is gone.
Her eyes and her bow-tie are encumbered in shadow.
It stretches high above her, surrounding, devouring.
I tilt my head up, my jaw agape.
I see the black arched outline... the support struts as it spans the river.
Somepony is staring back down, and I cannot bear to see the expression on her face.
I dare not feel that ever again.
Just then, the ice breaks.
A gasp escapes my lip—a magenta explosion that shatters the monochrome.
But as I descend into the depths, the waters are not freezing.
Instead, they are warm, delightfully soothing...
Colored with the deepest of blue hues.
A smooth pearlescent blue.
Blue like the sky on a spring afternoon.
"Uhmmmm" A tiny hoof shakes me harder and harder. "Miss Scratch?"
"...!" I snap awake, opening my eyes and instantly regretting it. A myriad of all the world's relentless colors stab me at once. Wincing, I flail against the couch cushions, then reach a hoof out to the table on my left.
"Whoops..." Once again, a fountain of blue—directly in front of me. "My bad. Uhm... do you need this?" I'm hoofed a pad of paper.
Gnashing my teeth, I toss the thing to the floor and continue fumbling around.
"Uhhh... oh! Oh jeez! I'm sorry!" At last, the tiny hoof drops a pair of shades into my grasp. "Here you g-go!"
In a flash, I slap the things over my eyes. I pant for breath, rising the magenta waves into an ocean of calm. Slowly, the colors stop swirling, and I become cognitive of the living room around me... and the tiny little unicorn standing in front of me, eyes blinking.
"Eheh..." Sweetie Belle bites her lip. "I can't even wake you up right."
I simply sit there, staring past my leg-cast at her.
"Oh! Uhm..." The blue undulates into a tender ripple as she draws back, squirming her hooves against the carpet. "Hi. I'm... uh... Sweetie Belle." She gulps. "I mean... of course you know I'm Sweetie Belle." She rolls her eyes at herself. "Anyways... I-I came here as soon as I could after school. Miss Melody was here when I showed up, and she had me work on cleaning the kitchen n'stuff. She... uh... had to go run an errand just now, and she asked me to look after you... since you were sleeping n'all. But then I realized that you hadn't eaten in a while and... uh... I-I was wondering if maybe you..." She grimaces, leaning away from me as if expecting my horn to zap her at any moment. "...wanted a sandwich?"
I blink. I look over my shoulder—then do a double take.
All of the drawers of the kitchen are hanging open and there is silverware piled up everywhere. I notice several boxes stacked up in the corner. I can't even pretend to fathom what they've been filled with or where they might have come from.
"My big sister tells me that the cleanest kitchen is a well-organized one!" Sweetie Belle says. Her voice hits a sapphire peak that matches her glinting grin. "So, I figured I'd go the extra mile and make everything extra neat for you!"
I bite my lip, not anticipating the indigo earthquake that's bound to transpire once Tavi gets back.
"So... uh... how about it, Miss Scratch?" Her tail flicks as she avoids my gaze. "Are you feeling famished? I mean... it's the least I can do."
I take a deep breath. Turning towards her, I sigh, bear a limp smile, the gesture as if I'm guzzling a tall soda can.
"Great!" Sweetie chirps, the canters off. "A sandwich it is!"
"...?!" I gawk at her, shaking my head and gesturing.
"Don't worry!" she hollers back, her voice bright and ocean blue. "I've eased off on the mayonnaise ever since that one time I made my dad pass out!"
Gnashing my teeth, I gaze down at the pad of paper on the floor. I struggle and strain to reach it without moving my injured leg. Naturally, it's a futile effort.
"Huh? What's the matter?" Sweetie Belle trots back. "Can I help you with—?" She pivots about and sees the object I'm reaching for. "Ah! Of course!" She picks it up.
I smile with relief.
And then she places it neatly on a tabletop several feet away on the opposite side of the foyer. "There! Nice and neat, just like I promised Miss Melody!" She trots gaily past me, giving a passing wink. "My big sis likes 'organized chaos,' but it's a good thing she's not taking care of you, huh?"
I face hoof hard.
"So... do you want lettuce or tomatoes on your sandwich?" her blue voice echoes. "How about one clop for lettuce and two clops for tomatoes?"
I stifle the heaviest sigh of my life. Slumping back in my couch, I raise a hoof and slap it twice... limply but firmly against the legrest.
"Oh? Double the lettuce? Coming right up!"
I cringe. Frowning, I aim my horn at the pad of paper across the way. But my magic hasn't been exercised in days, and I barely get the object to float an inch off the desktop.
"Whew!" The filly exclaims. "I really wish there was a better way we could speak to each other! Almost makes you wish that unicorns could read each other's thoughts, y'know?"
I slump back against the cushions again and close my eyes.
You really... really don't want to hear my thoughts right now, kid...