• Published 13th Jun 2013
  • 2,602 Views, 64 Comments

Erase and Rewind - DuncanR

Two ponies, equally but uniquely flawed, must decide if they have enough wits between them to cobble together a stable family. A story about trust, loss, severe neurological disorder, and ice cream.

  • ...


Rewind lay on her side, staring at the plaster wall beside her bunk bed. She didn't have a window like any of the other fillies, and the paint was cracked and faded in spots. The voices in the room--laughing, shouting--all blurred together into a dull roar. Tiny hooves clicked against the hardwood floor. Rusty wheels squeaked back and forth, followed by the intermittent rustling of bedsheets and laundry. She was the only filly still lying down.

"Rewind?" an older voice called out. "Rewind, are you ready?"

She said nothing. She stared at the wall beside her bunk bed, at the row of shallow lines gouged into the plaster. Seven in total.

"Has anypony seen Rewind? Check the bathrooms."

Somepony tugged on Rewind's tail. "Hey. Are you in trouble or something?"

Rewind turned over to look at the other filly--her best friend, Copper Bright, the pegasus--but ended up staring at the rest of the bunk-room behind her. The matron, the only grown up in sight, was rushing between the rows of bunk beds and glancing side to side.

Rewind let out a sigh and hopped off the bunk bed. "I'm over here, Mrs. Flaxfold."

The mare's eyes instantly locked onto hers and she rushed to her side in an instant, lifting her chin and adjusting her mane. "This isn't a joke, Rewind. We don't have much--"

"I know, Mrs. Flaxfold." She took her saddlebags off a hook on the bedpost and set them on the floor. "I packed up, like, an hour ago."

"Good, good." Mrs. Flaxfold fussed over her mane a moment longer, then went about securing the tiny, pink saddlebags to the filly's back. "They're waiting in the front hall right now. I want you to be on your very best behavior, do you hear me? Your very best."

Rewind rolled her eyes. "It's not like we've never met before... I've been visiting them every weeked for almost a month now."

Flaxfold leaned close and whispered "It's for the other children, you silly filly. Everypony else in the breakfast hall is going to see you walk out that door, and they need all the hope they can get. Please, Rewind. Think of them."

Rewind nodded.

"Very good. There's a proper lady."

Flaxfold led her out of the bunk-room and into the main dinner hall. The faded walls and long plastic tables were barely recognizable under the colorful murals and thick patches of crayon drawings. As soon as she stepped into the room, the colts and fillies all cheered and waved at her. A small pack of them leapt out of their chairs and rushed over to her: friends she'd known for years, eager to say goodbye. She went through the routine that was expected of her, smiling and laughing and hugging. It took her a quarter of an hour to make her way through the crowd and into the front foyer. A pair of ponies were already there, waiting patiently. The stallion was an earth pony with a dark chestnut coat and mane, and the mare was a powder blue pegasus with brilliant sapphire curls. They watched her approach with a mix of eager patience.

Rewind looked back at Mrs Flaxfold one last time, then stepped forward and performed a curtsey. "Good morning, mister Cinnamon Sticks. Good morning, Missus Singsong."

Singsong leaned down and nuzzled her forehead. "Are you sure you're ready to go just yet? You can stay and talk with your friends a little longer, if you like."

"That's okay."

The stallion nodded to her. "You can visit them whenever you like, of course. All you have to do is ask."

"Yeah, visit!" one of the colts called out from behind her. The children all crowded around the door and cheered her on, eager.

Rewind glanced back and managed a halfhearted wave. "Can we, uh... can we go now?"

The Cinnamon Sticks smiled down at her. "Sure thing, squirt. There's a carriage waiting outside right now."

"And we left your room just the way it was," said Singsong. "I'm sure you must be simply exhausted."

The two grownups walked to the front door and Rewind followed between them. The cheering voices continued, louder than ever, and she turned to wave back at them one last time. As soon as she stepped outside, she took a deep breath and gazed up at the blue sky above. The weather over Canterlot was always perfect. The sound of silver bells caught her attention, and she gasped in awe: the carriage waiting by the road was rather fancy even by Canterlot standards: the whole thing was made of finely finished hardwood and decorated with gleaming silver.

Cinnamon Sticks opened a side compartment and nodded inside. "You can put your bags in here for now, if you like. We'll be up front."

Rewind watched him go, then stowed her bags. She heard hoofsteps behind her and turned to see Copper Bright. She pawed the sidewalk slightly.

"So... are you really gonna visit?"

Rewind watched her for a moment. She looked back at the orphanage: it'd been her home for years.

She gave Copper Bright a gentle pat on the shoulder. "I won't be long."

"Don't say that." Copper Bright stepped close and hugged her tight. "That's a horrible thing to say."

Cinnamon Sticks waved at her from the window of the carriage. "Are you ready to go?"

She climbed into the carriage. Her mouth formed a silent 'oh' as she stepped inside and gazed at the lush interior: the chairs were covered with soft, velvet cushions and there was plenty of space to move around. Cinnamon Sticks said something to the drivers up front, and the carriage went into motion.

Rewind stroked a hoof against the seat. "I didn't know you guys were rich."

"We figured this was a special occasion," said Singsong. "We can afford to splurge a little now and again, can't we?"

"Speaking of which," Cinnamon Sticks said, "I say we celebrate! What do you think, squirt? Ice cream, or pizza?"

Rewind let out a gasp. "No!" she yelped.

They both looked at her, worried.

Rewind clenched her jaw slightly. "Sorry. Ice cream's... probably not a good idea."

"Pizza it is, then."

Singsong cleared her throat. "Actually, I was thinking we could go to a department store. Maybe get some new furniture for your bedroom, do some interior decorating..."

Cinnamon Sticks rolled his eyes. "You're kidding, right? Our first official day as a family and you want to go browsing through a department store?"

"It's a shopping spree," she said. "It's completely different when you get to decide what's bought." She turned to Rewind. "I know you've stayed with us plenty of times already, but we want you to really feel like it's your room. And that means you can decorate it however you want. Would you like that?"

Cinnamon Sticks wiggled his eyebrows. "They have maple icecream. With sprinkles."

"That'd... be nice, actually. But can we do it later? I just wanna be home for awhile."

"You're the boss, squirt. But, first..." Cinnamon Sticks reached into a nearby ice-box and held up a child-sized icecream cone. "I figured you might not want to wait. It'd be a shame to let it melt, wouldn't it?"

Rewind took the frozen treat in both forelegs, momentarily dazzled. She took a small lick, and then a small bite. They both smiled at her warmly. She stared out the window and watched the city pass her by. She felt a smile tug at her own face, though it wasn't quite ready to show itself. Not just yet.

The carriage bumped slightly, then slowed to a halt. Rewind pursed her lips and looked out the window: the building nearby was covered with scaffolding and tarpaulin.

"Construction?" Cinnamon said, "at this hour? Great. We'll be here all day."

"It'll be fine, dear. There's no need to--"

Something slapped Rewind's face, hard and loud. Her inner ear spun around wildly, and a wave of vertigo pulsed through her mind. She heard crashing, splintering wood all around her, then felt cold wind rake across her coat. By the time she opened her eyes, it was all over: she was flying through the air, tumbling, and the carriage behind and below her was a heap of wreckage half-obscured by a plume of grey dust. She was dimly aware of the nearby scaffolding collapsing to the ground. Her view of the world tilted and spun and, for a brief shining moment, she was flying.

She landed on the ground, sitting on a broken panel of the carriage door, and skidded down main street with a trail of sparks. She sat on the panel perfectly upright, eyes wide, and hurtled unharmed between the rows of heavy traffic. She slowly spun in place and finally ground to a halt: the lurching stop was the most alarming part. She stared ahead, eyes wide, jaw limp.

The upper half of her maple-and-sprinkles cone slipped off and landed on the ground with a splat. She looked down at it, blinking. She stayed like that, perfectly still, until the ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital. No major injuries. A few scrapes. Her carefully styled mane was tousled and covered with powdered concrete.

The doctors spoke to her about the accident. The therapists spoke to her about her (late) foster parents. The case-worker spoke to her about her home. A month later it was the Matron, Mrs. Flaxfold, who came to the hospital to sign for her release. They rode back to the orphanage together, and they spoke--thankfully--of nothing at all. There was no crowd of smiling children waiting to greet her. No cheers of congratulation or well-wishing. Most of the others were out for the day, visiting one of the largest gardens in the city.

Rewind went to the laundry room, picked out another set of tiny saddlebags, and walked back to her usual bunk bed. Copper Bright was already there waiting for her.

"Told you I wouldn't be long," Rewind said, her voice flat.

"How'd it go?"

"Didn't make it home," she said. She climbed up the ladder and hung her saddlebags on the hook. "Didn't even make it to the ice-cream shop."

Copper Bright climbed halfway up the ladder and watched her. "D'you wanna talk about it?"

"Nah. Maybe later."

"Are you... okay?"

She nodded. "Yeah. I'm cool."

Copper Bright nodded, and dropped down from the ladder.

Rewind snuggled against her pillow and closed her eyes. She listened to the sound of her own breath for awhile, and to the creaking of the walls. Old walls. She opened one eye and looked at the crumbling plaster and flecking paint beside her bed.

She pulled the metal horseshoe off of her hoof and scraped its corner against the plaster, gouging a shallow line alongside all the rest. Eight in total. She rolled onto her back and let out a sigh.

Didn't even make it to the ice cream place.