• 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.

  • ...


Erase lay on his side, eyes scrunched shut. A soft, scratchy voice gnawed at him from the bedside table. He turned over onto his back, took a single, deep breath and opened his eyes wide. His eyes fixed on the calender tacked to the ceiling above him.

Right. Tuesday.

He climbed out of bed, walked briskly to the bathroom and ran a brief, cold shower. The radio continued to blare at him from the bedroom as he stepped out and went to the mirror over the sink. He stared at himself in the mirror: light grey coat. Charcoal black mane, short and professionally styled. A middle aged face. Kind of bored.

He took a shaving kit out of the cabinet and laid it out on the counter. He paused to look at the array of brushes and razors, all in a row. He stroked his chin and the sides of his cheeks.

Shower first...? He glanced at the shower, staring at the beads of water still clinging to the clear plastic curtain. Right. Shower First.

He took to razor, clipped a size three brush along its leading edge and began trimming the hair along his jaw to a uniform length. He rinsed the blade under the faucet, shook it clean, and drew the blade again. Shave. Rinse. Shake. Shave. Rinse. Shake.

Smooth enough? He stroked his chin and the sides of his cheeks. Shower First.

He glanced at the shower curtain. He listened to the radio, still faintly audible from the bedroom. Something about the weather.

Goddamned weather... come on. Give me something I can use.

He heard the announcer mention the time. Eight o'clock. He set the shaving kit away and walked to the kitchen. Breakfast was easy. Oatmeal, daisy salad, glass of milk. Food was always easy. He took the dishes to the counter and ran them under the faucet one at a time. He paused to stare at the dishes already sitting in the drying rack.

Dinner. Those are all big plates. The big plates are for dinner.

He dried the dishes and put them away, taking a moment to stare at the neat little stacks sitting in the cupboard. He nudged the desert bowls to the left, then walked to the bathroom and ran a cold shower. Fifteen minutes later, he stepped out and dried himself off. He took a briefcase off the kitchen table and went to the front door.

He put his hoof on the lever and stared straight ahead. I'm missing something. What am I missing?

He turned around and scanned the rest of his apartment. Clean, trendy furniture. Shelving full of hoof-labeled videocassette tapes. A gleaming black guitar resting upright in its frame. Nothing on the coffee table. Nothing sitting on the couch. Nothing hanging off the backs of any chairs.

Come on. What comes next?

He walked back to his bedroom, laid on the mattress, and stared at the calender on the ceiling.

Still Tuesday? Or Tuesday again?

He closed his eyes and listened to the radio. No more goddamned weather, at least... something about a construction accident. Two dead. Something else about a new shopping mall being opened on main street. The announcer mentioned the time. Nine o'clock.

Right... Tuesday. I work. He shot out of bed and ran to the closet, shuffling through a long row of black-with-silver-trim three-piece suits. Late for work. Late. Am I still late? Or am I late again?

He scrambled to dress himself, struggling with the buttons and cufflinks and starched white collar and formal tie... earth pony problems. His superiors had quietly offered to pay for a personal assistant to follow him around. It wasn't unusual: Ponies who wore three piece suits often hired personal assistants to take care of the insignificant little details. The assistants were often unicorns. He'd politely declined. They'd insisted, because of his... because. He'd politely declined.

He ran back to the living room, snatched the briefcase with his mouth, and shoved the door open. He ran down the hall and waited for the elevator, bouncing slightly on the tips of his hooves. He lifted his front leg and glanced at his ankle. He didn't wear watches--they only made things worse--but it was a useful mannerism to cultivate.

The elevator lowered into position and the wooden accordion-fence gate slid open. He rushed inside, jabbed the ground floor button, and nodded to the mare already standing there. "Pardon."

"No worries," she said. "I'm running a little late myself."

They stood together, side by side, as the gate closed. The elevator slid down.

"So," the mare said, "how about that weather?"

The weather. Goddammit. Okay. I heard the radio when I woke up today. I hear it every morning. What did the weather mare saying? Rain? Snow? Hail? Fucking locusts, what? Why couldn't I have looked out the window before I left the apartment dammit why do I even have a window if I never use it okay look at the mare. Is this just pointless infantile chit-chat, or was she serious? He glanced at the mare. She was watching him with a pleasant smile. Oh god I think she's serious. Say something quick. Anything. Doesn't matter.

He nodded to her. "I don't even remember the last time it rained in Canterlot."

He watched her eyebrows quirk. His throat tightened. Shit. It's not raining, is it? It's not.

"It used to rain all the time where I grew up," he said, "but it hardly ever rains in Canterlot. Kind of makes me homesick when it does, but in a good way."

She chuckled. "Do you remember last week?" she said. "Talk about a downpour!"

He nodded.

"Say, I think I've seen you around," she said. "Do you live here?"

"Yes. It's close to where I work, and I like to walk everywhere, so."

"Where do you work? Anywhere interesting?"

"The palace," he said. "And before you say anything, no, I'm not famous or important. It's just a regular job."

"My stars! Even so, it must be amazing. What is it that you do, exactly If you don't mind me asking?"

He clenched his jaw. "I probably shouldn't say."

She arched an eyebrow. "Secret?"

"Boring. Excessively so."

She chuckled again. "Well I guess somepony has to do it."

He nodded again. Ground floor ground floor ground floor come on come on ground floor

"So, how long have you lived in Canterlot?"


"Long enough, I suppose." He tapped the ground floor button. It was already lit. Was it her? Had she already pressed it before he'd even entered?

The elevator settled into place. The accordion-fence gate flexed apart and Erase slipped between them before they fully opened. "Good day, miss."

He bolted across the lobby and past the apartment building's tiny security office. The security chief nodded to him as he passed. "Morning mister Erase."

"Morning, Navy Blue." He lifted one ankle and nodded to it. "Is it, ah..."

"Tuesday, Mister Erase. Quarter after nine."

"Thanks. Is it still raining?"

Navy Blue nodded, unperturbed. "Never was, sir. Not today."

"Right. I'll... right."

He rushed out the door and ran along the sidewalk, through the bustling crowd of primped-up nobles and wealthy benefactors that always populated the palace district. It was clear blue skies as far as the eye could see--no weather at all was still a kind of weather, just as zero was still a number. His journey passed in a blur, all at once: the only way to judge his progress was to examine the degree of rumples in his suit or the amount of sweat collecting underneath.

He ran across a tiny bridge made of white marble and decorated with gold-framed panels of aquamarine, then rushed to a small and unassuming side entrance. He nodded to the two royal guards standing at attention.

"Morning," he said as he showed them his pass. "Is it, ah...?

The guard nodded. "Quarter to ten, Mister Erase. Running a little late, aren't we?"

He shrugged. "I wouldn't know, would I?"

"Of course not, Mister Erase. No offense meant." He nodded backwards. "Go on in. And good luck with the manager."

Erase froze in place, eyes wide. "Was I, uh...?"

"It's the first time this week you've been late, mister Erase, but the second time this month."

"Second time this month. Right." He rushed between them. "Good day, sirs."

He rushed through the bleak white hallways of the palace's main office district, frantically nodding to co-workers and flashing his badge to guards. He came to the central office--a massive array of cubicles, comprised entirely of desks, shelves, and fabric-covered walls. His eyes fixed on one of the high-security doors on the far side of the room: armored, sealed, and guarded.

Almost. Almost.


He skidded to a halt. A moment later, he looked back at the office manager standing behind him. "Yessir? Can I help you?"

His immediate superior nodded without looking up form his clipboard. "There's a minor issue with the January accounting index. Talk to Espresso and help him go through the files by hoof."

"Yessir," he said. "Anything else, sir?"

"And do try to be a little more prompt from now on."

"Yes, sir. I'm terribly sorry, sir."

"I understand the unique circumstances of your... ah... circumstances." He adjusted his glasses. "Have you considered hiring on a personal assistant to take care of all the little things? I'm sure we could put it on the payroll for you, if your doctor were to--"

"Thank you sir. I'll look into it."

"You will?" The manager reached up and lowered his glasses. "We've discussed this before, haven't we?"

"I wouldn't know, sir, would I?" Erase said with a helpless little smile. Go to hell, you old goat.

"Very well. Go on, then."

Erase turned and walked into the grid of cubicles, navigating the narrow paths and alleys. Espresso was at his desk as always, already waving at him over the shoulder-height fabric-covered walls.

He nodded at the chair across his desk, normally reserved for client interviews. "Did you have breakfast? I have an extra--"

"I had breakfast. Food's easy."

"The manager didn't tear a strip out of you, did he?"

"Nah. He went easy on me." Erase spun around in the chair and stared at the ceiling. "Probably not worth the paperwork it'd take to write me up."

"You wanna blow off the rest of today? Go to a bar or something? There's a band I like playing live all week. You won't believe the guitarist."

"I don't believe anything. You know I can't afford to." He sat upright with a concerned frown. "What about the January account? Did we... already do that?"

"I wish." Espresso rolled his eyes. "It's a total disaster. It's going to take the whole department a month to sort out the details. Nopony'll even notice if we duck out."

"What about the manager?"

"What about him? He's too busy trying to blame us for this mess. Come on, pal! When was the last time you actually had fun?"

Erase stared at the ceiling. "I wouldn't know, would I?" he whispered.

"You really don't..." Espresso glanced around, then leaned forward and lowered his voice. "You really don't remember? I mean... you can't?"

"I remember everything," he said. "All of it. All the time."

They sat and watched each other in silence.

"So... how long were we talking, just now?"

"We talked until we stopped talking," Erase said. "My life is a tautology."

"You know what you need?" Espresso said. "You need to get laid. That's what you need."

Erase snorted.

"No, seriously. You need it more than anypony I've ever met. I've met a lot of ponies."

He shook his head. "No. Not a good idea. At all. You know what I'm like. You're the only person in this office who'll even talk to me, and you're..."

"Yeah? What?"

Erase watched him for a moment. "You're kind of an asshole."

"That doesn't make me wrong. Seriously, you need to spend time with a mare. Even just a friend, just to talk with. Anything at all would be better than this."

Erase looked away. "Me? Married? Now who's the crazy one?"

"Not a wife, you idiot. Just a filly-friend. I know a few. Let me set you up."

Erase leaned on the desk and pressed a hoof against his forehead. "Sorry, Espresso. I know you're trying to help... but please stop helping. I've tried it before, and it never works. It just never works."

"Then you haven't tried everything," Espresso said. "You just have to keep looking. Try something new. Some kind of interaction you haven't had before. I know hell is other ponies, but seriously... the alternative is even worse."

Erase stared off into space for awhile. He reached up and loosened his tie slightly. Something new.