• Published 13th Aug 2013
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Married to Her Job, Single in Her Heart - Revenant Wings

Nurse Redheart believes her job is all she needs in life. That is, until she meets a mare and an almost forgotten memory who show her there's more to life than work. +COMPLETED+

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Chapter 5 - Broken Pieces


As soon as Redheart left Sugarcube Corner and began walking around town she began to think about things. She thought about her week-long vacation. She thought about the little red book she had borrowed from the library. And she thought about Caramel. She thought about going back to her apartment; the clean, organized, stark, lonely apartment, and suddenly she felt very much alone and unsure of what to do.

Had this been a normal work day, she would be getting ready to go to work. She would be able to go to work and to put her mind to a task and everything would have been fine. But she faced a long time ahead with nothing to do. And, from the sounds of it, Caramel was actually trying to be nice and get things together. Perhaps he wasn’t as bad as he was before. Shrugging her shoulders, Redheart headed for the local book store.

It was a small place located next to a coffee shop; visitors to the store were allowed to bring drinks in. There were a few small tables already filled with ponies sitting around them reading and discussing the newest releases, and others perusing the shelves. Redheart began to scan the aisles, looking for familiar faces. It wasn’t long before she had found Caramel, dressed in a green apron of the store’s workers, putting away books on a shelf in the fantasy section.

Upon hearing a set of footsteps coming towards him, Caramel’s ears perked up and his head soon followed. When he saw Redheart, his face initially went into a frown. “Have you come to berate me some more?” he asked pitifully.

“No, to be honest,” Redheart said. “I got to thinking after you left, and thought that just perhaps I was being a little hard on you.”

Caramel’s face became questioning but eager. “So…?”

Redheart sighed. “So I figured with nothing else to do that I’d go with you on that walk.”

Caramel just about squee’d, but he restrained himself. “There’s got to be some sort of condition, isn’t there?”

Redheart nodded. “None of us are to mention what happened four years ago, and you are not to be flirty with me.”

Caramel smiled and nodded. “I think I can handle that. That sounds good to me. So, I get off work at four, so meet me at the town hall at four-fifteen.”

Redheart nodded back. “I suppose I’ll leave you to your work and meet you there.”

As she left, Redheart checked the time. A clock on the wall near the exit said eleven fifteen. There was enough time to go home and read one of the other two books she had borrowed from the library. Redheart left the bookstore and went to her apartment, wondering if she had made the right decision in taking Caramel’s offer.

After eating some lunch and reading some of the history of medicine book, Redheart left her apartment at four and walked over to the town hall. She arrived ten minutes early and sat down on a bench, watching the ponies go about their own lives, feeling the warmth of the afternoon sun and the light breeze that was going by. It had been a long time since Redheart had gone outside like this and she started to remember how good it felt. Sure, it was nowhere near as clean as she liked things, but it was free and not as confining. Redheart took the pin out of her bun and let her mane flow freely, taking the pin and putting it at the base of her tail.

Caramel showed up at four fifteen exactly with his saddlebags. He saw Redheart on the bench and looked relieved. Redheart was in turn relieved that he had shown up… alone.

“Hey,” Caramel said as he approached. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“You’re on time for when you said you would be.” Redheart motioned to the bags with a hoof. “What’s with the bags?”

“Oh, these? I have two water bottles and two trail mixes. I didn’t know if you’d pack anything and decided I should pack an extra in case you didn’t.”

Redheart felt the beginnings of a smile form on her face. Caramel motioned for her to follow and Redheart complied. Caramel ended up taking them just outside the town to a little path that went through a pine forest just outside of town, and soon they were started on the trail head, surrounded by Douglas fir and oak trees.

Had it been fall season near the time of the Running of the Leaves, Redheart would have enjoyed going through the forests and seeing the colors change to gold and orange and red just before they were to fall off through ponies stomping hooves. Now, the trees were fully bushy and green, providing mottled shade patterns as Redheart and Caramel walked along the gently sloping trail up the side of one of the hills.

“So,” Caramel asked as they walked, “how have things been for you lately?”

“I’ve worked,” Redheart said. “Not much else to say, I guess. It’s been a while since I really went out somewhere. You?”

“School and work together has been sort of a dampener, so nothing really has been going on myself lately,” Caramel responded.

Redheart hmm’d thoughtfully. “What are you studying again?”

“I was thinking of going into business, but now I’m just doing general math studies. I was hoping to transfer to a university, but I don’t know anything specific. You’re done with college aren’t you?”

“I don’t know. I kind of want to become a doctor, but being a nurse pays well so far and the hours aren’t as long. Plus, there’d be the whole factor of going for college tuition.”

Caramel nodded. They walked over a stream that trickled down the side of the hill, listening to the birds chirping their songs around them. The path, besides the sounds of their hoofsteps and the sounds of nature, was relatively quiet and Redheart found herself enjoying it, her face growing brighter and her smile growing a bit wider.

“I noticed you let your hair down,” Caramel commented.

“Yeah,” Redheart said. “I usually have it in a bun for work since it keeps it up and out of the way, but it’s nice to feel the breeze blow through it every once in a while.”

Caramel smiled. “You should wear it that way more often. It makes you look a little more feminine and cute.”

Redheart stopped and glared at Caramel. “What did I tell you about flirting…?”

“It’s just a compliment,” Caramel said, screeching to a halt. “I know you don’t want to go any further with it. I was… I was just trying to be nice.”

Redheart’s gaze softened and she sighed. “Yeah, I suppose you were. Sorry about that.”

Caramel smiled sheepishly. “It’s okay.”

The two continued walking in silence for a little while longer. The birds had stopped chirping, but Caramel himself had started whistling a little tune. Redheart found herself bouncing along the trail to Caramel’s whistles as they continued up the path.

At the top of the hill, Caramel stopped whistling and they both stopped for a break. Caramel pulled out the water bottles and trail mix and passed a bottle and a bag to Redheart. They both opened their little snacks and drank a little water, sitting at the top of the hill looking out over Ponyville.

“It’s interesting, isn’t it?” Caramel asked.

“What’s interesting?” Redheart asked in turn.

“Well, we knew each other a lot four years ago, but now it’s like we’re starting all over again from scratch. I hardly know you and you hardly know me.”

Redheart ate a few nuts from her bag. “It’s not like we’re complete strangers, though.”

“Yeah, but… I guess that time hasn’t really healed all the wounds yet. We’re still trying to pick up the pieces of something that got blown apart and it’s something that has to start from scratch.”

“You’re sounding like there’s going to be more to this relationship,” Redheart said.

“I suppose I am. If nothing else, though, I do want to be friends again. I understand if you don’t want to be in a relationship anymore, but that doesn’t mean we have to cut ourselves off from each other indefinitely.”

Redheart nodded. “Yeah, I suppose.”

Caramel smiled sheepishly at Redheart. His smile grew wider as he saw Redheart return it. “I never knew you were so deep,” Redheart said.

“Comes with working in a bookstore, I guess,” Caramel said. “I keep reading all the books in my break time.”

Much to her own surprise, Redheart found herself giggling at him.

A few minutes later, the bags of trail mix were depleted. Caramel collected the trash and the water bottles in his saddlebags and the two started walking down the hill. They exchanged light conversation as they talked, passing the time as the sun started to go down and the sky turned from blue to yellow to orange to purple and pink. By the time they got back down to the base of the hill, lights were turning on throughout Ponyville. The two didn’t separate until they got back to Redheart’s apartment.

“Thanks for the afternoon, Caramel,” Redheart said.

“It’s no problem at all,” Caramel said. “Like I said, I don’t want our relationship to be totally ruined even if you don’t want to be that way anymore.”

Redheart raised an eyebrow. “What did I say about talking about back then?”

“Sorry, sorry!”

Redheart smiled at him, though. “Do you… want to go get something quick for dinner?”

Caramel bit his lip. “I would, but I promised some of my buddies from the bookstore that we’d go out for a cider. You’re welcome to come if you want.”

Redheart shook her head. “No thanks. Doctor Stable would be on me quick if he found out I ever had even something as weak as a cider can get. Maybe some other time, though.”

Caramel nodded. “Some other time, then. Well, I guess I’ll see you around.”

Redheart smiled. “Thanks again.” Caramel waved to her as she turned around and went back into the apartment. When she opened up the door and started making herself some of the leftover vegetable soup for dinner, the apartment didn’t feel so lonely anymore. Redheart went to one of the windows and opened the curtains and pulled up the pane, letting a cool breeze run through her hair.

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