• Published 3rd Nov 2019
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Our Day in Disdain - Rainb0w Dashie



Rainbow Dash is forced to confront the ghosts of her past and the life she left behind. Lest the one she built for herself crumbles in her hooves.

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Chapter Three: Grin and Grim

“So sorry I’m late, Twilight.” Rarity raised a hoof to tame her main as she stepped into Sugarcube Corner. “I meant to be here sooner but I was helping Sweetie Belle with her homework. You’d think that filly would be able to do her fractions by now...”

“It’s alright.” Twilight looked up in such a way that her head moved up but her eyes stayed trained to the pages of the book she was reading. She had been leafing intently through it, trying to ignore the silence of Sugarcube Corner’s empty cafe, for the better part of the evening. “I was so involved in my book that I hadn’t even noticed you were late. I hadn’t even noticed the wind was picking up either.”

A warm and moist wind was tumbling litter and leaves into the shop as well as the petrichor of soon-to-be rain. The local weather team was herding a particularly ugnly snarl of clouds above Ponyville, and the first mumblings of thunder were already strong enough to rattle the cafe’s windows. Rarity caught the hint and shut the door, before opening it again and kicking out some of the leaves and muttering something unladylike about them.

“Did you know that you can only remember anything once?” Twilight read aloud as Rarity sat down at the table. “After that you're just remembering the last time you remembered it.”

“That’s fascinating.” Rarity said trying to sound sincere, although her words came across sarcastic and cynical to Twilight since she wasn’t looking up completely; she could practically hear Rarity rolling her eyes at her.

“Oh.” Twilight said, now looking at her book as if it was just a children’s book. “Well I thought it was interesting...”

“No no, darling. I didn’t mean it like that.” Rarity said as Twilight finally looked up from her book. “I’ve just had a dreadfully long day. I’m not in the best of moods.”

“Oh it’s fine.” Twilight closed the book and placed it facedown. “It’s just a book about metaphysical theories. There’s really no scientific backing to them either... so you said Sweetie Belle is having trouble with her fractions?”

“Like you wouldn't believe.” Rarity sighed “And it’s not just fractions either. She’s struggling with math, geography... Even her hoof-writing leaves a lot to be desired.” She said with a flippant gesture. “Cheerilee says that if she doesn't start showing improvement soon she might have to hold her back a year.”

“Have you tried getting her a tutor?” Twilight said with a grin that suggested her services were available.

“We’ve tried everything from private tutors, to alternative teaching methods...She’s just not getting it.” Rarity thrusted her hooves forwards, exasperated. “At this point I’m ready to just throw my hooves in the air and tell her ‘you better start making friends with the foals from the previous grade because they’re all going to be your friends next year’.”

“That probably wouldn’t be the best approach.” Twilight said matter-of-factly, as if reciting from one of her books. “Foals want to please their parents and teachers; They want to learn and succeed. Before you blame Sweetie Belle for these problems or allow Cheerilee to do so, be sure to check if there might be a reason for her lack of success.”

“I know that wouldn’t work, it just gets really frustrating.” Rarity said. “You can only explain fractions to decimals so many times before...” Rarity put her head in her hooves and rested them on the table. “It’s just so monotonous!”

“Maybe the problem is environmental?” Twilight pondered aloud. “Foals tend to emulate their parents, the ones they look up to, or those in authority. So if the ones they are emulating have negative personality traits such as laziness or forgetfulness, those traits tend to become imbued onto the child’s personality.”

“Are you saying I’m forgetful?” Rarity looked through her hooves at Twilight with narrowed eyes. “I’ve went through that filly’s math book with her so many times that I can practically recite every page by heart.”

“I’m not saying you’re forgetful.” Twilight attempted to reason. “it’s just tha-”

“I know that book better than I do sewing and dressmaking,” Rarity retorted. “and I know those like the back of my hoof.”

“I didn’t mea-”

“Before you can add or subtract fractions with uncommon denominators,” Rarity recited. “you first have to change the fractions so that all fractions being added or subtracted have the same denominator.”

Twilight stopped trying to explain herself and let her friend continue uninterrupted.

“Numerators and denominators are like sisters and brothers.” Rarity continued. “They need to be treated ‘the same’. Whatever you give to one, you must give the exact same to the other or it ‘wouldn’t be fair’...”

“Wouldn’t be fair” Rarity imitated sarcastically while making air quotations with her hooves. “it’s like it was written by a foal.”

“Well they are meant for small ponies..” Twilight said sheepishly.

Rarity scoffed and placed her hooves on the table with a generous thud. “Well they’re not meant for me.” She said indignantly “I’m reading that stupid book to Sweetie Belle so much that I don’t even have time for my own sewing anymore.”

“How is your sewing anyway?” Twilight asked, delighted at a chance to change the subject. “Pinkie told me you’ve been working nonstop.”

“Exhausting.” Rarity sighed again. “I’m up to my neck in orders and I’ll be lucky to even finish in time for the Gala next month. I’ve sewn so much lace today I think I’m getting carpal tunnel.”

“Speaking of, I just remembered. I brought a gift for you!” Twilight levitated a stack of gold tickets out of the saddlebag she had sitting on the chair nearest to her. As the tickets floated over the table her eyes fell upon the book that had served as her evening’s entertainment and paused. She looked from the book, to the tickets, to her bedraggled friend, and back to the book before dutifully stashing it into her bag and turning her attention back to the tickets. “One, two, three. Three Gala tickets!” she counted aloud as she placed each ticket onto the table “One for you, one for me, and one for Pinkie whenever she gets out of the kitchen.”

“What is she doing in there anyway?” Rarity asked while using her own magic to take her Gala ticket from Twilight. “I arrived late and even I was still here earlier than her.”

“She said she had a new cupcake recipe she wanted us to try”. Twilight said while putting her own ticket back into her saddlebag and leaving Pinkie’s on the table.

“Let’s just hope it’s better than the last ‘new cupcake Pinkie wanted us to try’.” Rarity air-quoted “You remember? the ones where she mixed up the measurements for the sugar and salt and the things came out tasting like a salt-lick with frosting?” Rarity’s lips tugged up into a small smirk.

“I remember.” Twilight said through a giggle. “Spike couldn’t get enough of them though!”

***.

Dashie tried unsuccessfully to open her eyes, they were fused shut.

She felt weak, confused, and rather frightened. Seconds before it was a bright and sunny day, It felt like she had closed her eyes for only a second, and now it was pitch black. Something was wrong, something strange had happened to her. Something was making her eyes itch incredibly bad.

She rubbed her eyes, dislodging the crust of dried blood that held the lids shut, and opened her eyes only to see that her vision was still black. It was night time. The sun had set behind the mountains hours ago and the landscape had faded into darkness, and even though she was unable to blink her eyes into any form of focus, she was glad at least that she couldn’t see the painful crowd from the earlier afternoon.

She didn’t entirely know where she was. She knew by the feel of it that she was laying on the ground, but which town or which city’s ground it belonged to she wasn’t aware. What she was aware of, however, was how her nose felt larger than the rest of her head. She prodded it delicately with her hoof, but flinched as the gentle touch sent slivers of pain shooting up her muzzle, and resigned herself to laying on the ground. Her nose might’ve been broken, but she wasn’t entirely sure. She didn't want to touch it again to find out because the pain was too great, but the longer she waited for the pain to subside the more she began to realize that it wasn’t going anywhere. It was staying, increasing in fact, and had moved from her nose to the entirety of the front of her head, like her brain was pulsing routinely against the walls of her skull.

She pulled herself up into a sitting position and was made aware of several more lines of bright, clear pain crossing her body and a dull ache that pulled at her left side every time she drew a breath. Her skull felt like it was trying to exit her body through her very skin, and it was all she could really focus on. Not her nose, not her side, not even what looked to be the the hallmarks of a back-alley she could see as her vision re-focused a little more. She couldn’t focus her mind on anything for too long, as the steady throb in her head continually washed out any thought or memory she could form. Who was she? Where was she? How did she get there? What happened to her? What even was her name? Her entire life before the alley felt dim and far away, like it hadn’t even existed at all. It could just as well have been that she was born on that very alley floor a few moment ago.

***

Twilight was silent. Not out of rudeness or as a comment on what Rarity had just said. She just didn’t know what to say in response.

“...And Sweetie Belle was so upset about what she saw this morning that she spent all the extra bits I had given her at the gem store.“ Rarity said while pouring herself some coffee from a pot Pinkie had brought earlier while waiting for her cupcakes to cool. “Unintentionally of course. Poor filly came back with almost sixty emeralds.”

“Maybe it was some other pegasus she saw.” Twilight gave a smile that was a strange mix of grin and grim. “Or maybe if it was her she was just passing through?”

“No, it was definitely her.” Rarity retorted. “She’s been gone long enough for everypony to forget her name, and she left long before Sweetie Belle was born; so there’s no other way she could have picked up the name; at least in that context.”

“Dashie...” Rarity grumbled after swallowing a sip of coffee. “No doubt here to cause more trouble for Rainbow Dash, and I thought we had gotten rid of her after the incident with Honey Drop.” She practically spat the name.

Twilight was at a loss for words. She could feel the growing tension in the air as Rarity brooded and wanted to say something to lighten the mood, but was unable to find a way to safely navigate the minefield she was about to step into. Luckily Pinkie had just pushed through the kitchen’s swinging doors carrying a plate of gourmet looking cupcakes in her mouth and set them on the table her friends were sitting at.

Pumpkin cake, with little ribbons of toasted coconut sprinkled around the frosting.

“Wow Pinkie, those look amazing!” Twilight said, relieved she had an excuse to change the subject.

“I agree, darling.” chimed Rarity. “They look more delicious than anything ever sold by Sugarcube Corner. However did you make them?”

“Oh, it’s just an old recipe Granny Pie taught me,” Pinkie said with a dismissive roll of her eyes. “Pumpkin spice, with a little extra spice.”

“What do you mean, extra?” Rarity raised an eyebrow, inspecting the cupcake like she would a gemstone.

“Rum!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Spiced rum and extra cinnamon.”

“Tastes… Rich. “Twilight said with a cough. “Very… warming.”

“You do know you’re supposed to bake the alcohol out of the cupcake, right?” Rarity said.

“Of course I know, silly fillies” Pinkie Pie giggled. “But these cupcakes don’t have the rum baked in. You’re supposed to poke them when they come out of the oven and are all soft and mushy and use a pastry brush to coat them with the rum; they’re not for our normal customers.”

“Well who are they for?” Rarity asked after taking a bite, grimacing as the kick from the rum was more intense than she expected.

“They’re for good friends on those chilly autumn nights!’” Pinkie said whilst doing her best Granny Pie impression. “So what do you think? Did I add enough sugar this time?”

Twilight swallowed her own bite of cupcake. “Well, after you get used to the.. kick, they’re actually very good!”

“agreed,” Rarity said after daintily finishing her own first bite. “And you sure did pick the perfect night for these, this storm is going to be absolutely dreadful. Twilight, be a dear and close the window please.” Rarity waved her cupcake towards an open window on the other side of the room that was now letting in some stray raindrops.

Twilight got up from her chair and trotted over to the window. With a short burst of her magic she slid the wooden frame shut and was about to draw the blinds out of habit when she thought she saw something dart away from the window outside.

“Twilight?” Rarity asked when the lavender unicorn didn’t return right away “Twilight are you ok?” Rarity turned around to see Twilight gazing intently through the glass, trying to look through her own reflection to see the outside. “Twilight dear, what are you looking at?”

“Huh? Oh, I’m not looking at anything,” Twilight stammered. “I just thought I saw something…”

***

Dashie limped out of the alley and into the empty market streets. Not so much limping, more so she was stumbling and holding onto the sides of buildings to support her upright position. She was dizzy and nauseous when she moved too quickly and she found that standing made her headache worse, so she compromised by holding onto the walls and shuffled towards the mouth of the alley. This was her best attempt at ambulation, as her vision was only focused enough to a couple feet in front of her muzzle. This was fine for her, she just wanted to go home.

The connecting alley wasn't any longer than 20 or 30 feet, but it still took Dashie quite some time to walk her way through it. She was vaguely aware of where her limbs were but they were so unresponsive and sluggish that she had to grip the wall tight as if her life depended on it. She stepped out into the marketplace despite only be able to see the vaugest shapes of the buildings that surrounded the square, but she guided herself by following a trail of bright glowing orbs that came from the light of the town’s streetlamps. She couldn’t look at the lamplight directly, as having her vision fall anywhere near the source of the light made her brain feel like amd imploding star. The roads were lit at regular intervals so she was able to compensated by shielding her eyes when she passed underneath the lamps and cast her gaze towards the leperous yellow-grey fog above her head that made up the lower tatters of the stormclouds.

She stumbled down the road, passing a mare who shielded her foal from the sight of Dashie, muttering something about her being a drunk; but the mumbling shape held no meaning to Dashie. Even if she could register it as another pony she wouldn’t have cared because she was more concerned with the fact that a life-sized gingerbread house had just taken up the entirety of her distorted vision.

Dashie was looking up at the facade of the town’s bakery, Sugarcube Corner, but she could not perceive it as anything close to what resembled a building. Not with it’s chocolate bark roof shingles. Not with it’s icing swirls around the eaves. Not with the peppermint candy cane pillars. Even the Spire was built to look like a frosted pink cupcake.

And it was at that moment, Dashie finally realized she was hungry. She could smell yeast and cinnamon and frying fat and coffee, and her stomach was in a hard knot. Her mouth was awash with saliva and her stomach was telling her to eat the bakery, to sink her teeth into the crispy-cakey walls.

She trotted up to a section of wall painted a graham-cracker brown, but stopped just short of getting a mouthful of wood and paint once she heard a voice coming from a nearby window.

Dashie rested her hooves on the wall to stop her body from falling and poked her muzzle over the sill. She still couldn’t see too well. She couldn’t see the bell that hung above the entrance or the glass display cases. She couldn't see the baguette barrel near the cash register. But she could smell an aroma of wholesome goodness as the winds pulled out the air from inside the bakery.

“...And Sweetie Belle was so upset about what she saw this morning that she spent all the extra bits I had given her at the gem store. Unintentionally of course. Poor filly came back with almost sixty emeralds.”

Dashie looked at the far side of the room where the voice had come from, but still could only see shapes.

“Maybe it was some other pegasus she saw. Or maybe if it was her she was just passing through?

“No, it was definitely her. She’s been gone long enough for everypony to forget her name, and she left long before Sweetie Belle was born; so there’s no other way she could have picked up the name; at least in that context.

“Dashie...No doubt here to cause more trouble for Rainbow Dash, and I thought we had gotten rid of her after the incident with Honey Drop.”

Dashie wondered who they were talking about, she also wondered who they were as well. Their voices sounded familiar, but unfamiliar as well. She felt stable leaning on the window so she stayed and listened while she tried to remember who the voices belonged to, they felt just on the tip of her tongue...

“-this storm is going to be absolutely dreadful. Twilight, be a dear and close the window please.”

Dashie had stopped paying attention to the conversations coming from inside, choosing instead to focus on looking at milkshake glass laying on its side underneath a table, the first thing her vision was able to focus on since she had woken up. She hadn’t even noticed it had started raining, she was too busy tracing the shape of the glass with her eyes to notice the lavender unicorn approaching the window, until they were almost a hoof’s-length apar; startling Dashie and causing her to fall to the side as her vision became unexpectedly awash with purple.

She panicked and scrabbled across the ground away from the building with as much grace as a newly born foal, bumping her head against the row of houses across the square and re-igniting the fire in her skull. She sat against the wall, half-soaked with rain, head in her hooves, hoping if she clenched her teeth hard enough the pain would go away. She tried to breathe but the pain in her ribs cut her breath short. She couldn’t even hear the window sliding shut from across the market because of the newly found rining in her ears.

She cried out in anguish. She wanted the pain to stop, but she didn’t know how to make it stop.

Author's Note:

Musical Inspiration:

Change (In the House of Flies) - Deftones