• Published 14th Oct 2011
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Teacup, Down On The Farm - Chatoyance

Years after the last human is Converted, a Newfoal must face that the past never truly vanshes.

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4. A Yearning For The Lethe

Lost In The Herd: Four

Down On The

By Chatoyance

Chapter Four: A Yearning For The Lethe

Teacup was surprised to find that it had been ten years since she had arrived in Equestria. It did not seem that so much time had passed. She had been 34 when she had been Converted. Before she completely understood what was happening, she had found herself half-conscious, struggling to take in the full measure of her strange new body. Her transformation had been rushed, for she was one of the last humans to escape the earth before Zero Point, the final instant of Equestria's absorption of her ruined cosmic sibling.

The Earth was dying, it had been dying for a long time. The plague that had killed it was the essence of the monkey mind, curious, whimsical and bright, but also selfish, violent, and ultimately, destructive. Nineteen billion humans, far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet lived squalid and hopeless lives in globe-spanning slums. They were granted bare survival by the virtue of monkey cleverness, molecular machines that could reconstruct waste back into something not entirely unlike food. They had been promised a golden age, a diamond age, but those wonders were, as always, reserved only for the powerful few.

Humanity had never been truly happy, and it had always fought itself, a monkey endlessly punching it's own face for nothing other than spite. It couldn't help itself. The flaw was in the meat. The same thing that made Mankind able to rise up in a hostile universe had left it universally hostile.

But other worlds, other realms, shared the life of the earth in mysterious ways, and throughout history, these other spaces occasionally intersected their co-joined twin. Man had many myths and legends of these moments, but none were ever truly taken as real.

One by one, the other realms drifted away, abandoning their connection to the Earth as the planet was slowly, industrially poisoned. They managed to sever their strange links, and drifted off to unknown fates amidst a vastly larger cosmos unknown to Man.

One last companioning cosmos, however, did not abandon the universe humanity inhabited. Celestia, one of the two divine diarchs that maintained Equestria had made a promise long, long ago, during a perilous visit to earth. The human that had saved her from oblivion had extorted a desperate demand - to save humanity from itself, and from the cruel, heartless, soul-less universe in which it had originated. Thus, many centuries later, Equestria expanded into Human space, and an offer was made: Join us. Become us. Share in our realm, a world not of suffering and struggle, but of harmony and joy.

There was a small price. The monkey mind must be traded in, exchanged for the pony mind. The savage, lone ape must become the herding, peaceful horse. For many, such peace, the very hope and promise of their many religions and dreams and fantasies, suddenly became the greatest threat, now that it had actually become real.

But for the majority, living in the endless suffering the masses had always known for as long as Man had walked the earth, anything, anything was better than the short, brutal lives they had been allotted. They came, in their billions, and with each newly minted soul, Equestria grew, its own realm made vastly larger, and the Earth diminished.

Zero Point, the last moment when the extraversal imposition of the Equestrian cosmos rippled over the shriveling globe, finally dissolved the last works of the savage ape away. In the end, the glimmering bubble that remained where the Earth once had been, shrank back into its exotic realm, like a shining fish submerging in a black, star-lit sea.

Now, there was only Equestria, where two immortal beings of light and shadow literally raised and set the sun and moon each day, and where equinoid sapients trotted across a now endless expanse of Elysian green.

It had been ten years since Zero Point, Ten years since the world Tikvah Feinstein, once of Wilmington, Jersey, Eastern Zone, North American Alliance, Western Corporate Dominion, Earth, had ceased to be. Now and forever, she was Teacup, a pale, violet-maned creature vaguely formed in the shape of an equine, one pony among billions, loyal subject of her royal, living deities, Celestia and Luna of Equestria. This was roughly the tenth anniversary of her second life, off only by two months to allow spring weather, and there was going to be a party.

Missus Provender was not one for parties, being of a more practical mind, so she had sent away to another town for a pony that was said to be very accomplished at them. Teacup felt deeply honored that her tenth anniversary at Provinder Farm was considered to be worth such fuss. She knew that Missus Provender cared for her, but this spoke to her of just how much.

There were many things to do, to prepare for the event. Invitations had to be sent to various ponies of South Fetlock and the farms nearby, all of which had come to know, and respect Teacup over the years. The farm needed sprucing up, as did the farmhouse, because Missus Provender intended to put her best hoof forward - after all, the winner of the blue ribbon for best biscuits couldn't be seen having a party on a dilapidated farm.

Teacup and Mister Provender had repainted all the weathered fences, fixed up and repainted the chicken coop, and spent a week working on the farmhouse. Teacup had become very proficient at the use of tools over the years, and it made her shrink to remember how clumsy and awkward she had been when she had first arrived.

Eventually things came together, though Teacup couldn't really figure out how, and now half a dozen begged and borrowed wooden tables stood out on the great green lawn to the front of the farmhouse. These would be for the guests, and would be piled high with all manner of cakes and pastries and savory dishes too, and of course, things to drink as well. But first, they must be prepared.

Teacup worked together with Mister Provender to lay out “The Fancy Set” of dishes, glasses, cups and bowls. First they placed pretty, flower embroidered tablecloths over the simple, wooden tables. Apparently the tablecloths had been a special purchase for the party, and had come all the way from Manehattan. They had been made by unicorns with the gift of working with fabrics. Missus Provender never did anything half-way.

Teacup regarded the embroidery, and thought just how impossible it would be for an earth pony to do such work, even with tools strapped to their hooves. There were just some things that only unicorns alone could do. But then that was the way of Equestria; three races, three realms of work and ability – sky, land, and... technical, she supposed. Unicorns were technicians, really.

Or, she realized, Nobles, Merchants, and Peasants. There was a touch of the Middle Ages about her country, but in a nice way really.

My country. Interesting, she thought. Equestria was her nation, her country, her allegiance. She realized she felt pride in being Equestrian. She had never felt nationalistic pride in her human life. Only shame... and some anger. This was a new feeling, and she wasn't sure how it sat with her.

Teacup and Mr. Provender gently tugged at the edges and the corners of the tablecloth they were working on with their teeth, trying to get it just right. Eventually they agreed that it seemed to look properly arranged, and went on to the next table. In time, they set about ferrying the dinnerware to the tables, piece by piece. By now, Teacup had gotten used to the un-human acceptance that everything in the world had likely experienced the teeth and lips of some other pony. She thought, briefly, about how the very idea of drinking from a cup mouthed by another would have disgusted her human self.

But then, she noted, she wasn't human, and this wasn't a human world. There was a strange, exotic delight in this for her. She had always favored the strange, and to the part of her mind that remembered being human, being a pony was very strange indeed. This was a world where 'mouth' equaled 'hand', and where disease, as she had known it, had no existence. No one would be dying of hepatitis or tuberculosis here, ever.

For a moment, Teacup felt that it was strange to live in a world where bodily fluids were not fearful horrors, where teeth were the equivalent of hands. She felt shocked by this way of thinking, and like all memories of her past, human life, it jarred her. She liked to imagine she went years between such incidents of human thinking. But these sorts of moments had been happening more often than she realized, and it hadn't been years since the last one, but mere days.

Missus Provender had no idea what it was that bothered Teacup, she had no way of knowing that memories of Earth were what caused her newfoal mare to pause and look troubled, for Teacup never talked about herself. But Missus Provender was a smart pony, and she had worked out that it must be something to do with Teacup's past, and she truly wanted to help her.

Finally, all the place settings had been arranged. Each had a dining bowl, large enough to allow for an Equestrian muzzle to root about in it for 'good bits', a smaller soup bowl, and a nice large glass, cup or mug for drink. Teacup remembered the first time she and Missus Provender had shared tea together, long ago. Though it never seemed to feel appropriate to say it out loud, Teacup loved Missus Provender. In her heart, Missus Provender, Cornflower, was the kind, loving mother she had never known.

Teacup had yet another disturbing memory of Earth. There was no silverware to put on the tables. While spoons existed as a kitchen tool, the idea of tableware for eating simply did not exist in Equestria. Suddenly, bright in her mind, a memory of eating from a food tube with a disposable spork filled her thoughts. Fingers gripped around the utensil, glancing rapidly around the Dispensery for any sign that she should run to the safety of the maglev security area. Muggers and rapists loved the Food Dispenseries. The security cameras had long since been stolen by addicts.

Teacup shook her head. She shook it again, and pounded the grass with her hooves. What was wrong with her today? From the farmhouse porch, Missus Provender sighed. Her poor little Teacup.

Teacup next laid out cloth covers on the fresh straw bales that served as seats around the table. It took some effort to place the pillowcase-like covers over the bales, and more than once she had to fold her legs and lie down on the ground to tug the covers down. 'Bein' Fancy' was hard work. Still, Teacup liked being busy, she was a hard worker by nature. The busier she was, the happier she felt, and the less she had her little 'moments'.

By early evening, everything was ready. While Teacup had been working to set up the tables and arrange all the place settings, others had been helping out with decorating the farm, following the lead of the special pony Missus Provender had brought in all the way from Clydesdale. Missus Provender had explained that the pony was good with parties, but that wasn't the only reason she was coming. She would be a guest for a few days, as she had been feeling down, and maybe a stay in a new place might cheer her up. It was hinted, none too subtly, that it might be nice for Teacup to be especially friendly to her, because the poor dear probably needed someone to talk to.

Teacup still hadn't properly met the new pony, but she had seen her galloping about, tossing a streamer here, or using her teeth and hooves to tie ribbons on parts of the farmhouse. It made sense that Missus Provender would hire a unicorn, they were good with all the fiddly stuff because of having a horn and magic, and some unicorns had spells that could get complex things done, clop, just like that. That said, Teacup couldn't remember seeing the pink-maned, aquamarine pony use her horn even once that afternoon. But she must have, of course. Things got done, didn't they?

The guests began to arrive. Old Mister Withers himself was there, one of his ancestors had founded South Withers long ago. There was Haylee Bales and Alfalfa Sprouts from the feed store. Miss Scarlet arrived, her bright crimson mane shining in the light of Celestia's setting sun, a might clueless as usual, but such a friendly pony. The Toffee twins from the candy shop had come, and many more familiar, local faces mingled and laughed on the wide, sweet-smelling green. So many ponies, Teacup thought. She hadn't realized how many she had actually come to know, until now. She knew the names of more ponies than... she had ever known the names of humans, back before. Then again, back before, it was too risky to be too friendly. You'd only get hurt.

Dinner was lovely. There were all manner of fancy treats and savory dishes, but one was simply a must; Missus Cornflower Provender's Prize Winning Biscuits. A huge platter of them had been set on each of the tables, and Missus Provender had made a point of laying down bright blue cloth under the biscuits, as a reminder of her ribbon at the fair. Teacup giggled at that: Cornflower was a might over-proud sometimes.

It was at the table that Teacup finally was introduced to the visiting unicorn from Clydesdale.

"Howdy and hello! I'm Petal! Petal Confetti, at your service, in this case literally, as I was brought in to help organize things after all. You must be the guest of honor, Teacup! I'm happy to finally meet you. I'm sorry I didn't come say hi earlier, but I kinda got here late and there were a lot of things to do. Plus, not much time to do them in. Woo! You certainly know how to put on a good spread here!"

Petal eagerly craned her neck forward and took one of the golden biscuits from the large serving platter, and set it upon the smaller plate next to her large dinner bowl. Then she repeated the effort, placing the second biscuit neatly beside the other.

“These look just scrumptious!”

"She won an award for those biscuits!" Teacup said proudly, nodding over at Missus Provender. "A bright blue ribbon!"

Missus Provender looked fair to burst at that, and Teacup felt glad that her comment had achieved its goal of making Cornflower happy.

"I hear you're from Clydesdale, Petal?" Teacup took biscuits for herself, and a spot of carrot salad that looked particularly tasty.

"Yep!" Petal swallowed a bite of biscuit "These are really quite exceptional! A gustatory delight!" A few of the local ponies quietly chuckled at Petal's use of words, nobody talked fancy around South Withers.

Teacup looked on, with interest, as Petal took a drink from her glass. Watching her, Teacup recalled her first days with Missus Provender, and imagined herself back then for a moment, as she studied the pony from Clydesdale. Petal took the closer edge of the glass in her teeth, tilting it up so that the lemonade inside could flow through her teeth into her mouth. Closing her lips around the liquid, she swallowed, and then tilted her head down and set the glass neatly on the table. She noticed Teacup staring at her and giggled. “That is just wonderful lemonade, Missus Provender”.

“Jus' call me Cornflower, we ain't all formal down here on the farm.” That wasn't entirely true, Teacup noted to herself, Cornflower tended to like being referred to as 'Missus Provender' most of the time whatever she might say, and she was more than a little reserved most of the time too.

Missus Provender sipped some lemonade herself, and after setting her own glass carefully down, she looked up “Petal, kin I ask you an odd question?”

“Of course, Mis – um, Cornflower. When it comes to answers, I'm just plain full of it!” Petal glanced expectantly around for any reaction to her little jest, but only Teacup chuckled. Only Teacup shared the cultural background required to get that particular joke about being 'full of crap'. It was a mean dismissal that just wouldn't come to a natural pony mind. Missus Provender and her husband just blinked. They knew they had missed something, but had no idea what. Not wanting to seem impolite, they smiled, blankly. Petal winked at Teacup.

Missus Provender continued “I've kinda noticed that, well, you sorta eat like an Earth Pony. In fact, you pretty much do everything like an Earth Pony. I ain't seen you use your horn once since you came to the house. I don't get it, Petal. You being a unicorn an' all.” Missus Provender looked uncomfortable “I don't mean anything by it or nothin', it's just, well, I ain't seen a unicorn act like that before. You ain't makin' fun of us or nothin' is ya?”

Petal looked momentarily horrified “No. NO! Sweet Celestia, Cornflower - Missus Provender - not in the least!” The aquamarine pony looked down, clearly troubled “I... I don't really like using my horn very often, Missus Provender. I actually like using my muzzle and hooves to do things. I, well, to tell you the truth, I didn't actually want to be a unicorn.”

Missus Provender was taken aback by this. After a moments consideration, she spoke “I fergot, there, for a bit, that you weren't exactly born a pony. But what's so bad about bein' a unicorn, if you don't mind me asking? I always figured that unicorns pretty much have it easy, what with all the magic and suchlike.”

“Well,” Petal began “I kind of feel like using magic for everything puts everyone and everything at a distance. I don't feel a part of the world, or a part of what I am doing when I just float something to me, or magic something to get it done. I've always felt” Petal shifted her weight on her neatly covered, hay-bale seat “that unicorns were kind of... loners. That they seemed like they were a little above other ponies, and that they fussed too much about all the details. That isn't the kind of pony I wanted to be, Missus Provender.”

Missus Provender seemed very interested in these words, and not a little satisfied, somehow. “I kind've felt the same way, myself there, Petal. But I never thought I'd hear a unicorn say such a thing! I guess I've heard everythin' now!”

Teacup wasn't sure what to make of the expression on Missus Provender's face, but it was clear that she found Petal's statements pleasing in some way. She also noted, with some humor, that 'Cornflower' clearly enjoyed formal address a great deal more than she let on – for her part, Teacup couldn't imagine calling Missus Provender anything other than... Missus Provender.

“I reckon you newfoals don't get to choose what kind of pony you become?”

“No, we don't, Missus Provender. It's decided by our genetics before our transformations, and we don't get any say in the matter. Much say, anyway.” Petal dipped her head so that a fall of soft pink mane drifted across her vision. Studying that, she flashed a strange, secretive smile.

“What kind 'o pony did ya want to be?” asked Missus Provender.

“I wanted to be anything but a unicorn, really. Pegasus, Earth Pony, I honestly didn't care. Just as long as it wasn't a unicorn.” Petal suddenly looked up “In a way, I was already too much of a... a unicorn... back before my Conversion. I didn't like who I was, or how I acted very much. I wanted to be a pony that could run and do things and laugh and not spend all the time fussing about little details.”

“You don't seem like that at all! Why I was told you are quite the little party-pony over in Clydesdale. Though, you are bein' a might serious right now.” Missus Provender gave Petal a kindly wink.

“I'm sorry, Missus Provender! It's all in the past now, really. Please just accept that I like to do things like other ponies do - ponies that aren't unicorns – well, as much as I can, anyway. I use my magic when it's necessary or useful, I assure you. I just don't like to use it all the time. That's all.” Petal looked down for a moment, then back up “I guess I'm a bit of an oddpony, for a unicorn. Sorry.” She then made a silly face, crossing her eyes and lolling her tongue out the side of her mouth, which brought a laugh from everypony.

Later, after some rather excellent apple pie (a specialty with Missus Provender, Durum loved his apples), and after all the guests had either headed home, or had clustered about the spread chatting in little groups, it was cleanup time. Petal helped with the cleanup, carrying dishes in her teeth. She even insisted on helping Teacup with the washing, again, always with her mouth. Teacup couldn't help but think that it would have been faster, and more fun, to use magic at that point, but Petal actually seemed to enjoy the work.

When the dishes had been set on the rack to dry, Teacup excused herself to use the outhouse. When she returned, she found Petal sitting folded, outside, looking up at the night sky. Teacup sidled over and asked “Mind if I join you?”

“No, please do. I was... kind of hoping you might.”

Teacup folded her legs under her body, the cool grass soft under her belly. She lowered her muzzle to sniff in the soft fragrance of grass and flower and the rich, deep tones of the soil. There was something about the smells of the night that touched something deep within her, and while she had no idea what it might be, it somehow felt like a lost, happy dream.

Teacup looked up to find Petal studying her. “Uh... sorry. I kind of lost track there for a moment.” She felt a little silly, being caught sniffing the ground and... apparently grinning. Oops.

Petal giggled, a sound as musical as it was warm “I wish I could feel half as happy as you seemed right then. Remembering something nice?”

“No, not exactly.” Teacup raised her head even with Petal's “Just something about the smells at night. They... somehow give me a happy feeling. Like something from a nice childhood I never had, kinda. Pretty silly, huh?”

“No, not silly at all. I understand the feeling of missing a childhood that was nice. I guess that's part of the reason I'm here. I've been down a lot lately.”

“Provender told me something like that. She said you were coming to spend a few days on the farm because it might cheer you up. That... and... well, that you might want to talk to another newfoal, too.”

“Did she ask you to talk with me?” Petal looked at the moon as she said this, and her voice sounded almost sad.

“Well, yes, she did. But... I kind of wanted to talk to you anyway. Since all the newfoals have moved out across the New Expanse, there just isn't anyone that... well, to talk to about...”

Petal suddenly looked straight at Teacup, serious and almost... frightened “Having once lived in the Human world?” She said the words softly, in the tone of a shared, unpleasant secret.

“Yes.” That one word carried so much sorrow and pain. Teacup felt her eyes water just a bit with the emotion of it.

“These native ponies can't know what it was like. They can't even begin to imagine such things. I've tried to talk to some of my friends in Clydesdale about my life before, and it's just impossible. They try, oh how they try, but... they just can't help.” Petal's head sank a little “They understand I'm not happy somehow, but they've never been touched by what we've been through. They don't carry a history like that around with them – and I'm glad they never will. I'm very glad they never can understand. I don't want them to.”

“It's really hard. Missus Provender is so nice to me, she's been like the mother I never really had. She's wonderful, and I'm very grateful to her... but” Teacup felt excited, to finally have someone who could understand “there's just no way I can talk about 'Earth'” Teacup practically spat the name of their mutual, lost world “not in any way that matters. How can I even mention that stuff?”

“I guess you're carrying one too.” Petal lay her head down over her hooves, her muzzle tickled by the grass.

“Carrying what?”

“A big heavy set of saddlebags filled with crap. A childhood in a scary, dangerous, poisoned world. Mean people doing cruel things. Parents who didn't know the first thing about parenting. Feeling lonely and alienated, all the time. Needing to run away into books and videos and music and anything else that offered some escape. Angst, despair, knowing that one day you would grow up to be one of them – all grey and hollow and dead inside, consumed by money and stuff. A lifetime of gray cities and gray skies and gray people doing gray things, all while the world died and billions suffered and children in some foreign land worked as slaves to make your shoes and your threevee and your clothes."

Petal raised her head and looked out over the farm, a slight quaver in her voice "The burden of knowing what a world of true, real evil means. Of having spent a big part of your life in an evil world. I wish...” Petal looked very much like she might cry “I wish... that I could just forget it all. I wish I could erase my memories, all of them. I wish I could just be Petal Confetti all the time, and never have moments of remembering having been.... who I was, before. That there even was a before.”

Petal suddenly looked at Teacup with a hard expression, her face close, her breath hot “Sometimes I feel angry. I envy these ponies their innocent pasts. I envy them. So. Very. Much.” Petal held the glare for just a moment, before realizing, and turning slowly away. She sank her head back to the grass, over her hooves.

It was so true. Every word Petal had said burned within Teacup, little smoldering coals, deep in her heart. “We can never truly be happy, can we?” she asked, finally “We are living in a kind of paradise, and we can never really be happy. Not like them.” She looked over Petal, past the lawn, to the farmhouse, where missus and mister Provender were, probably already in bed, having beautiful, happy dreams. As always. Did native ponies even have nightmares? They must, she thought, at least sometimes. They have an Equestrian word for 'nightmare', so they must.

“Now you know my problem. Not the best one to have, for a Party Pony from Clydesdale.”

“Party Pony?” asked Teacup.

“Well, my real job is being a Delivery Pony. It's not overly challenging, which actually, I kind of like, and I get to run all over the place, which I especially like. Sometimes I pull a cart, but mostly it's just me and my saddlebags. I'm the first, and maybe only unicorn to do such work. I'm kind of proud of that fact.” Petal did seem pleased.

“But my social function is that I am the pony to go to for celebrations, parties, that sort of thing. I do weddings and birthdays, too. I'm basically the go-to pony if there's any kind of to-do!” Petal giggled at this, and Teacup couldn't help but join in. Tension just couldn't seem to survive Petal's laughter.

“Even so, I can never seem to just... let go and be spontaneous the way I want to be.” Petal frowned, slightly “It's that weight. My past. It sits on my back and I can't buck it off no matter what I do.”

“Me either.” Teacup looked up at the moon, so smooth and bright, a perfect pearl set in a velvet sky of precious diamonds. “Hey! You're a unicorn!” She looked expectantly at Petal.

“Um, I don't follow you.”

"First, I understand you don't like using your magic. But just hear me out, alright?" The moonlight was bright in Teacup's eyes "The thing that hurts us all the time, the thing that sets us apart from everyone we care about, that makes us different is the fact we lived as humans, once!"

"Well, yes, fundamentally that is the issue here, I just don't..."

"Back on Earth, having a problem meant you just suffer with it, or find some drug that dulls it, or turn bitter because of it. I suppose the very rich could afford neurological treatments, or even engram rewriting, or whatever. But for people like us, ordinary people, it's either suffer or dull the pain, or hope it just somehow goes away, only it never really does, does it? It certainly hasn't for us, and it's been ten years since the end of the Earth!"

"So what is your idea, Teacup?"

"Like I said, you are a unicorn. You have magic. This is a magical world! Anything might be possible - Equestria had magic enough to swallow a planet and change billions of humans into ponies, right? We have real, living goddesses, for real, really here. They raise the freaking moon and sun!" Teacup was having a hard time keeping her voice low "You can do magic, right? So find a spell, find some magic that can erase memory! Or a potion, or a charm, or whatever it is that magical ponies do! If we have no memory of Earth, then we'll just be Equestrians, like everypony else!"

Petal was taken aback "Teacup... wait, wait... I understand what you are trying to say, but there's a little problem with this - if our memories are gone, we'll just be empty shells, lobotomized zombie ponies, drooling and making messes all over the..."

"No! No we won't!" Teacup was irrepressible now, "I said our memories of EARTH. Only Earth, we both have a full decade of decent Equestrian life under our saddles now, ten full years of life apiece, and all of that is what makes us who we truly are, who we want to be all the time! Don't you see? If we lose our Earth years, we completely become the face we present to everypony, only without all the pain underneath! The only thing anypony else would notice would be that we stopped being so damn gloomy!"

Petal didn't know what to say. Teacup's plan seemed wild, insane, yet, the more she thought about it, the more she couldn't find a valid objection. Ten years as an adult Equestrian would simply carry on. Their Equestrian lives would continue, only they simply wouldn't remember anything from before their Conversion. A simple letter to themselves could explain what had happened to their memories, and why - in a very general, non-traumatizing way of course - so that they wouldn't become obsessed with trying to recover them. It could work.

It was even... elegant.

In the end, if it could be done correctly, they would become ordinary ponies, and the only thing that would set them apart would be knowing that they had once had sad memories that they had deliberately chosen to eliminate, because it hurt too much to keep them.

They could have a normal pony life. They could be completely open to other ponies, because they would no longer have any toxic ideas or toxic memories that might poison their experience of Equestria from within.

Why on Equestria hadn't this already been done for all newfoals? Why hadn't this been made a part of the Conversion process? It seemed a terrible oversight. It should have just been part of it all from the beginning. The thought that they could have been spared ten years of feeling different and unable to talk openly, that they had been cheated out of ten truly, fully, completely happy years made both Petal and Teacup a little angry.

But nevermind. This could be fixed. With a little magic.

And Petal, well, she was a unicorn, after all.

Teacup hadn't felt this light and glad since the night that Missus Provender had made hot oat smoothies and opened up to her about her past. And moments like that, yet to come, would never be spoiled by the smothering grief of remembering the horror of the human world. This was like a gift from the Princesses themselves.

From the farmhouse porch, Missus Provender had been watching her little Teacup grow increasingly excited, talking about something or another with that Petal mare. Teacup seemed happier than Cornflower had ever seen her.

Yup, thought Missus Provender, all it took was finding Teacup somepony to talk to. Everything was surely going to be alright now.