• Published 7th Nov 2014
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The Swan Song of Adagio Dazzle - Pony Professor

After losing their magic, the Dazzlings are hit hard by shame and sadness. None are more hopeless than Adagio Dazzle, who loses all light in her life and begins to sing a swan song. For sirens, this is suicide.

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Requiem for an Apple

Sonata Dusk rested her elbows on the splintery windowsill of Fluttershy’s house and gazed outside. The sun was just peeking over the horizon, firing the first rays of the day into the siren’s eyes. She turned to avoid the bright light and saw Applejack sitting up, staring at her from her cot.

“You’re up early,” Sonata said. Applejack grabbed her hat from the floor and put it on,

“I’m a farm-girl, sugarcube. If I wake up at dawn, I’ve slept in.” She got up and pulled on her shirt and skirt. None of the girls had planned on spending the night anywhere, so they either had slept in their clothes or removed a layer or two before bed.

Applejack joined Sonata on the alcove that the latter was staring out of.

“I noticed you didn’t sleep,” she pointed out.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sonata dismissed her, “Sirens don’t need much sleep. It takes five days to kill ourselves, after all.” That made AJ bite the inside of her cheek. She understood that Sonata was incredibly distressed, but she didn’t like how the whole situation was making her act. Instead of chastising the bitter retort, though, Applejack opted to try to sympathize with Sonata.

“You really love Adagio Dazzle, don’t you?”

“More than anything, Applejack. Aria, too—we’ve all been together so long. It’s like the entire universe isn’t complete if just one of us isn’t around.” She may get a bit angry, but it’s only because she feels so strongly, Applejack thought. She put a hand on her newest friend’s shoulder,

“I know how you feel.” Applejack doubted that Sonata believed her at that particular moment, but she seemed to at least appreciate the sentiment, acknowledging her by leaning her head onto the comforting hand. A moment of silence passed before Applejack spoke again.

“Say, Sonata. I don’t wanna sound like it’s gonna happen, but do y’all—you and Aria, I mean—know what you’re gonna do if… if we don’t make it?” Sonata sighed heavily before answering,

“Sing our own swan songs… or at least that’s what we thought we’d do. We both know that Adagio wouldn’t want that, though. It’s just that ‘going on’ was always a three-girl decision so when we think of there being only two of us all alone in this world… we just don’t know how to go on, except for doing everything we can to get Adagio back.” Going on. That phrase resonated with Applejack. In fact, so was most of what Sonata was saying.

“Can I tell you a story, sugarcube? It’s about how I went on after losin’ two people real important to me.”

“Who did you lose?” Sonata asked. Applejack took off her hat and set it on the windowsill. She took a deep breath and said,

“My parents.”

“I felt her kick, Ma!” Applejack gasped when she pressed her hands and head against her mother’s enlarged abdomen.

“It’ll be any day now, won’t it, sugarcube?” Calvados, Applejack’s father, chuckled at his daughter’s exuberance.

“Any day, Cal. Doc says she’s due in four weeks but I’d say she’s ready now. Oof!” Another shift from Honeycrisp’s passenger caused her to lurch forward a bit.

“You wanna go to the hospital now? We could always induce,” Calvados suggested. Honeycrisp waved and shook her head,

“Now, Cal, you of all people should know that takin’ out a pie ‘fore it’s baked means it won’t taste as good.”

“Are you sayin’ that somethin’ will be wrong with the baby if she comes out early?” Applejack tilted her head.

“No, darlin’, not at all,” her mother assured her, “But you and Big Macintosh were both right on time, so I’d feel… better if it was the same for your sister. I think I can bear her weight for just a month more, so don’t you worry none.”

Three-year-old Applejack had been looking forward to having a little sister since she first heard the news that her mother, Honeycrisp, was pregnant, although she didn’t exactly know what the word “pregnant” meant at the time. She did know, though, that it was a happy occasion, and that being a big sister would be a big job. She was ready. Her entire family worked hard on the farm every day, and though little Applejack was already beginning to take up some of the smaller tasks such as pig washing and chicken feeding, taking care of a little sister would be her first big-girl job, and she couldn’t be more excited.

The final month of Honeycrisp’s pregnancy was rife with happy tension. Every time the lady of the Apple Family halted or suddenly held her stomach or doubled over, someone would ask if it was time. She would always dismiss her family members and say the same thing,

“She’s lively, but it’s not time just yet.”

Calvados worked a little less to hover around his wife, a behavior he was repeating from both Big Macintosh and Applejack’s births. When an Apple is ready to be born, they tend to leave little time for dawdling between the moment water breaks and delivery. Granny Smith said it had been that way with Honeycrisp, herself, and countless Apples across all branches and several generations. It was Granny Smith who said it, though, so the accuracy of the claim may not have been as reliable as she would like you to think it is.

The family’s high-energy routine was almost normal when things took a turn for the worse, and Applejack could only watch as it all spiraled out of control.

About a week before the baby’s expected due date, Honeycrisp was taken to the hospital to prep for delivery. Despite her protests, the doctor and her family deemed it too dangerous to risk anything happening to the baby just for the sake of tradition. Labor was to be induced immediately. Applejack, Big Macintosh, and Granny Smith surrounded Honeycrisp as the doctor and nurses prepared their instruments.

“Where’s Pa?” Applejack asked her brother.

“He’s home, workin’ on expense reports. Granny Smith says he did this when you were born, too. He likes to get work done then come here and hold his child. Makes him feel like he rules the world. He’s old-fashioned like that.” Granny Smith grasped her daughter’s hand,

“You ready, darlin’?” she asked.

“This ain’t my first rodeo, Granny. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. It’s time to bring little Apple Bloom into this world.”

“Apple Bloom? Is that her name?” Applejack echoed.

“Sure is, sugarcube. Cal’s gonna have a fit that I decided without him, but I saw the first bud of the season pop open on the way here, and if that ain’t a sign that Apple Bloom is a perfect name, I don’t know what is.”

The doctor came over and slipped on his mask. “Could we have some distance, please? We’re ready to begin.” Honeycrisp’s family moved back to allow the doctor and nurses in. They attached a couple IVs and sensors. A machine beeped steadily to indicate heart rate. After administering the induction drug, the doctor said,

“It should only be a couple moments before the contractions begin, but once they start, they’ll start hard. We’ve got you on some numbing medicine, though, so you’ll mostly feel the pressure rather than the pain.”

Just as the doctor said, not two minutes had passed when Honeycrisp’s contractions began. The doctor and nurses went into full medical-mode, giving the Apple matriarch instructions on breathing and pushing. Big Macintosh and Granny Smith held either of Honeycrisp’s hands as Applejack looked on in wonder and worry.

“Is Ma hurtin’?” she asked. Her mother’s pained screams caused the young Apple to doubt the effectiveness of the pain medicine. If that was just the pressure, Applejack thought her mom might make glass break if there had been nothing to cull the force of the contractions at all. The beeping of the heart monitor increased steadily as Honeycrisp struggled to push out her second daughter.

“Applejack, call your father and tell him to get his hide down here! His wife needs him!” Granny Smith called over the cries of her life-giving daughter. Applejack felt slightly relieved that she got to leave the room for a bit. She rooted through her grandmother’s purse to find her cell phone and scampered out to call her dad.

“Hey, Pa, it’s me, Applejack!” she said when she heard the click that indicated he had picked up.

“Hey there, sugarcube! How’s your ma doin’?” he asked.

“She’s doin’ an awful lot of screamin’, but Granny says she’s fine. She wants you to ‘get your hide down here.’” Applejack did her best to imitate Granny Smith’s voice. Calvados chuckled,

“All right, all right. I’m leavin’ now. You tell your mom that I love her, all right? Give her a kiss for me. And the baby, too!”

“It’s Apple Bloom!” Applejack blabbed.

“What? She did not—” he cut himself off, “…Apple Bloom, huh? Well give Apple Bloom a kiss for me, too. I’ll be there to kiss ‘em both myself real soon.”

Applejack was about to say bye and hang up when a new commotion from the delivery room arrested her attention. The heart rate monitor that had been beeping quickly, but steadily, was now erratic and incredibly fast. Other alarms that she didn’t know about were also going off. Applejack ran back into the room to find that her mother’s screams had been replaced by that of her brother and grandmother. Honeycrisp was unconscious.

“Blood pressure and heart rate spiking!” One nurse yelled, “She’s losing a lot of blood!” The mess before Applejack terrified her. She screamed “MAMA!” and dropped the phone. She tried to run to her mother but another nurse scooped her up and whisked her out of the room.

“We need you to stay here right now, all right, sweetie? We’ve got to help your mom and little sister.” The sight of her mother in such a weak state drained Applejack of thought. The experience, which had been happy but tense up until now was now loud and hectic and the barely-preschool age little girl had no idea what to do. So she just stood outside the delivery room and listened, eyes and mouth agape.

The doctor ordered the injection of some drug. The nurse said they didn’t have any in the room. She bolted out to go get it. Granny Smith cursed out the doctor, demanding her daughter be saved. Big Macintosh yelled “Mama! Mama!” over and over again, as if the hundredth time it reached her ears would have any more effect than the first time. After a couple moments the nurse came back with the necessary medicine, hastily filling a syringe with it and stabbing it into Honeycrisp’s arm. The incessant beeping would not relent.

“Get a towel ready—she’s going to spasm!” the doctor said. He positioned himself and prepared to receive Apple Bloom. Honeycrisp’s unconscious body convulsed strongly a few times. It was enough to expel the baby’s head and allow for the doctor to pull her out on his own. Apple Bloom wailed, and for a moment silenced everything but the monitoring machines. She was safe and alive. The doctor carefully handed her over to one of the nurses and cut her cord.

“Get her to an incubator,” the doctor ordered, immediately turning his attention to Honeycrisp.

“Her heart rate isn’t going down. The hypertension is kill…” his voice trailed off as he remembered his company. “We need vasodilators. Ready the defibrillators, too, just in case,” he told the other nurse. It was too late, though. Just as the nurse left, Honeycrisp took in several sharp breaths. The heart rate machine beeped irregularly for a moment then made the worst sound imaginable. A single, long, monotone sound that indicated cardiovascular activity had stopped. The doctor grabbed a phone on the wall, pressed a button and said, “Code blue, floor seven, room 20B.”

A resuscitation team rushed in. Big Macintosh and Granny Smith bawled, as did Applejack once the shock finally subsided.

One count. Two counts. Three counts followed by the call of “Clear!” Honeycrisp did not revive, though. She was gone. The doctor called the time of death, collected all the messy and soiled materials, and silently left the room with the resuscitation team. Applejack joined her family around her lifeless mother.

“She… she’s not gonna wake up, is she?” Applejack sniffled.

“No, she’s not,” Granny Smith embraced her granddaughter and cried over her head.

“We need Pa,” Big Mac said, “When’s he gonna get here?” He was answered by the nurse who had gone to retrieve the vasodilators. She was crying, and the Apples assumed it was in response to the loss of Honeycrisp. The actuality was much, much worse.

“He’s… not coming.” The nurse sobbed.

“What do you mean he’s not coming?” Granny Smith asked, “What happened to my son-in-law!?” The nurse could barely hold back her tears,

“I’m so sorry. So, so sorry. Paramedics just responded to a traffic accident. An eighteen wheeler crushed a pickup running a red light. Mr. Calvados was in it.” For the first time in hours, the delivery room was dead silent. No one, not even Applejack could muster any more tears or cries or pleads for life. The nurse expressed her apologies again and left the room. A good twenty minutes passed before anyone spoke again.

“We don’t have any parents,” Big Mac said. He would not speak many sentences longer than that for years.

“I’d better let the family know what happened. It’s going to be a real quiet reunion this year.” Granny Smith stared at her lost daughter for a few more moments before getting up and leaving the room. Applejack was the last to have the phone, though.

“I picked up the phone to give it to my granny and the call I was havin’ with my dad was still goin’. He must’ve heard the commotion goin’ on and sped too darn fast to try to get to the hospital in time. I was only three, but I remember it all like it was yesterday.” Sonata Dusk’s eyes were wide as Applejack finished her tale.

“My gosh, I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

“Don’t worry none. It was almost fifteen years ago, and I’d say my family’s stronger than ever,” Applejack said.

“You don’t… blame Apple Bloom at all?” Sonata asked. Applejack shook her head.

“Shoot, no. I mean, when I got older I did wonder ‘what if’ a couple times, but then I figured if there’s anything in the universe guidin’ our lives, it wanted us to take all that sorrow we experienced in that one day and turn it into love for what we had, Apple Bloom especially. That thought has kept me goin’ all this time. So I think if things… don’t end the way we want them to, just put that love you got for Adagio Dazzle and put it toward somethin’ that’s gonna make you and Aria happy. That’s the best thing you’d be able to do for her in that case.”

“But that’s not going to be the case. We’ll save her.” Sonata’s face was stern and serious now.

“Damn straight we will,” Applejack nodded, “Now let’s get the others up. We’ve got a friend to save.”

Author's Note:

This chapter was... difficult to write. I knew I was going to explain Applejack's story the way I did but I didn't expect it to come out exactly this way. I like it, though. I'm still not that great at creating sad scenes but this is a long step ahead from where I started.

Just in case you were wondering, Honeycrisp is a type of apple, and Calvados is an alcoholic drink made from apples.