• Published 8th Nov 2014
  • 1,051 Views, 23 Comments

Change - BleedingRaindrops



Hoping to find something she'd lost, Twilight Sparkle returns to her old home, Ponyville. The rundown town still holds a few surprises, and some old faces. Sometimes a good friend is all you really need to face the night.

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Night of Disarray

Twilight’s vision blurred. Her heart raced faster than it had in years and her breath nearly stopped. Finally, part of Ponyville that wasn’t ruined by time. Twilight practically flew through the air toward her old friend. “Oh, Applejack I can’t believe it’s really you.”

“Whoa nelly! H-hold up now—oof!”

Twilight collided with Applejack and the two landed on the ground next to the doorway, hard. As she gazed into her old friend’s eyes, Twilight’s heart froze, and the smile left her face faster than it had appeared. Something was wrong.
“What the hay? Get off me you—”

“Applejack?”

“Huh?”

Applejack’s face was crumpled in pain, and she lay clutching her right shoulder. Her hair was much grayer than Twilight remembered it, and her skin bore a few wrinkles.

“A—Applejack. It’s… It’s me, Twilight.”

Applejack’s eyes snapped wide open, and all the color drained from her face. She forgot her shoulder for a moment and simply stared at Twilight for at least a full minute.

“Twilight… ouch—I uh, I’m really glad to see you again an’ all just—ngh—I ain’t quite as unbreakable as I used to be.” She looked up at Twilight, not with the fierce, determined eyes she had once known, but with aged, worn out eyes that had seen too many days of labor in the fields. This wasn’t Applejack. Or at least not the same one. Twilight got off her old friend, barely able to believe what she was looking at.

“Applejack… what happened to you?”

Applejack winced as she stood up. She stumbled once or twice on her newly hurt shoulder, but eventually found a firm stance and put on a smile.

“Time. Life. I got old, Twilight. Didja forget? That thing that happens to us normal ponies not gifted with darn near immortality?” Applejack gently elbowed Twilight in the chest. “But forget me. What happened to you? I seem to recall a nice, lavender coat and a fine set of wings on ya.”

Twilight hadn’t realized her mouth was open until it snapped shut. Her face grew hot as she realized she was still wearing her disguise. When she finally found her voice, it was quieter than Fluttershy’s had once been. “Oh, I um… I didn’t really want to be found.”

Applejack frowned. Twilight had never told her why she’d left. She hadn’t told anypony.

“I tried to change back when I got here but…” Tears formed in Twilight’s eyes again. “Oh, Applejack, I’m sorry. I just—”

Applejack leaned forward and put a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder, smiling sympathetically. “It’s alright, Twilight. You’re here now. Come on inside. I’ve got some cider brewin’, and I’m sure Pinkie would love to see ya again.” She beckoned with a hoof, and trotted back inside.

Twilight’s heart skipped a beat, tears drying instantly. “Pinkie?! She’s... still here?”

Applejack turned and shot her a pained look. She struggled to form words for a few moments, then let out a long sigh. “She ain’t the same as she used to be, Twi. But yeah, she’s here.” Applejack turned and trod into her house with her head down. “I think.”

Twilight’s blood ran cold at that last part, but she warily followed Applejack into the farmhouse. Applejack’s knees shook with each step, making her look like a slightly younger, orange version of Granny Smith. Twilight turned her attention to the walls instead. Pictures covered nearly every square inch. Apple Bloom stood next to her two friends in one of them, showing off their cutie marks. Twilight had nearly forgotten the Cutie Mark Crusaders. The next generation really grew up fast. Another picture showed the most recent Apple Family Reunion. Just looking at the low turnout was heartbreaking.

Twilight kept walking and followed Applejack into the living room. More pictures lined the walls, but a lot of these were pink. Even the furniture had been swapped out for pink or blue items. Her eyes drifted to the corner of the room, where she saw something that made her heart stop.

Applejack followed her gaze, then sighed.

“Like I said, she’s still here. I think.” The two of them stood in silence for a few moments, before Applejack spoke up again. “I’ll let you two catch up while I go an’ get the cider. Give me a few minutes.” She disappeared through the kitchen door, leaving Twilight alone with Pinkie, or what was left of her.

Twilight’s heart ached as she gazed at her old friend. It wasn’t right. She shouldn’t look like this. Pinkie sat hunched over in a wheelchair, staring blankly at the floor across the room. Her mane was dangled across her chest in long, uncurled strands, and her hooves rested lifelessly in her lap. She lifted her head slightly at Twilight’s approach, but she wasn’t looking at Twilight. Drool hung from her lip, and the way she stared blankly at open space made it hard to imagine that there was anypony alive behind those eyes. Pinkie returned her head to its previous position after a few moments.

Applejack was right. Pinkie might be here in body, but not in spirit. Gone was the happy, exuberant pony who had brought joy to all of Ponyville. Left in her place was a broken, lifeless husk. This wasn’t Pinkie Pie at all. Applejack returned a moment later with a tray in her mouth that had three mugs of cider on it. She set it down in front of Pinkie and picked up one of the mugs.

“Feel like some cider, Pinkie? Our old friend Twilight’s here. Seems like a good time for some celebratin’.” Applejack held the mug out to Pinkie, doing her best to smile. Pinkie’s hooves moved very slowly, but she took the mug from Applejack. Then, in an act that seemed impossible in her condition, Pinkie brought the mug to her lips and tilted it back. Some of it spilled down her chest, but Twilight saw Pinkie take a long, painfully slow swallow. A snail might have moved quicker.

Applejack smiled at her, then looked over at Twilight. It wasn’t a real smile, but Twilight could tell Applejack was trying to be comforting.

“Well, she seems a bit livelier than usual. I told you she’d be happy to see you, Twi.” Applejack held out a mug of cider to Twilight, who grabbed it with her hoof.

Twilight moved and sat down on the couch, staring at the ground between her hooves. She could tell there was something here that she’d come back for, but she couldn’t quite put her hoof on what it was. She looked back up at Applejack, who was sipping her cider happily. The silence in the room dragged on and Applejack’s unusually happy attitude was growing uncomfortable.

“How—how is she?” Twilight asked without looking up.

“Who, Pinkie? She seems alright. She hasn’t moved much since the day… well, you were there.” Applejack gulped, and the silence in the room returned while she fumbled for more words. “Well, I uh… she seems happy enough, all things considering. I think she can understand what we’re sayin’, though it’s hard to tell since she doesn’t respond much anymore.”

Now it was Applejack’s turn to look forlornly at the floor. Pinkie’s incident had been a result of many things that involved all of Twilight’s close friends, but none of them had ever seen it coming. Rainbow Dash had taken it the hardest. She’d made it rain before she left, and it had continued to rain for weeks before the clouds ran out.

It only made sense. Pinkie had always held a special place in all of their hearts, but in Rainbow Dash’s more than anypony else. Rainbow Dash had managed to find Twilight, and dragged her back to Ponyville. But when they’d found Pinkie, it had been too much for the poor girl. When she smashed her cloud home that day, Twilight knew even Rainbow Dash wasn’t coming back. She could still feel the radial fracture in her horn from when Rainbow Dash had kicked her.

No, Twilight blamed herself for what happened. She hadn’t been happy, and Pinkie was the only pony who saw through it, but Pinkie was also the one pony Twilight’s happiness could affect bad enough to…

“What happened to this place, Applejack?” Twilight’s breathing became heavy. Applejack stopped sipping and looked up. She set her mug down and let out a sigh.

“To be honest, sugarcube, I ain’t really certain. Sometime after you left the first time, ponies just started uppin’ and leavin’. It was like all the magic had left this place. Nopony new ever came to town, and all of Pinkie’s efforts couldn’t keep everypony happy. Then you left for good, and that was the nail in the coffin. It’s like you were the life of this place, Twi.”

“But that’s impossible,” Twilight gasped. “Everypony was happy before I got here! It’s not like they needed me.”

“No, but you left a big impression on all of our hearts, sugarcube.” Applejack smiled briefly. “Not to mention savin’ the town on countless occasions. There’s a reason you had that big fancy castle out by the edge of town for a while. Heck, Celestia kept forgettin' to raise the sun for nearly a week after you up and vanished. She even had us search the whole Everfree for you, not that she had to ask.” Applejack hid her face behind the cider mug as she took another big gulp.

Twilight got up and walked over to the window, looking out toward where her old castle had once stood. It was true—she was the princess of friendship, after all—she should never have left. Twilight closed her eyes, letting a few more tears fall. She’d hurt them. She’d hurt all of them. And she had never wanted to.

“I’m sorry,” she said softly, not turning around. “I just couldn’t stay.” Twilight heard the sound of hooves hitting the floor behind her.

“Why not, Twi? You used to love this place. You once said Ponyville was your home.” Applejack’s voice wanted to be kind, but she was too lost for answers. Twilight didn’t blame her.

“Yes, Applejack. I used to call this place my home, but that was when I wanted to be here.”

Twilight heard Applejack take a step backward.

“Ponyville was my home. It was where all my friends were. It was where I learned the magic of friendship, found the spark deep inside me—inside all of us. There was nothing I loved more than to study magic, and to be with my friends.

“But over time, that spark faded. All of my friends became more distant—more disconnected. I lost the love for magic I had once held. And then when Rarity left… I just never recovered.”

“But, sugarcube, Rarity had to leave. Her business had outgrown Ponyville. She got a great offer from a stallion in Canterlot, and she had to go oversee the expansion of her new company.”

“But she wasn’t around. I missed her too much. I missed all of you.” Twilight’s tears ran faster, and she let out quiet sobs. “I don’t even know if she’s still in Canterlot. I spent a good many years there, and I couldn’t find her. Rarity’s gone.”

“S-sugarcube, I... “ Applejack let out a long sigh. “What’s this really about, Twilight? You didn’t come back here just to blame us all for makin’ you feel sad enough to leave. You ain’t like that.”

Twilight considered turning around. She knew Applejack was right. But it was less painful if she didn’t have to stare into those old green eyes. She didn’t want to accept the truth.

“It’s just... everypony became so different. Everything changed. Apple Bloom and the others all got their cutie marks. Scootaloo started helping disabled ponies learn to walk, or fly, or live without the use of their horns. Sweetie Belle opened up a school for magic. Apple Bloom and Big Macintosh moved away after Granny Smith died. Derpy went back home to Applewood. Cheerilee retired.”

Twilight continued to look out the window, wishing the old town would just go back to the way it was, but she knew it wouldn’t. She sobbed into her forehooves as she leaned over the windowsill.

“Nothing was the same. It wasn’t the same town I fell in love with. Maybe you’re right, Applejack. Maybe I was the life of this town, but you know what? This town was also the life of me, and without it? Without that spark I just—I just couldn’t stay.”

Twilight felt a hoof land on her shoulder, but she still refused to turn around.

“After F-fluttershy… and then the castle dissolved, well, I knew it was time to leave. If the magic of friendship had fallen that far, this place certainly didn’t need its princess anymore.” Twilight shut her eyes, squeezing a stream of tears out which ran down her cheeks.

Something touched her hoof. Something soft and dry like parchment. Twilight opened her eyes and looked down at a small scroll, held in place by a pink hoof. Twilight gasped, and turned to see Pinkie, sitting in her wheelchair next to the window. Her eyes still showed no signs of life, but the hoof on Twilight’s shoulder, and the scroll in her hoof told Twilight there was still some spark of her old friend in there, somewhere.

Twilight looked down at the scroll. It was in Pinkie’s own mouthwriting, but it was old—far too old to have been written recently.

“P-pinkie… was this b-before… ”

Pinkie didn’t respond. She turned her chair around slowly, and rolled back to her corner, facing away from the room. Twilight looked back down at the scroll, and read the words Pinkie had written so long ago. It was a poem. Well, more of a song—Twilight recognized the different parts—but there was one stanza that popped up repeatedly.

Ponies change
You gotta move on
But this night just feels like it goes on for so long

And I don't know how I can take it
I'll just wear a smile and fake it
but the night has left the day in disarray

Twilight’s tears dried up, and her breath caught in her throat. All this time, Pinkie had felt the same way. Twilight looked over at Pinkie, sitting motionless in her corner. Twilight had never known. She should have been a friend. A true, true friend.

She let the scroll fall from her hooves, and looked over at Applejack, who returned her gaze with a somber expression.

“Yeah, she showed me that, too. It’s part of why I’m still here. Why I never left. I mean, I’ve got the apple farm to look after and all; and Pinkie of course, but business has been dead ever since everypony left. I have to travel a lot to make any sales, but I always come home. This is where I grew up, and it’s where I’m gonna stay. Ponyville is my home, Twi, and it’s yours, too.”

Twilight collapsed onto the couch.

“But... but it’s just so different.”

“Yeah, it sure ain’t the same as it used to be. Heck, I don’t know if Ponyville will ever be anything like it once was, but that’s life, sugarcube. It’s like Pinkie said: ponies change, and you gotta move on. Nothin’ is ever like it once was, but that’s okay. You never forget all the fun times you had. Sure, the same places might disappear, but your memories last forever, and so do your friendships. We’re always together in our hearts, sugarcube, no matter what physical distance might separate us. We’re bonded together by the magic of friendship. You taught us that, Twi. And we ain’t never forgot it.”

“B-but Fluttershy—”

“Is still here with us in spirit. Didn’t you see all the wildlife that lives around her cottage? Who else do you know who loved animals that much, and cared for them? They wouldn’t stick around if there wasn’t something of her left.”

Twilight got off the couch and threw herself into Applejack’s waiting hooves. She didn’t know how long she cried for, but it didn’t matter. There was nopony here who wasn’t crying with her in some form. When the two of them separated, there were tears in Applejack’s eyes, too.

“Y’know,” she said, wiping her eyes and smiling, “sometimes I like to think that the scars we bear are just little reminders that life goes on, even when things change, or when ponies get hurt. You’ve just got to pick yourself up, take the knowledge and experience that you gained, and make a better future for yourself. You’re a strong pony, Twilight. One of the strongest I’ve ever met, and you’ve got a big heart. Why don’t you go give it to the world, instead of hiding yourself away? Okay, sugarcube?”

Twilight smiled back. “Thanks, Applejack. You’re a good friend.” Applejack beamed, and picked up the discarded mugs of cider they’d left on the ground. Twilight turned around and picked up the scroll she’d dropped, then walked over to the corner where Pinkie sat.

“Thanks, Pinkie. This helped a lot.”

Twilight leaned in and hugged her, ignoring the pink curl of hair poking her face. As she did, Twilight felt a rush of magic escape her horn, and the familiar feeling of air under her feathers returned. A single tear fell from one of Pinkie’s otherwise lifeless eyes and landed on the scroll in her lap. She moved a hoof to cover it, and when the hoof returned to its regular position, the scroll was gone. Twilight smiled. So she could still do that. It warmed her heart to see so much of her old friend still active, despite her disability.

Twilight said goodbye to Applejack and left, feeling much more alive than she had in years. No, Ponyville would never be the same, even if Twilight came back to stay, but that didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that her friends were still with her, even if they were miles apart.

Twilight made the trek across town to Fluttershy’s cottage. The vegetation was too thick to get near the house, but just standing here, staring up at it felt resolute enough. Discord had been right. Twilight had been looking for something, and it had been right back here the whole time. Twilight smiled, then turned and walked away from Ponyville for the last time.

Author's Note:

I don't know how many of you picked up on it, but this was a tad bit allegorical. I was going through a personal struggle at the time, and writing this helped a lot. The poem Pinkie wrote is one that I wrote many years ago, when a long time friend left me without an explanation. I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope it helped you. Never forget to smile.

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Comments ( 22 )

that story was..... strange .. but it still caught my emotions ^^

Could you say what was "strange" about it? I'm always looking to improve. :scootangel:

A nice emotional piece. I wonder if Twilight's own realization about everyone's and Ponyvile's morality--and her own lack of--was the real unconscious reason she left?

This was very good. There's room for another part if you chose to pursue it. I'd read it.

(I was surprised at how many common elements there were in that thing I sent you, considering neither one of us had ever read either story before).

Comment posted by BleedingRaindrops deleted Sep 13th, 2015

5544437
No. I don't think there is another part to this. The point was that Twilight had to come to terms with the changes in Ponyville, and the friends she'd lost. She'd never be the same, but that was okay. Maybe there's another story that comes after, but it's not part of this story.

Wow. Like...wow.

This was definitely emotional. I liked how Discord appeared first of all - it seems he's finally understanding friendship. Then there's how each of the Mane Seven's lives turned out. Rarity moved away, Fluttershy died, Pinkie Pie tried to hang herself, Rainbow Dash reacted badly and left, Spike left, Ywilight ran away to another dimension (apparently) and Applejack...well heck, she's the only one who kinda continued on with life. (Those events probably didn't happen in that order). But I feel a little confusion there as well: did this all start when Rarity moved away or when Fluttershy died (of whatever she died of)?

Also, take a look at this excerpt from chapter 1:

[...] Rarity was never coming back. She’d left all of them behind to chase her own dreams. She didn’t care for them at all. Twilight shook at the thought. Why did everypony have to go? Why couldn’t they stay behind so she didn’t have to feel alone?

While I understand what Twilight was feeling, I also couldn't help but feel like Twilight was being a bit selfish. She wasn't understanding that everyone moves on at some point.

Anyway, thank you for writing something that managed to give me feels. I happened to learn a bit about friendship myself.

6594880

She wasn't understanding that everyone moves on at some point.

That was kinda the point.

As for everypony's outcomes.
Rarity moved away first.
Spike left a few months later
Fluttershy died a few years later.
Pinkie Pie hung herself left a few months later when Twilight's castle dissolved and Twilight lost the will to stay.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash then left the same day.
Applejack stayed and took care of Pinkie Pie.

Hope that helps put it in order for you.

6595031 Ah. Okay, thanks! Write more amazing stories like this in the future!

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Author Interviewer

Solid moral, though I'm not sure I ever felt like I knew quite what had happened.

7449693
A pocket dimension she discovered and then hid with her own spells, then placed inside of a comic book from which she got the idea for the name of her personal little world, which she then further enchanted to be sure she would never be found. It was a pretty crafty self exile. But yes.


7449715
Which part was confusing?

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

7450869
Okay, the comic book thing is really cool then. :)

The part I was confused about was what happened. Specifically, what would drive Pinkie to suicide, unsuccessful though she may have been. It sounds like Rarity pursuing her dreams broke something in Twilight, so she left, something something Pinkie tries to kill herself, Rainbow Dash throws a tantrum and leaves and also Fluttershy's dead somehow? I guess she could have just died of old age at some point. But I definitely felt like there was one crucial detail I was missing.

7451920
Ah, that. Yeah I suppose it would make more sense if I were to write a short scene or something explaining each of them, especially the conversation between Twilight and Pinkie Pie. I hate to reveal the stuff between the lines on this one but I suppose Pinkie's is a little hard to follow. Here's the way I imagined it in my head:
Twilight was already stressed out from her royal duties, upset that it took time away from her friends, and she began to blame herself when she missed out on their lives. After Rarity left, Spike just suddenly didn't want to be there. He got really sad, and one day he just left—nopony knows where he went. Twilight again blamed herself that she couldn't keep him happy, and was very distraught that that he left at all, since he was a big part of her world, and his absence left her heartbroken.
Pinkie noticed that Twilight was upset, and spoke to her. When she realized Twilight had lost the will to remain princess, she tried to talk her back into it, but her own emotions got in the way. Pinkie is very sensitive, and is very quick to blame herself for everything.
When Fluttershy got sick, It put Twilight nearly over the edge, but she held on until Fluttershy actually died, at which point something snapped, and the magic holding her castle together vanished. When Twilight's castle fell apart, Twilight lost the will to stay, and when Pinkie realized Twilight had no intentions of staying, she assumed she was just a bad friend and that Twilight didn't like her. She was already unstable after Rarity and then Spike, and Twilight pushed her over the edge.
In the next few months, Rainbow Dash could tell Pinkie was really upset about Twilight leaving, and went to drag Twilight back to town, but it was too little too late. She blamed Twilight for Pinkie Pie of course, and both of them assumed the worst before even visiting her at the hospital.
Applejack was the only one who stayed.

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Author Interviewer

7452054
Now see, that all more or less makes sense. It would cheapen the story if you sat down and explained things that way in-text, but a few extra details would definitely help. I think you just went for the oblique angle a little too much, and a lot is lost because of it. Not always a bad thing, just didn't quite work this way.

7452137
Easier said than done, and I'm not sure I'm still invested in this story enough to do that. I might give it a shot for the sake of quality, but it's a long shot.
Actually, I still have the old Gdoc. Do you think you might be willing to point to a few specific spots that could use some touching up?

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Author Interviewer

7452149
Give the EQD email a minute to come through. :B

7452896
*waits patiently for email to show up*

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

7457479
I guess by 'minute', I actually meant 'week', they're being slow <.<

Iliked it. I feel much of my life mimics Twilight's. Death, depression, sadness, I've seen alot of those these past few years. Change is the worst thing for some.

But its daunting that, with the exception of Rarity, that the entire group would live such sad lives. Maybe one or two, but for all to have fallen on such hard times is a bit of a cosmic stretch.

That said, it hit close to home. Glad I took time to read it.

7508826
Equestria Daily also thought as much

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