• Published 26th Nov 2014
  • 574 Views, 8 Comments

This Is Your Story! - Mahayro

Three ostracized mares formed and now maintain a camaraderie of tough love, good works, and wild partying...but there is more to their lives than meets the eye. A new, mysterious perspective on brokenness and self-understanding.

  • ...

Chapter Five

The sun rose. So also rose the eldest daughter of Berry Punch, runtish of size and sky-blue of coat and pale goldenrod of mane and not quite teen of age, up and out into the house proper.

"Yo Mom!"

Chances are she'd been advised not to poke her nose about chaos in the morning. But there was no helping it this time because her mother was snoozing right in front of her and her siblings' bedroom door.

Berry's head moved once. An added tap on the side from her eldest got her to stir enough to shake off the sandmare. An eye crept open. She recognized the hopeful glint in her child's eyes and responded tiredly but without resentfulness: "Yep, alright. Let's get to it."

Though simpler breakfasts were available, Sunny was looking forward to a family meal today. She trotted eagerly over to the fridge and got out milk, then eggs. With those beside the oven, she uncovered and scooped flour from a nearby bin into a bowl. From the pantry cabinet near Berry's bed, a big dollop of cooking oil joined in. One whisk and several minutes later, her mundane magic had created a simple batter.

Berry had taken to pressing oranges from the pantry at the time. When the batter was done, she popped back to the stove to handle the cooking task while Sunny continued making juice. In all of this, they worked silently and efficiently. Berry had embraced the new day fully already, unencumbered by the past. Sunny was just, well, sunny.

When the third full-size pancake landed on the serving plate, Sunny finished the pressing and cast her delicate voice out to Mama.

"You ever gonna tell me about Cole?" She made her reference clear with a glance toward the beanbags.

The working cook, after not reacting for a moment, released a very audible sigh. "I think you're old enough. But you can't tell anyone else. Alright?"

"Ohh...but I like being a blabby butt!"

"Ssshhhh, c'mon, keep it down. Now I'm serious. This doesn't leave this conversation, got it?"

"Yes, Moooom."

Berry shook from barely heard laughter at that sweet sarcasm. She flipped pancake #4 with a mouth-held spatula. "Well, you remember how I told you when two ponies love each other verrry ve--"

"Yeeeeah, dat's sex Mawm," she blurted in exaggerated playfulness.


Ignoring her: "And Cole and you are a thing. Geez, like I've known that forever!"

Just as the last word escaped Sunny's lips, Berry's spatula clattered to the floor. The head once holding it now had slackened its jaw, and the stupefied mare creaked around to face her clever girl.

After a few seconds of blankness, she focused on her daughter and spoke carefully through almost trembling lips: "Well! I guess I really don't give kids enough credit for being bright. Or is that soundproof wall in your room not working right?" She clearly knew the wall was fine, though.

She paused, looking downward as if searching for something lost on the floor--something other than dropped kitchenware. "So...what do you wanna know, then?"

"You never tell us about your life, Mom! Like, who is she? She comes over like every week and sometimes eats our food, and you never say a thing!"

Berry visibly angered at the unrelenting volume level of this inquiry. "Hey, ssshhhhh!!"

Undeterred: "And are you two even married or what? Do you even have any--"

Berry shifted her aggravation to a higher gear, silently arresting her daughter's disrespect. She firmed her facial features, stood tall, and made it known in a hard shout of undertone: "Raise your voice to me again and you're getting grounded! Lock-in grounded!"

The last words widened Sunny's eyes visibly. But she whispered hard right back: "That's not right Mom!" She glanced about, her eyes getting fearful, wanting to say something but not sure how she could get away with it.

Berry's sudden bit of frustration broke. She glanced aside herself, considering how to ease the situation. Her eyes softened by several grades and refocused on Sunny. "Hey, get over here, hun." Sunny took a couple seconds to realize the threat was over, and she did as commanded. They embraced, side by side, tenuous smiles on each of their faces. "When you move out on your own, I'll tell you everything. But I don't think I have to tell you what a dirty little thing drama is. And it's a thing we just can't have here." Sunny didn't look entirely convinced this conversation was going her way; Berry just pulled her in more closely. "Don't you wanna keep things a secret from me, too? Like your going out with Rumble last night?"

Sunny gasped and blushed and stumbled away from the embrace, suddenly an embroiled klutz. "But you don't understand me! You never could!" One second later, she snapped into terror at her violation and its inevitable consequences. Berry just lowered her head and glared for a brief space of time, then returned to Gentle Mom mode.

"Come on, come back here." They returned to sharing warmth side by side, though Sunny was only blankly staring forward with a blushing, scrunched face and hard breathing. "We'll never totally get each other. That's just a fact of life. But I still love you love you love you, and it's my job to look out for you. That means keeping my life out of your life. Cole is somepony special to me, and that's all you need to know."

A little torn by grief, Sunny let on, "But you know about me; why can't I know about you?"

Berry reclined her head in thought for a full moment--long enough to make the embrace more than a little awkward. But Sunny calmed and waited patiently, looking at her mother most of this time with another glint of hope.

A burning smell came to Berry's attention, and she quickly returned to it and hoofed the forgotten pancake onto the plate, ignoring the heat. The second side was quite black. "Oh, right. Guess that one's mine, hehe."

After a few more silent seconds, Berry rounded to regard her biggest little one squarely. "For starters, I'm Mom, deal with it. Secondly, it's not important. But here's the big thing: If I have to explain my whole life to you--or to anyone, even to Cole really!--that's just gonna bog everything down. You want answers, just so you can know and stop bugging me and get some sleep at night or whatever? I could be a lot harsher about this. But...oh my goddesses, you don't even know how much I love you, hun." Her raspberry eyes acquired some morning dew. She audibly strained in taking her next breath. Now cracking: "And you're so smart too!" She smiled brightly for a moment, holding a hoof to Sunny's tiny chin.

Then Berry resumed, having regained some of her standard composure but still lit with joy: "Cole and I are best friends. We go back to when we were a little younger than you. We always had each other's back. A bad thing happened to her one day, and we became closer. Then a bad thing happened to me, and we became closer still. Almost no pony in this world have a friendship that lasts that long...and if it weren't for you guys, she'd be the only thing keeping my head from flyin' off.

"And did you know she likes helping other ponies too? Maybe you've seen her at fairs and fashion shows and even Nightmare Night? She's not just there to watch. She helps set things up. She volunteers everywhere. I mean, she has a job...but helping others is her whole life. It's beautiful. It's really beautiful.

"So tell me again...what do you want to do when you get out of this house?" She glanced at Sunny's recently-appeared cutie mark--a tall glass of berry lemonade with a straw.

Wakey wakey.

A slow awkward tone in describing what should have already been known: "I want to help out at the Ponyville Café?"

"And that is awesome, hun. It's so awesome that you know what you want to do. But Cole...well..."

This thought was interrupted by a loud thud by the bed. Carrot Top had been lulled awake, just a half-dozen paces away, tumbled out through the curtain onto crouched fours, mane a mass of moist knots, coat slicked back in places, expression vacuous, legs and body dripping with...things. A certain smell crept over to the mother and daughter; and the daughter froze, abjectly mortified. Berry froze too, though her thought process ran into a totally different dimension.

"Hey now, what're you doing, getting all cozy in my bed like that? You...you get, uh, get out of here! Shoo shoo! Go!" She lightly waved away this home invader, not approaching her.

But Sunny wasn't even a party to this ruse. "Oh... Oh my goddess. Mom. It's true. It's TRUE, isn't it?" The obscenely high squeaks in this shout could curdle blood, but the scream afterward could curdle tap water. "IT'S TRUE! You're nothing but a hussy! You're nothing but a slut!" She howled and screamed again, then a third time--loudly enough to stir birds outside.

Berry merely looked on, somewhere slightly above Sunny's head, expressionless. She might have tipped over if someone breathed hard enough at her.

Naturally, the consternation was also loud enough to stir Colgate. But as soon as she perceived the scene, she went back to inconspicuous laying. Anything more than this might have caught Sunny's attention--particularly when she sprinted by the bags and out the door.

Berry turned and headed to the window, taking in pale warming skies and sheets of clouds and familiar hills and distant trees. The presence of the other kids could be heard thumping against the wall to her left, probably waking up or making their beds. Colgate sat up to her distant right. No one thought of Carrot.

The mauve mare bundled her forehooves up against the windowsill, up to the elbows, and rested her head on them aloofly to gaze and gaze. No tears came. Just being there was tragic expression enough. Barely audible, she said to the window: "Guess my baby's gonna be growing up today."

Berry contemplated a number of things as the others looked on in silent awe, suffering contemplations of their own.

Then the door to the kids' room opened. Berry snapped to.

"Everyone, shower time. Make a line outside the shower box. Right now. Cole, Carrot, go with the young'uns but let them go first."

She sped over to the oven to resume pancake duty while the others followed the plan--which also led them outside. She even got out a second pan so as to flip double-duty. Ablaze with energy, she took to the fridge to claim some peppers and all 6 or so of the remaining eggs, chopping the former and whipping them into the latter in a large bowl intermittently between pancake flips. Once there was only one pancake left to make, the empty pan received the raw ingredients for an omelette--minus the cheese, which Berry then hastily grated directly onto the egg puddle as it started to cook. Completed, she left the omelette in the pan and set the pancakes on an plate and onto a blanket she'd just set in the house's center. Another trip to grab more plates and utensils, a set-up of the fresh jug of OJ with cups, and breakfast was ready. She'd easily outraced her kids in preparation.

Berry stuck her head out the door and hollered, "BGs assemble!"

The adult ponies headed back in, although they had not yet gotten to shower. Carrot and Colgate both seemed pretty level-headed despite resembling utter messes. But Carrot also wasn't looking anypony in the eye.

"Here's the deal. Nopony talks about Sunny. That's my business. I'll find out if she went to school or somewhere else. Now I'm gonna take the others up to school. Cole, you're off work today. I'll pay you if you need--"

Colgate interrupted, "You're not any better able--"

Berry repeated, "But I'll pay you if you need to eat because I'm not gonna bucking let you starve." Continuing more normally, though still rather quickly for her: "Carrot, just don't fall apart today. We are the BGs, not Two Cool Mares and Their Bucked-Up Tag-Along. You're cool too. Start acting like it. And remain here. And Cole, come back here after telling work. Something happened last night, and there may not be a lot of time for us to sort this shit out. We gotta make a plan. A big plan. The pet charity's just gonna have to wait. This is serious business. And we discuss nothing until we're all together. Not even to ourselves. Just. Say. Nothing."

She started to pass them through the door, then suddenly turned about to add, "Oh right, and help yourself to breakfast--I left the omelette for you two in the pan. And you'll need to brush up, so use my vanity and stuff by the bed. Remember, Mama loves you. Cole, one other thing..." Berry's shifting eyes led Carrot to set for breakfast while she shared a private moment with her closest friend just outside the door.

And the morning plan was followed.

After freshening up and eating in pregnant silence, Colgate and Carrot glared at each other for a while. It wasn't such an evil or contemptuous thing. There was just so much they each wanted to say, so much to learn from one another; and that did include some suspicions on each side. But per Berry's orders, nothing would be said.

For about thirty seconds.

"Carrot...This is some fine mess you've gotten us into."

"Maybe you wanna hear my side?"

"Oh, really! I've heard it up and down my side lately! You darn near abused me in public!"

"Then why'd you bother to play along?"

"Because I'm your friend and I care about you! --Actually, hold up..."

Carrot's glare did not let up that quickly.

"Now you know I wasn't upset at the time or anything. But like, you're a lady now! You can't just act out like that. It's so...so freaky!"

" 'You're a lady now'!? What the hay is that supposed to mean?"

"It means you're an adult too!"

"I--well--" A pause. "This is hard!"

Colgate half-relented her eye assault and cast her head somewhat aside. More dismayed than apprehensive: "And coming to us in private isn't, darling. You know right where we live."

Carrot just growled. Then after a moment: "And what's this about?" She circled her hoof tightly about her right eye, to refer to Colgate's own somewhat puffy one.

"I was...I was upset. It's not your business."

"Like hay it's not my business! Do you guys even treat me as an equal?"

Colgate sharpened and bristled at that. "Now I've said you don't understand me as well as you'd like. But I've already told you my life story. You know Berry's, too. I don't think we left much out. But life is more than just a series of events. Have you thought about what's happened to me? For example...with my job?"

Carrot paused a bit.

"I wonder if you're not mature enough even to really think about others' feelings, hun. Sure, you can get laid. You can feel really close to somepony. But if you don't at least try to understand the world from their point of view, the loneliness is going to come back again and again. You are you--and while I don't agree with Berry just telling you to suck it up, I can't make that click in your head to happen for you either."

Carrot sobbed tearlessly; she'd started soon after the mention of her recent laying experience. This immediately threw the moment's dynamic away from anger.

Colgate concluded: "You did the bravest possible thing in order to be yourself. I can't even imagine that. So please, please--just put all that nonsense out of your head already!"

"I--I think I'm kind of beyond that, actually. You know that rave last night?"

Colgate raised her eyebrows, then grinned approvingly. "Oh, I'm not sure if I even knew who you were at that rave last night!"

"Ohhh..." Carrot remembered the experience, and she snapped her head aside, inhaling sharply, her face shivering with delight. "Something happened out there. And I was kind of like, to Tartarus with that other guy. I just wanted to stay out there." She took several seconds to come down from that relived memory.

The next words held an apologetic tone. "Oh, and um...thanks for saving me. I was pretty drunk. What was I even doing?"

"Aww, c'mere..." They shared a simple, friendly hug. "It was Berry's prescription. Like I said, I don't think she always does everything right--and I told her this, too. Oh, and did I ever mention you're a total lightweight?"

They giggled a bit.

Colgate was still regarding a rather unpleasant face--filthy body notwithstanding. "So what's eating you, then?"

"I still don't really feel as much a part of this group. Now that I've kind of come back to being right in the head, now I see where I wanna be. Being you would be easier. But really--"

"But really..." Colgate considered carefully for a moment. Then she sat on her haunches and crossed one foreleg to her own chin, her voice and demeanor now quite frank and not so dolled-up. "You should try more of that writing, if you ask me. You're getting better at expressing yourself, even if they're just descriptive articles. So use your words to try to imagine being in somepony else's shoes." A focused stare into the other's eyes followed, waiting to confirm they were on the same page. "The more you see others for who they really are, the less you'll be trying to live up to some impossible pony's life that doesn't exist, and you can just be happy with the crackpot that you are. That is what makes you a BG!"

Carrot dwelled on this for a while. "Wow. Where'd you get that wisdom from?"

"From paying attention in the School of Hard Knocks. You went there too. Must've slept through the lectures or something?" Colgate giggled at her own trailing metaphor, and Carrot just rolled her eyes but smiled all the same.

Echo the cat heard something mournful and strolled to the piano.

While Colgate departed to upset her boss and clients, Carrot took advantage of some precious minutes alone. She changed out the bedsheets, put back the beanbags, and put some extra time into those fanciful curls at the vanity.

But then she brainstormed ways to get more into Berry's life. Figuring an invitation to the vanity meant there wasn't too much of importance inside it, she looked behind it, under it, on top of it. Nothing unusual.

So she headed back to the bed. She knew she'd find all sorts of adventures underneath the bed...but what about that headboard? Berry had told her about the portraits, quite a while ago, and that they represented a childish time of fairy tales and diamond rings. She checked behind it--maybe there'd be some sentimental love letter or a more private memento. But she came up dry. She checked behind a few of the portraits; some had names written, one spoke of a "sweetheart", another just "wish you were here"--but none seemed all that interesting. After a few minutes, she smiled in pride at just being able to think about the love life of another without getting all envious for once.

Then she checked the Wonderbolt badge. It belonged to one Major Falcon Glider, Bravo Team Leader. What a catch, she must have thought. Also rather impressive how shiny it remained after what must've been a number of years in the open air. And how much trouble would this Falcon Glider have gotten in for leaving his badge behind?

Bored, she gave up on that chase and saw whether she could get into the cellar. Naturally, though, it was locked. It would be terrible for kids to mess around down there with all the booze.

...Then it clicked. Berry had told her that her old husband had been a Wonderbolt. She went back and regarded the badge one more time. She drooped her ears in melancholy, contemplating what would possess one to keep a memento from a beloved husband and father next to all these other conquests. Some faint praise, that.

After hearing somepony try the door, she opted to feign sleep there. Colgate caught her in the feigning act, however, and she just shook her head.

The two summarily agreed to try to get some more sleep for the time being, shut the curtains, and slept apart on the bed. They couldn't seem to rest, though, and it was certainly too awkward to cuddle.

Berry took two whole hours to return, mostly due to her search for Sunny. She did eventually go to school after all--though was that really the best outcome for Berry?

She stormed in to see the Colgate at dishes and Carrot cleaning the floor.

"Alright guys. That's just beautiful. Now I have nothing for the kids to do!" Berry looked strangely serious about everything.

Colgate recognized the attitude for what it was from her old friend. "Wait--really, this is part of the plan?"

"Actually, I need you all to stop what you're doing, right now. Especially you, Carrot." So they did.

"Yeah. The kids are gonna be running loose today after school, I bet. I'll leave a note for Sunny or something. This is a big deal, guys."

"Is this about last night, Berry? I...I think I got over it." Colgate patted her swollen eye.

Berry's serious brows and even mouth remained. "Got over...what, would you say?"

"I was just mad...I flipped out over...uh, over--"

"You flipped out, and then you pushed away a box I was chucking at you with your horn. And then you passed out." A brief but dramatic aperture of tenderness opened in Berry's inquiry. "Do...you even...remember what you said?"

"Uh, no, not precisely...it was just so late and I was so tired."

Berry snorted hard. "You were drugged. Some funky shit went down. And then whoever did it ran off."

"Did you catch them?"

Carrot interrupted meekly. "Wait, got over what?"

Colgate turned steadily to the interrupting mare with much the same sort of seriousness as Berry already had equipped. This broke into confusion after trying to speak. "Over... Um...wait..."

Berry continued her thought: "Over something that you haven't cared about in years. Like sleeptalking a bad dream, almost. And not like your usual thing, either. I'm shit outta clues to how." She then rubbed her foreleg, upon which a long slice wound could only barely be seen.

She then cleared her throat. "There's a reason I don't think you were just dreaming. Girls, I may not be the most reliable of witnesses myself. But let me show you something."

She wandered toward a spot on the ground a few paces to the front-right of the fireplace. "Tell me, now...whose is that?"

As Berry pointed down, the other two gathered and scanned, arriving at an object of interest.

Gushing in pride or perhaps confidence: "Miss Minty Fresh, care to confirm that for me?"

She eyed it closely for all of two seconds. "Good call, Berry. Somepony out there's missing a piece of a tooth. Pretty fresh."

Berry addressed her gang with something of a rapt and nervous astonishment. "Or..." She eyed each of them carefully, making sure their attention was held in kind. "Or someone in here. No telling. I watched them open the door and flee...but I didn't. I didn't see anything. And I checked all the kids' mouths already. They're invisible. They could be anywhere. That's what's got me all freaked out."

Carrot burbled with excitement, perhaps at the thought of a new writing topic. "Mystery time?"

Colgate interrupted Carrot's irrational moment. "You can't just go...you can't just change your--" She snapped to Berry. "Pardon me--you can't just change our lives around because of something you saw in the middle of the night! Seriously!"

Berry acted casual to this retort. "Yeah, yeah--and I was drunk, and I was drowsy, and damn Carrot, where'd you get that--" She grinned as Carrot fidgeted and blushed brightly. "Sorry hun, you should've known nothing's a secret between us. But it doesn't matter."

She cleared her throat and turned to face Colgate, a playful arch in her brow. "And I'll let you decide what we do today on one condition...and that's you tell me what you did to earn that token of my affection on your face."

Colgate gritted her teeth for a few seconds--but this gave way to sullen shock at her own persistent lack of recollection. She stammered. "I--what's going..."

"And shit, Carrot. This ain't a Hinny Boys mystery. This is proof we gotta watch our backs! Somepony may want us dead or something!"

Colgate reacted in repulsion to this, lowering her eyes to slits. Drily, she proposed, "So we're gonna catch the Boogeymare."

But Berry just turned her sass dial to maximum, sliding her head side to side with each stressed syllable. "You're goddess-damned right we are."

Carrot had a sudden thought and blurted it. "Hey, if they're listening in, maybe we need to gather up and keep this to a hush." The others agreed with and headed toward her, somewhat to her own surprise.

And so they whispered ideas among each other for some time. One tossed out the idea to stay in public places. Diversions and split-ups were suggested. Carrot got smacked on the head once for a particularly silly notion. Then the hush fell entirely; they nodded, broke, finished preparations, left out the door, and then all headed off in different directions.