• Published 11th May 2012
  • 3,022 Views, 34 Comments

Marital Bliss - Nadake

After years of work, even an Earth pony will succumb to the pain.

  • ...

Distal Agony

A beam of sunlight seared her eyes as Applejack awoke. As usual, everything felt relaxed. She felt like she could go running again, buck apples until dusk three days from now, and still follow her friends on another crazy adventure.

She hated the feeling. It was some cruel joke of reality to give her such a feeling of almost preternatural strength. She knew that the moment she moved from that spot, twitched so much was a hoof, the pain would return. It was horrible, becuase in that one moment, she felt like she was young again. She wasn't old, none of them were. Barely forty years old this spring. And it seemed like even old Liverspots was more active than she was. The ancient pony was pushed ninety, and he was still out every day, walking around like Bob's your uncle.

And here she was, the brave, the strong Applejack, paragon of the Apple Family, was afraid to move. She was afraid to lose that feeling, the brief knowledge that she could do anything. Because the only thing worse than the pain was watching that dream dissolve in tears once more. Tears because of the pain of her muscles, and the even greater pain as once more, her heart broke.

Now she lay in her room, the same one she had grown up in, had shared with Applebloom. The same room where she had
first kissed Rarity, where she had...

No. Its too late to regret the past. And its too late to be waiting around in bed, Get your lazy flank up girl.

And so, the daily hell began anew. At the very least, she could move on her own now. It had been mortifying to need Applebloom and... It had been horrible to need the assistance. She should be better than the pain, she knew that. She had lived with the pain of pulled muscles and strains since the time she could walk, running around picking up stray apples. Back then, well, back then she could run, she could smile. Back then she didn't have to cry.

Slowly, ever so slowly, she rolled onto her side, then slid out of the bed. The arrhythmic clop of her hooves on the cedar floor showed her slow, and only somewhat steady, path to the bathroom. Her morning ritual for the past five years. Wake up, move to the bathroom. Soak. Today was no different.

The water in the tub was steaming, the temperature so high that Applejack could barely stand it. As one foot entered the water, she bit back yet another cry. She had formed a considerable talent for swallowing gasps and moans of pain in the last few years, and now almost nothing escaped but a tightening around her eyes. The near scalding water was not playing very nicely with her cold hoof though, the leg had been outside of the numerous blankets she cocooned herself in each night. As such, it had been pleasantly numb to the pain of movement. Now however, as usual, the respite had ended, and the pain once more pounced, biting down hard in revenge for her attempted evasion.

She placed another hoof on the steps that led into the large tub set in the floor, and reflected on the irony. They had installed the steps so that Granny Smith could soak while they worked. But the last thing she had done for her family, before her body became her mortal enemy, was to buy a new hip for her Grandmother. Now, the old green mare could scamper about like a filly, like Applejack once had. And instead, it was the healthy, young pony that needed the assistance.

"Hey sis, are you okay in there?"

"I'm fine Applebloom. Thank you for worrying, but I, I just need to be alone for a time." One of the only benefits of being bedridden most of the time, she finally had time to read. And talk. She talked a lot nowadays, though only rarely with ponies she actually liked.

Mostly, she talked to doctors. Stupid little arrogant sons of- well, annoying ponies who had no idea what they were talking about. Every single one of them told her that the pain was only in her head. She wished it was only in her head, then she could harness it, control it, then beat the thing into a bloody pulp for ruining her entire life. The doctors had no idea how much she hurt, all the time. All they said was "You show symptoms of acute muscular stress, and a constant pattern of muscular contraction, which exacerbates the situation. In other words, you keep moving the muscles, so they hurt. Iff you would stop, then the pain would go away."

Every single one of the pretension, suppositious 'experts' repeated the same line of manure, and expected her to keep on swallowing. Fluttershy had been the only pony to examine her who was honest. "I'm so so very sorry Applejack. I, I just don't know whats wrong. I can't find any damage, but there has to be some. I know how much you hurt, but I... I can't help you." The pegasus had left, tears falling and locked herself in her cottage for almost three days. According to Rainbow, she had spent the entire time sobbing to her or Angel, hating herself for stealing the hope that her friend had placed in her.

Rainbow and Fluttershy still visited, once a week they would come over and spend most of the day with her. They would talk, sit around and reminisce. Occasionally, they would play a word game or tell jokes. It wasn't like she could go haring off on an adventure anymore. Twilight came over every other day, in part to renew the spell she had placed on the tub that kept the water in it always hot, and to spend time with her friend. Ever since Pinkie...left, those three and her sister where the only ponies she wanted to see.

She still loved Granny Smith and Big Mac, but that didn't mean she didn't hate them. It was unfair of her, cruel even, but it was still true. They were the real reason her life had imploded, whether they meant it to happen or not. They should have known that this would happen if they expected one mare to care for an entire farm by herself. It was almost too much for both her and Big Mac, and that was with Granny Smith taking care of the Zap Apples. Alone, tending the bumper crops and rigorous, almost ritual needs of the Zap Apples, in addition to helping others and selling the crop, she was spread thin. What was the line Twilight had quoted? 'I'm old. I know I don't look it, but I'm beginning to feel it in my heart. Like butter that scraped over too much bread.' Something like that anyway. It was the perfect line, it was exactly how she felt.

And now, here she was, sitting neck deep in a tub of water hot enough to make her long hair curl where it wasn't in the water. She never bound her mane anymore, there was no need. Since she wasn't working, the only reason to had been to annoy Rarity, and now... there, there wasn't even that.

The wall that she hid behind cracked, and a single tear escaped the dam. Applejack couldn't remember the last time she had cried. No. That wasn't true. She could remember perfectly, but she didn't want to. She couldn't cry anymore right now, she might not be able to stop if she did.

Slowly, she stepped out of the tub of water, the wet hair of her tail and mane hanging limp in the air. In the water, the blonde strands had billowed about her in a cloud of gossamer, but now it just hung there. Just like-

A sharp thwap sounded, and she winced. The blond tail had slapped against her side, hard. Hard enough to bruise no doubt, not that she would notice. What was more pain at this point? Besides, nopony would get close enough to see it through the orange fur.

For a moment, she yearned for somepony to look at her again. To really look at her. It had been... quite some time since the last pony had seen her and not her body. They only saw the surface, the strong mare who could do anything. Even her friends saw only the pain that same strong mare was in. None of them saw her, the real her. Nopony looked, or they would have seen a filly curled in a corner, crying over a cut leg. She had been a strong mare, and was still trapped in that body, young and capable. But now she was that filly, asking for her long dead mother to make the pain go away.

"Sis, you've been in there for almost an hour. You have an appointment in Canterlot today, and you need to leave soon. I've got us seats on the train, but we need to get going."

"I'll be finished in a moment Applebloom. I just... need to dry off." Even now, the Element of Honesty couldn't lie, not to her sister. She did need to dry off, it was just that her mane and body were already done. Her face would be dry in a few moments, the salty tracks would be unnoticed. Nopony would come that close.

Dearest Applejack,

I'm sorry my love. I cannot do this any more. I can't sit and watch you in so much pain. Applejack, dearheart, you know that I love you. I will always love you. That is why I have to leave. It is killing me to watch you like this, especially when... when I remember what we once had. All those times we would stay awake all night, just talking to each other. The times we would stay up doing other things. I wish that I had the courage to tell you this myself, but I can't. I can't cause you any more pain. I'm leaving my love, goodbye.

I'm so very sorry beloved, know that you are always in my heart.


The letter, old and worn still sat next to Applejack's bed, stained by tears both new and old, written and shed.

"DAMN IT!" Applebloom swore, kicking a hoof at the wall. Another doctor who didn't have any idea what was wrong. "If he would take his head out of his rear for half a second, he'd know you weren't faking this.

"Applebloom. You shouldn't talk like that."

"I know that sis, but I can't help it, they just make me so..." The mare trailed off, her voice dying in her throat. "Come on, I wanted to go meet Scootaloo while we're here." She knew that mane. Nopony besides that evil... thing, would spend so much time on their mane. It had to be her.

"Applebloom." The voice had gone dead, empty and flat. Applebloom had heard that voice before, whenever she was mentioned. "You saw her didn't you?" The sad eyes stared out from the young face, the age the pain had given the emerald irises at odds with the rest of her body. Applejack had stopped, staring down the hall where Applebloom had watched the purple tail whip around the corner.

At that moment, Applebloom began to believe in miracles. Her sister did the impossible. She ran. She sprinted down the hall, ignoring the screaming agony as her muscles protested boisterously. At the corner she whirled, chasing after the amethyst tail the barest flicker of color at the end of the hall giving away the pony. Her eyes wide, in pain or longing, Applejack didn't know, she pelted down the hall.

There she was, talking to a brown unicorn, Doctor Salts. The white flank was still perfect, like the rest of the beautiful mare. The diamonds seemed to glisten in the low light that illuminated the halls of the Canterlot Hospital. Applejack charged, tears falling to the floor behind her.

In the moment before Applejack reached her, Rarity turned. In that instant, annoyance vanished. It was replaced by perfect horror, the sight of her beloved forcing her ravaged body into motion tearing open the old scars her heart had labored to hide. Then they were on the ground, Applejack was on top of her. Kisses and tears rained on the stunned unicorn, punctuated by vicious blows to her chest. And for that moment, time stopped, pain vanished, and hearts that were broken fit together seamlessly. Rarity was with her again. Everything would be better soon.