• Published 17th Mar 2017
  • 7,004 Views, 114 Comments

A Canterlot 'Mending - River Road



Stripped of her place as best mare at her brother's wedding, Twilight comes across her old friends from Canterlot.

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Depression

Space.

For centuries pegasi, unicorns and even the occasional earth pony have dreamed and wondered what it would be like to fly into space, watch our planet from above and dance between the stars. It was one of the few conversations I’ve had with Princess Luna after her return, and one of the even fewer that managed to coax her from her shell. It was then that I realized a common and understandable misconception.

When ponies talk about space, they always talk about Inner Space.

Due to the magical bonds to our planet’s sun and moon – which are, admittedly, vital at their relative sizes – the outer atmosphere of our planet actually ends beyond its satellites. It is theoretically possible to reach the moon with nothing but a very long rope and a good sense of balance. The air would be thin but breathable and chill but not freezing.

This isn’t news, but it is understandable that even hard scientists don’t like to remind themselves that they live on what is pretty much a giant space-time anomaly. Science has learned to use all the right formulae, and then conveniently forgotten that our whole planet is the exception, not the rule.

In other words, Inner Space is that fun, floaty place where the sun warms your back while you watch your home from so high above that even dragons look like ants.

Outer Space is a cold, unforgiving b**** that kills you the moment you turn your head. Literally.

I’ve done the math. Double- and triple-checked it. There’s a cold that seeps into every fiber of your body even through the best heating charm, a pressure that makes every beat of your heart feel like it is your last and so much nothing all around you, so vast and lonely that it feels like nothing and nopony else could possibly ever cross your path again.

I have never been to Outer Space, but it can’t be much worse than what I’m feeling as I sit on those steps to the dais after my brother’s wedding rehearsal. And I know that it sounds rather cold and analytical for somepony just having the worst in a series of nervous breakdowns and ‘little episodes’, but that’s just how my brain works. Not even five minutes and my mind already went through the dozens of mistakes I made, scores of ways I could have, should have acted instead… and has now apparently moved on to fancy similes and metaphors.

Being a genius really isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. And it certainly isn’t the same as being a smart pony, sometimes.

Speaking of mistakes I’ve made, I can hear hoofsteps coming closer and from the corner of my eyes I can see a glimpse of the pony I least wanted to face right now. She is walking slowly, maybe not to startle me or maybe just because she doesn’t actually want to be anywhere near me. My chest tightens and I keep my head down as she puts a hoof to it to either push me down, or maybe as a comforting gesture, choking out the only words I could say in this situation.

“I’m sorry!”

“Y–“

I think Cadence was trying to say something, but I’m already teleported halfway across the room and galloping hard to cross the other half. Maybe she wanted to comfort me, or condemn me, but I honestly couldn’t say which would have hurt me more right then.

I thought I’d already cried through all the tears I had left. Just another error to add to the list for that day, I suppose.

I run through the hallways of the castle without a clear goal, vision blurred from tears. Apparently suddenly getting my body moving like that sent my mind back to work as well, because now it’s going through all the things I messed up for another round of guilt and self-loathing. It’s hard to believe I burst into my brother’s wedding rehearsal, screaming that his bride was evil. Not just his bride, but one of my oldest and best friends, practically my sister.

Or maybe it isn’t that hard to believe. Just incredibly stupid in hindsight. Of course Cadence was stressed; she hadn't just been organizing a wedding, she had been organizing The Wedding, the event of the year if not the century. And instead of seeing that and trying to help, I put my old foalsitter on the same pedestal I do Celestia, when I myself have acted far worse over far less; a surprise test, a late friendship report or apparently my brother’s fiancé being a little mean and irritable before her wedding.

Something about that last thought makes me slow down, turning the old circling thoughts and emotions off the already beaten, beating-myself-up path in a new direction. Yes, the Smarty Pants incident was shameful and possibly dangerous, but it also led to our first combined friendship report; my friends promising to never again take my worries lightly, unfounded as they may be. But isn’t that exactly what they did not even a whole day ago, when I told them about my suspicions? They all but laughed me off, and now I have yet another mental breakdown and screw-up, another ‘little episode’ to show for it. Thank the stars that I only crashed the wedding rehearsal and not the actual ceremony.

Still… My friends ignored my worries yet again, all of them. All five were there and composed the friendship report together with me. Spike wrote it down and sent it, and Princess Celestia read the finished version. All those ponies (and dragon) who just left me without another word, except for the ones who did speak and whose words cut me deep even now.

The Princess was right. I do have a lot to think about, but not what she probably meant. That part is easy: Cadance is in the right, I’m in the wrong, and once the wedding is over I will have to do my Harmony-darn best to give a proper apology to my then-actually-legally-sister (in law). What is going to take a lot more soul-searching to figure out exactly is where I stand now with pretty much everypony else.

Somewhere along this line of thought I must have run out of tears and slowed down to a light canter, because now I can actually see the hallways around me again. It seems I already made it near the castle gates, coming from the west wing. Just around one more corner and I should be able to see–

“Come on, girls, let’s give that Princess a piece of– ooof

Well, I certainly did not see that coming, literally. Butting heads with another unicorn is always a sharp spike of pain, followed by relief that nopony lost an eye, followed by more pain and nausea. I groan and shake my head, trying to make out who exactly I’ve just ran into. Another pony I’ll have to apologize to today, it seems.

“I’m really sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going and–“

“Twilight Sparkle? You old so-and-so, what are you doing here?! I mean, duh, of course you are here for the wedding, but what are you doing here instead of fussing and worrying about your best mare duties?”

I blink a few times, trying to focus on the blue figure in front of me, too stunned to even react to the unintentional reminder of my situation. The spots disappear and I can see the mare clearly, though it helps only somewhat. I know I’ve seen her before and for some reason it feels like I should remember her, but even her name evades me.

“Uhm… Colgate?” I venture.

“Pfffft, I can’t believe you still remember that old nickname.” Minuette – of course now I remember her name – giggles and pulls me up to my hooves, giving me the most earnest and cheerful grin I’ve seen since… a mare I’d rather try not to think about right now, even if I’m failing miserably.

“Oh dear, what’s wrong?” Another mare my age – Twinkleshine my brain helpfully supplies, this time before I can make a fool of myself – walks past Minuette and gives me a look full of concern. “Did you hurt yourself? Are you feeling dizzy?”

I quickly shake my head. “No, I’m just… ooooh…” I stumble a bit, holding my head. Okay, now I’m dizzy, but that’s mostly my own fault. “I’m just… not in the best mood. It’s nothing you have to worry about.”

“Nothing we have to worry about my flank.” A third mare steps up to me and this one I recognize immediately as Lyra Heartstrings.

...because she lives five houses down the road in Ponyville. One of my childhood friends and I didn't think to visit her even once. I am a horrible, horrible pony and, in my personal opinion even worse, I am a horrible friendship student.

“That's right. You're our friend and you're obviously down, so it's our sacred duty to cheer you up.” Minuette cheerfully twists the dagger, with only the best intentions I'm sure. Lyra and even Twinkleshine give a determined nod.

I stare at them for a moment and deflate, giving a resigned sigh as I hang my head. “If you want to. But you're wasting your time. And didn't you say something about seeing a princess? You really shouldn't give up on something like that just to try and make me feel better.”

Lyra smirks. “Well, I was rather looking forward to decking a princess in the face. Guess it can’t be helped.”

“You… what?” I look up, my brain locking up at the thought. “What?”

Twinkleshine blushes and glances away. “We… may have been on our way to commit high treason.”

Lyra snorts and nudges her. “Come on, Shine, you make it sound way worse than it is. We were just going to yell at her for a bit, vent a little. What do you expect to happen, that she curses us and sends us to some dungeons below the castle nopony knows about?”

“I even prepared a speech. With little notecards.” Colgate levitates a small stack of cards into my face, poking my nose with them when I don’t react immediately.

I sigh and wrap my own magic around them, glancing up to read the first one. I blink and blush, flipping through the next one and then the rest, unable to keep down a small giggle as I read the one about… I mean, where would you even get that idea?

“See? Notecards and checklists. If anything can cheer up Twilight Sparkle, it’s library humor.” Colgate’s grin widens and she moves in to give me a side-hug, completely ignoring personal space or my feelings. How dare these mares cheer me up from a perfectly good bad mood.

“Because we’re your friends, silly.” Lyra joins the hug from my other side, smirking at me. “Oh don’t give me that look. I live with Bon Bon, I know an ‘I’m trying to be grumpy so stop being so nice’ face when I see it.”

They push me forward, ushering me towards the castle gates. “There’s only one thing you can do with a pony like that. Lots of sugar and friendship. Dosage depends on the situation, but I think for you we’ll need nothing less than Donut Joe’s Finest.”

“And lots of friends.” Colgate agrees, blindly reaching out with a foreleg to grab a mare from a passing group of castle staff. “Change of plans, Lemon, we’re going out.”

Lemon Hearts – got it on the first try this time – struggles to get out from Colgate’s grab, only to find herself floating several inches off the ground in a clear blue aura. “Colgate, set me down! I don’t have time for your jokes, you know I need to oversee hey is that Twilight?”

So now we’re apparently on our way to Donut Joe’s, four mares dragging me along and chatting and acting like my entire life didn’t come crashing down around me less than fifteen minutes ago.

And I still have no idea what just happened.