• Published 6th May 2019
  • 300 Views, 25 Comments

Cafe Harmony - River Shy

A woman in Equestria, a small town, a mare-friend. They go to the famous Cafe Harmony where magic compels you to share your song.

  • ...

Quiet morning

It was quiet, sunshine spilled into the sitting room from an open window. The rays lit up the dark blue rug just below it, a slight breeze stirred the whole room. Strawberry Dusk sat quietly on the couch reading, the human girl was fast asleep beside her covered with a throw blanket.

The mare put the book down slightly and looked at the sleeping lump, a smile crossed her features as she reflected on what had happed that morning. Trying to get the girl to come to her place for breakfast. Her refusal to admit the exhaustion the mare could plainly see. The hesitation at walking though the town in nothing but an old stallion’s coat. The girls fear and recalcitrant behaviour was predictable and to Strawberry expected of a pony her age. She was not sure if this was generally true of all humans. Katie insisted she was an adult, and in her world lived as one. Though lately Strawberry wondered about that.

In the end the girl had come. The two of them shared a nice breakfast of pancakes. Katie had asked for coffee upon seeing the machine but Strawberry had refused gently, and instead gave the girl apple juice. Somewhere in their conversation the little human said that though she could speak Ponish she could not read it. They sat together in this room and Strawberry did a bit of teaching. The lesson did not last long the poor thing collapsed on the couch and fell asleep.

“Hey Straws,”

The mare looked up from watching the girl to see a familiar purple earth pony with a short teal mane leaning in from the window smirking.

“Shhhh” Strawberry lifted her hoof in a silencing motion. Rising from the couch carefully, she quietly stepped outside to talk.

“Hey Rocky. How are you doing?” Strawberry asked.

“Better than yesterday afternoon when you dropped that little emotional storm into the middle of my cafe. That little bit sure packs a wallop eh? Every pony left after her song,” Rocky answered, upon seeing Strawberry’s stricken look he softened his tone. “It’s alright though Straws I wanted the night off, I needed to run some errands anyway. How about you? You look tired.” He added after the two nuzzled each other.

“I’ve had a difficult week.”

“I’d imagine so.”

“I want to help her,” Strawberry looked back at the house. “My cutie mark screams at me to do so I can’t ignore my calling, but it’s hard. At the clinic Doctor Kindly pretty much asked me to adopt her, he said she’d need support.”

“Psst Doctors orders eh?” Rocky scoffed.

“He seems to think Katie’s going to get a cutie mark.”

“No kidding? That’s interesting.” Rocky replied, brow raised.

“But see this human insists she is no foal. I’m not sure what to do, I took her home last night. That dark run down shack is no place for her, but she insisted. Looks as if she didn’t sleep a wink, we had breakfast and than the girl collapsed on my couch. She is even beginning to smell foal-ish”

“I don’t know Straws, maybe you’re just imagining the smell,” Rocky replied.

“Maybe. Hey Rocky, are you busy at the moment?”

“Nah, cafe doesn’t open till midday.”

“Can you watch Katie for an hour? I need to run and do a couple of chores I really don't want to wake her. I’m pretty sure she’ll sleep though it all, but I’d feel better if a pony I know was here to reassure her just in case she wakes up while I’m gone.”

“Yah, I’ll keep an eye on the little bit.” Rocky replied. “Maybe I’ll help myself to a cupcake or two from the pantry,” he smiled impishly.

“Ok, I’ll just go get my saddle bags, give me a minute.” Strawberry disappeared into the house and returned with two bags emblazoned with her cutie mark slung over her back. "I’ll be back as quick as I can, if she wakes let her know I’ve gone out to get her some clothing.” The mare said while trotting in the direction of the market.

Rocky White shook his head in bemusement. That mare was special, he just hoped one day she’d see him as more than a friend. The stallion walked quietly into the house, sat down in a chair and watched the alien sleep, by Luna’s mane she was tiny.

Katie woke up and upon seeing the strange stallion she froze and began feigning sleep.

Is it a unicorn? I hope to hell it isn't a unicorn, I don't have the energy to deal with magic. Opening my eyes the tiniest amount, slivers really, I noticed a massive purple earth pony sitting quietly looking bored. Where was Strawberry? I'm naked under this blanket, I might be able to cope with that if it was just me and her, but just me and this strange pony, what do I do?

"Oh, you're awake," His voice was playful and jocular. I shut my eyes tighter hoping he would not notice, it was silly really but it was in some ways instinctual. "No use pretending little bit, I know you're not sleeping," he added softly. Little bit? It confused me to no end why so many ponies talked to me like a child. Fighting it just tended to create confusion and hostility, these days I wanted fewer conflicts, this lead me to ignore this behaviour. It was a bit like an older fellow calling you 'darling,' or 'love,' it was both a good feeling and a bad one, both kind and presumptuous, both sweet and condescending, right now I had no energy for those thoughts, my priority was survival, it was understanding, and it was learning to live in this strange world.

"Where's Strawberry?" I grabbed the blanket tighter around me looking up towards the stallion. Feeling less safe and suddenly extremely vulnerable.

"No need to be scared, Straws told me to watch you while she went to find you some clothes. Not sure why you need clothes, you planning on going somewhere fancy princess?" He asked, eyes twinkling.

"I always wear clothes," I deadpanned.

"Oh, why?"

"It's a human thing," I answered with a flat tone.

He laughed a large body shaking laugh. "I like you!" He declared suddenly, "the name's Rocky White. I'm good friends with Strawberry and I run Cafe Harmony."

"Nice to meet you," I replied though it really wasn't all that nice. Waking up to find a stranger watching you while you are huddled under a blanket with no clothes on. I was very mad at Strawberry at the moment, leaving and not telling; asking a stranger to 'watch' me as if I needed watching. It felt like I was on this slope, every step I took which brought me closer to the ponies of this world took me further away from an autonomy I had always taken for granted. The stallion got up from the chair, his enormous body seemed to occupy the whole room, he walked over and sat down beside me. I shrunk away from him into the corner of the couch moving the throw blanket so as to cover as much of my body as possible. I felt a twinge in my hip and scratched it mindlessly.

"You know I have heard a lot of songs working at that cafe, fillies, mares, stallions both young and old," a hoof came down from the back of the couch and he poked me through the blanket. I squeaked and shifted away, he smiled. "Your song, was very interesting, I saw and felt stuff I only ever hear from certain ponies once every few years."

"What did you see?!" I exclaimed feeling even more exposed.

"Oh nothing really personal, if that's what your worried about," Rocky answered cryptically waving his hoof as if he could dismiss the topic. "So whatcha wanna do?"

"Do? I was just going to sit here and wait for Strawberry to come back." I replied, what else could I possibly do? I was naked under this throw, I couldn't read, and I had no possessions really.

"Well that sounds dull," he huffed to himself. "What did you do for fun before you came to Equestria, Miss Dull Filly?"

"I'm not a filly," I replied, "I didn't have much time for fun," my tone was somewhat cold, I swallowed a bitter feeling. This world with its colours, it denizens happy and all seemingly working in places that were ideal for them; at times this world filled me with envy and anger, my old life by comparison was drudgery of the highest order. My mind flashed back suddenly, the mental and physical exhaustion, my years studying at university, my family clamouring for emotional and monetary support as I tried to claw myself into a better life. The books, so many text books read to arm myself with the tools to help those who asked, the fear and the need to know, god so many people depending on me, I shuddered violently remembering the weight of the responsibility.

"You ok in there?" Rocky asked concerned.

"I'm fine" I replied.

"I have an idea," the stallion got up suddenly and trotted out of the room, "Stay where you are missy I'll be right back!" he called out from the other room.

"Where would I go Rocky?" I called back, I couldn't keep the attitude out of my voice.

Rocky was a practical stallion in most affairs, he had the ability to read other ponies well, but tended not to show it. Having worked at the cafe for as long as he had he was a wiser stallion than most gave him credit for. Rocky was great with foals, or so said the Mares in town. He was much sought after, but remained single; this was because he had eyes only for Strawberry Dusk, most of the town knew it except for Strawberry. He had been here often, talked to Strawberry often, therefore he knew a lot about her house. The stallion reached into a drawer and pulled out exactly what he was looking for and trotted back into the sitting room with all the drawing supplies held gently in his mouth.

The purple pony entered the room, the girl was still there sitting stiffly in the corner of the couch. He couldn't speak though the supplies in his mouth so he simply walked towards the girl, dropped the crayons and paper right in front of her. He trotted around the room and found the book he was reading the last time he was here with Strawberry. He smiled, the bookmark was still there, picking the book up with his mouth he went back to the chair sat down and began reading.

After about three pages the stallion looked up, Katie was still on the couch sitting stiffly, she was staring at him with an intensity he found unnerving. "Look little bit, why don't you put crayon to paper, staring at me all afternoon isn't going to do you any favours, Celestia knows I'm no looker," he chuckled at his own self deprecating humour and looked back at his book. He waited another two pages before he glanced upward. Katie had the pad propped up in her lap and was focusing on drawing. Rocky smirked to himself and dove back into the book.

Author's Note:

I needed to go into first person perspective for Katie, I felt as if the story needed more psychological depth somehow. That was the only way I could really reach it, I know some ponies hate reading shifts like that so I tried to keep the move as gentle as I could. It was hard.

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