• Published 23rd Mar 2020
  • 436 Views, 14 Comments

Derpy Can't Breathe Good - darf



Derpy is having trouble breathing, so she goes to the doctor to get some help. Afterwards, she has a hard time adjusting to the changes in her life. Based on a true story.

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Chapter 7even

As time was like a fabric, could it be stretched and strung out to maximum length, or wound up tight so it took up no more than a hoof's width in size? Maybe it was more of a gel, or liquid, that you splashed around in and swam and tried to make headway, but no matter what found yourself repelled by the current or simply stuck as the stuff thickened around you, cutting off your movement and oxygen supply besides.

Derpy would wonder about these things in the back of her head, and then when they got to the front of her head, she would wake up, and gasp a lot, and scramble to find her breather even though it was exactly always in the same place she left it. One time she'd left it somewhere else. One time, the feeling was enough to throw her in circles around her house, searching absurd places like kitchen drawers and the cabinet in the bathroom mirror where she kept her shaving stuff. She'd looked in the shower, under her bed, and in the fridge before finally finding it left on the top of the toilet lid, evidently somewhere she'd carried it with her and left it absentmindedly. The way her chest seized with each second as she ran from room to room, the fifteen voices in her head shouting to panic and not panic and do both at the same time...

She didn't like to go back to that place. She needed to have rules.

For Derpy to understand how much time had passed, it was easier to make a list of a differences. Different things she started to notice as time went on, things that only changed once she had taken time to chart their progress, usually from one direction to the other, taking place only in the most gradual sense, assuring her of the regular flow of some untouchable constant behind the background of the universe.

Words were bigger, for a sudden. And the sentences weren't always right... the feelings were easier to put into her head, but then harder to come out. And she found talking and answering herself a lot easier too, no fuss about doing it out loud or in public, whenever she heard something, it was just polite to answer instead of let that long, haunting silence continue. Silence was the worst. It was important to always have some kind of sound at all times. When she couldn't think of anything else, Derpy left the television on, which made her feel like she was in a restaurant sitting next to a rowdy party of ponies who were laughing and talking jovially about whatever exciting things were going on in their completely Derpy-unrelated lives. She fell asleep on the couch like that sometimes, and had to get herself up in the middle of the night to go to bed and take her pills. She felt groggy in the morning when she took them late, so she'd felt groggy a few times this month.

Remembering things got harder. Not everything—little bits and pieces would get lost, for example. It used to be easy to keep track of things like the day, the date, the time of day. But after a few weeks of her new medication, Derpy found herself forgetting things like that, and instead remembering otherwise obscure details, like exactly how many minutes a T.V. program had run over-allotment last night, or the zip code of every pony on her Monday, Sunday, and Tuesday routes. She found herself reading more, taking a sudden interested in ancient Equestrian history, particularly the parts where famous battles had taken place. Sitting anywhere in the clouds felt like a different world away from anywhere somepoy had hurt someone else, anywhere there had been blood shed or bodies laid down to make a group of folks change their mind. Derpy wondered what life would have been like to be alive in the times when everypony had to fight for the rest of the ponies around them. She wondered if there was anything to help her breathe back then, but didn't think anypony had invented plastic that far back.

Still... she'd gotten on okay before the change. Now things were better, but they were worse too, or they were just... different.

It felt like relearning to breathe. Your whole life you had grown used to certain sensations, found a voice that said 'everything will be okay, just stay calm and we'll get through this'. But now the voice was a panicked shriek, and it came along with clenches, chest tightening, gasps and wheezes and jolts of white-out lightning that threatened to knock you off your hooves with just the strength of the persistent thought that, if you didn't pop and press and inhale and hold and breathe very soon, you were never going to take another breathe again. What was already an emergency had grown into an existential horror. Derpy wasn't allowed to breathe without her breather nearby, always in case her lungs decided, what seemed like arbitrarily, to revolt.

Dreams had gotten stronger. 'Stronger' was the best word, because every time Derpy woke up, she felt like she'd been punched in the face by somepony who practiced hoof-boxing on the weekends, and even if her chest wasn't seizing and wheezing to go along with the jolt of terror, she always found herself hovering in the state between waking and asleep, unsure if she should get up and douse herself with a glass of water or lay back underneath the blankets and try her hardest to fight whatever force had been opposing her in the aether before her eyes had snapped open. Usually it was somepony she remembered from elementary school. Sometimes it was her mom. Her boss, or somepony she worked with. Once it had even been her.

And it was always something she had done wrong. Something so far back she couldn't remember it, so far back she felt like she was looking at the memories of a completely different pony, so removed and abstracted from who she was now that she didn't feel it was even fair to accuse her of being the same, of being capable of whatever she had done in youth that had left such a black mark on the collective hearts of her dream's occupants.

She would sweat when she woke up, and curse under her breath. Literally wish for a night of sleep to come that was simple, unending blackness.

Still, you could say she slept more soundly. When she went to bed, she went to bed, and she didn't have to lie awake listening to sounds outside the window and wondering if a creature in the shadows would show her the mercy of snatching her into the deep unknown. No more counting her breaths, checking them for hitches, wondering at which point she had crossed the threshold into 'need to panic'.

Ponies at work were less friendly. When she waved to them in the halls, they'd wave back only half the time, and even then, halfheartedly, usually looking in the other direction. When conversations happened, she talked when she used to listen and listened when she used to talk. Trains of thought would go on forever, babbling like a brook out of her mouth, and suddenly a voice would say Don't forget to listen!, and she'd come overly to her senses, shutting up completely and lulling the conversation into dead air as the other participant attempted to fill the silence like they were draining a drowning boat. Too many holes, and everypony would walk away after trying for too long without assistance. Derpy didn't know what she was doing wrong.