• Published 29th May 2020
  • 705 Views, 50 Comments

Mothering, Someday - Impossible Numbers

Mare's Day, a tribute to motherhood. Twilight Velvet is the ordinary mother of an extraordinary family; Derpy is the opposite. They normally wouldn't cross paths, but in a town where an outsider can become Princess of Friendship, anything's possible.

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Twilight Velvet, Meet Derpy Hooves

The pony yelped again. High-pitched, almost a squeal.

Velvet hurried along a sudden side street and peered round the corner.

This street curved away, a crescent of yet more green, green grass. Unlike the other streets, no one was about.

Except for the mail pony.

A pegasus, picking up letters strewn on the ground. Her satchel bulged when they went back in, only to belch and spill the letters all over again.

“No, no, no, hurry, hurry, hurry!” whined the pegasus. Her head tilted up to the bright sun. “Not again, not again, please not again! ARGH!” She yelped in shock; the mass of letters burst forth.

Velvet glanced around. No one was around to help the poor thing.

She hurried forwards. At least this was something sort of exciting.

“Can I help you?” she said.

Another yelp, another tormenting slide of envelopes: the mail pony flared her wings and looked up.

At once, Velvet hesitated. One eye pierced hers as a bowl of apple green, but the other offered its gift to the sun overhead.

“Oh my goodness,” said Velvet, wincing at the imagined pain, “your eye… it’s pointing straight up…”

“Hm? Oh.”

Astonishingly, the pegasus shook her head, flapping her cheeks so hard she almost achieved lift-off. Swaying, she showed two corrected eyes again, now giving Velvet a hearty double dose of apple.

“Sorry, they keep doing that.” The mare gurgled a laugh. “I have to keep an eye on it. Get it? Keep an eye? On my eye?”

The film of Canterlot clinging damply to Velvet insisted she make her excuses and back away.

Velvet defied it. She liked breaking rules. She hadn’t done it in a while.

“Thank goodness.” She levitated a few letters. “Er, may I?”

“Nah, thanks, I’ve got it 100% under control.”

Five seconds later, the letters spread out on the grass in a greedy bid for freedom.

“I, uh,” said the pegasus, “I think I know what went wrong.”

Velvet mothered through her magic. The letters under her enchanted command straightened up, smartened up, and did what they were jolly well told. And what’s this? Leaving a stray stamp on the ground? I hope you understand what happens when I clean up your mess, young lady!

Then the moment was gone, and she handed over the squared satchel. “Voila!”

“Ooh, you’re foreign,” cooed the pegasus mare approvingly. “Welcome to Ponyville – Uh oh, look at that sun! Sorry. Can’t stop. So much to do. Toodles! And thanks!”

Before Velvet could speak, the pegasus snatched up the satchel, zipped across, rammed a letter through a letterbox, and then zipped to the other side of the street and rammed a couple more letters through another.

Velvet had seen this in Canterlot, but usually around Hearth’s Warming. Mail ponies fought to get their shifts done before sunset, and those shifts started at the crack of dawn. Only their Canterlot pride, though, refused her occasional sympathetic comments and offers of tea.

Yes, there was a lot of pride in Canterlot.

She wondered how much there was in Ponyville.

“Are you quite all right?” said Velvet, testing the waters.

“I’m fine!” The pegasus zipped back. “Just busy!” And forth. “Thank you!” And back. “For asking!” And forth.

Velvet saw the bulging satchel and understood immediately. “A lot of mothers here, I see.”

“You’d be!” Zipped back. “Amazed!” Zipped forth.

After a few more back-and-forths, Velvet felt it time to step in. “A moment, please, if I may?”

The crazy-maned pegasus – turbulence at those speeds could backcomb a bald donkey – paused in mid zip, flapping furiously with the effort. Ignoring the wind beating in her face, Velvet levitated and examined a batch of letters poking between the flap and the bursting seams.

“52 Crescent Crescent,” she read aloud, and then she looked up. “That’s an odd typo.”

“Oh, no! Lots of streets are named after moon things.”

Velvet recovered enough to get to the point. “Crescent… Crescent is this street, yes?”

“Uh, yes? Sorry, can I have those back n–?”

“And 52 starts here and goes round in sequence, yes?”

“Uh huh, but there’s this quirk when you get to –”

Velvet held them up. “May I?”

Squirming, the pegasus rubbed the back of her neck. “Only… well, I wouldn’t want to say no, but…”

“Don’t worry. I know a good trick. Watch this.”

Taking a few seconds to flick through the pack, a cardsharp about to deal, Velvet satisfied herself they were in order, drew them back discus-like, and let fly.

Panicking, the pegasus lunged forwards, then stopped in amazement. Every letter scythed across, splitting as a comet breaking up in the sky, spread out perfectly synchronized, and at the same time each slipped through its own letterbox along the street. One mass clank, a few rattles where the older metals complained, and then a whole side of the street done and the magical sparkles twinkling away.

Mouth agape, the pegasus rounded on her. “I – Buh – How did you do that?”

Velvet winked. “Oh, an old mare picks up a few tricks here and there.”

“That was incredible! Are you a wizard? Oh, oh, oh! Or maybe you’re one of those sorceressesses, or an enchanteress!?”

Velvet patted her own mane modestly. “Just a unicorn with time on her hooves.” Behind a hoof, she whispered, “Only don’t ask me to do it again. Wonders don’t come cheap. You mind if I walk with you?”

“Er… sure.” The pegasus looked anxiously at one of the houses. Yet Velvet was sure she’d done them in the correct order.

“Something wrong?” she said.

“Kinda… See, there’s this quirk when you get to 62. The next one’s actually 65. Number 64 got knocked down a while back so they could build a cul-de-sac, and things got a little scrambly.”

Velvet said, very quietly, “Oh.”

“But it’s OK.”

Embarrassment splattered over Velvet’s face, cold as egg yolk. “I’m so sorry. It was just a passing fancy. I only meant –”

“It’s OK! I make mistakes all the time on my route. No one will notice any different.” The pegasus extended a hoof. “Hi, and welcome to Ponyville! I’m Derpy.”

Twilight Velvet took it, very hesitantly. No glimmer of recognition, no fawning, no “Twilight Sparkle’s mom”… Something impish giggled in her chest and hijacked her mouth for laughs.

“Call me Velvet,” she said.

“What a lovely name.”

Velvet wondered if she’d have said that even were the name something like “Snickerdoodle Bum-Bum”.

They shook hooves, once, and then exchanged smiles. It was a smooth, perfect transaction: the pegasus Derpy had obviously learned her trade by heart.

“I’ll join you, if I may?” said Velvet.

“Gotta keep up, Miss Velvet! Here, why don’t you give it another go? One more!”

To Velvet’s surprise, Derpy threw her another letter.

But you didn’t raise the world’s most unpredictable powerhouse without honing your reflexes. In one twirl, she snatched up the letter, used the spin time to quickly read the number, looked up, aimed, and threw.

Right through number 69. All in less than a second.

Ever the performer, she gave a mock curtsey to Derpy’s flapping and clapping.

“Don’t we make a great team?” said Velvet, stumbling as she got up from her curtsey – Twilight had left home long ago, so she was somewhat out of practice. “How about I take this side and you take that side? I promise I won’t mess up the numbers again.”

“Oh, er…” Derpy stopped clapping. Not hard to fathom why. A few tricks were workplace entertainment, maybe, but someone else doing a good slice of her job wasn’t her favourite kind of cake. “I dunno…”

“Relax, Derpy. Your paycheque is safe from me.” Velvet rolled her eyes. “Only it’ll be easier for me to talk if you’re not zipping and zapping all over the place.”

“It’s just, well, it’s my duty as a mail pony to –”

“I’m not trying to take something away from you, I promise. I’d love to get to know you better, that’s all. Maybe you can answer some questions. Please?”

Derpy mumbled and rubbed her chin and mouth. She kept looking at the sky for answers. For an odd moment, Velvet felt like a young teenager hoping her mother would say yes.

Eventually, and sounding reluctant, Derpy hummed her way to saying, “Just this once, then. But I’ll have to report this in case of lira-bility issues.”

“I won’t make any mistakes. Trust me.”

“All right. Here.” Derpy handed over a batch of letters. “And read them carefully before you post them. That’s what I do.”

“Mother’s honour, ha.”