• Published 17th Nov 2012
  • 7,986 Views, 538 Comments

Life is a Lemon - Blueshift



Lemon Dreams is a pony who thinks she is a lemon

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Chapter 1 - What You See Is What You Get (And You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet)

Lemon Dreams puffed at a loose tuft of hair that threatened to obscure her vision as she made her way slowly through Ponyville. The day had gone from being pleasantly warm to oppressively hot: the bags slung across her back were starting to make her ache, her mouth was parched, and all she could think of was a nice relaxing rest in her private orchard.

“Hi, Lemon Dreams!”

“Hi, Carrot Top!” Lemon Dreams snapped out of her thoughts and waved to Carrot Top, giving a little wilting smile as she did so. Almost as quickly, she stopped waving and started on her way again, in case Carrot Top decided that she wanted a longer conversation. It wasn’t that Lemon Dreams disliked Carrot Top, but it was just too hot to be standing about and chatting. Besides, Carrot Top would probably want to talk about pony things. And Lemon Dreams wasn’t a pony, not really.

It wasn’t difficult to slip out of sight; the centre of town was thronged with ponies out and about, working or just enjoying the midday sun. Lemon Dreams pushed ahead, through the hustle and bustle, stopping every so often to apologise as her heavily laden shopping banged into someone else’s side. The heat made her head throb harder as she wiped away a bead of sweat, yelping slightly as the cobblestones beneath her singed her hooves. The temperature seemed to be rising, and as the Ponyville town clock started to chime two, she realised that it wasn’t going to get any cooler in a hurry.

“This is ridiculous!” she panted to herself, chewing on her bottom lip in concentration as her eyes scanned the streets, peering over the bobbing multi-coloured mass of manes surrounding her. It was a strange feeling, being alone in the middle of such a crowd, but they weren’t like her. They were ponies. Eventually, Lemon Dreams’ eyes lit up as she spied a particularly welcoming shop and she began to struggle her way across the town square.


***


“Whew!” Lemon Dreams fell to her haunches as she entered Sugar Cube Corner, letting her bags fall to the ground as she revelled in the instant shade the shop provided. Fans of all shapes and sizes had been set up around the store to keep the confectionery from spoiling in the heat; Lemon Dreams took full advantage of this, placing her face in between a fan and a shelf full of apple strudels.

“Good to see you, Lemon Dreams, see anything you like?”

Lemon Dreams perked up slightly at the voice, narrowly avoiding catching her mane in the fan blades as she saw the figure of a bright pink pony standing by the till. “Hi, Pinkie!” she waved. Despite the heat, Pinkie Pie seemed the bastion of cheer and frivolity; quite the opposite from the rather sour-faced pony who turned from talking to Pinkie in order to glare at Lemon Dreams. “Hi, Apple Pony!” Lemons Dreams chirped. It was always important to be friendly to every pony you met, that’s what she always told herself.

“Mah name’s Applejack,” Applejack drawled back rather coldly, narrowing her eyes at Lemon Dreams.

“Oh!” Lemon Dreams patted her mane back into shape as she started to examine the wide array of sweets and cakes on offer. She hadn’t planned to stop at Sugar Cube Corner, but buying a cake or two couldn’t hurt. “Is that a new thing?” she asked Applejack innocently.

“No!” Applejack twitched slightly, tensing up as if about to launch herself at Lemon Dreams. “Ah was Applejack when you asked me yesterday, Applejack when you asked me last month, ah’ve been Applejack as long as ah’ve known you!”

Lemon Dreams furrowed her brow, glancing up from the cakes to stare intently at Applejack for a few seconds. “Huh. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks, Apple Pony.” She ignored the fuming Applejack, turning back to the cakes and carefully lifting out the largest, creamiest éclair she could find. She lifted it up, studying it carefully before looking back at Pinkie Pie. “Um…” she began.

“Don’t worry!” Pinkie Pie piped up merrily, leaning one hoof on the counter in a casual manner, the other hooked around Applejack’s shoulders in case her friend launched herself at Lemon Dreams. “It’s just cake, cream and strawberry! No lemons at all! Sugar Cube Corner is a lemon-free zone!”

Lemon Dreams beamed back at Pinkie, a warm sensation of relief flooding through her body. For the past few years she had never seen a lemon-based dessert in Sugar Cube Corner, but there was always the niggling fear that one day she would walk in to see the results of a citrus massacre. “Thank you, Pinkie. You’re a good friend. I’m glad Ponyville is such a friendly, understanding place.”

Applejack stopped brooding for a moment, to darken her gaze at Lemon Dreams. “Yeah, ‘cos we wouldn’t want anythin’ to happen to any of your lemon friends now, would we?”

If there was a hint of sarcasm in Applejack’s voice, Lemon Dreams didn’t notice it. Instead she fixed her gaze on a rather delicious looking vanilla slice, scooping it up into her hooves as she made her way to the till. “Oh no, of course not! Those poor innocent lemons. My brothers and sisters deserve better than being cruelly zested or juiced!

“Yeah, your family.” The expression on Applejack’s face was not an impressed one. “Because you think you’re a lemon, right? That still your thing?”

This got Lemon Dream’s attention. She carefully put her selection of cakes down on a nearby table, locking eyes with Applejack. “I don’t think I’m a lemon, Apple Pony. I am a lemon! I’m so lucky! I have hundreds of brothers and sisters to look after!” She thumped her chest proudly. “All of them relying on me to care for them and keep our orchard healthy and safe! Especially from ponies who want to squash lemons for juice or cook them into cakes! When will the world learn?”

“Yeah, when indeed,” Applejack snapped back coldly, looking to Pinkie Pie for moral support. Her friend just shrugged.

Lemon Dreams just smiled softly at Applejack. “I know, Apple Pony, I know. You’re a good friend, thank you…” She trailed off slowly, her expression fuzzing over with a strange glassy look as she lost herself in her thoughts, before snapping back to reality and piling her carefully chosen goods in front of Pinkie Pie. “I’ll have these please!” She licked her lips in anticipation at the selection of sweet snacks in front of her.

Pinkie Pie quickly scanned her eyes over the haphazard pile of cakes that Lemon Dreams had gathered up. “That will be uh… five bits!” she chirped out.

“Oh.” Lemon Dreams’ cheery disposition faded slightly as she counted out her coins. “I… I’ve only got four and a half bits.” Her face crumpled, and she prodded at the half-bit coin as if that would cause it to spontaneously double.

“Special offer!” Pinkie cried, quickly placing all Lemon Dreams’ cakes into a basket and pushing it towards the surprised pony. Lemon Dreams perked up, and, lifting the basket in her mouth, trotted over to where she had placed the rest of her heavy shopping, and left the store.

Applejack slowly shook her head as she watched Lemon Dreams depart. “Sometimes ah think ah’m the only sane pony round here, Pinkie. Why do you do it?”

“Do what?” Pinkie fluttered her eyelashes innocently.

“Y’all know what ah mean!” Applejack rounded on her friend, her face etched in annoyance and anger. “That pony’s crazy! She thinks she’s a lemon for cryin’ out loud! She ain’t a lemon, any fool can see that! You don’t have to kowtow to her every whim!”

“But she’s happy!” Pinkie started to hum, ignoring Applejack as she swept a cloth across the shop counter. “Being happy’s important! If it works for her, then hurray!”

“But it ain’t just her, is it?” Applejack slumped down onto the ground with a heavy sigh. “Ah resent that ‘cos one pony’s gone crazy over lemons, that suddenly the entire population of Ponyville ain’t allowed to eat lemons. Ah resent that mah little sister ain’t allowed to run her lemonade stall because it upsets that crazy mare! That pony’s got one of the finest lemon orchards ah’ve ever seen, but she don’t allow anyone else near it!”

“Yeah, but…” Pinkie shrugged again, dismissively. “It’s not hurting anyone, Applejack!”

Applejack pulled her hat over her eyes. “What if tomorrow she wakes up an’ decides she’s an apple? Am ah gonna have to close down Sweet Apple Acres? She don’t even have a job you know, her parents send her money so she can live in her orchard bein’ mad without a care in the world. Bein’ happy’s one thing, forcin’ good honest folk to respect your crazy ideas is another! She don’t need mollycoddling, she needs help! She needs tellin’ what’s real and what’s in her head! She needs to stop bein’ such a silly, selfish and down-right stupid pony!”

Pinkie wasn’t listening to Applejack. She was being uncharacteristically quiet, staring behind Applejack with wide-open eyes. Applejack’s ranting stuttered to a halt as she slowly turned, to see Lemon Dreams standing in the middle of the shop.

“I… uh…” Lemon Dreams’ voice went dry slightly, lowering to almost a whisper. “I just came back to say thank you, Pinkie. For the cakes.” She turned, slightly shakily, and left the store once more. There was something warm and wet on her cheek. It felt like tears. But it couldn’t be.

Lemons didn’t cry.


***


There was a spot in the park where no-one else seemed to go. A small bench sat beneath a gnarled old oak, the branches of which had grown over the bench, making it extremely uncomfortable to sit on. This was where Lemon Dreams liked to spend time when she was out and about in Ponyville.

She swung gently on one of the lower branches, her tail wrapped securely around it as she hung in the afternoon sunshine, feeling the warm prickle of sunlight dance over her body. Beneath her, balanced on the bench was her lunch: a slice of cake and a bottle of fizzy cherryade, just high enough for her to sip at as she rocked back and forth.

She closed her eyes as she drifted in and out of a lazy afternoon nap, hearing only the chirping of the birds and the distant chattering of the ponies in the other, more populated areas of the park and town. There was nothing in the world to upset her, nothing now except a pleasant, relaxing sleep, letting herself doze off.

Lemmy!”

A voice in the dark, almost a whisper. She ignored it, keeping her eyes shut as she lost herself in hazy dreams.

Lemmy!”

The voice sounded louder, causing Lemon Dreams to flinch slightly as it tried to pull her back to wakefulness. She soon settled down again; the tree was just too comfy.

Lemmy!”

There was an urgency to the cry, like a small filly calling out. Lemon Dreams’ eyes snapped open as she woke with a jolt, her legs twitching and treading air helplessly as she fell into wakefulness. She blinked with a start, as she found herself eye to eye with a small yellow filly.

“Um, Lemon Dreams? Hi!” The little pony sat staring at her, looking slightly taken aback at Lemon Dreams’ frantic air-peddling. “Sorry, ah didn’t mean to startle you!”

Lemon Dreams slowly calmed down, relaxing her legs until she was finally still, swaying gently back and forth by her tail once more. Only this time, her heart was racing; she could feel the heavy thumping in her chest and a slight shiver shoot down her spine. “I… uh… that’s okay!” She tried to smile back towards the familiar-looking filly, taking a quick sip of her cherryade to quench her strangely dry throat. “You’re… Apple Pony Junior, right?”

“Apple Bloom, ma’am.” The filly gave a little smile back at her. “It’s just… mah sister said you thought you were a lemon, is that true?” She squinted forwards to stare at Lemon Dreams. “You don’t look like a lemon!”

Lemon Dreams stared back at Apple Bloom silently for a moment. There was something in the little filly’s eyes which were slightly unsettling, but she wasn’t sure what. It was like the memory of a memory, nagging away at her mind. She pushed such ridiculous sensations aside. “You can be whatever you want to be,” she finally responded. “I used to be so sad until one day eight years ago when I realised that I was really a lemon. After that, it all made sense!”

Apple Bloom tilted her head to one side suspiciously. “But you don’t look like a lemon!” she blurted out accusingly. “You’ve got legs! And a head! Lemons don’t have those!”

“Well, I’ve got legs and a head, and I’m a lemon, so obviously they do!” Lemon Dreams retorted reasonably. “And I like being a lemon. All I need to worry about is that I get enough sunlight to photosynthesise with!” She furrowed her brow. “I’d hate to be a pony like everyone else, all that stress and heartache; I watch them all rushing about all day, and think how lucky I am to have such a happy life!”

“If you get food from sunlight, how come you’re eatin’ that!” Apple Bloom pointed at the half-eaten cake and bottle of pop that sat on the bench below Lemon Dreams. “That ain’t sunlight!”

“I like the taste!” Lemon Dreams rolled her eyes in mock-annoyance, and then shut them, returning to her peaceful spot where all she could feel was the whispering of the wind and the warmth of the sun. Eventually she heard the tread of small hoofs slowly departing, as Apple Bloom left, obviously having gotten bored of watching her hanging from the tree.

When all was peaceful and quiet, Lemon Dreams let her tail unfurl from the branch, landing deftly in a practised motion on the ground, and gathered her shopping. She didn’t feel like being out in public anymore. Something had unsettled her. Something at the back of her mind that told her the voice she heard while sleeping didn’t sound anything like Apple Bloom.

Despite the warmth of the sun, she felt a sudden chill pass over her.

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