• Published 9th Oct 2020
  • 278 Views, 8 Comments

Stinging Sadness - Player 4

Things go painfully wrong after three park-goers try to ward off an insect with a stinger.

  • ...

The Recovery (with Cuddles!)

(Evening of the current day - Lyra and Bon Bon)

The caring practice of hoof-fed candy did indeed have a positive effect. Lyra getting fed tasty food and overall being comforted; that worked as much as it sounds like it should. And on Bon Bon's side, she enjoyed it too. A sunbeam of friendship togetherness during this difficult time.

After that part reached its end, with Lyra declaring she's had enough sweets, the two mares noticed that the day was drawing close to dinnertime, looking at the clock that read 17:12, or 5:12 PM if the other system is to be used.

"I guess we did dessert before dinner tonight, did we?", Bon Bon says, giggling.

"We sure did! And I'm fine with that, but let's have dinner too.", Lyra responds.

"Do you think you can eat by yourself?", Bon Bon asks.

"I think I can now. Being hoof-fed felt right then because I was really frustrated and just needed some help. But now, thanks to you, Bonnie, I've recovered enough that I can eat on my own.", Lyra says.

"Not to mention that the sting site isn't on the hoof I use to eat.", she continues. "After all, I am left-hooved."

"That's right; you are!", Bon Bon says. "That's one piece of luck!"

"It sure is!", Lyra responds.

Their choice of dinner, salad, was a perfect combo of tastiness and health. Good thing ponies love vegetables.

After dinner is finished and the sunset evening rolls in, Lyra is back to sitting on the couch without any possible distractions from her wasp sting situation. Four hours after the initial impact, the venom-stricken area is now showing clearly-visible swelling. Her foreleg is near apple-red and cloud-puffy. The pain isn't as bad as at the beginning, but it's still bad enough for her to have difficulty keeping her mind off of it.

I can't believe I have to go through this. Look at this foreleg, all swollen. Such a mess, and it still really hurts... I can almost cry even now...

She rightfully thinks to search for more help from Bon Bon. She does still need help. The combination of a carry-ride home, hoof-fed candy, and able-to-eat dinner, as great as it was, could not cure everything, much less by tonight.

I'll go up to Bonnie and see what else she has in store.

Lyra hops off the couch, walking on all-fours now in spite of the sting area being aggravated by doing that. She didn't find walking on three legs to be feasible when she was actually walking. Maybe for standing while waiting for someone to pick her up and hold her, but not for walking. Especially not when there is a tall staircase between her and Bon Bon.

And that staircase... yeah. She let out quite a few "ow"s while climbing the steps, namely one for each time she had to lift her right foreleg up from one stair to the next.

Finally getting to the upstairs hallway, through a fortunately-located shadow, Lyra can tell Bon Bon is in their shared bedroom without having to call out to her. She enters the dark-blue-walled room in the hunt for more friendship help.

"Bonnie, do you know of anything that could help me sleep tonight? There is still pain, and there's swelling now too. I don't see myself getting a proper nights' sleep."

Bon Bon does know! Instantly, a technique that has no reason to not be effective springs to her mind.

"Yes, I do!", she says. Bon Bon decides to give a visual representation of her idea before a vocal representation. She flops herself onto the bed laying on her side, and offers all four of her limbs.

"The remedy I have here is cuddles!", she says.

Lyra squeals and hops excitedly to the other side. There was no doubt in Lyra's mind that she loved a good cuddle; especially from her undisputed BFF. Was cuddling a common feature with them? Yes it was, and in fact, it has a long history! When Lyra and Bon Bon first moved in together, they chose to share a bed for a reason, and they still do to the present day!

On this particular day, though, with it possessing a stress-easing quality, it's all the more special.

"You really are the best friend to have, Bonnie!", Lyra says.

"Aww, you to.", Bon Bon replies, giving Lyra's mane a stroke to begin the cuddling session.

In response, with it still there, Lyra tries to snuggle deep into Bon Bon's wide-open side hug invitation, but, as might be expected, she ends up aggravating the sting site by virtue of contact with any kind of surface.

"Ow!", she says, rubbing her foreleg. "Uh, I don't think I can do this cuddling position. It puts too much pressure on the sting area."

"That's okay.", Bon Bon says. "How about I spoon you then? Shouldn't be a problem there."

Lyra nods. "That would be great, Bonnie."

Lyra rolls over to her other side and nestles deep into the right side of the bed. Bon Bon, shuffling towards her from the left, slowly wraps her forelegs around Lyra's body, while resting her back legs at Lyra's. She hugs her friend tight, trying to squeeze out all the stress.

Lyra already feels her body relax with this sensation. Bon Bon was right; a good hug would do wonders for her. And this was no ordinary hug; this was cuddling, which by definition is an extended hug. So Lyra had no less time than the whole night to experience this.

"Love you, Bon Bon."

"Love you too."

(Evening of the current day - Me)

So this mystery special Apple family dinner turned out to be a certain meal that is treated by the Apple folk as "intentionally rare." Due to a long-lasting tradition, each family in their particular orchard only fixes the meal once a year. This was rather jarring info to learn about, but thinking about it later, it's not much of a surprise to me. The Apple family was keen on their traditions!

As their dinners naturally were, it was totally delicious, and that plus the lovely mealtime chatting we engaged in served as a distraction from the negative events of today, which leads me to be talking about what I'm doing now in regards to that, after dinner has now ended.

I basically just try to immerse myself into other activities so that thoughts of the sting get drowned out. Portions of this process included Applejack and I playing a game of horseshoes, all four of us taking another photo album memory lane trip, and when the clock turns to almost bedtime, I use my remaining awoken minutes to try and get myself ready for the next day.

As tends to happen in bed, while I'm laying there, I wonder.

I wonder how I'll feel then, on the next day.

I wonder how long it will take for me to get back to normal from this.

We shall see...

(Morning of the next day - Lyra and Bon Bon)

They end up cuddling throughout the entire night; in the same position, no less! Lyra wakes up with the process of bathing in the warmth and comfort of her friend's tight-gripping forelegs complete.

As she stirs, this is the first thing on her mind, and she's so happy for it that she just has to say it out loud, even if her cuddler were to still be asleep.

"Thank you so much, Bonnie. That felt great.", she whispers, not being able to tell if Bon Bon is awake or not due to being the little spoon.

It turns out Bon Bon is awake, and Lyra gets a response.

"It's me being me.", Bon Bon says softly. "In whatever way works for them, I do my best to provide comfort."

This could not be more true. Bon Bon is as sweet of a friend as she is a candy maker.

The pure emotion of this exchange was effectively trying to act as a snooze button. It made them want to cuddle even more. Not bother waking up.

They do still want to experience the daytime, so they decide against this, but they do not hesitate to perform a honeymoon hug for a short period. Spooning was great, but the current moment rendered a big hug from both of them onto each other. Lyra and Bon Bon break out of the spoon, roll onto their sides facing each other, and simultaneously use their forelegs to squeeze each other with all the strength they can.

And that was all they needed now. After that powerful hug, they feel ready to start the day.

The two mares, feeling ever so happy coming out of that cuddly night, hop down the stairs for breakfast. It's 8 o'clock, so it's been about 17 hours since the sting happened.

At this point, the progression has been... not so good. The swelling was still very much present; Lyra's right foreleg looked noticeably larger than her left. That's even slightly worse from last evening, when a larger size was not seen. The venom has traveled far away from the initial sting site and well into other areas of her foreleg.

But she feels healthy enough to feed herself on her own with little problem. Being left-hooved really had its benefits here, when Lyra, being part of the mere 10-12% in that regard, would say it's primarily a drawback. Good thing her non-dominant hoof was the one that got stung, right?

(Morning of the next day - Me)

It's tough to describe the status of my emotions as of the beginning of this new day. It's very much a mixture.

I emerge from sleep mode still feeling angry; I tested for it by once again replaying the sting scene in my head. The result: yeah, I didn't feel much better in this regard.

But then I immediately change the scene to a self-reminder that the anger, and everything else, will fade over time. This whole ordeal will pass, as every rough patch always does.

But... it hasn't passed yet. We may be out of the thick of it, but the thick has only just been completed, bringing in the recovery period that has very much just started. For this recovery period, I'm running short on ideas on what to do while I wait for the situation to end.

Well, there is breakfast, and my roommates will be there, so I guess that's a good choice. I step out of my bedroom and through my guest barn's main area, making my way outside.

As I go on my trip down the country path to the main barn, things turn out to not improve. Because I pick up on another negative emotion on top of the already-existing one.

This just isn't fair! Why did I get to remain unharmed whereas Lyra had to suffer? Why her? Why not me?

Plus, she didn't deserve to get stung anyway! All we were doing was trying to flick the wasp off! Is that a reason to be so aggressive?! Do humans respond to someone cutting in line by slapping or shoving them?! No, because that would just escalate things! We use our words! Too bad wasps can't do that, am I right?!

So I'm not only still mad at the wasp, but also going through this thing called "survivor's guilt."

Hopefully my Apple family roommates can help remedy it.

I walk into the red barn, which is already full of food aromas. But that doesn't help my attitude much, as I say in a somber voice, "Hey, y'all."

Applebloom was usually the first to talk to me in the morning, and her voice tended to remain in its excitement mode regardless of how I was speaking. She continues this role in both aspects.

"Mornin, P4! Feelin' any better?"

"Sadly, not really, because now I've developed survivor's guilt. I just can't get over how unfair it is that I'm not the one who got stung. That it had to be Lyra; who didn't even deserve it, in my view. She wasn't swatting at the wasp or anything like that, just trying to flick it off. Those buggers really overreact to things."

"And on top of that, there's even a second problem that stems from something which appeared to be solved yesterday. I'm now out of ideas on what I should do while I wait for this to pass.", I vent out.

Applejack is my closest friend, and she naturally becomes the one to try and help.

"Let me tell ya something ah know; exposure does help. Go see them Lyra and Bon Bon again. Ask them how they're doin.' You and Lyra get to recover from this together, why not do that?"

Listening closely to Applejack, I do like this idea. But it still leaves something open.

"You think she could help with the survivor's guilt?"

"Definitely! No better way to treat that than by spendin' time around the one who got hurt! They've got the perspective!"

You know what, that is true. I'll go do that.

"Thanks Applejack, I love having you as a friend."

Applejack smiles, and I'm ready to take this on.

Before I go, though, there's still breakfast, which should serve as a distraction. It did, and was sure delicious.

After that, I get dressed, brush my teeth, and set out for Lyra and Bon Bon's house. On the journey, I continue reminding myself that this will pass, and that this probably is a good idea.

I don't think they were expecting a visit from me today, but honestly, I had the opportunity wide open. Today was Sunday, so they probably weren't at work. I knock on the wood door.

Looks like they're getting a surprise!

Lyra is the one to open the door, and she is happy at the surprise.

"Oh, Player 4! What brings you back?!"

Unfortunately, I have to respond kind of sadly to her optimism. Ah, it's so annoying to do that...

"I'm here because I want to come talk to you about what happened yesterday. Today I woke up feeling survivor's guilt and not really any progress from yesterday. I told the Apples family about it, and Applejack said the best way to remedy the guilt would be to come talk to the one you feel sorry for, and she also mentioned that we're recovering from this together."

"Okay, that's cool with me!", Lyra says. "I'm no expert on emotions or anything, but I'll try to help."

"That's really all I need; a calm and trustworthy friend whom I know will listen.", I say.

Lyra smiles. "Let's go to the couch.", she says.

Watching Lyra move around, I couldn't help but notice she was walking on all fours now. Had the sting pain subsided that much?

I ask her this as we sit down on across blue couches.

"So, how bad is the pain still? I noticed you were walking normally."

"It still hurts, like, it still feels sharp, but it doesn't burn as much. It's cooled down enough that I can walk."

But Lyra isn't looking for a sting progress update. "Over to you now, though.", she says. "It's survivor's guilt you're going through?"

"Yeah. I say. "It's not that I wanted to get stung, but I feel bad that I came out of this without any physical harm inflicted on my body. It doesn't make sense in my mind why you had to be the one who got stung, and not me."

"Well, I know the reason for it.", Lyra quickly responds. "It's because I was the one that the wasp landed on. I'm the one who tried to flick it off when it had wide-open space to use its stinger. You, on the other hand, weren't participating in trying to get rid of the wasp. You were hiding far away in the trees. Based on that sheer combination, you probably weren't going to get stung. You had a far lower chance than me."

Hearing out Lyra carefully and trying to look for one, I had no possible counterpoint. She was totally right. My knee-jerk reactions tend to be what do the talking, but since I actually took the time to listen, I couldn't try to fight back.

There is still one more thing creeping up, though.

"Right, but if the wasp had landed on me, I can almost certainly bet that I would have done the same thing as you. Tried to get the wasp off. What rationale is there for why it picked you to land on, out of there being three of us?"

"Well, I was out there in the open.", Lyra answers. "Bon Bon was directly attacking the wasp, making it difficult for it to get to her. You, again, were hiding in the trees. Whereas me, I was sitting still at a bench right in the middle of the open field. I was by far the most accessible. It makes perfect sense to me why the wasp would pick me to land on."

...And I'm completely void of any possible counterpoints. Talking it out really does help.

"I guess you're right on that. You do make sense to me now, so thanks, Lyra. The problem now lies within the time frame of recovery; I'm still mad at the wasp.", I say.

"Right. It takes time to recover.", Lyra responds.

"Here is something that should help you there: Think of how much progress has been made. When I first got stung, we seemed to be stranded in the woods with me in intense pain. We found a way to get home, so that's one piece. We got me treated and cared for; that's two. The sting site has improved; that's three. The sting does seem to have gotten worse now, with the swelling, but I am convinced I am on the upswing from here on out. Plus, I feel emotionally better too. I'm not really upset at the wasp anymore."

"Just take that timeline into account. Think of how positively different things are now compared to 19 hours ago."

Oh yeah, absolutely. Much of the bar has already been filled, and it will only continue to fill from here.

Lyra really has a way with words!

"You're such a great helper. Thanks, Lyra.", I say.

"Anytime, P4."

Lyra continues. "I also want to say this: Applejack is right that talking to the one who you feel bad for is a good idea. You're here right now for me to tell you that I'm happy you did not get stung. If you had, I would have felt terrible. This very situation would still be around, just in reverse."

You know what, that is right. The survivor's guilt and stuff would just be flipped if I had gotten stung. She'd be the one coming to my place and asking me for help. Since the formation of our group, Lyra has told me anecdotes of her having survivor's guilt before.

Of course, though, I still find a way to counter-act this.

"I guess that's right; it would just be in reverse, but why did this have to happen in the first place? Why didn't that wasp just go away?!", I vent.

"Well, like I said, life is random like that. Bad things happen.", Lyra says.

"Note what I'm saying here. Here is something that should help; as the one who is having to suffer this sting, what I want for you is to not feel guilty for me. Empathy is great, but guilt is totally unnecessary in this case. You had no responsibility for me getting stung. It makes perfect sense why you did not try to help me. I know you're scared of wasps; I have no hard feelings towards you for hiding in the trees the whole time."

"Now, as for the empathy part, is there still anything you'd like to do for me? I know that would help."

"Yes.", I respond eagerly. "I really want to do something to help you."

"Well, how about you give me a bit of petting?"

"Sure.", I say, getting up off my chair and feeling ready to carry out this helping technique that should apply to both of us!

I reach out my hand and begin stroking Lyra's mane, starting from the area around her horn to the strands at the bottom and moving in a consistent back-and-forth motion, which ponies seem to prefer.

"Ooh. Ah yeah, that feels good.", she lets out.

I continue petting her soft mane, feeling wonderful to be doing something to help her.

At the same time, I sense a great deal of progress on my end. The biggest roadblock to my recovery, the survivor's guilt, was getting killed off, thanks to Lyra's lovely ideas. It was still around, sure, as was the whole emotional experience, and it will get worse and better over time. Recovery is not a smooth ride, but very bumpy.

But I do surely see myself on an overall upward trend.

And now, as I'm doing my part in helping Lyra, with the mane petting, I can tell this is speed-up in the recovery process. Seeing my friend smile at my touch can only make me do the same thing.

Before I declare "progress in motion" though, is there anything else I still have to ask?

Yeah, there is. However, it's not guilt-related this time.

"One thing I still need, is something to do while I wait for this to pass. I'm short on ideas.", I say to Lyra.

"Well, you could go pet more ponies, we could play music together, you could buy some candy... loads of things!", she responds.

And there it was. Another crucial missing piece of my recovery... filled in that tiny timespan. By the sting victim herself.

Recovery from survivor's guilt... in progress. Recovery from anger at the bad luck... in progress. Missing ideas on what to do in the meantime... filled.

I declare progress in motion.

And pick up the golden self-reminder.

That this will pass.

Bon Bon, who had been working in her candy shop during Lyra and I's interaction, the later and shorter Sunday hours giving her more time to prepare, comes up into the livingroom, and asks, "Things going well?"

I already know what she was intending to get out of us.

"Things may still be a bit rainy overall, but right now, at this minute... yes, it is going well.", I say, continuing to pet Lyra's mane as she smiles at the sensation.

That statement. Yes indeed.

There is sunshine peeking through the rain clouds.

And one day, it will be sunny again.

The End

Author's Note:

Shout-out to user Wild Zontars for letting me know that the honeymoon hug was called so!

And here we come to the closure of another story. It's a bit surreal, as I knew I was going to write this story for a long time. The plot of it probably predates my arrival on this site, even.

And now, on the night I'm typing this, after I had waited for months to write this story while working on its predecessors, it's over. The idea has been flushed out.

I think this chapter might paint a good picture of how recovery looks different for different people. The process I use in this chapter might look unrealistic for those who need to go to therapy. But it is realistic for me. When I go through a rough patch, a good session of talking it out with a trusted friend and a few distracting activities to do while I wait for the pain to run its course; that is truly all I need.

The cuddling portion of this chapter; I think it's going to become a tradition of mine to do that. For every story with the "tragedy" tag to include cuddling, whether as part of the recovery process or as a bonus at the end. It's what feels right to me.

See you in the next story!

- Player 4