• Published 25th May 2021
  • 1,267 Views, 122 Comments

Through Despair and Hope - Blue Writer

How does one help a grieving child? How does one heal from losing everything?

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Chapter 5

Doctor Graymane considered himself a calm and professional pony. His job demanded such a disposition. After all, it would be completely counterproductive to a patient’s mental wellbeing if he or his colleagues panicked in any way. Thus, the good doctor expected the same professionalism from the rest of the hospital staff. The only reason for ever displaying strong emotion in their line of work would be if the situation was extremely serious.

When Nurse Silverheart burst into his office with a worried look on her face, he kept his cool. Concern was valid under certain circumstances. Panic was absurd.

“Is there a problem?” he asked calmly.

Silverheart took a moment to catch her breath before answering. She had obviously rushed to the office. Either the matter was urgent or she was overreacting.

“It’s Ben,” said Silverheart.

Ben. The unicorn colt with a strange name. Brought in earlier that morning. Treated for malnourishment as well as numerous scratches and bruises, the most recent being on his right foreleg. He was also reported to have self-harmed and expressed suicidal thoughts. The hospital was already working on finding his family and bringing in a counselor. The poor foal would undoubtedly need as much help as possible.

“What happened?” asked Doctor Graymane.

“Medically, he’s on the mend,” Silverheart replied, still worried. “But something’s come up that puts his mental state even further into question.”

As if the self-harming wasn’t enough to do that. Seeing such a thing in a foal was downright heartbreaking. Graymane remained calm. “What do you mean?”

Silverheart was silent for a moment, obviously searching for the right words. Not a good sign.

“He’s delusional,” she finally answered.

Delusional? Or playing pretend? Graymane hoped it was the latter, even if that meant Silverheart was merely overreacting. The alternative was something beyond their capacity to help, and Graymane loathed being unable to help a patient.

“Elaborate,” he requested, grabbing a pen. It would not do to forget any details.

Silverheart proceeded to recount what the patient had told her. It seemed the patient had fantasies of being human and having a human family. An odd fantasy for a unicorn to have. The question remained as to whether the fantasies were mere pretend or actual delusion potentially brought on by loss and/or trauma. Further investigation was needed.

“I’ll go and interview him,” Graymane declared, rising from his desk.

It did not take long for the two to reach Ben’s room. The door was slightly ajar. Graymane looked at Silverheart.

“I closed the door when I left,” the nurse said worriedly.

They opened the door further and neither were relieved by what they saw. The bed was empty and the IV tube was on the floor, still emptying its contents. No sign of Ben.

Silverheart went to the bathroom door and knocked. “Ben?” No answer. “Ben, are you in there?” Silence. She opened the door and saw that nopony was inside.

“Get all available staff to sweep the hospital,” Graymane ordered, “If we can’t find him anywhere here, we’ll have to organize an official search party. I’ll start with all rooms on this floor. You get help.”

Silverheart nodded, then cantered out of the room and down the hallway.

Now alone, Doctor Graymane let his calm demeanor crack ever so slightly. He could only hope his patient had not done anything drastic. He looked over and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that the window was closed. It seemed that Ben had thankfully not considered jumping. Hopefully, it would stay that way. For now, a multitude of rooms needed to be checked and a damaged colt needed saving from himself.

Silverheart was quick to scramble the staff and the hospital was placed on alert. Per Doctor Graymane’s instructions, everypony kept their eyes peeled for whoever remotely resembled Ben’s description. They meticulously searched each room, but could not find their quarry.

By pure luck, one of the nurses, a trainee by the name of Green Herb, was alerted by noise coming from a stairwell, followed by a cry of agony. Rushing over, she opened the door and gasped. There lay the bruised colt, trying with all his little might to get on his hooves. Green reached Ben’s side right as the colt collapsed unconscious. Green, a unicorn, carefully lifted Ben up with her magic and carried him to the closest meeting area designated for the search.

“I’ve found him!” she cried, “I’ve found him!”

Ben was brought to a different part of the hospital and treated for a concussion. In addition, his left hind fetlock was twisted. Fortunately, there were no broken bones, much to everypony’s relief. Unfortunately, everypony was greatly concerned by Ben’s run. Foals were naturally frightened by hospitals. There was nothing natural, however, about running away with such recklessness that further injuries were sustained. A foal was not that paranoid unless something had happened to them. Something that made them distrustful of adults.

Silverheart was once again assigned to look after Ben. A twenty-four hour watch had been placed on the colt. Under no circumstances was Silverheart to let Ben out of her sight unless another assigned watcher came to take over for her.

Silverheart was only slightly relieved when Ben eventually woke up, the effects of the administered sedative having worn off. His eyes roamed the room before eventually settling on her. Ben’s new room had no window, but there were a number of childish decorations meant to provide a calming atmosphere.

“How are you feeling?” Silverheart asked.

“You don’t believe me, do you?” Ben asked, frowning sadly.


His frown deepened into a grimace. “You told them I’m crazy, didn’t you?”

“No, I did-”

“Oh, really? Then why aren’t there windows in this room, huh? I don’t know much about hospitals, but I’m pretty sure every room is supposed to have windows! This isn’t the hospital, it’s the fricking NUTHOUSE!”

Ben did not say “fricking,” but Silverheart decided against scolding his foul language. There were more pressing matters to deal with, such as calming Ben down.

Ben tried to get up, undoubtedly to try and run, but Silverheart rushed to his bedside.

“Ben,” she said as gently as possible, “I promise that you’re not in an asylum or a mental hospital of any kind.” She would have to make a note of his apparent fear of such things. Had his previous guardians threatened to send him to one? Too many questions to be answered later.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” he demanded. “I’m not some dumb kid who’ll believe any lie you tell them! If I’m not in a nuthouse, why aren’t there windows? Trying to keep the crazy kid out of sight and mind? Is inter-dimensional travel too big for your tiny little brain to comprehend, even though your world has MAGIC? What part of ‘find a unicorn to look at my memories’ did you not understand? Because I have memories, damn you! Twenty-two years worth of memories! Human memories! I have a family! A mom and a dad! Brothers and sisters! I’M GOING TO GET OUT OF HERE AND SEE THEM AGAIN IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO!”

Ben panted heavily as his eyes watered. He growled and forced back the tears. “Gotta get back,” he whispered, “Gotta get back.”

Silverheart debated what to tell Ben. He was very observant and that made him clever. She needed to say something to quell his fear, but the truth was a bit too close to what his paranoia had conjured. On the other hoof, lying would only increase his distrust of adults. From what he had said, adults had lied to him before. Eventually, she reached a decision.

“Your room doesn’t have windows because we were scared you might try to jump out of one,” she said. “We care about you and we don’t want you to hurt yourself anymore.”

Ben opened his mouth to retort, but caught himself. He closed his mouth and looked thoughtful for a moment. “Are you saying I’m on suicide watch?” he asked.

Silverheart hesitated. A normal colt would not have any idea what that was.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Ben surmised, “Say ‘no’ and I’ll just assume you’re lying.”

She sighed. “Something like that, yes. We have to watch over you to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or... anything else. We want you to live your life.”

“But you still don’t believe me,” he countered, “This body, this life, isn’t mine. I need to figure out magic so I can have some way to get home. The longer I waste time here, the longer my family is worried sick about me. Heck, I don’t even know if time flows the same in both worlds. A few hours here could be anything from a few seconds to a millennia in my world. I can worry about my health later, when I’m with my family again. The only things keeping me from learning magic and getting home are you and the doctors wasting my time!”

Silverheart was grieved by Ben’s clear desperation to be with his family. He said that his family was human, which meant they might not be real. What made him think his family was human? Was his real family dead and he made up a human one to cope? There was a tiny possibility he was telling the truth, but that did not explain how he was a unicorn. Even changelings could only partially transform into another species, and medical scans proved that Ben was a full-blooded unicorn. His story made no sense. The big question was why he did not know how to use his magic. A question for another time. The priority was to convince him that staying healthy was not a waste of time.

Silverheart placed a hoof on Ben’s wither. “Ben, have you heard the phrase ‘A healthy body is a healthy mind?’”

“Yeah. What’s that got to do with...” His brow briefly furrowed, then unfurrowed as realization hit. “Oh. You’re saying I can’t do magic effectively unless I’m completely healthy?”

She nodded. “That’s right. For unicorns, using magic is physically taxing. Depending on the spell used and how much practice they’ve had, magic can be exhausting. The more tired or hurt you are, the harder it is to concentrate and cast spells.”

Ben hummed. “Well, I guess that makes sense. Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to rest up for a little while. Don’t want to botch a spell and tear myself in half or anything. Still doesn’t change the fact that you don’t believe me, though. How do I know you’re not just going to keep me here because you think I’m crazy?”

“I promise you’ll only stay here until you’re physically fit enough to be released. This is a hospital, not a prison. You don’t have to be afraid of anypony here.”

“But you still think I’m crazy.”

“I don’t think you’re crazy.”

“I find that hard to believe. Even if you guys don’t keep me here, how do I know you won’t send some kind of warning to any magic teachers out there to keep them from teaching me?”

The nurse felt her heart break at how little trust this lost child had in adults. “I swear we would never do anything to stunt your education like that.”

Ben scoffed. “Talk is cheap. People make promises they can’t or won’t keep all the time. I’ll believe you when I actually start learning.”

Silverheart did not know how to respond. What did one say to a child who didn’t trust adults? How did one earn such a child’s trust? She could only reach around and embrace him to provide some semblance of reassurance. The poor colt needed help, and she alone could not provide it.

Author's Note:

Well, this one took awhile. I apologize if any details are confusing. If anyone reading doesn’t understand what’s going on, review or message me and I’ll try to fix it.

I actually need a bit of help from you guys. I’m debating with myself as to whom Ben should stay with once he’s released from the hospital. I know Applejack found him first and she seems the type to help a foal, but part of me says she’s not the logical choice. Yes, she could provide a stable and caring home, but she can’t teach him magic. Twilight and Rarity are the only unicorns of the Main 6, and I somehow doubt either are very qualified for foster care. Twilight would just have Ben do chores with Spike and Rarity probably has her hooves full with her full-time job and Sweetie Belle. Are there any other canonical unicorns in Ponyville? Should I use an OC? I could really use some input on this matter.

In any case, I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter.