• 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 7

Doctor Warm Light meticulously read through the report on her new patient. Ben was clearly a troubled little colt and helping him would not be an easy task. Given enough time and gentle treatment, however, he could grow to trust adults again. His “delusions,” as Doctor Graymane put it, were another matter entirely. Benjamin Lewis Walker was more than likely not his real name. If Warm Light’s hypothesis was correct, “Benjamin” and his make-believe human family were part of an alter ego created by the colt to erase traumatic memories. Unfortunately, the alter ego repressed all memories of being a pony, including basic knowledge. If Ben’s biological family was found, seeing them could possibly trigger a related memory. If he had been living happily with them, a pleasant memory would surface and go a long way to bringing out the real him. If they were the ones who abused him, however, seeing them would surely make his situation worse, causing him to retreat even further into the Ben persona. There was also the issue of whether or not his family was even alive. Ben could only give the names he created for his human family members, so finding his real family would be very difficult.

The most concrete fact of the matter was that Ben was almost completely paranoid around adults. So far, the only adult he was reported to have been entirely comfortable around was Miss Apple, the pony who found him and brought him to the hospital. Dr. Light made a note to speak with the mare later. For the moment, she needed to meet with Ben.

Doctor Light went to Ben’s new room and opened the door. Since his surveillance period was over, the colt was once again in a room with windows, which ought to have assuaged some of his fears of being in a prison or asylum. The colt in question turned his attention to her with an almost bored expression. He immediately brightened up the second he noticed her horn.

“Finally!” he exclaimed, grinning, “It’s about time they sent a unicorn! So, how does this work?” He pointed up to his horn. “Do I just concentrate and feel the magic in the air? Say an incantation? Clap my hands, er, hooves?”

The psychologist put on her best smile. Ben likely assumed she was there to teach him magic. While that was not her primary purpose, a few lessons in basic control could definitely help him. Perhaps a memory would surface. At the very least, it could get him to trust her, if only a little.

“Hello, Ben,” she said brightly, “I’m Doctor Light. I’ve heard you’re very eager to learn.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” he replied with a brief chuckle. No hint of wariness and he was being very casual. That was good. “So, what do we start with?” he asked, “Light? Telekinesis? Portals, maybe?”

Doctor Light pulled up a nearby chair and sat down, setting aside her saddlebags. “Let’s start with basic telekinesis, okay?” Focusing her magic, the psychologist’s horn glowed white. A pen floated out of the bag, covered in the same white aura as the horn. She moved the pen over to Ben’s bed as the colt stared in wide-eyed wonder. “Now you try,” she said, setting the pen on the bed.

Ben looked up at her, then down at the pen, then back up. “But how do I do it?”

“Well, first you have to know what spell you’re going to cast,” Warm Light explained. She got up and walked over to a nearby shelf where children’s books were kept. “Let’s see if we can find something that’ll help you.” She checked each individual book before eventually finding what she was looking for. “Here it is. Basic Spells for Little Fillies and Colts.” She telekinetically held up the book so Ben could see it. The colt frowned. “What’s the matter?” she asked, setting the book in front of him.

Ben sighed, looking a bit downcast. “This is going to take a while, isn’t it?”

“Magic can take a lot of time to learn,” she answered, returning to the chair. “If you struggle a little, that doesn’t make you any less special than everypony else.”

“I don’t care what you ponies think about me.” His tone became slightly angry, as if he was putting up a brave front. He probably didn’t want anypony to think he was weak or helpless. “The problem is time. I don’t know how much I have, but I know I can’t rush something like this, no matter how much I want to.”

“Why are you worried about time?” Warm Light asked. She knew about Ben’s desire to “return home” via magic, having read the report, but she needed to see his reaction. A report written after the fact could only describe so much.

“None of your business!” he snapped. “I need to learn magic ASAP and that’s all you need to know!” With that, he took the book in his hooves and tried to open it. He struggled to get a good enough grip on the front cover to open it and growled. “Stupid hooves!”

“You shouldn’t say that about yourself,” Warm Light chided gently.

“I’ll say whatever the flak I want about this damned body!” Ben retorted. He had not said “flak.”

It seemed that Ben suffered from a low opinion of himself, particularly regarding his body. The doctor did not want to think about what might have caused it. Had the human alter ego reinforced that self-loathing? She wanted to correct his language, which he likely picked up from his abusers, but that could come later.

“Why are you cursing your own body?” she asked.

“Because it’s not-” he cut himself off. “I said it’s none of your business!”

He shoved the book towards her. It almost fell off the bed, but she caught it with magic. She turned the pages to the first spell, telekinesis, and floated the book back over. He said nothing, but his eyes roamed over the page repeatedly.

She noted that Ben had closed himself off, deflecting her previous questions about him. He had been “honest” with Nurse Silverheart, as he genuinely believed he was telling the truth, but the nurse’s response, though well-intended, made him panic. He probably viewed the watch he had been put under as some sort of punishment. The lack of windows may have triggered a memory from his true self, causing Ben to put up barriers. She would have to approach the matter delicately, as he had no reason to trust her. For the moment, she simply had to watch while he learned.

Eventually, Ben looked up from the book and his eyes settled on the pen. He took a deep breath and focused on the object. The pen remained where it was. His horn began to glow a golden light that matched the color of his eyes. The pen did not move. His eyes narrowed into a glare and he bared his teeth. He snarled in frustration, the emotion fueling his magic. Slowly, the same golden glow enveloped the pen. It rolled a centimeter or two. He lifted his head, eyes never leaving the pen.

Suddenly, Ben’s horn flashed. The pen rocketed to the ceiling, bounced off, and fell back down to the bed. At the same time, various objects in the room rattled while others briefly rose then fell.

The colt rubbed his head with a hoof and groaned in pain. His horn ceased to glow as he laid back on the pillow. “What happened?” he panted.

Warm Light could barely believe it, yet everything that just occurred lined up perfectly. “You had a magic surge,” she said. Such a thing was not normal for somepony Ben’s age and the only possible explanation was extreme lack of magic use. That meant he had rarely if ever used magic in his life.

Ben groaned again. “Don’t know what that is. So tired all of a sudden…”

Warm Light had to take a moment to come up with a reassuring explanation that wouldn’t damage Ben’s already fragile self-esteem. Unfortunately, by the time the right words came to her, Ben was already asleep from exhaustion.

Seeing that she would not get anywhere with Ben for now, she decided to conclude their session. It was time to pay a visit to Sweet Apple Acres.

Author's Note:

Special thanks to Rocinante for giving me the idea for Dr. Light’s diagnosis.