• Published 16th Dec 2012
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Thirty-Minute Pony Stories - Silvernis



Stuff I wrote for Thirty-Minute Pony Stories.

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229: Grounded

229: GROUNDED


The worst thing about having a broken wing is the way you have to leave it fully extended while it heals. Pretty soon, it doesn’t even feel like it’s part of you anymore. It just feels like a big, heavy, achy thing dangling off your back for the sole purpose of flopping around and getting in the way. I’ve been cooped up in my flat for a week, and I’ve already accidentally swept four coffee mugs to their doom.

Oops. Make that five.

“Sorry,” I mutter, not even bothering to step aside as the hot coffee splashes on my legs. I’m not sure why I’m apologizing, or to who.

“Professor Do, are you all right?” asks Fidelis. He trots over, looking concerned, though that’s pretty much the tan earth pony’s default state.

“I’m fine,” I say. I bend down, carefully pick up the mug in my teeth, and place it back on my desk. I can’t help feeling a little disappointed: this one fell on a rug and only cracked down the side instead of shattering spectacularly. Mug number three was much more exciting. I’m still finding shards of ceramic from that.

“I’ll put on some more water,” says Fidelis, moving towards the kitchen.

“Don’t bother,” I say. “I didn’t really want it anyway.”

“I thought you liked coffee, Professor.”

I groan and flop belly-down on the window seat, remembering to keep my bad wing sticking out behind me. I can feel him watching me. I consider asking if he’s enjoying the view, but, Fidelis being Fidelis, I know he’s looking at my bandaged wing and not at my tight flanks. Instead, I sigh and say, “Coffee tastes better when you make it in a dirty tin over a campfire.”

“Perhaps you’d fancy some tea, then? I can use a dirty pot if you’d like.”

I grin a little into the cushions—he’s fun when he lets his sense of humor off its leash. “Nah. I’ll take beans over leaves any day.”

“What about some biscuits?”

“No.”

“Anything?”

“How about an expedition to retrieve something shiny from the depths of a dangerous ruin?”

It comes out more bitter than I planned, and I hear him sigh quietly.

“Professor,” he says, “please try to be patient. I know this isn’t easy for you, but you need to rest.”

“I need to do something. I’m going crazy in here.”

“Well . . . you’re speaking at the seminar next week, aren’t you?”

I snort. “Okay, let me rephrase that: I need to do something that doesn’t involve staying here at the college for the next month.”

He sighs again and heads towards the kitchen, probably to put on some more water.

I look out the window. The campus is still and silent today, buried under yet another layer of snow. I can see a hoofful of ponies slowly shoveling the main walkways, but aside from them, the place is deserted. Yesterday, Fidelis called the scene peaceful, but the only word that comes to mind for me now is dead. Of course, yesterday the sky was clear and the sun was bright. Today, the weather teams left the clouds in place, and everything is grey and gloomy.

A sudden movement catches my eye. I look up and see a flock of wild geese flying across the leaden sky in a tidy V. They sail over the campus, not slowing, not changing course, and after a minute, they pass out of sight to the south.

“Lucky,” I mutter. I waggle my wing, but it’s still just a bunch of splinted bones and bandaged feathers. Useless.

I don’t know how long I lie there, gazing at the empty sky and imagining things beyond the horizon, but it’s much darker when I finally blink and notice that the shoveling ponies are gone, the paths are clear, and the lights are flickering on across the campus. I stretch my stiff legs, and suddenly notice Fidelis standing next to me.

I open my mouth to ask him how long he’s been there, but, Fidelis being Fidelis, I know it’s been a while. I smile at him instead and gently brush my good wing against his neck.

He holds out a plate on one hoof.

“Biscuit, Professor?”

“No,” I say, but I take one anyway, and he smiles faintly.

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