• Published 7th Feb 2013
  • 1,269 Views, 42 Comments

Love, in Other Words - Mickey Dubs



A story about the varying experiences of some of Ponyville's citizens as they learn the meaning of family, friendship, and what Hearts and Hooves Day means for them and the ones they care about.

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Unconditional

Unconditional

She knew, almost immediately, that today was going to be like every other.

Even with all the love in the air... even with all the decorations which graced the eaves of the houses in town and the celebrations which were sure to ensue once school got out: there would always be that lingering animosity. There was always going to be the little irritations, the vengeful musings, and the little quips at her expense. Hearts and Hooves Day, she thought, was a time for joy. But everything the two colts whispered behind her made those little stalwart assurances die away, made her hopes for a day not spent in agonizing loneliness flutter a little and then fall crashing to the ground.

"I heard she can't even fly straight!" one colt whispered, his hoof deflecting the sound to his compatriot who leaned over in his desk to listen attentively.

"No, that's not true!" the other retorted, mimicking his friend's devilish grin. "She flew straight into my mailbox! She does it all the time!"

She closed her eyes to hide the first of her tears, preparing herself to await their brethren.

Not this again...

"Hey!" she snarled, her eyes aflare as she wheeled in her desk to face the two colts behind her. "Don't talk about my Mom like that! She does more for this town than your Mom and Dad ever could!"

"Is that so?" the blue colt to her left jeered as he leaned back in his desk, ignoring the lessons of his teacher and the multitudes of eyes which watched the conflict with rapt attention.

"You know what, Dinky? I think you might be right! Your mother's record of smashing into every mailbox in town has made my Dad quite a bit of money! The wholesale mailbox market was a little stale around here, but now we're making a mint off of 'Derpy the Fail-mare!’"

"Stop it! Stop calling her that!" Dinky whispered furiously, struggling to keep her voice below what could be construed as a normal speaking tone. "Stop it, or I'll tell Miss Cheerilee!"

"Yeah? Tell her what?" the mint-green colt chortled. "Tell her your mother is so ‘derpy’ she can't even fall in a straight line?"

"I'm warning you, stop it! I'll tell!"

"We'd like to see you try," the blue one snarled. "Who's going to care? Everyone thinks your Mom is the worst thing to happen to Ponyville."

Like a slap to the face his words lashed out, and as the filly recoiled from the backhanded verbal strike the palpable silence afforded her a few moments of uninterrupted clarity. She could hear the buzzing of her teacher's melodious voice as Miss Cheerilee explained the origins of their supposedly festive holiday. Dinky could hear the love in her voice as she taught the half of the class which was earnestly paying attention.

The other half, though they faked interest in their teacher's diatribe, couldn't help but listen in on what was taking place. They buzzed and muttered in their seats, only adding to the echoing silence as that little colt's words... those treasonous, profane little thoughts... bounced in the space between the empty confines of her broken heart.

"You don't mean that..." Dinky whimpered, her lip trembling as she tried to stay strong just like her mother taught her. "My mom is caring and kind! My mommy loves me!"

"That freak is capable of love?" The green one smirked with a playful nudge of his neighbor, glowering briefly at the broken filly before him before ignoring her entirely. "Looks like I owe you a few bits!"

The two stifled what laughter they could even as Dinky shed a little tear, lowering her head to face the floor. A few other fillies and colts snickered at her, but a few more could do nothing but send what love they had left in the heartbroken filly's direction.

None of them, however, were ready for her reaction, for they had expected none. Dinky Doo never showed anger, or anything above irritation. She was always silent, reserved, laconic.

But when she raised her head from where it had fallen, those terrified children looked into her eyes and saw nothing but unbridled fury. The two colts who roiled in fits of suppressed laughter didn't even notice her horn ignite with an effervescent little lavender light.

They barely even gave heed as her pencil flew into the air and, with an unnatural agility and force, embedded itself half an inch into the blue colt's desk, mere millimeters from his hoof.

What they did notice, along with every other soul present, was the silence which followed the sharp crack! as the pencil snapped in two. The bottom half of that miniature javelin quivered uncontrollably from the impact, shaking almost as much as the colt who had been its target.

The room was as silent as a tomb, and the only thing the little filly could hear over the buzzing of the rage-induced din in her ears was the muffled stomp of hooves in her direction. The sound of her breathing and the rapid influx of air into her little lungs couldn’t hide the fact that that same sound was increasing, and by the time she had calmed herself down enough to figure out what was happening she was staring into the eyes of her teacher.

Miss Cheerilee was not at all impressed.

“Dinky, and you two: stay in your seats. Everyone else: class is dismissed for recess. I will see you all in twenty minutes.”

The students who were not shaken from their trance by their livid teacher clued in almost immediately as the sound of little hooves broke the palpable silence. Dinky watched over her teacher’s shoulder as her classmates filed out into the playground, her eyes following one group of fillies as they escaped the suddenly stifling atmosphere of the school house. The three of them snuck glances back at the little unicorn who quivered in her chair, not unlike her leaded weapon but a foot from her, awaiting the wrath of her teacher.

Dinky caught the eyes of one of them, a yellow filly she’d never really gotten the chance to know, and for a brief moment she was looking into a set of eyes which felt that very pain which reared its snarling head in her heart. It gave her a little comfort to know someone felt the same way she did, that this particular day of life and love wasn't just the velvet curtain which suppressed every painful action. It gave her a sign that everything was alright, that there was little to fear.

It gave little Dinky Doo enough courage to pay for her transgressions.

When all was silent and her students had all escaped, Miss Cheerliee closed the schoolhouse door tightly to hide them from the yard outside. Then, seating herself before her charges, Cheerilee broke her usual sunny disposition to make evident her severe disappointment.

“Explain yourself, Dinky. Why did you think it would be at all appropriate to try and attack your fellow students?”

“I didn’t mean to!” Dinky whined, trying to hold back her tears. “I didn’t mean to do it... it just happened! Those two were saying nasty things about my mommy, so I got really mad! Then, the next thing I know, I'm staring at the pencil on the desk. I don’t know what happened, Miss Cheerilee... I don’t! I promise!”

Wiping away the salty evidence of her distress, Dinky pointed her accusing hoof at the two colts beside her, less resolved now than they were when Dinky’s mother was their sole concern. Shaking their heads furiously, the little colts could do nothing but worry for their own hides as Cheerilee cocked an eyebrow.

“Well, boys? Is that true? Were you saying mean things about Dinky’s mother?”

The two looked at one another nervously before the green one prodded his blue comrade into action. Raising his head from the desk, he looked at Dinky quickly before smiling at his teacher.

“No, Miss Cheerilee. We would never talk about her mother, much less make fun of her...”

LIAR!!! THEY’RE LYING!!!” the little filly shrieked, lunging in her chair at the pair of colts who recoiled in terror from her spitting maw. Their teacher’s foreleg was enough to keep the raging unicorn at bay, and when the little filly had calmed down some Cheerilee nodded to the door.

“Boys, I will talk to you both in a moment. I need some time alone with Miss Dinky.”

Nodding at one another, the two bashful colts slid from their seats and plodded to the door, leaving a wide berth between them and the vicious unicorn filly they had successfully turned feral. With their heads low and their little “yes ma’am" muffled, they trotted to the door and entered the playground without another word. Once she knew the door was secure, Cheerilee turned back to her student who now lay disconsolate at her desk.

“It’s not fair!” the little filly blabbered, trying her hardest to stifle the flow of tears which evaded her attempts at control. “They always do this! I don’t... I just... they just keep teasing and m-m-mocking me and... and... m-m-making fun of my MOMMY!!!”

Cheerilee smiled a little as she held the sputtering and spitting Dinky to her chest, allowing the filly a few minutes to cry and heave her little frame, stroking the filly's back as Dinky struggled for air against the flood of tears. When she had quieted some, Cheerilee raised the filly’s little head from her chest, now splattered with mucus and damp from the filly's release.

“I know they do, Dinky. They’re boys, and boys make fun of things they don’t understand... especially those two. You’re not the first one they’ve made fun of.”

“But... but...” the filly choked out, a little more calm but still shaking in despair. “Why do they k-keep on teasing me?”

Raising her eyes to the ceiling, Cheerilee pulled out a little neckerchief from her vest and cleaned up the remaining tears on Dinky’s cheeks, bringing up the filly’s chin for her calm eyes to see.

“They do it because they don’t understand your Mommy, honey. They just don't see how special your Mom is. She is one of the kindest, most loving, and hardest working ponies I know, even if she is... well, a little different. Just because they think that being different is bad doesn’t mean that she is any less worthy of love than we are.”

“She’s not!... she’s not...” Dinky sputtered again, knocking her hoof on her desk as she relieved herself of her frustrations. “My mommy is wonderful...”

“She really is!” Cheerilee chuckled, rubbing the filly’s shoulder. “Just because they don’t see that doesn’t mean it’s any less true.”

The two of them rested a while, Cheerilee allowing the filly enough time to calm herself down before raising herself from the desk.

“Now... I know you didn’t mean to do it, but you almost hurt one of your classmates. I know you didn’t want to, but I don’t have much of a choice. If I bring them in, will you make up and apologize for trying to hurt them?”

Dinky started a little as her defiance tried to claw its way out from her belly, but the look in her beloved teacher’s eyes was more than enough for that little fire to quell and die out. With a little nod to her desk and a wipe of her face, Dinky gave her consent. Her teacher smiled, nodded back, and proceeded to the door.

As her teacher ushered in the warm sunshine of the glorious early afternoon, Dinky slid to her hooves and made her way towards her teacher’s side. With a deep breath in, Dinky closed her eyes to give herself some comfort from the storm of emotions she knew would ensue. The door creaked slowly open, and when Dinky finally forced herself to open her eyes she could see nothing but the faces of her classmates staring back at her, their eyes as nervous as her own. Closing the door once more, Cheerilee set herself next to her students.

“Boys, you’ve really hurt Dinky’s feelings today. You should know better than to make fun of other ponies, especially when I’ve told you many times in the past to stop. I would like you to say you’re sorry.”

The two colts—as boys often do—did nothing but stare at the ground and shuffle their hooves, keeping their faces downcast as Dinky awaited their apologies. When none came, Cheerilee slammed her hoof on the floorboards below to shock them into action. Recoiling in surprise form their teacher's outburst, they gave each other a final look before muttering to the floor in unison.

“We’re sorry...”

“I’m sorry boys, but I can’t hear you. Please, speak up!” Miss Cheerilee snapped with another little stamp of annoyance.

Shuffling their hooves further, the two looked at one another in consternation, each wishing the other would bear the whips and scorns of their prior victim. When nothing came from his green companion, the blue colt raised his head, took a little breath, and exhaled his apology.

“I’m sorry, Dinky. I didn’t mean to insult your Mom...”

“Yeah, ” the other replied, playing with the dirt from outside with a sideways glance. “Me neither...”

“Apology accepted,” Dinky muttered, regarding them both with a caustic venom before holding her gaze on the floor.

They were lying. Everypony always lied to her. This whole thing would happen again... she could feel it in her heart. No one ever meant what they said, especially when they were talking about her Mommy. Tomorrow would come as it always did, and just like the arrival of the day the next batch of insults would be sure to follow. Their lies was predictable, for she had heard them all before.

But their apology was enough for now, for Dinky knew boys well enough to know that that was the extent to which the chains of their pride would allow them to stray.

“Now, Miss Dinky? Do you have anything to apologize for?” Cheerilee whispered with a little nudge on the rump to move Dinky closer to her enemies. Sucking down a deep steadying breath, Dinky took a few moments to staunch her tears as she offered a truce to her tormentors.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you two. It’s just... you keep talking about my Mommy like that and I don’t like it! I wish you would stop! Why can’t you just...”

She was cut off by a little nudge from her teacher, who smiled down at her even as her eyes demanded the filly’s obedience to their plan. Casting her eyes down one last time, Dinky muttered to the floor.

“I’m sorry... I won’t do it again.”

“Boys?” their teacher supplied, removing herself from the rivaling children before her. “Do you accept her apology?”

The two colts nodded to the floor in silence. Gazing back at her teacher, Dinky gave a little nod.

“Okay,” their teacher smiled, opening up the door a little with her hoof. “Dinky: I’d like you to take the rest of the day off. Cool down and take a little time with your mom; It’s a short day after all, so you won’t miss anything important. Boys, I’m disappointed in you but I believe you are sincere. Don’t think I won’t be listening into your little conversations in the future.”

The three young ponies nodded their assent and turned to leave, but as Dinky's hooves tasted the first warm rays of the sun her teacher held her back with a soft hoof upon her shoulder.

“Miss Dinky, do you remember if your mother sent me anything?" Cheerilee queried. "She said she would send something with you to school today...”

“Oh yeah!”

Running to her desk to retrieve her mother's parcels, Dinky's face furrowed in concentration as she opened the lid, removed the letters, whisked her bags upon her back, and caught her mother's missive in her teeth. Then, trotting back to her teacher, Dinky deposited her documents in Cheerilee’s outstretched hoof with a warm smile.

“Excellent, thank you Dinky!" her teacher exclaimed as Dinky trotted to the steps outside... but before she could jump down from the schoolhouse steps and race back home, her teacher gave one final request.

"Dinky, dear: could you send in Apple Bloom for me please?”

“Sure thing, Miss Cheerilee! See you tomorrow!”

Bounding off the steps, Dinky raced towards the trio she’d hoped to spend her recess playing with, skidded to a halt under the large oak tree by which they sat. Apple Bloom was looking a little more worried than Dinky had ever seen her, but the assurances of her two other friends—a unicorn and an orange pegasus whom Dinky never really got the chance to play with—were keeping her active and smiling... if only a little.

“Hey Sweetie Belle, Scoots!” Dinky chirped, her excitement poking through where it could. “Apple Bloom, Miss Cheerilee wants to see you inside for a second.”

The little look which passed between the little yellow earth pony and her two friends was not missed by Dinky, and as she turned to go she watched as Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo gave their friend some hugs and words of encouragement. When Dinky turned to meet the road, she looked behind her to find Apple Bloom, her head hung low, walking through the door-frame of their schoolhouse with their loving teacher by her side.

Miss Cheerilee wore a similar expression, but Dinky would never know what would come for her acquaintance as their teacher, with a sad little smile, closed the door behind them to block them from view.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dinky walked down the road alone, the warmth of the day whisked away by the light breeze and the heaviness of her tormentors' words. She had begged herself not to succumb to feeling so low, but every step kicked up a few more doubts and a little cloud of dust. Every other pony she could see was making their way to work or coming home to have some lunch before going about their next shifts. Every one of them was spending the lovely afternoon in bliss. Everyone was having fun.

Everyone but Dinky.

She never wanted the boys’ words to leave such lasting scars, but as she watched the various farmers, salesponies, and the little baby foals giggling in their mother’s arms, she couldn’t help but wonder why her mother had been made differently. Her speech, her balance, her eyes... everything about her screamed that she was different from everypony else, somehow inferior even though she could do everything they could...for the most part.

As Dinky trudged through the mid-morning Farmer’s Market, she listened to the ponies around her haggling for goods, selling their wares, conversing animatedly about weather patterns and crop yields. They chatted idly about things she would never, and could never, understand... things which didn’t matter. All that mattered was the way in which they were said: unbroken, easy, flowing without stutters or stammers. They lilted on the breeze, gracing the air with their melodious unbroken sound.

They didn’t sound anything like her Mom.

Passing by Sweet Apple Acres as she stumbled along, Dinky lingered there on the fence to watch Big Macintosh, with his grand muscled frame, bucking the apple trees to release those sweet fruits above. When a few would fall to the ground outside their waiting basket, he would gingerly pick them up with his teeth and place them where they belonged, doing so carefully lest he damage his tender fruits.

With all of his size and muscled bulk, it must have been overwhelmingly difficult to do those delicate tasks he needed to do. He must have thought about his size and weight when handling his wares, constantly worrying about his apples' condition when his heavy body moved to remove them from the ground. Dinky chuckled as he finished his task, imagining how hard it must have been for him to not damage the little Apple Bloom filly when they had first met... when brother first held little sister in his hooves.

Maybe that was it. Maybe it was the ability to remember one’s imperfections and account for them which made ponies special. It must have not have been the way in which they excelled, like Rainbow Dash and her flying skills, but how they made up for their shortcomings. She’d heard the stories of that great stallion and how he’d taken on the burden of the farm work to allow his sisters to go to school. If Big Macintosh could keep a farm going and manage the money which came in without schooling, then there was so much he could do that nopony even knew he was capable of achieving. The thought made Dinky smile.

If Big Macintosh could do it, then so could her Mom.

Dinky watched as Big Macintosh raised his head from the orchard, looking over to the farmhouse where his sister Applejack was waving for him. With a little nod, he hefted the load on his back and made his way over to her, placing the basket on the ground by the door as the two lingered together, their voices inaudible from where she stood. She couldn’t see their faces, but their proximity and their lowered heads indicated that something was going wrong.

A misplaced shipment of apples perhaps... or a problem with the pastries she always made.

What Dinky could hear, however, was the sound of hooves and heavy breathing as her friend Apple Bloom jumped the fence further down the road and ran across the fields of tall grass to reach her brother and sister. As Dinky turned to continue her walk, one last momentary look afforded her a glimpse of their hugs as the Apple Family, one-by-one, made their way into the farmhouse and closed the door silently behind them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sun was setting by the time Dinky finally made it home, and the bell in Town Hall chimed out the time for the whole town and surrounding lands to hear. She had lost all interest in playing with the frogs down by Fluttershy’s cottage, and had exhausted every dandelion head in the fields as her little wishes floated on the wind and made their way to unknown destinations on the breeze. She had blown them all out, and only realized she’d done so when she looked around the little glade to find herself alone again, without the inviting little puffs to catch her eye.

Plodding past the library, Dinky peered inside like she normally did to find Twilight Sparkle, librarian and magician extraordinaire, scribbling away with her magic. That talented mare wrote down notes furiously, balancing multiple sheets of parchment in her magic’s grasp as she worked diligently towards whatever important task their Princess had assigned her.

Twilight could always do the impossible. She could handle and manipulate so many things at once, and always without fail. She could split her concentration between so many important things and execute them all perfectly. Dinky remembered one time when her class had come to listen to her tell stories in the library, the whole class oooing and ahhing as she levitated books left and right and shone lights on the wooden walls to complement the tales of Daring Do and various other heroes.

She was truly exceptional. She was a pony whose own talent was the same magic she had studied in Canterlot to acquire. She was an Element of Harmony with lifelong friends to support her whenever she needed. She had everything, as far as Dinky was concerned. She was independent and strong, loved by everyone and loving of them in return...

But it was her horn and her magical gift which made her strong? If she didn’t have either, would she just be a normal pony? Was the fact that she was exceptional something which resided in her horn, or in her heart?

Without announcing her presence, Dinky closed the door behind her even though Spike the dragon had made his entrance in the lobby. She always found him fascinating.. but then again, so would anyone. A dragon who wasn’t fifty feet tall, dozens of times the mass of Big Macintosh, and not spewing fire and devastation in their wake was a rare find indeed.

Finally turning the corner into the alley where she lived, Dinky watched as the other mailmares and mailstallions ran to and fro about the town, their bags flying out behind them as they made their way on hoof and wing to deliver the last of the day’s mail. She could only imagine, given their exhaustion and their haste, that Mommy had made a mistake again. It wouldn’t have been the first, and it most certainly wouldn’t be the last.

She was amazed, honestly, that her boss hadn’t reassigned her to some other shift, some period of time when the load wouldn’t be as stressful or important to get right. Her mommy only worked the day shift because Dinky wasn’t there to take care of, and had school been at any other time her mother would be sure to change her schedule to ensure she wouldn’t leave her daughter alone in their house for any longer than necessary.

Her mommy had tried in the past to change her schedule, but she always said her boss needed her at that time and that time alone. Dinky remembered more than a few occasions in which her mother would talk animatedly about a new position which would open up, with more responsibilities and more money... only to find her silent the following evening as they ate dinner at their table. Imagining which of those delivery ponies had received the honor of her mother’s prospective position, she watched them go about their business, pushing open the door to her own little house as they sped around town.

Her mother wasn’t home, so Dinky began to make their dinner. Her Mom had done well by allowing her to experiment with food, and had placed everything on the lower shelves and cabinets so that Dinky, in her mother’s absence, could get everything prepared for their meal should she want. The pantry and kitchen were packed with everything the little filly would need, and all the spices and grains were alphabetized (as much as they could be) on the shelves.

Her mother knew her well enough to allow her to hold to her own schedule. Dinky walked herself home from school, did her own homework without help, only asked her mother for help on things when she wanted. Her mother never prodded, or pushed, or made her do anything she didn’t want unless she had to. All of her decisions were her own, and her mother was always there for support.

It was what made her the best Mom in the world...

...at least to the one filly who believed with with all of her little heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The ringing of the bell and the closing of a door from the far side of the house as Dinky’s notification that her mother had made her way home. Treading delicately around the opened bags of flour and sugar on the kitchen floor, Dinky pulled out her latest creation and rested it on their kitchen table, struggling with her magic to keep the somewhat hefty package in the air. Nudging it into place, she ran into the other room to greet her mother when she was assured her her present's safety.

Ditzy Doo, with her saddlebags empty and her hair matted with sweat and debris, sat on the floor and picked those branches and dirt she could find out with her teeth, preening her feathers to get them back in line. Dinky had been right: somehow, Mommy had screwed something up. She only looked like this when she pushed herself to her fragile limits, speeding across town as straight and as quickly as she could to fix a delivery error or misstamped shipping address. Those other mailponies had been accounting for her mistakes, and the look in her mother's yellow eyes confirmed Dinky's suspicions:

They both had had another bad day.

As she preened her feathers with her head behind her back and cocked in an awkward and oddly humorous position, Ditzy could feel the little nudge of her daughter’s horn depressing her chest and the accompanying warmth of her little filly as the little one drew close. Lowering her head to her daughter’s, the mailmare enfolded her filly in her wings as the two sat together on the floor, the unicorn holding her mother as tightly as she could with her hooves, her chest buckling a little as she cried.

“Muffin? Whad’s wrong?” the mailmare whispered into her daughter’s hair. “Did you have anudder bad day?”

The little nudge of her diminutive horn was her expression of assent, and it only made the mailmare on the floor hold her daughter closer with her wings. Lowering her head further, she gave her daughter’s head a little nuzzle as she whispered lovingly into her daughter's mane.

“Did does nasty boys make fun of you again?”

A pause, and then: another silent nod.

The two held each other, there on the floor, in silence. Seconds passed into minutes as the filly held her mother as tightly as she could. All the rage and pain she’d tried to hide away slowly trickled from her eyes as she held her mother tight. They left in their wake only the emptiness of her fragile heart, and those spaces slowly filled with all the irritations she’d felt as the more fortunate went about their business, mocking her for having a mother like the one who held her so close to her beating heart.

She could still see them smirking at the less fortunate little unicorn as they played and lived in happiness with their own normal parents. The memories and images of their haughty, proud faces came flooding back to her, and she could do little more than allow them to leak from her eyes along with everything else. Gasping in pain as the tension grew, Dinky hid her face from the world in the breast of her dearest mother, shielding herself from the pain.

“Hey now...” Ditzy crooned, pushing her daughter’s eyes into her own. “Nuddings gunna be wrong any more honey... I’m home. It’s gunna be okay, Muffin. Everyting's gunna be okay.”

Relapsing into her tears once more, Dinky could do nothing but hold her mother closer. Her’s was the voice of pure joy, despite the jumbled noises and misplaced letters which lingered in her speech. These were the wings of a pony who would stop at nothing to make her way home, each and every night, just to be there to watch her daughter fall asleep in her arms. This was the chest of a mother whose heart, with every lingering beat and constriction, kept her body moving to speed her home.

This was the body of her mother, her dear and loving mother, whom no other mother, ‘derpy’ or otherwise, could compare to.

Dinky summoned up enough courage to raise her head from her mother’s warm and soggy chest to see those bright yellow glittering eyes looking down at her. They might have been different and misplaced, but she’d never seen anything quite so beautiful in all her short life. Sighing as those eyes filled her vision, Dinky gave her mother a sad smile and a few more tears.

“Some boys at school were making fun of you again, Mommy...”

The mailmare smiled down at her daughter, playing a little with Dinky's mane as she whispered her reply.

“Dat’s okay, Sweetie. I don' really care...”

“You don’t?” Dinky exclaimed, recoiling in shock. “But... but they called you ‘Derpy’! They called you a freak. They said that no one liked you...”

“Do you like me?”

A pause, followed by the ruffling of her daughter’s mane as Ditzy Doo gave her filly a kiss on the forehead. Dinky could do nothing but stare, looking at her mother’s chest in confusion.

“Of course I love you, Mommy. You’re my Mom...”

Holding her closer, Ditzy could only rest her head on her daughter’s as she cradled her child.

“Den dat’s all dat madders."

Ditzy stared, lost in the matted fur of her mother’s belly, her smile growing even as her eyes clenched tightly together as those tears returned. Her little grin twisted at the edges as she reinvested herself in her tears, clutching her mother once more to her little chest.

Her Mommy didn’t care about the others: the ones who played without having to worry about their mother tripping over their own hooves or running into others. She didn’t care about the opinions of Dinky’s friends when they opened their mouths to speak with nothing but insults at her mother’s expense. The lives and successes of the ponies who had succeeded where her mother had failed were swept aside, each and every night, as the mailmare stepped over the threshold of their sparsely furnished house to be there for her daughter. Those bad things didn’t matter.

All that mattered was her. All that her mother thought was most important in the world...was her. Every name, every remark behind her back, every snide look of contempt when the mailmare would come and pick her up from school when she had a day off... none of those things mattered.

They were the two shining paragons of their own little world, and nothing could ever change that.

For the first time that day Dinky let go of everything and gave into her mother’s embrace as every other worry melted away on the floor to join their shared perspiration andthe raindrops from outside. The two lingered there, warm in the other's embrace, as time passed without their knowledge. Ditzy stroked her daughter’s mane, brushing what dirt and detritus her filly had acquired via her proximity to her dirty, smelly, exhausted, and blissfully happy mother. Sniffling a little, Dinky took a few deep breaths to steady herself before she pulled away, nodding in the direction of their dining room.

“I made you something, Mommy! I thought you might have had a bad day, so I made you a little present. Just in time too,” Dinky exclaimed, bouncing a little on her hooves as she stood by the door-frame leading to their dinner table. “It should be warm enough to eat now!”

Standing by her creation, Dinky waited patiently as her mother threw off the saddlebags and trotted to the kitchen, smiling at her daughter.

“ You didn’ haff to, hunny! I was gunna bring back some food, bud id looks like you made...”

She stopped suddenly, inches from her daughter as she stared at what lay before her. She couldn’t move. She couldn't do much more than stare in wonder at what her little unicorn filly had made in her absence.

Glazed in a thin sugar coating and speckled with poppyseeds and the strawberries Dinky had found in the market, Dinky Doo stood petrified as her eyes took in the grand pastry her daughter had brought to life. There on the table, still steaming from its long bake in their little oven, sat the largest muffin either pony had ever seen. It took the form of a large and bulbous heart which was cracked in some parts, burnt in others, and generally lacking in that even quality which makes foods truly exceptional. It was the largest thing resting on their miniature table, almost threatening to break the legs below as it rested and cooled from its baking.

To Dinky, it was just an ordinary muffin, important only because it was a gift for her stressed mother... a mother who worked all day to make sure that she was wanting for nothing.

To her mother, it was a priceless gem.

There was nothing Ditzy could have done to stop herself from falling to the floor, staring in wonder at her present as her daughter ran to her side to see what was the matter. She couldn’t form a few words to express the warmth and the dull aching in her heart as she watched her daughter speak, but heard nothing.

She could only wonder how a mare as troubled, as broken, and as lost as she was could ever have produced a filly as wonderful, as complete, and as perfect as the one who now sat crying on the floor, sad because she’d assumed that her mother didn’t love the gift she had made for her.

Drawing her filly to her chest one last time, Ditzy trembled with pride and love as she cried, hugging her child to her breast as tightly and as completely as she could.

It didn’t matter that she wasn’t perfect, that her eyes rolled around or she couldn’t pronounce her “T’s”.

It didn’t matter that she had suffered the taunts and insults of her fellow pegasi... those fortunate ones who jeered and laughed at her when she’d been fired from all her jobs prior.

It didn’t matter that she couldn’t fly straight, or talk right, or deliver mail...

It didn't matter that she couldn't keep her promises, or be there for her daughter when she needed her, or even that she was unable to provide the life she wanted for her child.


Nothing mattered, save the two of them.


They rested, and cried, and held one another as close as they could as the muffin on the table cooled. They cried out their reservations and worries, their angers and their frustrations, all the little things they’d kept bottled up inside and from each other, leaving a pool of tears in their wake as they just sat and held one another.

They held on for as long as they could, before their muscles gave and their eyes grew dry, before they broke apart smiling and giggling in happiness. Giving her daughter a little kiss on the head, Ditzy pulled them both to their hooves with a little brush of her daughter's cheek.

“C’mon, my liddle muffin," Dinky chuckled, smoothing her daughter's mane. "Led’s dig in!”

Their faces erupted with joy as they turned to face their dinner, and with a giggle the two launched themselves at the delicacy on the table, ripping off great hunks of the massive muffin as they enjoyed the pastry and the company of the other at their sides.

There was never any hesitation, nor any need for apologies between mother and daughter for the abandonment of their decorum.

There would never be a reason for them in the first place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When they had taken in what they could and left nothing behind but a destroyed muffin in their wake, Dinky levitated what plates they’d used while her mother slid the confection off the table and onto her back with her wings, guiding the remains of their meal as she followed her daughter to the kitchen. When the plates had been cleaned and what remained of the muffin had been wrapped and stored away for their breakfast the following morning, Dinky's stomach settled and gurgled happily, prompting an equally powerful yawn from the depths of her body. Her mother, knowing just what that meant, swept the little filly in her arms and flew carefully towards her daughter’s bedroom, making sure her wings didn’t clip on the door as she passed.

Nudging the door open with her hindleg, Ditzy carried her daughter as lightly as a feather towards her little bed, depositing her precious cargo on the covers as quietly as she could. Dinky, lingering on the borders of consciousness, squirmed herself into position beneath her little blanket, shivering when a gust of air from the window near her bed came rushing in.

Ditzy never had gotten around to replacing the window, and the mailmare cursed herself again for allowing her failures to cause her daughter discomfort. Her daughter, however, assuaged any negative emotions between them as her little hoof slipped into her mother’s.

“Mommy,” the filly whispered, keeping her voice low. “I have a question.”

“Yes, Muffin?” her mother responded, laying down beside her daughter with a nuzzle of her nose, shielding her daughter from the cold with her wings as the filly snuggled closer for warmth.

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, ” Dinky whispered, looking up into her mother’s eyes. “It’s just...you never really told me why your eyes aren’t normal. I’ve always wondered about... no, it doesn’t matter. I’m sorry, that’s a stupid question.”

“No, honey!” the mailmare exhaled, cradling her daughter in her hooves. “Id’s nod a silly quesjun. I was jus’ born dis way. Your Grammy and Grampy looked jus’ like you. Dey didn’ have loopy eyes like I do. I dink it jus’ happened when I was in my Mommy’s belly.”

“But does... does that mean that it might happen to me?” Dinky pondered aloud, her heart racing. “It’s not a bad thing! I don’t really care, I just... I don’t...”

“You don’ wanna be made fun of like me?”

“No! I just... I don’t... I...”

Dinky's little sigh slid through the silence, and Ditzy knew what would come. No one should have to deal with the pain of being left alone like she had. Her ‘loopy’ eyes were just an interminable facade which she had been forced to wear since the day of her birth.

That mask was the only thing her employers, her friends, and her lovers would ever see.

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” Dinky whispered, another tear sneaking out from her eyes as she shut them tight. “I’ve heard what they say and it hurts just to hear them say it. I don’t know if I could handle it. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings...”

“Id’s okay, Muffin, ” the mailmare replied, snuggling closer to her daughter on the bed. “It doesn’ change how much I love you. I loved you even before you were born, when you were right here!”

She patted her stomach with her free hoof, watching her daughter’s eyes light up as she imagined her mother and the life she’d had, that time they’d spent together even if Dinky herself could never remember.

They rested there again for a few minutes, the evening quiet sliding through the cracks in the windows as they huddled together for heat. Her daughter twitched just slightly as she slipped in and out of consciousness, balancing on the keen edge between wakefulness and the warm folds of sleep, dreaming about her mother and what stories she knew about her life.

Her thoughts rested on the time when her mother had carried her before she’d been born. What must it have been like: to have the love of your life with you for such a long time? How must it feel to find yourself staring into the eyes of some filly you’d never seen in the flesh, but knew in your heart that you loved them more than anything in the world?


Why was her mother alone, when half of that filly she loved came from somepony else?


With a little whisper, Dinky opened her lips and muttered those words which her mother had always feared she’d hear.

“Why did Daddy go?”

The wind whipping through the windows and the fluttering of the curtains were cacophonous compared to the silence which lingered in her mother’s heart and the utter quiet which hovered like a noxious gas between the mare and her daughter. Ditzy could do nothing but stare as her daughter’s chest, as calm as she’d ever seen it, moved up and down as her little lungs inflated. The only other movement besides Dinky's slow breathing was the little ripple as her heart kept on beating, pulsing just below the surface.

Ditzy didn’t know herself why her love had gone, why he had decided to take his things from their shared house and leave her behind, still pregnant with his foal. She couldn't tell just why he hid his face from hers as she screamed for him to come back... to hold her again...


...to explain why the second beating heart in her womb was any less important than her own.


She couldn’t fly after him with her daughter resting in her womb.

She couldn’t run, as the little body which grew near her heart weighed her down.


She could only watch as he ran away, leaving her with nothing but an empty heart and an empty home.


“Daddy was afraid, sweetie, ” Ditzy whimpered, keeping her eyes closed lest a look from her daughter sent her over the edge and into the horrors of her memories. “He was afraid dat he couldn’ love you like he wanted... dat you would be just so speshul dat he couldn’ provide whad he wanted for you.”

Her daughter finally opened her eyes, but the mailmare was prepared for her. She knew just what to say. She told it to herself every night as she kissed her daughter on the head while she slept, reminding herself each and every night as she closed the door behind her to leave her daughter with her dreams.

“He made me promise to love you for da boaf of us...and I do, liddle Muffin... I do.”

Her daughter smiled, and it gave her the courage to stroke her cheek, lulling her back to sleep just a little.

“You’re da preddies' thing I’ve ever seen...”

Turning a little as she succumbed to the warmth of her mother at her side, Dinky slid a little closer and gave her mother, her wonderfully warm mother, a kiss on her blushing cheeks.

“You’re pretty too, Mommy.”

Their eyes met again, and Ditzy looked upon her daughter in wonder. How she had foaled a child so selfless and kind was a mystery to her, but she thanked her lucky stars every second of every day that she, and she alone, was the one who had the opportunity to bring her into the world. Snuggling a little closer, she stroked her filly’s cheek again as she nestled her closer to keep them both warm.

“I don't know why my eyes are loopy, and I don't know why I don't fly so good...bud I do know I love you, liddle Muffin. I hope it’s enough.”

“It will always be enough, Mommy,” Dinky whispered, finally closing her eyes as she curled in her mother’s hooves, the warmth of her mother’s body rocking her to sleep.

Smiling as her beautiful daughter drifted off to sleep, Ditzy rested her head beside that little bundle who, with every ounce of love she had, had saved her from the world and all the sadness she’d found waiting for her. Every day spent in misery for her failures was calmed with but a look and a smile from that little furry ball who she could hold whenever she wanted and kiss until she could kiss no more. Every shortcoming, every cracked window, every cold room or blustery hallway which came about when she hadn’t found the money to make repairs... everything was silently and warmly whisked away the second her daughter walked through the door to finally make her way home.

The room in which they lay was as silent as she could make it, no sound save the whipping of the wind through the little cracks in the windows and the light whipping of the curtains as they flickered in response. Ditzy looked out the window to see a little herd of mares, with a dragon in tow, making their way to the schoolhouse , its lights aglow on the far side of town.

She’d planned on attending what event lay within, but after their long day she could use the rest.

And so, with her daughter in her hooves and the world growing silent: the two ponies slept away their worries, each safe and warm in the knowledge that the other watched over them and protected them from anything which might come between them.

Dinky opened her eyes one last time, looking at her mother to make sure she was okay and that the rustling of the wind in her drafty little room wasn’t so cold that her mother would need to share her blanket. Her mother shivered only a little, her chest trembling slightly as the wind picked up.

Without a word, Dinky moved herself closer to her mother who, in her sleep, clutched her daughter to her chest. As she burrowed closer into her mother's breast, Dinky smiled when her mother's wings spread over the pair to shield them from the world. Her warmth would help her mother sleep, and Dinky smiled as she closed her eyes again in the knowledge that she would always be there to protect and love that valiant, strong, and wholly beloved mailmare who held her ever so tenderly in her heart.



It was the least she could do for the best mother in the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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