• Published 27th Mar 2013
  • 3,874 Views, 107 Comments

Birthday Wishes - StarFall825

Scootaloo's eighth birthday is coming up soon, and her life is going pretty well. Sure, she can't fly and doesn't really have any friends, but she has two parents who love her and a nice home. What more could she want?

  • ...

Chapter 1


Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,

Whispering 'it will be happier'...”

― Alfred Tennyson

"I'm sorry, Mr. Cypress, but the treatment was unsuccessful."

The brown earth pony sitting across the desk took the news in stunned silence. The two sat in a small office tucked into a back corner of the Ponyville Hospital. It was early in the day, and the light of the morning sun could be seen through the slits of the shutters over the office windows. The pegasus doctor’s name was Summer Shower; despite her young age, she was one of the foremost experts on pegasus wing health and development in Equestria.

Cypress sat staring at her desk with a vacant look, lost in his thoughts. A minute ticked by on the small clock sitting on her desk before she cleared her throat softly. Cypress looked up at her with pain-filled eyes. "Sor—" his voice rasped, caught in his chest. He cleared his throat and spoke again. "Sorry, Doc, I just... I just don't know what to think right now." Summer relaxed slightly at his reaction to the news. Nopony took this kind of news the same way, and sometimes family members would become... upset. At least Cyprus wasn't yelling at her.

Cypress ran a hoof through his short, dark-green mane and breathed deeply. "There has to be something else we can try. What about magic?"

Summer shook her head gently. "I'm sorry, Mr. Cypress, we already told you magic couldn't help, remember?"

"I do remember," Cypress replied. "I didn't understand it then, and I'm not going to pretend I understand it now. I didn't think it would matter though I really wanted the medicines to work."

"Right," Summer sighed. "We'll just take it from the top." Summer reached down to open her desk drawer and pulled out a small packet of papers covered in neat print. "This is a small primer on basic magical theory," she said as she handed him the packet. Taking the papers from her, he looked at the writing on the page. For being a basic overview of magic, it still used a lot of technical wording that he didn't understand.

"Don't worry," Summer said with a small grin as Cypress blankly scanned the papers. "I'll give you the summary. Unicorn magic works on the 'Principle of Change'. To put this as simply as possible, it means that unicorns can use magic to change the world around them, everything from changing apples to oranges, to changing the rate at which something grows or ages. Are you following this?"

"Yes," Cypress answered, brow furrowed as he focused on Summer. "Unicorns can change things with their magic."

"Exactly." Summer gave Cypress a small grin. "Now in medicine the most classic example of this is a 'change back' spell, where the doctors would use their magic to return a patient to health by reversing an injury they sustained. This kind of magical talent is rare though. Unicorns who can use this magic are all specialists in their fields with large demands on their time."

"I don't care about that," Cypress cried out. "I'll pay whatever it takes! I just want my daughter to fly!"

Summer shook her head once more. "I'm sorry, but that won't work. The problem is, magically, there is nothing wrong with Scootaloo. She is exactly the pony she is supposed to be."

"What is that supposed to mean?" An ugly scowl was spread across Cypress' face, and a tight heat started climbing his chest. He sat up straighter in his chair and stared angrily into Summer's sorrowful eyes. "Scootaloo is a pegasus, of course she is supposed to be able to fly!"

"It's not that simple," Summer tried to explain. "If Scootaloo's handicap was from an accident or illness it would be a simple matter, but it isn't. She can't fly because her wings didn't develop properly, and that is no one's fault. It is just how her body is."

Cypress slumped down in his chair, his head bowed low with inner pain. "So that's it then?" he whispered. "There’s nothing we can do?" To her amazement, a single tear ran down his cheek. Cyprus quickly tried to wipe away the tears. “Sorry, I just—I was really hoping for some good news today.”

Summer stood up and walked around her desk to stand next to the Cypress. Placing her hoof on his shoulder, she looked him in the eye. "I never said there’s nothing we can do," she said, and a glimmer of hope shone in Cypress' tear-filled eyes.

"Do you remember the three stages of pegasus wing development?" Summer asked. Cypress nodded in reply, wiping the tears from his eyes. "Good, so the problem is that the bones in Scootaloo’s wings grew just fine, but the wing muscles didn't develop. Her wings just aren't strong enough to let her fly. Unfortunately, by the time she was brought in and examined, it was too late; her second growth stage was already over. We gave her the medicine anyways, just in case, but it didn't work."

"But," Summer said when Cypress looked downcast again. "There is still the next growth stage in three or four years. We can try the medicine again at that time, and the chances of success would be much higher."

"How much higher?" Cypress asked.

"Between eighty to ninety percent." Summer smiled at the relief that spread over Cypress. "Don't worry, Mr. Cypress, it’s more than likely that Scootaloo will be able to fly one day. Maybe even as well as a normal pegasus if she's lucky. Now, why don't we go see your daughter?"

"Just a minute, Doc." Cypress held up a hoof to stop her as he looked Summer in eye. "Why is Scootaloo like this? What happened to make her like this?"

Summer hesitated a moment. "Well, there are several possibilities," she started, but Cypress cut her off.

"Is it because I'm her father?" the earth pony asked. The way Summer hesitated again told him all he needed to know.

"I'm sorry, Cypress," Summer replied as he hung his head in shame, "but that is the most likely reason."

"How did this happen? The doctors my wife and I talked to told us the chances of any problems developing were small."

"The chances were small," Summer replied, "but they were still there. If Scootaloo had been diagnosed sooner, this first treatment would have worked. It was just bad luck we didn't catch it quicker, that's all." This only made Cypress’ expression darken further.

"So, if I had brought her in sooner, she'd be flying by now?"

"It's possible," Summer answered slowly, not wanting to hurt him any further. "It's also possible it would not have made any difference at all." Cypress slumped down in his chair with a deep sigh. "Are you alright, Cypress?" she asked. "You look a bit tired."

"I haven't been sleeping well," Cypress replied. "Neither has my wife, we're both so worried about Scootaloo." He gave a deep sigh and looked at the ceiling. "How do I do it?"

"I'm sorry?" Summer asked with a small frown. "How do you do what?"

"How do I face her?" he asked Summer. She just looked at him, confused. "How do I tell my daughter that I'm the reason she can't fly? All she's ever wanted is to fly, and now she can't because of me."

"Hey," Summer said, jabbing him in the chest with a hoof. "This is not your fault, okay?" Cypress shook his head slightly, but Summer just jabbed him harder. "I'm serious, there was no way you could have known what would happen. Scootaloo is not going to blame you for what's happened to her. I've seen the way she looks up to you, she adores you."

"I know, that's what I'm worried about. I don't want her to lose faith in me."

"That won't happen, alright?" Summer looked him in the eye, waiting until Cypress smiled and nodded in agreement. "Good, now c'mon, we’re going to go see your daughter."

Scootaloo lay upon the padded table in the exam room. The white paper lying on the table crinkled annoyingly every time she shifted slightly, so she tried to stay as still as possible. One of the nurses had come in earlier to give her the bad news. The kind nurse had sat next to her, lightly stroking her back as she explained that it would be a few more years before she could fly. Scootaloo sat in silence, giving one-word answers to the nurse's questions until she finally left.

As soon as the nurse left, Scootaloo buried her face in her legs and cried. She cried until there were no more tears, and then she sat sniffling for a bit. Scootaloo felt better after that, but she was also quick to dry away her tears on a towel next to the sink that sat along the wall opposite the padded table. She didn't want her dad to know she was crying.

After all, she thought, my dad is the strongest pony I know, and he never cries. After being satisfied that she looked as normal as ever, Scootaloo jumped back onto the table and lay down to wait. She waited for a long time, but finally heard hoof steps in the hallway outside, as well as the deep voice of her father coming closer.

The door opened inward part way, and Cypress poked his into the room. As soon as he saw the orange filly, he smiled warmly and pushed the door the rest of the way open. Scootaloo felt herself grin right back at him. She couldn't help it; just being around her dad made her happy in that goofy, not-really-sure-why-I'm-smiling way.

Cypress walked over and wrapped her up in a powerful hug. "Dad! not in front of other ponies..." Scootaloo whined, squirming in mock protest. Cypress noticed that she hugged him back just as hard though. He let her go, and she sat down again, blushing slightly. Cypress sat next to her on the floor.

"Well, Scoots, how do you feel?" Summer asked her.

"Pretty good. My wings are still a little sore from those shots a few days ago, but other than that, fine." She extended her wings and stretched them about to prove she wasn't in any real pain. Summer went ahead and examined the wings for a few moments before giving them the all clear.

"Well, the wings seem good," Summer remarked as she tested Scootaloo's wing strength by having her push against her hoof. "No complications from the medications. I'll go get you some pain meds, then you're free to go."

"Thanks Doc," Cypress and Scootaloo said simultaneously, drawing an amused smile from Summer as she closed the door on her way out. An awkward silence fell on the room as father and daughter both sat waiting.

"The nurses already told me everything," Scootaloo said, breaking the silence. Cypress’ smile faded, and his eyes grew sad as he looked at her.

"But it's fine, though," she quickly continued, "I mean, it's only a few more years, right? Besides, I don't really mind."

Cypress could tell she was lying. Her eyes were still slightly red, and there were dried tears on the white paper she was lying on. He ignored it though, and reached over to ruffle her mane.

"Of course you're alright," he said as she pushed his hoof away laughing. "You are one tough kid, am I right?"

"You bet I am." Scootaloo smiled at him and Cypress pulled her into another hug. She didn't resist this time, just let him draw her close.

"Don't worry, Scoot," he whispered in her ear. "One day, you'll be flying."

One day...

“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.”

― Langston Hughes