When a simple small town Pegasus finds herself out of work, she takes up the offer of an old friend to move to the big city. After all, it has been over ten years since portals to the human world were opened, ponies do this all the time now right?
When a simple small town Pegasus finds herself out of work, she takes up the offer of an old fillyhood friend to move to the big city. After all, it has been over ten years since the portals to the human world were opened, ponies do this all the time now right? All anypony talks about these days are all the Humans In Equestria, so what about the ponies looking for a better life in a new world?
== She Likes Cloth: Chapter I, Panic With Portals ==
It’s so weird traveling between worlds, you know? It’s one of those things I just never imagined doing. It’s like… You know when you’re really, really little, and you see an older pony with braces and you think you’ll never get them yourself? And you can’t ever imagine what it would be like to have these weird metal brackets glued to your teeth and strung together with wires and stuff, but then suddenly you’re thirteen and wearing them and it’s somehow normal!
You know what I mean?
I felt just like that getting off the train at the Equestrian Portal Dock-Station-Thing-place. All so I could walk through a big sciencey doorway to an alien world. Perfectly normal! Plenty of ponies do it all the time!
I got a letter from an old friend a month before leaving. I hadn't seen her since she moved to Earth with her parents. We were both just fillies back then. We used to write all the time, and we always said we’d be best friends forever. We just, sort of, lost touch. I lost touch. She still kept writing even after I forgot to. And then I guess she forgot to too.
She did hear about us losing the shop; I think dad is still friends with her uncle in Manehatten. It’s a small town, everyone’s really close, so I guess some connections there never really die. Anyway, she heard about it somehow and offered me a place to stay. So it was either move to human earth, or try out for the town’s weather team. Mom always said I was too delicate for cloud kicking though. Too soft. Maybe…
Anyway, I was waiting in line for boarding (or passing? I guess it’s not like trains. Transit maybe? Whatever.) Anyway, I saw my very first human there. He— I’m pretty sure he was a ‘He’, it’s hard to tell with some humans. Like, the different shapes of their faces between genders are much more subtle—well he was stamping everypony’s tickets and checking their passports. I was supposed to remember him. Mom told me to write her about the first time I saw a human. He was ok I guess. I don’t know what I’ll tell her.
Those clothes though… they really do wear a lot of them. Not just that they wear them all the time, but they wear a lot to cover up, and so many of the ponies in line were wearing clothes too. It was all so weird. I hadn’t seen that many ponies in clothes since my last school dance. Mom let me borrow her old dress. I had to make some adjustments though because it was so loose on me, the wing holes were especially difficult to readjust, but it looked pretty anyway, even though the fabric was kind of rough.
So you know how so many ponies talk about how cool it is watching humans use their hands? The way they go on about it you think you’d have to stop yourself from staring all the time. I don’t get it. I mean, it’s neat I guess, but their faces are so much weirder. Like this human’s nose? It was just so big and flat! Like a squash or something. And he had such tiny, beady looking eyes. All the humans I’d seen in pictures were so much prettier, and their eyes never seemed that small.
I didn’t realize I was staring until he noticed. I quickly ducked behind the tall stallion in front of me, only to realize he was next in line. My mind quickly went into panic mode.
Oh my gosh, it’s his turn. I’m next! No, calm down Pillow. Nopony’s going to eat you. No matter what Granny says about humans. Just be polite and show the nice sta—man your ticket.
I dug through my saddlebag for my ticket and found it safely tucked into my passport book.
“Tickets and passport miss.” The human said in a bored voice.
Oh gosh! I’m holding up the line!
"Em forry" I said, holding up my passport in my teeth. For some reason that made him smile as he reached out to take it.
Did he just… OH gosh! He just grabbed that with his hands! Eww! No way I’m putting that back in my mouth now! “Here you are miss.” He said, handing it back.
“Thank you.” My mouth was free of obstruction this time as I opted to winging the book into my bag. I wiped my wing on the sides of the bag a little afterwards without thinking.
“Platform four on your left,” He said kindly, “Welcome to Earth.” He didn’t say that to any of the other ponies in line that I noticed. Was it obvious this was my first time or could he tell from my passport?
“Thank you.” I mumbled again before moving in the direction he pointed. With his hand.
Looking back I noticed other ponies in line passing him their papers; not even the earth ponies were using their teeth. Oh…
Oh gosh! There was a human in line just a few places behind me! And another! I think that one’s a Woman. She’s pretty.
I quickly spotted the sign for platforms one through ten pointing down a huge hallway. “Platform 4: Chicago Gateway Station Chicago, Illinois, USA.” There are too many places on Earth. I wondered for a moment if this city was anywhere near London. I read a book about that place once. It sounded neat, but really dirty with black smoke everywhere. It was an old book though so maybe they weren't so dirty anymore. I doubted Strawberry Jam would live in a place like that anyway. Her city was likely much cleaner, and full of friendly humans that wouldn't want to eat a skinny little pegasus all by herself...
Oh no! they’re boarding already! “Wait!”
"No rush miss," A unicorn by the gateway said. "You have five more minutes before we close the gate again. Ticket?"
"Oh yes sorry" I hoofed him my ticket, and taking it with his magic he punched it before passing it back. I tucked it under my wing in case I needed to show it again soon.
"Here you are, make sure to keep your passport on hoof for immigration. Just follow the green line after you pass through."
The gateway started glowing and sparkling. It reminded me of a unicorn’s horn lighting up, but more... swirly. The original gates were supposed to be clear enough to see through. Modern gates were different, so they could be opened more frequently without making the universe (universes?) explode. That’s what dad said anyway.
It's so crowded. Hey, stop pushing me!
I was getting close to the gate. Everypony was just disappearing inside! It reminded me of a time I saw a unicorn teleport, except super creepy. It was the same but, like, in slow motion or something.
Come on, you can do this Pillow! Just a hop, skip, and a jump. You're going to hold everypony up if you stop moving.
...Or they'll just push you. Oh no, I'm not ready! I don't want to go to Earth yet!
"No, please, Waaaiii—" Oh, I'm through already. Keep walking, pretend that didn’t happen. Pretend no one is looking at you funny. Humans just normally look that funn-eeaaah!
Pillow Case by BG (Mr. Blue) == She Likes Cloth: Chapter II, "Welcome ta 'Erf!" ==
My heart stopped. My lungs were no longer working. My hooves were glued to the floor. Humans everywhere!
A voice drifted into my ear and echoed in the emptiness of my mind as it cowered in the corner, "Welcome to America miss."
I never looked to see who said it but when I finally got my lungs back I mumbled, "Oh, um, thank you." to no one in particular.
I could feel the shock of being tossed into a crowd of strange creatures turn into a rising panic, and did my best to keep it down. No! Calm down Pillow! Nopony's going to eat you. No human. Whatever. Just relax. There's no going back anyway, that portal was way creepy. This place is big! I bet this is the biggest building in the whole city. It's definitely bigger than any building I've ever been in. It wasn't really, but looking at the high ceiling instead of the crowd helped me stay calm.
There are just as many ponies here as there are humans. Oh, 'this way to immigration', and there's the green line. So helpful.
Immigration wasn't so bad. There was actually a pony working in one of the lines. I wondered if he commuted too. It was really boring though. It took me almost an hour just to get my turn. Everything checked out though. I had all the paperwork and stuff done almost a month before.
Strawberry had said to wait at this place afterwards because it's right outside. Which was good because there was no way I’d have been able to see her with all those po-people around. It was a nice, familiar, little restaurant. They opened a few in Equestria. I went to the one in Manehatten a few times when we visited Granny. They had these awesome tofu patty sandwich things. They came in little buns with sauces, cheese, pickles, lettuce, and all that. They also came with a sodapop and either hay fries or those potato fries that are really good.
I got in line to get some food. Strawberry sent me some human money to use when I got here. Why do humans use weird green paper money anyway? It’s not even really paper is it? It’s like cloth or something. I guess it’s not easy to copy the designs. These things are very detailed. Ponies like to joke about the weird human money but I can see how it’s not so bad now, and I guess there are reasons for it. Maybe it’s because human faces don’t fit on coins very well. No, wait, they have some on coins. They couldn’t fit that one human’s hat though. I saw other pictures of that human before. He always had a hat.
That’s weird, I thought all of these places were supposed to be the same, but there’s only one type of soy burger on the menu. All the others are...
Oh. OH! Oh...
I bought a sandwich anyway. I could smell the... other things cooking, but decided to just eat and ignore the smells. Except the smell of fries. Those smelled really good. Not many ponies liked the potato ones. Mom said they were too salty for her.
I picked up a tray in my teeth and found an empty table to sit at. The chairs were all so high up. Humans always make things too tall. They just like to pretend they’re bigger because they stand on their hind legs. Their freakishly long hind legs. I’m pretty sure it’s still cheating. If I stood on my back hooves... I’d still have been shorter than any of the humans around me.
I’m a bad example though, I’m the smallest in my family even. I was the second born with five brothers and they’re all bigger than me! Mom is too, even though she’s also a pegasus.
The chairs were just too hard to sit in. I wished I had picked a booth instead. I could barely fit sitting on my haunches. I munched on some hay fries and tried to unwrap the sandwich with my mind. Why did they need to seal the paper wrapper with a sticker? It’s sort of hard to open with hooves guys! Curse you and your silly hats and polo shirts.
I was too busy staring at my food and pretending I hadn't been caught staring at the human at the counter, that I almost didn't hear somepony yelling my name at an ever increasing pitch, “Pillow! Squeeeeeee!”
I couldn't make her out in the crowd at first, even from the really tall chair.
“Strawberry?!” I called back. I stumbled off the funny human chair just as she made her way to my table, dodging around the humans and occasional ponies blocking her way.
“Oh wow, it’s really you!” She said, pulling me into a hug.
It was so weird seeing her again. Her nice red mane was cut so strangely and parted so it flowed over her head more. I hadn’t seen her since before she got her cutie mark, which I still couldn’t see because of the purple dress she was wearing.
Do all ponies wear so much clothes or is it just really cold outside? I hoped it wasn’t. I’d heard what earth weather was like. The weather ponies told stories.
“It’s good to see you too Berry!” I hugged her back with a wing. Being with Strawberry again just made everything so much more surreal. It had been way too long.
She stepped back and looked me over. “Oh wow Pillow. You’re still the same as I remember, just bigger. And I love your cutie mark! I totally laughed when you told me what it was but it suits you so well!”
She wasn’t the only one to laugh at it...
“Yeah well... Yeah.”
I glance at her flank and tried to remember what exactly she had said hers was. It was some sort of glass with a strawberry on a stick, or something.
It seemed like more people were coming through the station. Everywhere I looked there were tall humans striding around with only a few ponies mixed in the crowd. The humans towered over them enough though that there could have been more.
“Are you ok PC?” She glanced around at crowd behind her. “Oh I know what you’re feeling. I know right? Humans everywhere! Almost everypony feels like that their first time on Earth. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
“You’re right,” I said sadly, “at least I’m not some poor little filly without her cutie mark moving here with her parents. Can you imagine?”
“Oh, if you think that sounds bad,” She said giggling, “try imaging my first day of school! At least on the trip over I had my parents around to hide behind. There were a few other ponies in my school but not in my grade. It took me forever to get used to the clothes too.”
“Clothes? Oh, yeah, you mentioned that in a letter.” She had mentioned it, in her first letter, forever ago. I figured it was a school uniform or something. I remember writing to ask if they were human clothes or pony clothes. That was silly of me.
“I did? Wow, I don’t even remember. Yeah, I had never even had a formal dress before and suddenly I’m always wearing something.”
Really? “Even outside of school?”
“Oh yes, my parents insisted I even wear more at home just to get used to it. And no, it’s not the weather. Honestly all my relatives make that joke when they visit, but they’re always coming in the fall so they think it’s always cold here. It took me forever to explain to my aunt how the seasons change on their own.”
My wings twitched just thinking about that. “I’ll never get how humans stand not controlling the weather, it’s so wild.”
“Usually by rolling up the windows and ignoring it. After a while here you’ll forget what a reliable weather forecast is like. You just put on a raincoat if it’s bad enough.”
“Wait, but I thought you said it wasn't because of the weather?”
“Oh no, I mean, not always. Sometimes it is but that’s not the real reason.”
I think I could guess. Humans seemed to have a thing for clothes. No that’s not it, I read about it before. It’s because they don’t have fur so it has to be really hot out for them to be comfortable without anything on, but they’re so used to wearing clothes they have all sorts of taboos against not wearing them in public. So even when it is hot out they’ll still wear something. I think.
I guess if you hang around humans long enough they’ll get angry or upset at you until you start wearing something.
“It’s just because it’s so hard to be taken seriously on Earth without clothes.” Strawberry said.
Wait, hold on...
“People here don’t mind ponies not wearing anything, or at least they’ll say they don’t. But trust me, it’s usually only tourists that go around naked. If you dress like you’re used to wearing clothes it’s much easier fitting in.”
“Oh.” I wasn't sure if that was completely true, but I also wasn't sure no human was going to eat me, so I decided to take her word for it. She was at least partly right though. I think I was the only pony to step through that gateway without so much as a hat or a scarf.
No wonder everypony was staring at me then. I must have stood out like wings on a unicorn. Now that I think of it, no one stared at Strawberry like they did me. Somehow she just blended into the crowd of humans.
Oh Celestia! Which bag did I pack my sweater in! Did I even bring it? I feel like I’m walking around without fur!
“PC, you ok?”
No I’m not ok Strawberry! I’m having a panic, like granny always says.
My voice was a slight and urgent whisper, “I’m not wearing anything Jam! Everypony is staring at me!”
Hey stop laughing!
She knelt down a little to hide her laughing fit. “We-w... heehee, w-hahaha” She took a deep breath before spitting out, “Welcome to earth Pillow.”
“I don’t get it.” There was some joke there I was missing.
“Oh you will soon enough. Now don’t worry, I told you no one will really mind. And I’d hate to see you cover up that adorable little pillow on your flank.”
There was a weird noise coming from a small purse she had hanging over her back. I hadn't even noticed it there with the dress. It sounded like a swarm of bees trying to sing their way out, and I swear I saw the bag move too!
“Hold on, let me get this” She said. Sitting on her haunches, she reached her hoof into the bag and slid out a weird little black book. Except it wasn’t a book. It was rounded and flat, and made out of rubber and plastic. Humans make everything out of plastic. The front of it had a glass screen with a bunch of glowing words and shapes. She tapped one of the words with her other hoof before holding it to her ear.
“Hello?” She asked.
“Hello.” I replied.
Strawberry flashed me a look like I had done something silly, which I had realized only a split second later that I had. I should have known right away it was some modern human tech, like rich ponies in cities like to buy. The only human tech I got to see growing up was supposedly outdated, like the computer dad bought, and it was all really expensive too. Something to do with the more complicated stuff not working well around Equestria’s high levels of ambient magic. Or rather, that they just worked funny. I've heard all kinds of weird things happen if it’s not made in the right environment, preferably Equestria itself. It could last a year or two, or just a few months, but over time the magic got to it, and if it wasn't used to having magic in it then it could short circuit. Or explode.
Or become infested with magical sprites.
I don’t care what dad says, I’ve heard it can happen.
The problem with the Equestrian made stuff was that they had to start simple and just hadn't caught up yet. Usually they remade older devices from earth to save money. It cost a lot of bits to get anything as good as what they had on earth, but even in a town like ours it popped up from time to time.
Dad’s computer was a lot of fun. Even if it was years behind earth computers. How much could change in thirty years anyway? Most of the trains in Equestria are at least that old and the new ones are hardly any different.
I wonder if Strawberry has a computer. I thought to myself, She probably does. I bet she has games too. I hope she has Frogger.
“No Michael,” Strawberry said to no one, “I’m picking her up now.”
Michael? That’s a human name right?
“No, don’t worry, Em is picking us up at the station.”
Hold on, is that a telephone? Where’s the cable then?
“Yeah I know.” She said, then paused. “I know, we’re just going to drop by and then head out to show PC some of the sights.”
I could hear a voice coming from the device but couldn't make out what it was saying.
“No, not downtown, we’re already downtown. You know how ponies are their first time here. I don’t want to overwhelm her with the culture shock.”
Ha! It's a little late for that Strawberry.
“That’s very rude Michael.” Her voice is stern and her she starts frowning. “No... No, It’s a slur! I don’t care if Star uses it all the time, it’s still a slur.” her smile started to come back after a pause. “It’s alright, just don’t use it again please. Uhuh... no. We’ll be out late... Ok, just as long as it’s not at our place, I just cleaned up... You too, have fun with the guys. bye... No it’s fine... I said it’s fine! Goodbye Michael!” Her hoof tapped the glowing screen on her “phone” thing and she pressed something on the side that made the screen go black.
“So what is that?” I asked.
“That was Micha-”
“No not who, what.” I pointed a hoof at the black device she was slipping into her bag.
“You’ve never seen a smartphone before?” She asked.
“No, only regular telephones. You know what it’s like back home”
“I keep forgetting how behind Fetluck is. I thought they’d at least have cell phones by now. Wow. Well dear, it’s sort of like a really small and compact computer that also makes phone calls.”
She gave me a worried look.
“You do know what a computer is right?”
“Of course. Dad bought one ages ago. I used it all the time. I told you that in a letter once” From the look on her face I could tell that answer wasn't impressive enough.
"Did you at least get internet?"
"That's where you plug in the phone line and other ponies can see what's on your computer right?"
That wasn't the right answer. I've only ever seen anypony smile like that to foals who've said something... foalish. I probably shouldn't tell her that I taught myself C++. I bet nopony even uses that anymore. Oh ponyfeathers.
She was still giving me that "You're such a silly little filly" look. Oh come on! I get enough of that at home!
"So that smart-phone...” I said cautiously, “Does it have any games?"
She rolled her eyes and laughed, "Yes. Yes it does. But we'll have time for that later, we've got a train to catch."
We started walking towards the crowd and I tried not to get nervous from all the humans surrounding us.
Which reminded me, "So is 'My-kell' a human friend of yours?"
"You could say that, yes. He's human and a kind of friend."
Strawberry and her silly recursive speak, she still hasn't changed. "Oh? What kind of friend is that?"
"He's my boyfriend."
"My ‘special somepony’, Casey."
“I know what a boy frien-WAIT, WHAT?!"
We made our way to the part of the underground building place, whatever it was, that had the train in it. I’d read about underground human trains before. They’re supposed to be smaller than normal trains and meant for getting around large cities. They sounded much more fun than the street cars in Manehattan.
No, not now, stop getting distracted Pillow, we‘ve got a crisis here. Bfffl (Best filly friend for life) is dating a bipedal carnivore. What the hay!
“You have a special somepony. And he isn't even a pony." Is that even legal?! “I... How does that even work?”
“It works very well. Really he’s a nice guy, and plenty of pony/human couples work just fine. Most states even let them get married. Even this one.”
“Yeah but... with a human?” That last syllable was a squeak and my voice lowered to a whisper. “I just didn’t know anypony could like humans that way. What is it you even like about them?”
"Look, PC. I've lived here most of my life now, ok? Here, ponies are the minority. Most of my friends have been human. That's why I loved getting letters from you so much. For a while you were the only pony friend I had. It's not as weird as people make it out to be. We're just two people who are very happy together."
She stopped and stared ahead of her and her voice became softer than mine. "Also their skin is really smooth..."
Ewww! No, you're giving me creepy, bad-gross thoughts Strawberry! Ergh. Great, now I've got the mental image of Strawberry nuzzling a human.
...Her hoof running across his long bare legs.
His hand combing her mane, blunt claws scratching her back softly.
He presses his big nose against her snout, beady dark eyes staring gently into her pink ones as his other hand tickles her ears...
...The little tabby has a bow in her hair. Awwww...
Strawberry looked over at me. I must have had a weird and conflicting look on my face because hers turned to a frown. I didn't want to push her on this. She was sort of right I guess, on some things, and I really didn't know anything about humans did I?
"Sorry Straw-B. I guess... I'm just a stupid country pony huh." I'm such a doormat.
"You're a silly little filly Casey, but don't beat yourself up. My parents reacted worse to my first human boyfriend. And his flipped out when he told them. This is your first time on earth and dealing with humans, and you haven't said one racist thing yet. You're already light-years ahead almost anybody else."
She offered an encouraging smile and changed the subject. "Ok, so you've only ever seen those old Equestria railways right? Not even the new electric rails?"
"Um, yeah. Also the streetcars in Manehatten."
"Right, well check this out then!"
She lead me off to the right and into a different long hallway, except it wasn't a hallway. It was a street with big metal buildings on either side. Except they weren't buildings! They were trains! Underground! I thought they were supposed to be smaller, but they were way, super, duper tall. Okay, well maybe they weren't that much bigger than the train I took that morning, but they were underground, and dear Celestia, they were just so shiny!
I glanced back at Strawberry. She was eating up my reaction with a big smirk on her face. Yeah, yeah. Make fun of the country pony in the city.
“So...” My voice didn't want to come out. I think part of me was a little in awe. “So, which one’s ours?”
“This one right here.” She said trotting over to the nearest one. “It shoots straight out to Cumberland and then my friend Emily is picking us up from there.
“Yes. She is. I've known her since we were roommates in college.”
“You went to college?”
“For two years, yes. Emily’s still attending though. She’s working on her bachelors.”
I guessed that it was just easier if you were already in the city. I wasn't nearly a good enough flyer for a Cloudsdale Academy scholarship like mom.
We boarded the train while we were talking. The automatic doors were a little scary the way they hissed open. What’s to stop them from clamping down on somepony’s tail when they close? The train became crowded fairly quickly too. I guess humans didn't mind crowds as much. They took up all the space vertically so you could fit a lot more of them into a small space. There had been a bunch of them standing in line for tickets far behind us. I wondered briefly what would happen if you pushed one of them over and whether all the others would fall down too. The thought made me giggle like a mad pony, which made Strawberry roll her eyes again.
The seats were very dirty and old looking. I wondered if that was the real reason ponies wore clothes here. Then again, Manehatten’s streets weren't the cleanest either.
“Woah!” I said as we were suddenly jerked forwards in our seats. I was caught off guard by just how fast the train gained speed after that sudden start.
It was Strawberry’s turn to giggle. “Just wait,” She said, “the best part is coming up soon.”
I wasn't sure what to make of that so I just nodded and looked around the train some more. I only saw two other ponies in the packed car, a unicorn mother with a little filly wearing the most adorable little dress I’d ever seen.
"Pillow Case! You're missing it!"
"Missing what?" My attention snapped back to Strawberry.
"The city you silly filly. I let you have the window seat for reason."
Oh wow! I hadn’t even noticed we were above ground already. You could see forever here. Back home was flat too but it was all fields. It was like they were growing buildings here.
"That direction PC,” Strawberry pointed back the way we came from.
"Yeah I know-OMIGOSH! THEY'RE HUGE! HOW ARE THOSE BUILDINGS SO HUGE?!" It's like if you took the tallest building in manehatten and stood it next to these buildings it'd be like standing a little pegasus like me next to a tall human.
"Stop laughing Strawberry! Those are a lot of buildings!"
"Hee hee. Silly little country filly... I'll never get tired of that reaction."
Pillow Case by BG (Mr. Blue) == She Likes Cloth: Chapter III, "PXS" ==
“No, it’s not working. Try it without the hat.”
“I think the hat looks cute, don’t listen to her Casey, keep it on.”
I didn’t like the dress either way. The hat didn’t even factor in. Why are all the prettiest clothes so uncomfortable? Humans had a lot of clothes and wore them all the time, they couldn’t all be this bad right?
“I like the hat but not the dress. Can I just have the hat?”
Strawberry took on a serious tone. “If you want to be taken seriously in this world hon you need to at least be comfortable wearing casual clothes.”
Comfort is the problem Strawberry.
I pulled off the dress in front of them and they both cringed a little. Why are humans so weird? And yes, Berry counts as a human in this case. It’s not like I was wearing anything before, but they insist on making me go into that little closet room to change.
“Not entirely sure on your philosophy Jam,” Strawberry’s human friend Emily said, “but I can’t argue with clothes shopping. So I’ll just pretend I agree.”
I looked at the hooded jacket Emily was wearing. That looked much more comfortable.
“Do they make anything like that in pony sizes?” I gestured with my hoof.
“Sure,” Emily said, “I think they’re over this way”
She lead us through the maze of clothes, further from where they kept the dresses Strawberry liked. I saw more comfortable looking human clothes where she brought us. She found a rack with the magenta “Mares” sign that this store used to distinguish pony clothes. Strawberry had told me that some stores had the pony sizes all in one section, but that usually meant they didn't have much of it. That would have made it easier though. If we hadn't had a tall human with us to see over the racks I don’t know how we would have found anything. At least the pony clothes racks weren't so tall, but that was mostly because the clothes on them were smaller anyway.
“Ooh, I love the colors on this sweater!” I said half fluttering over to it. It was so very blue. I knew a pony that was that color once. He was nice.
But I never knew a pony who was that soft before! How did they make the cotton here so fluffy? I could just rub my face in it all day.
“PC, stop rubbing your face on all the clothes!”
“But it’s sooooo soft, Strawberry.” I whined.
“Oh, is that what your cutie mark means?” Emily laughed.
I blushed with embarrassment and stopped. But then I felt wrong. It was so soft! I needed to wear it!
“No you don’t want that one,” Strawberry says as I hook my roof around the hanger.
“Because it’s way too big for you, and it doesn't have wing holes.”
“I always think it’s weird how they organize some of these racks.” Emily mused, rummaging through the clothes higher up. She stood on the tips of her shoes to reach and pulled something down. “Have you ever noticed it Jam? Whenever they get the chance they put the pegasus stuff on the higher shelves.”
“Yeah, it’s not like we can fly up there with their ‘no flying in the store’ signs all over the place.” Seriously, those signs were getting annoying. And apparently there were altitude limits too depending on where you lived. So I wouldn't get to fly around those tall buildings without a special license or something, and you needed to live here to get one.
Though Emily said there’s less human sky traffic in a lot of places now anyway with pegasus powered carriages and stuff becoming popular. Which is sad because I wanted to see a helicopter. They sound really cool. Even with the spinning blades of death.
She also said getting a job as a pegasus on earth is even easier than for unicorns. Even with most of the weather being “untamable”. It was all about being able to deliver small amounts of stuff short distances, faster and more direct than other human transportation could, and without using gasoline or anything like most cars did.
I don’t think I could ever do that though. I’m too small for a one pony cart and I’m always the weak link on the team pulls. I’d hate to be a delivery mare but I don’t know what else I could do here. I was asking Emily and Berry about it on the way over. Emily seemed to know more somehow. I think she mentioned some pegasus friend of hers. I hope she didn't mean coltfriend... Except I’m not judgmental! Stop being judgmental Pillow Case! You’re a terrible friend! Ponies can be with whoever they want! You've been alone since graduation. Stop judging others!
Oh Celestia, I've been alone since graduation...
“Try this one on Casey. It looks about your size. A ‘pXS’?”
Pegasus, Extra Small, with fries. That’s me.
“Yes. Aww, what pretty stripes.” I took the sweater from Emily and it instantly became fused to me face.
“Yes.” I squeaked, my voice muffled in the fabric.
“Why don’t you, you know, try it on..? Or at least stop breathing into it please”
“Sorry Berry.” I mumbled, “It’s just so very soft.”
I hugged it one more time before putting it over my head. Once my hooves were through the sleeves and my wings found the holes I began hugging myself instead.
So. Very. Soft!
I squee’d with joy and Emily started laughing along.
Strawberry rolled her eyes and smiled. “What am I gonna do with you Casey.”
“Lend me some more American bits to buy this. I still need to get what I brought exchanged.”
“They’re called Dollars. Bits are just Equestrian currency, no other country uses that.”
Always lecturing ponies Berry, lighten up. Wear more comfortable clothes instead of itchy dresses! I need more clothes now.
Emily pulled down something else from the out of reach rack. “Why don’t I ever see anything like this in human sizes?” It was similar to the hooded jacket she had on except without any sleeves.
Maybe because you don’t have fur on your arms? Or do you? I swear I saw a human with fur on his arms. There wasn't much but I thought they were supposed to be balder than that.
“Is it my size at least?” I asked
She checked the tag. “No but I think there might be another one that is. Hold on.”
Her fingers had trouble grabbing the edge of the hanger.
She’s wasn't very tall compared to most other humans I’d seen. I think she’d actually be just as big as me if she were a pony. Or maybe if I walked like a human. The thought made me feel more comfortable around her.
Even if I might maybe be sort of, a little bit, maybe, still, kinda, afraid a human will eat me…
I blame you granny. You crazy old mare.
“It might be a little loose but I think this one will fit fine.”
I took the weird hooded vest from her. It was such a small silly looking thing. Not as soft as the thin sweater but still a nice cotton.
I pulled it on over my head and put my limbs through the appropriate holes. I think I meant to take off the sweater first but I decided to pretend I didn't. It was half a size too big so it actually fit better that way. I tried out the hood and played around with the drawstrings.
“Why don’t they make these in Equestria,” I said, “They would be perfect for flying.”
And it’s so soft and warm...
“Casey, are you ok in there?”
“Yes, but I’m never coming out. You can’t make me.”
Emily laughed and Strawberry sighed dramatically.
“Come on Jam. You’re the same about those dresses. Casey just has a softer side. You should get something like that, maybe show off that cutie mark for once.” Emily lowered her voice a little, “And I bet Michael would like it if you showed a little more tail too.”
I was so glad they couldn't see me blushing inside the hood. Though I bet Strawberry was much more red, if that’s even possible for her.
She’s sort of already really red.
“You know how I feel about... that, Emily.”
“Sorry Jam, I think you worry too much though. I don’t know many ponies who worry about clothes as much as you, but that’s part of what I like about you.”
I pulled the hood down. “So can I get these then? Are we done looking at clothes because I know what I want now.”
Strawberry Jam smiled smugly. “Oh we've barely even started Pillow! We still have more shopping to do before you’re ready for life on earth.”
I guess that’s not too bad. I only had one condition. “Okay but I’m not taking these off.”
She and Emily both started giggling together.
“Fine then!” Berry said, “Let’s go look at socks!”
* * * * *
“Don’t act so disappointed Casey, I was only messing with you. I didn't think you’d actually ‘like’ looking at socks. I didn’t know you were like ‘that’.”
“I’m not! I am not Strawberry! ...They’re just so—”
“Yeah, we know Pillow.” Emily giggled. “The cutie marks says it all.”
“It’s not like I’d wear those things in public anyway. I just like human made fabrics.” I’m no ‘tail lifter’. Unlike some ponies in my family. Stupid cousin Cross Stitch. Slut. What did he even see in her anyway... Beside, socks wouldn't look nearly so provocative with something like that dress Strawberry was wearing. They’re only slutty if that’s all you’re wearing. That’s what Stitch always said at least. Gah! No, no more thinking about her. She makes me feel so mad I could just... I don’t know what, but it wouldn't be very nice. It would be mean.
We finished browsing through clothes and moved on to the checkout line. Strawberry said not to worry about paying her back when I got my bits exchanged for American money. It was really nice of her. Ugh! That checkout line! It looked so short with only humans waiting in it, but you can fit so many humans in one space. That many ponies in a line would have already stretched halfway across the store. It took forever! Then we had to go outside to the parking lot again.
They kept telling me not to be afraid because the cars had to stop at the crosswalk in front of the doors no matter what. I must have looked a lot more nervous than I was. But those things are scary when they’re moving! They just growl like some kind of monster and they could trample a pony easily, even at their slower speeds. Riding in them isn't so bad though. They can move super fast but aren't stuck on a track or anything. I liked Emily’s car, it was a lot smaller than any others I've seen, and such a pretty light blue color too.
Strawberry had been telling me on the ride over about all the complicated rules they made so the cars can move so fast without crashing. They stay in nice neat lanes, flash some lights to move to other lanes or turn, there were signs everywhere saying so many things that you had to obey, and there were the red lights that turned on when you had to wait your turn so others could drive in front of you.
There’s so much, I don’t think I could ever learn enough to drive myself. Strawberry said very few ponies drive anyway, especially in the city, and especially pegasi.
The three of us got into Emily’s car again. Berry opened the door for me because I couldn't figure out how. How was I supposed to know that you needed to lift that tiny metal handle with your hoof? I guess it makes more sense for human hands. The same goes for the seatbelts. They are so uncomfortable, but Emily said she’d have to pay a fine if anyone in her car didn't have one. How would they even know that anyway?
As soon as I was inside I dug through the plastic bags for me new sweater and hoodie. I had to take them off so we could buy them but it was a little chilly out so I didn't need an excuse to put them on again. I tore the tags off with my teeth and pulled them on.
Much better. I felt almost safer with them on. I don’t know why. It’s probably some psychological thing. Like that blanket I carried everywhere when I was a little filly. Whatever happened to Blankey? I bet mom threw her away. She always complained about me dragging the thing across the ground.
I leaned back into the seat and hugged my forelegs again. So soft
“So where are we going now?” I asked.
“Well Emily has plans later” Berry said, “so she can’t drive us around all day. I was planning on keeping things simple for today if that’s fine. I was thinking we’d go out to eat and then head back to my place.”
Berry looked back at me for confirmation and I just nodded. I was already feeling overwhelmed just watching everything fly by the window of the car. I’d also forgotten about my lunch back at the station. I just left it there when I saw Strawberry.
“So what were you thinking then?” Emily asked.
“How about that vegan place Becki’s been talking about?”
“Yeah, she took me there. It’s alright I guess. Their only selling point is ‘being vegan’ though. They’re really sort of bland.”
“I guess I should have assumed that with Becki. I was just worried about Casey.” She looked back at me.
“I’m used to it but I’m not sure how you are around the smell of meat. I've known some ponies to be a little too touchy about it, and this is your first day here.”
“Oh. Umm. I guess I’ll be fine.” Just as long as I don’t have to eat any, I didn't say. I don’t know if I was being a pushover or if I was actually ok with it.
Hey! I already decided I wouldn't judge anypo-anyone. If humans have an... interesting diet then that's fine! They don’t eat hay right? I bet they’d feel just as weird being in an Equestrian restaurant.
Except hay isn't part of an animal...
No. I can handle it. I've got my new security sweater to keep me safe right? I had Blankey to hide from the monster humans under my bed as a filly. This was just like that except they’re not really monsters anymore. Because that was racist Granny. Shame on you. You shouldn't tell those horrible stories to impressionable little pagasus fillies who are afraid of the dark.
“So how does Chinese sound?” Strawberry asked, looking back and forth between the two of us.
Emily just shruged.
I had no idea what that was. It might be good if Berry likes it. I was in the mood for something else though.
“Um, would it be fine if we got some pizza?” I read a thing about Chicago when I was trying to decide on coming here. It said something about pizza I think. No wait, was that another city? I don’t know. They all sound the same sometimes.
“Really? Pizza?” Berry looked at my skeptically.
What? It’s not like they can put meat on something as good as pizza right?
“Actually I’m feeling in the mood for pizza too.” Emily says.
“You sure that’s what you want Casey?” Berry asked.
“Yeah. I like pizza.”
“Alright then. Pizza it is. You know is area better than me Em, but pick something pony friendly.”
“There are places that aren't friendly to ponies?”
“What? No, well yes, I mean,” Berry facehoofed and turned to look at me. “I meant with a pony friendly ‘menu’ Casey, I don’t know any pizza places that hate ponies. A lot of them love hiring pegasi for deliveries. There are people that don’t like ponies, just like how there are ponies that don’t like humans, but most of both are very friendly together. So don’t worry about it, alright?”
“And some ponies and humans,” Emily said flashing Strawberry a sinister grin, “are a little more ‘friendly’ together than others.”
I tried not to giggle. I’m not sure if I should have laughed at that, but it was funny.
Berry’s getting all flustered now. Awww. How does she even get more red than that anyway? That just made me laugh harder.
“Not you too Pillow.” Strawberry said sounding wounded.
“She’s right Casey, you shouldn't laugh at ponies just because they keep their roommates up all night shouting their boyfriend’s name.”
“ALRIGHT THAT’S-that’s quite enough.” Strawberry’s voice gets really high when she’s upset.
I giggles some more for that. Wait. Why was she shouting his na-OMIGOSH TOO MUCH INFORMATION EMILY! Sweet Celestia I need some brain bleach or something. Bad thoughts! Bad thoughts! Not That There Is Anything Bad, Wrong, Or Immoral About What Two Sentient Adults Of Any Race Or Species Do Together In The Privacy Of Their Homes Of Their Own Volition.Or Even Showing A Small Amount Of Affection In Public As Any More ‘Traditional' Couple Would.
Nice save there Pillow Case. Nice save. Fight that racism.
I thumped my head lightly against the glass window and stared outside as the alien city sped on by.
PC Phone Home - "ICC log time: 14:55:05-15:38:43 10.25.XX, IL, USA to W. MN, EqK"
“Yes mom I’m doing fine. Everything is really amazing so far. This place is really amazing. Berry says it’s…”
“yeah she’s doing great…”
“No she’s living on her own remember? She’s got a great job at this bar. It’s one of those really fancy city bars, but fancier because it’s a human one. They've got like, these TVs on the walls everywhere that are all all flat and super detailed. It’s more colors than a…”
“Yes I've been brushing my feathers mom. I’m a grown mare, I can take care of my own wings. Anyway there’s this computer thing at the bar that…”
“well no not really but I thought some of them were at first. I almost freaked out until Strawberry explained that apparently, this is kind of cool, they have like this way of making a material that imitates leather but isn’t really, and they use it on all the stools and seats in the bar. It’s actually very comfortable and they say it’s much better than the real…”
“Yes I know what Mrs. Belle says but there’s a difference between her and the cows in the human world. Like, a lot of differences. Berry said she saw one here. They really aren’t the same at all. You know what they used to call dwarf horses here before the portals right?”
“...Yep, exactly. Then we messed them up and they needed a new name for them. It’s weird to think about. I guess it’s like if we used the word “human” for monkeys or something…“
“Yes I got my preening brush in the mail. I almost had to go buy one, thanks so much for sending it! I didn't have money for a new one it but Berry said she might help…”
“Yeah she’s a great friend. It’s so weird seeing her again. We've both changed a lot. I bet Granny would think she’s crazier than Stitchy. She’s got more human friends than pony friends. I’m almost the only fillyfriend she knows right now. I swear, sometimes she’s just two legs over being a human herself…”
“No of course she doesn't…”
“I mean, I don’t think she does…”
“That’s not very good for your digestion…”
“No I don’t think even humans eat that. Mom, you’re just being gross now…”
“Ewww! Mom, haha stop, eww. I can’t believe you said that!”
“...Oh really? Well, you’ll never guess what they put on pizza here…”
“... … … ...”
“Wait. Wait. Wait, you did WHAT in the academy?”
“…really? A whole wing?”
“...Wow. I don’t know mom. That’s… wow. I am so glad I didn't to Cloudsdale Academy if that’s the kind of stuff you guys did there.”
“I know a lot more ponies eat fish and stuff near the coast but…”
“Mom. Mom, I’m in the human world. They eat all kinds of things here. You were giving me a hard time about leather bar stools and you ate a whole seagull wing as a dare!”
“Well I bet it did taste alright with that kind of sauce. That stuff works with everything right?”
“...Well maybe I will some time! Ok, no. Wait. No. Not going to happen. I mean, ok, I guess I’d be fine with others eating it but really it’s all… blegh, the smell alone makes me feel sick…”
“Well I’d really appreciate a bottle of Uncle Pickle’s secret sauce. I haven’t had that stuff in forever, but no, even that won’t make me eat, what was it again? A seagull wing? Mom... how did they even go about… I mean why did they… It didn't have feathers on it right?”
“…’to give you its courage’? Mom, this is why I avoid your friends from the academy. They are really, really, weird. I am so glad I’m not a weather pony.”
“Oh you wouldn't believe it. Just yesterday everyone was going on and on about how it was supposed to rain because some pony on the human TV said it might, and all the humans went out with umbrellas and Strawberry put on rubber boots, and all that, but nothing happened! There were some clouds but the rain ones were really far away. I kept telling Strawberry but she didn't’t believe me at first. Emily did but she doesn't know very many pegasi so she’s…”
“Oh yeah she’s human, one of Berry’s friends…”
“No, you’d probably really like her…”
“No listen ok? Just imagine… ok just imagine me if I was human…”
“Just bear with me on this.”
“I know right? But just imagine that, but with a black mane. That’s Emily…”
“No seriously. Strawberry swears by this. She keeps joking and saying she can’t tell us apart. I swear on Celestia, she’s even a vegetarian and likes to knit…”
“Yeah that’s right. It’s what a human says when they don’t eat meat. And she’s really nice and friendly too.”
“Oh yes, I told you, Strawberry has lots of human friends.”
“Well it's funny you should mention that mom. I didn't want to mention this in a letter, but apparently, ok don't freak out or anything, but her other roommate is her boyfriend, and he's a human!”
“What do you mean you knew that? Who told you?”
“And you didn't even think of telling me? You knew all this time and never mentioned it?”
“Well no, we almost never wrote each other anymore. I didn't find this out until I got here! I had no idea you and her mom were still in touch!”
“No I'm not mad, but I am upset! I almost freaked out in front of Berry when she told me. I didn't even know anypony did anything like that. I mean... I guess I should have expected it, but I never…”
“No I'm sorry, I am overreacting again, you're right. So, how's dad doing? Has he found a job?”
“Well yeah I guess I didn't expect him to find anything overnight. I just still feel bad about…”
“I know it's not my fault. I just miss the place. Everything made sense working there... I'm still looking for a job here. I think I might have to be a delivery mare until I find something better. They're always looking for any pegasi they can get for that. Have you heard from Shaggy or Stitchy at all? Did you send them my letters?”
“... … … … … … … … … … …”
“That's good. I can't wait t-to get them.”
“Aww, that's sweet of him. I wish I could have been there for his party. I'm glad he was t-thinking of me.”
“N-no I'm fine. Just tell me more about the party.”
“No I-I'm not. *sniff* I'm just…”
“Oh mom, what am I doing here? I-I can't fit in here. I'm not like Strawberry. I c-can't just pretend I'm not a p-pony! Celestia's sake, I don't even know any other ponies here, and she acts so human that sometimes I... I don't even know, it's just different and scary and I feel so alone!”
“No that's not really it. It's all just new. But I don't want to be a delivery mare mom! Is that really all there is for me here? Is that my destiny now? Why d-don't I just get some p-paint and draw a big red X on my cutie mark! It's n-not like I need it anymore r-r-right? ...Right?”
“... ... ... ... ...? ”
“... No I don't need to you come pick me up. I'm sorry for yelling. I'm really homesick I think.”
“No... No I don't know. But what else can I do? The shop is gone. I can't even go back home anyway! Dad might not ever find a job there himself. All my brothers have moved away and w-we hardly saw them anymore! A-all my friends left too. I don't want to feel alone again. But then, here I am, even more alone than before right? No ponies anywhere who know me.”
“No I guess I'm not.”
“Yeah even if they're all humans and Strawberry they've all been so nice. I...”
“Well, I guess I didn't…”
“No, that's not what I meant before. Me and strawberry still get along great. Better than when we were fillies It's just... Different. She's a different pony. It's like making a brand new friend.”
“Oh ponyfeathers I'm a stupid pony. I'm a terrible friend. I don't even know how to be a friend anymore I guess. What am I doing here mom? What am I supposed to do?”
“Well it's like a fancy drink thing. I forget what it's supposed to be. It's just a glass with a strawberry on a stick.”
“She said it's because she likes serving and mixing drinks and things. Shouldn't you know this if you and her mom…”
“Well yeah. Humans have beds. I don't see where you're…”
“Ok, I get it. But I'm not sure they even have stores like ours here, I think everything is made in factories…”
“Well of course they they have salespon-humans in their stores.”
“Really? You really think that? But I thought…”
“Well yeah, Dad did make me do sales a lot after that. I just never liked it because old Mrs. Cornflower would always be so rude whenever she came in. I thought dad was just trying to avoid her.”
“He did? I don't know mom. I never really thought of myself as a salespony.”
“... ... ... ... ... ... ...”
“Well ok, I'll ask berry about that. I don't know though. You're right... You're right, there's bound to be something that fits me. I mean, they even have clothes in my size here. They make them in factories but they even make some that fit a little pony like me. So there has to be a job that fits me here too, right? It's not like the world is completely against me if they make such comfortable clothes in my size.”
“That wasn't supposed to be funny mom. I'm being serious.”
“But the stitching is really finely done! And the material, even the textiles in Manehatten weren't this fine. Their silk isn't as soft and everypony knows how much of it they import from Equestria. But their cotton is better than anything I've seen, and then they can mix in some synthetic stuff and…”
“No, I'm sorry I did get carried away.”
“Really? Me, a full time salespony? I... I need to think about that some more mom. I'm really not sure.”
“Yeah I guess it wouldn't be too bad to just try a delivery job for a little while. It can't be that bad and I don't want to be a freeloader no matter what berry says.”
“Yeah I'll figure something out.”
“No the comm portal is supposed to be open for another twenty minutes but it's still expensive and I know how tight money is right now. I promise when I find out what my destiny here is I'll... I'll send part of every paycheck home, just to help out.”
“No mom I want to. You don't have to tell dad if you don't think he'd like it.”
“Oh really? We'll see about... No mom what are you doing? I'm not going to race with dad to find a job first. Honestly you weather ponies…”
“Haha, no, you're the best mom. The best weather pony ever! You have all the courage of a seagull right?”
“I didn't say they weren't. I'm sure coastal winds are tough on the birds around there.”
“Well you're definitely better than a human world weather pony. I bet that mare wouldn't know what to do with a storm cloud if it rained on her party, I don't care which world we're talking about. You are the best weather pony ever.”
“Well I shouldn't hold you up then. Strawberry's probably getting bored waiting for me outside.”
“I love you too mom. Tell dad I love him and I'm sorry I missed him. I'll call back as soon as I can reserve a slot at the Inter-world Comm. Center. Apparently they're very busy this time of year.”
My nose was cold. So were the tips of my hooves, but my nose was all sniffly too. It was only fall but the cold hit much harder than it does back home. It was like it seeped through the walls. Something about the weather in this world just sets my feathers on edge. It’s like it’s wild, mechanical. Icy? That’s the wrong word. Of course there’s ice in cold weather! Well, not this weather. It’s not that cold obviously. Seep was the right word though. It got into everything.
Strawberry was weird about it. The human world has all these cool things built into the walls so all you need to do is turn a little knob and the whole apartment will get warmer, but apparently that takes up too much electricity and electricity costs money and Berry insists on waiting until the end of the month before turning up the heat. She said it’s not even that cold. I’m a pegasus though! If she can take it I can take it. We’re built to take tough weather! Even if it is on crazy weird human earth. Bring it on human world! Grrr!
So there I was hiding all cozy under a blanket in bed. I was really dark suddenly. I think the sun outside set and I forgot to turn on a light. I didn’t really need one. I had my tablet glowing in front of me.
A month of delivering pizza and I finally had enough to buy one. Not that delivering pizza is that bad of a job mind you, I’m just not that good at it. Ok it was a bad job regardless. I don’t know how other ponies do it. Humans and non-winged ponies will only take the job if they have a car, and they might be more comfortable and secure in one of those, but the pay is even worse because most places don’t pay for the gas you use, and Emily said that stuff is expensive, and Berry was uptight about the electric bill so it must really be bad for her to complain about it.
That’s why everyone told me to try it, almost like it was expected, you know? Like so many people just assume it would work out and the job would be a breeze for me, but no. All those human houses look the same, especially from the air, and they gave me a little navigation computer thing that uses satellites in space to tell you where you are and where to go, which is super cool and creepy at the same time, but I was still knocking on the wrong doors.
And some of the people who answer… most humans I’ve met have been nice but some can be really creepy and scary. I was talking to the delivery driver they have and he was telling me about some of the really weird people he’s seen too. It’s like, you finally find the right house, finally knock on the front door because that’s where the street is and you don’t want to make a mistake like before and make someone angry by landing on their nice grass and knocking on the back door because human architecture can be crazy sometimes, but no this time you got the front door, and it’s probably the only door because it’s just this tiny little rectangle building that you wouldn’t have guessed was a house if it wasn’t for the chairs and the pathway out front and a car parked nearby… and this old woman opens the door.
At least you think that’s a woman, because Celestia help me, her mane was gross and crazy, and she’s got these weird wrinkles and this look to her like she can’t decide if she’s a predator looking for prey or if there’s something chasing her. You’re worried she’s part dragon or something because she actually breathes out a puff of smoke, which explains part of the smell, but not the rest of the smell that just surrounds the whole place. I know humans eat meat but I was under the impression that they didn’t like making a mess with it and tried to keep things clean but it was like something died in there. I couldn’t even say anything when she opened the door. I just stood there shaking and nearly dropped the pizza. Then I made my first mistake because when she slammed the door going back inside for money, I was too scared to stay and didn’t want to become a pizza topping for some crazy human carnivores so I flew away as fast as I could.
Anyway that was my first strike and one of the reasons why I don’t deliver pizza anymore. That weird place that smelled like dead things. No, wait, not dead things actually, just the kinds of super gross alive things that live in dead things. It was more like that whole building was just a giant rotting log you found in the woods playing with your friends and there’s all kinds of creepy things living in there. It didn’t look like it was rotting or anything from the outside, but we weren’t really paying attention. I had told strawberry that I was getting really good at flying and she wanted to see, so I looked for something too big for a little filly to jump over. I found a stick and flapped my wings really hard while running and then flew over it! Except it wasn’t really flying, it was just jumping with my wings out. Strawberry said she could jump higher and then proved it by jumping over a huge log. Then Poppy Seed jumped too and started laughing. I couldn’t lose at flying to two earth pony fillies! So I ran as fast as I could and leapt in the air! That was the first time I really did do any flying, though it was a little. I could feel the lift from my wings that Mom always said to look for when she game me flying lessons, but I was too surprised by the feeling that I stopped flapping and fell face first into the log. It broke open like a wall made of smelly, moldy bread and I screamed when bugs started crawling in my mane. There was probably a snake too.
I cried all the way back home while Strawberry and Poppy tried to calm me down. Once I had a bath and mom had cleaned out all my scrapes and helped me comb my feathers straight again I had settled down some, but I remember being too scared to go back out into the woods for almost a year. I even had flashbacks during my flying lessons sometimes and was too scared for even those. My brothers teased me about it sometimes. Strawberry never did. She and Poppy both asked permission to stay the night to cheer me up. It was my first slumber party at my house. We played all sorts of games and had so much fun. There were more fun nights but that was the one I remember the most.
I didn’t go back to work after that delivery. I think Berry called them and gave some excuse so they wouldn’t fire me quite yet. I just went straight to her place, took a shower, combed my wings, and cried into my pillow.
Pillow Case by BG (Mr. Blue) == Holiday Special: Casey Saves Christmas... For Later == (Yes this chapter is in third person, no I'll try not to make a habit of it. This is just a special occasion. First person suits Casey more even if I'd rather plead the third)
It was the day before the night before Christmas, and all through the bar, hardly a drinker was stirring, because it was only 2:30, and far, far too early, for the less stranger patrons to have come in for beer. But the bartender stirred from her daydreaming stupor by the opening door and the sound of soft hoofsteps (no, not from the roof).
In through the door, shaking snow from her feathers, trotted a white little pony who was sick of the weather. She was bundled up tightly to keep out the cold in a collection of garments, though none very old. The bartender smiled but sighed just as well, for her shift was long over but this pony might tell just where the fucking hell that fussy red earth pony was, who was supposed to be there like an hour ago, and she wasn't even supposed to work today except that Sanja called in sick and no one else would pick up their damn phones, and Jeff literally begged her to come in because he was worried about some crazy shit starting if he had to work the bar and put together the next month’s schedule at the same time, and “Good god man I’ll come in just as long as that goddamn Strawberry Jam isn't late for her shift, again. I know she’s great and all but why is it people are only ever late when I’m working right before them. I mean, Jesus Jeff, what's with that?”
Unfortunately Pillow Case didn't know where her friend Strawberry was and had also expected her to be there on time to talk about their plans for the following night. They were all going to a party on Christmas Eve and it was Pillow’s first Christmas, so of course Strawberry wanted everyone to get into the spirit for her sake. She hadn't understood it all, because it hardly seemed different from Hearth’s Warming Eve, but she made sure to research the traditions so she didn't accidentally embarrass herself in front of a large crowd of humans and ponies alike, like at the “Halloween/Nightmare Night/Oh God Casey, Bobbing For Apples? Really?” Party.
She’d spent the weekend with her nose buried deep within her tablet computer going through a secret list of holiday favorites provided by her small number of human friends who all claimed to be experts on the holiday. They even fought over the list when Eric kept insisting that she had to watch ‘A Christmas Story’, but that she could only watch it on Christmas Day. Then Emily went on a tangent about “so called traditions” being “stuck reliving the nostalgia from the baby boomer generation” and a lot of other stuff that went right over Pillow’s head. So she and Michael snuck out of the room while the couple bickered and he suggested she just stick with the animated stuff until they sorted it all out, oh and also not to tell Berry because she’d probably not want to hear about what they were all doing.
So after a long night with Rudolph, Frosty, A Charlie Brown Christmas, a tearful peak into It’s A Wonderful Life, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and finally learning how The Grinch could possibly steal something as abstract as a holiday, there was no way she would ruin Christmas. And just in case anyone tried anything funny, at least she had a decent idea of how to go about “saving” it. Mostly though she was just confused and was hoping Strawberry could clear some things up...
* * * * *
Shedding her long scarf and the booties on her forehooves, Pillow hopped up onto the tall barstool. It was a little tall for such a small pony but height meant nothing to a pegasus. Resting her forehooves on the seat she quickly asked the bartender if strawberry was around.
Having just opened her mouth to ask somewhat of the same the she just closed her mouth and shook her head.
“Oh...” Pillow replied, “I thought she was working today. Sorry.”
“No, she is. She’s just late. I’m not even supposed to be here but... whatever. Can I get you anything? Coffee?”
“Just some cocoa if you have any or tea I guess.”
She poured the little pony some hot chocolate and then went back to pretending to clean the counter. Pillow struggled in her head to remember the bartender’s name. She knew maybe two or three of Strawberry Jam’s coworkers with how much time she spent up there. There was that one guy Jeff-er-ee or something. He might have been the human that owned the place, or the son of whoever did, or something like that. Strawberry mentioned him a lot and he was always around the place trying to hold on to some small bit of authority, but it seemed to pillow his only purpose was to sign the paychecks, answer the phone, and get stressed out so others didn't have to.
After waiting for around ten minutes Pillow pulled out her tablet to watch more Christmas specials. When Strawberry said to not worry about paying rent and to spend her first few paychecks to help settle in then Pillow surprised them both by not only spending most of the money on clothes, but also a few pieces of “amazing human technology!” including a tablet she had thoroughly researched and then spent several days holed up with as her first, very own window to the internet. Neither of them would admit what Strawberry’s boyfriend Michael's jokes were actually true, and Pillow seemed more tech savvy most times after a few months than Strawberry did having been raised in the human world.
Unfortunately that money seemed a little wasted for a while as Pillow’s job delivering food for that one pizza place didn't exactly work out all too well. While most places jumped at the chance to hire a pegasus to deliver food, and would pay them more than they would most human drivers, they weren't too keen on delivery flyers who would accidentally drop the food when startled by a car horn or a barking dog below her.
Fortunately she had gotten a job as a salespony at Bed Bath and Beyond with a few good references and past experience at home, and that seemed to be working out well. Humans tended to develop strange superstitions about ponies’ cutie marks and would trust anything a pony with a pillow on her flank would say about anything relating to comforters and bedding. She’d made a surprising number of sales on her first day just by not knowing what she was supposed to do during her break and taking a quick nap on one of the display beds. Though she was too embarrassed to do that again. She wasn't working a sewing machine anymore but at least she was back to part of her comfortable old job back home. She was very excited at the prospect of also selling soap and other things too when she completely finished her training.
Pillow Case was interrupted from the captivating origins of humankind’s guardian of Christmas spirit (as told in amazing stop motion glory of Rankin/Bass Productions’ “Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town”, which strangely conflicted with most of her previous research on the subject, but it was on the list so it had to be important); the bartender whose name she swore she’d remember eventually set a drink down in front of her.
Pillow looked at the glass of dark amber liquid startled, and then up at the girl who set it down. “What’s this?”
“From your friend.” She nodded her head to someone Pillow hadn't noticed sit down a few seats away. Some strange man with a trim beard, spiked hair, a black blazer, and a fairly shady smile.
“I don’t know him.” Pillow squeaked quietly to her friend’s coworker.
“Oh.” She said a little annoyed, taking the drink back and moving to help someone else.
Pillow tried to turn back to her tablet but the obvious sound of someone standing up on two legs and moving over to sit by her was hard to ignore.
“Aww, what’s that all about little filly, I’m just trying to be friendly.”
‘Well maybe that’s true.’ Pillow thought.
“Besides, we've met before, remember?”
“N-no, I think you have me confused with somepоny else.” She tried desperately to melt into the stool but her hooves and flank remained stubbornly solid.
“Nah, I’d recognize that cutie mark anywhere,” He put a tonal emphasis on “cutie” when he said it.
“It-it’s not an uncommon one. A lot of ponies h-have one just like it.”
“Maybe a lot back in the good ol’ EqK, but there aren't ‘that’ many ponies around here. come on, early November, you bought me a drink, came over to my apartment later for some fun.” His dropped to a whisper as he leaned uncomfortably close to her. “A little wing and hoof play and then you-” he leaned forward and whispered something in her ear that made her blush turn her into a good imitation of her best friend Strawberry.
“I-I-I... what... I—”
“Oh we might have both had a bit to drink but maybe after a little tonight you might remember...”
Pillow was saved, she assumed by the bell above the door. Hoping desperately to see a friendly face she instead caught the eccentric eye of a pony that was just that.
“Casey! How’s mah faaaavv-rite lil’ doppleganger doin’? Ah haven’ seen yall since the Fly-by party last month! How’s it goin’!” His smile was terribly contagious but Pillow was trying to figure out a way of putting the scrawny blue pegasus stallion between her and ‘the scary man’. He looked down the bar at the now impossibly more annoyed looking girl pouring a drink. “Lily! Lovely Lily, how’s ‘bout a drink sugar. Pretty please?” His smile defied reason and grew even wider, and the sparkle in the puppy eyes he gave her could have blinded Celestia herself.
Despite the best efforts of Lily’s own glaring eyes, the blue pony’s head did not explode. “No means no, SoCo. Not this time.” She said back. “You know the rules. Nothing for you stronger than ginger ale before seven. And even then only when Berry’s around.”
SoCo feigned a blow and held a hoof to his chest. “Oh you wound me dear.” laying thicker his deep southern drawl he rebounded, “but never you worry none, Ah am nothin’ if not generous when it comes to all mannah of booze and made sure as salt ta’ have plenty of mah own ta’ share.” His smile came back and his wing flipped in and out of a slim coat pocket, expertly tossing and catching a small glass flask of some crystal clear liquid.
Lily groaned and Pillow would swear later she saw her weep into the espresso machine. They were both familiar, Lily (and the other bar workers, waiters, waitresses, and pub owners working within the same seven mile radius) more so than Pillow, with the small light blue and brilliantly white maned pegasus known as Southern Comfort. Woman and Mares everywhere were said to cling their respective males closer when he was near, though not for the reasons most males assumed when hearing Comfort tell them all this.
His friendly smile returned to Pillow Case before doing a double take over the man sitting next to her. “Well howdy, what have we here.” He said innocently “Friend a’ yours Case?”
Pillow shook her head. The spiky haired man was still staring at the image of a fluffy pillow on SoCo’s flank.
“Actually...” Comfort said, “have we met? Oh yeah, I remember. Early November, I bought’cha a drink, then we went back for a little ‘wing n’ hoof’ play at your place ‘fore—”
The stranger was already out the door before he finished, his car soon screeching out of the parking lot.
“Well damn. That’s a real shame I tell you what. Wouldn't happen to have the number ‘a that cutie would‘ja Casey dear?”
She shook her head smiling. She sort of liked SoCo in a weird way, and he was the only local pegasus she saw that often aside from the teenage colt who usually delivered pizza to the apartment. She just found his eccentricities a little hard to keep up with, and his and her identical cutie marks and similar coat shades made her feel awkward around him; some humans assumed they were related when she first met him at a party. And then of course Strawberry Jam couldn't stand him and his methods for picking up guys which, while almost never failing, would frighten away a great many stubbornly straight bar patrons, and then of course the impromptu parties that seemed to form wherever his smile and alcohol were mixed and were such a mess to clean up. He warmed up to people very well and even Strawberry would agree he was comfortable to be around; it was his special talent.
Although it was because of him that a lot of humans in the area not familiar with cutie marks would assume Pillow’s meant she was 'good in bed'. Which just gave her another excuse to cover herself up and buy more clothes, nice soft clothes. Though she claimed it was for the cold weather. That gosh darn untamable human world! Grrr!
After Pillow had explained the story of the spikey haired man, and Southern had picked himself off the floor and stopped laughing, Lily the bartender came over and gave the bluer pegasus the man’s tab, which he more than happily paid, much to Lily’s chagrin.
“Well now Casey girl, I say this calls for something special, though I think yall’ll appreciate this a little bit more than mahself.”
Her eyes widened and she couldn't help but let out an excited squeak as he pulled a large glass bottle that had, somehow, been hidden in his other coat pocket. She recognized the logo instantly, three apples silhouetted over a red stallion’s head and the name “Sweet Apple Acres Cider” in large blocked letters around it.
“Just a little taste of the homeland.” He said casually. “Gran sends us each a bottle every year, probably hoping one a’ us will finally ‘git some sense and move back to Equestria and away from the dangerous land o’ the carnivores’. Good ol’ gran. But you know me”—Pillow didn't actually but she nodded her head anyway as he talked, eyes sparkling at the sight of the bottle—“Ain't set hoof in that world since I was a wee thing, or care much for pair a’ queens its got. Mmmhmm.”
He reached over the bar and hooked a hoof around a glass when Lilly wasn't looking, and then the empty one Pillow had for water. Popping the cap off the bottle he poured Pillow and himself each a glass. “Here.” He said replacing the cap and sliding the bottle and glass to her.
She stared at the bottle in shock and stammered, “B-bu-but, it’s not Christmas yet! I didn't get you anything! I—”
“Easy girl!” He said, pulling out his flask and unscrewing it with his teeth. “Don’t you worry ‘bout that none. I’m not one to care for getting gifts anyway. Tis’ the season though and I figured you might be missin’ home a bit ‘round this time. I know I’m am.”
“But I thought you said you never—”
“Good ol’ Alabama. Don’t get the chance to visit them as often as I’d like. Damn shame."
“Well come on now, how’s ‘bout a Christmas toast.” His glass was only half full of cider but he brought it just past three fourths with the contents of his flask. He then picked up his glass in the way that always fascinates humans more unfamiliar with ponies, and held it aloft. She tapped hers against his.
“Um, merry Christmas” she said.
“And a happy Hearth’s Warming to you.” He said back.
They each emptied their glasses, him chasing it down as if it were trying to get away, and her savoring each drop as a little bit of home.
Once Pillow stopped crying and SoCo had assured Lily, and then the newly arrived Strawberry, that he hadn't done anything wrong, and she had backup him up, laughing a little, then he tipped an invisible hat to her and moved to the other end of the rapidly filling bar, homing in on a yellow coated unicorn stallion.
The bar became busier and busier and Strawberry hardly had a moment to say hi. Lily wasn't even given the chance to leave because even an earth pony with a strawberry margarita glass on her flank couldn't hope to keep up with with the sudden blurring rush of patrons. Not feeling up to watching her Christmas stories anymore and not even being interested in the eccentric pony talk show host on the screen above the bar (‘Tickled Pink!’ With your host, The Element of Laughter, Pinkie Pie!) she eventually took off on Strawberry’s advice that they’d probably be better off talking over their plans at home with Michael, when Berry was off work.
Pillow Case bundled up warmly and hugged her cider bottle close as she flew home. Though she didn't feel like watching any more cartoons, she suddenly felt a desire to rewatch that one black and white movie again, with the funny talking angel in it who wanted to earn his wings. And then she wanted to call home.