The Place I Feel Safest

by Lucky Seven

First published

Roseluck gardens for many reasons. Of them all, one stands out.

Roseluck's garden is more than just a flowerbed. It's a reminder of times long since past.

Featured on Equestria Daily! 5/28/2019

It is so beautiful in fact that I would highly recommend to any and all to give it a read. For if literature is art, this is a masterpiece.My Little Reviews & Feedback

Preread by Carapace & FamousLastWords.

Gone Away

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Gardening isn’t easy.

Every plant, every flower, requires special attention. The perfect amount of water, sunlight, and affection. Of course, some ponies make it look easy.

Roseluck gritted her teeth, the pail of water held between them weighing down on her. Still, she had to be precise. Her roses depended on it. With the slightest of tips, a steady stream of water flowed forth from the spout, showering down upon the still-blossoming flowers. Her free hoof swung up to her forehead as she pulled back, swabbing away the sweat from her brows.

She sighed through the pail, gently lowering her head to set it down. To the outside observer, her actions appeared seamless. She knew better. She’d regularly spend long, tiring days caring for her botanical friends. It was anything but smooth. Still, the occasional leaps and hurdles she’d have to find her way over didn’t dishearten her.

She had to make sure her garden was perfect. Full of life.

Her hooves clip-clopped along the cobblestone path leading to her home, her mind reminiscing as she took a break for some of Lily’s homemade lemonade.

Secluded. Quiet. Serene. Roseluck’s usual spot during recess was perfect. A little grove on the edge of the forest that overlooked her school, rife with botanical wonders.

“Rosey, look what I found!”

Her head perked up. Her closest friend was galloping in her direction. He had something held in his teeth, but it was hard to make out. Still, Roseluck smiled as he skidded to a halt in front of her, kicking up a cloud of dirt. “Hehe, you sure know how to make an entrance, Sundew.”

Her friend snickered. “Sorry about the dirt. I’m just so excited!”

“I’m guessing it has to do with that flower between your teeth?” Roseluck observed. She could only see the side, but the vivid blues and purples running intertwined down the petals were simply wonderful. “What kind is it?”

Sundew released the flower, taking care to hold it gently in his hoof. “This is a blue dendrobium orchid.”

Roseluck craned her head forward to get a better look. The way the colors mixed gave her the impression of a tie-dye, giving the pistil the appearance of a bottomless pit. “It’s beautiful.”

“Right?” Sundew smirked. “I think this is the best flower I’ve found yet.”

“Hey, maybe one day you’ll find a venus fly trap to match your cutie mark,” Roseluck giggled.

“Maybe,” he agreed. For a moment, neither filly nor colt uttered a word. Sundew’s gaze fell to the pristine flower in his hoof, which he extended in Roseluck’s direction. “But for now, I want you to have this.”

Roseluck was taken aback, her cheeks heating up ever so slightly. “A-are you sure? Y-you found it and—”

“I’m sure,” Sundew replied. “I can find more, but I want my best friend to hold onto the first.”

She smiled, awkwardly stretching her hoof out to take the flower. Sundew took the next step for her, though, maneuvering his hoof to wedge it between her left ear and her head. Roseluck’s eyes strained as they wandered up, the orchid having escaped her cone of vision.

“Don’t worry,” her friend said. “It looks good on you.”

“H-heh, thanks,” Roseluck tittered. Her head tilted down to gaze at the ground, that heat in her cheeks coming back.

The bell summoning them back to class rang, and Sundew quickly hopped off towards the school. “C’mon, I’ll show you where I found that flower after school!”

The crisp, yet bitter, sensation of Lily’s lemonade never failed to soothe Roseluck. Her thirst quenched, she set her glass down on the kitchen counter. “I’ll be back to finish you off in a bit.”

She wiped off her lips, then unlatched the patio door and stepped back into her garden. The door smacked shut behind her, and she trotted to the next section on her list.

“Alright. So now that the roses are watered, it’s on to the tulips,” she reminded herself. Her tulips, unlike the still-budding roses, were finally ready to be picked. Decorating bouquets was her favorite part of the job, so she had a bit of hop in her step as she arrived at them.

“W-what…?” Roseluck stammered, mouth agape as she finally caught sight of her beloved tulips. They were tattered, animal tracks leading away from the bed they grew from. The flower petals were covered in… “Bite marks?”

She sighed. Rabbit infestations had been a problem recently, and these marks told her that the furry critters were back. Fluttershy was pretty much on her speed dial these days, and it looked like she’d be giving her another call.

Still, she carried the same smile as she turned heel and trotted back towards her patio. If Roseluck had learned anything over the years, it was that you couldn’t let the little things get to you…

“... So where are we, exactly?”

Leaves crunched and twigs cracked under their hooves as they ventured deeper into the vast forest. They were definitely off the beaten path. The occasional spider-web aside, no creatures could be seen or heard. Roseluck peered up, gazing at the tip-tops of the many trees. Their height intimidated her, so she made sure to stay right behind Sundew.

“I’m not sure, but this is where I found that orchid,” Sundew replied. “Hey, maybe there’ll be a venus fly trap!”

“Sundew, we both know that those are only found on the East Coast,” Roseluck giggled, her eyes rolling. They peered back up, catching the edge of her new flower. “But I do hope we can find more of these.”

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing that after a month,” Sundew chuckled. “I guess it has a long lifespan.”

Apparently so. She couldn’t take that for granted, though. Soon enough, it would wilt, and she’d need to find a replacement.

The further she and Sundew journeyed, the less defined their path became. Vines, thickets of brush, and overgrown grass made it vanish from sight. Still, they pressed on. Roseluck’s gaze fell onto her friend. His trot and posture exuded confidence, something she could take comfort in as they headed towards the unknown.

“Finally,” Sundew called out. Roseluck peered over his shoulder and felt relief wash over her as they came into a clearing. Gone was the dense, unforgiving terrain of the forest, replaced by the tranquility of a meadow. “This meadow is where I found your orchid. There were some other flowers, but it was getting late, and I had to head home.”

The sight Roseluck was taking in was breathtaking. Luminous, flowing creeks carving their path through the clearing, beset by a wide variety of flowers. Roses, tulips, daisies, lilies…

“It’s pretty, isn’t it?”

Roseluck nodded. “How did you even find this place?”

“... You have to promise not to laugh,” Sundew said. Roseluck smiled, giving him the cue to fill her in as she began wandering around. “I was chasing a rabbit out of our yard, and it laughed at me when I tripped trying to catch it.”

“I’m gonna guess you got really mad and chased it all the way here…?” Roseluck laughed.

Sundew responded with a laugh of his own, a hoof finding its way to the back of his head and rubbing away at his mane. “Yeah.”

“Well,” Roseluck began replying, still adventuring around the wide clearing, “this place is just wonderf— Oh no.”

“What is it?” Sundew asked, his head popping up in her direction.

“Let’s just say I found those orchids…” Roseluck sighed. Leaning down, she gently picked one, anxious to get a closer look. The sightly specimens were in tatters, and upon further inspection, she was able to deduce the cause. “And it looks like some rabbits found them too.”

“Aw, seriously?” Sundew groaned, sidling up to her. His fears confirmed, he sighed in defeat. “That dumb rabbit has it out for me.”

“It looks like they were uprooted,” Roseluck observed. “That’s not good. Neither of us has seen these flowers before, and if the roots were torn from the ground, then that means…”

“That means the one on your head is the last one,” Sundew finished for her.

Roseluck’s eyes found their way back to the flower wedged between her ear and head. It was still as beautiful as ever, but now it indeed had a lease on life, and neither of them had the means to renew it.

“... Alright, I’ll see you then, Fluttershy. Uh-huh. Thanks again.”

Trying to end a conversation with Fluttershy was an adventure of its own. Still, as the phone clicked into place on the receiver, Roseluck was grateful that the mare would be able to see her in just a couple hours. If anyone could figure out a way to stop her infestation, it would be the Element of Kindness.

For now, she could get back to tending to her garden. “Alright. The next step on the checklist is to check on my azaleas,” Roseluck thought aloud.

With haste, she made her way back into the garden, this time trekking past her tattered tulips. She threw a hoof up, shielding her eyes from the ghastly sight long enough to pass them by. She arrived at the azaleas just moments later and was again surprised by what she saw.

“Oh boy,” she uttered. Her azaleas weren’t in the best of shape. Just days ago, they had been brimming with life, on the verge of being ready to pick. Now, the petals were enclosed on themselves, the heads drooping towards the ground in a display of defeat.

“It looks like you guys haven’t been getting enough attention,” Roseluck noted. She sent a tiny smile to her delicate friends. Hoof outstretched, she ever so gently caressed the closest specimen. “I’ll be back with something to fix you right up.”

It looked like today was going to be one of those back and forth days. On the bright side, at least she was already used to it.

“You’re lucky, you know.”


“Not everypony gets to stay home from school for a week,” Roseluck giggled, peering through the doorway into her friend’s home. “How are you feeling?”

“A bit better,” Sundew replied. Roseluck wasn’t buying it, especially not after he punctuated his sentence with a cough. “My mom just doesn’t want anypony to catch the flu.”

“Well, I already got my flu shots,” she replied, beaming. “Can I come in?”

Sundew stretched a hoof to the back of his head, rubbing it nervously. His head darted back and forth between Roseluck and the interior of his house. “... I’m actually kinda busy.”

“‘Busy’?” Roseluck repeated.

“Yeah, I’m busy… building a Yu-Gi-Colt deck,” Sundew stammered out with a cough. “So if you don’t mind, I—”

“Oh, come on!” Roseluck cried out. “Even before you got sick, you’ve been avoiding me for like a month. Did I do something wrong?”

“N-no, it’s not like that, I promise. I just—”

“Don’t want to hang out with your friend?” Roseluck accused him. Truthfully, she didn’t feel great saying that to her friend, but she had been cast aside and left alone. Having him lie to her face only further exacerbated the problem. “Because you’re sitting here and lying to me.”

A long, drawn-out sigh passed Sundew’s lips. With a final glance back inside his house, he opened the door and beckoned her inside with a wave of his foreleg. Another cough rang out, and he covered his mouth. “Alright, come inside. I’ll show you why I haven’t been talking to you.”

Roseluck felt conflicted. Why would Sundew of all ponies lie right to her face? Still, if their time together had taught her anything, it was to keep her trust in him. Hesitantly, she passed through the barrier dividing his home from the outside world. The door clicked shut behind her, and Sundew trotted by her at a brisk pace.

“Follow me to the backyard,” he said, his voice cracking a bit. The door leading to his back patio was a straight shot through the foyer, and the two re-entered the outside world. Sundew spoke up again, “The reason I haven’t been talking to you is that I’ve been doing something for you.”

“... For me?” Roseluck repeated it back to herself. She stopped in her tracks, her lips curling into a frown. “W-what is it?”

Sundew came to a stop in front of a tall, white border fence. What lay behind it, Roseluck could only wonder. A regal-looking door was all that separated them from what he had made, and he swung it open. Roseluck gingerly crossed the border, quickly bringing a hoof to cover her wide open mouth.

“I’m guessing that means you like it?”

Roseluck’s eyes scanned around endlessly. Roses, tulips, lilies, daffodils, orchids, dahlias, and even a…

“I-is that what I think it is?” she dared ask.

Sundew nodded. “A venus fly trap.”

Roseluck emitted a faint sniffle as she trotted further into the garden. “Sundew, what is this?”

“It’s a garden I’ve been putting together,” he answered.

“F-for me?”

“For us,” he corrected her. “Remember how you always used to talk about how one day we’d have a big garden together, and we’d prance around and pick the flowers?”

“That was just a passing thought,” Roseluck admitted, bringing a foreleg across to scratch the other. “I had no idea it meant this much to you.”

Sundew didn’t answer, instead falling into a fit of coughs. The wheezing noise hurt Roseluck, and she pranced over to his side. “Hey, it’s gonna be alright.” She sighed. “I never knew our friendship meant this much to you.”

Fighting to speak through his coughs, Sundew replied, “Doesn’t it mean the… world to… you?”

Roseluck glanced around her, the wondrous garden filling her nostrils with a wide array of aromas. Her eyes then fixed back onto Sundew.

“Of course it does. I’m sorry I doubted you, Sundew.”

“It looks to me like Angel Bunny and his friends have been getting a little too frisky,” Fluttershy observed, eyeing the chewed-up tulips.

“You said they were fine just this morning?”

“Yeah,” Roseluck answered. “I always make a morning round to lay out the tools I’ll be using throughout the day. Makes things go a lot smoother, that way I’m not galloping back and forth trying to get everything done.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear that today’s been going that way for you. Are your azaleas doing any better?” she asked, picking up another tulip.

Roseluck nodded. “Thankfully! For a minute there, I thought they weren’t going to make it. I guess in my rush yesterday, I forgot to put the same proteins in their water that I normally do.”

“I’m glad,” Fluttershy replied, returning her smile with a warm one of her own. “As for your tulips, the bite marks definitely match Angel’s. I’ll be sure to have a talk with him about trespassing and eating things that aren’t his.”

Roseluck rolled her eyes. “Well, just let him know that if he wants something to eat, he can always just ask.”

“Sorry again for the trouble, Roseluck. It seems like my friends have been a bit restless lately.”

“If they’re anything like ponies, I understand where they’re coming from,” Roseluck replied. “Today’s been pretty crazy. Anyways, I’ve gotta keep to my schedule. Thanks again, Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy shot Roseluck a smile, flapped her wings and took to the air. Once the pegasus had vanished from sight, Roseluck turned back to her tulip bed. She leaned down, taking care to snip away at the stems gently. At the very least, the flowers weren’t uprooted.

She was grateful, if not a little irritated. Her day hadn’t started off well, but if she had learned anything over the years, it was that she couldn’t let it affect her work, nor her outlook. There was plenty of time yet to salvage the day.

“... But where to start?”

“Honey, we need to sit down and talk.”

Roseluck was confused but still climbed onto the sofa across from her parents. “Are you guys mad at me?”

“No, it’s nothing like that,” her mother assured her. “It’s just… Oh, I don’t know how to say it. Dear?”

“What your mother is trying to say,” her father spoke slowly, his features noticeably down-trodden. She couldn't recall the last time she'd seen him frown. “Your little friend. Sundew?”

Roseluck’s eyebrow raised. Her worry was starting to grow. “... What about him?”

“He’s… sick,” her mother continued.

“Well duh,” Roseluck replied. “He’s had the flu for like three months now.”

“Honey…” Her father trod carefully over his words. “It’s not that simple. Ponies don’t just stay sick with the flu for that long.”

“What are you trying to say?” Roseluck’s voice became defensive. “Sundew is going to be alright. He’ll be back at school in no time, and we’ll start gardening together again.”

“Rosey…” her mom muttered, “Sundew is in the hospital… and the doctors are saying he won’t be leaving.”

Those words struck like lightning, sending shocks of pain through Roseluck. The pillars holding her up crumbled from below, and she tumbled down to the ground with a thud. Her vision narrowed, the world around her growing darker as she struggled to get a word out. Ultimately, the choked up filly began to tear up.

It wasn’t possible. Sundew was going to get better, and they would be back to journeying through the many forests surrounding Ponyville in no time. Nothing could tear their friendship apart… right?

“If you want to visit him, you can,” her mother offered. Still, her voice remained hesitant. “... But honey, he won’t be himself.”

Roseluck peered up, trying in vain to wipe away the snot caking her fur. “Th-that’s where you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter how sick Sundew gets. He’ll always be my best friend.”

Roseluck lifted a hoof to her cheek. She wiped away her tears, and she slowly trotted back towards her humble abode. Like her old friend, her posture exuded confidence. Today hadn’t been easy. Long hours spent fixing up her flowers, going back and forth between her home and garden trying to solve problems as they arose.

Finally, she could retire to bed and get some well-earned rest.

… And yet, she felt anything but exhaustion. Pride. Gratitude. Most importantly, she felt accomplished. Grueling as it had been, her day hadn’t been a waste. She had fixed up her azaleas, and hopefully found a permanent solution to her flowers being consumed by the local critters.

Her hooves felt the warm surface of her patio’s wooden finish, and she peered back over her shoulder at the garden.

“If only you could have seen it…” she said wistfully, her tears finally managing to drip away from her cheek. They splashed against the wood below, and the sound sent her back.

“What do these even feel like?” Roseluck asked, prodding at the many intravenous tubes hooking into her friend’s left foreleg.

Sundew coughed through his nose. “Not very good when you’re pulling on them.”

His voice was strained, an edgy rasp attached to every word. Just the sound of it was enough to make Roseluck’s eyes well up with tears. “... What is it?”

Sundew’s eyes shifted far to get his friend in focus. “Huh?”

“Your sickness. What is it?” Roseluck asked.

“The doctor said it’s something called ‘tuberculosis’.” Sundew coughed violently, his body spasming. Regaining focus, he pressed on. “It affects the lungs. There’s no cure right now, but the doctor said it’s being researched.”

“Oh…” Roseluck nodded. She could feel tears streaming down her face, but made no effort to wipe them away.

“It’ll be alright. They’ll find a cure, and then I’ll get better… and we’ll be able to finish our garden.”

Roseluck managed a tiny smile at that. “Yeah. And don’t worry, I’ve been tending to it while you’ve been here.”

“Really? That’s awesome, I’m glad.” Sundew said. The little colt shot a smile to Roseluck, though it was short-lived as he fell into another coughing fit.

“I just hope you’ll get to see me finally get my cutie mark,” Roseluck added with a blush. “I’m such a late bloomer.”

“I’m sure it’ll be the most beautiful cutie mark in the world,” Sundew replied.

Roseluck fixed her eyes on the very cutie mark she’d anticipated all those years ago. The wait truly had been worth it. Imagining life without her garden was just inconceivable. Her head pivoted back towards the stairs, and she struggled to keep her composure as she ascended the steps.

“... And if only you could have seen it,” she muttered again.

Roseluck trotted through the winding halls of the local hospital, radiantly smiling all the while. Seeing Sundew after school had become something of a routine, and she relished the time they spent just chatting about their days.

Turning her final corner, she arrived at her destination.

“... Huh?”

This was odd. She was sure that this was his room. Sure, it was possible that he had been moved to a different room, or even sent home, but something felt… off about the situation. Roseluck turned heel and quickly found her way to the receptionist’s desk for her floor, trying her best all the while to keep her emotions in check. She peered over the counter-top, waving her hoof frantically. After a moment, the receptionist finally took notice.

“Oh, I’m sorry. What can I help you with, little filly?”

“I’m looking for Sundew,” Roseluck replied. “I normally come see him every day after school, but his room is empty. Do you know if they moved him to a different room?”

“Sundew…?” The receptionist looked lost in thought for a moment until a ping of realization washed over her. “O-oh dear.”

That didn’t sound good. “W-what is it?”

“I’m sorry, miss…?”


“Roseluck.” The receptionist tried to compose herself, but Roseluck could see the tears bubbling up in the corners of her eyes. “I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your little friend has… passed on.”

“... What?” Roseluck fell back on her haunches. “Th-that’s not possible. He told me he was going to get better. The doctor said they’d find a cure!”

“I’m sorry, Roseluck.” The only reply she got was a sniffle. “I’m sure your time with him meant a lot. Most ponies in this ward don’t get visitors outside of family, and even those are rare. You’re very brave for being there for Sundew.”

“But it wasn’t enough…” she choked out. “Why couldn’t I help him? I never even got to say goodbye…”

Before the receptionist could offer another reply, Roseluck shuffled to her hooves and galloped away, back towards the elevators. Every skid she made as she rounded the many corners on her path rang through her ears.

This wasn’t over. Not yet.

Roseluck stared at her mirror, her reflection taunting her. Almost fifteen years had passed since that day, and yet… she still held on to her hope that Sundew would return to her.

She’d learned many lessons in the time that had passed. Nothing in this world was permanent. Every flower, every pony, every blade of grass, had its time in the Sun. What it chose to do with that time is what mattered.

With her time, Roseluck had made many decisions. Her sight shifted towards the window overlooking her garden. Her eyes welled up in tears, threatening to break free from the corners of her eyes, but she made no effort to wipe them away.

“If only you could have seen it. My little shovel. How determined I was. Every single flower you planted for us in our garden, uprooted and potted. I don’t know how I convinced your parents to let me do that.”

Roses, tulips, lilies, daffodils, orchids, dahlias, even a venus fly trap.

“Just for you, I replanted them all here. Your parents come over every so often, to look at how they’re doing. Just like you, they’ll never fade away…”

The mare who had grown so much since then turned back to her mirror, once again staring at a reflection that seemed to hold nothing but angst and sorrow. She could see past that facade, though. Inside, she was beaming.

“And the day I got my cutie mark. I wish you could have seen me get it, but I suppose that was never really in the cards. In a way, my special talent was carrying on your legacy and doing what you never got the chance to.”

Yes, things could have turned out better. Life had dealt her a bad hand, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t counter with the perfect poker face.

… It was time for bed.

Climbing into bed and slipping under her covers, Roseluck peered towards the top of her mirror. Hanging there, wilted but not forgotten, was the same blue tie-dye orchid her best friend had gifted her all those years ago.

“Good night, Sundew.”