The story of 'Macintosh' has concluded; this 'Aftermath' is more like a side story.
By TotalOverflow, '11
Big Macintosh gave himself a 'once over' in his mirror. His mane was brushed, his harness was on straight, the bandages he still had to wear were fresh...Today was going to be a special day, he had a very specific destination in mind and he wanted to look his best. Nodding approvingly he turned to look at his desk. Only three items rested upon it. The last photo of him and his family, his trophy from the celebration, and a second framed photograph: the picture taken by Photo Finish of him and his friends. It was a wonderful picture. All his friends were dressed up and smiling happily, surrounding the grinning and blushing stallion who disliked being the center of attention. He smiled, thinking back to the incredible festival. He hadn't been to many parties in his life, but he had a good feeling he'd never go to one as sprawling and exciting as this year's 'Summer Sun Celebration.' The food, the lanterns, his friends and family, not to mention his newfound understanding...that night was spectacular. Unfortunately he had to go home shortly after he received his trophy, as he was just too exhausted from so much activity, and there was work to be done on the farm. From what he heard, the day after was a strange day: ponies tried their very hardest to keep partying, but most ponies just couldn't handle a full twenty-four hours of intense partying and made their way for home. Some fell asleep on the spot, however, and from how Applejack described it, it was like walking through a minefield of sleeping ponies. She was prone to exaggeration, though. The cleanup over the following days was exhausting, and Macintosh tried to help where he could, but his friends kept shooing him away, going on about 'guest of honor' this and 'done enough already' that. Afterwards, everypony fell somewhat back into their normal daily routine, although Big Mac made much more frequent trips out to town to visit his friends. One friend in particular became...Well, Mac felt that maybe, maybe she could become more than just a friend.
Now, today, around a week after the celebration had ended, Macintosh turned away from the trophy and the pair of photos beside it to look once again in his mirror.
"Welp," he drawled, "Ah ain't gettin' any younger." He sighed, opened his door and made his way downstairs. He'd already finished his work that morning, and it was around ten or eleven in the morning now. Just about time for...
...The mail to arrive.
Macintosh chuckled to himself as he opened his front door to see a cross-eyed Ditzy Doo rubbing her head.
"Mail call!" she smiled despite herself, passing him a couple letters, "here you go!"
"Thanks," Mac replied, "y'know ya can jes' use the mailbox out by the gate, Ditzy."
"But I never get to say 'hi' when I do!" she smiled, her eyes refocusing on the red stallion. Macintosh smirked and looked down to his mail. Bill...Order...Junk...A letter from Braeburn? Huh, haven't got one of those in a long time...I wonder what's going on? The Apple Family had a 'no news is good news' sort of policy: you'd only write if there was something big going on.
"Tissue?" Ditzy asked, "I mean, problem?" Mac snapped his head back up.
"Oh, uh, no," he cleared his throat, leaning inside and placing the letters on a nearby table, "it's nuthin'. Mah cousin wrote me, is all, an' he don't usually write us much."
"Oh, well, maybe he wants to say 'hi' too!"
"Maybe..." Macintosh stepped outside and closed the door behind him, beginning his trot towards town.
"Aren't you going to read it?" Ditzy tilted her head.
"Nah, Granny Smith loves gettin' an' readin' the mail, an' there's somethin' Ah need ta do in town t'day b'sides. Want ta walk with me?"
"Beans!" she smiled, "you're the last on my mail route anywho!"
The two walked in silence for a bit, Ditzy humming quietly to herself and fluttering her grey wings absentmindedly in the breeze. "So how're ya doin'?" Mac asked after a moment.
"Doing good!" she chirped, "Lightning Bolt was able to get me a spot on the weather team, and Rarity says she found a place for the package! Maybe I can afford it now that I have two jobs!"
"A place o' yer own?"
"Yeah! I've stayed with the muffin lady longer than I wanted to, but now maybe I can finally get my own place! Although, I will miss Sweetie. I wish I had a little sister, or a d..." she trailed off, kicking at a loose stone.
Macintosh cleared his throat. "Well, a place fer yerself sounds nice." He didn't hear the whole story of how Ditzy ended up staying with Rarity, but he had a feeling it was a touchy subject. "How 'bout the others? Anythin' new goin' on that Ah missed?"
"Uh, not much," she stood a little straighter, "Rarity's been working on some big orders, and Pinkie Pie's been getting a lot more customers lately, so she's been really busy, but she still gives me my muffin every morning!" she smiled happily, "how's your family doing?"
"Not bad, we've been busy too, though. AJ done got us a ton o' orders from some upper-class like ponies, so we've been plannin' all them things out, an' Apple Bloom's gettin' close ta finishin' school fer this year." The two made small talk for the rest of the trip, and before long they found themselves at the entrance to town.
"Thanks for the styrofoam!" said Ditzy as she waved and flew off, "It's back to flapjacks for the package!" Macintosh smiled as he watched her go. Nice filly, even if she's a little...unusual. Breathing deeply, Big Mac trotted into town. The midmorning sun gracefully lit the streets and ponies therein, and the red stallion was cheerfully greeted by many ponies as he strolled around the roads. By now, almost everypony in town knew him; not a surprise really, considering what happened at the celebration, but it still slightly unnerved Macintosh. Too much attention isn't good for a pony, he thought as he smiled at a few passing ponies. He'd tried to lay low the last few days, as these friendly folk were constantly stopping him to say 'thanks' or invite him over for lunch or whatnot, and Macintosh felt bad about declining their generous offers, but he had work to do, and his family came first.
As Macintosh walked past a park, a small nearby bed of flowers set his heart aflutter as he remembered what he set out to do today. He knew where he had to go, but as he craned his neck to spy the clock tower he found that it insisted the current time was only about half past ten. Too early, he mumbled to himself as he glanced around town. In the distance he could hear the school bell ringing for recess, and on a whim Macintosh decided to head in that direction. Nearing the old building a few minutes later he saw all the students out in the playground enjoying the sunlight. He saw Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle run from the direction of the other school, and watched as they joined Apple Bloom and Cotton Cloudy, who in unison shouted "Cutie Mark Crusader Time Travelers!" and bolted off down the field. Barely dodging out of their way was their maroon teacher, who shook her head and smirked at Macintosh as he drew near.
"Good morning, Macintosh!" she said, flicking her pink mane.
"Howdy, Cheerilee," nodded Mac, "recess time, eh?"
"Yeah, those foals seem to have unlimited energy; they must have taken whatever I had left."
"Probably sapped half the town, more like."
"Sugar cubes for breakfast, I would wager," she chuckled.
"Ah guess we spoil our young sometimes," Mac sighed, "after all, they're the future'n all, right?"
"Oh, you have no idea how many times I hear that sort of thing at my teacher's conventions!" she groaned, rolling her eyes, "but, you're right. Anyway, how's it going Macintosh? Anything new?"
"No, not much, jes' back ta work, as usual."
"Hi Mr. Mac!" lisped a frizzy red-maned filly with glasses who galloped over, "did you bring any more thweet appleth?"
"Hiya, Twist!" grinned Macintosh, "sorry, not t'day."
"Aw!" she sighed and took off, joining some other foals who were in the process of building an equine tower to reach a ball that got stuck in a tree.
"Thanks again for visiting the other day," Cheerilee chuckled, "the kids were so excited when I told them you were coming by, and then you brought candy apples! They were more strung up on sugar than I'd ever seen them. Thanks a lot," she punched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Heh, yeah, sorry," he sheepishly said.
"Don't worry about it. You should drop by again sometime!" Cheerilee said, stepping onto the porch and opening the door. She turned to face Macintosh, her light green eyes glowing in the morning sun. "Macintosh," she began, "I've been thinking about what you said; about all those questions you asked about cutie marks and everything, and I dug up some old books of mine on the subject. Would you like to take a look?"
Macintosh met her earnest and innocent gaze, before smiling and looking down to the green apple half on his flank. "No thanks, Cheerilee," he said resolutely, "Ah think Ah've got the answers Ah was lookin' fer."
"All right then," nodded the mare, "I've got them if you ever do want to take a look. Oh, and Macintosh?"
"Yes?" he replied, staring into the pink pony's eyes. Did they glimmer for a moment? He saw what looked like a series of emotions, hopes and wishes passing through them: what was, what is, what could be...what couldn't, and she opened her mouth to speak once or twice, before finally her green eyes settled and became the eyes of a friend. A childhood friend, one Macintosh could talk to anytime, but only a friend.
"Don't worry about my valentine," she said softly, "you've already done a lot for the town and me."
Macintosh let out a long, slow breath. Finally, a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as he sagely nodded his assent and understanding. Without a word, he turned and began his trek back to town. Behind him, he heard his friend call out for the children to line up and return to class as the school bell started ringing.
During the walk back towards town Mac took a slight deviation through a small park. The wind gently tugged at the wispy branches of the tall overhanging trees, and the grass below his hooves rustled in a gentle wave. A few birds sang in a nearby shrub sending an improvised melody throughout the park. Carried on the breeze between the bushes came an even sweeter sound: the softly singing voice of a mare Macintosh knew. Trotting around the bend she came into view, resting in a small clearing and sweetly serenading the birds and small critters who danced around her pink mane and golden hide. As if expecting him, she turned her azure eyes onto his, and for probably the first time since he'd met her, she didn't jump at his presence.
"Hello, Macintosh," she chimed, her mouth forming a loving smile as her wings fluttered a little.
"Howdy Fluttershy," he replied in a raspy voice. Clearing his throat he took a few tentative steps forward, taking care not to frighten the little animals nearby. "How's it goin'?"
"Oh, just wonderful," sighed the mare, "I was just spending some time with my little friends out here in the park."
"Did ya ever get ta talk ta the mayor 'bout yer ideas fer a flight camp?" asked Mac, who suddenly became very aware of his deep rumbly voice in sharp contrast to the filly's fair and gentle tone.
"I did, and she said she'd look into it. I think it may actually happen."
"Are ya excited?"
"Nervous," she chuckled, "but yes, I'd love to help any foals who have trouble flying. How about you, Macintosh? Anything special going on for you today?"
"Well, ah..." Macintosh felt his face become a little hotter. He looked deeply at the mare who was nestled into the grass before him. Fluttershy...Probably one of my closest friends, now. "Ah came by ta meet with somepony."
"Oh, well then," she said, shifting a little, "I shouldn't keep you. Have a good day!" she smiled kindly. Macintosh smiled too and turned to leave the small clearing.
He turned to look at her.
"Yes?" Her eyes betrayed something, but just for a moment. A hint of sadness, but swiftly dampened out by joy and honest care.
"You're a very good friend."
Macintosh looked deeply into her eyes: the eyes of a dear, dear friend he knew he could confide completely in and feel totally safe around, but just a friend. He smiled, nodded and left, his heavy hooves flattening the wavy grass below.
By now, Macintosh had returned to town, and he held his head high, trotting in the direction of his original destination, only to catch sight of the clock tower and find that it was only a little before eleven now. Still too early...He pursed his lips in thought, aimlessly ambling around the road in no particular direction. A little ways off he saw a flash of dark pink and yellow disappear around a bend. Lily? he wondered as he followed after. As he turned the corner he saw a fruit stand tucked away in an alley being roughly tended to by a filly he hadn't seen for days. Cherry poked around her cart, rustling about between the nearly empty baskets of fruit and mumbling to herself. Big Mac resisted the urge to turn and leave, instead taking a few cautious steps forward.
"Cherry?" said the stallion. She spun to face him, a stunned look on her face.
"Oh, it's you," she answered, her expression growing darker, "what do you want?"
"Well," he cleared his dry throat, "Ah think we sorta got off on the wrong hoof. Ah didn't...uh, Ah mean..."
"Yes?" she said impatiently.
"Uh," he rubbed his neck, which was still sore from the log incident, "what Ah mean ta say is...um, Ah didn't mean ta, y'know, come between you an' Blues."
"Oh, is that all?" she said flatly, breaking her scornful gaze and resuming her work on her stand, "that colt wouldn't know a good thing if it blew up right in front of him."
"So...Are y'all all right?"
"Of course I am." She forcefully closed the shutters on the stand and picked up a small bag.
"Uh, what're ya doin'?" asked Mac.
"What's it to ya?" she glowered, but upon seeing the honest concern on Mac's face her expression lightened.
She sighed. "I'm leaving town. This backwater little village isn't good enough for me."
"Besides, it's not like anyone will miss me," she hid her face in the shadow of the alley.
"Cherry, Ah'm sure ya've got lot's o' friends here in town."
She snorted in response.
"Like," Macintosh continued, "what about Cheerilee? Ain't you an' her friends?"
"An' Ah heard ya've got a brother here in town too, right?"
"Ain't there anypony else ya spend time with?"
She stared at the road. "Well, I guess Pinkie Pie is always nice to me..." She started laughing. "And one time, Rarity-" Mac saw her eyes wide with mirth for probably the first time since he'd met her, but once she met his gaze her expression fell again.
"There ya go!" Mac grinned, "see? Ya've got friends here in town. Are ya sure ya jes' want ta up an' leave 'em all?"
She found the cobblestone road to be intensely interesting as she attempted to avoid his gaze. Finally, she scrunched her face up and looked him dead in the eye.
"I don't like you very much," she spoke quietly, her purple eyes tinted with a series of unreadable expressions. Finally, she looked away and cantered off down the alley towards the other side of town. Macintosh looked back to the sad and lonely cherry stand in the dark shadows. With a long, drawn out sigh, Macintosh finally pulled himself away and turned to leave, the conflicted eyes of Cherry still lingering on his mind.
Relationships sure are confusing, Mac muttered to himself as he stepped back into the sunlight. He had never really thought about getting into a relationship before. Of course, he had foalhood crushes and all that, but they never amounted to anything and he never had a fillyfriend before. Being pulled out of school and spending most of his life on a farm made sure of that, but it could all change today. At the thought of the mare he was meeting today his heart skipped a beat again; it was a very strange feeling for the stallion. Even stranger was how his feelings for her seemed to come out of nowhere. At first, the two were just good friends, but as they spent more and more time together every day, something sort of sparked between them. These were new waters for him to tread, and he hoped he knew what he was doing.
Eleven loud tolls from the clock tower broke Macintosh out of his daydreaming, and he glanced around the road to regain his bearings. The town was busy with an average day of work, merchant stands and small shops open and inviting to passersby. Ponies wandered to and fro, enjoying the company of their friends and going about their daily business. They smiled and greeted the red stallion, and he curtly responded, but he couldn't help but wonder how many of these ponies were hiding pain and hardships of their own. People are rarely what they seem on the surface, he thought to himself as he trotted down the road. Life was a complex thing; he always knew this to be true, but it sort of shook him when he finally realized through meeting his new friends that his weren't the only problems in existence. I suppose a lot has changed over these last couple weeks. I've sure changed.
Mac turned to see Rose cantering towards him from the library, her satchels filled with books and a smile on her face.
"Howdy Rose," he grinned, eyeing her heavy bags, "whatchya got there?"
"Oh, Twilight got me some great books on shopkeeping!" the crimson-maned filly replied, "how about you? How's it going?"
"Not bad, back ta work, an' all. Enjoyin' yer new shop?"
"Yes, thank you," she tilted her head happily, "and thank you for helping set it up. Everything's going so well!"
"Glad ta hear it," Mac widely smiled. Rose chuckled lightly to herself and glanced at the clock tower.
"I should get going, but please drop by the store sometime today!" Rose said as she cantered away, "I could actually use your help with managing this big order I just got!"
"Sure thing," Mac answered. "Rose," he called out suddenly. The cream-coated mare stopped and turned her forest green eyes upon him.
"Yes?" she replied in her tuneful voice. Mac looked deeply at her, her pink streaked bangs falling in front of her lively green eyes, filled with interest and curiosity. The first friend I met in town.
"...Nothing," he said after a moment, "Ah'll come by later an' give ya a hoof." She kept her gaze locked upon him for a moment longer, something flashing through her eyes before she smiled and nodded, turned and cantered off in the direction of her shop. Macintosh sighed, and spun to face the library, a literal tree of knowledge. He laughed lightly at his pun and knocked on the door.
"Hello?" said a small dragon who opened the door, "oh, hey Big Macintosh, you know you don't have to knock anymore; you can just come on in."
"Howdy Spike," Mac smiled as he stepped in, "you an' Twilight still live here. Ah should give y'all the curtesy of knockin'." Spike shrugged and hopped over to a small stack of books he was organizing. There was another pony in the room perusing a book of his own, a brown stallion with an hour glass cutie mark. Twilight was nowhere to be seen. "So y'all have got the library up an' runnin' again, eh Spike?"
"Yup, gives me something to do other than always clean up after Twi," the dragon chuckled.
"Is she out at the moment?" asked Mac.
"Nah, she's downstairs working on a new spell. I'll go get her," Spike said as he bounded away. Macintosh casually examined the library: the shelves were missing a few books, no doubt taken out by ponies in town. The colt at the table had a small collection of books of his own spread out, and he read with furious intent. Suddenly he shot his gaze up at Macintosh.
"What time is it!" he asked, his eyes blazing.
"Uh," Mac stuttered, "jes' past eleven."
"Really? Fancy that," he said, looking down his snout at Macintosh, "I'd love to stay and chat but I must be off!" He burst past the red stallion knocking a book or two off the table. Just as he cleared the door he spun around and faced Big Mac. "Oh, and if anyone asks about a spoon, tell them 'not for ten years.'" With that, the odd stallion ran off and disappeared from sight. Macintosh, scratching his head, leaned over to pick up the fallen books. As he was about to pick one up his eye caught sight of the title on the page: 'Page 27: Flight Spells.' Big Macintosh felt his breath catch in his throat as he looked over the writing. 'Walk on clouds,' 'weightlessness,' 'bird's eye view' and...'temporary wings.'
Big Mac looked up to see Twilight Sparkle entering the room. When she saw him, she smiled and cantered over.
"Uh, hey, Twilight," he said, eyes unfocused.
"What have you got there?" she asked, peering down at the book, "oh, flight spells. Those are hard."
"You..." Mac stammered, "you can do these?"
"Yes, I can, but like I said, they're not easy. I gave Rarity a pair of wings once."
Mac stared down at the book again, his mind racing.
"Um, Macintosh?" Twilight asked, "is something wrong?"
Macintosh didn't answer. His eyes were locked on the page. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the red stallion looked back up to Twilight, and smiled.
"No. Nuthin's wrong." He bent over and closed the book. 'The Physics of Flying,' said the cover. Macintosh chuckled. He picked it up, and with a slow and deliberate motion, slid it back into its home on the shelf. "Nuthin's wrong."
Macintosh and Twilight spent the next hour researching and discussing ancient history and prophecy, and although they were interrupted every now and again by a visiting pony dropping off or picking up some books, they both enjoyed their time together, discussing topics they were interested in and sometimes just talking casually about what was new in their lives. Macintosh's mind lingered for a while on the contents of that book, and how close he was to finding those flight spells before. Had he just flipped a few more pages that day, things may have turned out very different, but now...Well, like I said, I've changed over the last couple weeks. Eventually the clock tower chimed and broke the two out of their studying.
"Twelve o' clock," Macintosh muttered to himself, his heart skipping a beat or two. It's time.
"Wow time flies," Twilight marveled, stretching a little, "that was fun!"
"Eeyup," Mac said a little shakily as he stood up, "Twilight?"
"Yes?" she asked. Macintosh looked down to the purple unicorn. Her dark indigo mane hid the base of her magical horn, and her eyes below were large and intelligent. Those eyes had seen magic beyond anything most ponies could ever imagine, and beneath her introverted behavior lay an earnest and kind pony. She was a very good friend of Macintosh's.
But only a friend.
"Ah'd best get goin'."
"Oh, really?" said the mare, "I was hoping we'd get to look at the legends around the constellations. Are you sure you can't stay?"
"Ah'm afraid not," he said, "Ah've got somepony to meet t'day."
The unicorn mare looked at him with eyes that shone for a moment before wrinkling with an honest smile. "All right. I'll see you later, then!"
Macintosh smiled in return, nodded and turned to leave the library. He closed the door behind him with a soft click, and took a deep breath as he finally set out to do what he had been thinking about all day.
A bell chimed as Macintosh opened the door to the flower shop.
"Hi, Macintosh!" Lily shouted from behind the counter, "welcome to 'The Oasis!'"
"Y'all finally got a name fer this place, huh?" chuckled Mac as he ambled through the shop. Large skylights had been installed in the roof, turning the shop into a large and humid greenhouse with rows upon rows of flowers stretching down the length of the store.
"Yep!" Lily said proudly, "although I still wanted to call it 'Super Mega Flower Power World 5000!' Oh well. What's up, Mac? I'm the only one here right now, was there anything you needed?"
"Eeyup. Ah need a real nice bouquet o' flowers. It's fer somepony special."
"OooooOOOOOoooh!" the pink filly gave him a hugely exaggerated wink, "I gotchya! Don't worry! I'll get you the biggest most flowery bouquet evar!" Lily set about her work, and Macintosh milled around the shop for a bit. A few other ponies were doing some shopping, and overall the store seemed to be doing very well for itself. He had helped a lot getting it all set up, giving them more advice on the finer details of running a business, not to mention helping install the skylights. Now that the store was up and running, they sold more than just flowers, as the apple tree saplings - while not their best sellers - made them enough money for them to invest in offering a wider selection of garden supplies, including vegetable and vine planters. The store was well on its way to becoming a full-on garden center.
"Here you go!" Lily beamed, setting a massive and colorful bouquet down on the counter, "the bestest bouquet ever! I think its my best work, actually. Look at all those little flowers...They grow up so fast!" she sniveled dramatically and wiped her eyes with a hankie. "Don't worry...Mommy loves you all!"
"Thanks Lily," Mac said, completely unfazed by her theatrics. He hoofed her the bits and slid the bouquet into his harness, taking care not to crush any of the blossoms. "When ya see Blues, tell him Ah said 'howdy,' all right?"
"Sure thing Mac!" Lily chirped, her cheerful demeanor restored without missing a beat, "and good luck!" she added with another hugely obvious wink.
Mac blushed and waved goodbye as he closed the door behind him, the bell chiming happily.
Walking slowly, he made his way down the road. Doing his best to keep his breathing steady, he kept his head clear. The town streets were busy with ponies out on their lunches, having picnics in the parks or visiting diners with their friends. Foals were out on lunch break as well, and they ran underhoof, playing games and trying their best to make good use of this free time and not waste it by doing something silly like eating the lunches their mothers prepared. Pegasi flew overhead, moving the clouds and keeping the sky clear and sunny, basking Ponyville in the warmth and light of their beloved princess' sun. Macintosh moved with a direct focus in mind, trying his best to ignore his heart pounding in his throat. Finally, as he cleared the last corner, his destination came into view, the pounding got even worse and a few butterflies decided to call his stomach home for good measure. Macintosh swallowed them down and stepped over to the café, and the mare who sat alone out front.
He set the flowers out on the table before her. She looked between the bouquet and the stallion above them. Her eyes, deep emerald green, glistened with sudden realization. She gazed deeply at him, and a moment later her eyes lit up as a wide smile spread across her face.
"Hi, Macintosh," Daisy said.