A little longer to write, a little shorter...I slacked off a bit, I guess. NaNo is a hard schedule to keep.
Either way, here it is. Granny Pie was a bit awkward to write...I mean, I was basically building a character from scratch, based on a one-off reference in a song that was made up by Pinkie Pie and, let's be honest, is therefore suspect. What I came up with...I think I'm pretty happy with it. It wasn't exactly what I intended, but I think it works all the same. Stories have that kind of tendency to grow in ways you don't expect.
I'll probably be expanding on this more when I go around and do the pre-EQD edits, but for now, enjoy this second chapter in the life of our favourite pink party pony.
The train whooshed smoke and steam as it came to a stop, grinding to a halt at Ponyville Station. The doors on the passenger car popped open, and passengers started filing off.
Pinkie turned to her father and gave him a big hug.
"Thanks for the ride!" she told him. "But you know, I could've pulled it here myself."
"It was the least I could do for my little girl." Clyde gave his youngest daughter a hug of her own. "Ain't every day you see your daughter out into the world. You are a little young, y'know…maybe you should wait another year, get a little taller…"
"Don't be silly, Dad!" She laughed. "I'm plenty big enough! See?" She stood on her front legs, her back legs waving in the air. "I'm taller than even you!"
Her father chuckled and pushed her back down. "You were always a silly little filly, Pinkie." He sighed and gave her a regretful look. "I'm sorry that we tried to take it out of you. Now, I just want you to be yourself, because when you're you, you're happy." He ruffled her mane, giving it an extra layer of fluffiness. "And so is everyone else. I'm gonna miss you, kid."
"Daaad, you've gone straight from silly to weepy!" She gave him a light punch on the shoulder. "I'm not going away forever! I'm just going to live with Granny Pie for a while, and before you know it I'll be coming back to Ponyville as a full-grown pony!"
He smiled sadly. "That's what I'm afraid of." Then he tapped his hoof on the ground. "Come on, then! Train's gonna leave without ya. Get out of here now, and that's an order!"
"Yes, sir!" Pinkie picked up her suitcase and tossed it onto her back, and trotted off towards the nearest car door. "Bye, Dad! I'm gonna miss you, all of you!"
"Goodbye, Pinkie!" called Clyde back, taking his hat off and pressing it to his chest. "Go on out and make the whole world as happy as you've made us!"
"Hey that's a good idea! I'll make the whole world happy and everypony will be smiling and there'll be no more frowning and-"
The train car doors snapped shut, cutting off her voice. Then the whistle hooted, and the great steam-powered engine began slowly pulling out.
Moments later, Pinkie's head reappeared in a window.
"And there will be parties!" she declared. "Lots and lots of parties! And everyone will be invited, and there'll be singing and dancing and the entire family will be there, Dad! We'll have so much fun, all of us, with all of the new friends I'm going to make! But until then, Dad…
"Until then, keep smiling! Promise!"
There was more, but it was lost in a belch of steam and the roar of the train. And so Pinkie Pie left Ponyville for the first time.
Back at the station, Clyde wiped at his eyes.
"Damn dust," he muttered. His tone was irritable, but there was a smile on his face.
After all, he'd promised.
I ASSUMED YOU WERE GOING TO LIVE IN PONYVILLE.
"What, are you crazy? I didn't move into Ponyville until I was-! Um, let me see…one, two three…or was it four…well, until I was older!"
I DID NOT KNOW THAT.
"Oh, I thought you would, since Granny…anyway, can you guess where I was going?"
A four-hour train ride passed in the blink of an eye, and the grey shadow of Manehattan crested over the horizon like a particularly smoggy whale.
"Manehattan! Harbour to the world! Manehattan! City of culture and progress and art and all sorts of fancy things like that! Manehattan! Where all the cultures of Equestria smash together like one big jam tart! Purely metaphorically though, because jam made from ponies would be beyond icky."
I KNOW MANEHATTAN QUITE WELL, said Death.
"Greater population means in general more deaths per annum means you get to visit there a lot, right?"
SOMETHING LIKE THAT, he said evasively.
"Man, you're so lucky! I'm jealous…"
Pinkie Pie stepped off onto the platform, suitcase on her back, and Granny Pie was there waiting for her.
She was an elderly mare, scrunched and wrinkled like an old apple. Looking at her, you wouldn't have guessed that she'd have mothered Sue Pie; the only thing they had in common was the hair and the glasses. Where Sue's coat was a perfectly groomed grey, her mother's was a deep, fuzzy ochre, with several obvious scars around the front hooves; where her eyes were blue, her mother's were sea green. Where Sue Pie was small and a little dour and prone to seriousness, her mother was the epitome of the jolly little grandmother, right down to the big wrinkly smile on her face.
"That's my little Pinkie!" she cried out as soon as she caught sight of the little pink filly. She hobbled over with amazing speed for such an elderly pony. "My little pony, how you've grown! It's so good to see you, after all this time!"
"Granny Pie!" said Pinkie exuberantly, and there was no doubt in her voice. "It's great to finally meet you!"
The two ponies embraced and nuzzled.
"You must not remember me!" exclaimed Granny. "I haven't seen you since you were smaller than my front hoof! Why, how many years has it been?"
Pinkie shrugged. "Who cares? I finally get meet my grandma, yay!" She squeezed said grandmother tight. "We're going to have so much fun! We're going to play games and sing songs and have parties! Ooh, I'm so excited!"
Granny laughed. "Your parents said you were a cheerful little filly, but they never told me you were this bubbly!"
"Good old Granny Pie," said ghost-Pinkie with real fondness as she watched her first real meeting with her oldest living relative. "She was a real hoot. It's like she and Mom were two separate people, you know? Like, Mom was always all serious and stuff, at least until I cheered her up a bit, but Granny's always been smiling. And Granny was the best baker this side of Equestria, while Mom could barely bake toast! This one time she tried to bake a cake, and man oh man it was awful! But of course we didn't tell her that, that would've hurt her feelings, even though I'm pretty sure she knew anyway."
SHALL WE ADVANCE A BIT?
"Getting a little antsy, huh? Sure, why not!"
The little old mare and her peppy granddaughter zipped through the Manehattan streets until they came to an old apartment in one of the more rustic districts. The old building was dull, grey stone, and gave off an air of tired superiority, which meant it summed up about fifty percent of Manehattan architecture. The other half could generally be summed up as glass and metal arranged in fancy geometric shapes.
Either way, Granny Pie called the tired old edifice 'home'.
Several minutes later, she was in the kitchen while Pinkie unpacked what meagre belongings she had into the tiny little guest room. What few clothes she had got dumped into one of the two drawers in the dresser, while a couple of photos and one slightly-squished balloon got tagged around the little mirror. She practiced a couple silly faces in it before turning to pull the last item out of her suitcase.
Mr. Cat got a very special place right in the corner of the little bed. Then the suitcase was stuffed into a corner, and she emerged to go see what Granny was up to.
Instantly she was hit by a wave of delectable smell.
"Ooh, what's that, what's that, what's that?" chirped the filly excitedly, bouncing into the kitchen.
"It might possibly be a batch of cupcakes," answered Granny Pie, stepping back from the oven. "Perhaps I made them to celebrate you coming here. And they might almost be ready~"
"Not yet. They're not quite done." Granny gave her granddaughter an oddly knowing smile. "But you can help me take them out."
Pinkie practically squeaked with joy.
"When this timer goes…" She pointed to a little egg timer on the counter. "…you can take them out. But you'll have to be patient until then, okay?"
"Because they need that long to cook."
"I suppose I can leave you to look after them," said Granny with a little smile. "Remember, though. Don't take them out until the timer goes. And they're going to be hot!"
"Kay, Granny!" replied Pinkie with a salute. "No worries! Pinkie Pie is on the job!"
Granny gave another knowing little smile. "Oh, I've got no doubt. Now excuse me, this little old lady needs to go have a nap."
With that she made her exit. Pinkie, for her part, sat down next to the oven, her tail wagging excitedly like a little puppy.
And she waited.
"But I've never really been good at waiting. Actually, I'm pretty horrible at waiting. Actually, I'm really horrible at waiting. How about you, Deathy?"
I HAVE NEVER FOUND PATIENCE TO BE AN ISSUE. Death adjusted his cowl with a flick of his head, deepening the veil of shadows. AND DON'T CALL ME THAT.
Young Pinkie actually managed to do quite commendably, faced as she was with responsibility given to her by her elder. She managed to last a whole minute before getting fidgety.
It started with her nose, which twitched as it processed the bouquet of delicious aromas emanating from the old oven. Then it moved to her eyes, which started flicking back and forth between the oven and the little egg timer, measuring each second and agonizing at their length. Then her tail started twitching back and forth, back and forth, in time with the timer's ticking. Then her back left hoof started tapping against the floor.
Then she yawned with bored fatigue, and flopped down to the floor.
"Augh! It's taking foreeeeveeer!" she complained, rolling onto her back and sticking all four of her legs in the air. She managed to occupy herself for a full two minutes by drawing imaginary shapes in the air; then she rolled back onto her front and stood.
"Granny won't mind if I do a little poking around…" she mused. "I mean this is kind of technically in fact my home right now as of this moment. So that means…I can totally do some exploring!"
She started with the cupboards. The bottom ones were generally full of things like cereal and cleaning supplies, though never both together (obviously). The top ones, which she could only barely reach, contained canned foods and glassware and dishes and other neat things. She ooh'd and aah'd at the fancy plates, which were far more colourful than the dishes she'd used at home.
When she tired of that, she poked through the fridge, poured herself a glass of milk, then poured herself a glass of orange juice, then poured that out when she realized what happens when you mix orange juice and milk.
"I'm so boooored!" she sighed, stretching out over the counter. "How much longer?"
She looked at the timer. Exactly five minutes had passed. She let out a frustrated demi-scream.
"There's gotta be something to do," she reasoned with herself. "Wish I had a ball. This is the kind of emergency that requires a ball."
At that moment, the final minute ticked down, and the timer gave a cheerful little ding!
Pinkie wasted no time in rushing over. She'd seen an oven operated before; she knew what to do. With a grin wider than the Cheshire Cat's, she hoofed open the machine.
Instant wave of smell. The cupcakes smelled like heaven if heaven were filled with bakeries. Pinkie was physically blown back by the sheer deliciousness of it. A moment's struggle, and she managed to peel herself off the wall; a moment more and she was back in front of the oven.
She couldn't control herself. She reached out for them.
And in that moment Pinkie learned that, even if she knew all the steps to doing something, that didn't mean she remembered them.
Granny Pie came running at the sound of the yell. She found Pinkie sitting on the ground, nursing her hoof.
"Owowowow!" yelped the young pony, crying in pain. "That huuuuuuurt!"
WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING? asked Death.
"I'm laughing because it's funny!"
I DO NOT SEE WHAT IT FUNNY.
"Well, this happened years ago, right? And now that I think about it, I was pretty darn silly!" She laughed some more. "Why shouldn't I laugh?"
With calmness speaking of experience, Granny ushered Pinkie over to the sink and made her stick her hoof under the water. Pinkie winced at first, and then sighed as the cool water eased the burning pain. When it came out, the hoof was bright red where it had touched the pan.
"That was very silly of you," chided the elderly mare, wrapping the injured appendage with bandages smeared in some kind of ointment.
"Yeah…" admitted Pinkie with a sniffle.
"Take a seat at the table," Granny instructed coolly. "I'll finish up in here."
Still sniffling, young Pinkie hobbled her way over to the little wooden table and seated herself in one of the chairs. She cradled her injured hoof like a fragile vase, and sunk deep into her own misery.
She was so intent on being miserable that she almost didn't notice when the plate clinked down in front of her.
The cupcake was a glorious golden yellow, slightly browned around the edges, and it radiated an aura of glowing warmth. She could see little streams of steam rising up from it.
Pinkie stared at it in confusion. A little tin of white frosting and a spatula dropped down next to it.
"Well don't just stare at it!" said Granny with a chuckle. "It still needs to be frosted!"
"What, me?" said Pinkie, still confused.
"Yes, you, cupcake!" Granny pushed the frosting and spatula towards her. "Come on now, there's no reason why you can't!"
Pinkie opened her mouth to argue, before she realized that her grandmother was completely right. And, besides, she'd been so excited about it before that she'd hurt herself, so why not finish the job?
She popped open the tin, gingerly took the spatula between her teeth, and set to work.
The end result was a bit lumpy and messy, sure, but for a first time effort it wasn't half bad. Pinkie looked at it with pride.
"Feeling better, cupcake?" asked Granny, who had just finished frosting the rest of the pastries.
"Actually, yeah!" answered Pinkie. Her hoof still throbbed and would probably continue doing so for a while, but for some reason it didn't feel as bad as it had.
"Then give me a smile," ordered the elderly mare.
Pinkie had no problems pulling out one of her trademark grins. It was marred a bit by the lingering trails of tears on her cheeks, but the happiness behind it was the same.
"Now you just remember, cupcake," advised Granny sternly. "First, when you go to take something out of the oven, use the oven mitts. Trust me."
"Yes, Granny," intoned Pinkie with a flush of embarrassment. Her eyes trailed down to her grandmother's hooves, and with a start she realized that the scars were all from burns.
"And second, don't forget to smile!" Granny flashed a smile of her own, to demonstrate. "So long as you keep smiling and you mean it, everything will turn out all right. Okay?"
"Yes, ma'am!" Pinkie's grin widened.
"Good girl!" Granny pointed at the cupcake. "Now why don't you get to eating that thing before it gets cold? I guarantee it'll cheer you up the rest of the way!"
Pinkie didn't waste breath answering, instead eagerly tucking into the cupcake. Granny laughed at her granddaughter's youthful energy, and Pinkie laughed as well at the sheer silliness of everything.
"Granny was like the best baker ever!" informed Pinkie. "Her cupcakes…well, let's just say that if Celestia decided to make the most delicious thing ever and then Luna decided to make it even more delicious and then Discord made the most icky thing ever and you took the icky thing and hit it with an opposite beam and then you put the two together in a combine-a-tron, then it still wouldn't be as delicious as Granny's cupcakes!"
She floated down towards the table. "I wonder if maybe…"
She took a swipe at one of the cupcakes. The treat remained where it was; however, a phantasmal copy of it came away with her hoof.
"All right! Score!" she exclaimed happily, chomping into the delectable piece of pastry. Ghostly crumbs wafted down onto young Pinkie's mane; she shook her head with a look of confusion, and they scattered like dust, fading away into non-existence.
THAT DOES LOOK QUITE TASTY, admitted Death, and the shadows of his cowl managed to look curious. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I MIGHT HAVE A TASTE?
"Say the magic woooord!" said Pinkie teasingly.
ARE YOU SURE? THE MAGIC WORD? Death looked confused.
"Yup! What's the magic word, sir?"
Death said something, and its mere repetition twisted the walls of reality. The fabric of existence groaned and rumbled in protest, and from off in the distance came the barely-audible shrieks of timeless Things from the Light Beyond Darkness scratching at the boundaries of the universe.
"Not that magic word, silly!" said Pinkie with a giggle, demonstrating a worrying lack of concern for the extradimensional happenings occurring around her. "It's please! Say please!"
OH. MY APOLOGIES. PLEASE?
"Oh fine, have a cupcake." Pinkie scooped up another phantasmal treat and handed it to her guide. "Don't eat it too fast!"
Death chomped down on the fluffy frosted pastry. He went stiff.
YOU MORTALS HAVE ALL THE LUCK, he said sourly, nibbling at the rest of it.
Pinkie had difficulty sleeping that night.
She curled up in a ball on the rickety old bed and stared at the wall opposite the window, where the last rays of sunlight formed an orange rectangle that slowly slid upwards. Eventually, it was cut off completely, and the room was plunged into darkness.
It wasn't really the darkness that bothered her. She'd been sleeping with the lights out since she was small, and more than once she'd snuck out to sleep under the stars. No, what really disturbed her were the shadows.
As night fell, the lights of the city flickered into life, and as they swam and mixed together they threw a flurry of shadows across the walls of the room. It wasn't tame darknes; it was wild and moving and full of unknown Things.
Pinkie curled up tighter.
And then there were the sounds. Where the country slept at night, the city woke up again. She could hear the trotting of ponies on the sidewalks, the clatter of wagons and carriages, the mutter and yell of conversation, and so much more. In daytime they were the sounds of bustle and business; in the shadows of night, they blurred together into one monstrous roar. To Pinkie, they were the roars of the monsters in the shadows.
Even her balloon looked like the head of a frightening beast. She wished fervently that she had never put it up.
So she sat there in the corner, her back against the bedpost, her hooves pulled tight against her, and she did not sleep.
The door creaked open.
An involuntary squeak slipped by her lips, but then light flowed in and she saw that it was just Granny. The old mare poked her head in, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
"Are you all right there, Pinkie?" she asked kindly. "I know it's not easy sleeping in a strange place."
Pinkie feigned sleep, unwilling to show her fear. She let out a gargantuan snore, complete with nose wrinkle and whooshing sigh. Granny just laughed.
"Now I know you're faking," she said knowingly. "You're far too cute to snore like that."
"How do you know?" retorted Pinkie, and too late she realized her mistake.
The old mare trotted over and hopped carefully onto the bed. She arranged her legs under her so that she would be comfortable, and then she lay her head down on the covers.
"Are you scared, Pinkie?" she asked gently.
"No I'm not," protested the little pink pony, poking her head out from under the pillow.
Granny gave her a close, penetrating look. "Really?"
"…Well, maybe just a little," she relented.
"What are you scared of?"
"Oh. Um…" Pinkie hesitated a bit. "It's all the noise."
"It sounds like a big scary monster!" attested Pinkie. "You know?"
"Uh-huh." She nodded her head vigorously, her puffy pink mane flopping up and down.
"Um…the shadows," Pinkie admitted with a bit of embarrassment. "The way they move, it's like they're creepy-crawlies moving around my bed."
"Oh my. And I suppose they're the monsters making the noise."
"Yup," confirmed Pinkie.
"What kind of monsters are they?"
"They're…you know," said Pinkie in confusion. She'd thought it was obvious. "All tall and stuff, with big long tentacle thingies. That end in hooks!" She waved her hooves to demonstrate.
"That's absolutely dreadful. I'll bet they have fangs, too."
"Yeah, fangs too! Big, curved fangs, no, fangs like bread knives! Just waiting to gobble you up!"
"And they have terrible eyes."
"Oh man, the eyes! They're like, big red sphere thingies! Like fire only not! Scariest thing ever! I mean, it doesn't get much scarier than that!"
Death gave Pinkie a baleful look from the shadows under his cowl. She sent him back the most impish grin in her repertoire.
"And cows' horns?"
"And feet like elephants'?"
"That sounds right!"
"And big woolen mittens stuck on their heads?"
"Yeah, that makes…wait…"
It took a second. Then the mental image clicked in Pinkie's head. And unwittingly, she began to laugh.
"No, that's silly!" chortled Pinkie. "Monsters don't wear big woolen mittens on their head! That would be ridiculous!"
"And the rest wasn't?"
"Well…" Pinkie flushed with embarrassment. "It wasn't as silly." And then, because she had always been a quick one, she noted, "Hey, I'm not scared anymore."
"That's because you were too busy laughing," explained Granny. She nuzzled Pinkie, and mussed up her hair. "Remember this, Pinkie: you've got to stand up tall, and learn to face your fears. You'll see that they can't hurt you." She chuckled. "Just laugh and they'll disappear."
Pinkie nodded, and snuggled back under the covers, while Granny unfolded herself carefully and slid back off the bed. She gave her granddaughter a kiss of the nose, and made her exit.
That night, Pinkie giggled herself to sleep.
"And then I wrote a song about it!"
WHAT DID YOU CALL IT? "LAUGH AT THE SCARY MONSTERS UNDER YOUR BED"?
Pinkie giggled at her guide. "Nice try, but not quite."
Time accelerated slowly, like an elderly automobile, until it reached the stately pace of one month per minute. Pinkie had requested that this period of time pass with less urgency, for whatever reason. She watched closely as a year, then two, then three, then four, went by.
Pinkie quickly formed a strong natural bond with her grandmother. The two got along like the proverbial peas in the metaphorical pod; some might say even better. The elderly baker seemed see it as a welcome change; one day, in the first year, she confided why to her granddaughter.
"Ever since your grandfather died, I haven't had much contact with the family," she explained one day as they were whisking together some cake batter, expertly moving the words around the utensil in her mouth. "My sister hasn't so much as sent me a letter since she moved to zebra lands when we were young, your mother doesn't like to talk to me for a couple reasons, and I've never had any other children."
"Well dat's kin' o' sad. I don' know why she wouldn' talk ta you. You're like, de best granmma ever!" Pinkie waved her whisk in the air demonstratively, and a blob of batter dropped into her mane. She dropped the whisk and stretched out her tongue, easily scooping up the errant bit of cake mix. Granny chuckled at her tongue-related skills.
"We didn't part on very good terms," explained the elderly mare, and she dropped the subject there. "How much did you hear about your grandfather, anyway?"
"Um…not much," admitted the young pony, thinking hard. "Actually, nothing at all. I never got told much about either of you, at least until Mom and Dad asked if I wanted to come stay with you…"
Granny Pie made a tsk sound. "Oh, Sue…well, your granddad, he was quite the stallion! Your mother took after him mostly, as I'm sure you can tell." She winked. "She sure didn't take after me one bit!"
Pinkie laughed. "Tell me more!"
"Well, he was always a pretty serious guy. He was into business, so it worked in his favour most of the time. But oh! how I loved him! I was just an apprentice baker at the time, when he came to the shop I was working at. The owner was out, so I was in charge. And that was how we met." She sighed in whistfully. "He kept turning up at the store, and before you knew it we were dating, and then more. Later we opened up a bakery together, with him running all the serious stuff and me making all the goods." She gave her granddaughter a smile. "They were good times, they were."
"What happened to the bakery?" asked Pinkie quizzically.
"Oh, it burned down one day. It was a bit of a lucky thing, really; if it hadn't, we never would have been able to persuade your grandpa to retire!" Granny laughed then, but there was a touch of sadness mixed in with the humour. She stared into her mixing bowl. "He sure was serious, but he knew how to laugh. Helped that I gave him some lessons, of course! He passed away before you were born, Pinkie, but I just know he would've adored you."
Pinkie nodded, reflecting on this pony, so instrumental in her own creation, that she would never meet.
"But what are we doing, chatting away the day?" said Granny suddenly. "Come on, get whisking! We've got a cake to deliver!"
Like many little old ladies, Granny Pie had taken it upon herself to support the good and well-being of her local community. Unlike many others of her ilk, she was almost frighteningly effective at it. Something about her baking drew people of all ages together in harmony: young and old, foal and elder, colt and stallion, filly and mare.
"It's my talent," she explained once, turning her head to point a spatula at her flank. Her Cutie Mark, a strawberry cake with pink frosting and a heart around it, was clear on that point. "Everypony likes eating, and they like eating tasty things. If there's one thing that we all have in common, it's that we like good food. Now package up those cookies, we've got a party to go to."
So whenever Pinkie wasn't helping her grandmother in the kitchen, she was practicing her party skills at whatever event Granny had decided to attend. And, like her grandmother, she had an almost frightening natural talent for what she did. Wherever Pinkie went, smiles followed; and with practice, their number only increased. If there was a party, and Pinkie was there, then it was guaranteed to be a hit.
"I love parties!" said Pinkie on their way home after a particularly happy party at the local orphanage. She pranced ahead, trailing at least a dozen balloons tied to her tail and looking for all the world like she was about to float up off the ground. Her grandmother had a sneaking suspicion that, with a spirit as light as hers, she could actually do so if she wanted to.
And so Time strolled lazily onwards in a floury haze of happiness.
Pinkie went through her adolescence in leaps and bounds, until one day she hopped over the threshold and fell into marehood. The awkwardness slunk away, leaving behind a cheerful, pretty young mare: taller, surer, perhaps a smidgeon wiser, but in no way less ebullient. If anything, Pinkie had become even more energetic as she began her tenure as a full-grown mare.
"Look at you! You're almost an adult now!" Granny ruffled her daughter's perennially fluffy mane, and she had to reach up to do it. "You're so tall now! And your tail's gotten so long! Why, soon I'll have to let you go!"
"Don't be silly, Granny! I'm still your little Pinkie Pie!" To demonstrate, the pink pony bounced around happily. "See? As happy and playful as ever!"
"Oh, cupcake..." Granny sniffled, and dabbed at her eyes. "You're a full-grown mare now. It'll be a couple years still before you stop growing, of course, but I think it's safe to say that you're no longer a child!"
"Gee, thanks." Pinkie suddenly looked confused. "Wait, let me go? I'm not going anywhere, Granny! I'm staying with you forever!"
"You have no idea how happy the makes me, Pinkie." The old mare embraced her granddaughter. "You have no idea."
"You're wrong, Granny. I have every idea."
Death gave Pinkie a sidelong glance, but said nothing.
Time's relentless march had its effects on the elder as well. Where Pinkie gained life and vigour, Granny Pie slowly lost the same. She grew older, and greyer, and even more wrinkled. Her joints, once stiff but manageable, became painfully resistant to movement. Her eyesight failed, until even the glasses did little to make it bearable. White began to slowly supplant the grey in her mane. She tired more easily, and was forced to entrust ever more of life's little chores over to her granddaughter.
And for the first time in her life, Pinkie grew worried.
"It's not like there's anything wrong," she muttered to herself one day while dusting. Her poofy pink mane was tied back with a cute purple bandanna, and she held the feather duster clutched in her mouth. "There's nothing wrong, right?"
She applied the duster with vigour to a particularly nasty patch of dust, and a cloud of grey fluff rose into the air. She sneezed, and it coalesced into a Pinkie-shaped dust bunny.
"Of course there's something wrong!" chided the bunny. "You've noticed, right? Haven't you seen that…what are you doing aaah!"
"Ohmigosh ohmigosh ohmigosh you're so cute!" fawned Pinkie, dropping the feather duster and picking up the miniature version of herself. "I'm gonna hug you and love you and call you Mini-me…!"
"Yeah, that's great Pinkie, but please let me AGHAGHAGHHELP"
The dust-bunny Pinkie made a high arc in the air before landing in Pinkie's mane, just behind her bandanna. She dug herself out of the cotton-candy mess and leaned out over the edge, in front of Pinkie's eyes.
"Are you even listening to me?" she asked plaintively.
"Yeah, 'course I am!" Pinkie assured herself. "I just had to make sure you were somewhere safe first, you cute widdle thing! So you were saying?"
"Um. Yes. Okay then." The dust pony cleared her throat. "As I was saying. I'm sure you've noticed what's up with Granny."
"Kind of maybe sorta not really." Pinkie picked her duster back up and began dealing with a bookcase. "What's up?"
"What's up?" said the dust pony angrily. "What's up? What's up is…um…how to put this gently…"
"Granny's getting old?"
"Yes! Exactly that!" Mini-Pinkie blinked. "Wait, if you already know that, then why am I here?"
"Because you're adorable!" answered Pinkie, walking up the wall to get at the top of one of the cupboards. "And I don't see what the problem is."
"Well, the problem is she's getting old!" said the dust pony, frustration beginning to creep into her voice.
"So? Don't you know what happens when ponies get old?"
"Nah, not really."
The dust pony facehoofed. "How have you managed to avoid this?"
"Avoid what? You're gonna have to get a bit more specific, mini-me!" Pinkie patted herself on the head. "Don't worry! You'll get it eventually!"
"Ow!" yelped the little pony as she unfolded herself, slightly squashed. "You're crazy, you know that?"
"How do you know you're not the crazy one?"
"Well I know because…because I…" The dust pony looked stunned for a moment. "Because…" Then she shook her head, and little puffs of dust scattered over Pinkie's mane. "We're getting distracted. Look, the important part is, Granny's not going to be around forever."
Pinkie stepped from wall to ceiling and trotted over to the hanging fan. "Why not?" she asked, and this time she was listening.
"Because – woah! – because…aw, hay, you're making this hard." Mini-Pinkie threw her legs out and grabbed at several of the pink strands surrounding her, lest she fall onto the floor below. "In more ways than one," she added irritably, giving a frightened glance downwards.
The dust pony took a deep breath, and looked down at the ceiling. She mustered her thoughts.
"Granny's slowing down, right?" she said finally. "Like a…let's say she's a toy car. One of the remote-control ones. The nice kind."
"Granny's not a toy car, silly!" laughed Pinkie.
"Argh, would you stop that? Anyway, cars run on batteries. And batteries run out eventually. So what happens when the battery runs out?"
"The car…slows down?" answered Pinkie after a moment's thought.
"Yes! And what happens after that?"
"The car stops," said Pinkie confidently. "But I don't see what the point is."
"This is impossible," sighed the dust pony with a shake of her head. "You understand just fine, don't you?"
"No I don't," said Pinkie, and it was hard to tell the truth of the statement.
"Look, just…" Mini-Pinkie chose her words carefully. "Enjoy what time you have, all right?"
Then she let go.
"Pinkie?" called Granny. "Pinkie, how's the dusting going?"
"Just fine, Granny!" Pinkie called back. She flipped in the air and came back down to the ground.
The elderly mare shuffled in and looked about curiously.
"I'm always amazed by how clean you can get this place!" Granny then shuffled over to the mug of pens of the kitchen counter. She pulled one out and began the trip back to her room. "Thank you so much, Pinkie! I really appreciate the help; it gets harder and harder to write, these days." She moved her neck slowly. "These old joints ain't what they're used to be!"
"It's no problem at all, Granny!" said Pinkie with her usual cheer, giving a crisp, military salute. "You just leave it to Captain Pinkie, she'll have the place cleaned up in no time! And not just clean, super-clean! Duper-clean! Super-duper-clean!"
She smiled wide, but there was something else hidden behind her eyes.
She shook her head then, as if trying to shake something out of her head. Then she turned to the little pile of dust on the floor, frowned at it, and swept it under the dull brown rug next to it.
And time advanced again.
They were a good three years, and Pinkie relived them with a fond smile on her face. The young pink pony flourished under the care of her aging guardian, a flower blooming among the concrete. There was love, and there was laughter, and there were many, many parties. For all those three years, Pinkie never once left her grandmother's side.
Then the fourth year arrived.
It was in the summer of this year that Pinkie was forced to admit reality. Old Granny Pie, once filled with a spryness belying her age, collapsed after climbing the stairs to her apartment. Pinkie was already inside, bouncing around and setting up the kitchen for dinner, when every nerve in her body suddenly screamed out in panic. It was a feeling alien to her, and anything but pleasant.
Even panicked, however, she still had enough wits to call the hospital.
Less than half an hour later she was sitting at a bedside in Helpinghoof General, her characteristic smile tinted darkly with worry. Granny, for her part, was calmly flipping her way through a magazine.
"It was the sun, I'm telling you," she assured her granddaughter. "I'm not as young as I used to be. I just need a bit of rest, and then I'll be right back up on my hooves."
"You're absolutely sure?" asked Pinkie nervously.
"Absolutely positively certainly?"
"Beyond a shadow of a doubt, reasonable or otherwise, without a shred of uncertainty, one hundred and ten percent, totally and completely, cross your heart and hope to fly, absolutely sure?"
"Pinkie." Granny gave her granddaughter a wry look over the tops of her spectacles. "It was the sun."
Pinkie relented then, and sat back in the chair.
A few days later, the diagnosis came. It was not the sun. Granny was confined to the hospital indefinitely, and the doctors had little to say on when she might be released. Pinkie never got the full story; she was too numb to listen.
YOU DON'T WANT TO…
"No," said Pinkie with absolute certainty. "If I wanted to know, I would have listened!" Her face twisted into a mocking grin. "And besides, if I wanted to know, I would've asked you, right? You being the pony personification of Death and all!"
Pinkie was far too young and healthy to stay at the hospital, and so, as evening fell, she was sent home. She walked slowly through streets locked deep in shadow by sunset, where they weren't painted warm orange by the same. She climbed the stairs numbly, and her mind barely sparked as she pulled the spare key out from a nearby potted plant and let herself in.
She sat down at the kitchen table, not bothering to turn on the lights. She stared blankly at the dark, and listened to the eternal bustle of the city. And she deflated a little as she dropped the smile she'd been maintaining for the past several hours.
The little apartment felt far too large.
Summer went by too quickly, and Pinkie barely noticed. By the time she did, Autumn had already finished painting the trees in crimson, auburn and gold, and the frosty tips of Winter's fingers were already beginning to creep into the air.
Granny was getting worse. It wasn't just a sickness of the body, although it did its work there too, wasting her away to a bag of skin and bones. No, the worst of it all was what it did to her head. The old mare's mind deteriorated until her bouts of dementia turned to bouts of lucidity. All the while Pinkie watched, and worried, and smiled thinly.
"I seem to be sick," noted Granny during one of her longer lucid sessions.
"Yeah, you're pretty…um…ill!" said Pinkie, forcing a smile. "All sorts of little tiny monsters swimming through your body going om nom nom on you! But don't worry, I hear the doctors have special ways of dealing with them."
"Well, that's a relief," said Granny with a chuckle. "For a moment there, I thought I might just be getting old!"
Pinkie shared in the chuckle, but there was no humour behind it.
"By the way, Sue," said Granny suddenly. "Did I ever tell you about your grandparents?"
"Yes," said Pinkie, cradling one of the old, scarred hooves, and wishing she knew what else to say.
Leaves fell; snow came. In Manehattan the streets were always clear, but still the snows piled up, on sidewalks and doorsteps and in the eaves of trees. And as the city turned to shades of grey and white, Granny only continued to worsen. The little apartment grew cold and lifeless, and for the first time the oven sat unused.
"I don't remember much of this," admitted Pinkie sadly. "You know, when you're really sad for a really long time? Like that. But for some reason the saddest part is as clear as crystal." She smiled weakly. "What's up with that, huh?"
It came at the end of a bitterly cold week, which Granny had spent either comatose or delusional. As she'd done every day for the past several months, Pinkie came in and sat at the edge of the bed.
Granny was snoring hard. She'd always snored, with a weird, drippy kind of sigh at the end of each thunderous roar. It had been hard sleeping without it.
Pinkie rested her front elbows on the bed and placed her hooves under her chin. She didn't smile. She hadn't smiled for the past few weeks. Her mane had deflated into a tangled pink mess, and her eyes had dulled over. Gone was the sparkle; gone was the joy. She was as barren as the branches of the trees outside.
Her love, on the other hoof, hadn't waned a bit. If anything, it had grown. She reached out and clung tight to the hoof of the husk that had once been her grandmother, clutching it tight as if afraid it would float off like a balloon.
The wind howled outside. It looked like it was going to be a storm. The sky outside darkened as clouds massed overhead, until finally Pinkie could see her reflection in the window. She tried a smile. It came out crooked.
When she looked back down, Granny was looking back at her.
Pinkie tensed, readying herself for whatever delusions would be thrown at her this time. But none came. Granny just stared at her silently. And gradually, Pinkie realized that something was different. Some of the old brightness shone behind those near-blind eyes. For once, Granny was staring not through her, but at her.
Snow began to fall.
Pinkie opened her mouth to say something, but Granny silenced her with a small shake of her head.
"Just let me look at you," said the old mare softly. "I want a nice memory to take away with me."
"I don't understand, Granny!" protested Pinkie. "What's happening? Are you going away? Because you shouldn't have to!"
"I'm letting you go, cupcake," was her calm explanation. "And it's about time, too. Look at you. You're all grown up now."
"No I'm not, Granny." Her pink hooves squeezed the scarred leg. "I'm still a little filly. I'm still your little cupcake."
"No you're not," admonished the elderly mare. "And why are you so weepy? My cupcake isn't weepy. She's always bright and smiling and cheerful."
"No that's not right. It's the eyes, silly-filly. It's the eyes. Your eyes aren't smiling."
Pinkie tried again, but it wasn't right. She dropped her head. "I can't do it, Granny."
"Yes you can. Look at me." Granny slowly moved her other front leg until it lay on top of Pinkie's hooves. "Come on, look at me. Good. Now try to remember how to smile."
"Remember how to smile?" Pinkie chuckled dryly. "I smile all the time, Granny! I don't need to remember!"
"Then go ahead and smile for me. And do it right this time."
So Pinkie tried.
She tried so very hard. She moved all the muscles in her face, and she bared her teeth. But it just wouldn't come. She couldn't smile.
"Come on, Pinkie," urged the sickly old mare. "Remember."
And, unconsciously, she did.
She remembered sunny days and the smell of baking. She remembered parties and celebrations. She remembered tossing batter at each other in the kitchen. She remembered being covered in flour, surrounded by balloons, bathed in sunshine. She remembered jumping in the snow banks that lined the streets. She remembered watching the leaves fall from the trees. She remembered laughter and joy and happiness. She remembered the grins she had brought to others.
Unbidden, a smile came to her face.
"That's better," said Granny softly. "That's how I remember you."
"Thanks so much, Granny!" said Pinkie, and there were tears in her eyes. "You've made me so happy, and I've made so many other people happy! There's just so much happiness, I can't help but smile!"
"That's my girl."
"I brought you something," said Pinkie then, hopping off the chair she'd been sitting in and stuck her head in her tail. When it came back out, a plate was held between her teeth. And on that plate was a single cupcake with a single candle.
"It's your birthday!" she explained, setting it on the bed. "I wanted to make a huuuuge cake with lots of frosting and strawberries and maybe blueberries and also a jam filling, but then I realized I wouldn't really be able to sneak it in."
Granny took a good long look at the cupcake. It was perfectly round, and sat in a pink wrapper. Its icing was likewise pink, a good, deep raspberry, and sculpted perfectly to a pointed peak. Little balloon-shaped sprinkles adorned it, and it radiated an aroma of delicious delight.
It was Granny's turn to smile.
"Oh, how you've grown…" she sighed. "I'm so glad. I have nothing left to teach you."
"Of course you do!" chided Pinkie worriedly. "I still can't get my pie crusts perfect, and my icing needs work, and you know how bad I am at meringue, and my bred crusts are always too soft or too crunchy, and my muffins-"
"Someone else can teach you that." Granny settled back into her pillows with a relieved sigh. "I've taught you the most important thing, and that's all that matters."
"What, Granny?" asked Pinkie quizzically.
"Now this is going to sound a bit cheesy…but it's passion." Granny chuckled. "Just look at that cupcake there. You put all of your love for me into that cupcake, and I can tell. It's a cupcake I'd be proud of." She gave her granddaughter a serious look. "You should always bake with that kind of passion. But you won't always be baking for me. You'll need to find your own reason. And I think we both know what it is."
"But I don't."
"You'll figure it out."
They were silent for a moment, as Pinkie tried to work out what her grandmother meant.
"Granny?" she finally said.
"What was your reason?"
"Why, it was your father, of course." She chuckled. "Ever since he first showed up at that little bakery. I hadn't even gotten my cutie mark yet when I was working there, and then he showed up, and suddenly I wanted to do my best, just for him." She laughed softly. "Isn't it just silly? I can see him now, the way he walked in, all covered in snow and dressed in his suit and hat."
The storm broke in earnest, beating at the window and spraying snow, turning the world as white as the hospital room.
"Granny, that's the most beautifully beautiful story I've ever heard."
"Yes, just walking through that door…" Granny's voice trailed off. Then: "Pinkie, come closer. I want to get a good, proper look at you." Her voice was getting thin and raspy.
Pinkie drew closer, and the frail old mare lifted skeletal legs to brush her hair.
"You're a beautiful young mare," she said quietly, "and I love you forever. Don't forget that. And don't forget your oven mitts either; you don't want to get legs like mine!"
"I won't forget. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"
A chuckle. "What kind of promise is that?"
"A Pinkie Promise!"
"Okay then." Granny looked over Pinkie's shoulder, towards the door. "Just a moment, dear…Now, there's one last thing I want you to remember. And this one you can't forget ever."
"I never found out…" Pinkie floated down. "At the time I didn't hear…"
Granny started to say something, but her voice caught in her throat, and when it finally came out, it came out as a whisper. Pinkie began to ask for a repeat, but as she did, the old arms dropped, the tired head sagged, and the eyes lost their light.
Just as suddenly as it had come, the storm passed.
"Oh, Granny…" There was real amusement in Pinkie's eyes. All the sadness had gone, replaced with a lightness that surprised her pale guide.
WHAT DID SHE SAY? asked Death curiously.
"She said exactly what I should have known she said," answered Pinkie with a smile that beamed like the sun. "Keep smiling, and everything will turn out all right."
The funeral was a small, quiet affair. The small group of ponies – mostly family and a few close friends – stood in a rough semicircle around the casket, while an elderly stallion recited the traditional earth pony blessing for the dead: that her soul would run free through greener pastures, while her body return to the earth from which all things came. Then a couple of stallions clad in black carefully lowered the casket in the grave, and began shoveling dirt on top of it.
For a funeral, there was a curious lack of tears. Inky, Blinky and Clyde had never really known Granny, while Sue had never gotten along with her mother, and appeared to be preoccupied with other, undisclosed emotions in any case. What few friends there were hadn't really been that close at all, truth be told. Granny had lived a bit of a secluded life: whether it had been by choice or not was an entirely different matter.
"I think it was a bit of both."
As for Pinkie herself, she was standing off to the side, under the branches of a big oak tree. The gnarled old branches threw strange and twisted shadows across the young pink pony as they swayed in the hollow winter wind.
While her mother and father were talking quietly with a colourful couple from Ponyville, Blinky trotted up and stood next to her sister. She was bundled up tight in a scarf and toque, and her glasses were fogged slightly by the crisp morning air. If Pinkie had been in the mood, she would have noted that her sister had grown into a fine young mare.
Blinky gave her sister a sideways worried look.
"Aren't you cold, Pinkie?" she asked gently.
Pinkie shook her head, and strands of her mane blew across her face. It had sagged from its usual pink puff, and fell drearily across her face in a way that it had not done for over six years.
Blinky sighed, and her breath puffed out in front of her, a little grey cloud in the cold.
"Are you doing all right?" she asked carefully.
Pinkie nodded mutely.
"Mom and Dad are kind of worried," informed Blinky, talking to the empty air more than anything. "They're just also kind of angry right now. They can't understand why you didn't tell us earlier. Mom in particular is really kind of upset about it." She turned her bespectacled gaze on Pinkie. "Why didn't you write to us about it earlier, Pinkie?"
"I don't know," muttered the pink pony. "I didn't even think about it…it never even crossed my mind, I swear."
"That's fine," said Blinky, who had already long forgiven her sister. She tightened her scarf. "Brr, it's cold. I probably would have done the same thing, if I were in your place. I'm sure Mom, Dad and Inky will come around eventually."
They stood in awkward silence for a while.
"Things have been pretty good at home." Blinky shuffled her hooves in an attempt to keep warm, wondering how Pinkie could stand so still. "If you haven't been writing any letters, I suppose you haven't been reading them either. Inky got her cutie mark, as I suppose you can see." She pointed to her other sister's flank. Embossed on the grey coat was what looked like a book, but on closer examination was actually a big binder full of papers. "She's been taking care of the farm's books for years now, you know. Up until recently she's been treating it like a job, but now she's decided that numbers are her passion. I guess the cutie mark backs her up on that one."
Pinkie remained mute.
"So it's pretty much decided that she's going to inherit the farm when Mom and Dad retire." She stopped for a moment and chuckled. "If they retire, I should say. The way Dad talks, he'll be retiring the day he…" Her voice trailed off suddenly. "Anyway, as for me, I'm off to Canterlot soon. They've got an opening for a librarian at the Royal Library. If all goes well I'll be getting a job there soon, complete with room and board." Her face brightened. "I can't wait. It's going to be really hard, because I mean they usually only hire unicorns, but if I make it I'll be working in the biggest library in Equestria. It's like a small palace, just for books!"
The wind whistled forlornly as Pinkie maintained her impassive silence. Blinky bent her neck and traced her sister's dead gaze, and found that it led to where the four stallions were only just patting down the dirt over the new-made grave. The bespectacled pony sighed sadly.
"You know, I'm kind of disappointed I never got to meet her," she said. "You'd think we would have made at least one trip down, but Mom didn't want to go, Dad didn't want to leave the farm, Inky always stuck with them, and me…well, I guess I was just too wrapped up in my own problems to think about it." She shook her head. "But I'm just making excuses, and anyway it's too late now." She looked up at the boughs of the tree. "What was she like, Pinkie?"
And at that point the young pink pony turned around and walked away.
"I don't like this part."
I CAN SEE WHY.
"No, you don't understand. I reeeaaaallly don't like this part." Pinkie rocked back and forth in the air uncomfortably. "I don't like thinking about it, I don't like remembering it, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to like watching it. See, I've only gotten like this a couple times, and…well, it's just not me." She shuddered. "It was different every time, but it was always bad. This one is one of the worst because, well, I didn't have my friends yet."
YOU HAD NO FRIENDS UP UNTIL THIS POINT?
"I had Granny."
Death mulled this over, silent as the grave.
The apartment, when Pinkie entered it, was dark and lifeless, even more so than it had already been. It was almost tangible: a dismal feeling in the air, an oily film that settled on the skin and marred the spirit. It was home, but at the same time it was no longer so.
DO YOU WISH TO SKIP FORWARD?
"Nah, I don't think I will. It's a part of my life, right? You have to take the good and the bad together, you know. Like drinking lemonade – you don't get a choice of sour or sweet, you get both."
"Unless you pour like a whole bunch of sugar in it, at that point there's like no lemons at all and you could stick a string in and make rock candy which is tasty but kind of hard to eat. Also if you did like Apple Bloom that one time and made your lemonade with apples, then it's not really lemonade and it kind of just tastes icky." She smiled. "Anyway, it's already happened, so it's not like watching it will hurt me, right? Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to smile at it, just like Granny said."
Pinkie shrugged off the snow that had settled on her mane and tail, letting it fall in wet clumps to the floor and promptly forgetting about it. She forgot to lock the door, too, and it was probably a miracle that she even remembered to close it.
Still dripping slightly, she trudged into the kitchen and dropped damply into one of the four mismatched chairs set around the small square table.
She sat there for a long time, just another piece of furniture in the empty apartment. The old wooden clock on the wall ticked stubbornly, marking the relentless passage of time in minute movements of its long hands. Every so often it chimed at Pinkie, as it had done hundreds, thousands of times before. She didn't notice, and maintained her stony emptiness. The sun moved slowly in its orbit, in accordance with Celestia's whims, and as it passed into the western sky its rays finally fell into the apartment. They did nothing to dispel the darkness.
So the day progressed, without change.
YOU LOOK THOUGHTFUL, remarked Death. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
"Silly Deathy. I wasn't."
And then, sometime in the early evening, the knocks came at the door.
Pinkie gave no sign that she had even noticed the series of soft, careful taps. They came again, and then a third time; then there was the sound of voices without. These, too, Pinkie ignored. The voices outside argued in hushed tones, their words unfortunately muffled beyond understanding. After a moment's debate they seemed to come to an agreement.
The door handle moved, and it opened. At this, Pinkie finally gave notice, turning in her chair to see who had taken it upon themselves to invade her home.
She didn't recognize them at first, but a second later her memory clicked into gear. It was the young couple her parents had been talking to earlier, at the funeral. Another moment, and older memories made themselves heard, identifying the pair as the Cakes, owners of Sugarcube corner.
"Oh, hello," she said, her mouth forming the words of its own volition.
"Hi there, Pinkie!" said Mrs. Cake with a nervous smile. She'd put on weight in recent years, to the point where one might describe her as matronly. "How are you?"
"It's a real pleasure to see you again," said Mr. Cake, respectfully taking off his omnipresent cap before settling it back on his head. "Been a couple years, y'know. Don't know if you recognize us. I'm Mr. Cake, and this here is Mrs. Cake. You were just a cute little filly last time we saw you!"
Pinkie nodded slowly, confirming that she did indeed recognize these strangers that she had only ever met once in her life.
"It's kind of a happy coincidence that we met you, you know," said Mrs. Cake, "because, you know, your grandmother was our mentor, and we were her apprentices. That's how we met, actually! Isn't that right, Carrot?"
"We're real sorry for your loss," said Mr. Cake in consolatory tones. "Your granny was the best baker we ever knew. Best teacher, too. We miss her just as much as you do."
Pinkie gave them a look that said no you don't.
"Anyway, we're here for more than just saying hi," said Mrs. Cake, trying to ignore the look. "Your granny…well, she sent us some letters before she died. She got it all set up in her will, too. It's going to be grand; we've already talked with your folks, gotten their permission."
Pinkie stared at her. Mr. Cake whispered, "Darling, I think you're going to have to tell her what you're talking about."
"Oh, yes! Silly me!" Mrs. Cake gave a nervous chuckle. "Sweetie, your granny asked if we would take you in as our apprentice. You'll be coming back to Ponyville to live and work with us!"
"If you want," amended Mr. Cake hastily. "It's all up to you, of course. If you want to stay here, that's just fine, and if you want to go back to your parents, that's just fine too. It's all up to you now."
Pinkie turned in her chair and thought of home.
She thought of the old silo, the rickety wagon, the freshly painted house, the wide open fields, the new-sprung trees. There were good memories there, she thought.
She then looked about the apartment. She considered the little old table, the mismatched chairs, the well-used oven, the creaky old refrigerator, the tiny bed she slept in, and the old wooden clock hanging on the wall. There were good memories there, too.
And then she thought of Ponyville. She'd been there often enough, and it had always seemed like a friendly town. It was quiet, she knew, and fairly small. The memories she had of Ponyville were hazy, what few she had at all.
She turned back around to her visitors, who would potentially become her new guardians, mentors, and employers. She considered them silently for several seconds before giving her reply.
"When do we leave?" she asked softly.