Trust Once Lost Chapter 16
// Oh to be Old Again
The strangest part about the dreams I had with Luna were that they did not fade. I was familiar with the sensation of recalling a dream when I woke, but unless I put conscious effort into anchoring the details of the dream into my mind it would quickly dissipate.
I was fully awake. Not the well rested type of awake but the special brand of insomnia that came from waking in an unfamiliar place. I couldn’t see a clock, but it was still dark outside.
I felt nothing, and it took me a moment to realise what was missing; there was no itch. My skin hadn't dried out and cracked overnight.
When I was growing up I didn’t want to get out of bed too early, to avoid my mother worrying. At one point she found out that I was waking up really early because I was anxious about being bullied at school, so after that I had to pretend to be asleep until it was a reasonable time to get up, lest she suspect (correctly) that I was still being bullied at school.
I held my breath and focused on listening to sounds in the house. The Apple’s were farm ponies so they would be awake early to do farm work, right? Sure enough, I could hear hoofsteps and the faint clanging of pots and pans from downstairs. Maybe they were having an early breakfast and decided not to wake me?
I wriggled out the side of the bed to avoid having to remake it. Making a bed with my clumsy gripping ability would be a huge pain.
Walking down the stairs was a bit daunting; they were just tall enough that I couldn’t put one hoof on each step comfortably. Going up was fine. Going down, my legs bent the wrong way. My broken fetlock was still a bit tender so I wanted to avoid jarring it, otherwise I could have just jumped down each step. I grit my teeth in frustration. I wasn’t about to ask somepony to carry me downstairs so I just had to do this.
Drop my forelegs to the next step (ow!), followed by hind legs. Repeat. By the time I got to the bottom I was sweating and my leg was aching and I hated this stupid weak body! I took a minute to control my breathing; I didn’t want anyone to see me out of breath from such a short walk.
I didn’t have a sense for the layout of the house yet, having only seen it briefly at my surprise party last night, but I could follow the sounds of somepony in the kitchen.
“My,” Granny Smith addressed me without turning around, “Ain’t you an early riser?”
Hair bristled on the back of my neck; my stomach dropped.
Breathe. Think. You haven’t been ‘caught’.
She must have heard my hoofsteps and... oh right, the window in front of her was reflective.
Breathe. Be calm. Don’t let her know you were panicking.
“Good morning.” I said.
“Good morning deary.” she replied, “Breakfast isn’t quite ready yet, but you can help by setting the table.”
“I, uh, don’t think that’s a good idea.”
I looked down at my hooves and cringed at the thought of trying to carry around fragile plates while walking with three legs.
“I’m not good at holding things with my hooves,” I explained, “So I might drop them.”
“Alright then, up you come.”
I’m not sure how she managed to speak with the scruff of my neck clasped in her teeth, but she did. She lifted me onto the counter and I was put out for a moment at the fact I was standing on a surface for preparing food. I suppose that my rear hooves weren’t any dirtier than my front hooves but it still felt wrong.
Granny gave me a mixing bowl and a spoon which I managed to grasp with my hooves. It was more the letting go that I had trouble with.
When I was done mixing the pancake batter she put me back on the floor. The sun was just peaking over the horizon and the younger members of the Apple family still had yet to make an appearance.
“Do you always wake up this early?” I asked.
“Not much choice when you get to my age,” She replied, “This creaky old hip decides when it’s time to get up. Take my advice deary, don’t get old.”
“I don’t much like the alternative.” I quipped.
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“Because I don’t want to die?” I added
Stupid! Now she’s going to ask what you mean and then it won’t be funny, it will just be morbid and she’ll be worried about me... ugh. Quick, change the subject!
“Arthritis is a real bitch, huh.”
“Language!” Granny Smith admonished.
“Sorry!” I squeaked.
I squeezed my eyes shut.
Stupid squeaky voice.
“Open your mouth.”
Before I knew what was going on I felt something near my mouth and instinctively batted it away, raising my hooves to protect my face.
My heart pounded - Relax, breathe.
“Don’t fuss now,” she ordered, “We need to wash those dirty words out of your mouth.”
Soap. Well that explained a lot.
“There’s no need for that,” I said, “It won’t happen again I promise.”
“Open.” She repeated.
Provided it wasn’t oldschool lye soap it should be safe, if unpleasant, to get some in my mouth. If this was the way things were done around here then it wasn’t worth making a scene over.
I sighed and opened my mouth.
The soap was apple scented, of course, but I could hardly taste that with the overwhelming bitter suds that were forming. I wanted to spit and scrape my tongue but I wasn’t about to spit on the floor so I focused on breathing through my nose and not swallowing. I was quite proud that I managed not to make a face.
Applejack came down the stairs a moment later and I saw Granny Smith quickly place the soap back next to the sink.
My eyes widened in realisation. Granny didn’t want AJ to know.
“Mornin’ Green,” Applejack greeted, “You’re up early. Did you sleep alright?”
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak with a mouthful of soap.
Applejack gave me a suspicious look and I almost swallowed nervously.
I’d have to risk saying something - I couldn’t just stand here.
“May I be excused?”
I almost got away with it but, at the last moment, soap touched the back of my throat and I hiccuped. A soap bubble came out.