“No Pinkie, I have to make up for crashing into you! Besides you have so much to do! I can skate far away from you so we don’t crash and we’ll be able to do the lakes and river quickly!”
“Oh you really don’t have to do that Twilight!” I see Pinkie cringe for a second which she quickly hides with a big grin. She didn’t want my help but I was determined to do some good today and prove to her (and to myself) that I’m not worthless.
I lay a sleeping Spike on a comfortable bush. Laughing at me had tired that cheeky dragon out. I then stepped onto the ice, far away from Pinkie. After a few wobbly seconds I finally got used to balancing on the skates and I felt comfortable enough to start moving. I then lifted my hoof which I planned to push off with. The sudden change in my centre of gravity thought differently as my face slammed into the hard ice. My loud groans brought Pinkie over and she helped me up with a smile. She let me get my balance back before giving me a little nudge with her head to get me going. I stood perfectly still as I glided across the ice for 20 seconds before I finally regained the courage to assist my movement. I prepared my body as I lifted my hoof and brought it back down quickly to propel me forward. I did this a few more times, each time adding to my confidence. I realised too slowly that I was quickly picking up speed. I lift my left hooves in the air, trying to turn and stop like Pinkie does but I didn’t work. I started tipping to the right so I brought my left hooves down and lifted my right hooves instead. This was a stupid decision.
I tilted and fell onto my back with a solid thud. Pinkie came over and helped me up again. I try to hide my embarrassment and her shaming emotions by staring at my skates. “We’re done here Twi!” I look up, thinking that she was scolding me but she was looking at the cut up lake. “Let’s go to the river! You did really well!” I rub my back, thinking differently.
I told Pinkie I could handle part of the river by myself in an attempt to hide my embarrassing failures from her. “Okie dokie! I’ll just be downstream if you need any help!” I forced out a weak smile in an attempt to assure her that that won’t be necessary and she responded with a huge grin that I swear melted snow around her. She turned and gracefully skated downstream.
I started slowly. I was on my own this time but I still wasn’t going to make stupid mistake just because nobody was judging me. I cut one piece away without any faults after an agonisingly slow period of careful and tentative skating and proudly stood next to my achievement. I looked around for any spectators who would applaud my performance but I was only accompanied by the desolate, snowy environment.
Suddenly, a strong breeze started pushing me towards the hole I had previously proudly created.
My eyes widened and my legs stretched and made as much movement as possible in an attempt to escape. My efforts were in vain as my limited skating skill seemed non-existent against my gusty adversary. I fell to the ground again, my legs spread across the ice, uselessly trying to grip onto the smooth surface. I could only watch in horror as the hole gradually got larger and larger as I approached it. I finally found my voice and started to scream as loud as I could, my shrieks getting more high-pitched and manic as the chilly water got closer and closer. I tried to turn my head to find Pinkie but it was too late.
The freezing cold water placed my weak form in a state of shock almost immediately. I lost control of my muscles as my body began to shake vigorously in a feeble attempt to keep warm. My screams died in my throat and my breaths became short and jagged. I’m such an idiot. It’s just water for Celestia’s sake! I regained control of my body and reached for the edge of the ice in an attempt to pull myself out. I grab onto the ice just as I feel an impossibly strong force pulling me from below! My screams returned as I looked down, expecting some horrifying water monster that devours ponies with huge razor sharp teeth! But I saw nothing, which horrified me even more. Whatever my impressions of the monster were, I didn’t matter as the weak grip I had on the ice slowly slid away and the water filled my eyes and gargled my screams.
* * *
As the hole disappeared from sight and the current took me away, I realized how stupid I was. Fillies would think it was a monster. I am a young mare! I should have known it was just the current of the river. I live in a library for Celestia’s sake! If I wasn’t so ignorant then I wouldn’t have overreacted and I could have thought of a logical way to escape the current. I’m supposed to counsel my friends with my knowledge and I have the intelligence of a filly!
The water has full control of my body now. It jerks me around like a ragdoll, slamming me onto the ice and then crashing me onto the river floor. I scream in pain as a razor sharp rock bites into my shoulder. I think to clutch it, to try to halt the flow of blood but I can’t beat the raw power of the current. I’m too weak. My lungs start to hurt, begging for air, making me forget about the life draining out of my shoulder.
I then notice the full capability of my stupidity. I’m a unicorn! I narrow my eyes and focus my magic around my body and start raising myself in the water. My lungs screaming for air breaks my concentration. The current resumed control.
I feel so worthless. I can’t even beat water. How am I supposed to help friends against adversaries? I let my head hang and I lowered my horn. Maybe this was for the best. Now I won’t let my friends down anymore. As the edges of my vision started to cloud over, I pictured my friends’ faces. Their disappointing stares and judging expressions. I summoned the last ounce of energy my body could muster in order to gargle one of my most used phrases.
I then breathe in, letting the water fill my lungs, close my eyes and submit to my fate.
* * *
A shot of pain caused me to open my eyes and I sucked in a greedy breath. Only it wasn’t water that entered my lungs. My eyes burned from a great light. I must be dead. I sighed in relaxation. But it wasn’t air that I exhaled. I coughed up the water in my lungs in a weak and feeble matter as my eyes adjusted to the light, I was staring at a campfire. I glanced around to make sense of my surroundings. Other than the fire, the world appeared in a dreary grey filter. Snow surrounded me as I lay in the shade of clouds that the Pegasus ponies must not have reached yet. This miserable area, almost devoid of life, made me long for the crushing power of the water. But the voices of my friends broke me out of my trance.
“Twilight!” Fluttershy was the first to notice.
“Are you alright darling?” Rarity continued with genuine care.
“I- fell in.” I confessed regretfully. I didn’t want to make friends more ashamed of me. Hopefully they wouldn’t notice my lack of an effort to escape. “Why didn’ ya jus… magic yer way out?” Applejack questioned with some hand gestures to emphasise magic whilst also dashing my hopes.
“I – I…” I stutter, trying to think of an excuse that my friends will believe. I consider telling them that the cold water blocked my magic, but then I look into their eyes… The innocence, the purity. It fills my still frigidly cold body with a kind of warmth that shames me to think of lying to them. I look to the ground, my guilt forcing me to be unable to hold their gaze. Their caring nature is the only beautiful thing I can claim and it is wasted on me. But I can’t bear to lie to them. I may be worthless but I won’t hurt them on purpose. I can’t.
“I…” I sink to the ground, “I… gave up” I whisper and dread their response. I know what it will be. They’ll beg me not to do it again and pay somepony to give a shit about me. I look up, the long and awkward pause unnerving me only to see something even more discouraging. Their faces, paralysed by what I said, display a mix between shock and misery. It tears my heart in two and I struggle to breathe.
Dashie was the first to respond. Always the strongest of us, it horrified me to see tears welling up in her eyes. She placed her two forehooves on my shoulders, holding my prone body in an almost painful grip. A jolt of pain made me remember my injury and I look down to see a bloody bandage holding my shoulder together. I look at her hooves, they are shaking uncontrollably. I follow her hooves back up to her face, the tears now free of eyes and falling down her cheeks. She pulls me in close, our faces so near that her tears start pouring down onto me. She opens her mouth and I prepare for her condemnation of my actions but something much worse happens. Dashie starts sobbing uncontrollably. My heart jumps into my throat and tears fill my eyes as she pulls me into a hug. I feel her warm tears on my cold body as I bury my head in her shoulder, trying to hide from everypony.
* * *
Dashie eventually pulls away. I try to go with her, not willing to leave her comforting embrace. She gently pushes me away. I look at her face again, still miserable but her beautiful eyes are red and dry. Typical me, taking another beautiful thing from the world. I look to the rest of my friends. Fluttershy and Rarity are holding each other in a strong cuddle, their heads resting together as their tears ceaselessly fall to the ground. I feel horrible for doing this to them. I didn’t want this, I just thought it was for the best! AJ just stares at the ground, unable to formulate a response. Dashie walks over and puts a hoof on her shoulder which AJ responds with a hug.
Pinkie surprised me. Her mane, usually filled with vibrant joy, was flat and emotionless. Her face was absent of the happiness it usually displays and instead it was replaced with morose. I was waiting for a hug from my friend so that I could hide my tears in another pony’s shoulder again. Instead she just looked at me with an emotion I couldn’t describe. “NEVER-“ Her voice was filled with anger but it was failing to hold back all of her sobs. “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN”. Her demand broke me out of my silent emotional state. “Pinkie… I…. I didn’t want to get in anypony’s way anymore.”
“WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU THINK THAT-“ Her sobs are starting to make her unable to speak. “HOW COULD YOU REACH THAT CONCLUSION?”
“I couldn’t…” I stopped talking to look at all my friends in their red and teary eyes. This is what happens when I give up. Half of my friends lie broken on the floor and the rest can barely see from all their tears in her eyes. I understood that giving up hurts my friends more than anything I could possibly do if I was alive. “I won’t do it again” I look into each pair of red, teary eyes. “I promise.”
Pinkie wrapped her arms around me and her felt her tears on my fur. Fluttershy and Rarity stumbled over to join and Dashie and AJ surrounded me in an embrace that made everything feel better. It will be a long process but I will get back to the pony I used to be, without any insecurities.