Showers cringed, helpless to stop the heavy piano from sliding out of the back of the cart as she balanced her own small load on her back. As it plummeted toward the ground, the only upside she saw was that now they could fit her box in the empty space. All eyes fell on the blonde, gray pegasus hovering next to the open doors. Mr. Hooves looked especially angry. Derpy had had only two jobs, to lock up the cart and to help balance the weight on the rear end, and she’d messed up both. Now several of their client’s belongings were smashed on the ground below. Showers had been employed at the Brawny Hooves Moving Company for several years now, but ever since Derpy had joined, it seemed their once-stellar reputation had taken hit after hit. Mr. Hooves said nothing, but the look in eyes would have frightened a manticore. Showers had gotten that stare only once, and it was enough to encourage her to never screw up again. Derpy just grinned like an idiot, like it was all one big joke. It wouldn’t be so funny when the pony that hired them heard the news. Showers tossed her box inside and helped close up the back, locking it properly this time. Without anything to carry, she took her place at the back, helping to steady the cart as they carried it the rest of the way. Mr. Hooves went inside once they landed while Showers helped unload the boxes.
When he came back out, her boss looked visibly distraught. He sighed as he threw a heavy box onto his back to help haul in alongside his crew. When they’d finished, the others headed back out to the cart. Mr. Hooves stuck out a leg, blocking Showers from leaving. “I need to ask a favor. Can you work tomorrow?” Tomorrow was supposed to be her day off. “I can pay you overtime. Derpy just needs somepony to help her move. There isn’t much and it won’t take the two of us more than an hour.” She considered refusing. Her boss was a great guy and all, but when it came to his daughter, it seemed like his judgment went out the window. Here she’d completely blown every responsibility she’d been given and probably lost the entire day’s pay, and she didn’t even seem genuinely sorry for doing it. And now he was gonna help her move. But even so Showers conceded that she could use the money.
“Sure, boss. No problem.” At least she hoped it wouldn’t be. If she were lucky, it would just be the two of them working, and Derpy wouldn’t try to “help.” But she probably wouldn’t be that fortunate.
Showers showed up the next morning at the address given. It wasn’t too impressive, but she supposed it was nice enough. Mr. Hooves already had the cart sitting outside. She knocked on the door. A few seconds later, the door opened up, and Showers looked down at the little unicorn who’d answered. “Excuse me, I’m here to help Mr. Hooves. Is he around?” The little filly backed away shyly just as her boss came up to the door.
“Come on in, we’re just finishing up packing. It’s time to load everything up.” Showers stepped inside. The unicorn filly was hiding behind Mr. Hooves, poking her head around his legs to get a look at her. “No need to be shy. She works with me and mommy.” He turned toward Showers. “This is my granddaughter Dinky. She’s always a little nervous when meeting new ponies.” Showers was a bit surprised. She never knew Derpy had a kid. Dinky cautiously crept out from behind her grandfather’s legs, eyes on the ground as she approached Showers.
“Are you mommy’s friend?” She thought for a second about what to say.
“Well, I guess. I mean, we work together.”
“I never met any of mommy’s friends before. Mommy said she doesn’t have any friends but I knew she didn’t mean it.” Dinky raised her eyes, examining her up close. “You look nice. And pretty.”
“Oh, um…well thank you Dinky. That’s a lovely complement.” Showers had never felt so uncomfortable. Her boss had left the room while she was distracted and now she was determined to find him and get to work. She just wanted to get out of here before this kid could ask any more awkward questions. Outside Mr. Hooves and Derpy had carted a few small boxes. Showers started to load them as they brought out the rest. There was surprisingly little, and the cart was less than half full when they’d finished. She made sure to secure the doors to the cart as Dinky trotted out.
“Hey, muffin, you want to ride with me?” Mr. Hooves hoisted his granddaughter up on his shoulders before securing himself to the front of the cart. “Okay, I’m gonna do the hauling. You two help balance the back end. Ready?” Seconds later they took off almost straight upward.
“Faster Gampy!” Dinky cheered as the cart soared skyward. Mr. Hooves flapped his wings and sped up, Derpy and Showers struggling to stay on the back side at the rate they were moving. Finally he slowed their ascent, eventually bringing the cart to a stop. Showers was impressed. She knew her boss was stronger than the average pegasus, but to go that fast with that much weight was something else. High over the town, Mr. Hooves peered down toward their destination before beginning their descent. When they arrived, the three of them carefully eased the cart onto the ground as Dinky jumped down from her grandfather’s back. Showers unlocked the doors, beginning to unload some of the boxes while glancing at this new house, noting it was much smaller than the already modest home they’d just left behind.
“Sweetie, why don’t you take Dinky inside and show her around while we take care of this?” The gray pegasus obeyed, leading her daughter inside their new home. Mr. Hooves started to help unload. “Thank you for coming in to work today. I’d asked the rest of the crew but they’d all made plans.”
“No problem. You know, I never knew you were a grandfather. So who’s her dad?”
“Good question. I don’t know and she won’t tell me.”
“Probably because I’d run his deadbeat hide out of town.” She regretted asking already. “Look, Showers, I’ve known you for a while. I’ve seen the way you look at her. My baby girl isn’t that bright. I know that, you know that. But I raised her to have pride in herself. Do you know why I hired her on Because it was the only way to make sure she didn’t starve. She won’t take charity from me or anyone.” He sighed. “The whole reason we’re moving all this stuff is because she couldn’t afford to stay at that old place. And I offered to let her and Dinky move back home with me but she refused.” Faint tears appeared in the corner of his eyes. Showers had never seen Mr. Hooves cry before. “She’s doing her best. Sure I get frustrated sometimes, just like you, but…” He choked. Wiping his eyes he returned to his work, grabbing up the boxes and carting them inside. Showers brought her load in behind him. Dinky and Derpy were in the empty living room playing peek-a-boo. Every time the blonde pegasus would show herself she’d make a silly face, and Dinky would break out laughing. As she watched their game Showers felt Mr. Hooves tap her on the shoulder. “Here, for coming in today.” He dropped several bits onto her hoof. She held up the pile and counted them.
“This is too much, sir.” But he just smiled.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you’ll find something to do with it.” He then turned toward Dinky. “Hey, muffin, you wanna come spend an afternoon with your granddad? If it’s all right with mommy that is.” Dinky bounced over to him as he hefted her back onto his shoulders. “What’s say we go grab a bite to eat?” With that they took off out the door, leaving Showers with Derpy. She looked at the small stack of boxes they’d brought in, then turned to the gray pegasus.
“Would…would you like some help unpacking?” Derpy stared at her, seeming to consider the offer.
“Derpy can…I mean I can unpack later.” Showers realized this was the first time either of them had directly spoken to the other. She felt like she should say at least a few things before leaving. It seemed rude otherwise. But she was racking her brain to think of anything to talk about.
“So, uh…This place is…nice. Or I mean it’ll be nice when you finish setting up. You know, give it that homey touch.” Derpy smiled at this. Showers felt a little encouragement. “So your daughter’s a cute filly. I didn’t know you were a mom.” Derpy’s smile began to fade.
“Derpy loves Dinky, but Dinky’s daddy doesn’t help. He…he bad colt. Mean and selfish. He left when Dinky was foaled. But Dinky doesn’t need him. Derpy doesn’t…I don’t need him either. I raise Dinky myself. She’s my muffin.” Showers hadn’t expected such a simple comment to provoke such a strong reaction. She wanted to steer the conversation away if she could.
“So, uh, what are doing for lunch anyway?”
“You’re not what?”
“No lunch. No money. Daddy took Dinky though so she’s alright.” Suddenly something clicked in her head.
“Well if you like, you could have lunch with me. I just realized we never spend any time together outside of work.” This was an understatement, she thought. But this made Derpy defensive.
“I don’t need handout. I’m a big pony. I’m a mommy.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. I just thought, you know, I could treat today, and then some other day maybe you could buy lunch. That’s what friends do, right?” This calmed her down. Derpy shied away for a moment before turning to Showers.
“We…we friends?” The gray pegasus looked her right in the eyes.
“Yeah. Yeah, Derpy, we friends…”