“Ah’m a big pony. Ah’m a big pony.” Apple Bloom kept chanting the mantra in her head as she slowly made her way to the barn. As she got closer though, the words began to seem hallow. It was late in the afternoon. The glowing red sky mixing with creeping darkness made the coming events feel more desperate. The taste of the switch in her mouth was bitter. She had made sure to get a sizable one off the tree. She knew full well the Applejack would keep her promise to take her back out and get a bigger one.
When she finally got to the door, she halted. The ensuring to herself that she was a big girl suddenly disappeared, replaced with overwhelming dread. Tears started the build in her eyes and she felt a lump in her throat. Her strength started to fade. She now, more than ever, regretted her behavior from earlier. With a heavy sniff and a stifled whimper, she walked through the foreboding doorway.
The barn was dark and cold. The only illumination came from two small lanterns. The first thing she saw upon entering was her big sister. Applejack was standing off to the side, barely light by one of the lanterns. The older pony was slowly tapping her hoof and glaring down her nose at the little foal, her visage a mask of disappointment. She looked like she had never smiled in her life. Applejack remained silent as her sibling walked past her. She didn’t need to speak; Apple Bloom knew what she was supposed to do.
She continued to the center of the barn, to the wooden bench. Apple Bloom couldn’t bear to look at it, knowing what it was about to be used for. She made her way around the bench and stopped in front of the giant red figure casting his shadow over her. She placed the switch in front of her brother and, keeping her head down and trying not to sob, Apple Bloom opened her tear filled eyes. Hers met with Big Macintosh’s gaze looking down on her, his face stoic and devoid of forgiveness. Just the sight of him almost caused her to panic. She closed her eyes again and tears began to roll down her face.
“Apple Bloom, you know you what you need to be doing now” Applejack’s stern voice hit her from behind. Apple Bloom tried to turn around, but couldn’t find the courage. She was locked in fear.
“APPLE BLOOM!” her sister shouted. “ Ah’ll make sure it’s worse.”
The little pony finally complied. She turned away from Big Mac and climbed onto the bench, her hind legs dangling off the edge. Her markless flanks were exposed and vulnerable. She clenched her teeth in anticipation for what was to come next.
Big Macintosh bent down and picked up the switch. Raising his head, he waited for his cue.
“Open your eyes and look at me, Apple Bloom” She forced her lids open and focused through the tears on her sister. Applejack briefly flashed back to the phone call she had received from the school. “We’re doing this fer yer own dang good. Maybe you’ll learn something and this won’t need to happen again.”
Apple Bloom tried to voice her defense one last time, but her words only cracked as they barely whispered from her throat.
Applejack looked at her brother and gave him a nod. With that, Big Macintosh made the first swipe. The sound of the stick snapping across her flank almost made her cry as much as the pain itself. She desperately fought back the urge to let it all out. She held on as the second and third and fourth had their way with her rear.
“Ah’ m a big pony, Ah’m a big pony, Ah’m a big pony” She told herself. But it was ultimately fruitless. After the seventh lashing, Apple Bloom started to openly cry. Her tiny shrieks and bawls were complemented by the endless stream of tears dripping from her muzzle and staining the bench.
Big Mac ended the punishment at twelve lashes as it was the number he and Applejack had agreed on. He backed away from the bench, spat out the stick and moved to the side. Apple Bloom, her flanks covered in glowing red streaks, was still crying when big sister spoke to her.
“Apple Bloom, get up off the bench and stand in front of me.” The filly did not need a second order. She slid off the wood and limped over to Applejack. She didn’t want to open her eyes. Applejack did.
“Apple Bloom, look at me.”
She opened her bloodshot, tear stung eyes.
“You know why we did this, don’t you”
She shook her head yes.
“Are you gonna throw apples at yer friends anymore?”
“no” she responded in a choked whisper.
“What was that?”
“Are you gonna use that outhouse talk anymore?”
“Have you learned yer lesson?”
“Good. Now you march yer little red and yellow hinders into the house and wash up fer supper.”
Apple Bloom did as she was told and slowly walked to house. She had her head down and sobbed the whole way there.
Once they saw the door shut, Big Mac spoke up.
“Ya know, Ah really wonder if all that was really necessary. Ya don’t think maybe we were too hard on her?”
Applejack refuted “Heck no. Daddy used to tan our hides fer all sorts of little things when we was young. Don’t see why she should get treated no different. Ah don’t want her to think that just cuz he ain’t around no more that she gets a free pass. It’s about discipline, dang it”
“Still” Big Mac sighed, ” Ah think you go little overboard with it. We really gotta scare the poor girl like that?”
Applejack let her guard down and relaxed her posture. “Well, that’s the reason Ah let you do the switching, brother. Ah know that yer take it easy and not hit her too hard.”
He perked up “Oh? You saying if you did it, you wouldn’t contain yerself?”
“Well, no, it’s just,” She paused a moment, then said “well ya gotta be firm with youngins, but it’s just smoke and mirrors really. Ah mean, would you wanna see a pony as big as you standing there, knowing yer bout ta get yer butt whipped?”
Big Mac sighed. He had to agree, but still felt sorry for his little sister. He remembered the scared look she had on her face when she saw him. Seeing her cry nearly broke his big heart.
Applejack looked at him and knew what he was thinking. She couldn’t help feel the same way.
“Tell ya what” she said “We’ll make it up to her tomorrow. We’ll take her and friends to the park and get her some ice cream. How’s that sound”?
Big Mac smiled. Applejack smiled back. “Come on, let’s see what granny’s got on the table”
It was bedtime. The tales of princesses and knights were concluded and her chocolate milk was finished. Apple Bloom was nestled in her bed and her eyes were getting heavy, her scary ordeal long behind her. Applejack placed the story book back on the shelf and walked over to Apple Bloom’s bed side.
“Goodnight, Sugercube.” Applejack said, nuzzling her little sister’s cheek.
“G’night, Applejack” She turned over and closed her eyes.
Applejack turned off the lamp and headed toward the door.
The older sibling paused. She looked over her shoulder at the tiny figure in the bed.
Apple Bloom looked at her and asked “You and Big Macintosh ain’t still mad at me, are you? Ah meant it when Ah said Ah was sorry.”
Applejack smiled softly and responded in a gentle tone. “Naw, Sugercube. Ah’m not still mad and to be honest, Big Mac feels terrible about what he had to do. But all that business is in the past now. All you need to remember is that big sister and big brother love you very much. Now get some sleep, cuz tomorrow’s gonna be a bright new day.” She smiled at her baby sister and Apple Bloom smiled back. With that, she closed the door.
Apple Bloom let her eye lids slide shut and drifted off.