Most of the time, Bright Eyes is happy. She has her mail route, she has her sunny little cottage, and she has everything she needs. It used to bother her that Mama never taught her how to build a home in the clouds like the rest of the pegasus ponies, but these days she doesn't mind. There's a comfortable little corner of the living room where the light hits just right in the evenings, and after her mail route every day she can curl up and think. She thinks about her day, about the ponies who smiled at her, about kind little Applebloom who always runs alongside her all the way up the road to Sweet Apple Acres, about Lyra's beautiful music that echoes through the windows of her home when Bright Eyes passes by. She thinks about the pretty new unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, and how satisfying it is to drop off the heavy load of books that arrives once a week.
It's that time of year, though, when she has to think about something not so nice. And instead of retiring to her cozy nook to enjoy the sunshine, the sky is clouding over, and she has to go for a walk.
Mama had a condition. Bright Eyes has it too, but nowhere near as bad as Mama. Every once in a while, her brain goes fuzzy and sometimes she can't move. Other times she can, but she goes a little crooked, and can't quite see straight. Applebloom always laughs when Bright Eyes starts flying a bit sideways, but it's alright when she does it. Her laugh sounds like a summer afternoon in the orchard. If apple blossoms had a sound, it would be that laugh. It's not so nice when the other ponies laugh, because they know better. Most of them try to hide it, but Bright Eyes knows better.
When Mama's brain went fuzzy, she would get all stiff, and fall over sometimes. It used to scare Bright Eyes when she was just a filly, but Mama told her what to do. How to position Mama's head so she could always breathe, even when her eyes rolled back. How to get the nurse ponies if Mama couldn't get up after too long. And how long was too long. It was a lot to remember. Bright Eyes always used to worry about what would happen if she wasn't there when Mama fell over, but when Bright Eyes was old enough, Mama told her to go out and get a job anyway. Mama said she had to get out of the house, and meet some new ponies, and make some friends. So Bright Eyes went out, and tried to meet new ponies, and tried to make some friends. It didn't go too well, but Mama didn't mind. That's when she helped Bright Eyes find her mail route. Some days it's the only thing that keeps her going, now that Mama's gone.
“You gotta keep your chin up,” Mama used to say. “Chin up, wings out, tail high. It all goes better when you smile.” She would nuzzle under Bright Eyes' chin and make her giggle. Mama was always silly. Sometimes she would forget to be serious again, and Bright Eyes would snort and stomp her feet in frustration. Mama would stop and look confused for a moment, then shake her mane and laugh. She called them 'derpy moments', and as Bright Eyes got older, she would have them too. Mama started calling her 'my little derpy', and it always made Bright Eyes feel warm inside. That's why she didn't mind so much when the other ponies called her that. They didn't know, and sometimes she'd hear the more polite ones, the proper ones, scold the others for using such a mean spirited name. But it just made her remember Mama, and the way her mane shone in the light when she shook it. Bright Eyes figured they all thought her simple when she smiled at the name, but it all really does go better when you smile.
It's raining as she makes her way to the edge of Ponyville. She watches the ground in front of her hooves as she walks, she's memorized every cobblestone on this route. It doesn't feel as good to travel this route as it does to travel her mail route, but the familiarity of each round, grey stone helps. She likes the way the sound of her footsteps bounce off the buildings as she passes between them. She always walks this way. Mama couldn't fly so good towards the end, and it just doesn't feel right to do this without her wings furled carefully at her sides. When she gets out of town, where no one can see, sometimes she lets the right one droop, just a little, the way Mama's sometimes did.
Sometimes it made Bright Eyes sad when she glanced back over her shoulder and saw the town disappear behind the hills on her way to the cemetery. She doesn't like that Mama is so far away. Bright Eyes and Mama had always been together, and the day they brought Mama all the way out here is the saddest day Bright Eyes can remember. But Mama is with Daddy now, and that makes Bright Eyes feel a little better. At least Mama won't get lonely.
Daddy didn't have a condition. He had an accident. He was working out on Sweet Apple Acres, when Bright Eyes was a little filly. They were tearing down the old barn and a beam fell on him. It didn't hurt him though, it happened real fast and Daddy went to be with the angels. Angels were like pegasus ponies but they were made of light. At least that's how Mama told the story, and Mama always told the truth. All Bright Eyes remembers of Daddy is his rumbly voice and how he called her his 'silly filly' and tickled her belly with his nose.
Bright Eyes swishes her tale and lifts it high as she enters the cemetery. She stretches her wings and holds them up toward the sky, just like Mama would want to see. As she trots past the willow tree and around the corner to where Mama and Daddy lay she feels a smile grow on her face. It's a real one this time. Sometimes she has to fake it, and that just makes her even more sad, but today the sun is breaking through the clouds, nice and low in the sky to make them glow grey and pink, and those are the best colors, because they were Mama's colors. Bright Eyes settles herself between the small rounded stones for Mama and Daddy and nuzzles each of them. She pulls a small, worn book out of her mailbag and starts reading to them. Every night, all year long, Bright Eyes writes letters to her parents. And every year, on the day they put Mama in the ground, she comes here and reads them. She reads until the light is gone and she can't see the pages anymore, and then she'll just talk.
When it gets dark, Bright Eyes tucks the book back into her mailbag, and the rain starts to drizzle again. She rests her chin on her forelegs, and a wave of sadness comes over her. She watches the light film of mist forming along the ground, and silently thanks Luna for always making sure this is a beautiful night, year after year.
“I'm sorry Mama,” she whispers, her eyes flooding over with tears. She squeezes them closed, trying to block out the memory. Bright Eyes knew something was wrong. Mama had gone fuzzy a lot more than usual, and she had to get the nurse ponies twice that weekend. She didn't want to go to work on Monday, but Mama told her to go. Promised she'd be okay. Bright Eyes remembered coming home from her route, finding Mama on the kitchen floor, the warmth gone out of her. Her head was bent down, drawn tight against her chest the way it sometimes did when she got all fuzzy and tense. She was all alone with no one to position her just so. Sometimes after her head went fuzzy, Bright Eyes would still run into the kitchen in tears, the memory pushed out of her mind for a moment, and she had to relive that realization all over again. “I should have been there to save you.” She shifted her body, curling protectively around Mama's headstone, wrapping one wing around it.
“Derpy?” A soft voice calls through the fog in her mind. Bright Eyes blinks and tried to raise her head, her neck is stiff.
“Mama?” She says quietly.
“No, sweetie, just me,” Memorial, the graveyard's caretaker, smiles down at Bright Eyes before helping nudge her to her feet. The gentle morning sun silhouettes her for a moment before Bright Eyes can focus on her. “Did you spend the whole night here?”
“I fell asleep with Mama,” Bright Eyes says quietly, glancing down at the headstone and trying to clear the fuzzies from her head. Memorial just stands by quietly, waiting a moment before stomping her hooves and snorting. Bright eyes giggles and shakes her mane. Memorial is grey too, but she's a unicorn. Her mane is the color of lilies and smells just as gentle and soft. She's gentle and soft too, and lets Bright Eyes stay long after she locks the gates on that special day every year. Bright Eyes doesn't usually like breaking the rules, but sometimes it's okay. Especially when Mama is involved.
“Did you get to read your whole book this year?” Memorial gives Bright Eyes a gentle nudge and guides her toward the gates. Bright Eyes is feeling a little wobbly, and accepts the help without protest. She knows she'd be walking a little sideways without Memorial's help this morning.
“No,” Bright Eyes smiles bashfully. “I never do.”
“Maybe next year,” Memorial touches her nose to Bright Eyes' cheek softly, a goodbye she began not long after Daddy went to be with the angels.
“It's okay,” Bright eyes says. “She knows it all anyway. They both do.” She swishes her tail and holds it high as she trots through the gates, stretching her wings up to the sky as she makes her way home.