A Pie’s Path
Edited by Sali
Through the quiet skies over a bucolic expanse of pasture, a slate pegasus soared in search of something in the territory below, her blonde mane whipping wildly behind her. As she let the currents of air carry her in the direction of her destination, she took stock of the terrain. A gentle breeze rippled the grassy hilltops below, sending shimmering bands of myrtle rolling softly into the distance. Tree limbs heavy with spring buds waved a lazy welcome to the visitor overhead, but still she continued on with determination. Gradually the fields of green were supplanted by one of rock-mottled dust and silt, and the lush trees gave way to more gnarled species. In the center of this dismal land stood the only signs of occupancy: a single silo and an austere farm house bordered by a crude wooden fence. The pegasus had arrived.
She set down gingerly in front of the plain-looking residence, spreading a thin film of dust into the air as her hooves settled into the soft earth. Reaching her nose into one of her mailbags, the mare sifted through the various letters within before fishing out a garishly colored envelope, bright pink and inscribed with an energetic, looping font. The juxtaposition of the cheerful envelope with the dreary background was more than a little amusing to the bright-eyed mailpony. After slipping the envelope beneath the farm house's door and rapping the wooden surface with a hoof, she again took to the skies. She had many more deliveries to make before the day was done.
The interior of the house was not much livelier than the exterior. The sitting room was furnished by no more than a few hoof crafted seats and was nearly indistinguishable from the dining area, save for a plain oak table in the latter. A bedroom was situated in the corner of the home wherein three filly-sized beds sat, collecting dust from years of disuse. In another room two more beds, not much larger than the others, had been pushed together. On a corner of one of them sat an elderly pair of earth ponies, a cedar colored stallion and a light gray mare. They were pouring over a colorful letter held reverently in the stallion's hooves. The paper had a distinct aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a slightly acrid scent.
Hey Mom and Dad, (and Big Sis and Less Big Medium Sis too if you guys are there (probably not but who knows!))
You are absolutely NOT going to believe what happened on that trip I took with the girls to Appleloosa! Or maybe you will believe me, I think you'll believe me, I mean, what reason would I have to lie about something like this? Unless it were for a prank, but I don't think it'd be a very GOOD one, and you've got to have SOME kind of STANDARDS if ponies are going to take your pranks seriously, or -wait- maybe that wouldn't be a good thing if ponies took them seriously, since they're supposed to LAUGH! Anyways, this thing about Appleloosa is the real deal, no foalin'. (No promises about any future letters though, got it?!) So yeah, Appleloosa stuff, you know buffalo have got some YUMMY grub and-
Sorry about that, I was melting some sugar for caramel rolls and it totally slipped my mind while I was writing, and that stuff melts so fast once it gets going, it's like one second it's all white and grainy and sugary then the next it's brown and gooey and caramely and then suddenly it's black and smokey and, hold on, charred caramel conversation crashes don't carry to correspondence!
ANYWAYS, it turns out buffalo really like apple pie, which is great because ponies like apple pie too, though neither really seem to like stage music for some reason and oh no I'm running out of paper to write on, anyways, just want to say I love you guys and I hope you're still smiling tons because that makes ME smile tons and also hugs and kisses forever and half a day!
-Pinkamena “Pinkie” Diane Pie
The elderly couple each read the letter silently to themselves, small smiles forming on their lips as they chuckled at their daughter's unique prose. The stallion turned the letter over, finding a small photo clipped to the back. It was a sepia toned image of their grinning daughter in a show pony outfit, along with who they had come to recognize as her five closest friends, as well as an earth pony colt in a hat and vest and a young female buffalo in a feather headdress. The mare gently traced the smile on Pinkamena's face with her hoof.
“It seems our youngest goes on quite the unique adventures, doesn't she?”
“Heh, thank goodness for that.”
The stallion removed himself from his seat and reached underneath the bed, retrieving a small chestnut chest. It might have been the most ornate item in the house. Etched into its surface was a rough carving of a family of five ponies, crooked smiles and oddly spaced eyes placed into asymmetrical faces. In contrast to the sketchiness of the engraving, the wood itself had an immaculate luster, a sign of years of diligent polish and care. In place of a traditional padlock, the lid of the chest was fastened with a single strip of cloth: a streamer, yellow and faded with age, tied into a simple bow. The stallion gently tugged one end of the ribbon to untie it, and nudged the chest open. Inside were several letters; some with the frenetic script of the one they had just read, others with neater penmanship. They were the stories shared by their daughters, stories of hardship, joy, and the realization of one's ambitions.
When Pinkamena had left some years back to find a life in Ponyville proper, her parents had not been surprised. Their bright and bubbly daughter, as overflowing with an abnormal amount of youthful energy as she was, would have burst from the pressure if resigned to a life spent on the ashen land of the family farm. If there was any sense of shock in the Pie household, it was reserved for her elder sisters. It wasn't that they had been surprised that Pinkamena felt a desire to leave, rather they hadn't considered leaving the rock farm to even be an option. Still, their parents had entrusted the pink pony with a modest purse of bits and the simple assurance that she would never want for a place to call home, should times ever prove overwhelmingly difficult. They were pleased to learn in one of her letters that she had earned an apprenticeship of sorts with a baker couple in town, and that she could continue spreading her special brand of mirth and merriment.
Blinkabella, the second eldest, had been the next to leave. One fall evening, as the family was finishing their work for the day on a new excavation project, the light lilac pony made an odd discovery. She had found embedded in the desiccated earth a fragment of pottery covered in chipped enamel. That evening she had hastily devoured her supper and spent the rest of the fading daylight carefully brushing off the bits of dirt adhering to its surface. The next day, she laid claim to the spot where she had found the fragment and spent hours upon hours carefully sifting through the soil, amassing a number of pottery pieces similar to her first finding. Once more, an evening was spent carefully polishing her prizes; with a bit of epoxy, she was able to arrange the pieces like a jigsaw puzzle into the shape of an urn. To the young pony’s delight, rounding the urn’s exterior was the discolored image of a white alicorn with outstretched wings, its alabaster horn contacting a faded orange disc. It was that night that she discovered her cutie mark, a pair of rejoined pottery pieces, and a perennial love for archeology. With her parents' blessing, some seed money, and the unearthed treasure as evidence of her ability, she too went in search of her calling, aiming to join a museum research consortium in Canterlot.
With her younger sisters gone, Inkette had insisted on remaining at the farm. She redoubled her efforts, and although there was a drop in productivity with two fewer sets of hooves, it was minor thanks to her labors. Yet for all of the zeal that showed in her work, none of it appeared on her face. Rarely did her mouth bend into a smile, or did her furrowed brows arch over carefree eyes. Soon she took to wearing work horse trousers, and though they were regularly washed, her parents never saw her without them. Then, in the wee hours before dawn one night, they found out the reason.
Stirred from her sleep by a shuffling from the living quarters, the eyes of Inkette's mother shot open. Fearing an intrusion by a villain of some sort, she shook awake the softly snoring form next to her. Wielding a small wooden club in his mouth, the old stallion quietly made his way towards the disturbance with his wife pressed closely behind them. However, instead of finding a burglar perusing what meager possessions they owned, they found their eldest daughter pirouetting gracefully in the light of the moon. As the soft beams of light washed over her face, they saw an astonishing sight: instead of the strained grimace and knitted brows that had grown so familiar, there was only pure contentment. After some time, the husband and wife silently removed themselves from their vantage point, not wishing to intrude any further.
The next day, Inkette's parents insisted that she abstain from wearing her trousers. They alleged that with summer coming into full swing, the clothing would only enervate her under the heat of the noonday sun. Although she made many protests and excuses, she was finally forced to acquiesce, revealing that which she had been trying so hard to hide. Placed conspicuously in the center of her flank was her cutie mark. It was not a chisel, a piece of quartz, or anything else that might hint towards a life of rock farming; it was instead a pair of unlaced dancing slippers.
No farming was done for the rest of the day. Instead Mr. and Mrs. Pie elected to speak with their daughter about her true aims and ambitions.
“Inkette dear... Are you content just spending your days working these fields?”
Her mother voiced her inquisition gently, but it still caused the young mare to visibly tense. After taking a moment to consider her next words very carefully, Inkette forced a smile as she responded, “I couldn't just leave the two of you alone to work on the farm. If I can make life easier for the two ponies that raised me, that is happiness enough.”
“Is it really though?”
“O-of course! With Pinkie and Blinkie gone, somepony has to take care of this place...”
Mr. Pie chuckled at Inkette's argument, causing her to cock an eyebrow.
“You should know after all these years that stones are hardier than fruit. You don't have to worry about them rotting or falling from the bough, and you don't need to worry about us. However, since you mentioned them I must ask... You don't resent your sisters for their choices do you?”
“Absolutely not! It's just that as the eldest, I have a certain responsibility to-”
“And who laid such a heavy responsibility on your shoulders?” her mother interrupted softly.
“Your mother and I honestly appreciate your sentiment, you have a kind and generous heart. Yet, you must know that you would be breaking ours if you abandoned the life you desired for a silly sense of filial obligation.”
“Just realize dear, your father and I will support you no matter the path you take.”
For Inkette, little else was said that day, or those that followed. She spent them in a quiet contemplation of her parents' words and finally, one evening after dinner, she announced her decision. Embracing her tenderly, they gave her a pouch of bits and their heartfelt approval, as they had done for her younger sisters before her.
The following days were spent planning for Inkette's travels. After managing to converse with a few traveling performers in Ponyville, the trio learned of a number of dance studios located in Fillydelphia. Most of the studios could be quite competitive, but having seen the young mare's natural ability, the vagabond artists were convinced that she stood at least a decent chance at being accepted to learn from the best of them. Still, and although they hid it remarkably well, Mr. and Mrs. Pie were becoming increasingly anxious at the thought of the sorts of trials Inkette would face in the world of show business; it sounded terribly cutthroat. However, with the way their daughter's face lit up at the stories of theatrical productions and elegant maneuvers, they would not dare spoil the mood.
Eventually, the day marking the beginning of Inkette's exciting new life arrived. After returning from their trip into town to see their daughter off, the small, weathered farm house suddenly seemed very large to the elderly couple. Still, there were rocks to be harvested and the day would not last forever.
Mr. Pie placed Pinkamena's letter and photo among the many others in the chest and closed it once more. Taking his place once more at his wife's side, he began to speak.
“Pinkamena is a very bright girl, isn't she? She has always been able to recognize what's most valuable in life, even when everypony else has it wrong...”
Mrs. Pie nodded and looked into her husband's eyes, waiting for him to continue.
“I recall how much love my folks seemed to have for this farm. Even after my father passed, my mother still had such an ebullient joy. It was contagious. For some reason, I felt that I had to devote myself this place, to honor their memory with its preservation.
Yet, as I think about it now, I don't believe for a second that it was this land or this house that made them so happy. It must have been always being surrounded by their family, their granddaughters, that did it. I wish I had realized it sooner.”
“You don't have any regrets about the life we've lived, do you?” his wife asked with a look of uncertainty.
“Far from it! I have three beautiful daughters,” nuzzling the side of his wife's face he continued, “and a wonderful wife who has stuck by me, even when I was too thick-headed to see that I was making all of us miserable.”
“I stuck by you because I know you're a good stallion. You're willing to put others before your own wants and needs,” Mrs. Pie smiled softly at her husband, “However, I must say you can overdo it.”
The elderly pair simply sat there in a wordless embrace. No thoughts crossed their minds beyond the empty murmurs of a tranquil soul. At some point, Mr. Pie finally broke the silence.
“Many years we've spent on this farm, while a whole world has existed outside of it... Perhaps it's time I practice what I preached to Inkette so long ago...”
“Yes... Yes that sounds wonderful! I feel your parents would rest easier if they knew that their kind, thoughtful son took a moment to achieve some of his dreams as well...”
“What do you think, dear? We've built a sizable nest egg. What if we took some time to really see Equestria? We could visit Neighpon, Maredrid, Canterlot...”
Into the night the elder Pies discussed all of the places they would visit. There was so much world waiting for them to partake in it; the wild plains of Appleloosa, the dizzying skyscrapers of Manehattan, the verdant islands off of the coasts of Marelaysia.
Of course in their travels they would make time to see a show in Fillydelphia, or try one the delicious, if slightly burnt, caramel rolls at the Sugarcube Corner.