“Is...is she gonna be alright?”
“Applejack, she took a fairly big shot. She just can’t handle it. She’s not at that age anymore. You could have easily survived. She...well...”
“Can I see her?”
Nurse Redheart hesitated a bit before conceding. She nodded and motioned Applejack to follow her, leading her around a corner to a small waiting room.
“Wait here.” she said. Applejack took a seat and removed her hat, staring down at the floor. She didn’t have one thought stream anymore. There were too many things to reflect on for that. Outside, Nurse Redheart conferred with one of the doctors, looking at his charts. The doctor shook his head at her while Nurse Redheart tried to argue a point. Applejack didn’t notice though. She’d suddenly been entranced by some young fillies in the waiting room, playing with some letter blocks. D-A-Y. Day. W-A-Y. Way. They continued to spell out words while Applejack reflected.
She’d done the same for Applejack. When Applejack was first learning things, getting accustom to life on the Apple farm, she’d go over it with her every day.
“W-A-Y. Good job, Applejack!” she’d say, to which Applejack would beam at her in self-satisfaction. “Now spell apple!” she’d say. She would call out words until Applejack wanted to do something else, or until Applejack demanded something harder, to which she’d throw out a tough word just to mess with her. “Apple flambe.” she’d say. It was always some sort of strange cooking method that she still never understood to this day.
She caught herself staring and looked elsewhere. To her right, somepony was reading stories to the nursery.
“There once was a pony who lived in a shoe...” she lipread. Her eyes watered and she put her hat on again, shielding her eyes to the ponies in the waitroom. She’d read Applejack that story too. Every night before bed, she’d read Big Macintosh and Applejack a story, some nursery rhymes her mother read to her when she was young. Big Macintosh eventually got older and went without them. Applejack insisted she read one to her every night...even though she knew she’d long passed the age where she should be told stories, she couldn’t help but have her read a story at least once a week. Only a month ago did she finally quit...now she wish she hadn’t. If only there was one more story...just one more...
“Applejack?” said Nurse Redheart. Applejack looked up at her, feeling tears drip off her face. Realizing this, she held her head low again, hiding her face. “Follow me, dear.” she said. Applejack slowly trotted behind her, looking down at the ground Eventually, Nurse Redheart stopped at an open door, motioning Applejack in. Applejack stood there, quivering, unsure of what to do.
“Applejack...it’s alright. If you need anything, I’ll do whatever I can.” she said, helping Applejack into the room. She closed the door behind her as she left, leaving Applejack alone with the patient, shrouded behind a white curtain surrounding the bed. Applejack slowly approached it, pulling the curtain back just as slowly, almost like it would change things. Applejack swallowed her fears and looked at Granny Smith.
She knew things would be bad...but not this bad. Her eyes were rolled up into the back of her head, nearly staring at her skull. Her tongue hung out to one side of her mouth, as her breathing was regulated only by the function of her brain that hadn’t died yet. While reaching for a mason jar for some apples to bake into a pie, Granny Smith had slipped. The jar rolled off the shelf, landing on top of her head. At her age, her feeble, brittle bones weren’t able to handle it. She soon had a brain aneurysm, effectually ending all brain process. She didn’t have long to live...Applejack knew that. Regardless, she sat down in a rather uncomfortable chair she grabbed nearby and looked at Granny Smith, tears streaming down her face.
“I guess I really can’t say hello...or goodbye.” she started, grabbing Granny Smith’s hoof with hers. “All I really can say...is...well...” she started. It was futile to try and say anything. Granny Smith couldn’t hear anything she was saying anyway. Applejack just needed the closure, she guessed. “...I guess I just wanted to say...thanks...” she started. The machine next to her beeped, counting her pulse. “You’ve taught me all I need to know through the years...you were always patient with me. Even after I upset you sayin I was gonna go with the Orange family, you welcomed me back with a smile on your face. You taught me all my manners...regardless of what Rarity thinks...” she said, reflecting back on all those dinners they had together. It was usually just her, Applejack, and Big Macintosh. Whenever Applejack would try and chow down, Granny Smith always made sure to chastise her if she went ahead before the prayer. She then made sure Applejack would clean dishes afterwards, or eat with both hooves, not take too big of bites...
“...you taught me never to lie...” she said, pausing,smiling a bit to herself between the tears.
Applejack once accidentally tracked a lot of mud in the house. She’d recently gotten Winona, her dog, as a birthday present. A big storm hit that night and both of them ran from the fields into the house, tracking mud. Granny Smith, rocking in her rocking chair, stopped them afterwards, looking at the tracks.
“Applejack? Did you track mud into the house?” she asked calmly.
“No, Ma’am. It was Winona.” she said.
“Applejack, are you sure?” she asked again, calmly.
“Why are there hoofprints?”
“I don’t know. Maybe Big Macintosh brought them in.” she said, hoping she wouldn’t get in trouble.
“Applejack, you have one more chance to tell me the truth.” she said sternly.
“It was Winona! Honest!” she said. Applejack couldn’t recount the last time she’d ever been spanked that hard...but she learned her lesson.
“I remember all those times you read to me...taught me how to spell...and Winona...” she said, her lips trembling at that last bit. “...I’m sure she misses you too.”
The machine next to her kept beeping, at a slower pace.
“You...you really taught me everything on how the be the best pony I can be. I...we never knew our parents...all I knew was you...” she said. Her parents died when she was 1 1/2 years old. Big Macintosh was 5. Since then, Granny Smith had taken care of them, a surrogate mother in lieu of a true parental figure. “...and honestly...” she managed to choke out, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Applejack bawled, trying to stifle her sad tears of anger and frustration. Why would God let this happen? Why did it have to happen to her? Granny Smith was her favorite elder family member...she’d taught her everything...she still had so much more to learn from her...the thing that bothered Applejack most was the fact that she took her for granted. She’d never really taken into consideration the mortality of living beings...she’d known apples withered and died...but...Apple Family members? Reality hit her hard then as she broke down even more, trying to think of what to say next.
She heard the door behind her as Big Macintosh stepped in. Applejack quickly rushed out of the chair to him, embracing him tight, crying into his chest. He put on hoof over her head, patting it softly. Applejack could feel slight convulsions from him as a small drop of liquid hit her forehead. She’d never seen him cry...or show any emotion, really...it was strange...
“I’m sorry, Big Macintosh...” she stammered. He said nothing, instead opting to hug her tighter. After a few minutes, she released him, heading back to her chair. She took a closer look at it, and found that she had actually been sitting in Granny Smith’s walker. She sobbed again, managing to find a different chair before collapsing in it. Big Macintosh took a seat on the opposite side of her, grabbing one Granny Smith’s hooves. Applejack grabbed the other one, as the two of them stared at her in silence.
“Granny Smith...I guess what I’ve been tryin to say this entire time...is...I love you.” she started. She felt her hoof squeeze a little, almost as if Granny Smith was telling her it was alright. “I just wish we’d have gotten more time together. I’ll miss you...but don’t worry...we’ll take care of the farm...and Applebloom...we’ll fix that old barn...and plant more trees...we’ll get more cows, raise more money, buy more dogs, make Winona have puppies...”
“Sis.” said Big Macintosh. Applejack looked at him as he closed his eyes and nodded at her. Applejack stopped talking, realizing she’d been rambling. Only when she stopped did she hear a silent, constant ring from the machine beside her. Applejack bowed her head, sobbing harder than ever as the grim reality of what had happened finally hit her. Tears streamed down Big Macintosh’s face as he stared at Granny Smith’s light green, lifeless body. He put his two hooves over her face and closed her eyes, adding a small amount of peaceful sleep to the picture. He held his hoof out to Applejack, who promptly took it. Each of them took hold of Granny Smith with their free hoof and they both bowed their head in tearful prayer, reflecting on her life. Once Big Macintosh released, he got up and started to trot out the door.
“Sis?” he asked.
“Just...just give me a minute.” Big Macintosh nodded and left, closing the door once again.
Applejack turned to face the sleeping Granny Smith. “I love you...I...I love you. There’s just no better way to put it. I only hope that wherever you’re watching me from, whatever you’re doing...that I make you proud...that I’m half the filly you want me to be...that I...” she paused, reflecting on how best to sum up what she was feeling. “...that I live up to the Apple Family name.”
And with that, Applejack trotted out slowly, nodding at Nurse Redheart, letting her know it was alright. Now she had to focus on breaking it to Applebloom, and getting funeral preparations ready.
Applejack went to the funeral house, a small satchel slung around her back. The viewing was today...she was going to make the most of it.
“Well hello there, Applejack.” said the mortician. “She’s right around the corner. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Yeah...me too.” she said, trotting around the corner, facing herself in front of a large, dark brown wooden casket. Applejack and Big Macintosh had cut down the tree in front of the house that Granny Smith always napped in her chair under. They sent the wood to a lumber yard and had it made into the casket. It was the least they could do.
Big Macintosh showed up shortly behind her.
“Sis?” he asked. “What’re you doin here?”
“I’ve come to pay my respects. There are a few things I want to bury her with, also.” she said, slinging the satchel off her body. Big Macintosh nodded as Applejack tried to sling the satchel up into the casket, whole. It slipped and the contents fell to the floor. Applejack hurriedly tried to gather the materials, but broke down crying instead. Big Macintosh took a seat on the floor beside her, examining the items.
“I just...these are all the good memories I have of her. I just think...I want to give them back.” she said, grabbing several items.
“Some of my letter blocks...not all of them of course...” she said, slinging some back into her bag. D-A-Y...
“One of our storybooks...not my favorite of course...” There was an old pony who lived in a shoe...
“A copy of a picture of the day I first got Winona...mud free...” she said, losing herself in memories again.
“A copy of the last picture we ever took together...” Applejack, stand still...
“And her walker...” Creak, creak...
Applejack couldn’t hold it in any longer and cried once again as Big Macintosh put an arm around her to comfort her.
“What if she doesn’t know I loved her, Big Macintosh?”
“How can you be sure? I sure don’t feel like I acted that way sometimes...”
“She knows because she loved you, too. She couldn’t wait for you to get home from school everyday. It broke her heart when you left for the Orange family. She would always talk about how much she missed you and wanted you back. When you came back, I’d never seen her so happy.”
“Big Macintosh...I had her keep reading me stories until last month...now I wish I’d have just gotten one more...” she admitted.
“I know, Applejack. I stayed up and listened to her. But you know what, Applejack?”
“I think that last story you want her to tell is you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re her final story, Applejack. We’re her final story. Let’s make it a good ending.” he said. Applejack had always taken Big Macintosh’s wisdom seriously. He always knew what to say.
“But why did it have to be her? She taught me everything...I still had more to learn...”
“This is her final lesson, Applejack.” he said, getting up. “I know it may seem unfair now, but you’ll look back on this and realize that this was just her best lesson. She taught you how to live...now she’s teaching you how to live after death.” he said, trotting out, leaving Applejack alone. She gently pulled herself up, grabbing her satchel, looking at Granny Smith. Big Macintosh was right...this was just her final lesson. She gently laid the satchel inside the casket next to her, pulling the book out. She looked back behind her, closing the door to the viewing room before opening the book, reading.
“There was an old pony who lived in a shoe...” she began. After she finished reading, she put the book back in the satchel, before thinking it over. She grabbed the book, took it out of the satchel, leaving the rest in there. Someday, she wanted to read the same stories to her kids. She knew Granny Smith wouldn’t mind. Applejack trotted out, planning her eulogy, while Granny Smith smiled from above, rocking away in the bright, warm, heavenly light.