The Sun Was Going Down
“Pinkamena Diane Pie, what on earth are you doing?”
The little filly looked up, blue eyes wide and very solemn. Clutched in her mouth was the handle of a broom, at least three times too big for her to use properly, which clattered to the ground as she spoke. “I'm going to stay up all night and clean the house.”
Roxie heard her mother-in-law snickering, a sentiment she most certainly did not share – not the first time Pinkamena attempted this trick, let alone now, the sixth or seventh or...she didn't even know anymore.
“No, Pinkamena. The house is fine. Put the broom back and go to bed, please.”
Just as she'd expected, the change was instantaneous. Her daughter wheeled from foot to foot, eyes widening, as though she were thinking of all the times she'd tried to run, only to be caught. As though she were weighing the risk of trying again. “I don't know, there's all kinds of dust under the rug and under the chairs and under the...”
As always, the tears started up. “Mommy, no! I told you there's something in my clos –”
“No! Under no circumstances are we having this discussion again. Come on now, off to bed. Off!” She scooped the filly up onto her back, carrying her away despite her whines and protests, at the very end of her wit's end. Heaven knew none of the other children fought so hard to avoid bedtime...and in front of a guest, too. Roxie was burning with embarrassment by the time she returned to the dining room.
“I'm sorry you had to see that, mother. She still hasn't gotten over this fear of ghosts, and we've tried everything...it's gotten to the point where we're just waiting for her to outgrow it.”
The old pegasus clicked her tongue thoughtfully before setting down her deep cup of heavily sugared tea.
“Mind if I go in and talk to her for a minute?”
From underneath her pillow, Pinkie heard the door open and gave a whimper. If mommy had come back to yell at her, she didn't know what she was going to do...but then, if it really was mommy coming back, it meant the ghosts would stay away too. Ghosts only came out when she was alone and it was dark.
“Pinkie? Aww, come on out. 'S just me.”
Pinkie poked one ear out from beneath the pillow, then one eye, before she squirmed out completely. Granny Pie smiled back at her, so her eyes got all crinkly in the corners, just behind her glasses.
“There you are! I didn't see ya, all scrunched up like that.” She came and sat down on the side of the bed, hopping up onto it so it bounced a little. That almost made Pinkie smile, except she was too scared to. Granny leaned forward and started to whisper, like she did when they were keeping secrets – “don't tell your mom and dad we had ice cream for dinner”, or “your dad used to be afraid of frogs, but don't tell him I told you.” She whispered, “I hear you've got trouble with ghosts.”
And that made Pinkie scared all over again. Before she knew it, she was telling Granny everything in one big rush. “There's a ghost that lives in my closet and he tries to grab me whenever I open the door and he's got big claws and a long tail and his face looks like a turtle!”
Granny nodded seriously. “A turtle, eh?”
“Yeah! And you know, you know, Cabbage can't keep him away even!” She held up her alligator for Granny to look at, because Cabbage could keep any monster away, even though one of his eyes was always coming off. Granny took him and petted his fur.
“Oh, that must be a big, nasty ghost. But ya know what, Pinkie?” Pinkie asked what. “It doesn't matter how big a ghost is. They're really easy to get rid of.”
Pinkie frowned. “Put your head under your pillow and go to sleep. Daddy said.”
But Granny shook her head with a big smile. “No, no, no! Even easier than that! Here, hold Cabbage.” She put Cabbage back into Pinkie's hooves and got off the bed, and put a hoof up and said “shhh.” Then Pinkie knew to be quiet.
Granny started to tiptoe across the room towards the closet, staying really quiet even on the creakiest old boards, the ones that always squeaked when Pinkie got up in the middle of the night. She stayed low to the ground like the barn kitties did when they caught mice, her yellow tail kind of up in the air and it almost made Pinkie laugh, except she covered her mouth so it didn't. She watched as Granny got closer and closer to the door, stopped right outside it...looked back and pointed, tilting her head. Pinkie nodded so she would know the ghost was in there. Then Granny turned back, knelt down...stuck out her tongue...and...
She threw open the door wide! Pinkie jumped and squealed and hid under her blanket again, not wanting to see it come out because it was probably in the room now, and she started to shake...
Granny was laughing.
“It's alright! He's gone now!” she said.
“...He is?” Pinkie asked, not coming out yet.
So Pinkie stuck her head out again. Sure enough, the closet door was wide open and Granny was standing right next to it, pointing inside where the moon was making it all bright. There wasn't a ghost anywhere. Pinkie crawled over to the edge of the bed, turning her head around to try and see better.
Granny grinned. “He flew right out! Never even looked back. See, Pinkie, some ghosts might like to try and scare ya, but they don't like it when you try to scare them. So if you jump out and surprise them, they'll fly away and stay away. Now, ya got any other monsters you want me to chase away?”
Pinkie thought about that. “A dragon under the bed. He tries to pull me under when I get into bed, so I have to jump.”
Granny gasped. “Oh, those are the worst! I used to have one under my bed too, not long ago and he liked to grab at me when I was getting up to pee. 'Cuz when you get old, you have to do that a lot.” Pinkie giggled. “But I got rid of him, alright!”
“I'll show you.”
She climbed up on the bed altogether and lay down on her stomach, hooves over the side. This time, Pinkie promised herself she wouldn't hide under the covers; she was going to keep watching and see how Granny did it. Carefully, slowly, she started to lean over the bed and Pinkie worried she was going to slip and fall on her head, but she put out her white wings and got her balance that way. Inch by inch, she put her head lower and lower, until she was almost completely upside down, and then...
And Pinkie didn't hide, but she did jump way up in the air, coming down on the bed with a thump. Granny swung back up, smiling and laughing like she always did, where you couldn't help but laugh along with her.
“Wanna guess what I did?”
“You scared him away!”
“That's right!” She ran her hoof through Pinkie's mane, messing it around. “And you can do it too.”
“Ooh, ooh! Show me! Show me how!”
“Got any more scary things lying around?”
Pinkie actually had to look for one – it had always been the closet ghost and the dragon under the bed that scared her most – but she turned in circles and her sucked her hoof until she spotted the blanket over the chair, and the little space that looked like a cave.
“There,” she said, pointing. “That's where the ghost bats go to hide.”
“Uh-huh. They're like bats, but they're ghosts, so they can fly through walls.”
“Then you know what ya gotta do!”
Pinkie Pie did. Now that the dragon was gone, she hopped down onto the floor without worrying and, slinking down like a cat, made it way halfway to the chair. “Like this?” she whispered over her shoulder.
Granny nodded. “Just like that!”
She was nervous; ghost bats liked to fly fast, and they liked to get stuck in your mane just like real bats were supposed to do. “Can I bring Cabbage?”
“Sure can! Here, bring Cabbage.” Pinkie ran back so Granny could hand her the alligator. That helped, and she finished creeping over to the chair. It was dark under there and she thought she could hear the ghost bats squeaking, but she trusted what her grandmother had told her. Facing the blanket, she took a deep, deep breath, grabbed the edge of the blanket...and...
Made the ugliest, scariest face she could think of!
She crossed her eyes and flopped her tongue! She held up Cabbage so he could snap his teeth all over! She wiggled her nose and flapped her ears at every one of those ghost bats until they'd squeaked and flapped their way right through the wall and out into the sky!
Back on the bed, Granny had rolled right over laughing. Beaming, Pinkie jumped up and joined her.
“Did you see them fly?”
“I did! They sure didn't want to mess around with you!” She took off her glasses to wipe the good tears from her eyes, and before she knew it, Pinkie was laughing just as loud.
There was a knock on the door, then daddy's voice. “Pinkamena? You need to settle down.”
She had to hide her mouth behind the blanket to keep quiet, but Granny answered for her. “Don't worry, dad. She's already under the covers.”
They both listened to the sound of his hooves going away down the hall. Then, Granny smiled at her. “Do you think you can get to sleep now, Pinkie?”
“I'm not tired.”
“I know. But you're not scared of ghosts or dragons or bats either, right?”
Pinkie shook her head from side to side. “Uh-uh!”
Granny touched her muzzle to Pinkie's forelock as she picked her up, set her down on the pillow, and pulled the blankets up around her. “Good.”
But Pinkie had one more question. “Are they gonna come back?”
“If they ever do, you'll know just how to handle 'em,” she said, picking Cabbage up from the foot of the bed and putting him under the sheets, too. “You've got to stand up tall and face your fears! Always remember – those ghosts are scary, but they can't hurt you. If they ever show up again –”
“I just scare them away?”
“Right! You scare them away, and you know what else?”
Pinkie leaned in close. “What?”
“Laugh!” Granny Pie grinned. “And you tell those big, dumb scary things to take a hike and leave you alone, and if they think they can scare you then they've got another thing coming!”
Even though she knew she should be sleeping, that she'd get in trouble if she woke up Inky and Blinky in the next room, Pinkie started giggling all over again and didn't ever want to stop. “Because we're way scarier than they are!”
“That's right, sweetie,” Granny said, pulling her into a big, tight hug. “You get some sleep now, and I'll see you in the morning, okay?”
Pinkie hugged her back; her pretty yellow mane always smelled nice, kind of like the pies grandpa Blueberry Pie used to love. “Okay.”
She snuggled down into the sheets, holding Cabbage tight and smiling. When Granny left, she made sure to leave a little bit of light coming in through the doorway.
Pinkie didn't even need it.
Standing in the soft light of the hallway, the old pegasus cocked her ear to the doorway and listened for any sounds of trouble. When the only response was the gentle shifting of linen, she smiled.
That filly! With an imagination like that, she was going to grow up to be something else. And that energy, that love of laughter...not that the pegasus didn't love her other grandfoals dearly; oh no, they were all incredible little things, just bursting with potential, whether it was Octavia's skill with a tune or Blincara and her collections.
It was just that...well, Pinkie reminded her someone. A little of her father as a colt, spending all day hunting geodes in the rocks; a little of Blueberry; and someone else...someone much closer to home. Sometimes, the pegasus would look into those big blue eyes and swear she saw a certain filly, playing tricks on her friends across the hot summer days, long ago.
The glow from the other room was warm. The kettle was singing. She took one last glance at her granddaughter, sleeping peacefully as could be.
Then, treading carefully across the squeaking boards, Surprise headed back to the kitchen, where a fresh pot of tea was waiting.