Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 193

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Chapter 193

I sit down in the park, not really having anything to do as usual. The week so far has been the most eventful this month... yet surprisingly the least destructive. I’m not exactly the kind to look for a fight, but I just kinda feel like, Idunno, punching something. Instead I’ll just sit here and wait for the universe to do whatever it will with me.

I’m shaken and wake up, realizing I must have fallen asleep from sheer boredom. “Hi RD. Whatcha need?”

“Actually, we think there’s something you need.”

Oh great, ponies thinking I need something. “I swear if this ends up to be some crazy animal you got me for a pet...”

Sudden pair of Pinkies in my face. “GASP, that’s a great idea! But in the meantime, we’ve got a different kinda present for you.”

“This isn’t going to be another one of those ‘Quarray-eels-in-a-can’ pranks, is it?”

One Pinkie seems to recall that and starts rolling around laughing. The other speaks. “No, hee hee, something better.”

I notice Applejack with them. “Okay, you I actually trust to give me a present with no strings attached. What is it?”

“Well, Anthony, we all gotcha this together.” AJ pulls out a simple brown box and hands it to me.

There’s a small bottle in it with no label and glass just barely opaque enough to prevent one from identifying the color of the liquid it contains. “You got me... beer? Thanks but I’ll just save this for anoth-”

“No, no, silly!” Pinkie says, one from my lap and the other from next to me. “It’s a potion!”

“And you are going to tell me what it does and why right? This isn’t some crazy aphrodisiac and part of one of your plans to get me in bed with a random mare, is it?”

“Hee hee, no. I’d never get you with a random mare.” I blink. “This potion will make you young again! We asked Zecora for it, because it sounds like you really needed a nicer childhood... even just a short one.”

“So this’ll what, turn me into a six year old? When I was six I still couldn’t tie my own shoes.” I look at Pinkie. “Nice gesture, and the idea of a redo on my inner kid sounds great and all, but I wasn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the tool shed when I was a rugrat.”

“No change there.” Rainbow Dash responds, shrugging. “Hey, not my fault you make it easy.”

“Go stick your wings in a blender. Anyways, so exactly how young will this make me?”

“Well, Anthony, it’ll just make you younger physically. Idunno if you can even make a youth potion for your noggin.” Pinkie says. “And besides, you’ll only be about... uhm... eight? I think that’s about it. And besides, I’ll be here if you need me, all day. It only lasts twelve hours, anyways, according to Zecora.”

“Well, if you guys think it’s safe...” I down the potion. “Gah! It tastes like... like...” I can only think of one taste combination equal to this thickish runny liquid. “expired coffee and dandelions...” all the ponies give me a half-cringe half-sympathetic look and I feel my body shifting. Not quite like it was when I was transforming back from a pony, but not entirely different.

I am getting noticeably smaller, though. Once the feeling of shrinking stops I open my eyes and realize my clothes didn’t exactly shrink with me so I untangle myself from my rather large shirt and get a look at myself. “Why? Why did I trust Rainbow Dash?”

“Awwww, you look adorable!”

I shift my hoof to my face. I’m not a kid, I’m a foal. “And whose bright idea was this? Rainbow, if you did this I’m going to wring your neck until-”

“Bahahahahahaaaa sorry sport, but with that squeaky voice you got, you aren’t exactly sounding very threatening.”

“Shut up!” She continues laughing. I sigh. “So I’m a foal. Now what?”

“Hey, Rainbow Dash, lookit this trick!” I hear a familiar voice from beyond the slight ring of adult ponies, and am treated to a sort of slow-motion crawl of a smaller pegasus flying off of a scooter and straight at me, likely due to snagging on something along the way.

Needless to say, my back hurts a bit and the tumble made me dizzy. “Ugh... nice ‘trick’. What’s your finale, throwing knives?”

“Tha- that’s a great idea, Anthony!” Scoots looks around for a moment, beaming, then gets a confused look on her face. “Wait, Anthony? Where are you? And why’s your voice so high?”

I wave my hoof in front of her face. “Yo, right here. I drank the worst potion imaginable and I’m a kid- foal for a while... not exactly what I was expecting.”

Scootaloo just seems to be looking right through me and shakes her head. “What was that? I uh... nevermind...” Slowly, very slowly, I see her fur poofing up as she stares.

“Uh huh... hey, you hurt your wings or something?” They’re sticking out from her sides like they do when she’s mad or something.

She looks back at her wings. “They don’t hurt but... won’t go down... oh whatever, not like they’re big enough to get in the way of anything...” I see RD covering her mouth and snickering at something, and AJ has her hat over her mouth.

I shrug. “Eh, who needs flying anyway? You do fine on that scooter.” I figure if she gets bummed any time she thinks of her ‘shortcomings’ she’s gonna need a lot of confidence boosts or she might end up emo.

“Th- thanks... So... What’s your plans for the day?”

“Hmmm... nothing reall-”

“Wanna hang out?”

“Uh, sure. Though I don’t have any money, not sure what the six of us could do...”

Rainbow interrupts. “Actually when we were done here I needed Pinkie’s help with something... yeah. So, we’ll uh, see you guys later.” Rainbow grabs one of the Pinkies by the tail and flies off at relatively low altitude, the Pinkie barely not touching the ground as they rocket off.

“Four of us, okay. So what’s-”

“Yeah, well, I, uh... Hey, I need ta borrow a Pinkie and get some bakin’ done. C’mon.” AJ simply walks over and picks up another Pinkie, throwing the smaller mare onto her back, and the cowpony trots off at a respectable speed.

The remaining Pinkie, looking a little panicked, heaves a big sigh, before shooting Scoots an indecipherable look. “Drat... At least one of me has to work today at Sugar Cube Corner... so I guess I’ll seeya later, Anthony. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t!”

“That doesn’t exactly cover much aside from blowing something up... intentionally.” But the Pinkie is already gone, leaving me and Scootaloo. “So, I don’t wanna just sit here all day. What do you wanna do?”

“Play wrestle?” came the reply sounding a little hesitant. Better than what I could come up with and I do feel like actually doing something physical.

We end up just kinda rolling around and jumping around. Y’know... as pointless as this is, I just don’t care. This feels great! Through total accident we end up rolling down a hill on our sides and I recall doing the same kind of thing when I was a kid back on Earth, just climbing up the hill, laying down and rolling down until I stop and seeing how easy it was to climb the hill again.

Since this is something Scootaloo had never thought of, we get to doing that and I actually feel really great. Life is pretty good. No real worry of monster attacks, the sun is shining brighter than I recall it ever has, and the grass is soft and wet from Winter mists.

In fact, everything looks and feels better. Like, colors pop more. Must be pony eyes, they said they had a color I couldn’t see, maybe their eyes are just more complex or something. Whatever the reason, I really don’t feel like I have to worry about a single thing.

When we reach the bottom of the hill for might be the twentieth time now, I’m well and truly dizzy, the sky kinda spinning, snow and clouds becoming impossible to differentiate. Luckily Scootaloo’s orange fur really pops out against the green and white so I use her as a temporary crutch until I can see straight, leaning on her as we go.

“That was fun... haven’t done that in so long. Man, I feel pretty great.”

Scootaloo just nods, panting along with me. “W- wow, never thought... rolling down a... hill... tires you out...”

I don’t really feel tired myself But... “Hey, wanna get something to eat? I’m starving.”

“Sure! Where you wanna go? I uh... I have some money but not much...”

“Same. As for where...” I look around the town looking so much larger now, but a lot more... I’m not sure... inviting? My eyes scan around and I recall the nearest establishments are The Frothy Mug or Sugar Cube Corner. Assuming we aren’t exactly drinking age, I decide against the bar.

So we head to the sweet shop and even though it’s middle of the Winter, we get some milkshakes. And again, no real explanation other than ‘Pony physiology’ here but I swear everything tastes sweeter too. And richer, as well. Like the sweets are more filling than even normal food would be.

The Pinkie who came to work here gives me an odd look like a mix between annoyed and happy. After a bit, the other three Crusaders show up and I wave to them. After a few confused double-takes and some clarification, they get that not only am I a pony but also a child this time.

“So what have you been up to, girls?”

“Well, we were looking for Scootaloo.”

“Ah, I’ve been with her for most of the afternoon, sorry.”

“Oh! Uh, well actually uh...” Sweetie seems like she’s having trouble talking.

Noi helps. “We were just wondering where Scootaloo was, because...”

“Her parents asked us where she was an’ so we told ‘em we’d look ‘round and so... found‘er!”

I shrug. “Oh well, if your parents want you you might as well go see them, don’t wanna make them wait or-”

“No! Uh... they didn’t need her for anything they...”

“They jus’ wanted to know where she was, she can stay!”

Okay then... “Well, I’m actually out of money, I’m not sure if I can get something for the five of us-”

“Oh, er... I... told Rarity I’d... help her organize her stuff?”

“An’ Applejack needed help... bakin’ somethin’?

Huh? “But, she already got one of the Pinkies to help with that.”

“Mom always says more hooves in the kitchen the better, hey, I’ll go help too!”

The three fillies seem to evaporate away, leaving Scootaloo and I alone again. “What’s eating them?”

“Oh, uhm... nothing.”

“Well if you’re sure they’re okay... So, if you don’t really need to check in with your parents or anything, whaddya wanna do now?”

So exhilarating! Up and down, up and down, back and forth, back and forth... Closing my eyes I let the tingly sensation flow through me as we keep going, Scootaloo’s excited squealing drowning out almost everything else, both of us mostly soaked, but this is a rush that’s practically alien to me and this is just awesome! Man, when Scootaloo said she wanted me to take her for a ride, I didn’t expect it to feel this good. Panting from the rush, I feel tired and yet so absolutely pumped right now. Ohhhh this is fantastic.

I haven’t been on a carnival ride for a lifetime! The fact that it’s raining isn’t really a big deal as my coat keeps me pretty warm, though the feeling of billions of water droplets hitting me every millisecond is an odd feeling, but not unwelcome. After what feels like forever of our little roller coaster car climbing and falling and jerking along its track, the ride starts to slow down and, a bit dizzy from the adrenaline rush, I get out, having to lean on Scootaloo for a few moments.

“Okay... I’m having Discord make a roller coaster for my birthday in a few months... That is too great to only happen once.”

“Glad you enjoyed it Anthony. Anyway, I think I might make a killing if I charge other kids for this!” Discord says, gleefully.

“What do you need money for?”

“Hmm, good point. Eh, well the kids’ll love me, that’s plenty of good karma points in my favor, right?”

“Yeah, sure. Anyway, have fun. And next time, try making a few more loops or something.”

“I don’t need advice on how to design a good time. Run along with your little friend... And good luck, you may need it!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Ha! In that case I wish Scootaloo luck too. She may need it more.” With that he pops away. What was that about? Either way, Scoots and I continue walking. “So, today’s been probably the best I’ve had in... geez, I can barely remember! Still, thanks Scootaloo this is great!”

“Awesome! I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself and all.” She goes quiet. “Hey, can I ask you a question, Anthony?”

“Sure, whatcha need?”

She shifts a bit like she’s nervous. “I... Anthony, would you... be my very special somepony?”

Wha!? Waitamin- Oh god, she thinks this was a date! And... and it hits me that her puffing up wasn’t some weird condition, it’s... and all the times I’ve petted her and- this isn’t going to end well...

“Scootaloo, you are a great filly, and one of my best friends and all, y’know?” She looks at me happily and hugs me. This is going to fucking sting. “But I can’t. It has nothing to do with you, I just can’t... I mean, I’m glad we’re friends but I don’t feel the same and even if I did, I don’t even know how this could even work. I mean, it’s not that you’re too young it’s that you’re too little. And I don’t want to-”

Next thing I know I’m on my back, Scootaloo having pushed me over. She just stares at me, a hurt look in her eyes I’ve seen many times before. “I- I hate you!!”

She kicks me in the side, hurting my ribs rather effectively and runs off. Goddamnit...

I get back on my hooves with considerable abdominal pain and begin walking back... somewhere. I can’t believe I was such a moron, she’s not just idolizing me, she’s freaking in love with me, and I didn’t recognize any of her body language or- “Gah! I’m a total jackass!”

“Ouch, that must’ve hurt.” A random mare nearby says, looking in the direction Scootaloo ran.

“More than you can imagine, lady...” I sigh.

“What? No, I meant her. That poor tomcolt has been pining over that Anthony human for ages, and she finally opens up to you instead? That must’ve hurt, being dumped like that...” Well... thanks for the clarification, I guess. Now that I know she likes me it’s pretty obvious she’s been practically smitten with me since day freaking one!

“Yeah... I know. I get it, thanks for salting the wound. Think I don’t feel like a total bag of shit right now?”

“Watch your language, young mister!” The mare glares at me. “Or I’ll get your mom to wash your mouth out with soap!”

I stare hard at the mare looking her right in the eyes from my lower height. “If anyone could bring my mom back, I’d give up anything for her.” I walk off not really sure where I’m going, but the rain is certainly a lot more freezing and painful now.

Why am I such a moron? Why couldn’t I tell Scoots liked me like that? I kick my hoof at a rock and send it flying down the path. Today was going so well and then... then I had to fuck it all up. Why couldn’t I have just lied and said yes?

I sigh, knowing exactly why: When I finally did explain I wasn’t into her she might murder me. My chest still hurting, I lay down in the snow to numb it. With any luck, ponies will mistake my fur for a lump of bright-brown dirt and leave me here to freeze to death.

She opened her heart to me, got the guts to finally say she loved me, and I just go and break her heart without a second thought. She said she hated me... yeah, I’d hate me too. The Crusaders are probably going to kick me out now and Rainbow Dash will gut me like a fish and put my head on a spike.

Then again, why am I surprised? My childhood wasn’t exactly a smooth road anyway so why would a retry as another species change anything? With another heavy sigh I curl up into a ball and wait for the snow and rain to freeze me into an ice sculpture.

“Anthony? Omigosh, are you alright!?”

I groan, my body being dragged out from under a pile of snow by my tail. “That depends, am I finally dead yet?”

The Pinkie’s ears fold down. “Well, no. I- I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I heard what happened with Scootaloo...”

“Then would you kindly let me return to my planned demise? You’re kind of interrupting my meeting with Saint Peter, y’know.”

“Who?” She shakes her head. “No! Don’t do this, you’re overreacting!”

“I’m overreacting? Let’s see, I made one of my closest friends completely hate me after I broke her heart into a thousand-billion shreds, I’ve practically made Twilight run away with no way to find her, I’ve murdered one of my closest friends simply out of self-preservation, my attempt at another childhood went almost as awful as my old childhood went, and when this potion wears off, I’m going to return to being a feared or overidolized human who has to either wile away his days as a lazy bum or fight for his very life. I think the only way I’m overreacting here is because I’m willfully choosing a slow death.”

“Don’t say that, sure things aren’t very great right now, but it’ll get better, really!”


“Well, nowhere to go but up from here, y’know? It couldn’t get much worse, could it?”

“Yes, yes it could.” She clearly isn’t pessimistic or cynical enough if she really thinks this is rock bottom.

“Come on Anthony, let’s go.”

“Nah, I’m good. Got a lot of freezing and dying to catch up on.”

Pinkie huffs and grabs me by the tail again and flips me onto her back. “You are not going to kill yourself, and things aren’t going to get worse. Now let’s get you inside, you are in serious need of cheering up!”

“Good luck trying.” Pinkie shakes her head as she continues on, taking me back to Sugarcube Corner. Once in the kitchen and placed in front of an oven to warm me up, I don’t feel much better. “Pinkie, I know you really don’t want me to kill myself and all but I really don’t think this day was good at all.”

“And tomorrow is another day. But until then, you are going to warm up and stay safe while I cheer you up.”

“Sorry Pinkie, I’m not really in the mood to be happy.” This concept is not as alien to her as I’d imagined, but she still isn’t just leaving me alone. “Look, I completely ruined her life just now. Scootaloo opened up to me and I shot her down. She was willing to take a risk, and I might as well have spat in her face in return. I’ve been an absolute jerk, and I can do nothing to change it. All I have to look forward to now is avoiding Scootaloo like the plague and hope she doesn’t want to kill me herself.”

Pinkie picks me up. “If you say one word about you deserving that-”

“You’ll what, sing a song? Bake a cake? Not all life’s problems can be fixed by parties, Pinkie. I’ve fucked up big time and I can’t just make this better. Even if I got Scoots to somehow forget this day happened, she’d just confess later and we’d be right back here. It had to happen. I’m sorry Pinkie, but you can’t just fix a broken heart in a couple of days.”

Pinkie sets me down. “I just... why do you act like you enjoy being miserable or somthing?”

“I’m just used to it so I’m waiting it out. I’ll have more chances to screw up again later.”

“Stop this, Anthony. Being like this isn’t helpful and it’s starting to get annoying. Cheer up, it’s not the end of the world.”

I give her a look. “And that means there’s still time for things to get worse.”

Pinkie huffs and turns away. “I’m not leaving this bakery until you stop acting all... frowny. I’m going to cheer you up somehow and you’re not going to stop me.”

“Like I’d bother trying?” She walks off and comes back with a crayon and some paper. “And exactly what am I going to use those for without thumbs?”

She places the sheet of paper in front of me. “You’re smart, you’ll figure something out. Anyway, I want you to make a list of all the really bad stuff that happened to you-”

“Gonna need a lot more paper.”

-today, specifically. All the bad stuff that happened today and today only.”

I roll my eyes and decide to humor her. With a bit of difficulty I manage to pick up the crayon with my teeth. And it has a flavor. Strawberry, because it’s red. Only Pinkie Pie would have flavored art utensils...

Let’s see, I broke Scootaloo’s heart and got her to absolutely hate me... and... uh... huh.

“Okay you made a point,” I say, spitting out the crayon. Flavored or not I doubt they’re exactly edible. “But it’s more than just today! I mean... I got a second chance today. I got another attempt at being a kid, before the world wanted to squash me like a bug then roast me with a magnifying glass... and I botched it. I had a great time, and then everything just fell apart. Like always. I want to be happy, but all the shit life puts me through... it’s kind of hard to always be happy.”

“But... when you were first here, you were all jokey and happy and smiling and-”

“I figured that with a total change in scenery and culture, maybe things had changed, but the universe clearly wasn’t done with me yet. I know I don’t have it worse than others. I know life has been worse to way more people than me and there are lots of things I’ve been gifted by fate over the years but... it doesn’t seem to last.”

“But it’s not supposed to, Anthony. That’s why we like being happy so much, because we can’t always be happy. I mean, I’d like to try having a party last forever, but if I did then the fun would get boring.”

“Yeah, I know we need the pitfalls in order to enjoy the good parts, but it seems like I’m doing all the wrong things to make myself happy.” I pause but my brain shoves a thought out of my mouth. “Do you think I should have said yes? Do you think I should have wanted to be Scootaloo’s boyfriend?”

“Well...” Pinkie seems to be having difficulty answering. “Idunno. I mean, I guess you would be lying and that would have been even worse, but maybe if you stuck with it... maybe you might’ve liked her back?”

“Yeah, maybe. But too late now. That bridge was burned when she pushed me over and kicked me.”

“Yeah, that was a little harsh...”

“No, I deserved it. I didn’t even know but I was leading her on from, like, day one. Now I see all her kind-of-odd behavior and trying to be important or tough for me. I get it now that she was in love with me but wouldn’t say it. All the Crusaders knew and I was a blind idiot and just thinking they were acting weird when they’ve been trying to push us together... but I already have enough love issues on top of everything else. I didn’t understand body language and she probably thought I knew what she was doing... I am such a tool.”

“Well, forgetting all that, how was your day?”

I think. “Actually... it was pretty nice. I had a lot of fun today really. I just can’t really have fun without stepping in it big-time anymore it seems.”

“It doesn’t have to be that way.”

“Yeah? How can I magically make myself immune to things like depression?”

“You can’t... but you have friends you can lean on when things get bad.”

“Except in the past week alone I’ve botched up two friendships already-”

“And made plenty more than you’ve lost since you got here.” She scooches closer and hugs me, which honestly feels really really nice. “Some days are dark and lonely and maybe you’ll feel sad, but Pinkie will be there to show you that it isn’t that bad...”

“Where’d you come up with that?”

“Oh a few years ago... and it’s true. You may be going through a lot and even more as time passes, but I’m not going to give up on you and let you wallow in your depression. And neither is anypony else.”

“Yeah well, easy for you to say.”

“Just let us try, alright? That’s the least you can do, and if I know anything about you, it’s that you always try to do more than the bare minimum.”

“I guess.” Pinkie just continues holding me and resumes her song, but just humming it. Though I don’t have any clue what the lyrics could be... it makes me feel a little better. So much stuff going wrong... well as long as Pinkie’s right, I might as well just try pushing forward. Next Chapter: A New Role To Play Estimated time remaining: 4 Hours, 19 Minutes

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