Something Like Laughter

by Dubs Rewatcher

Chapter 2: Two

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It’s just past midnight when Trixie wakes from her nightmare. Yelping, she throws herself out of bed and crumples onto the floorboards. Her mind is buzzing and she can’t stop hyperventilating and she’s going to throw up she’s going to throw up so she sprints out the door.

She trips on the doorway and tumbles to the dirt outside. It’s cool and smells of dew, but it does nothing to stop the nausea roaring up her throat. All of her thoughts are ripping themselves apart and she wants to scream but she can’t because she’s writhing on the ground, grasping at her stomach, her chest, her throat.

She heaves, but nothing comes up. She’s crying, and she’s convulsing, and everything hurts. Her legs are numb. She wants someone to hold her, to tell her that everything is going to be fine, but all she has is the dirt and the rocks and the bugs. So she lies there, spasming. Trying to forget her nightmares. Trying to forget six months of torture, of suffering. But whenever she tries to forget, all it does is force her to remember.

There’s no laughter now. Just crying.

The Great and Powerful Trixie is weeping into the dirt.

The forest is quiet as it watches Trixie try and stand, only for her legs to give out. She falls, and her coat is streaked with mud. Her chest rises and falls in time with her heart, faster and faster until it makes her dizzy just to watch. She smells like salt and rot. Her lips are coated with frantic spit as she rolls over onto her back.

Trixie feels like a foal, helpless without her mother to guide her. That thought brings out a blubbering whimper—she wipes her face, but the tears are coming back too fast, flooding her eyes with a stinging warmth.

Then, biting down her sobs, to keep herself steady, she thinks of soft words, laced with the sweet scent of strawberry, that she hasn't heard whispered in ten years: in times of trouble, look for the North Star. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things might seem, it will always be there for you.

And sure enough, there it is: just in front of her, resting above Mount Celestia like a beacon, and as soon as she sees it the pain leaves. Trixie knows that it’s just a blob of plasma millions of miles away, and that it’s no more special than any other star, but there’s something about it that settles upon Trixie’s lungs like new snow.

She feels her breaths slow to a steady crawl. And the tears are still flowing down her cheeks, and into the grass, but they don’t hurt anymore. Her face tingles like it tingles when the noonday sun hits it, or when she’s been smiling for too long. There’s a lightness in her mud-soaked chest—and her chin can only quiver as the feeling floats up to her stained cheeks.

Trixie hates being alone.

She can’t stand it anymore. She can’t stand being out here, trapped in a caravan with nothing but the nightmares to keep her company. She needs somepony that she can talk to, somepony that she can lean on; she needs somepony to help her.

And as she sits here, under the North Star, Trixie starts to feel like maybe she’s not alone. Like maybe there actually is someone out there, somewhere, who’s thinking about her. Like there actually is someone who wants to help her, who wants her to keep living. Maybe there is someone who wants to be her… her friend.

Trixie sits up, still staring at the North Star. But at that moment, she feels something tugging on her—some wriggling worm in the back of her mind, pulling her eyes downward. She follows its urgings and looks down.

From where she sits, Trixie can just barely make out the tip of a massive, crystalline structure, jutting out of the center of Ponyville. It glints in the moonlight, and even though it strains her eyes, Trixie can't look away.

She smiles. The tears keep falling.

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