Life is a Lemon

by Blueshift

First published

Lemon Dreams is a pony who thinks she is a lemon

Lemon Dreams is a happy pony with a perfect life in Ponyville. There's only one problem - she thinks she's a lemon.

Is she really a pony-shaped citrus fruit, or is she just crazy? Does it even matter? When Lemon Dreams finds herself at odds with the ponies of Ponyville and pursued by a strangely familiar ghost, she realises she must discover the answers to those questions before it's too late.

Prologue - Life Is A Lemon (And I Want My Money Back)

Lemon Dreams tensed the muscles in her legs as she got ready to run, licking her lips as she surveyed the steep grassy slope in front of her. She pawed her front hooves at the ground impatiently, making scuff marks in the dry earth that marked the spot where she had come every day for almost the last two years to practice.

It never got any easier.

Before her the idyllic grassy slope stopped sharply, dropping off into the yawning chasm of Ghastly Gorge. No matter how many times she had done this before, how many times she had reassured her friends that she would be careful, the fear of the danger was still an icy claw around her heart.

She squinted upwards, giving a firm nod at the pony who stood at the very top of the slope, silhouetted against the afternoon sunshine. “Again!” she called up as loudly as she could, tensing herself, ready to move the moment the signal was given.

The pony at the top of the hill faltered. They all did, after a while. Today it was Copper’s turn, but before it had been Applebee, and before her, Coconut Shy. They had all at some point said ‘no’, refused to help her in her mission. She had slowly drifted apart from most of them, but it didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was what she was doing now.

“I’m not doing it!” Copper called down towards Lemon Dreams, her voice shaky with nerves. “This is crazy, Lemon Dreams! How long have you been trying to do this now? It’s impossible, you’ll never catch it! You’ll just end up getting yourself…”

“Again!” Lemon Dreams cut off her friend sharply. “I can do it, Copper! But I can’t do it alone! Wouldn’t that be more dangerous?”

Copper thought about this for a moment before her shoulders slumped in defeat. “Okay Lemon Dreams. One last time.”

Lemon Dreams bit her lip as she settled back into position, her forehooves pressed to the floor, her hind legs about to pounce. Up upon the top of the slope, the distant figure of Copper grasped a small yellow lemon in her mouth and flung it as hard as she could down the hill.

The lemon bounced, gathering speed as it skipped down the hill, faster and faster towards the yawning mouth of the gorge below. The moment it passed a carefully placed flag, Lemon Dreams sprang into action. Like a pent-up spring she exploded across the hillside, racing downwards towards the lemon and the edge of the chasm, eyes fixed on the prize with a gritty determination as if her life depended on it.

The lemon was small and light; it skipped down the slope effortlessly as it tumbled faster and faster until it was a yellow blur. Lemon Dreams was fast as well though. She was still young, her body light and powerful, and she used her weight to propel herself down the hill. Dimly she could hear Copper shouting out in terror as the gorge edge approached, but it didn’t matter. She was nearly level with the lemon.

Her legs barely touched the grass as she bounded faster and faster, the lemon a few tantalising feet away when from the edge of her vision she saw the grassy slope suddenly give way into rocky nothingness. Lemon Dreams leapt, beads of sweat pricking out on her face as her forehooves snatched frantically in the air for the lemon, but it was not enough. She crashed back down, inches away from the gorge’s edge as the lemon sailed into the air and oblivion.

Lemon Dreams slumped her over the edge, staring morosely as the lemon fell, watching it get smaller and smaller until it exploded to a messy pulp on the rocky floor hundreds of feet below. Just like last time. And the time before. And all the times before that.

It was never enough.

“Lemon Dreams! Lemon Dreams!” She could dimly hear Copper screeching in her ear as her friend made a rather more careful descent of the slope. “That was insane!” Copper cried, and as Lemon Dreams picked herself up from the chasm edge and turned around, she could almost imagine tears in Copper’s eyes. “You’ve got to stop this, Lemon Dreams, please! No pony could make that catch! How long have you been doing this now?”

The question was rhetorical, but Lemon Dreams’ answer was snapped back in an instant. “One year, fifty weeks and two days,” she replied with a hint of desperation in her voice, glancing back down towards the bottom of the gorge. “I nearly had it that time!”

Copper shook her head sadly. “No, Lemon Dreams, you didn’t. Please, just go home. Your parents would be sick with worry if they knew what you were doing.”

Lemon Dreams stiffened slightly at the mention of her parents. “They don’t believe I can do it,” she whispered hoarsely. “But I can, Copper, I can.” She gulped heavily. “A few more hours, that’s all I need, I know it! If I still can’t do it, then I’ll never ask you again.”

“And you’ll stop? That’ll be the end of it?” Copper looked at Lemon Dreams, forehead creased in concern. “You’ll forget all about it and go back to normal?”

“Yes,” Lemon Dreams lied. “Of course.” She had lost so many friends that way, but none of them realised how important this was to her. Copper was the last though. Without her there would be no-one to help her, no-one to stand in the right place on the hill and roll the lemon. Perhaps she would have to stop after all.

Lemon Dreams put such thoughts out of her head as Copper climbed the hill again towards the large basket of lemons that rested at the top. They were the best items for the task: small, oddly shaped so they bounced properly, and in plentiful supply. Every morning Lemon Dreams would pick a basket full of lemons from the family orchard, and spend the rest of the day rolling them into pulp. She was sure that at the bottom of the gorge there would be a rather large pile of pulped lemons built up over the last two years, but she didn’t want to think about that too much.

As Copper finally reached the top and gave the signal that she was ready, Lemon Dreams tensed once more, staring down the slope at the gorge.


The day wore on. No matter how hard Lemon Dreams ran, how much she pushed her aching muscles, she still couldn’t catch the lemon before it spun off into the darkness of the gorge. Finally, as the sun dipped beneath the horizon and the red glow of the sunset was slowly replaced by the silver rays of the moon, Copper called down, holding a lemon in her hooves.

“This is the last one, Lemon Dreams! That’s it!” She tipped the empty basket in Lemon Dream’s direction as proof, though through the dimming light and the distance of her friend, Lemon Dreams couldn’t make it out exactly.

She had run out of friends. She was about to run out of lemons. There might be ways she could roll the lemon from the correct spot on the hill at the right speed, but she wasn’t sure how. It needed to be done properly after all to count. She swallowed hard, gazing across the grass which now turned a silvery-blue in the moonlight. The mouth of the gorge seemed to melt into the grass as the darkness continued to envelop the world. It was now or never.


In the dim half-light, watched over by the Mare in the Moon, Copper threw the lemon down the hill exactly as she had so many times before. Lemon Dreams watched it like a hawk as it skipped down the slope, and then as it passed the flag, she leapt.

The day’s exertions had taken their toll; her muscles were tired and cramped, but with a sheer force of will she drove herself onwards, fighting through the pain. She clenched her jaw to stop her teeth rattling in her head as she thundered down the slope, darting towards the falling lemon which threatened to merge into the blackness and disappear from sight. It was her last chance. Her last chance to prove herself.

Lemon Dream’s entire world was the lemon as it spun faster and faster away from her. By the light of the moon she could see the dark blue of the ground giving way to the black chasm directly in front. She pushed faster and harder, letting herself get closer and closer to the edge before finally in one desperate jump she sprang at the gorge’s edge.

The lemon span into space. Lemon Dream’s hooves flailed in the air as she sailed helplessly towards the edge and oblivion before gravity took back control and she crashed to the ground with a thud.

“Oh.” Lemon Dreams found herself hanging off the edge of the chasm, her hooves and head dangling down, supported only by her belly, staring down into the infinity below. She caught her breath.


“Lemon Dreams! Hang on!” She heard Copper skidding down the hill after her, but didn't dare move lest she dislodge herself and tumble into the void. Strong teeth grasped her by the tail and carefully yanked her to safety.

“That was crazy!” Copper admonished, hugging Lemon Dreams tightly. “I told you it was impossible. Now you never do it again you prom-“

Copper broke off, pulling away from Lemon Dreams as she stared at what was in her friend’s hooves.

Lemon Dreams stared down too, struggling to process what she was holding. It was the lemon, perfect and undamaged.

“I did it,” she whispered in a hoarse voice, shaking in shock, the lemon gripped tightly to her chest. “I always knew I could. I knew I could make the catch.”

For Lemon Dreams, everything changed.

That was eight years ago.

Chapter 1 - What You See Is What You Get (And You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet)

Lemon Dreams puffed at a loose tuft of hair that threatened to obscure her vision as she made her way slowly through Ponyville. The day had gone from being pleasantly warm to oppressively hot: the bags slung across her back were starting to make her ache, her mouth was parched, and all she could think of was a nice relaxing rest in her private orchard.

“Hi, Lemon Dreams!”

“Hi, Carrot Top!” Lemon Dreams snapped out of her thoughts and waved to Carrot Top, giving a little wilting smile as she did so. Almost as quickly, she stopped waving and started on her way again, in case Carrot Top decided that she wanted a longer conversation. It wasn’t that Lemon Dreams disliked Carrot Top, but it was just too hot to be standing about and chatting. Besides, Carrot Top would probably want to talk about pony things. And Lemon Dreams wasn’t a pony, not really.

It wasn’t difficult to slip out of sight; the centre of town was thronged with ponies out and about, working or just enjoying the midday sun. Lemon Dreams pushed ahead, through the hustle and bustle, stopping every so often to apologise as her heavily laden shopping banged into someone else’s side. The heat made her head throb harder as she wiped away a bead of sweat, yelping slightly as the cobblestones beneath her singed her hooves. The temperature seemed to be rising, and as the Ponyville town clock started to chime two, she realised that it wasn’t going to get any cooler in a hurry.

“This is ridiculous!” she panted to herself, chewing on her bottom lip in concentration as her eyes scanned the streets, peering over the bobbing multi-coloured mass of manes surrounding her. It was a strange feeling, being alone in the middle of such a crowd, but they weren’t like her. They were ponies. Eventually, Lemon Dreams’ eyes lit up as she spied a particularly welcoming shop and she began to struggle her way across the town square.


“Whew!” Lemon Dreams fell to her haunches as she entered Sugar Cube Corner, letting her bags fall to the ground as she revelled in the instant shade the shop provided. Fans of all shapes and sizes had been set up around the store to keep the confectionery from spoiling in the heat; Lemon Dreams took full advantage of this, placing her face in between a fan and a shelf full of apple strudels.

“Good to see you, Lemon Dreams, see anything you like?”

Lemon Dreams perked up slightly at the voice, narrowly avoiding catching her mane in the fan blades as she saw the figure of a bright pink pony standing by the till. “Hi, Pinkie!” she waved. Despite the heat, Pinkie Pie seemed the bastion of cheer and frivolity; quite the opposite from the rather sour-faced pony who turned from talking to Pinkie in order to glare at Lemon Dreams. “Hi, Apple Pony!” Lemons Dreams chirped. It was always important to be friendly to every pony you met, that’s what she always told herself.

“Mah name’s Applejack,” Applejack drawled back rather coldly, narrowing her eyes at Lemon Dreams.

“Oh!” Lemon Dreams patted her mane back into shape as she started to examine the wide array of sweets and cakes on offer. She hadn’t planned to stop at Sugar Cube Corner, but buying a cake or two couldn’t hurt. “Is that a new thing?” she asked Applejack innocently.

“No!” Applejack twitched slightly, tensing up as if about to launch herself at Lemon Dreams. “Ah was Applejack when you asked me yesterday, Applejack when you asked me last month, ah’ve been Applejack as long as ah’ve known you!”

Lemon Dreams furrowed her brow, glancing up from the cakes to stare intently at Applejack for a few seconds. “Huh. I’ll have to remember that. Thanks, Apple Pony.” She ignored the fuming Applejack, turning back to the cakes and carefully lifting out the largest, creamiest éclair she could find. She lifted it up, studying it carefully before looking back at Pinkie Pie. “Um…” she began.

“Don’t worry!” Pinkie Pie piped up merrily, leaning one hoof on the counter in a casual manner, the other hooked around Applejack’s shoulders in case her friend launched herself at Lemon Dreams. “It’s just cake, cream and strawberry! No lemons at all! Sugar Cube Corner is a lemon-free zone!”

Lemon Dreams beamed back at Pinkie, a warm sensation of relief flooding through her body. For the past few years she had never seen a lemon-based dessert in Sugar Cube Corner, but there was always the niggling fear that one day she would walk in to see the results of a citrus massacre. “Thank you, Pinkie. You’re a good friend. I’m glad Ponyville is such a friendly, understanding place.”

Applejack stopped brooding for a moment, to darken her gaze at Lemon Dreams. “Yeah, ‘cos we wouldn’t want anythin’ to happen to any of your lemon friends now, would we?”

If there was a hint of sarcasm in Applejack’s voice, Lemon Dreams didn’t notice it. Instead she fixed her gaze on a rather delicious looking vanilla slice, scooping it up into her hooves as she made her way to the till. “Oh no, of course not! Those poor innocent lemons. My brothers and sisters deserve better than being cruelly zested or juiced!

“Yeah, your family.” The expression on Applejack’s face was not an impressed one. “Because you think you’re a lemon, right? That still your thing?”

This got Lemon Dream’s attention. She carefully put her selection of cakes down on a nearby table, locking eyes with Applejack. “I don’t think I’m a lemon, Apple Pony. I am a lemon! I’m so lucky! I have hundreds of brothers and sisters to look after!” She thumped her chest proudly. “All of them relying on me to care for them and keep our orchard healthy and safe! Especially from ponies who want to squash lemons for juice or cook them into cakes! When will the world learn?”

“Yeah, when indeed,” Applejack snapped back coldly, looking to Pinkie Pie for moral support. Her friend just shrugged.

Lemon Dreams just smiled softly at Applejack. “I know, Apple Pony, I know. You’re a good friend, thank you…” She trailed off slowly, her expression fuzzing over with a strange glassy look as she lost herself in her thoughts, before snapping back to reality and piling her carefully chosen goods in front of Pinkie Pie. “I’ll have these please!” She licked her lips in anticipation at the selection of sweet snacks in front of her.

Pinkie Pie quickly scanned her eyes over the haphazard pile of cakes that Lemon Dreams had gathered up. “That will be uh… five bits!” she chirped out.

“Oh.” Lemon Dreams’ cheery disposition faded slightly as she counted out her coins. “I… I’ve only got four and a half bits.” Her face crumpled, and she prodded at the half-bit coin as if that would cause it to spontaneously double.

“Special offer!” Pinkie cried, quickly placing all Lemon Dreams’ cakes into a basket and pushing it towards the surprised pony. Lemon Dreams perked up, and, lifting the basket in her mouth, trotted over to where she had placed the rest of her heavy shopping, and left the store.

Applejack slowly shook her head as she watched Lemon Dreams depart. “Sometimes ah think ah’m the only sane pony round here, Pinkie. Why do you do it?”

“Do what?” Pinkie fluttered her eyelashes innocently.

“Y’all know what ah mean!” Applejack rounded on her friend, her face etched in annoyance and anger. “That pony’s crazy! She thinks she’s a lemon for cryin’ out loud! She ain’t a lemon, any fool can see that! You don’t have to kowtow to her every whim!”

“But she’s happy!” Pinkie started to hum, ignoring Applejack as she swept a cloth across the shop counter. “Being happy’s important! If it works for her, then hurray!”

“But it ain’t just her, is it?” Applejack slumped down onto the ground with a heavy sigh. “Ah resent that ‘cos one pony’s gone crazy over lemons, that suddenly the entire population of Ponyville ain’t allowed to eat lemons. Ah resent that mah little sister ain’t allowed to run her lemonade stall because it upsets that crazy mare! That pony’s got one of the finest lemon orchards ah’ve ever seen, but she don’t allow anyone else near it!”

“Yeah, but…” Pinkie shrugged again, dismissively. “It’s not hurting anyone, Applejack!”

Applejack pulled her hat over her eyes. “What if tomorrow she wakes up an’ decides she’s an apple? Am ah gonna have to close down Sweet Apple Acres? She don’t even have a job you know, her parents send her money so she can live in her orchard bein’ mad without a care in the world. Bein’ happy’s one thing, forcin’ good honest folk to respect your crazy ideas is another! She don’t need mollycoddling, she needs help! She needs tellin’ what’s real and what’s in her head! She needs to stop bein’ such a silly, selfish and down-right stupid pony!”

Pinkie wasn’t listening to Applejack. She was being uncharacteristically quiet, staring behind Applejack with wide-open eyes. Applejack’s ranting stuttered to a halt as she slowly turned, to see Lemon Dreams standing in the middle of the shop.

“I… uh…” Lemon Dreams’ voice went dry slightly, lowering to almost a whisper. “I just came back to say thank you, Pinkie. For the cakes.” She turned, slightly shakily, and left the store once more. There was something warm and wet on her cheek. It felt like tears. But it couldn’t be.

Lemons didn’t cry.


There was a spot in the park where no-one else seemed to go. A small bench sat beneath a gnarled old oak, the branches of which had grown over the bench, making it extremely uncomfortable to sit on. This was where Lemon Dreams liked to spend time when she was out and about in Ponyville.

She swung gently on one of the lower branches, her tail wrapped securely around it as she hung in the afternoon sunshine, feeling the warm prickle of sunlight dance over her body. Beneath her, balanced on the bench was her lunch: a slice of cake and a bottle of fizzy cherryade, just high enough for her to sip at as she rocked back and forth.

She closed her eyes as she drifted in and out of a lazy afternoon nap, hearing only the chirping of the birds and the distant chattering of the ponies in the other, more populated areas of the park and town. There was nothing in the world to upset her, nothing now except a pleasant, relaxing sleep, letting herself doze off.


A voice in the dark, almost a whisper. She ignored it, keeping her eyes shut as she lost herself in hazy dreams.


The voice sounded louder, causing Lemon Dreams to flinch slightly as it tried to pull her back to wakefulness. She soon settled down again; the tree was just too comfy.


There was an urgency to the cry, like a small filly calling out. Lemon Dreams’ eyes snapped open as she woke with a jolt, her legs twitching and treading air helplessly as she fell into wakefulness. She blinked with a start, as she found herself eye to eye with a small yellow filly.

“Um, Lemon Dreams? Hi!” The little pony sat staring at her, looking slightly taken aback at Lemon Dreams’ frantic air-peddling. “Sorry, ah didn’t mean to startle you!”

Lemon Dreams slowly calmed down, relaxing her legs until she was finally still, swaying gently back and forth by her tail once more. Only this time, her heart was racing; she could feel the heavy thumping in her chest and a slight shiver shoot down her spine. “I… uh… that’s okay!” She tried to smile back towards the familiar-looking filly, taking a quick sip of her cherryade to quench her strangely dry throat. “You’re… Apple Pony Junior, right?”

“Apple Bloom, ma’am.” The filly gave a little smile back at her. “It’s just… mah sister said you thought you were a lemon, is that true?” She squinted forwards to stare at Lemon Dreams. “You don’t look like a lemon!”

Lemon Dreams stared back at Apple Bloom silently for a moment. There was something in the little filly’s eyes which were slightly unsettling, but she wasn’t sure what. It was like the memory of a memory, nagging away at her mind. She pushed such ridiculous sensations aside. “You can be whatever you want to be,” she finally responded. “I used to be so sad until one day eight years ago when I realised that I was really a lemon. After that, it all made sense!”

Apple Bloom tilted her head to one side suspiciously. “But you don’t look like a lemon!” she blurted out accusingly. “You’ve got legs! And a head! Lemons don’t have those!”

“Well, I’ve got legs and a head, and I’m a lemon, so obviously they do!” Lemon Dreams retorted reasonably. “And I like being a lemon. All I need to worry about is that I get enough sunlight to photosynthesise with!” She furrowed her brow. “I’d hate to be a pony like everyone else, all that stress and heartache; I watch them all rushing about all day, and think how lucky I am to have such a happy life!”

“If you get food from sunlight, how come you’re eatin’ that!” Apple Bloom pointed at the half-eaten cake and bottle of pop that sat on the bench below Lemon Dreams. “That ain’t sunlight!”

“I like the taste!” Lemon Dreams rolled her eyes in mock-annoyance, and then shut them, returning to her peaceful spot where all she could feel was the whispering of the wind and the warmth of the sun. Eventually she heard the tread of small hoofs slowly departing, as Apple Bloom left, obviously having gotten bored of watching her hanging from the tree.

When all was peaceful and quiet, Lemon Dreams let her tail unfurl from the branch, landing deftly in a practised motion on the ground, and gathered her shopping. She didn’t feel like being out in public anymore. Something had unsettled her. Something at the back of her mind that told her the voice she heard while sleeping didn’t sound anything like Apple Bloom.

Despite the warmth of the sun, she felt a sudden chill pass over her.

Chapter 2 - Out Of The Frying Pan (And Into The Fire)

Lemon Dreams’ house stood at one of the farthest corners of Ponyville, where the streets gave way to picturesque shrubbery and wildflowers. It was a modest affair with fading paintwork and slightly rickety windows, but Lemon Dreams didn’t really care. It was just a useful building to keep out the rain and cold, her true home was amongst the trees.

She flung open the door, throwing down the heavy bag of fertiliser and assorted gardening goods that made up the majority of that day’s excursion into town. She gave the bag a little pat – sometimes she liked to sleep in the fertiliser, to make sure she was well fed and fresh for the next day, but she didn’t like to be selfish; her lemon friends would eat well tonight.

She cast her eyes back to the door. Wedged into the letterbox was a crumpled envelope which bore some familiar writing. In the next town over, there were two ponies who thought they were her parents, and would send her money and a letter like clockwork, every week. Of course, they couldn’t be Lemon Dreams’ parents because her real family was made from citrus and pith, not flesh and blood, but she thought it was important not to break their illusion. If it made them happy to think she was their daughter, she would let them continue. Sometimes they would try to visit, but Lemon Dreams would hide upstairs until they left. Sometimes they would sit outside the house for hours calling for her. Some ponies could be strange.

Lemon Dreams tore the envelope open, carefully depositing the coins inside into a jar that rested on a nearby table. The envelope and letter within was stuffed into a cupboard that was bursting at the seams with letters.

She never read them.

“Hi guys, I’m home!” Lemon Dreams threw open the back door and trotted out with a beaming smile. Before her stretched her orchard, a dazzling array of greens and yellows, tree upon tree all lovingly cared for. She walked amongst the strong trunks of the trees, giving little waves to all the lemons that nestled in the branches, all her brothers and sisters, safe and sound in her protection. Around the borders of her garden stood a tall stone wall that rose almost to the tops of the trees. In the past she had trouble with ponies trying to hurt her lemons by picking and eating them, or just trying to gawp. The wall kept them all out. It kept them safe.

The sun was still high in the sky, a late lazy afternoon glow now, and Lemon Dreams stifled a yawn. There was probably still time to catch some rays, and so she scrambled up the nearest tree, finding a sturdy branch and flopping down on it, her limbs splayed on either side as she rested her head and fell soundly asleep.

There was something wrong. The dream she fell into was not the normal soft happy cushion she was used to, but instead something that sent her into restless fits. It was black. Something was falling in the darkness, tumbling end over end; she could feel herself leaping out to it, but it was too late, and she too fell into the darkness, screaming out a helpless cry that went forever unanswered.

A sharp cracking noise snapped her back to consciousness. She had obviously been asleep for a good few hours: the orchard was dark now, bathed in the orange light of the setting sun, and the air was cold as it ruffled the fur on her back. Almost in slow motion she could see the lemon on the branch in front of her splitting from its stem, and then with another crack, it plummeted downwards.

“No! Snicket!” Lemon Dreams cried out to the lemon as it fell. With a deft motion she sprang into action, launching herself off the tree and at the ground, twisting as she fell hard against the ground, her forehooves snatching in the air as they grasped the lemon before it could hit the cruel grass. It had taken less than a second, but Lemon Dreams had caught the lemon. She always did.

“Oh, Snicket!” Lemon Dreams looked sadly at the lemon in her hooves. Snicket had been one of her favourite lemons, nurtured from a small bud. She was still young and smooth, not old like some of the other lemons that sat withered on the branches. “You were too young to fall,” Lemon Dreams sighed, hugging the poor lemon to her chest and giving it a slight kiss. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after you.”

With the greatest of care, she took Snicket into the house where it was still warm, and placing her on a table, took out a tub of wax and polished the lemon’s skin until it was glowing yellow. “There!” She looked proudly at her lemon friend, and picked her up to place in the bowl of lemons that sat on the kitchen windowsill. This was where the old lemons that fell off the trees lived, so they could spend their retirement being looked after while still being able to stare out across the orchard.

“No…” Lemon Dreams paused, and then gently rubbed her cheek lovingly against Snicket. “You don’t want to sleep with those old lemons, do you Snicket? You can sleep with me, just this once.” As carefully as she could, she took Snicket in her mouth and carried her up the stairs to bed.

Lemon Dreams’ room was simple, just a bed and blankets with barely any decoration. She didn’t like to have to sleep in the house, but it was just too cold at night for her to stay in the trees that she loved without catching a cold. She started to coo softly to Snicket, wrapping her in a pink blanket as she sat in bed, rocking the lemon gently from side to side. “Oh, Snicket, what a happy life we lead,” she intoned, looking out of the window and into the beautiful orchard below, dappled with the first rays of moonlight.

“I know, I know…” She focused her attention on the lemon again, feeling the strange sensation of tears pricking at her eyes again. “I’m sorry you fell, Snicket, but I caught you. I’ll always be there to catch you and your brothers and sisters, and make sure nothing bad ever happens to you.” This made her feel better, and she hugged the lemon to her chest, safe and warm.

“You are my sunshine,” she started to sing as she rocked the lemon, “my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey.” She wasn’t sure where she had heard the song before, but it gave her a warm glow to sing it to someone she loved. “You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.” She breathed in deeply, hugging the lemon tighter as that contented feeling spread through her. Everything was silent and at peace, with only the slight rustle of the wind brushing against the leaves outside to disturb the serenity.

…my only sunshine…

Lemon Dreams froze, eyes wide. There was a voice singing, like a half whisper. She put Snicket up to her ears and listened for a while, but there was no sound. “Wait here!” she hissed to Snicket, placing her carefully on the bed as she trotted over to the window.

“Hello?” Lemon Dreams called down into the orchard. Everything was silent again, and Lemon Dreams started to convince herself that it was only the noise of the trees she had heard. As she turned to go back to bed, she felt a sudden pang of pure dread as a sing-song voice whispered up from the garden:

…you make me happy, when skies are grey…

“Hello?” Her heart was thumping in her chest now as she span back towards the window, craning her neck out. There was a sudden flash of colour amongst the subdued hues of the moonlit orchard, as something small scurried between the tree trunks. “Who is that? Get out of there, this is my orchard!”

She turned to race down the stairs, half tumbling in her scramble to get outside. There was no way someone could get into her orchard – they would have to break into her house or climb over the high wall. It was her safe place, her sanctuary from the world. “Get out, get out, get out!” she could hear herself half-screaming as she threw upon the back door and skidded into the moonlight.

She strained her eyes against the dark, trotting forwards into the orchard. Every inch of ground, every trunk was familiar as the back of her hoof to her, and yet she could feel a chill creeping across her body every step she took as if the most friendly place in the world was somehow unwelcoming.

…you’ll never know dear, how much I love you…

She twisted with a start as she heard the sing-song voice drifting through the air again. There was a flash of yellow as something the size of a filly darted across the far end of the orchard. “Apple Bloom, is that you?” She started to shake, an uncontrollable shudder rising through her body as she moved deeper into the darkness of the orchard. “This is my orchard, get out! It’s mine!”

…please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Impossibly, the voice came from behind her now, clear and loud in a soft, filly like lilt. Lemon Dreams swung round, ready to admonish the intruder, but her words dried in her throat.

Standing before her in the dark was a small yellow filly. It wasn’t Apple Bloom though. It stood still, bathing the ground before it in an ethereal light, its body flickering in the night like a wisp of smoke as if it wasn’t even there. A spectral hoof slowly reached towards Lemon Dreams. It was lemon-yellow.

There was something about the apparition, something unknown and yet so familiar, causing a bubbling sensation of pure dread to well within Lemon Dreams. Something deeply wrong and deeply terrible. She screamed as loudly as she could until she was hoarse in the throat, racing back towards the house as if her life depended on it and slamming the back door hard, dragging every table and movable object against it until she was sure nothing could get in.

A brief glimpse outside the window caught a flash of yellow in the moonlight, causing Lemon Dreams to start to shake again and hyperventilate. She bolted up the stairs as quickly as she could and dived under her covers. There was something about the thing in the garden, something she felt she should know. Something that sent an icy chill around her heart and caught her in pure irrational fear.

For the first time in years, she did not want to spend the night in the orchard. Instead she sat in bed with the covers bunched around her, staring up at the ceiling with wide, bulging eyes.

She did not sleep at all that night.

Chapter 3 - Objects In The Rear View Mirror (May Appear Closer Than They Are)

The next day, things didn’t seem so bad. In the soft glow of the morning sun, the orchard was once more a cosy, inviting place, though Lemon Dreams still felt a pang of dread rising in her stomach as she pushed away the hastily erected barricade of the previous night and crept into the garden.

A solitary butterfly flapped its way across the treetops, and a gust of refreshing air wafted across Lemon Dreams’ face. She swallowed hard, sniffing the air and then breaking into a grin. Her orchard felt like home again, a warm, safe place where she could relax in the beauty of nature. There was no sign of the… thing that had been there the night before. The trees stood tall as they always had.

Perhaps it had all been a dream?

Lemon Dreams took a few more tentative steps into the orchard, peering round the trees in case there was anything lurking there. “Hello?” she called quietly, and then in a more confident register, “hello?”

There was no reply. Lemon Dreams felt her confidence grow, and she trotted through the orchard, peering up at every treetop and flashing a reassuring smile at each one. “You’re right guys, I was just being silly, imagining things that weren’t there!” The trees rustled in agreement as Lemon Dreams came to a stop in the middle of the orchard, settling down on her hind legs and letting the peace and solitude wash over her. “There’s nothing here apart from me and you. Nothing to worry about, nothing to disturb us.”

A sharp banging from the front door shattered the silence, and caused Lemon Dreams to leap in the air with a shriek of fright. She skidded about in the grass for a moment in disorientation, teeth chattering in fear as if at any moment that apparition would flash in front of her eyes. There was nothing behind her, no spectral figure lurking at her back. Instead, there was just another round of banging on the door.

Lemon Dreams raced back into the house, and pressed her ear against the front door with a suspicious frown. She felt the vibration of several sharp knocks through the wood. “Hello?” she called out. “Hello, who is that? Are you a ghost?”

“Mpph mmp-mmph!” came a muffled call from the other side.

“That… is not helpful,” Lemon Dreams mumbled to herself as she stared at the door, as if with enough effort she could peer through it. If it was a ghost on the other side, it didn’t sound scary, unless it was mumbling because its mouth was full with devouring ponies. She was safe in her home, she was sure of that, but if she opened her door and let something in…

Another sharp rapping at the door interrupted her line of thought. She almost kicked herself as a wave of relief washed over her, and she realised the important point she had been missing – ghosts didn’t need to knock!

“Hang on, hang on!” Lemon Dreams unlatched the heavy chain that hung across the doorway, and slid back the three bolts that secured the door. Security was always an important concern, it blew her mind whenever she was out and about in Ponyville to see all those ponies leaving their houses wide open without a care in the world.

For her efforts, she was greeted by the sight of Carrot Top sitting on her doorstep, a happy vacant smile in her face and a large yellow envelope stuffed in her mouth. “Mpph mph!” Carrot Top made several nonsensical merry-sounding noises, her voice completely muffled by the envelope.

Lemon Dreams was about to slowly close the door on her and pretend nothing had happened when Carrot Top spat out the envelope at Lemon Dreams’ hooves. “I tried to catch you yesterday, but I guess you didn’t’ see me!” Carrot Top wiped her mouth to get rid of the papery taste of the envelope. “This is for you!”

Lemon Dreams stared at the envelope uncertainly, before giving it a slight poke as if it were about to explode. “What is it?”

“It’s a birthday card!” Carrot Top beamed. “For you,” she added helpfully, when met with a quizzical gaze from Lemon Dreams.

“It’s not my birthday.” Lemon Dreams scuffed the card across the doorstep back to Carrot Top. “That’s very thoughtful of you, but only ponies have birthdays.” She frowned. There was something in what Carrot Top had said, something familiar, something clawing desperately at her mind for her to remember. She shook her head. It wasn’t important.

“Oh yes, I mean, it’s not today, it’s tomorrow! But I’m out of town tomorrow, and I just thought…” Carrot Top tilted her head and gave a quick gasp. “It’s the yearly Canterlot Farmer’s Conference tomorrow, you can come, if you like! I’m sure you’ve got plans, but I’ve heard all about your lemon orchard, and…”

“No.” Lemon Dreams cut Carrot Top off curtly, moving to block any view of the orchard from the front door. “I-I’m going to spend tomorrow with my lemons, just like every day. I’m happy, Carrot Top, stop trying to change things!”

“I never said you weren’t…” Carrot Top stepped away from the door and turned to leave. “Look, Lemon Dreams, there’s more to life than…” she struggled to find the correct word “…lemons.” She gave a little smile. “Anyway, watch out. There’s a storm coming.”

Lemon Dreams peered up at the bright blue sky and then back down at Carrot Top. “Wait, what? Is that supposed to be some sort of metaphor or euphemism or something? That you think if I don’t be like everyone else I’m going to ruin my life or have something awful happen?” She stamped a hoof down firmly. “I’m not stupid, you know! Can’t you all accept that I’m happy to live my own life?”

“Uh, no, I mean literally.” Carrot Top frowned, shrinking back from Lemon Dreams’ sudden outburst. “There’s literally a storm coming. Tonight. Because of the heatwave, the pegasus ponies are going to go all-out on a storm. Which is why you should be careful if you wanted to spend tomorrow in your orchard… and… stuff…”

Carrot Top eventually stopped trying to speak, and turned to slink off. Lemon Dreams watched her with a stony silence as she departed, before picking up the envelope and throwing it unopened into the cupboard full of letters that sat by her front door. It was going to be a good day; nothing anyone could say or do would stop that. The sun was still shining, the air was crisp, and she was alone and safe, with no-one to disturb her sanctuary.

She bolted shut the front door and knew she was safe again. The outside world couldn’t get in, it couldn’t interfere with her happiness. With a renewed vigour in her heart, she almost danced into her orchard. “Good morning my friends!” Lemon Dreams called out to her trees as she breathed the citrus-smelling air in deeply, closing her eyes to better relish the delightful aromas. “And how are you all this lovely day…”

She opened her eyes to take in the beauty of her trees, and her voice died in her throat. She froze to the spot, every muscle in her body seizing in a primal fright as she took in the sight.

Standing in the middle of the lemon trees was a small yellow filly, flickering like a mirage, its bright orange mane waving in the air as if blown by an invisible wind. Silent. Watching her.

Lemon Dreams flashed back to the night before. She reared up as a strange choking panic overtook her, squirming as she frantically willed her legs to work again. “L-leave me alone!” she screamed at the small apparition. “What are you? What do you want?”

There was no answer from the pony. As soon as she was able, in a frantic twisting of terrified limbs, Lemon Dreams bolted for the safety of the house.


Lucid Light was the best psychiatrist in Ponyville. In fact, he was the only psychiatrist, which meant that he was also the worst in Ponyville, but he tended to downplay that detail. As Ponyville’s chief source of sanity, he was used to a constant influx of customers, each with their own niggling problems to overcome. His office was covered in a haphazard collection of certificates and knick-knacks, trophies to remind himself of his good deeds and various complicated cases that he had solved. After so many years in the business, nothing surprised him anymore.

Almost nothing.

Lucid Light sat behind his desk, brow furrowed as he struggled to process the question that had just been posed to him. His gaze awkwardly wandered over the mess that was his desk in an attempt to avoid eye contact with his client.

“So, uh…” he started again, crouching forwards in his chair somewhat uncomfortably as he struggled with the situation. “You want to know if you’re mad?”

“Yes!” Lemon Dreams nodded firmly from underneath her dishevelled mane, eyes twitching slightly from lack of sleep.

“Okay.” Lucid Light‘s lips curled into a stiff frown. “And you still think you’re a lemon?”


“And… you want to know if you’re mad? Look…” Lucid Light started to scratch his neck nervously. “ You realise that this isn’t free, right? I have a tiered charging system, and I’d hate to think that you were using my services if it wasn’t… necessary.” He put on his biggest, most beaming smile and started to leaf through his appointment book to see who was booked in next. “Let’s just say you popped in to say hi, and chalk this up to experience. I don’t think there’s anything I need to do here.”

Lemon Dreams’ hoof thumped down onto the desk, snagging the page just as Lucid Light was turning it. “No!” She swallowed hard before slowly sitting back down, breathing heavily to calm her nerves as silence reigned in the room. “No,” she whispered again. “I know what you think about the lemon thing. I know, and that’s fine. It’s just…” She sunk lower into the chair as if it would protect her. “I think I saw a ghost.”

“There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Lucid’s reply was snapped back almost automatically, and he instantly regretted it as Lemon Dreams visibly crumpled in front of him. He closed his appointment book with a loud thump and pushed it to one side, giving a much warmer smile. “What I mean to say is, you shouldn’t leap to conclusions. Are you sure it wasn’t just another pony? Maybe a pale one? Or a magical image cast by a unicorn? Or marsh ga – ”

“It was a ghost!” Lemon Dreams cut across him, her eyes watering in desperation. “A little filly ghost standing in my orchard – my orchard! It keeps coming back and staring at me, and I get so scared!” As she talked she began to grind her forehooves into her mane, causing her hair to tangle into an even more undignified mess. “I just need to know that I’m not mad, and that it’s real and someone can do something about it. I don’t want to be mad.” Her voice dipped to a hoarse croak. “Not like this.”

“I see.” Lucid hopped from his seat to move towards a large filing cabinet that dominated one side of his office, snatching up a pair of half-moon reading spectacles from the mess that littered his desk as he went. It didn’t take him long to find the file he was looking for; a thick sheaf of papers bound tightly in a dusty manila folder. His only real failure in all his years of practice.

“The mind, Lemon Dreams, is a powerful thing indeed.” He sat back down, propping the folder open at an angle as he turned the pages so that the contents were hidden from his client. “The subconscious works on a whole different level to everything else. We can never know everything about it, but we can try to understand.” He flicked to the end of the folder, staring for a while at the notes on the final page, before looking up. “It’s been a good few years since you were last sat here. Tell me, are you happy?”

“I was.” Lemon Dreams shifted slightly in her chair. “I mean, I am. It’s been such a good life, looking after all my citrus siblings, and – and then this thing comes in and I’ve never been so scared and I don’t know why I’m so scared.” She whispered the last line, before fixing Lucid with a wide-open gaze. “It’s real, isn’t it? I know it’s real, I’m not crazy. Why won’t it go away?”

Lucid turned these words over in his mind carefully before speaking. “I think,” he eventually replied in as careful a manner as he could muster, “you know deep down why you came to me first. Is that right?”

Lemon Dreams fell silent, glancing about everywhere but at him, desperate to avoid eye contact. He could see the wet traces of tears as they tumbled down her cheeks, though she made no move to wipe them away. There was none of that bold defiance in the face of facts that seemed to characterise her daily routine. Instead there was an air of defeat. It brought to Lucid’s mind thoughts of Lemon Dreams as he had first met her, all those years ago.

“Now,” he began again. “I think we should do some word association. You remember that, don’t you?”

Lemon Dreams mutely nodded, daring to look at him again.

“Okay.” Lucid turned back the pages of the folder, eventually finding a yellowed sheet of paper that bore his unmistakable spidery scrawl. “I’ll begin. Remember, don’t think about it, just say the first word that comes into your head.” He cleared his throat loudly. “Family.”

“Lemons,” Lemon Dreams squeaked back.


Lemon Dreams fell silent. Lucid adjusted his spectacles in a manner which he always felt gave a warm, homely air. “Just say the first thing that comes into your head, don’t worry, it can’t be wrong.”

“Orchard,” came the reply finally.

“Good.” Lucid licked his lips as he stared at the paper. Lemon Dreams’ answers were there, exactly the same as they had been when they first met. “Falling.”

“Catching,” Lemon Dreams squeaked back.


Lemon Dreams stared back at him blankly. “Come on,” Lucid encouraged. “The first thing that comes into your head. Sunshine.”

“I…” Lemon Dreams quivered, pressing herself back into her chair as if her failure to answer would elicit some sort of punishment. “I don’t know!”

“It’s fine.” Lucid said in his most gentle tone, turning the page to show that this exercise had run its course. “You’re a brave pony you know, Lemon Dreams. I remember nine months ago, you chased off that pack of timberwolves that were prowling near the town. You weren’t scared then, were you?”

Lemon Dreams shook her head, sniffling as she attempted to regain her composure. “N-no,” she croaked. “They would have attacked my lemon trees. They’re my friends, my family, I’d die before I let anything happen to them!”

“And yet one ghost, one little ghost, a filly, and you’re terrified.” Lucid leaned forwards. “Why is that?”

“Because…” Lemon Dreams’ voice dropped to a whisper as she spoke, her eyes wide as saucers again as she struggled to recall the apparition. “Because it’s the most terrible thing in the world.”

“It’s not a ghost.” Lucid said firmly with as much authority as he could muster. “It’s a sign. From here.” He tapped his own head demonstrably. “We fear things that we don’t understand. But we fear things that we do understand more. Next time you see it, don’t run. Walk out there, confront it. You’ll know what to do, even if you don’t realise.”

Lemon Dreams nodded, unconvinced. “Okay,” she mumbled as she dropped down from her chair and turned to leave. “Thanks.”

Lucid leant back in his chair as he watched her leave, smiling grimly to himself. When he was sure she had gone, he slid out an old photograph from the file, placing it on the desk. “You’re not going to, are you?” he sighed after Lemon Dreams, before turning his attention to the photograph. It showed a small filly smiling happily at the camera. The apparition. The ghost.

The most terrible thing in the world.

Chapter 4 - Is Nothing Sacred Anymore? (Is Forever Just Another Word?)

The skies were grey.

Lucid Light huddled into his threadbare jacket as he made his way through the cold night towards the outskirts of Ponyville. The pegasi had done their job well – the perfectly clear blue sky had been quickly replaced with a ceiling of cloud; even now he could hear the distant rumble of thunder in the distance as far above, the storm was prepared.

His breath turned to fog as he huffed and puffed towards the ramshackle house that was his destination, wondering just why the hottest days seemed to have the most bitterly frostbitten nights. Normally he would be fast asleep by this point, or curled up in bed with a mug of hot cocoa and some amusing journal articles. Tonight was different though. Tonight, he found himself trekking towards Lemon Dreams’ house.

“Hello?” Reaching the door, he began thumping a forehoof onto the door. The house was far away enough from the rest of Ponyville for him not to worry about making a noise, and Lemon Dreams was awake, of that he was sure despite it nearly being midnight. He had spent the rest of the day unable to shake his session with the strange yellow pony from his mind, convinced that there was something else he had forgotten. In the end, it was a chance conversation with Carrot Top while he was heading home from work that afternoon that had put the final piece in place.

After another round of banging, the door opened a crack and a bleary eye peered out. “Go away,” Lemon Dreams called defiantly through the entrance. “Whoever you are, it’s late and I want to be alone!”

“Happy birthday!” Lucid hefted a large box tied hastily with a scrap of ribbon towards the door. “It’s ah, it’s a cake,” he added by way of explanation, tilting it to give Lemon Dreams a better look. “Bumped into your friend Carrot Top who let it slip, I was just passing and thought I’d drop in!”

Lemon Dreams stared at the box for a moment, then back up at Lucid. “I don’t have any friends,” she said softly. “I don’t want any friends. I’ve got everything I want here. It’s not my birthday, now go away.”

She moved to close the door, but one of Lucid’s hooves was pressed in the way. “Well, it’s not yet, but it is in about ten minutes.” His eyes flicked briefly towards the clock tower at the centre of Ponyville, the hands on its illuminated face creeping ever closer to midnight. “You came round to my place today, seems fair I should be able to visit you in return.” He braced his leg against the doorway to prevent it slamming shut on him. “Besides,” he added. “It’s a big cake.”

Fine.” Lemon Dreams relented, slowly creaking open the door to let Lucid in. “You can stay for one slice of cake, but that’s it.” She turned her back on Lucid and moved towards the kitchen to fetch some plates.

Lucid tentatively stepped into the house, wrinkling his nose as the musty odour hit him. It seemed to come primarily from the bags of compost that had been haphazardly stacked against every available surface, all torn open in various stages of emptying, with garden trowels and buckets strewn about. The carpets were covered in muddy hoofprints with no regard to cleanliness, and items seemed to be heaped on every surface. It was much the same as his own office, though lacking his own immutable organised chaos. His attention turned to the cupboard that sat by the door stuffed full of letters, and making surreptitiously sure that Lemon Dreams was still in the kitchen, he risked a peak at one of them.

“Plates,” Lemon Dreams announced helpfully, as she brought in two chipped china plates and placed them on the nearest table after first sweeping the debris which lay atop onto the floor.

Lucid quickly looked up from the letter and smiled innocently. “It’s a lovely uh, place you have here, Lemon Dreams.”

“It’s not.” Lemon Dreams turned to look out of the large rear window, where the lemon trees sat in the garden, still and silent in the night. “My orchard, that’s my home. My real home. It’s just…” she trailed off, a slight quiver to her voice. “I’ve not been able to go out there, not since I saw that horrible thing. What is it?”

Lemon Dreams was so intent at gazing outside that she missed the pitying gaze Lucid shot behind her back. He placed the box on the table and carefully extracted the cake from within. “You’ve not seen the… ‘ghost’ since we last spoke, have you?” he enquired casually.

“You said you didn’t believe in it!” Lemon Dreams swung round, an accusing tremor in her voice.

Lucid calmly cut two slices of cake, and lifted them into the plates. “No, I said there was no such thing as ghosts. The subconscious is a mysterious thing though, and the more you try to repress things, the more they try to break free. That’s why when you see whatever it is; you need to go to it. I’m your psychiatrist, Lemon Dreams, I have a duty of care towards you, and it’s my fault you’re like this.” He slumped back onto a chair with a sigh.

Lemon Dreams cast a nervous glance behind her out the window, before trotting cautiously to the slice of cake on the table. “I like my life,” she whispered. “It’s perfect; I have everything I ever wanted. I’m happy. Or…” she quivered again, “or I would be if that thing left me alone!”

“Mmm.” Lucid nodded along, leaning as far back in his chair as he dared. “You know there’s something wrong, you’ve always known. That’s why you think you’re seeing this so-called ‘ghost’. I never pushed you, that was my problem.” He grimaced, wiping his half-moon spectacles on his jacket as he spoke before perching them back on his nose. “All those years ago, when you first came to me. I was too afraid of upsetting you. I thought that as long as you were happy, as long as you had a world where you were comfortable and in control, that everything would be okay. But it’s not, because these things never last.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Lemon Dreams sullenly replied, dipping her head to take a mouthful of cake and chewing it over slowly. “I’ve had so many good years here with my family.”

“I know you don’t know.” Lucid swung forward on his chair to thump both forehooves onto the table. “You’re not a lemon, Lemon Dreams. You’re a pony. You’re wasting your life and you don’t even realise; you have to do something about it Lemon Dreams, you have to face this head on and stop hiding.”

“Get out.” The response was as curt as it was quick. Lemon Dreams pulled back from the table and pointed an angry hoof in the direction of the door. “I’ll not have this, not here! Get out!”

Lucid made no move to leave, instead shaking his head sadly. “I can’t, you won’t face up to this on your own. It has to be now, you know why.” As he spoke, the clock tower far in the distance began to peal out the stroke of midnight, with long, low rings of its bell. The clouds above thundered in sympathy, and the first spatterings of rain began to fall, drumming hard against the windowpanes. “Happy birthday, Lemon Dreams.”

Lemon Dreams swallowed hard and stepped back as if struck. “No, no, I don’t have a birthday!” she squeaked out breathlessly, whirling around as if expecting someone to leap out at her at any moment. “I’m not a pony like you, I’m a lemon, a happy little lemon living in my happy little orchard with all my friends and fami– ” Her voice trembled off into incoherence, wide eyes staring into the dark orchard outside with a glassy gaze. “She’s here!” she croaked. “M-make her go away!”

“It’s not real.” Lucid stood up, moving closer to Lemon Dreams, being as careful as possible so not to startle her. “It’s all in your head, but that’s not a bad thing. You have to confront it and…” His mouth hung open, the sentence remaining unfinished. In the darkness amongst the tall tree trunks, half shrouded by a curtain of ever-heavier rain, was the form of a small yellow pony with fiery orange hair whose whole body flickered like a spluttering candle. “By… Celestia…”

“It is real!” Lemon Dreams’ previous animosity was quickly forgotten as she pressed herself against Lucid for protection, grabbing hold of his jacket like it was a comfort blanket. “See! I’m not mad! M-make sure the door’s locked, we can’t let it get in!”

Lucid ignored Lemon Dreams’ pawing at his jacket as he stared out into the darkness at the small wispy form that sat outside, the spitting image of the photograph on his desk. The one thing that could reduce Lemon Dreams to a trembling wreck. “No,” he said simply, pulling away from the quaking yellow pony. “No, this changes nothing. You have to go out there, it’s the only way. The only way this will stop.”

“I can’t.” Lemon Dreams turned from the window, crouching low as if being hidden from sight would make the ghost go away. “I want my happy life back, everything was perfect as it was! Make it go away!”

Lucid broke eye contact with the apparition outside, bending down to Lemon Dreams and wiping a stray lock of matted mane from over her eyes. “Deep down, you know you have to do this. Go outside. Face it. I’ll be there with you; you don’t have to be alone.”

Lemon Dreams sniffled, looking up at him with large watery eyes. “You promise?”

“Yes.” Lucid was calm, his manner extruding trust and confidence, something he had developed from years of working with difficult patients. “Together, you and me, Lemon Dreams.”

Slowly, Lemon Dreams got to her shaky legs and the two ponies moved towards the back door, Lemon Dreams making sure not to glance even once in the direction of the window. She looked again at Lucid as he unbolted the door. “Are you sure?”

The door opened. At once a blast of wind howled out and roared into the house, bringing with it a deluge of rain. The thunder overhead rumbled loudly as Lucid stared into the crisp, cold orchard. “Come on,” he nodded. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Lemon Dreams swallowed hard, gathering all her courage as she took a hesitant step into the dark. “I can do it…” she muttered, fixing her gaze on the wet grass beneath her hooves as she forced herself to walk further. “I can do it!”

She turned to ask Lucid a question, but to her horror he wasn’t there. The back door slammed shut, and through the roaring of the wind and rain which pelted down and soaked her mane, she could hear heavy bolts being drawn. “No!” she screamed, racing back towards the door, slipping and sliding desperately in the mud. “No! No! Let me back in!”

From the safety of the house, Lucid secured the final lock. Lemon Dreams had been very thorough in securing her property, but now all her locks and chains and bars were keeping her out. He slid down against the door, back to the wood as he heard the frantic thumping of hooves from outside. “I’m sorry, Lemon Dreams,” he called out. “But I can’t do this for you. You have to do it alone.” The pounding on the door did not abate, and he could hear Lemon Dreams’ cries devolving into a panicked garbling. He closed his eyes as if that would help. It was for the best.

“Please! No! Please!” Lemon Dreams felt the hairs on the back of her neck prick up, wailing as she screwed up her eyes not wanting to even accidently see what may be with her in the darkness. She bolted away from the door in a flurry of limbs, squealing in panic as she did so. Almost instantly she slipped in the wet mud, sprawling out over the ground and was forced to open her eyes again. Her beloved lemon trees stretched above her, branches reaching out like claws. “Help me!” she gibbered, throwing her hooves in front of her face. It was out there, in the darkness. It was waiting for her.

“It was all a fantasy!” Lucid’s voice carried from inside the house as he called out to her. Lemon Dreams clambered to her hooves as she tried to dash away from wherever she imagined the ghost was hiding, with only the frantic panting of her breath for company in the freezing rain.

And Lucid’s voice.

“It was all a lie, Lemon Dreams. You dreamed it for yourself because the truth was too terrible.”

“No, no, no!” Lemon Dreams couldn’t tell if it was tears or the rain that was smearing her vision. From the corner of her eye she saw the flickering spectre, standing in the darkness, and she turned away with a scream, running as fast as she could in an attempt to escape. She threw herself against the door again, but the locks she had installed were too strong, the door too sturdy. She ran, a sodden mess of a pony, attempting to scramble up the stone walls that lined the borders of her orchard. But she had built the walls too high, the imposing stonework gave no grip and she scratched and scuffed her hooves until they bled as she failed to climb.

Lemon Dreams fell wheezing to the muddy floor, the thunder ringing out across the land as a far off bolt of lightning illuminated the orchard for a moment in an electric blue flash. She was crying now, she knew she was crying, the tears rolling down her cheeks and joining the rain as it puddled below her quivering body. Standing in front of her, lit briefly by the lightning was the ghost. It stood still as the rain passed through its spectral form, silent, watching her.

Thunder rang out again, and another blast of lightning lit up the sky. The little ghost made no move to approach, staring at Lemon Dreams from two large eyes. Two large, familiar eyes.

“I… I…” Lemon Dreams wiped away the tears and rain from her face, water splashing across her forehoof as she struggled to speak through her wracking sobs. “I know you!” she finally cried with a sense of dread that seemed to bubble from within her. “I’ve always known you! All my life!”

Lemon Dreams tried to rise, but her legs were too shaky and she fell to the ground again, landing with a splash of mud and water, laying prostrate before the ghost. At once she knew. She knew everything. She had always known everything. She clutched her head in anguish and wept. The cold and the rain faded into a soft fuzz as she slumped in the mud, looking up at the small spectral filly at whose hooves she lay. “I’m sorry!” she wailed as her world finally crumbled. “I’m sorry I killed you!”

Chapter 5 - It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (Yes, It’s All Coming Back)

There are some philosophers who believe that time is not a straight line. Instead, the entire gauntlet of experience, all that ever was and will be, occurring in an instant. All of history happening at once. Time is simply our way of contextualising and processing such an awesome influx of information.

There are others who say that this is complete nonsense.

As Lemon Dreams lay sobbing in the cold and rain that stormy night, the barriers she had so carefully erected in her mind came tumbling down. And everything flooded back at once.

It is now.
Lemon Dreams lay in the mud, shivering and shaking as she was overcome with tears, begging forgiveness before the spectre. Dimly she was aware of a voice screaming “sorry” over and over again, before realising that was her, voice breaking with the strain of so much crying.

Slowly, the ghost took a step forward, its tiny hooves hovering barely an inch above the rain-sodden ground, staying silent as the grave as it looked down upon her. Lemon Dreams attempted to push herself back up, but her forehooves gave way, and with a sigh and a splash she fell back into the mud.

“I’m sorry,” she whimpered again. “So sorry.”

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls.

It is sixteen years ago.
“Whoa, careful now!”

Lemon Dreams peered up at her dad from beneath the large wicker basket she had precariously balanced on her head which tottered from side to side with its cargo of lemons. She had picked them herself; she was only a small filly and not tall enough to reach even the lowest branch, but her dad had hoisted her into the air so that she could reach.

“I know what I’m doing daddy!” Lemon Dreams pouted back, toddling alongside the older pony, using one hoof to steady the basket. The smell of citrus wafted into her lungs, and she breathed heavily, savouring the sensation. She loved helping out at the family orchard, especially now that her parents had stopped treating her like a foal. Playing with her friends was fun, but there was something about walking the lemon-tree strewn hills with her dad that made her feel… important.

“I know, sweetie, I know.” Her dad stopped to smile at her. He was a big pony, the biggest pony Lemon Dreams knew, with a big moustache and the nicest, kindest smile of any pony, except maybe her mum.

Lemon Dreams felt a burst of happiness, and lifted her head to smile back. Unfortunately this spilled her heavy basket of lemons, which cascaded its contents down all around her. She swiped her hooves out futilely and felt to the ground with a thump having failed to catch a single one.

“Sorry! Sorry!” she yelped, forlornly picking up the nearest lemon and turning it over in her hooves. It was bruised now. Bruised lemons were no good for market, they were ruined. Her bottom lip started to quiver.

“It’s okay Dreamy, it’s okay.” A large comforting hoof hugged her tight, and Lemon Dreams found herself pressed into her dad’s chest, drying her eyes on his fur. “Accidents happen. You’re my little filly, and I’m so proud of you. Never forget that.”

Despite her tears, Lemon Dreams felt a smile twitch at the sides of her mouth. She broke away, and hefted up the nearest lemon, checking it carefully for bruising. “When I grow up,” she announced with all the authority of a small filly, “I’m going to be a farmer just like you and mummy.”

Her dad ruffled her mane in a playful manner, causing Lemon Dreams to squeal in delight and drop her lemon. “You’re a clever filly, Dreamy. It’s early days yet, you can be whatever you want to be! We’ll love you no matter what!”

“I know.” Lemon Dreams watched the lemon roll away. “I know.”

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity.

It is four years ago.
“Is there nothing you can do?” Lemon Meringue slumped dejectedly against the chair, his head lolling back as he sighed. “You’re a doctor! That’s what you’re for! When we heard she’d come to see you, well, we hoped…” He trailed off and wiped a tear from his eye. He wasn’t the sort to cry. “We still love her, you know. She needs to realise that.”

“I know.” Lucid Light leaned forwards to scratch some notes into a large manila folder full of papers. It wasn’t particularly important notes, but the act of writing helped to fill any awkward silences. When he was sure the large stallion had stopped crying, he dropped his pencil. “It’s been ah, four years since the… lemon thing.” He chose his words carefully, ready to change tack at any moment in case of upset. “She’s an adult now; she’s got her own place in Ponyville. She came to me with bad dreams and I thought – hoped – I could fix things, but…” He threw up his hooves. “Maybe it’s better this way.”

Lemon Meringue sunk lower into the chair than Lucid thought possible. “Better?” he choked out. “Better? How is it better? We want our daughter back!” He stopped abruptly, realising what he had said as he went misty-eyed, feeling the prick of another tear on his cheek.

“Yes, well…” Lucid pushed a handy box of tissues across his cluttered desk. “That’s the problem, isn’t it? She’s happy, Mr Meringue. I’m sure I can cure her, but then she won’t be happy. In the final analysis, I think we will both agree that her current state of mind is for the best.”

Lemon Meringue did not reply. Not for a good minute, which in the silence of the office felt like forever. Finally he rose to leave. “Maybe,” he said quietly, almost imperceptibly, before walking to the door. He turned at the doorframe, looking at Lucid with large, sad eyes set above a faded drooping moustache. “We still love her, of course we do. How couldn’t we? But sometimes, late at night when I can’t sleep and have to watch my wife cry herself to sleep, sometimes, Mr Lucid, I don’t love her. And that kills me.”

He left without another word. Lucid gave a deep, long sigh and slammed the folder shut with an air of finality.

It was better this way.

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity. Lemon Dreams reaches out her hooves, but it is too far away.

It is fifteen years ago.
Lemon Dreams paced up and down the clean white corridor restlessly. She didn’t like it. She didn’t like the sterile smell, she didn’t like the harsh, cold lighting, and most of all, she didn’t like the waiting. “Come on, come on!” she wailed, throwing her body against the waiting room door. “Come on!”

“Dreamy, please, calm down!” her father hushed, pulling her to one side. ”It’s all going to be okay, I promise. We’ve had this talk, remember?”

“But it’s a hospital!” Lemon Dreams wailed, breaking free to butt her little head against the door again. “I want my mummy! I want to know she’s okay! Come on!” She bounded at the door again, only to crash straight into the hooves of a nurse who had the misfortune to open the door at Lemon Dreams charged.

“Whoops!” Lemon Dreams heard her father laugh heartily, and gave a weak smile up at him as he set her upright again.

“If you’d like to come this way?” The nurse gave Lemon Dreams a little grin as she tumbled about her feet. Lemon Dreams perked up at this, and started to anxiously scamper after the nurse, feeling her dad grab at her tail whenever she was in danger of tripping up the larger pony.

The sounds and sights of the hospital were dizzying as Lemon Dreams trotted along. Almost everywhere she looked, she could see doctors and nurses busy at work, moans and groans from sick ponies, and the occasional wailing. Her ears flattened against her head whenever she heard anything like that, it brought up uncomfortable feelings of dread. Her dad hadn’t even wanted to bring her to the hospital, but she had begged and begged until he relented. It was important, she knew that. She knew she had to be there.

Finally they reached their destination. Lemon Dreams started to nose open the door, but she was swept back by her father’s strong hoof. “Now, you be a good filly and stay here for a moment, okay?” She began to squeal in protest, but then thought better of it. Her dad stepped into the room with the nurse and shut the door.

Lemon Dreams pushed her ear against the door, straining as hard as she could to hear anything. Every moment, every second filled her with a mounting panic. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened and her dad’s head popped out. She looked up, mouth agape in shock.

He had been crying.

“No! No! Mummy!” Lemon Dreams leapt into the room, around her surprised father and towards the lone bed, screaming “no, no no!” the whole time. She skidded to a halt as she reached the side of the bed, looking in confusion at the beaming, happy face of her mother.

“Dreamy dear!” her mother cooed out in that soft, sing-song voice of hers, propped against a mound of pillows. She was holding something, but Lemon Dreams wasn’t quite tall enough to see.

“What is it?” Lemon Dreams started to hop in agitation, looking between her parents and the nurse, eyes wide and almost spinning from bewilderment.

Her dad reached over to the strange bundle and took it from her mum, lowering it down to Lemon Dream’s eye level. She could see now that he had been crying, but he was also smiling. She had never seen him so happy before. “Say hello to your sister, Dreamy.”

Lemon Dreams held her hooves out and with the help of her dad, supported the bundle, staring at the face that poked out of the blankets in slack-jawed amazement. A tiny yellow head framed by a flame-orange mane gurgled back at her. “Don’t worry,” she said to her dad as she took the full weight of the foal. “I won’t drop her. What’s her name?”

Her dad beamed down at her as she slowly rocked the baby. “Sunshine.”

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity. Lemon Dreams reaches out her hooves, but it is too far away. She swims forwards in the air, but it is always just out of her grasp.

It is fourteen years ago.
Lemon Meringue risked a peek from the kitchen door, ducking back out of sight before either of his two daughters saw. “You know,” he said to his wife with a broad smile cracking across his weathered face, “I always thought Dreamy might resent not being the only filly in the family, but they’ve been inseparable haven’t they?”

“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” Peachy Keen rested her head against her husband’s neck as she listened to the noise from the other room. “Oh, what a happy life we lead.”

Lemon Dreams gently rocked her sister back and forth in her hooves, marvelling at the warmth of her tiny body. “You are my Sunshine,” she sung softly, nuzzling her forehead. “My only Sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey."

Sunshine burbled up at her, waving out a hoof. Lemon Dreams gently bopped it in return.

"You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my Sunshine away.”

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity. Lemon Dreams reaches out her hooves, but it is too far away. She swims forwards in the air, but it is always just out of her grasp. She strains her eyes in the gloom, desperately trying to see what it is.

It is eleven years ago.
"Argh, nearly got it!" Sunshine wobbled unsteadily on the branch, edging ever closer to the butterfly that sat atop a ripe juicy lemon, flapping its wings lazily in the afternoon breeze. She kept her full attention on her quarry, stalking forwards and doing her best not to look down at the ground below. It hadn't seemed that high when she was climbing the tree, but had a sort of dizzying quality whenever she glanced at it that made her feel slightly sick. Still, she knew nothing bad could happen to her.

"Get down from there!" Lemon Dreams glared as hard as she could at her little sister, lost amongst the foliage of the lemon tree. "You're not s'posed to climb the trees, mum and dad said so!" She placed a hoof on the trunk as if about to climb up herself, but thought better of it and withdrew. "You're too heavy!"

"Am not!" Sunshine squeaked back, settling back on her haunches as she tensed up her body, bright eyes fixed on the butterfly waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Quick as a flash she leapt forwards, mouth opened wide ready to snatch up the butterfly by its wing. Too late, she realised her mistake as her full weight landed on the edge of the branch, which instantly snapped and sent her crashing to the ground in a flurry of broken twigs and leaves, the butterfly taking to the air in an almost mocking defiance of her tumble.

Sunshine barely had time to scream as the ground rushed towards her, but the tumble was broken as a pair of strong hooves dived in from nowhere, and she collapsed in a tangle of limbs onto her sister.

“Pah!” Lemon Dreams spat out Sunshine’s mane which had landed in her mouth and placed the small filly onto the ground with an admonishing gaze. “I told you! Told you! Trees aren’t for jumping about in and butterflies aren’t for catching!”

Sunshine wrinkled her nose, tail flapping side to side as she watched the butterfly flutter off against the bright sun. Eventually she had to look away, screwing her eyes at the harsh light. “I know, Lemmy, I know!” she squeaked.

“Good!” Lemon Dreams ruffled her sister’s hair and pulled her in for a hug. “You just listen to me in future, remember that!”

“I know!” Sunshine mumbled again, pressing her messy mane against her sister’s side before breaking into a big grin. “When I grow up, I’m gonna be just like you! You’re the bestest, most perfect pony ever!”

“Nah, that’s silly! Don’t be silly!” Lemon Dreams tilted her head upwards, ostentatiously to look at the overhanging lemons, but really to hide the big smile breaking across her face, her heart bursting with pride.

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity. Lemon Dreams reaches out her hooves, but it is too far away. She swims forwards in the air, but it is always just out of her grasp. She strains her eyes in the gloom, desperately trying to see what it is. The shape in the darkness resolves itself with crystal clarity.

It is ten years ago.
“Happy birthday, Lemon Dreams!”

Lemon Dreams squealed in delight as she was assaulted by a bevy of streamers and coloured balloons, quickly wiping the sleep from her eyes and tussling up her mane to make herself look slightly presentable.

“Oh, you shouldn’t have!” She grinned from ear to ear, and then faltered somewhat as she peeked around her parents into the family sitting room which was worryingly bereft of presents. “Did you? I mean, you shouldn’t have, but you did, didn’t you?”

Lemon Dreams’s parents nodded to each other with a wry grin, and parted to reveal a small filly, half covered in sellotape and wrapping paper, with what looked suspiciously like a large yellow kite attached to her back.

“Bet you can’t guess what it is!” Sunshine yelped, waving at her sister. The motion of her hoof tore the paper on the kite slightly, and she gave a sheepish grin.

Lemon Dreams reached forwards and unhooked the kite from her little sister’s back. The wrapping paper fell neatly away from it and covered Sunshine like a shroud. “Oh, it’s a kite!” Lemon Dreams quipped in mock-surprise as she checked it over for any damage, snatching off a rogue piece of sellotape. “However did you know?”

Sunshine shook her head vigorously to throw off the paper. “’Cos you’ve been talking about it forever! An’ I’m a good listener!” She scrunched her nose up to remove a particularly sticky piece of tape. “An’ we’ve got vanilla slices for lunch cos that’s your favourite but it’s a surprise.” Realising her mistake, Sunshine slowly inserted her forehoof into her mouth and attempted to shrink into the background.

The kite duly inspected, Lemon Dreams looked between her parents, a hopeful gleam in her eyes. “Is there time to fly my kite now? I won’t be long, I promise!”

There was a flash of a glance between her parents, and then Lemon Meringue nodded, patting Lemon Dreams gently on the back. “Of course. You’re a big girl now, just be sure to get back before lunch time. Your mum’s been baking your birthday cake all morning.”

“Will do!” Lemon Dreams leaped up to grab both her parents in a quick hug. “Don’t worry; I just wanna see it fly!”

“Me too!” Sunshine grabbed onto the string of the kite with her mouth, crumpling one of the ribbons that adorned its tail. “Me too!”

Lemon Meringue rolled his eyes and laughed. “Go on then you two rascals. Be back within the hour, and don’t go further than the park.”

Lemon Dreams was already halfway out the door as her father spoke, the kite triumphantly resting on her back. “Don’t worry, I won’t!” she lied.


“Lemmy!” Sunshine whined as the two ponies trotted over a grassy verge, the wind starting to whip her mane across her face. “This ain’t the park! I thought we were going to the park!”

Lemon Dreams shot a hoof out to halt her sister, letting a sneaky grin break across her face. “It’s not the park, it’s better than the park! There’s not wind in the park, but there’s always loads here in Ghastly Gorge!”

She hefted the kite up, watching the yellow fabric brace itself in the breeze. The howling of the wind as it raced through the deep gorge below sounded like the wailing of a thousand banshees, but the updraft made it the perfect spot for getting the kite high into the sky quickly. The moment she had seen the kite she knew it had to be hers; she dreamed of proudly flying that big beautiful diamond in the air and watching it wheel and dance in the sky. There was no time to lose.

“Where we going then?” Sunshine started to chew on the kite string again. “I like this kite,” she mumbled through a mouth full of fabric, “cos the ribbons on the tails look like butterflies. I wanna make them fly!”

Lemon Dreams gently eased her sister’s mouth open and gingerly extracted the kite, inspecting the saliva-covered string for damage. Thankfully there was none. “No, you stay here!” she admonished. “Stay up here and watch me, down there’s for big ponies.”

Ignoring Sunshine’s protests, Lemon Dreams started her way down the slope towards the edge of the gorge. The grass was wet from the night before, and for several heart-stopping moments she slipped in small patches of mud that accumulated in amongst the grass. After a few giddy moments she made it halfway down the hill, steadying her hooves to avoid any accidents as she peered down the rest of the way to see the black maw of the gorge open up into a void.

She lifted the kite experimentally, to be met with a strong gust of wind from the gorge. It was perfect. With a brief glance back towards her sister at the top of the slope, who seemed more interested in the butterfly flitting about her head, Lemon Dreams began to carefully make her away along the middle of the slope looking for a good safe spot to get a run-up to launch the kite.

It was after she had walked about fifty metres that she heard the scream. The kite fell from her grasp and tumbled away discarded as her life turned on the briefest fulcrum. A small yellow and orange shape tumbled down the slope, letting out urgent cries as it fell headfirst in a sprawl of limbs that flailed helplessly in an attempt to arrest its progress.

“Lemmy!” Sunshine’s panicked voice carried oddly clearly over the whistling of the wind. “Lemmy!”

“Sunshine! Don’t worry, I’m here!” Her kite forgotten, Lemon Dreams only had eyes for her sister as she watched her roll down the hill towards the edge of the gorge. Her legs sprang instantly into life and she exploded across the hillside, racing downwards towards her sister and the edge of the chasm. Desperate eyes fixed forwards, she caught the briefest glimpse of her sister's face as she spun around and around, moving faster and further downwards.


"Don't worry!" Lemon Dreams heard herself cry out, slipping and sliding in the grass as she tried to push herself harder.


Sunshine was small and light; she fell down the slope almost effortlessly, tumbling faster and faster until she became a yellow and orange blur, heading relentlessly towards the gorge. Lemon Dreams was fast as well though, using her weight to push herself down the hill, the thumping of her heart in her chest almost painful as she raced forwards towards the gorge edge. She didn't slow down. Nothing else mattered.


Sunshine's screaming echoed around her head as she bounded closer, scrambling down the grass and mud and digging great furrows into the slope as she raced down. She threw a hoof out to her sister, tantalising feet away. "Don't worry Sunshine, I've got you!"

The grassy slope suddenly gave way into rocky nothingness. Lemon Dreams leapt, beads of sweat pricking out on her face as her forehooves snatched frantically in the air for her sister.

But it was not enough.

Lemon Dreams crashed back down, inches away from the gorge’s edge as her sister sailed helplessly into the air, silhouetted against the black void and crying out her name. The last thing she saw were her sister's eyes, wide and frightened as they stared back up at her, descending rapidly into the darkness.

Then, to her eternal shame, she looked away.

It is every night for the last ten years.
In her dreams, in the darkness, something falls, tumbling end over end into infinity. Lemon Dreams reaches out her hooves, but it is too far away. She swims forwards in the air, but it is always just out of her grasp. She strains her eyes in the gloom, desperately trying to see what it is. The shape in the darkness resolves itself with crystal clarity.

And it is her sister.

It is eight years ago.

There was nothing she could have done. That’s what they said. Accidents happened. It wasn’t her fault. So many had comforted her, told her that not even the fastest pony could have caught her sister.

But in those quiet midnight hours where the silence of the family house was replaced with the silence of sleep, and the faint wracking sobs of her parents that drifted through the walls incessantly every night, she knew that was a lie.

The world was colder without her Sunshine. Everyone seemed so distant. And Lemon Dreams knew that it was her fault, that she just wasn’t good enough.

It took two years. Two years of sneaking down to that terrible gorge with a basket of lemons, rolling each and every one down the slope so that she could throw herself in their path and prove to herself that she could have caught it. That it was possible.

And it was.

“I did it,” Lemon Dreams whispered in a hoarse voice, shaking in shock, the perfect lemon gripped tightly to her chest. “I always knew I could. I knew I could make the catch.”

Copper looked at the lemon, then at Lemon Dreams with dawning comprehension. “No!” she said firmly, resting a hoof on Lemon Dreams’s shoulder as she risked a glance down to the gorge below. “No! It doesn’t mean anything, you hear? Not anything!”

Lemon Dreams ignored Copper as if she wasn’t even there, half walking, half staggering away from her friend, the lemon cradled safely against her. “I did it…” she crinkled her face, looking up at the grey sky as a few spats of rain started to fall.

She dimly heard Copper call out, but ignored her friend, instead running out across the fields into the darkening night in a strange half-aware haze. It was true. All of it true. She deserved everything she got because it was all her fault.

The thoughts thudded about in her head as she walked through the worsening storm. The rain lashed against her face but she couldn’t feel where the tears ended and rain began, trudging listlessly while evening turned into night and the young filly found herself soaked and covered in mud. It didn’t matter.

Eventually she made it back home. Standing in the family orchard, she could see the warm, inviting lights through the house’s windows, the smell of cooking wafting through into the cold air. It wasn’t for her. She knew she couldn’t go back, knew she didn’t deserve any of it, not after what she had done.

Lemon Dreams sat in the muddy orchard for what seemed an age as she stared at the house, mane matted about her face as she threw her head back and cried to the heavens for her broken heart. As her body shook, wracked with sobs, she felt the lemon still cradled against her chest, and hugged it tighter.

She risked a peek. It was perfect, nestled against her warm chest. She had saved it. Everything was okay. Slowly, Lemon Dreams turned away from the lights of the house and clambered up the rough, wet trunk of a nearby lemon tree to nestle on the lowest branch.

“It’s okay,” she whispered to the lemon. “I saved you. It’s all going to be okay.”

The rain continued to fall.

It is now…

Chapter 6 - Life is a Lemon (Reprise)

“I remember everything.” All Lemon Dreams could see was the mud and rain pooling about her, but there was a sudden lightness in her head, as finally the fog lifted and she saw her life in a single moment of crystal clarity. She shivered, whether through the cold arcing through her or the realisation of self-consciousness, she did not know.

“Have you… have you come for me?” Her voice was raw from crying, but she forced the words out, large quavering eyes taking in every detail of the tiny spectre that stood over her. It positively loomed in her vision as she cowered before it, the perfect picture of a little filly, but shimmering as if underwater or some summer’s day mirage. There was still no response, and Lemon Dreams shrank further into the mud. “I wouldn’t blame you, if you wanted, you know…” she trailed off and her eyes glazed over. “Revenge.”

“I came back for you. For you.” The voice cut through the air like a knife. It did not sound like any pony’s voice, but instead like the whisper of leaves in the wind, the memory of an echo. Lemon Dreams found her eyes drawn irresistibly towards the spectre – her sister – as she spoke. “I want you to be okay. You have to be okay.”

Lemon Dreams pulled herself upright for a moment, before slumping against the rough bark of a nearby tree. Water poured down the trunk and over her back as she rested her head against the wood and stared at the small ghost, gasping for breath. “Sunshine,” she croaked, and the words felt like knives slicing through her chest. “Sunshine, it was all my fault. All of it. I let you die. I wasn’t good enough.”

Sunshine lowered her eyes, the rain pattering through her transparent body like a grainy film recording. “Maybe,” she finally replied. “Maybe in one day in a thousand, Lemmy, you could have saved me. But it just wasn’t that day.” Lemon Dreams opened her mouth to respond, but Sunshine moved closer, sitting her non-existent body against the tree trunk next to her. “It was a good life, you know. Short. But I had you. My big sister.”

“I could have – I mean…” Lemon Dreams wiped her hoof across her face, sending a shower of teary rainwater splashing across the ground. “It was my job to look after you, and I failed. They said it wasn’t my fault, but it was, you know.” She swallowed hard, looking at the spectral face of her sister as it shimmered beside her. “I’m not your perfect big sister. I never was. I’m a failure.”

“Oh, Lemmy.” Sunshine’s face crumpled into a crestfallen frown. “I never wanted you to be perfect; I just wanted you to be my sister. I wanted to tell you it was okay, but I couldn’t come back. I wanted to! I could just sit and play in the Fields of Elysium, and sometimes, if I tried hard enough, I could see what was going on, and I wanted to be there so much. Mum and dad need you, they need you so badly; you need you, you just don’t realise it.”

Lemon Dreams didn’t respond. Sunshine gave a little smile. “They said I could come back, you know. Because I didn’t get a long enough shot at life first time round. Not like I am now though, it would have to be reincarnation.” Sunshine pondered this for a moment, as the rain fell about the two. They sat in silence, both gazing up at the black sky, the cold night wind pirouetting and dancing around them. “I always thought a butterfly would be nice. But I couldn’t do it; I kept saying no, I couldn’t go until I knew you were okay.”

Lemon Dreams rested her head back against the bark. A rumble of thunder played across the slate-grey sky as the rain cascaded through the branches of the tree. “I’m not. I don’t think I’m very well,” she said finally. “I’ve not been well for a long time. I wanted to be happy, but… it wasn’t real, was it? None of it was. I think…” She rolled her head against the tree until she stared at her sister. “I think I went a bit mad.”

“I know, Lemmy, I know.” Sunshine slowly climbed to her hooves, shaking off imaginary rain as it pooled about her. “You can’t let this define who you are, and you can’t cut it out, it’s been killing you all these years and you never realised it. I don’t know why I got to come back now after all this time, and I don’t have long here with you – just until the rain ends – but you’ve got to know this. It is so, so important.” She turned to face Lemon Dreams, staring deep into her eyes. “You have to stop saying sorry, because you don’t need to be. You never needed to be! I’m your sister and I love you.”

Lemon Dreams looked back at her little sister, forcing down a gulp as she started to tremble again. “I…”

“Lemmy.” Sunshine cut across her, softly. “You’re falling. Let me catch you.”

The two ponies embraced as the rain continued to pour.


Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there lived a pony called Lemon Dreams. Everyone from miles around marvelled at her beautiful lemon orchard, and the residents of Ponyville would spend many happy hours there, eating the delicious lemons and admiring the array of carefully tended wild flowers which attracted flocks of butterflies from all over the land. Everyone agreed that she was the happiest, friendliest pony they knew.

Sometimes, one day in a thousand, when the skies were grey and the leaves of the trees rustled in a melancholy whisper, Lemon Dreams would sit alone in her orchard and sing a lone, sorrowful song up into the heavens. She would then stop and listen as if waiting for something. There would never be any response, just the swaying of the trees and the gentle flutter of a butterfly’s wing.

And then she would smile and go home.

Sometimes, life is a lemon.

Make lemonade.

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