Life is a Lemon

by Blueshift

Chapter 1: Prologue - Life Is A Lemon (And I Want My Money Back)

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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.

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