by Zephyrus Scary

Chapter 1: The One and Only


Zephyrus Scary

Every time a new pony comes to Ponyville, they always experience two events: The first, naturally, is the hosting of a “Welcome to Ponyville” party in their name thrown by Pinkie Pie. The other—much more subdued, and usually even forgettable—is seeing me in what has become known as my “sitting human” pose.

I always see the question in their eyes, but they never ask me about it—with only one exception so far—instead they turn to somepony nearby, or a pony they’re walking with, if they have company. I know they all give the same answer. I know they all tell the same story about “that silly Heartstrings filly” who’s obsessed with the mythological “humon”/“yoomin”/“hohman” (or something like that; they always get the pronunciation wrong).

I know because I encourage it. I support it. Even though I’d rather be playing my lyre, the façade is more comfortable. I’ve never cared for deception, but the truth is too painful. Sometimes literally. Sometimes I wish it was just an obsession, then maybe I could actually enjoy reading all those indecipherable and/or silly books, and going out on “expeditions” looking for “proof”. Whereas things stand now I’d rather play my lyre than be a liar, but… I can’t.

Right now, though, I’m sitting in Ponyville General, in the radiology waiting room, to be exact. There are three others here: a mother with her colt whom has one of his hindlegs done up in a cast, and another mare sitting by herself. Sitting normally. I know they’re all thinking the same thing: She’s here because she’s messed up her back from how she sits.

Somehow, the thought that I shouldn’t look so obviously “sick” gets into my head, even though I’m in a hospital; don’t ask me why, I just… I lean to the side, intent on letting myself fall into a more natural laying position, but a bullet of pain hits my spine, jolting me back into my infamous pose.

I don’t know if I imagine the accusing look that flitters across the mother’s features. Maybe she’s thinking in her head, “Why do you do that to yourself? Why do you cling to those silly fairytales?! You’re such a bad role model!” as she turns away from me to scold her son for picking at the edges of his cast, which already bears innumerable teeth marks. Part of me wishes to correct her, to tell her that it is, in fact, the other way around, but the other part of me—the scared part—is bigger. Stronger.

Besides, after playing the part of the liar for so long, I don’t think anypony would believe me now.

“Heartstrings?” Comes the call, and I jump forward, landing on my hindlegs first before lowering myself to stand on all fours; the pain shocks me again, but it’s much less when I move like this. -or maybe I’m just so used to the pain it doesn’t register as so severe anymore when I move in familiar ways? No matter what, though, I must resist the groan that always fights me when I stand up. The movement is swift, but obviously slower than a normal pony would fall to all fours, and this time I’m sure I see the disapproval in the one eye the mother thinks she’s being sneaky with.

The technician must know or figured I’m familiar with the procedures here, and merely shows me to a room dominated by a huge steel table and what looks like a camera on steroids rigged to a complicated system of rails that allows it to be positioned freely and easily anywhere in the room. After jumping onto the table and laying in a way I know should be natural but feels so wrong, the tech leaves and soon enough arrives with the radiologist.

The radiologist introduces herself, but I barely listen—as long as everything goes well I won’t be back for another two years. Like clockwork, but hardly reason to form a relationship, and besides, she in all likelihood won’t be the one to take my x-ray next time.

I hold back my grimace as she makes tiny adjustments to my position. She has to make sure she has the right reference, after all, to compare to my x-ray of two years ago; each time the radiologists push me in ways I’m sure they don’t mean to painful. I know this position wouldn’t be painful to a normal pony, and that’s what they need: to compare me to what’s normal.

“Hold your breath.” She instructs after the two of them take cover in a glass-paneled alcove.

An eerie whine, between electrical and mechanical, accompanies a beep.

“Go ahead and breathe.”

The two of them slide a giant plate of film from inside the table and leave with it, leaving me alone. Hoping that nothing went wrong with the x-ray, I pull myself up and swing my hind legs over the edge of the table. One time I’d had to, for one reason or another, take five x-rays in a row where one should have sufficed. My spine prickles at the memory, but I quickly force myself to focus on what had happened afterward: How Bon Bon had heated up tub of water after tub of water all night until I had finally been able to lay down in bed properly without tears of pain springing from my eyes. It had been practically sunrise…

Ponyville just had to deal without its usual hard candies that day.

The radiologist returns, anticipating my question. “Well, Heartstrings, I’m sure you know you need to talk with your general doc for a concrete opinion, but the numbers say your scoliosis has only worsened by a tiny, tiny fraction that can be excused by pony error, so I think it’s safe for me to say we won’t be seeing you for two more years!” She sounds and looks so cheerful I don’t bother to mention I have an ultrasound scheduled for next week—she most likely won’t see me at that time, anyway.

I hop off the table, and, with it being a farther distance off the ground than the chair, hit the floor with all four hooves. The jarring landing makes sparks flirt with the corners of my eyes—nothing new; I easily ignore them and they disappear just as quickly within ten seconds as I trot through those familiar hallways out of radiology and eventually the hospital itself.

I don’t really need to see, anyway, or rather, I simply don’t see. I know- I’ve known for so long that dwelling on such things is in no way healthy, but every time (at least it’s only every two years) I go back to how things could have been… back when I had been first diagnosed and the orthopedic surgeon explained to my mother how fillies don’t tend to benefit from back braces, making spinal surgery the only other option, but so long as the scoliosis isn’t debilitating… surgery, especially surgery of such a nature, isn’t something one just leaps upon.*

Debilitating. It would be debilitating, maybe even fatal, if not for one thing. One mare. One Earth pony, beautiful inside and out.

The only one who knows the real cause and effect.

- - - -

I arrive home to the usual: the warmth that comes with having the oven on all day, the scent of sugar, and dissonant… “singing”. At least she’s never sung outside of the kitchen or bathroom. In an almost physical way, she simply can no more sing well than I can sit properly; her voice simply takes odd turns at it own whims. It might have been beautiful and useful for singing if she could only control it or if the changes were somehow predictable in some way. At least she has no real passion for singing, otherwise-.

“Is that you, Flower?” Bon Bon calls. I do well at hiding the little jolt that accompanies the pet name—to be fair, she had come up with it before I told her the truth. No matter; I shrug off the discomfort easily after so many years of practice.

The question is all but rhetorical. She’d tell me if she was expecting any company besides myself, after all. Still, I return, “Yes, Bon!” as I pull off my shoes. Because of both their design and my fetlocks, it would be hard to tell I’m even wearing shoes, but that is their purpose; these are prescription shoes, after all, to correct the disparities between the lengths of my legs. I have a lie to maintain, but even if that were not so, podiatrists are not in the business of making their patients’ sicknesses obvious! Even so…

“Oh, good! I want you to try my latest attempt at celery and peanut butter, and my newest creation.” I shake my head. She’d been pursuing the recipe celery and peanut butter bonbons for longer than any other flavor, completely ignoring my criticism that celery only goes with peanut butter because of the contrasting textures of crunchy to creamy, which one obviously can’t get in a bonbon. The mention of the other flavor, though, gets my mouth watering.

There’s a tray of bonbons on the kitchen table where we carry out our tests. “First, the… usual.” She nudges the tray full of little balls of swirling green and light brown when I sit at the table. I pop one into my mouth and…

-it’s about as usual, which is to say nothing special, unlike everything else Bon makes—I maintain that while, yes, the flavors of celery and peanut butter do go well together, it’s the texture that makes the combo hit home. She huffs in an “expected defeat” kind of way before taking the tray away into the kitchen, soon returning with a tray of orange-y brown bonbons. She presents them to me completely silently, engaging in our old game of “guess the new flavor”. I scoop a bonbon onto my tongue and swirl it around a bit before declaring, “Carrot cake!” and magicking a couple more of the sweets into my mouth.

“Hey, wait until after dinner before indulging, Flower… So I take it these are good? -on the first try?”

I just roll my eyes. “Of course! If you weren’t so stuck on that celery and peanut-.”

“I will not be defeated by a mere flavor!” She plays fierce for a moment, but she can’t hold in her giggles for long, and neither can I.

It feels so good, I can actually forget how I’m sitting for a moment.

Idly, I pop another carrot cake bonbon, and Bon stares for a moment before sighing; if I’d’ve been paying attention, I would have seen the comment coming, and could have stopped it. “Oof, you know, I really wish- everypony wishes they could eat like you and keep the figure you do.”**

I grimace, and the moment is gone. I suddenly have the irresistible urge to stand up in order to stop looking like such a freak.

Remembering, Bon Bon puts a horrified hoof to her muzzle and tries to apologize, “Heartstrings, I’m-.”

I interrupt her without thinking. “I need a shower.” I leave the dining room in an almost robotic way, and Bon lets me go. She’s dealt with me being like this enough times to know I just need to be left alone a little bit.

In the shower, I don’t use any soap; I just let the water run across my back as I lightly bump my forehead against the rim of the tub—not hard enough to hurt, or even cause a sound—until the water turns freezing.

Everyday. Even without Bon needing to say something stupid, everyday there’s always some reminder. Why can’t I live just one day without this disease pushing itself into my life? Why did it have to have such an innocuous name, too!? Just looking at a flower or an image of a flower or a flower Cutie Mark or anything else forces me to remember…

“I think your daughter has something called Flower Syndrome.”

Why? Of course it had something to do with a doctor named Flower who-…***

I almost step out of the bathroom without drying myself off, making me sigh and shake my head at myself. Will I ever get rid of these thoughts? Maybe after they cure Flower’s Syndrome! “Ha…” So, never.

I’m the one who’s stupid…

Dinner is silent; neither of us makes a move to talk about what Bon had said before. I decline having any more of the carrot cake bonbons when she offers, still silent, by gently nudging the bowl she had replaced them in towards me. Suddenly, the silence turns painful when she goes into the kitchen.

I can’t help but rush after her and pull her into a hug. “Bon, I’m so sor-.”

“Shh.” She turns around in an instant to return the embrace. “None of that. You have nothing to be sorry about.” She goes on, talking- apologizing, but I don’t listen—I don’t need to listen—I’m too busy letting myself sink into her love as if it were a bed, and I nearly lose my consciousness to it.

I hold on as long as I can for Bon’s sake.

In time, she stops talking and, leaving the dishes, half-drags me to bed. Though I can barely stand the idea of moving, I mumble some insistence that I wash my hooves to take out my contacts. After all, it doesn’t even take two minutes before the two of us are curled around each other in bed.

I hold on for the only pony I live for.

- - - -

Here I am again: the familiar radiology office, eight days after I had my scoliosis x-ray taken. It’s the same old story, only now with five ponies criticizing me—a record, if I remember all my visits correctly, which I’m one hundred percent sure I do. At least the mare with the colt with the broken leg (or anypony like her) isn’t here today.


This time I’m led into a room much darker and smaller than the last; it’s only contents being a specialized bed and a bulky machine that would look like a dated computer if not for the odd controls and attachments. Again, it’s not long before the ultrasound tech arrives.

With no more than simple greetings and instructions, he goes about his business attaching three stickers to my barrel to monitor the electrical pulses in my heart and rubbing that horridly freezing ultrasound goop generously all over my barrel.

He pushes in hard, sometimes painfully, but I grit and bear it—he has to get a tight seal for a clean image, after all. The worst is when he moves down to my stomach to look at my heart from the bottom up, pushing in my stomach so much that if I looked like that normally I’d be on death’s door from starvation. Second worse is when he pulls out a section of the bed from under me to get another angle. Again, I expect it, but I have to strain painfully to keep myself straight to keep my spine from bending awkwardly into the hole created.

Finally, he pulls the stickers off and hoofs me a box of tissues to wipe the worst of the goop off—it never gets it all, of course, and I’ve learned to make time to take a shower after every ultrasounding session.

“Well, Heartstrings, you have a perfectly healthy heart; nothing abnormal with any of your valves. Your aorta is slightly wider than last time. Nothing to worry about yet; I’m sure the beta-blockers are enough to keep that in check, but I will advise your doctor to have another ultrasound next year instead of the year after. If there’s no change then, we can go back to every two years again.”

He doesn’t have to say what’ll happen if it gets even wider, perhaps to the point of… leaving one wonderful Earth pony alone.

I just nod.


Not thinking about that.

- - - -

I arrive home to-… Quiet. Cold. Nothing. So it seems; through the unexpected, it actually takes me a moment to register that Bon is sitting on the couch. Waiting. “Flower, I think we need to- I think we’ve needed to talk about this for a long time.”

“Right now’s not a good time.” I start too quickly. “I-” I take just a half-second too long to come up with an excuse. “-’m tired.”

“Heartstrings…” The use of my real name makes me stiffen.

Why? Why should I have that reaction? Why did I?

I need to close my eyes. Take a deep breath…

In. Out.


Eyes open. “What? -do you want to talk about?” As if I can’t guess. As if I don’t know.

Bon narrows her eyes at me. “You know, Heartstrings, it’s almost insulting you think I can’t tell you’re worried about your heart, but-!” She cries out and puts up a hoof to cut off words from me that would have never come anyway. “I’m more hurt that you didn’t confide in me instead.”

The sentence strikes like lightning through my-… barrel. “That’s because… it’s just silly. Flower’s Syndrome doesn’t kill ponies in their 20’s and 30’s any more with all the preventative measures. I’m just scared over nothing, like always.” I wave a hoof dismissively with a not-smile. “-like when we were all scared of Zecora!” I add with sudden inspiration.

Infallible deflection.

To my surprise, Bon shakes her head. “Just because somepony’s fear or worry doesn’t make sense, doesn’t make it ‘silly’. Even though you’ve acknowledged it, it obviously still bothers you, so I’m going to keep talking- we’re going to keep working on this until you truly get over it.”

I’m shaking my head at the floor long before she finishes talking, less in refusal and more out of hoping that I’m not actually hearing what Bon is saying. When my memory of her words from just seconds ago, however, refuse to change themselves and I’m forced to recognize them, I can’t refute her. I can’t speak.

I hear Bon slip off the couch and step up to me to put a hoof on my withers . “I think a good, first, easy step would be to stop lying about this, period. No more faking being engrossed with humans and calling your vacations ‘excursions’. I know that stuff doesn’t really interest you, and I’m sure dropping that will actually come as a big relief! What do you think? Does that sound okay?”

Again. In. Out.

She’s waiting so patiently. Lovingly. What did I do to deserve her, again?

“I’ll… try.” A ghost of a smile is all that’s on my lips, but she’s positively beaming.

Then there’s a knock at the front door. Before either of us takes two steps to answer, Pinkie Pie “bursts in” from under one of the couch’s cushions. “Hey, hey! You two! Somepony new has just moved into Ponyville, and you know what that means! It would be great if you could get to 258 Carrot Street tonight, bu-ut…” She stares knowingly for half a second. “It would be understandable if ya couldn’t.” What uncanny timing… then again, it is Pinkie. “Anyway, sorry I can’t stay. I have so-oooo many ponies to invite! Jeez! If Ponyville gets any bigger, I’ll have to get advance notice for ponies moving in in order to get everypony ready to throw them the surprise party on the night they move in, but it would be hard to get that information without tipping the pony off, and then it would be a not-surprise party, which kinda, a little bit wouldn’t be as much fun, but-.” Bon finally steps forward and pushes the couch cushion down on Pinkie’s head; for a moment, we can still hear her mumbling slowly recede, as if she was trotting away down a tunnel we both know doesn’t exist. Just another Pinkie encounter.

“So… what do you think?” Bon asks.

“Start with this new pony?” I ask for confirmation, and she nods.

It does seem to be the easiest way to start: not giving a lie in the first place rather than admitting to telling a lie …

- - - -

258 Carrot Street should not be able to hold this many ponies. I can’t even whisper to Bon my fear for being overheard while talking to this new pony for fear of being overhead while I’m telling her about my fear of being overhead!

-or something like that.

I try to appear as not-nervous as possible, so I don’t accidentally ruin the party for anypony—or worse, everypony—else, but I’m not sure I’m being very successful. Many ponies turn away from me quickly whenever we meet eyes, and their smiles seems a little less… smile-y.

It’s official: My brain is shutting down.

I need to get out of here before something irreparable happens! I try to catch Bon’s attention from chatting with Applejack, but before I can, a bristly-maned pegasus stallion with a ruler-and-compass Cutie Mark seems to simply materialize out of the thick crowd. “Hi, I’m Wood Work,**** an-nnn-nd… I don’t think we’ve met yet. -but I’ve met so many ponies tonight, that-. Anyway! I definitely recognize you, Heartstrings. Somepony was just telling me about you, so… I’m pretty sure I haven’t introduced myself to you. -yet?” He finishes on a questioning tone.

Uh-oh. If he’s already heard about me, then that probably means he already has heard the lie, too… “Uhh, yes, I’m Heartstrings.” A glance at Bon tells me she’s reached the same conclusion as me about what Wood Work might have heard. “-and this is Bon Bon.”

He nods at me, then her. “Nice to meet you, nice to meet you…” He looks unreasonably excited about something, and I have a horrible feeling about what it might be—a feeling that doesn’t take long to be manifested. “Hmm, Now… to be perfectly honest, I came looking for you on purpose, after I heard about your passion for… ‘omens’? I always forget how it’s pronounced…”


I have to swallow before even attempting to speak. “Actually-…” I glance at Bon again, looking for some kind of sign from her about what to say. Nothing. “I-” can’t. I can’t. I can’t! I can live with distain—I know that!—but the pity that ponies feel towards the terminally—genetically!—ill is something else! I don’t know if I could handle every interaction being tinged with that sorrow that comes from feelings of inevitability. “Actually, it’s pronounced ‘humans’.”

Another glance at Bon, and my eyes widen upon seeing her smile has grown.

Then I remember how happy she had been after I promised to do nothing more than try. It doesn’t matter that I failed. -not to her, and—I realize as Wood and I go on to talk about the mythological human “mountain buildings” (which he’s interested in because of wanting to develop his carpentry skills)—that I don’t care, either.

I failed to tell the truth, but I succeeded in changing. I find I can talk about humans without any more disgust or worry, and when we find a couple chairs to sit in as our talk lengthens, and Bon heads off to socialize by herself, I sit in my usual way without a second thought.

I glance past Wood Work to Bon and catch her eye, and we smile.

Yes. I’m going to be just fine.

Author's Notes:

This is not so much a story as a silly response to the whole silly human-obsessed!Heartstrings stuff. Just like Derpy has multiple interpretations for her “derpiness”, I decided to scribble up a new interpretation for Heartstrings. -unless this has already been done, of course, then this is probably worse than someone else’s scoliosis!Heartstrings story.

The “Flower Syndrome” in this story was modeled after Marfan’s Syndrome, which I myself have been diagnosed with. However, please, please note this story is in no way based off of my personal experiences with the disease, but it should be obvious my experiences and knowledge were certainly very helpful in both developing and executing the idea.

*You might find this feels like a copout, but here, in the real world, back braces to correct scoliosis are indeed less effective/successful on males. Obviously, I switched the gender discretion around (like everything else in MLP:FiM), but the fact stands.

**One of the more inexplicable symptoms of Marfan’s is the tendency for those with the syndrome to have an extreme lack of subcutaneous fat (what this has to do with connective tissue, I have no idea), which results in the patients having trouble gaining and retaining weight, no matter what is eaten. Obviously, this results in being underweight, sometimes looking unhealthily so, whether they want to be or not. Lesson: just because someone is really skinny, doesn’t mean they’re shallow and on a suicidal “diet”! Even as a guy, I’ve had to endure deriding comments about my weight…

***In case you were curious, Marfan Syndrome is named after Antoine Marfan, the doctor who defined the syndrome. Antoine is derived from Anthony, which has been mistaken as being derived from the the Greek word for flower, ανθος (anthos). Thus, Flower Syndrome.

****To those who have read “Love Mine” SLIGHT SPOILERS: Wood Work is just a name I decided to recycle here because I’m big fat lazy ass. He’s not a Changeling. -or if he is, it’s clearly not plot-relevant here! Although, if you imagine it’s actually Alternate in disguise in an alternate timeline of “Love Mine”, it might make the scene funnier. -or just sillier.

Return to Story Description


Login with