“Do you think relationships matter?”
The question floated into the air like a feather on the breeze. Floating, and floating, and floating and hoping to land somewhere that made sense. Twilight’s eyes followed the invisible query, her back on the bed and her friend’s chin on her stomach.
Did things ever matter, she wondered.
“What?” asked Pinkie, a frown marring her face. “What’d you mean?”
“I don’t know,” said Twilight.
It was just a thought, she thinks a second later. A silly little thought that plagued her dreams.
Do relationships matter, or do we tell ourselves that they do?
Things mattered so much.
All the time they mattered, hounding her like wolves in the night. Why couldn’t they just stop mattering for once?
“So, what’cha wanna do later?” asked Spike as he poured milk into a cereal bowl, several droplets of milk falling on the table.
They mattered too, Twilight thought, and she wished they didn’t.
She did not answer Spike’s question. Or she did, but not so much in words as she replied in emptiness.
“Twilight?” Spike asked, his tone softening. “Twilight, what’s wrong?”
“Everything matters,” replied the alicorn whose life danced between spotlights. “Everything matters too much.”
“How do you make them stop?” she asked the void, which was Applejack in this particular case.
“You can’t,” replied Applejack, taking a bite from an apple that was red, and glistening and distracting all at once. “You do the same thing you do with bad apples. Find ‘em, pick ‘em and then throw them away or find a better use for ‘em.”
“I don’t know how to do that,” Twilight replied, and she hated those seven words in that particular order. She hated what she did not understand, what she could not do, what she did not know.
They laid on the grass, and yet all Twilight felt was the pressure in her chest.
“Breathe,” Fluttershy sang in whispers to the wind, to the sun and whoever would listen.
“I can’t,” Twilight replied. “Or, well, I can, but it hurts.”
It hurts to live when living hurts. Did that make sense? It felt like it did but didn’t at the same time. Why couldn’t things just stop?
She heard Fluttershy get up, heard her walk over and then felt her snuggle up against her. It was painfully relaxing, as if her body protested what it sorely needed.
“I dunno. I just don’t think about it,” replied Rainbow Dash, throwing a soccer ball into the air and then catching it in her hooves.
“You don’t?” asked Twilight, a little surprised, a little awed, a little envious. “How?”
“I just don’t,” Rainbow replied. “It’s just gonna make me feel bad, y’know? So why even think about it when I can be doing other stuff?”
Twilight didn’t know what to say. How easy it sounded, to just not think about things that hurt, but thoughts were all she had.
Thoughts were the only thing that were hers, for better or worse.
“Everything ends sooner or later,” she said to herself, to the world, to a cat.
Opalescence scowled as she recited, from a book or her head she could not tell. A mix of facts and feelings that felt accurate somehow.
“Look at romantic relationships,” she continued. “It’s been scientifically-proven that love doesn’t last, so why get in a relationship anyway? Why do anything when sooner or later it won’t matter?”
“Twilight, do you want to depress me?” Rarity asked as she sewed her dress.
“No,” Twilight replied ashamed. “It’s just…”
“Why live,” Rarity continued, “when you’re going to die regardless.”
It was just words.
All the time, words, words, words that didn’t stop, didn’t shut up, they just were even though she asked them to please just once leave her alone.
“Face them,” said the princess of the night.
Not because she lacked sympathy, but because nightmares were better faced straight on. After all, as much as she wished she could, Twilight Sparkle could not hide from what lived, breathed and burned within her.
“Why are you here?” she asked despairingly.
“Face them, Twilight Sparkle,” said the Princess again.
“No,” Twilight croaked to the unforgiving void. “I don’t want to.”
It was easy to say no again after saying it once.
No, she couldn’t go out today because she had to study, and she couldn’t tomorrow either since she had cleaning to do. No, she couldn’t ever go out because she had thousands of excuses she would force herself to believe.
“Twilight…” Spike said, and she wanted to again tell him to please leave her alone. She. Was. Fine. “The girls are here…”
Irritation consumed her as she trotted into the lobby.
“Twilight,” Fluttershy asked. “What’s wrong?”
Everything, Twilight wanted to say.
She fell to the floor and cried instead.
“I’m sorry,” whispered Twilight to six ponies and a dragon, eyes soaked with tears held in for too long. She wasn’t sure who was hugging her, but she hoped they’d never let go. “I just…”
“Twilight,” Applejack said, her voice far away but close. “You got nothin’ at all to apologize for, sugarcube.”
“We’re here for you, Twi,” Rainbow said, and more tears burned at her eyes. “Got it?”
Her words came out in a choked strangled sob. She wanted it to please just stop. Just one single day of feeling fine, please.
“Darling,” Rarity whispered, “it’s okay to cry.”
A content sigh left her lips. There really was nothing quite like reading Starswirl’s extended magic theorems.
“Enjoyed your book?” Rarity asked from across the picnic mat.
“I did!” At Rarity’s funny expression, she raised an eyebrow. “What?”
“Nothing,” replied the unicorn. “It’s just nice to see you smiling again.”
“I’m getting better, I think.” She paused. “But…”
“I’m afraid,” she confessed. “What if it comes back?”
Rarity hummed. “Well, when that happens, we’ll just have to remember that what comes up must go down, but…”
“But what comes down,” said Twilight with a smile, “will come up again.”