Small droplets of water fell from the dreary day sky, the blue sky hidden behind the lofty gray clouds. The rain fell upon the land of Equestria fast and heavy, over-watering hundreds of farms and orchards and nearly drowning their produce and trees. Various weather teams darted between the clouds, moving the unscheduled storm from the land it was overflowing and over the Everfree. They kicked up a wind, trying to get some aide in forcing it out from over Ponyville to some place where it wouldn't damage crops. They worked frantically in the sky, their manes drooping heavy and wet as they flew past many farms, pushing the foreboding clouds away. But they ignored the massive orchard at Sweet Apple Acres, mainly for the reason that Applejack had requested more rain on many occasions. They would let it rain down as she had requested before, unbeknownst of the situation unfolding in Sweet Apple Acres.
But now, Applejack needed the sun. The warm light to flow over her fragile and aged body, warming the bones that were chilled by the torrents of wind that blew through the cracks in the floorboards and the unsealed doors. Years of apple bucking and the long hours on the farm had finally caught up with her body, as her joints became weaker with the pain growing inside of them. Nowadays for her, she could barely get herself to walk down to the kitchen to prepare herself a decent meal, let alone getting an apple. It had become painful to walk, and the time she had been forced to spend on bed rest had weakened her muscles. She had always been the pony to keep her body healthy and work hard to keep it strong, but it didn't want to stay strong. The body she tried so hard to keep in shape rebelled against her, and weakened the very bones that she needed to keep the business alive.
It was years before when her body began to deteriorate. Applejack was out bucking apples just as she did every day, and with every kick in the hardwood of the apple trees, she could feel a splintering in her legs. Being the look tough pony that she was, she ignored the pain in her legs and just passed it off as some other aching muscles, not wanting to believe that her golden years were now over. And with her last kick, Applejack broke her back legs with a loud crack, the bones making a lump in her skin where they were supposed to be rightly placed. It was her talent that took everything from her. The apples she worked tirelessly to bring to the markets every day, they were the cause for her losing the close connections with all of her friends. Sure, they visited from time to time, but she was always alone.
The golden years for her were when she could actually run with her friends, but now as the years passed, she lost that ability. All she ever wanted was someone else to talk to, but they were all busy with their own activities. They were usually off on their own business, and she knew better than to keep them from doing what they wanted to during these years, since any act could end up being your inevitable last. It wasn't that she didn't have them here to spend time with that killed her the most, but it was how quiet it always was. Her faithful companion Winona had been gone for many years. Big Mac and Granny Smith had also passed away, leaving Apple Bloom as the next to last child in the family. But now that she was grown up, she had left the house and was out who knows where, doing what she wanted and what she enjoyed doing. Everyday Applejack listened to the house as it creaked back and forth, the support beams threatening to give way with every gust of infallible wind. It always sounded like it was a tornado tearing through the property, but even the smallest gusts sounded like they would tear the building apart. Most things around the house needed repair, and usually when her friends came by, they did some repairs for her since she had become to weak to do so.
And just as every other night had come for her, the day became dark as the sun fell back below the horizon, the moon rising high into the sky. But the moon that glowed so beautifully and the sun that shone so warm was nowhere to be seen, as they still hid behind the great wall of clouds floating through the skies. Applejack's mind began to flow from her, the dark flowing over her eyes as she rested for the night.
Applejack's mind came back to reality, her senses slowly adjusting to the room around her. It was obviously day outside, but the clouds dampened what light could reach her. The rain tapped at the rooftop, the steady beating of every drop echoing throughout the room. She let out a small groan, her bones sore and joints aching as she rolled over in her bed, keeping the blanket tight to her body as turned. As she came over to see the other side of her bed, her eyes were flooded with the profound lavender color of a unicorn that she had come to know and love so much over the years. Her body had become slightly wrinkled, the ages treating her rather well for that matter. The eyes that shone with a bright intensity of violet looked down upon her, crows feet extending from the corner of her eyes.
"Well, hey Twi'," she said, a small wet cough making it's way up from the bottom of her lungs.
"Hi Applejack!" Twilight said excitedly, and with a bit too much volume as Applejack clenched her eyes shut. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, forgot about quiet."
"Ya know somethin', Twi'?" Applejack asked her, with a slight frown upon her face. "Ya'll always wondered what its gonna be like ta die, but right now I just feel like... I feel like its gonna be nice an' easy."
"Hey, don't you talk that way," Twilight told her with a fake smile on her face, trying to hold the tears forming in her eyes back. "You're not going to die today. It's not even sunny out, like you wanted."
"I know Twilight. But right now... I can't explain anythin but that it kinda feels like it's mah time." Applejack looked at Twilight, who hung her head low with the thought of a close friend dying, especially on such a dark and dreary day.
An eerie silence filled the room as they just stared at each other, gazing into each others eyes. Twilight could just tell by looking at those pale green eyes that it was coming close for her, and it was much sooner than she could have ever wished. Her eyes showed her how tired she had become of life and how much it was hurting her. The pain in her body took a toll on her mind, adding the extra years onto the already tired soul. That's not what even disturbed Twilight more than anything about looking into Applejack's eyes. They looked so empty. It was almost as if everything that had meant something to her had gone away and left her alone in this world. And in a way, it had.
She had no brother here to console her as she would have wished to have. Granny Smith was gone long before she was sick, but she still wished to have her cheerful words flow through her ears and give her something to hold onto in her last moments, but those were gone as well. The memories of what she once had, the family that had been together like white on rice, was now all just a memory in those who knew of it. And the only things that she had come to care for weren't there for her when she needed them. She needed her friends. It was them who gave her the will to push on, even when she had nothing left to live and work for. Applejack was beginning to accept that it was time for her to go on, and maybe it was for the best. Even though it felt like it was long overdue, it was what she needed to happen. The world was becoming to fast paced for her, and in the state she was in, there was no way for her to keep up with it.
Twilight closed her eyes, tears leaking from below the closed eyelids. It wasn't time for Applejack to go in her eyes, she still had so much to live for. She could re-start the Apple Family business, and bring Sweet Apple Acres back from the grave. It wouldn't be the best thing for Applejack, but she could hire workers at the very least to do all of it for her. After all, there were quite a few apples that hung from the trees ready to be picked. But Twilight didn't know if she would ever be able to accept the fact her friends would leave this world, no matter how close or obvious it may be.
The mystery of Applejack always baffled Twilight, because no matter how hard she studied, or how much she researched it she could never find an answer. It wasn't something in the apples or the water. It wasn't anything that most ponies had ever seen before, but Applejack didn't seem to age in the slightest. Her body appeared the exact same way that it did when they were younger, but her bones became weaker faster than any of theirs had. Maybe it was just something in her genes, but she felt pity and jealously for her at the same time. She wished she could stay beautiful as Applejack did, but Twilight didn't want to feel the pain that Applejack had to live through. From what she was told, at times even breathing was enough to bring her to tears. But now, looking into her eyes, she could see that she was without the pain of life, and she could somehow feel it was coming to a close. Holding back her temptations to ask an array of questions, Twilight bit her lips closed.
"Hey," Applejack said with a slight rasp, and bringing a slight bit of mucus up from her lungs, "Can ya get me somethin'?"
"Yeah Applejack. Anything!" Twilight told her, ready to get whatever it was she wanted.
"An apple. I would like an apple."
"Oh," Twilight said with a hint of disappointment, expecting her to want something a bit more extravagant. "I'll run to the kitchen and grab "
"No," She interrupted, "I would like a fresh one from the orchard." She told Twilight with a small smile on her face.
Twilight looked her over with hesitation, debating within her own mind whether she should go out in the rain to fetch a fresh apple. Not wanting to make her friends last days miserable, she stood and began to walk downstairs. "I'll be back soon, alright?"
"Sure thing there Twi'," she told her. "And Twi', I love ya and all, and make sure to pass that onto the other too, alright? You guys have made me real happy over these years. And I want ya'll to know that."
Twilight gave her a smile with a tear forming in the corner of her eye. "You can tell them that when they get here, okay? I'll go get them after I get you your apple."
Twilight made her way downstairs, the floorboards creaking with every step she took. The creaking reminded her of the aging and frail body that Applejack lived in, even though it looked as if she was still a young mare. She swung the door open slowly as to not let too much cold air make its way into the house. As soon as the door opened, the small pellets of rain came down on her face and began to soak her coat and mane as soon as she stepped foot outside. It was cold, and it chilled her to the bone with her few seconds out in the torrential downpour. Making her way off of the porch, Twilight walked through the mud that had formed in the rain, wading through puddles and taking haste in getting the apple that was requested.
Twilight weaved in and out of the apple trees, ducking under the overgrown branches. The leaves that were still attached to the branches offered her some relief from the rain. Although it was only a minor help, it was enough to give her hope in finding a perfect apple. She brought a hoof up to her face, and wiped the wet mane that hung over eyes behind her, squinting through the water at a bright red spot on the other end of the orchard. Seeing this brought her hopes up to an all new high, and Twilight took off at a full sprint in and out of trees, the mud below her feel gargling and splashing as her hooves sunk into the soil. The red was getting closer, and the mud being flung onto her body was getting thicker, but that didn't matter at this point. All that mattered to her was making Applejack comfortable.
When she finally reached the apple, she studied it for a brief moment, making sure it was as perfect as it looked. It was bright red, and gave off a sweet apple scent. It was so perfect and sweet smelling that Twilight almost took a bite of it for herself, but she knew that Applejack needed it more than she did. Engulfing the apple in her magic, and tossing a small protection spell in it to make sure it would get to her unscathed, Twilight began her trek back to the house.
She arrived at the porch of the farmhouse covered in a thick layer of mud, her tail and mane dripping excessive amounts of water. The rain that made its way under the porch overhang washed small bits of the mud off of her body, but she didn't want to wait any longer than she had to. With a swift shake, the mud flung from her body and splattered on the walls. I'll clean that up in a bit Twilight thought to herself. Quietly opening the door just in case Applejack may have been asleep, she slowly walked inside, the floorboards creaking under her weight with every step. Instead of the door closing quietly as she had wanted it to, the wind pulled it shut with great force, sending a small tremble through the house and making Twilight cringe. If she wasn't awake before, she would be now, Twilight thought to herself.
Twilight made way up the stairs with a slight jog, but slowed as she reached the top with the apple still in her magical grasp. She lightly opened the door leading to Applejack's room, and saw her rolled back over to the position that she had been at her arrival. Twilight put a small smile in her face, wishful thinking forcing the idea into her mind that Applejack had gone back to sleep. She walked over to the chair where she had sat before, which was still a bit warm from her presence. Taking a seat, Twilight brought the apple to her eye level and began to speak.
"This looks like a good apple, I think it would be what you could consider 'perfect'," Twilight said with a smug look on her face, placing the focus of her vision on Applejack.
She awaited a response from the blonde haired, orange coated mare. But nothing came. And the more she listened, the more it came to her mind, and the more she began to hear nothing. There was no other source of noise in the room besides herself. There was no longer the slightly rasped breathing of the friend she had once knew to be so alive, and even where the sheets should have been moving, they lie still. The realization of this came to Twilight in a sudden attack, her breathing becoming sporadic as she began to panic. She didn't know what to do, she had never dealt with real death before. She had only heard about it from the older ponies, but now that her best friend was lying in front of her, cold and lifeless, she had no idea. Her mind was blank, and tears began to roll down her face.
Twilight fell out of the chair, and crawled over to her friend, burying her face on the edge of the bed, the sheets sapping away at the moisture that was still contained in her coat and mane. The sheets became damp, and Twilight let her heart flow as tears poured from her sockets and she attempted to breathe through the sobs that came from her lungs. She had left her for just a few moments, and she had left this world in that time. Had she been there for just a few more minutes, she could have been there as a true friend, and helped her in whatever way she could have. She placed a hoof over Applejack, preparing to turn her body over to a more comfortable resting position the now freed soul.
What she saw shocked her, and brought a bit of warmth to her heart but yet it brought more sadness to it as well. Applejack's arms were crossed, and embraced within was the Element that had been bonded to her during the encounter with Nightmare Moon. And held between the amulet and her heart was a picture of her and all the friends, a smile on each one of their faces. Twilight gingerly pulled the picture from Applejack, and looked at how young they had all once been, and how happy they all once were. But now, they were all old and slowly dying away. She flipped the image over, and scribbled on the back was the words of an honest pony.
My very best friends, here for me no matter what.
Resting upon Applejack's lips was a smile of her own; knowing she always had her friends no matter where she went.