Scootaloo lay on her back in the warm, short grass, her legs flopped out to her sides. The sun was hot on her belly and barrel, but she didn't want to move. Not yet. Not just yet.
The thin breeze whispered to her, bending the grass stems so that they made a whisking noise against the tips of her ears. Briefly, it kicked up, rippling her coat. She idly whomped her tail left and right, hearing it swack across the grass, or thump if she brought it down hard onto the field.
The orange filly raised a leg, pretending that the effort was tremendous. She was Daring Do, trying to free her foreleg from an insidious trap! Dash was always going on about those books. She'd probably read them someday. Someday. But not now. Summer wasn't for reading books. Summer was for more important things.
Her hoof felt heavy as she held it above her, over her head. She covered a cloud with it, and imagined walking on the cloud. She wondered if she ever would walk up there. Probably, someday. But she'd have to be carried, or ride in a balloon. Her wings were wrong. Primaries. It was primaries this and primaries that. Horsefeathers. Her feathers.
But she could go fast. Maybe she couldn't fly, but she could go fast. Faster than Big Mac, in full gallop. Faster than the wind! Faster than Dash! No. Not faster than Dash. Never faster than Dash. Dash was the greatest. Nopony went faster than Dash.
Scootaloo turned her head, slowly. It felt like a boulder, and she was trying to roll it up a mountain. Slowly, slowly it finally came to rest, so that she could look to the side. She let her foreleg drop, narrowly missing her own head with her hoof. Dumb-dumb. That would have hurt. She remembered the other day when she had hit herself in her noggin with her own hoof, doing the same thing.
There was her Scooter. Scootaloo. Scooter. Scooter-scoot-scootaloo. That's how she'd gotten her name at the orphanage. Until she got that scooter, she was just Lil' Orange. Poor Lil' Orange, who couldn't fly. She'd showed 'em. Plowed right through the place, and out the door. Knocked over the apple cart. Didn't get hit by a single apple. Took them all day to catch her, and that only because she'd finally decided she was hungry and wanted to get caught.
Now she was Scootaloo. That was a better name, that was a great name. She looked lovingly over at her scooter. The wooden base, the wheels, the handle. Her helmet. They'd gotten her the helmet and made her wear it. She didn't want to at first, but now... now it was cool. And it saved her sometimes. She stretched out her foreleg, way, way out, and gave the helmet a little tap with her hoof. Helmet.
Ah, crumbs. Now she'd moved. Ow! Her tummy was really hot. The sun had soaked in like hot honey and her own coat was burning her belly. Scootaloo rolled over onto the grass. Ow! That just pressed her coat in closer to her stomach!
She endured it. It burned. She was Dash's heroine again, on a big grill! She could endure the torture, she was Daring Scoot! She gritted her teeth, staring out over the vast jungle of grass stems, at the distant, ancient temple of Sugarcube Corner. What mysteries awaited there? But first, she had to endure the trial of the burning grill!
The orange filly sighed. Her belly was cooler now. She lay her head down flat, the sweet smell of soil and grass in her nostrils. The greensward was her favorite place to lay in the sun on a long, lazy summer day. She stuck her tongue out and tasted the sweet blades in front of her. A small nibble filled her mouth with sun-drenched savor. You weren't supposed to eat the grass once it had gotten too short, but one little nibble wouldn't hurt. Everypony liked the greensward. It got nibbled short pretty fast.
Earlier she had been angry. She tried to remember what had made her mad. Oh. Yeah. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom didn't want to crusade today. Maybe they wanted to, but the couldn't. It was hard to remember. There was summer cotton in Scootaloo's noggin, and she couldn't think straight. Besides. Details weren't a summer thing. Summer was for more important stuff.
Like that clump of grass over there. Scootaloo raised her head, then lowered it so that her muzzle was flat to the ground. grass stems rose on either side of it. There, ahead, was a tall clump. Nopony had noticed it. It was there for the nibbling. There was another, too, just to the side, and farther away. Twice as tall as the short grass. It was legal to gobble that. It wouldn't hurt the lawn.
The clumps were clouds. Scootaloo was soaring through the sky of green. She had just won the Pegasus Cup and was doing victory laps outside the arena in Cloudsdale. She dug her rear hooves into the grass and dirt and pushed her body over the grass. A few inches. A few more. She was approaching the first grass-clump cloud. She was racing Rainbow Dash, in the sky, and who would get to the cloud first?
Dash was zooming ahead, oh no! Scootaloo pushed harder into the earth with her rear legs, forcing her body through the grass, her forelegs trailing at her sides. Faster! Faster! In a burst of incredible speed, she zoomed past Dash and made it to the cloud first! She could see the tears of admiration on Rainbow's muzzle. "You're the best, kid. I'm super amazed!" Everypony was cheering! The Pegasus Cup wasn't important now, what mattered was that Dash had finally acknowledged her. It was the best day ever.
Scootaloo turned her head sideways and encompassed the clump of grass like a Quarry Eel. Chomp! She was a great eel, snapping out of the canyon face! Om, nom, nom. The grass was sweet and tender. It was so good. It tasted of endless summer days, of the way the sunlight trickles through the leaves and flows into all the hidden places and secret corners. Thick gooey sunlight drenching everything with warmth and golden wonder.
And the grass smelled, too. It smelled of green and the sharp tang that only comes when grass is at the peak of flavor. It almost melted in her mouth as she chewed it. She didn't want to swallow, not yet, not until every little drop of summer had been savored from it. Not until the last of the sunshine had trickled down her throat like a glowing golden river.
When she did swallow, there was nothing left of the grass but the material of it, the magic having been long since absorbed into her, filling her senses with languid days of light and sky. Scootaloo sighed. She was bored but not bored. This must be what life was like for the princesses. Forever, just stretching out like an endless, eternal summer.
If Sweetie Belle was here, they could work on that song. If Apple Bloom was here, she'd take her for a ride on her scooter and they could race over the little hills and catch some air. Where were they? It wasn't fair. Oh, yeah, they had stuff to do today. Whatever. Dumb stuff. Summer wasn't for dumb stuff. It was for the important things.
Like that next clump. Where was it? Scootaloo rolled and twisted her head. She'd seen it before, she knew she had. It wasn't where she thought it was. Now she couldn't find it. She was lost in the sky, endless blue... green... surrounding her, with no idea where she was. No clouds! And somehow the ground was gone too! How would she survive? She was the Great Scootaloo, the bestest flyer in Equestria! She must have traveled so fast she had flown past the edge of Equestria itself, and now she was beyond the distant Exponential Lands, out in the Potential Void. Somehow she must find her way back to the curving edge of the world.
There it was! She had a chance. The edge of the world looked like her scooter, a comforting sight for one lost in the Void. Pushing mightily with her hooves and flapping her wings, she struggled to fight the winds of the Void to reach the thin fabric of the world again! Closer, and closer! There it was! The wooden board of the world, the wheels of... of Equestria, and the... uh... Great Helmet of the... Thing, and she was going to make it, the Great Scootaloo was nearly there, nearly there, finally....
There. Scootaloo rested her head on the flat surface of her scooter. It smelled like sun-warmed wood and dust and fun. So much fun. Who needed to fly when a pony could spin off a hill and land still riding? Mostly. Mostly still riding, and not crashing. The helmet was a good idea. Hi, helmet!
Inside the helmet, it was dark. The helmet was a cave. A strange, domed cave, with a chin strap... fence. It was a fence to keep adventurers out! But not the Great Scootaloo. She nosed her muzzle closer and closer to the cave entrance, feeling the fence pass beneath her... jaw... as she entered the cave of darkness and wonder. Now part of her head was inside, in the strange... stuffy... hot... darkness. Alright, not so fun.
Scootaloo rolled back, her head beside her scooter. She could go for a ride. She could try that new trick. Only there wasn't anypony to see.
Briefly, Scootaloo wished there was school. That was weird. Why would she want school? That was dumb. Of course, if there was school, there would be Sweetie and Apple, and Cheerilee would probably have something for them to do and it might even be fun. No. What is wrong with you, Scootaloo? She shook her head. Summer was better. No school. No dumb lessons. No stupid stuff.
Summer was for important things. Like.... like... Laying in the grass. Somepony had to do that. It was an important job. It wasn't really summer unless grass got laid on. No, that wasn't what was important. No. There was something more important. The most importantest thing of all.
Ice Cream. Summer was for Ice Cream. The sweet treasure at the end of every summer adventure. It was the meaning of life, the greatest goal, the truth of being itself. Ice cream at the end of a long, lazy summer day. And it was time. The sun was close to the treetops now, it had gotten late in the afternoon. It was time. The best time.
She had soared the skies with Rainbow Dash, and been a Quarry Eel. She had been lost in the Potential Void at the very edge of the world! And she had explored the mysterious Cave of Stuffiness. It was time. It was the moment when all the danger, all the excitement, all the adventure finally paid off. It was when the world made sense. It was what was important.
Scootaloo sat up and grabbed her helmet with her forelegs. She nosed around in it until she found the place in the lining where she stuck her coins. Still there. The precious three bits. One bit a cone. She had enough for Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, but they weren't here. That couldn't be helped. A pony had to do what a pony had to do, and that meant eating ice cream with, or without her sister crusaders.
She nibbled a single bit loose from its moorings. Holding it in her teeth she slipped her helmet over her head with her forelegs, and gave it a rap with a hoof. Solid.
Rolling onto her legs, she put a hindhoof onto the scooter, and stepped into place. She wrapped her fetlocks over the handles. Ready for take off. Everything is ready. The golden bit gleamed in her teeth, shining in the light of the setting sun.
It was time. The moment that made, or broke a day had arrived. The moment of truth.
Scootaloo began flapping her wings. First slowly, to get the muscles warmed up. Then faster and faster, pushing her wheels through the grass. She turned the handlebars, curving back towards Sugarcube Corner. The angle was right....right... there! Aimed correctly. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
The orange blur shot forward towards the sweetshop, across the greensward, and the grass was sky and Scootaloo was flying, and at the end of it all was the Important Thing, cold and sweet and delicious, and it was summer.
It was all summer in a cone.