Chapter Three: The
mare was milk white, with a violet mane that swirled over her head
and neck. Her name was Teacup, though it had not always been that,
and she was learning how to feed the chickens.
should give'm a little corn now an' then, an' it don't hurt none to
toss 'em the odd vegetable or two. They prefer bugs, o'course, but
they likes their feed, and they need a treat now an' then. Every
once'n a while we give'm yogurt. That's our secret here at Provender
Farm. 'Bout once a week, roughly." Mister Provender was talking
slowly, more slowly than usual, because Teacup still had trouble with
words sometimes. "Ya got all that?"
thought hard about how to answer and composed an answer in Equestrian
as best as she could. "Give chickens corn. Sometimes.
Vegetables. Sometimes. Milk-jelly week once."
Provender frowned at the mare, briefly. "Not 'milk-jelly,
yogurt. YO-GURT. This stuff." The aged stallion gestured to a
bowl sitting on the hay, all but empty of a creamy, white substance.
He pronounced the Equestrian word for the foodstuff once more,
carefully, so that Teacup might learn it.
newfoal mare mouthed the strange, unearthly Equestrian syllables that
she had just heard. Mister Provender snorted and nodded.
felt frustrated, she never imagined learning a new language would
take so long. Of course, she had never imagined ever having to learn
a new language. She dipped her head low and sniffed at the bowl. Oh!
She knew what that was. It had been available in sealed containers
from the food dispenser, back when she had lived in Wilmington. She
mentally mapped the Equestrian word for yogurt to Eastern Zone
learned many things over the past six months. She had finally
understood that she had somehow been named after tableware, but felt
no inclination to correct the situation. 'Teacup' sounded fairly
Equestrian to her, as names went in this strange new land. Missus
Provender was named 'Sunflower', and Mister Provender was named
'Durum', which Teacup vaguely remembered was a type of wheat or some
other grain. Equestrians seemed to often be named after things or
motions or even foods. They didn't take names quite the same way that
considering that she was now an Equestrian herself, and would be for
life, Tikvah Feinstein had come to the conclusion that being named
after the Equestrian word for a container to drink tea from was fine
with her. It sounded pretty to her new ears, and it seemed, for some
reason, to make Missus Provender smile. Tikvah Feinstein was gone,
and now she must learn to be a white mare named 'Teacup'.
strange situation did not exactly bother Teacup. In the six months
she had been in this new land, in her new body, it had seemed not
unlike heaven to her. Everyone -everypony, she corrected herself- had
been friendly to her, she always had good things to eat, she never
felt afraid, and above all, everything was so incredibly bright and clean.
the filthy, garbage-piled streets of the megacity of Wilmington.
Water was clear, and tasted fresh and pure. The air never burned,
green living things grew everywhere, and the only smoke came from the
stove in Missus Provender's kitchen, or in the fireplace in the
farmhouse, during the three months of winter.
wanted to learn how to help out on the farm. The farm itself was an
exotic, magical place to her. She had never imagined ever being
allowed to set foot on one. On earth, all farms had been seized by
the corporate government, and were shoot-to-kill security zones. It
was illegal to try to grow your own food, even on rooftops. She
doubted that would have worked in any case, what with the ash-fall
covering everything. There was no ash-fall here, no smog, no clouds
gratitude towards the Provenders. She desperately wanted to please
them, for she had come to understand that they had chosen, somehow,
to have her there. She felt as if she had been rescued from a nightmare.
comparison could she fully appreciate how much she had hated her
life, before. It was terribly strange to live inside such a different
skin, and it had taken her some time to come to terms with the fact
of it, the reality of no longer being human. But, if that was the
price of living in a world filled with life and color and smiles, of
chickens instead of organ thieves, well, maybe being human wasn't
such an important thing.
adjusting had been difficult, particularly so, for her. When Tikvah
had been rushed to the mass Conversion Camps set up after the Bureaus
had been closed, thoughts of the Holocaust had terrified her, and for
a moment she wondered if she was to be exterminated. But, as it
finally dawned on her that those around her were serious about the
strange concept of saving the last, lost humans by converting them to
Equestrians, and that it was not death that awaited but a strange new
life, her fear turned to confusion.
not what she understood about the world. She had been taught that the
human form was the image of god, and that the Torah was clear on
matters of what the world was about, what the future of Man would be,
and what, basically, was what. But no Book nor Scroll nor Song had
ever predicted the arrival of an alien cosmos out of the Pacific, nor
that the End Of Days would finish in alfalfa and hooves. The fact of
Equestria not only destroyed her reality, and changed her body, it
destroyed her religion, too.
impossible to cling to the distant, invisible god of her childhood
when two living, talking, visible divine beings made the sun and moon
rise and set each day. Suddenly her god had been replaced with
goddesses, and they weren't just stories - she could go visit them
someday, if she wanted to. The thought terrified her. It was one
thing to sing prayers. It was another to sit down to tea with an
again, if the goddess-princesses were anything like those she had met
in the strange dream she had experienced during her transformation,
maybe it wouldn't be such a difficult meeting after all.
thing was certain; nothing she had ever believed, thought, or held
real was true anymore. As best as she could understand, there
literally wasn't even an earth anymore. Equestria was the only
Teacup tried her best to accept, with all of her heart, her new life.
She worked to make her new body her own.
the farm, she tried out all of her parts. She had wiggled her ears
and tried to walk backwards. She sniffed and nibbled and rolled on
her back in the long, sweet-smelling grass by the farmhouse. When she
had done that, she had heard laughter from the porch. "You
really are just a lil' filly, ain't ya?" Missus Provender often
seemed to delight in her efforts to understand her new body. "I
used'a love rolling around in the grass like that when I was little.
You just go on and enjoy yourself, Teacup. Ain't nobody here gonna
worry about how old you are on this here farm."
felt a little silly at being caught, but continued for a while
anyway. If it made Missus Provender glad or happy in any way, then
that was a mitzvah as far as she was concerned. Besides, the grass
just felt so good... and it smelled so incredibly nice.
morning on the farm meant biscuits, and Teacup was trying hard to
learn how to make them. She felt very clumsy, every time she tried,
but Missus Provender was very kind, and very patient with her.
sorry! I'm sorry! Sorry Sorry Sorry!" she repeated over and over
when she had dropped her stirring-spoon on the floor for the
shucks, honeycake... it's all right. Jus' settle down, now, an we'll
try again, 'kay?"
felt bad that she seemed to have such trouble using her teeth and
hooves the way natural Equestrians did. So, she started practicing in
the night, after everypony had gone to bed. This was back during the
days before she had finally braved the stairs and been given the
guest room as her own.
under the light of the moon, had taken out the long wooden spoon and
practiced with it, night after night. She tried making stirring
motions, practiced taking hold of it with her lips and teeth and
setting it down again. She even tried flipping it into the air, and
catching it, to see if she could.
she had noticed she was being watched from the shadows by the stairs.
Missus Provender had come down, probably because she had made too
much noise. Teacup dropped the spoon in surprise. Missus Provender
stood there for a while with a strange look on her face, albeit a
kindly one. "You jus' try so hard, don'cha honeycake?"
turned out to be a particularly happy night for Teacup. Missus
Provender lit the oil lantern, and set about making them both
something not entirely unlike Mexican Horchata, a sweet, warm
oat-based drink that she served in mugs. It was delicious, and over
that, she had told Teacup about the fillies she had raised, and about
her life long ago. She talked about winning a ribbon for her
biscuits, and how much fun the fair was, back when. She told about
how she met Durum, and how he used to bring her candied daisies when
they were first courting.
me, I've jawed a might long all about myself. I still don't know a
thing about you, Teacup." Missus Provender poured them both a
little more of the oat beverage "What was your life like back in
that world you came from? I ain't never heard tales of life in
another world before!"
started to formulate a response, but then stopped. What could she
possibly say to the kindly elder mare? Teacup looked around the
clean, pleasant, homey kitchen and thought of her childhood in the
favela, weeks with no food, her first rape, her human ear being cut
off for no reason at all. Her new, regenerated, intact pony ear
twitched at the memory of her lost human ear.
she could manage to somehow explain what life was like in the human
world, about how humans treated each other to Missus Provender, how
would that affect her? It wouldn't make her sleep well, that was for
sure. And what would she think of a newfoal such as herself, a former
human from such a world? How could she even speak of the world of
Man, with all of its war, greed, violence and horror?
be some kind of sacrilege, some blasphemy somehow, to bring such
concepts into a place like Equestria. Even to speak of them seemed
poisonous, toxic. Teacup felt deep shame, and sadness, and suddenly
she felt more alone than she had ever been in both of her two lives.
She was in
a kind of paradise, compared to the world she had come from, and she
could never talk about what she had been through to anypony, ever.
Inside her was a pain that would never heal, and even to mention it
would taint her new existence, and likely make those that accepted
her now see her as a monster from a monstrous world. She had tried
all her previous life to not be a monster like those around her, but
that did not change the fact that she had seen, known, and been
touched by a world run by, and for, true monsters.
I no talk. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Missus Provender. It hurting place.
Sorry me." Teacup couldn't look her in the eye. It was too much
to cope with, after how happy the night had been until then.
OK, sweetie. You don't need to tell me anythin'." Missus
Provender leaned over and gave Teacup a comforting nuzzle. "Let's
finish our mugs, and head up to bed, whatcha say?"
years passed easily for Teacup. She had learned Equestrian well
enough to pass for a local, though not without a few mishaps along
the way. She became competent and useful around the farm, and Missus
Provender was clearly glad of her help. Teacup liked working on the
farm. She liked planting season, and she enjoyed the harvest. Fresh
corn and the best hay and alfalfa and flowers were a constant part of
her diet. She discovered a love of baking, and finally managed to
make biscuits as good as Cornflower's, an achievement that clearly
made the elder mare proud.
found the world around her green and fascinating. The nearby town of
South Withers held interesting shops and tasty treats she had not
experienced on the farm. She came to know the names of dozens of
local ponies, and became a part of the community. She was known and
valued. But somehow, she never truly got close to anypony other than
Missus Provender and Durum. And even with them, she only really
talked about their days together, the farm, and their lives, never
Provender had taken note of that fact, and found it a might curious.
Teacup was such a good mare, always helpful, kind to a fault, honest,
friendly, but she was closed. Closed like a stuck door to a dark
room. She liked things and had interests, but she never had any
friends over, or went to spend time with anypony else. The farm was
her life, and while it was wonderful to have such a dedicated
farmhoof around, Missus Provender had come, inside her heart, to see
Teacup as just a little more than a refugee worker. She had come to
see Teacup a little like she was her own filly, somehow.
just weren't right for one of her fillies to be all lonely like that.
All her own brood had left the farm and made lives for themselves, at
the very least they had always had friends about the place, ponies
they had crushes on, ponies they eventually got involved with.
Provender could tell that, however happy a face she put on, there was
some terrible sadness deep inside Teacup, and it had something to do
with her past, which she wouldn't ever talk about.
Cornflower put her mind to the problem, and started asking around.
the newfoals from the other world had long since moved out to the
Great Expansion, far away from the lands close to Canterlot,
Hoofington, even Manehattan. As the other world had been devoured by
her world, Equestria had somehow grown larger, and now there were
endless lands Cornflower had never heard of. All were now properly
part of Equestria. Those lands were so vast that there was more than
enough room for all the newfoals -and apparently there were a whole
lot of them too- to go found new towns and cities in, with space for
generations untold beyond that.
all too big for Missus Provender to take in, but what did matter to
her was that there just weren't many of the newfoals around anywhere
nearby anymore. And this was a problem, because Cornflower figured
that if her Teacup couldn't talk to her, or to any other natural-born
pony, maybe it would help her to talk for a spell with a pony like
herself. A pony from that other world. A pony that might have
something more in common with whatever was bothering her.
Missus Provender three years to track down a likely candidate. In a
town called Clydesdale, not all that far away, she finally heard tell
that one of its citizens was a newfoal that had stayed behind when
all the others had moved on out to the new frontier. The newfoals
seemed a restless lot, most of them, and besides there was only so
much room in any one place.
Clydesdale, there was a newfoal that lived there, and best of all for
her plans, that newfoal had started having troubles of her own. As
she learned more, Missus Provender found out that those troubles
seemed not unlike the kind Teacup was having.
Clydesdale newfoal was a mare. She had been quite popular up until a
few years ago. Then she started seeming sad, and acting more and more
withdrawn. While this mare had been very openly social, unlike
Teacup, she too never seemed to have any truly close friends. Those
that knew of her said she seemed happy on the outside, but that
somehow there was a cloud hanging over her, like she was carrying a
time it had been ten years since Teacup had come to her farm, and
joined the Provender family. And she had truly joined the family, as
far as Missus Provender and Mister Provender were concerned. So
Cornflower reckoned that it was only right to try to help her
more-or-less semi-adopted daughter.
figured that she would throw a little shindig to celebrate Teacup's
tenth anniversary on the farm. And she figured that she might just
invite a special guest from Clydesdale to stay a while on the farm
and enjoy some hospitality as well as a change of scenery. It would
also be part of the payment for her services - the Clydesdale mare
specialized in doing parties for ponyfolks, and she figured that
hiring a pony that knew how to make a shindig proper would be the
perfect cover for getting the two newfoals together.
Provender smiled at the thought. She felt mighty clever, what with
all the planning and the searching and the sneaky way of getting the
two to talk and all. Cornflower felt like a regular Agent Of The
Crown, what with her fancy plan and all.
it just might help fix her lonely, broken little Teacup.
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