I sat quietly in my seat as the train flew by on the tracks. The train car shook a bit every so often as I looked out the window, the scenery quickly passing us by, not letting me even glimpse its beauty for a first… and last time. As I looked out the window, my hoof on my chin, I saw a slight reflection of myself. I saw myself for who I truly was and I focused on what I was going to do when I arrived in the town. My name is Rough Draft, and this is my story.
As the train ride continued, I dug around in my old saddle bag, the handles so deteriorated they could fall off any second. I got my journal and my old fountain pen, the only thing that I had left in my life that actually meant something. I cracked open the book to the newest page and started writing. I had written the same thing over and over again, over all the pages, changing a word or two every time. I finished and closed the book, placing it back in my bag. It still didn’t sound right to me, like there’s words that I can’t grasp, that I can’t seem to pull from my head and heart.
After the unbearable hours of waiting, the train finally pulled into the town’s terminal. The passengers all stood up, happily chatting with one another. Not me; I had one plan and only one plan. If my plan failed, I was going to use my round trip ticket and go back to what little I had waiting for me in Fillydelphia. All the passengers walked onto the platform, seeing family and relatives, they all looked so happy. I was getting emotional again, so I turned my head and carried on through my aching heart.
I knew what I was looking for, who I was looking for, maybe even where I was looking for it, but I couldn’t be sure. I knew everyone in Ponyville was social and they were a tight-knit community. All I had to do was ask and I’d get pointed in the right direction. I picked the first pony I could find and asked him.
I tapped the orange stallion on his shoulder and he turned around to face me.
“Excuse me,” I started, “do you know a Derpy or Dinky Doo?” The orange stallion stared at me with his deep purple eyes. Ever since I left Ponyville, I’ve seen things in a deeper way. People’s feelings through their body language, deeper meanings to things that I’d never paid any attention to.
“Yes, I know both of them,” he replied. The pegasus looked at me quizzically, like he’d seen me before, but couldn’t recall where he had. “Why do you need to know?”
“It’s very important that I speak to them,” I said to him. He looked blankly at me and replied.
“And who are you?”
“A relative,” I said, not wanting to give away too much information to a complete stranger. The orange stallion nodded and turned back around.
“I can show you where they live,” he said, starting to walk. I followed behind him, looking back to make sure my bag was still intact. We reached a corner of the street and he turned back around to me.
“Wait, Dinky or Derpy? They live separately,” he asked. I couldn’t decide who I had to see first. The love of my life that I betrayed so many years ago or the daughter I gave up the opportunity to raise.
“Whoever’s closer,” I said, making up my mind. I figured I wouldn’t leave the bustling little town until I spoke to both of them. The orange stallion nodded and continued walking.
“We’ll go to Derpy’s house. Dinky’s there right now.” I tried to hold in my emotions while we walked to the same cottage I had walked out of twenty years ago. It hadn’t aged a bit since I left, the walls as sturdy as I remember them. The orange stallion opened the door and walked in. I figured he must be a good family friend if they would allow him to come and go as he pleased. He came back out with a red maned mare.
“Who are you?” she asked. I didn’t know who she was, but I figured she was another family friend. I walked a bit closer to the house, but stopped myself at the welcome mat.
“I’m a relative of Dinky’s,” I replied. I had a bit of sadness in my voice and I hope the mare didn’t pick up on it. She stared at me for a few seconds before blinking her eyes.
“Okay,” she said, walking back inside. “Come on in.” I didn’t hesitate as I neared one of my goals. My legs carried me inside the house and my heart hurt once again. I pushed on my chest a bit until it stopped. I walked inside the familiar home and was taken back. She hadn’t changed anything. Nothing in twenty years had been moved or rearranged. There were just new things in old places.
“Dinky, company,” the blue mare said, sitting on the three seat sofa. My heart was yanked again as I saw her. I hadn’t seen her in at least two decades and she still had the same face. She was holding a foal close to her, rocking the baby back and forth before looking at me.
We were both silent for a moment, no one said anything. I couldn’t tell if she remembered who I was or if she was confused. She handed the foal to the blue mare who continued to rock the child. She looked deep into my eyes ten spoke to me.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice made my heart ache more as memories flooded back. There was a time when all she could say was “mommy” and “daddy”. She was all grown up now, she had her own family and I wasn’t there for her.
“I… came to make amends,” I said. I knew she would never forgive me for what I had done. Her eyes filled with sadness and she began to have quivering breaths. She didn’t say anything, so I went straight to the point. “I don’t have much time, Dinky… this old heart can’t take much more,” I said, still looking into her eyes.
Those eyes peered up to me and were even sadder than before.
“W-what?” she stuttered out. She was on the verge of tears and I had to tell her what was going to happen.
“I’m dying, Dinky.” The red maned mare spoke up, calling my attention to her and the foal.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m her father,” I replied. She grew quiet and didn’t say anything after that. She sat with the foal and also looked at Dinky. I had my chance to tell her and I took it. “Dinky, I know you must hate me, hate me more than anyone, but I’m sorry,” I said to her.
“It’s too late for “sorrys”,” she said. She was no longer looking at me, but instead at the ground. She couldn’t stand the sight of me.
“I never meant to hurt you, Dinky,” I started. Then her head snapped back up to me, her eyes filled with anger this time.
“But you did!” she shouted, “You left me and mom for years!” The foal started crying and we both became silent again. The red maned mare started to shush him and rock him more. His cries eventually faded back into silence.
“Dinky, I’m sorry. I know you don’t care, but I do. I really am sorry.” I said as my last chance for forgiveness arose. The anger in her eyes diminished as she heard my statement, but I knew it was still there.
“H-how long?” she asked. My mind fell back as I remembered my set death date.
“Doc gave me two weeks,” I grimly said. Dinky was choking back tears, but I couldn't tell if it was from seeing me again or knowing I was on death’s doorstep. Dinky was silent again and my attention turned to the sleeping foal in the red maned mare’s arms. “Is he your son?” I asked Dinky. She looked at the foal then at me.
“Yes and no,” she said. I was confused, so I asked for an explanation. “She’s faith’s son, but we’re raising him together,” she answered. She looked at the foal again. “His name’s Sunset.”
“So, you two are...?” I half asked. I didn’t know if Faith was her friend or her partner. She looked at me then continued to rock the foal.
“We’re married, she’s my wife,” Dinky said. I smiled. For the first time in years, I smiled. My daughter was all grown up, married with a foal.
“Dinky,” I started to say, “are you happy?” She slowly nodded as she answered.
“Good. That’s all I want is for you to be happy. Look, Dinky, I didn’t come for forgiveness; I know I won’t get any. I just wanted to see my daughter one last time,” I said. She stared blankly at me, like she knew what I was going to say. “I didn’t want to die with no one to care that I was gone,” I said. I was scared, scared of dying alone. I didn’t have anyone waiting for me back in Fillydelphia, just a crap job and rundown apartment.
Dinky remained silent after I spoke. I overwhelmed her with my problems and that wasn’t what I wanted to do. “I just want to know if you still hate me. I don’t want to die a hated, bitter old stallion that no one cares about.”
“I... I don’t hate you as much... but I still don’t forgive you for what you did,” Dinky finally said. It hurt to hear my daughter say that, but it was understandable. I had gotten what I came for; to tell Dinky I was sorry before I died. Although she didn’t cry for me, I know she felt sad that I was going.
“I’ve wasted enough of your time,” I said, “I’d better go.” Dinky nodded and looked at me.
“Okay,” she said, holding back her emotions. I walked back to the door then stopped. I felt like I should have said more to her. After all, this is the last time I’ll ever see my own daughter.
“Dinky, is there any way I can make it up to you? Even in the slightest way?” I asked. Dinky sat on the couch for a moment or two, then spoke up.
“I don’t think so,” she said. My heart sank once again and my eyes watered up.
“Okay. goodbye, Dinky.”
“G-goodbye, Dad,” she sadly replied. I opened the door and the bright sun flooded my eyes. I turned my head away and in the last moment, I told her I loved her. then I left the cottage. Her voice echoed in my head and I wanted to remember it forever. She was happy now and that’s all I want.
I had to find Derpy now and this trial would be the most difficult. I walked all around the town, asking the ponies that passed me by on the dirt road if they’ve seen her. No one had. Then, I spotted a pegasus, a blonde pegasus. She looked like Derpy, but I couldn’t be sure. I walked in her direction and saw more of her features. Her bubbly cutie mark was the dead giveaway and I ran over to her.
“Derpy!” I called out to her, hoping to get her attention before she flew off. She was delivering packages all around town and had stopped for a rest. She turned her head to the sound of my voice as I ran over.
She immediately recognized me and her expression quickly changed.
“What do you want, Rough?” she asked angrily. I was beginning to have second thoughts about talking to her, but I couldn’t turn back now.
“I want to talk,” I said. She looked at me with her cocked eyes and it brought back memories that I thought were long gone.
“Well, I don’t want to talk to you after what you did to me and Dinky,” she said. She was as stubborn as a rock and talking to her was going to be difficult. I looked at her and she looked back with pure hatred. I know she hated me for what I did, I always knew, but I had to tell her what I told to Dinky.
“Please, this is important. I have to tell you I’m sorry,” I said to her. She didn’t look phased at all, like my words were empty, yet they were filled with emotion.
“You’ve had plenty of chances to say you were sorry,” she said in a low voice. I breathed slowly as I contemplated how to tell her about my imminent end. I decided to just break the news to her.
“Derpy, I’m dying.” Her eyes darted back up to me and I finally saw a spark of emotion other than hate.
“What? How?” she questioned as if I were immortal.
“My heart,” I said to her, “it’s going to fail in a couple of weeks.” I saw a bit of worry in her eyes, just a slight bit. It made me feel a bit more comfortable with dying, knowing I wasn’t going to be totally forgotten. Unfortunately, I wish it wasn’t for the bad things I’ve done.
“Well,” I said through a chuckle, “I guess I’m not as heartless as you think, huh?” I said, trying to make a joke of my fatal situation.
“Don’t say that,” she said. She was a bit more worried for me and I didn’t expect her to care at all.
“I’m sorry,” I stated, “for everything I put you through. It wasn’t fair to you or Dinky. If I could go back and stay, I would.” Her eyes grew empty again and my heart ached with sadness.
“Well, you can’t. We’ve been happy without you here. Dinky’s got a family of her own now,” she said. The anger and hate had returned to her voice and eyes.
“I know, I spoke to her earlier,” I said. “I saw her son and I’m happy for her.”
“Did she tell you about him? Sunset?” She asked me. Come to think of it, she only told me his name, nothing else.
“Not really, we didn’t talk that much,” I said. Derpy sniffled, holding back tears, not for me, but for the foal.
“He’s paralyzed from the neck down,” she said in a crying whisper. I was shocked. I didn’t notice the baby wasn’t moving at all, especially when he woke up from the shouting earlier.
“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” I said, sympathy in my voice.
“Yeah, they’re trying to get a special surgery for him, but they’re running short on money,” Derpy started to say, “I’d help pay too, but I only get so much as a mail pony.” My mind raced back and forth as I thought to myself.
“I wish I could help, but I can’t even afford a surgery for myself,” I said. “Even if I could, I wouldn’t go through with it.”
“Why?” she asked. I looked back into her eyes and remembered the great times we had together. My brain was a mess of memories and emotions and I tried to answer her question.
“I have nothing to live for. I’ve got no family, no friends, a horrible job. They way I look at it, this heart condition is more of a blessing.”
“What about that mare you ran off with?” Derpy finally asked. I had been waiting for her to bring up that subject. Berry was the mare I had an affair with twenty years before. At that time, I was young and I guess I wasn’t mentally ready for a family. I left them for Berry and I regretted it ever since then.
“That didn’t last more than a few months,” I quietly said. “She left me and took all my money with her. After she was gone, I couldn’t go back to you and Dinky. I couldn’t live with myself for what I did, so I stayed in Fillydelphia.” Derpy was crying a little at this point and I was about to as well.
“It’s good that you didn’t come back,” she said. At the sound of those words, my heart was pulled, like someone reached inside my chest and tried to yank it out of me. My legs grew weak in an instant and my hoof went up to my chest. I let out a groan as the palpitation grew more painful. Derpy looked at me, unsure what to do or how to help me. After a couple of seconds, the pain subsided and I lifted my head.
“Are you okay?” she asked. I couldn’t tell if she genuinely cared or not at this point.
“Yeah,” I said through pants and wheezes. Now I had to ask her my final question to which I already knew her answer to. “Do you still hate me as much as you did?” I asked.
“Yes,” she coldly said. I gulped, knowing my entire venture to the town had been fruitless. “You left me to raise Dinky by myself. Do you know what kind of financial issues I went through?” she asked, her voice flaring with rage. My nearing death and apologies hadn’t phased her at all.
“You don’t think I know that?” I said, ”all the countless hours I’ve spent thinking about how I ruined the only good thing I’ll ever have...a family.” My words came straight from my heart. Twenty years of regret formulated into two sentences. Derpy was still unmoved, her emotions rock solid again.
“Was she worth it?” she asked in an emotionally dead voice.
“No,” I replied. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. And how scared I am.” Her eyes looked into mine again and she looked a bit more open to emotions.
“Scared? Of what?”
“Dying a hated, unloved old stallion whose life never meant anything.” Derpy was silent again and that scared me as well. I was unsure if she was going to cry for me or yell at me. “But it’s what I deserve for leaving you. I’m dying of a broken heart after I broke yours, Derpy.” She nodded, trying not to look at me anymore. She had given up talking to me and I had one last thing to say. “I guess this is the last time we’ll ever see each other.”
“Yeah,” she finally replied. Her voice carried no weight, as if she was waiting for me to leave and never come back.
“Good bye, Derpy.”
“Bye.” She flew off, not even glancing backwards as I walked back to the train station. I flashed my round trip ticket and boarded the train again. I sat in the same seat and sighed. I finally did what I had to do and I felt better. I dug around in my bag again for my journal and old fountain pen.
As the train chugged along, I wrote the letter I had been trying to write for the past few days. It had taken me forty-six tries, but I finally got it right. I read it over again and again, making sure it sounded perfect. I think it did and I hope it does.
A few hours after, I disembarked from the train and headed to my small apartment in the heart of the busy city. I walked up the familiar flight of stairs one more time and opened the deadbolt to my home. I sat down on my chair and cracked open my journal, carefully tore out the good letter from the book and set it next to me. I grabbed my bank card and an envelope, neatly folded the piece of paper and put it inside. I read my bank card to make sure it was correct. I put it behind the letter and sealed the envelope. I addressed it to Derpy’s cottage and set it on the coffee table.
I sat in the quietness of my home, replaying the events of the day in my head. Nothing ever goes as planned, but I was very close. I stared at the envelope and thought “I hope it helps, Dinky”. I closed my eyes and fell asleep, hoping I’d wake up the next morning to deliver the letter.
If you’re reading this, it means I’m gone. Don’t be sad, I don’t want you to feel bad for me. All I want you to do is have a wonderful life. You’re my daughter and I’ve never stopped loving you. I always missed you and I wish I could have been there for you when you needed someone. I know you’re never going to forgive me for what I did, but I hope I can help with your money problems.
In this letter is my bank account number for the Fillydelphia bank. There’s 500,000 bits in there. You and your family can have half of it; the other half is going to your mother. Hopefully this can get Sunset the care he needs. I know I said I didn’t have any money, but I’d rather put it to better use than a surgery for myself.
I’m sorry for everything, Dinky, and I’ll always be sorry. This is the only way I could think of to make up for what I did and hopefully you won’t hate me as much anymore.
Love, your father,
“Perfect,” I thought to myself as I lied in my bed, my heartbeat slowing by the second. My life was about to be over, I was about to die with no one there to care for me, no one to tell my final words to, or tell me “you’re going to be okay.” I was alone and afraid, but I was happy. Happy because even though I was about to die, at least I did something that matters to someone.