Also, I have no idea how to work this blog, so... there will be fumbles. For example, I have no idea how to do the equvalent of a LiveJournal cut. Yes, I checked the help files. No, it did not seem to help.
Caramel and Apples
Caramel closed his eyes and slumped against the nearest tree. Though he’d spent an entire afternoon out on Sweet Apple Acres helping to harvest the crop, there was barely a dent in the small section he’d been told was his responsibility as an apple bucker.
A faint whicker escaped his lips. Really, the only reason he’d even come to the farm was to help his crush with the apples. His crush who had no clue about Caramel’s interest.
And, if Caramel had anything to do with it, his crush would never find out.
The colt blinked and looked up. Charging at him at high speed were the three young ponies who had dubbed themselves the “Cutie Mark Crusaders”; despite his foul mood, he felt a small smile cross his muzzle. Whatever trouble the trio caused - and they could cause quite a bit - no one really held it against them. Their sheer zeal and joy in their continuous drive to find their cutie marks made nearly everypony smile as they recalled how they found their own marks.
“How can I help you, Apple Bloom?” he asked, courteously nodding to the other two.
Scootaloo, unsurprisingly, butted in. “How’d you get your cutie mark, Caramel?”
The earth pony winced. “I, uh... I don’t remember.”
The Cutie Mark Crusaders stared at him, mouths agape.
Rarity’s sister Sweetie Belle recovered quickest. “How can you not remember?! It’s the defining moment of a pony’s life!”
Caramel turned his head away. “I fell down some stairs. It gave me a concussion, and when I could think straight, I had my mark.” He really didn’t like the reminder of his perpetual clumsiness, but he felt he did need to answer them honestly.
Much as he might wish otherwise.
Admittedly, it was at least something he could pin his life of bad luck on. And as much as it rankled, his sister had gotten her mark at the exact same time.
Except her mark seemed to symbolize her good fortune. Caramel’s horseshoes overflowed with bad karma, while his sister’s poured out blessings.
The same accident, where he fell down the stairs thanks to an ill-placed scooter, resulted in his sister ducking both brother and ride.
He was abruptly dragged back to the present at the sound of Scooter’s mumbling.
“Wow, I didn’t know you could get a cutie mark for being really unlucky...”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “I hope that never happens to me.”
“Yeah!” chimed in Apple Bloom. “That’d really stink!”
Caramel rolled his eyes. “I’m still here, you know.”
The Cutie Mark Crusaders at least had the decency to look embarrassed.
“We’re sorry!” they chorused before turning to trot down the hill, bickering amicably.
With a sigh, the colt went back to bucking, hooves slamming into the tree trunk and knocking few apples from the boughs. Much to his irritation, the section of orchard he had cleared was insignificant compared to the swaths cleaned out by Big Macintosh and Applejack.
The pony groaned and lifted his hind legs for one last kick against the tree behind him in a weak effort to get the last few fruits off the branches.
Unsurprisingly, they remained firmly attached by their stems. Caramel let out a disgusted grunt at the sight.
The tree shuddered as the sound of a horseshoe meeting the trunk sounded across the clearing and the apples obediently fell to earth with a light patter. Caramel blinked as Applejack sauntered around the tree.
“Saw you talkin’ to Apple Bloom an’ her friends,” the mare began. “They still goin’ on about gettin’ their cutie marks?”
Caramel nodded, cheeks heating at the ease with which the farm pony had showed him up. “I told them how I got mine. They weren’t impressed.”
“Well, Big Macintosh wanted me t’ pass on a message.” Applejack continued. Caramel felt his heartbeat quicken, despite himself.
“What did he have to say?”
“He said he appreciated y’ comin’ out to help with th’ harvest an’ all, but you’re not quite up t’ snuff for apple buckin’.”
“Oh.” Caramel shifted awkwardly on his hooves. He really wasn’t sure what else to say.
Applejack took pity on him. “Listen, sugarcube, it’s hard work an’ it takes a while before anypony’s up to it.”
The colt nodded meekly. “Is... there anything else I might be able to do? I don’t want to leave Big Macintosh in the lurch.”
Applejack laughed. “Oh, there’s plenty left t’ do! In fact,” she continued thoughtfully, looking the other pony over, “if’n you didn’t mind, I think you’d make a good runner.”
Caramel’s ears perked. “What’s a runner do?”
Applejack flicked her tail at a particularly bothersome fly as she spoke. “Oh, runners relay messages all over th’ farm, bring drinks to th’ workers, that sorta thing.”
The tan earth pony blushed, thinking of the chance to spend more time with Big Mac. “I guess I can give that a try...”
“Jus’ go tell Granny Smith, Caramel, she’s in charge of th’ runners.”
Caramel nodded and trotted off, heart pumping. It wasn’t quite the impression he’d wanted to make on Big Macintosh, but surely the stallion would understand why he wasn’t quitting after being told he wasn’t good enough.
Much to Caramel’s annoyance, every single job he had as a runner took him nowhere near his crush. If he were a more cynical pony, he would have blamed Granny Smith for intentionally keeping him as far from the red pony as possible. Instead, he chalked it up to his terrible luck.
Soon, though, he didn’t even have time for that; Granny Smith had him galloping across the length and breadth of Sweet Apple Acres, over and over, from one pony to the next.
Of course, his bad luck was in full force, and more than once he tripped and spilled the water he was carrying, or ran to the wrong pony or the wrong side of the farm.
Despite the setbacks, he continued on, doing his best to correct the mistakes he made. When he dropped a pitcher, he came back with two. When he stopped to talk to the wrong pony, he asked if he could run any errands for them.
He might not be the most efficient worker on the farm, but he had heart and dedication!
That was what he kept telling himself at least, and he was sure he heard his name mentioned between ponies as he trotted off, though he wasn’t sure what exactly they were saying.
As dusk began to fall, the weary pony was finally told to go talk to Big Macintosh. Specifically, he was told to pack it in for the night and to come have supper with the family and the hired help.
Eagerly, if tiredly, he headed out into the orchards, looking for the large red colt.
It took him several tries, roaming over the fields, before he found him. Carefully, his heart fluttering in his chest, he stepped forward...
And promptly pitched forward down the hill, his worn-out legs and hooves giving out on him, sending him tumbling tail over teakettle. It finally ended with a rather dazed pony lying in a pile at the foot of the hill - and at the hooves of his crush.
“Evenin’ Caramel,” drawled the bigger colt, before he gently helped him to his feet.
The brown earth pony nodded vaguely, still shaken. Big Macintosh waited without comment.
It took some time, but eventually Caramel got his bearings back. “Oh, er,” he began, shuffling on his hooves. “Granny Smith says you should come in for dinner.”
The sprig of wheat in Big Macintosh’s mouth switched from one side to the other before he spoke. “Ah reckon Ah can’t do that yet.”
Caramel’s heart sank as he realized Big Mac was standing in the same grove he’d tried and failed to clear earlier.
“I - I’m sorry I couldn’t do the job properly,” Caramel babbled. “I really tried, but Applejack said I wasn’t good enough, even though I did my best, and -”
Big Macintosh stopped him with a glance, then returned his gaze to the orchard. “‘T ain’t that.”
This time the colt followed the red pony’s eyes to the shattered decanter lying forlornly in the dirt. Caramel blushed.
“S - sorry, Big Macintosh. I’ll clean it up.”
Big Mac nodded and stepped forward as well, carefully picking up the shards of broken glass with his teeth and depositing them in the rather squashed basket Caramel had used to carry it.
The pair did their best in the rapidly-dwindling light, but eventually, and much sooner than Caramel would have liked, Big Mac called a halt.
“Come on, I can still see a few pieces,” Caramel insisted, tilting his head a bit.
“Caramel,” his crush replied, “‘t ain’t whether you can see it. We missed dinner, an’ Granny’s goin’ to tan our hides if’n we don’t show soon.”
“Oh, right...” Caramel shuffled awkwardly on his hooves again, then flushed as his stomach complained loudly. The red pony took no notice as he lead the way back toward the house - at least, that was what his companion thought until Big Macintosh stopped.
Caramel, typically, ran right into his haunches.
Apologizing, he trotted off to the side while the larger stallion gave him an amused and unnoticed glance. “Ah heard your belly rumblin’ back there. Ah could go for a bite m’self.” With that, Big Macintosh plucked an apple from one of the carts nearby, and with surprising daintiness, offered it to the tan earth pony.
Caramel took it without complaint, mumbling a “thank you” around his mouthful. Big Macintosh just nodded and dropped a few more into his saddlebags, taking one for himself.
“Y’did good work, Caramel.”
“R - really? Applejack said -”
Big Mac interrupted him. “Applejack just said, an’ Ah told her t’ tell you, that you’ll never make an apple bucker.”
Caramel sighed, and Big Mac flipped his grass stem to the opposite side of his muzzle.
“You’re no farm pony anyhow, Caramel. No need t’ try t’ make yourself into one.”
“But -” Caramel began before immediately clamping up. His companion eyed him curiously, then prompted him to continue with a raised hoof.
“There’s somepony I really like who works at Sweet Apple Acres, and I don’t want to disappoint... them.”
The pair continued on in silence for a bit longer before Big Macintosh spoke again. “‘T ain’t m’ sister Applejack, is it? That why you’re so worried ‘bout what she told you?”
Caramel found himself flushing again, and berated himself for it; he’d been blushing more today than he had in months. “No, it’s not Applejack.”
The quiet dropped again for a few paces, punctuated by Big Macintosh chewing on his straw.
“Well, have y’ told the filly you’d like to take her out for a canter or two behind the barn? Ah heard that’s th’ latest way t’ ask.”
The tan earth pony took a deep swallow, his throat dry. “She... erm... it’s not a filly I’m interested in, Big Macintosh.”
There was no reply, though the stallion did roll an eye back to stare at the very uncomfortable pony walking with him. “Hadn’t pegged you as a coltcuddler, Caramel,” rumbled the red pony, and that was all.
“You’re not mad?”
Big Macintosh rolled his shoulders in a shrug. “‘T ain’t none o’ my business what two stallions or mares get up to in private.”
“Even if I’m interested in you?”
Wind blew through the leaves, rustled the grass, and ruffled the ponies’ manes. Caramel cursed his luck again. He hadn’t meant to say that, had never daydreamed about just telling the object of his affection - though to be honest, he’d never really shown Big Mac any affection, just sighed wistfully from afar - like this. Dreading, he braced himself for the answer he knew was coming.
Big Macintosh was going to shoot him down. Caramel scrunched his eyes shut, ready to have his hopes crushed.
Nothing happened for so long that the nervous pony cracked an eye open to glance at his crush.
Big Mac appeared to be thinking, the stem in his mouth flicking from side to side and back again, his eyes locked on Caramel’s face, his head tilted in concentration. “Ah hadn’t put too much thought inta it, Caramel. Ah figured Ah’d always do what came naturally.”
Caramel let out his breath in an explosive sigh. He was being let down. Let down nicely, but let down.
“Harvest’s too busy a time t’ go courtin’ anyway. Ah’ll let y’ know in a few days when Ah’ve got some time t’ spare on m’ hooves, an’ we can see what happens then.” Big Mac lifted his gaze from the pony to the Apple family house. “If’n you’re still interested, a’ course.”
Caramel stared in shock, then began to grin goofily, and finally let out a whoop of joy that could be heard across all of Sweet Apple Acres.
It also brought the wrath of Granny Smith down on the pair, who spent a good half hour haranguing them for missing dinner and making her worry so much about them.
Regardless, Caramel trotted home with a wide smile and a light heart.
Maybe his luck wasn’t all bad.