She looked out among the starry sky and let out a sigh. Applejack was resting her hooves on the windowsill of her bedroom, enjoying the evening. It had been a very busy day with the reunion and all, and admittedly there had been a few bumps along the way. But through it all, she and her family had come together to make the whole thing a truly memorable experience. While things may not have turned out the way she planned, she was still grateful that the whole thing didn't end up a complete mess like she feared it would.
Looking up, she saw two shooting starts trail along the night sky, much like they had done some hours ago. The sight of them made her smile, as they always did. She closed the window and moved towards her bed, ready to get some well-deserved rest. Building a barn in one day can certainly take it out of a pony. But before she reached it, she turned as she heard a knocking on her door.
"Come in." She said.
The old door creaked open, and there, standing on the other side, was her beloved sister, Applebloom. The young filly walked into Applejack's room, with a rather curious expression on her face.
"What's up sis?" Applejack asked.
Applebloom looked rather uncomfortable as she approached her older sister, something Applejack was quick to pick up on. The young filly opened her mouth to say something, but closed it soon afterwards. Applejack knew that something was bothering her, so she too a step forward and placed a hoof on her shoulder.
"Applebloom. Whatever it is, you can tell me." She assured her.
The younger sister looked up at her sibling, her face still uncomfortable.
"Well...." She began. "I was wonderin. With the reunion and all. I saw all those ponies comin and enjoyin themselves. I saw Babs and had a real good time. But....."
Applejack tilted her head a little.
"But what?" She asked.
"Well.....all those ponies my age.......I saw them havin fun.......with their parents."
Applejack's heart sank. The look in her sister's face and now this talk of other filly's parents. She knew there was only one way this could be going. She hoped she was wrong. Everything up until now had been going well. Not once had Applebloom ever asked. And in some way, Applejack had hoped she never would, even though she knew it had to be talked about one day.
Applebloom's next words confirmed her fears.
"Applejack......where's our Ma and Pa?"
The room fell as silent as a crypt. Applejack closed her eyes and sighed. She knew this had to happen one day, though it brought her no joy to finally hear the question. When she opened her eyes again, Applebloom was still there, waiting for an answer. Instead of speaking, the elder sister walked over to her bed and sat down on the edge. She patted the space next to where she was sitting with her hoof, inviting the younger sister over. Applebloom followed and sat next to her, looking up and her sister's saddened face all the time.
"Before Applejack spoke, Applebloom decided to go first.
Applejack closed her eyes again, pained at having heard those words. But she was the element of honesty. Not once had she ever lied to anyone, least of all her own family. And she could not bring herself to lie now, no matter how painful the truth was. She did not speak, but she merely gave a slow nod. Applebloom's own face gained an expression of sadness. She looked away from Applejack and looked at the floor. The two sister sat together in silence for some time before the young filly spoke up again.
The elder sister looked up from the floor and into her sister's expectant eyes. This was not a story she enjoyed dwelling on. It had been years since what happened had happened, but the pain still felt fresh to her. Family was the most important thing in the world to her, and to think about how those close to her were no longer among the living was not a prospect that brought her any happiness. Quite the contrary. It was a thought which nearly brought her to tears every time her thoughts strayed that way.
But she could not dwell on that. Not now. Now while her sister was expecting an answer. So, as painful as this was for her, she steeled herself and spoke to Applebloom.
"Years ago, when I was just a filly, our Ma gave us some wonderful news. She was havin another foal. Pa and me and all the family were so happy. I was really lookin forward to not bein the baby of the family any more. But then, when Ma was expectin you.......she fell ill. Very ill. She kept it hidden for a while, not wantin the rest of us to worry. She kept quiet, even into the last few weeks of her term. Even when we found out she was sick, she kept downplayin it, sayin she was fine. The doctors said that it was no risk for the foal, but she'd be more strained than usual."
Applebloom looked up, not able to look away as her sister spoke. A thought grew in her mind. If Ma was sick when she was being born......
"Then, when the time came for you to be born, her illness got worse. We rushed her to the hospital. The doctors were able to deliver you okay. But Ma......"
Applebloom looked up into her sister's eyes, which were now watering. Clearly this was not something she'd ever spoken of much to anyone. Now that she was being forced to admit it, it was like opening a pair of floodgates. Everything was rushing out after years of being held back.
"The strain was too much for her. She took another breath.....then another......then another......then....."
Her voice began to wobble as a tear fell down Applejack's cheek. Applebloom didn't need her to say any more about what happened. A sentiment she was sure to share with her. She placed a hoof on Applejack's. The elder sister looked down at her younger sibling. Appelboom looked up, her own eyes now somewhat watery. Applejack nodded. It was obvious the young filly had understood what happened. There was no need to say any more on that matter.
But then she asked another question.
"If......if that's what happened to Ma......then what about Pa?"
Applejack looked at her, her face still clearly pained.
"Pa.......wasn't the same after it happened. He kept tryin to do his work, his buckin. He tried to pretend he wasn't bothered, for our sake. He didn't want us seeing him crying. But.....we all knew he was torn up over it. He loved Ma more than any pony ever could. When she left, she took a piece of his heart with her."
Appelboom's eyes were still watery from this. Every word made her heart sink all the further. She'd never once asked about her parents, having always been too scared to do so. Their absence from her life had always been noticed. She wasn't an idiot after all. But never once had she expected their story to be such a sad one.
"One day, he was out in the orchard, doin his buckin as usual. He must not have been concentratin or somethin cause he bucked a tree too hard and it snapped. The tree fell and......and....."
More tears started to roll down Applejack's cheek. Applebloom knew what she was going to say, but that didn't make hearing it any easier.
"And.....it fell on him. Doctors did what they could, but......he was gone."
The elder sister, turned to see her younger sibling looking up at her, on the brink of breaking down into tears herself. The way her voice wobbled as she spoke confirmed just how close she was to the brink.
"What were they like?" She asked.
For the first time since their conversation began, Applejack smiled.
"They were the kindest, most loving ponies anypony could know. They never said an unkind word in their lives. They spoke true and they were friends with everypony they met. Ponies from all over knew their names and respected the work they did on the farm. And......and I could never have asked for better parents."
Applebloom hesitated to say what she wanted to say next, but she knew she had to ask.
"Do you......do you......blame me?"
Applejack looked down at her sister with surprise.
"Blame you? You mean for Ma?" She asked.
Applebloom shamefully nodded her head, turning her gaze from Applejack's. Applejack's eyes widened and she put her foreleg around her sister, bringing her close.
"Oh sweet Applebloom. No. I never blamed you. None of us did. And don't you go blamin your self either. Ma and Pa wouldn't want you to."
Seeing her sister,. Applejack knew she was still dwelling on what she'd been told, so she decided to cheer her up.
"You know, before you were born, Ma would go on and on about another baby in the family. She'd even spend her days busy makin a present for you for when you were born."
Applebloom looked up, curious after having heard that.
"Present? What present?" She asked.
Applejack smiled and pointed to the top of Applebloom's head. Confused, the young filly reached up, and felt her pink bow. Realising her sister's meaning, she smiled. She looked back at her sister, who was now smiling back at her, and spoke.
"Sometimes, I remember faces. A stallion and a mare. I always figured they were Ma and Pa. They were happy. They were smilin at me. But that's all I remember."
Applejack placed a hoof around her sister's shoulder.
"Applebloom, that's all you need. Remember those faces. Remember that, no matter how brief they may have known you, you were still their daughter. And they loved you. As much as they loved me or Big Mac."
Applebloom's smile grew wider and the sister's embraced each other tightly. The tears were let loose now, allowed to flow freely for the first time in far too long as time. Both had held these feelings back, never wanting the other to worry about them, and because they never wanted to feel this pain of loss themselves. But now, having shared this moment with each other, they embraced it as they now embraced each other.
They stayed together for a while, hopping off the edge of Applejack's bed and walking over to the window, where for the first time, they shared Applejack's past-time of simply gazing out at the starry sky. Warmed by the memory of the two ponies whose love they would cherish, however briefly they may have known it.