Every now and then, Jack Baruth throws me a curve. In a piece with the seriously on-point title “Do You Have A Wound That Won’t Heal?” he cites a meme I might have missed:
You are now thinking of her. What is her name?
If there’s any difference between me eighteen years ago (almost) when I started this site and me now, it’s my ability to deal with that question without actually answering it. In fact, I got the core of a pony story out of it. Middle-aged stallion looking dejected on a bench, crisp social-worker mare investigating, and we pick it up here:
“If you’re looking for ponies who need a place to stay, there’s one who sleeps in the old Wheelwright warehouse.”
“Used to, anyway,” she said. “About a week ago he was found dead.”
He cringed. “Something got him?”
“Just exposure to the elements. He’d been hiding out there since before Hearth’s Warming Eve, and it eventually got too cold for him. Old earth ponies just don’t have the same resistance to the cold that the younger ones do. And sometimes they don’t realize that.”
“So your job,” he said, “involves telling me to beware of the cold?”
“If necessary, yes,” she replied. “That poor pony had no money, no family, and maybe if we’d found him earlier, we might have been able to save him.” She sighed. “And now he’s gone. I wouldn’t want that to happen to you. I wouldn’t want that to happen to anypony.”
He looked at her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to impugn your profession. I’m just not used to being worried about.”
“And your family?”
“Long gone. Both parents died; never had a brother or a sister. It’s just me out here.”
She persisted. “Do you at least have a Very Special Somepony?”
For a moment, he looked beyond her, away from the coast, toward a place he barely remembered.
Finally, he spoke. “For forty years,” he said, “I have loved only one mare. Well, she was a filly back then, but … but she was always the one.” He shook his head. “If only she knew…”
The rest of the story, of course, is about healing a wound.