It's been a full hour since Dashie had left along with Princess Celestia and the rest of her crew. I was just sitting on the couch sulking over the photos left behind, showing distant memories so clear and vivid. It all felt so real, so convincing... enough to have changed me to be a different person from what I was 15 years ago.
And yet I have nothing to show for it.
Had I just gone mad? Was it just a Rainbow Dash plushie that I had imagined as the real thing? And Celestia taking her away was the result of me snapping back to reality after growing up? That would explain a lot, considering everything in this house appeared as though I've been living alone this whole time. The note could have been just me writing things down, and the photos could have been me Photoshopping Rainbow Dash with myself... I think I recall seeing a similar scenario in a video game. You know, back when I had the time for video games.
I just didn't know what to think. My mind couldn't accept such insanity, this was logically unreal. And yet, my heart believed it to be true. I had a pony for a daughter for 15 years, helping me mature and become a better person.
Real or not, I decided to believe these memories and visions of Rainbow Dash, my little Dashie, and cherish the moments we had together. How I miss her so...
Three weeks have passed since that fateful day and I still find it difficult to let go of my daughter. I understand she's in a better place and is much better off, but I can't help but think of myself at these times. Who will be there to keep me company? Who would I have to hug in the middle of the night?
Bah... I'm being selfish. This is one of the true tests of being a parent: letting go of your own needs. You need to learn to grow up and sacrifice yourself for the sake of your children. But what if the price to pay was simply too much, and I was taking out the biggest loan for it?
As I sit by the window, I stare out into the sky thinking of Rainbow Dash and what she may be up to in Ponyville. Had Princess Celestia allowed her to keep her memories of me? If so, how would that have affected her life and the way she interacted with people? Would my values taint her Equestrian culture? I didn't know and I never will, and I realize it's ridiculously difficult to accept this.
And I know I'm being an emotional wreck, and that's why I decided to take a walk again. Just walk away from things and free my mind for a while... calm myself. I figured I could use the exercise, and it wouldn't come from crying over a cartoon pony. What's done is done and sulking won't change the past.
One thing I decided to do though, I had my computer set to download previous seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I know that the Rainbow Dash I had raised was a completely different pony from the show, but I figured watching the episodes would help fill that void so I would at least get my fill of Dashie every now and then. I also knew it wouldn't finish by the time I got home from my walk, and I didn't intend to watch it any time soon. It's a Sunday and by the time I get back, I should be getting ready for bed. I've got a full week of work, so I suppose I can save the show for next weekend.
One week later and I fully regret having downloaded the show. I stayed up from Friday where I came back from work all the way until Saturday afternoon watching the episodes(2PM to be exact), where I started breaking down and sobbing. On one hand I found it sad that I could just sit there and watch the show non-stop, as I had nothing better to do and my life was empty again. On the other, seeing my Dashie on the screen had made me upset that she is, at the end of the day, a fictional character and does not exist in this universe(at least not at this time as far as I choose to believe).
Of course I pass out, I had been awake for over 24 hours and being depressed didn't help me either. It's not like I had a dream anyway, I fell into a deep sleep and woke up at 4 in the morning. Still half-asleep I walk over to the bathroom and take a good look at myself in the mirror after washing my face.
Look at yourself... is this really what Dashie would want?
You're a loser. No father of Rainbow Dash would mope about this pathetically.
Is this too much for you to handle?
Are you too weak?
Are you not happy for your little Dashie?
Enough was enough. I had decided that my life was mine, and Rainbow Dash's was hers. I'm glad she's happy and I should be too. That was the instant that I grew up and decided to live my life. I had already spent 15 years living for someone else, now I should start thinking of what I can do to make myself the best I can be, and contribute to the world.
I need to matter again.
It's been 10 years since Rainbow Dash left, and while not easy, I've been able to let go of any negative emotions I've had about that day. I've even gone as far as hate Twilight Sparkle and Princess Celestia at one point, but I suppose you could consider them forgiven in my book.
Within a year since Dashie had left, I was able to find a wife, get married and have a beautiful baby girl. Not too bad, huh? Me and Nikki now have a beautiful 9 year old daughter by the name of Darcey. She found the name to be odd, and I couldn't tell her it was because of Dashie. Speaking of which, I had done a good job hiding her existence of her as a secret, despite keeping the photo album with her note in it away. As we live in the same house me and Rainbow Dash shared many years ago, I should know it better than them.
Darcey is nothing like Rainbow Dash, however. I'd compare her to Twilight or Rarity in that she's reserved, not to mention ladylike, but is unafraid to persue what she wants in life. I feel like a proud father, having raised two beautiful children like this. Darcey's been learning the piano, something Dashie was physically incapable of doing(don't tell her I said that), and has been loving every moment of it. We're not even forcing it on her, we originally offered it to her as something to pick up in her free time as opposed to watching cartoons all the time. Now? I'm even convinced this could result in her cutie mark if she were a pony.
As for Nikki, how I met her was a long and complicated story. Let's just say it was from work. Being so close after Rainbow Dash's departure, her character was what attracted me to her the most: she was spunky, full of life and determination, someone I wanted to fill the void basically. I didn't regret bumping into her one bit, she was exactly my type of woman. We've gotten along together so well, and we've been fortunate not to have fought very often. It was as much a fairy tale as those 15 years with Rainbow Dash. Someone up there must love me a lot.
Myself? I haven't got many hobbies of my own, being caught up between being a father, a husband, and a worker. In my free time I'm on the internet or watching TV briefly, otherwise I live my life for others again. I never really did mind it, it paid off pretty well. I had a loving family, a cozy home, a steady income, what more could I wish for?
Goodness. I've never panicked so much in my entire life. She found it. She actually found the photo album.
Her original tone when calling me from downstairs sounded as if she were frustrated or angry, and I assumed as usual it was something silly like I had forgotten to flush the toilet, or I didn't make the bed. When I went upstairs and walked into the room, I froze completely, my jaw dropped as low as naturally possible and my eyes staring at my wife in horror, filled with worry.
There she stood, holding the photo album in her two hands. Her expression said it all. What is this? How did I not know of this? How long have you had this for? And yet she kept her mouth shut, expecting some sort of explanation. I really wish I could speak at this point, but the feeling of horror and shock had overcome me.
She broke the silence by putting it down and taking out the note Rainbow Dash had left before leaving. She read it out loud for me, word for word, exactly how I had remembered reading it for the first time. It was then that all feelings of shock had vanished, and tears started coming out of my eyes. That depression was back, and it came with merciless vengeance.
I couldn't help it. I cried like a baby. She obviously stood there confused, but nevertheless she walked over to give me a hug, trying to calm me down. I love this woman, I thought to myself. Even at times at confusion and conflict, she still cares about me so. I suppose it was also to keep quiet and not wake up Darcey as it was way past her bedtime.
An hour had passed where I finally calmed down and she came back to expecting a full explanation. What else could I do? The pictures were there, clear as day. The note sounded nothing like I would write, and the handwriting(sorry, mouthwriting) was completely different from mine. I spilled the beans big time. This was Rainbow Dash from the fictional cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I could see it in her eyes, this was far too much. A cartoon character from a show made for little girls? See, she didn't pick up on the Brony culture much back in its hey-days, so it did make a bit of sense that she showed revolt.
That's when I held her by the hands, looked her in the eyes, and gave her my two cents.
"Look, darling. You may think I'm a lunatic, and that I photoshopped these photos as a result. I don't expect you to believe it, much as I don't expect anyone to believe in God unwillingly. But take it from me, those were the best 15 years of my life whether or not you want to believe them. Either way, it's in the past and it's gone. It's history. All that matters now is you, me, and little Darcey sleeping nice and quiet in her room".
She bought it. Thank God she did. I suppose what sold it was that I didn't expect her to believe me, but how could I? But I could see it in her eyes that deep down she did buy the possibility of this happening. I suppose it was my tears that gave it off, who knew.
It came with a catch, though. I had to tell Darcey that she wasn't my first daughter. Oh boy... this is gonna be interesting...
Why must it end this way?
I am 60 years old and I've been diagnosed with lung cancer. I don't even smoke. The doctors are unable to determine what pulled this off.
This is completely unfair. I have a wife and a girl to take care of, do I? Do a grown woman and a 21 year old college student really need a man in the house anymore? My two ladies have grown up and proven themselves to be fine independent women, so I suppose not. Life just felt so fast, so cut short. But I suppose it's just one of those things where you just have to accept fate and prepare for the inevitable. Don't blame myself for anything in the past, just look forward to making sure the future if alright for Darcey and Nikki.
Thankfully, nothing's set in stone just yet. I may have been over dramaticizing it, it's mostly a small growth that could potentially lead to something serious. I sit at home now, taking it easy while Darcey studies and goes out with her friends, and Nikki does her job while doing dinner. I really feel guilty that they're much more active than I ever have been in my life, but at the same time just so proud that they're proving to take the world on by themselves.
It was a Saturday night and Nikki prepared a wonderful pasta dish for the three of us. It had been the first time I went out shopping for a while so I picked out a nice wine for us to share(while still feeling awkward feeding alcohol to my daughter). Dinner having been prepared the three of us sit together.
Before we start eating, my little daughter had something to say. She stood up and gave her little "speech".
"Daddy", she said, exploding my heart for approximately the 5000th time in my life so far, "you've been a great man to me, mom, and Dashie. I just want to say from the bottom of my heart that I really wish for things to work out for the best, and if anything I want your last few days to really matter. Because of that, I have someone I'd like you to meet".
Someone for me to meet? I couldn't imagine who. Darcey and Nikki were the ones with friends, not me. Perhaps this was someone they wanted to meet me? I didn't know, and I didn't think much of it. I excused Darcey to fetch this guest which she said was upstairs. I should have intervened and said that it wasn't right to invite a guest to dinner without my prior permission, until I saw before my very eyes.
"Hi, daddy", said a certain cyan pony.
Rainbow Dash? My little Dashie?
"Dashie, take a seat and make yourself feel comfortable," said Nikki as if she'd known what was going on.
I couldn't believe it. My little Dashie was back. She was here. I wasn't hallucinating, and she came to see her old man. How about that! I was so filled with joy and excitement, I couldn't take this sitting down. Before she had the chance I rushed over to give her the biggest hug.
There were too many questions. Too many things in mind. How are you here? What of everyone else? What's Equestria like? How come you look as young as before? How do you remember me? I let her sit down and join us over our family meal, for the first time ever fully complete. She gave us a long tale that had intrigued me as much as it made me happy.
It turns out that she didn't forget me and our time together. Princses Celestia simply just reminded her of her place, and gave her extra memories as opposed to replacing existing ones. The box she had brought home contained things such as a ticket stub from out trip to the Indy 500, some of our photos together, and even some American currency from her "job" just to remind her of "home".
Princess Celestia felt her pain and couldn't bear seeing her depressed like this. If it was this easy to have gone to retrieve her, what was wrong with sending her for a brief moment? And not a minute too soon, as any later and I could be at the cemetary. Good thing, too. Only a month had passed in Equestria, which explained why she looked about the same as before.
Without haste, we took pictures together after dinner. This was the full family. Me, Nikki, Darcey and Dashie all together. We sat in the living room and caught up after 25 years. I had apologized we didn't get to catch the flight show we'd planned to go to on her 20th birthday, and had so much to tell her about how life was and how the Nascar circuit went in terms of who was winning and was still racing on this day.
Of course, I had to tell her the bad news. She was crying, which lead to the rest of us crying, but this was alright. We were here together, and if I died that night, at least we had that one family moment together.
Everything was just peachy.
I'm at the hospital now, awaiting my operation to get the growth removed. It's a very risky procedure and there's a 50-50 chance I'd make it out. After a full week of introducing Dashie to my doctors and convincing everyone to lay low about her, I have full permission to allow her in along with Nikki and Darcey to see me before the operation.
My final words to them...
"Nikki, you've been so supporting of me all these years... thank you so much for all the times you've put up with me being lazy, depressed, everything. You've been kind, loving, and you're everything I could wish for in a soulmate".
"Darcey, I'm so proud of you. I believe in you to get that degree, take the world by storm and maybe even find a man to start your own life", the last line is where I try giving off a little chuckle just to lighten the mood.
"Sir, the doctors will see you now", says the nurse ready to take me out of the room on my wheelchair.
"And Dashie...", I finally say before leaving the room...
"... I love you".