Part 1: Morning Ritual

Pony dragged herself out of bed, picked up her blaring alarm clock, shuffled into the restroom, and dropped it into the toilet. Then she went back to bed.

This, however, did not last long. Her mom barged in, whipped the covers off her, and proclaimed, "If you don't get up right now, Pony, I'm going to personally go out to the barn, get a bucket of cow crap, and dump it on you. Get. Moving. Now."

Pulling herself upright, Pony groggily reached for a hairbrush. "I don't want to go, Mom..." she mumbled. "Can't I just stay home?"

"For the one hundred thousand, six hundred and eighty-seventh time, no. You're going to Forget-Me-Not Valley High, and that's final."

Pony stomped, zombie-like, across the room towards her closet. "Fine. But nothing you say will make me enjoy it."

Her mom sighed and left the room.

As she changed into her favourite orange-and-white shirt, Pony fumed at the injustice of it all. After her grandfather threw his hip out, her father sold their farm in Mineral Town to some guy (Fred, she thought his name was) and moved out here to help his father. Of course, Pony and her mom had to come, too. Pony had nothing against her grandfather, but she had lived her whole life in Mineral Town, and her best friends all lived there. Starting over was not something she was looking forward to.

It's not like Pony didn't like the farm. She loved riding her grandpa's horses, Old Nellie and Little Sue, and she loved harvesting vegetables. It was the principle of the thing.

It's amazing how many things can be explained away just by saying, 'the principle of the thing', Pony thought bitterly as she walked into the kitchen. Her mom was dutifully making breakfast–omelet rice today–and her grandfather, Ed, was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper.

"Good morning, Pony," Ed said, smiling.

"'Morning," Pony mumbled, plonking herself down on a chair and scratching her cat, Frisky (whose name was misleading) behind the ears. That was one good thing: her parents had let her keep Frisky. "What's up?"

"Oh, nothing much," Ed sighed, flapping the paper. "They reprinted yesterday's crossword by accident."

Pony laughed. "That's sad. That's just...sad."

"Well, I've seen worse problems in the paper. Yesterday, they misspelled 'horse.'"

Pony stared. "How do you misspell–?"

"Pony, hurry up and eat," her mom said, setting the food in front of her and Ed. "You'll be late. Do you know how to get to school?"

"Yeah, Mom, it's where that weird circus thing that went out of business used to be. Don't worry, my memory's not that bad." Pony gulped down the food, chugged a glass of juice, then grabbed her rucksack. "I'm gonna go say 'bye to Dad, then I'm leaving. See ya later."

"Pony, aren't you forgetting something?" Ed said, holding out her green apron.

She grinned sheepishly and reached for it. The green one was her good-luck apron that Ed had given her when she was ten. She'd worn it on important days ever since.

"Okay, really leaving now, bye!" Pony rushed out and slammed the door.

Ed shook his head. "I don't know what goes on in that head of hers, sometimes, Marjorie."

Pony's mom laughed. "She's only a teenager, Ed."

"Still, it's not like her to be so...upset."

"She had to leave her best friend in Mineral Town. But she's supposed to call her tonight."

Pony's dad was milking the one remaining cow, Hermes, in the barn, when Pony walked in. "Hi, Dad."

"Pony!" he smiled, standing up and wiping his hands on his overalls. "How's my girl?"


His smile faded. "Pony, don't be like that. You'll learn to love it here, I'm sure!"

Pony shrugged. "I guess." She hugged her dad. "See you later." Then she left.