I threw the stick as far as I could. It pierced the wind, and created a small shadow that glided across the fields of Sweet Apple Acres, where my faithful companion, Winona and I stood. I shouted at her to go fetch the stick, but she didn't bother. She never bothered anymore. Her fur had grown pale, and her joyful walk had turned into a slow and brooding limp. She had some moments of her old self, but in the long run, she wasn't enjoying life anymore.
She had gotten old, like we all had over the past ten years. Ever since Granny Smith's death, our small family had become a shell of its former self. Big Mac only worked and slept, nothing else. He barely ever smiled, and never played like we used to. Working for the farm was his only drive now. He had become a slave to his own emotions, slowly bucking trees and moving crates of apples. As for Sweet Apple Acres itself, without the zap apple jam from Granny Smith we lost a lot of income, we had to sell the barn, and without the money to buy fertilizer for the trees, our apples grew sour.
My house has decayed beyond belief, we couldn't afford to buy new things or basic necessities. Granny's old chair broke, and we had to sell all of her possessions to buy food. We have nothing to remember her by, except for one lone picture that sat above our unlit fireplace. Cider season's dead now, when our apples turned sour, so did the cider. Other than a few loyal customers, nopony comes here anymore.
As for my friends, they are the only thing I have left to be happy about now, the rare occasions I see them are the only happy things I have left. Twilight Sparkle became a magic professor in the Canterlot university a few years ago, we don't see her much anymore. Rainbow Dash quit her job as weather pony to pursue her dream of joining the Wonderbolts, good luck to her, I guess. Fluttershy's still enjoying her simple life, looking after her animals and occasionally caring for someone else's kids or pets. Pinkie Pie's got a new full time job at Sugarcube Corner. Things are working out for her, her exuberance and flair opened up a new branch in Phillydelphia. As for Rarity, well she's probably had the biggest success story of us all. She became the head designer of all of Canterlot's royalty, I became the owner of a failing farm.
I gave Winona a slight push, she did nothing. I told her excitedly to fetch, she did nothing. I even picked up another stick and threw it again, she did nothing. The dog just stood there, panting softly and staring into the distance. Her fur had become dirty, every time we tried to wash her she went to sleep and wouldn't get up until we stopped trying. Her teeth had become a rotten brown, she had lost a lot of them. She never chewed on toys like she used to, only eating mushy dog food. Her eyes had become dark, dilated and sombre. Her mouth wore a permanent grumpy grimace, and her nose never curiously smelt anything anymore. For a moment, she looked up into my face and started to wag her tail. In just that short moment, It was like everything was back to normal, Granny Smith was still alive, the farm was running well and Big Mac smiled once more. I looked down at her and smiled back, a slight breeze ruffled my hair.
A single tear of regret fell out of my eye, and onto the grass below.
I saw her eyes had brightened again, her dirty fur blew in the breeze and for a few seconds, we just stared at each other. It was like any other fifth of May in Equestria, clouds dotted the sky, partly hiding Celestia's sun behind them. In the distance I heard the Ponyville clock tower chime four times, Applebloom would arrive home from college soon.
Suddenly, something amazing happened. Winona actually started to jog slowly towards the stick that I had thrown. She limped along, sure, but I hadn't seen her be that energetic for a long time. She bounded lazily across the field, her tail wagged joyfully. In a few moments she reached the stick, coughed, and grabbed it with her mouth. Winona turned around and tilted her head in confusion. It had been two whole years since she had fetched a stick, yet it was still a surprise to me that she was confused. I still smiled at the sight, and crossed my hooves as I waited for the dog to come to me. I called her name, and she started her gradual plod back. An apple dropped from one of my trees a few metres this spooked Winona as she made her way back.
In a minute or so, Winona had arrived again near my hooves. She looked me in the eye again, and dropped the stick right down beside me. I ruffled her fur with my hoof, and she wagged her tail in return. A vivid memory of when I was just a filly appeared, and whilst I cuddled with Winona I remembered the day she was first brought home.
I had been playing with Big Mac, throwing a bouncy ball around with our tails and telling jokes. We decided to have a walk through the apple orchard, so we asked Granny Smith if we could go and off we trotted. We walked, and we talked and I shared what I had been doing that day in school. It was, as I remember, a warm autumn evening. The sun was dimly lighting the orchard as it slowly lowered into the horizon. A few autumn leaves drifted past our faces, littering the ground with shades of red and orange. We passed a farm worker, who was doing his final chores before he could go home.
Back then, since we were just fillies, Granny Smith had to employ a few workers to help her around the farm. They were always nice to me, helping get down balls from trees and giving me the best apples they picked. Big Mac had become a close friend with one of them who was close to his age, the two often went running together. Caramel was his name, I haven't seem him in a long time though.
We continued through the orchard, light beamed from in between the trees, and a small breeze blew through our manes. A bird landed on Big Mac's nose, and he shooed it off with his hoof, he had always been annoyed by birds. We laughed for a moment at the silly sight then continued on our way. After a few minutes of walking and chatting we came to the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. Then, that edge was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, our farm looked upon sun drenched mountains that eventually lead to Canterlot itself. That day was the day the white eagles migrated from the north to the south, and when we reached the boundaries we saw them taking flight from on top of a large hill. Me and my brother stood in awe at such an amazing sight, as the sun descended behind a distant hill and the orchard became dark. That was when I heard a faint whimper, and a bark in the distance.
I alerted Big Mac to the sound, and after a few seconds of listening he caught up on it. We came to realize that the sound was coming from a distant field, past Sweet Apple Acres' borders and into the outskirts of Ponyville. With a slight nod, and a worried expression on our faces me and my brother galloped ahead. We jumped over the fence that separated the farm from the outside world with ease, and made our way towards the sound.
It began to grow louder, the whimpers became more distinct and the barks became rougher than before. By that time we had worked out that it was a dog making the noise, in those days I had only known about dogs from school. After a minute or so, we reached the source of the noise.
We gasped, it was a small, brown puppy, it had been abandoned in the middle of this barren field. Its eyes were filled with tears, and its cries pierced the autumn air like a knife pierces food. Out of pity for the poor thing, I reached for it and embraced it into my hooves. It was hesitant at first, and it squirmed a bit. But after it looked up to see my eyes staring down on it, the dog quickly calmed down and made itself comfortable. I lifted her up and put it onto Big Mac's back, and we made our way home.
When we got back home we showed Granny Smith the puppy, and after a short argument we convinced her to let us keep it. I took her upstairs to my room, and let it sleep on my bed until it had gotten over the shock of having new owners. I gave it a bowl of water to drink, and I asked Granny to chop up a few apples to give to it. I went downstairs again, and let the dog sleep peacefully in my room. I spoke with Granny Smith and Big Mac and we decided to name the little puppy Winona.
Applebloom trotted down the dirt path and entered the house. She called for me and Winona to come in. So, I stopped hugging my loyal companion and trotted back in. Winona started to cough, and her leg started to limp. The ball fetching had taken all energy from her, and I knew for certain that she would never be able to catch a ball again. I stopped, and lost myself in thought. I remembered every single happy and fun day I had shared with my dog. A tear formed in my eye, those days were long gone now. My own dog, who used to be a ray of sunshine back in the day, had turned into a ghostly, depressing old shell of its former self. She would be that way until she dies, limping along, with no recollection of what life used to be like.
I broke out of my depressing thoughts, and decided to make my way to my meagre house. Winona followed behind me, limping heavily and coughing every other second. I passed Big Macintosh, who was staring at an apple tree. His face was blank, devoid of any expression, he wasn't moving an inch. He decided not to come back into the house, only to stare at a decaying apple tree. The sky remained beautiful, in stark contrast to what I, and my brother were feeling right now.
Winona and I arrived at my house, the door was locked so we had to wait for Applebloom to come down and open it. I looked at my dog, and she looked back at me. She began to pant, with a few coughs breaking her silence. She was on her last legs, she had lived a full twenty-five years, a normal age for a dog in Equestria. We shared the happiest times of our lives together, we had also shared all the dark times, but no matter what she had been there for me. I lifted my hoof and gave her hair one more ruffle, she wagged her tail for a moment, then a raspy cough interrupted her sudden joy. A bird landed on my nose, and made me sneeze like a colt. I giggled for a moment, and remembered the time I had giggled with Big Mac in happier times.
Applebloom opened the door, she was smiling, I was not. I told her to go do something on her own, read a book, study, or listen to some music. I told her I had to do something, something important. I then said to Winona that it was time for her dinner, she had forgotten her old tricks, but she had always remembered what "dinner" meant. We walked slowly into the kitchen, I gave her some water to drink. Then I took a spare apple, and chopped it up into tiny pieces, put it down and let the dog eat. She didn't eat it, and she didn't drink the water. Her nose prodded the food for a moment, but her old age had made any sort of food uninteresting to her. I said to her that it's time for bed, so I grabbed her small body and put it onto my back then trotted upstairs and into my bedroom.
One thing that hadn't changed was where Winona slept, it was, except for some rare occasions been at the end of my bed. When I felt sad, I lay in my bed and let her warmth at my hooves cheer me up, and when I felt scared I always had something to remind me that I'm safe. I dropped her down onto my bed, and stared at her. A tear dripped from my eye and onto the quilt, yet I felt that this bedtime was a sort of relief for the dog. It had been quite a heavy day after all. I heard hoofsteps coming up the stairs, I knew that it wouldn't be long now.
I rubbed Winona's belly, she gave a small squeak, then laid her head back onto the bed. The door creaked open, and a blue unicorn in a white coat trotted in. I walked over to him, and whispered into his ear a small request.
Winona's favorite drink had always been apple juice, I treated her with it every weekend and she always lapped it up quickly. She hadn't drunk any the past few years, the farm just couldn't afford to waste apples like that. Winona just drunk water now, nothing else, we couldn't give her anything else. I thought that, since this shall be Winona's last drink, I better make it good.
The unicorn had a saddlebag hanging on his back, he opened it and levitated a small bottle of apple juice and a jar of white powder. He poured the apple juice into a small, medical cup. Then he twisted the cap off the jar and sprinkled a tiny amount of the powder into the drink. He walked up to my dog, and put the cup next to her, she lifted her head and looked at the strange drink.
Tears had begun to spill out of my eyes. What was about to happen had to happen, Winona's suffering was about to end, leaving us in her wake. Without Winona I would have nothing to love me, I couldn't bear it. I sat there, in my decaying bedroom, simply staring at her as I wept. This was where our love started, and this is where it would end. So, with a simple sigh, I managed to hold back the tears and say one last thing to my dear Winona.
"Go... Drink it... You brave little girl, ah love you Winona. You'll be with Granny soon, don't you worry."
Winona took a sip of the juice, and in a few seconds she put her head back onto the bed. I laid my hoof down on her paw, and watched her as she fell to sleep, and her breathing stopped. The tears returned, and I took off my hat and placed it down on top of her head, covering her eyes. I glanced at her for the last time, and went outside to tell Applebloom the news.
Inside of my room I heard a slight whimper, a whimper that turned into a cry, then a moan, and then, silence.
That day was seventy-five years ago. The regret I felt that day, well, it's been haunting me ever since. I had let my companion die alone, blind and crying for her mother... at least it was painless. Since then I had gotten a few more dogs, but it had never been the same. Winona was my one true companion, and she always will be. As I lay here, writing my final memoirs on a cold hospital bed, I remember all the happy memories I had with Winona. She wasn't just a dog, she wasn't even a pet, she was my friend. I'll be able to see my friends soon, when I die, but when I do, I shall go to Winona first. I shall give her the biggest hug of all, look into her eyes and tell her I'm sorry.