You are Clover, and life has not been kind to you.
Your mother was beautiful, a grey and green unicorn. She loved you so much, always defending you from other fluffies of the herd. She never called you “Munstah” like the others, she called you “pointy wingie babbeh”. Smarty insisted she give you sorry hoofsies, but she didn’t. She loved you, like a mother should.
You only had the one brother, a grey and blue unicorn your mother called Bestest. Bestest wasn’t like Smarty though, he took his title with a lot of responsibility. He insisted on leaving the burrow first every morning to make sure it was safe for you and your mother. After weaning he always ate last, making sure your mother got enough food. He was kind, driven, and smart. He told you in private that he would be the next Smarty, and laid out all his plans for the herd. You believed he could do it, you could see him standing, cheeks puffed, leading the herd. You were looking forward to him being in charge. Maybe then you wouldn’t get treated so poorly.
His dreams were crushed with his body when the dogs came.
Screams rang out into the twilight, just as your little family had settled for bed. Your mother wrapped herself around the two of you, but Bestest wriggled out of her grasp. He insisted it was his job to defend his family, and him and mother argued for a while before he planted himself in the tunnel leading to your nest and ignored her pleas. You thought he was so brave. Mother hugged you tightly and sobbed into you. You didn’t know why she was so upset, Bestest would protect you! And protect he did. You heard him cry “get sowwy poopies!” before your mother turned you both away. You heard lots of things you wish you didn’t, the yips of the dogs, the sound of your brother being dragged out of your burrow, the ensuing fight. You could hear him snarling along with them, and you knew he didn’t go down quietly. When morning came and mother finally let you leave the den, all that was left of him was his blue tail, purple with his blood.
Your mother was never the same. She refused to leave the burrow for a very long time, you had to take over your brother’s job of bringing her food. Sometimes she would eat, sometimes you had to encourage her, sometimes she refused. At night she would sob into you, softly, and beg you not to leave. You promised, never. You would never leave her. But in the morning, someone had to go find food, and the other fluffies wouldn’t share from the nummies pile, so you had to forage. You promised every time you would be back, but your mother always looked scared.
Eventually your mother left the burrow and started taking care of herself once again. You were overjoyed seeing her interact with the rest of the herd, even if you had to do it from the sidelines. That was okay, you didn’t like any of those fluffies anyway. She taught you lots of things, what berries and mushrooms were good to eat, how to nip leaves off the stem, and all the songs she knew. She had a beautiful voice, one that you could only hope to live up to.
You grew into a stallion, and she told you all about finding a special friend. How you would find another fluffy you loved more than anything, and you two would have a family together. You told her she was your family, but she laughed and hugged you. She said you would understand when it happened, but she would always be your mother.
The next day, when you returned from foraging, she was dead outside the burrow.
Smarty insisted she attacked him for asking if she would give up her burrow for one of the other pregnant mares. He said she had to get sorry hoofsies. You didn’t believe him for a second, but his toughies were huge, with harsh grins and bloody hooves, so you didn’t argue. You dragged her body away from the den so you could mourn her. You told her she was the best mother, that she did her best. You groomed her one last time, licking the blood from her mane. You had to leave her there, it felt wrong but what else could you do? The only death you experienced was your brother’s and there was nothing left of him. It pained you to think about her corpse rotting, but you had to move on.
Returning to the burrow, you watched Smarty move his new favorite mare into it. She gushed over how kind he was to get this for her, what a good father he would be. You watched a happy family begin to build over the remains of yours, wondering where you would sleep. The answer came with a sharp hoof to the face, as you were ordered by one of the toughies to sleep in the “poopies place”.
The poopies place was a small hollow behind a rotting log where the herd made their poopies. You had never used it, as your mother said it was dirty and to just dig a hole a little ways from the den, or do it while you foraged. She was right, the smell of old feces and stale urine assaulted your senses. You picked around carefully, trying not to step in any fresh poop, looking for a clean place to lay. You noticed a fluffy face, peering out from a diseased bush. She was brown with a pale purple mane, and introduced herself as Poopy. She knew you as Munstah, and you both agreed never to use those names to each other. You bonded quickly as outcasts, happily sharing her makeshift nest. When dawn came you asked her to come forage with you so you could get some better nest material, but she refused. Smarty didn’t let her leave, she explained, she needed to be there to give him licky cleanies and other things whenever he wanted. You knew what she meant by “other things” and you hugged her. Smarty was a monster, and you silently promised that you would free her from this horrible herd.
You came back with a bundle of dry grass in your mouth, and one of the toughies asked what you were doing. You dropped it to explain you were fixing up Poopy’s nest, and he ran off. It was strange, but you didn’t understand anything the herd did. You continued on, but were stopped by Smarty at the entrance to the poopy place. He made you explain again, and when you were done he laughed, a cruel laugh.
“Munstah hab poopy special fwend!” All the toughies laughed with him, like it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. “Yu gunna make nestie, hab speciaw huggies?” The toughies laughed harder, one falling over.
“Am gud fwuffy, jus wan sweep.” You mumbled.
Smarty wiped the tears from his eyes. “Ah, nu, yu munstah. But it funny yu tink so!”
“Yu am munstah!” You shouted back at him, the fluffy that killed your mother, that abused so many of his herd.
You immediately realized this was a mistake. His expression changed, he scowled at you. “Tink yu a toughie?” The toughies closed rank around you, boxing you in. “Gib sowwy hoofsies. See if Munstah feew tough den.”
Blows rained down on you from all angles as Smarty laughed. You would try to block one direction and get hit from another. Your legs were knocked out from under you, and you fell to the ground. The beating continued for some time, until Smarty got bored and ordered his toughies to leave you there. No one wanted more munstah fluffies, he told you as you lay broken on the ground. You would never have special huggies, or a family.
You laid on the dirt path for a long time, watching your blood pool around you. Was this your end, you wondered? The few fluffies that passed just hurriedly stepped over you, pointedly not looking. There was nothing left for you, no love, no joy, no future. Just beatdowns and pain. Rejection and loss. The day dragged on, and you could see the orange of the sunset between the trees. Maybe if you just closed your eyes, you would wake up wherever your brother and mother are.
You felt teeth grab your scruff and just accepted it. Wherever the toughies wanted you, you would be. You were dragged into the poopy place, but instead of the dried poop on the ground, soft leaves protected you from the filth. You looked up, and saw brown hooves straining to pull you.
“…fwend?” You whispered, all you could manage through the pain.
“Fwend!” Poopy dropped your scruff and hugged you. It was agony, but it filled your chest with a warmness you hadn’t felt since your brother died. “Fwuffy thought yu were foebah sweepies!”
“Nu,” you muttered. “Munstah just huwt.”
“Nu caww fwend munstah!” She chirped, licking your mane. “Fwend am fwend. Nu munstah.” And you believed her. You let her drag you back to the sparse nest and lick your wounds.
“Why?” You asked her as she finished, bits of your blood staining her mouth.
“Because fwuffies awe fo huggies and wub, not huwties and boo-boos.” She stomped her hoof. “Meanies gib huwties, huggies make bettew!” She hugged you, and managed to squeeze most of your injured parts, but it did feel better. Eventually you were able to fall asleep, with your only friend curled around you.
“Wake up, fwend! Hab nummies!” Her whisper woke you, and you opened your eyes to her standing in front of a pile of fresh grass.
“…huh? Where get nummies?”
“Fwom nummies piwe! Eat pwease, befowe toughies find!”
You scarfed them down as fast as you could. She risked her life to get you food, and as you looked up at her to thank her, you saw her mane blend in with the purple sky of dawn, and it was the most beautiful thing you had ever seen. She smiled, her brilliant green eyes squinching shut, and it took your breath away. You wanted to see that smile forever, every moment of every day.
You coughed, realizing you’d just been staring at her. “Nuffin. Tankyoo fo nummies!” You held out your hooves, and she fell into your hug. Her fur, though dirty, was soft and through the stink of the poopy place she smelled better than any flower.
As you two fell asleep, embraced, you decided that you might not be able to have a family, or special huggies, or babies, or even any other friends, but you would love her. You would see that smile as often as you could, and you would make sure she would never hurt again.
And one day, you would take her away from this horrible herd, where you two could be happy.