Bright Eyes

After an accident, Twilight's life is turned upside down and changed forever.
With her friends standing by her, she must manage to overcome new obstacles, learn a new way of life, and discover just how long secrets last when hidden from those who know you best.

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3. Chapter 3

Life is going to change. There’ll be no books, and no library. Nothing that was you will be there anymore. You know this. Without your eyes, the Twilight Sparkle that everyone has known and loved, will cease to exist.

No books.

No library.

No friends.

 

Twilight rested her head in Rainbow Dash’s chest, sobbing quietly as her mind raced rapidly, polarising one thought with another. The news had struck her deeply when the doctor had told her, yet she was quiet.

“Ms. Sparkle?”

Twilight sat on the bed, facing the doctor. Her mind’s eye visualised him as a yellow colt with an auburn mane, wearing the coat that all nurses and doctors seemed to sport. She gave no response.

“Ms. Sparkle, I know this is hard news to hear. However, there are plenty of programs that can help you adapt, no matter the severity of the damage.” He sounded so patronising. He wasn’t the one who had to live with this.

There was a muffled shout in the distance, and the doctor sighed, “Please excuse me, Ms. Sparkle. However, I assure you, this isn’t the end of the world.”

Twilight sniffed, righting herself up from her friend’s embrace. She could still feel the scaled form of Spike clinging to her. Rainbow Dash’s hoof moved to sit on top of her own.

Maybe my friends will stay, she hoped. After all, they are my friends. I could just adapt.

“I’m... sorry,” Twilight muttered to herself, instinctively wiping at her eyes with her free hoof, only to be met with the cotton barrier. She sniffed again, forcing a smile towards Rainbow Dash, “The new Daring Do is here?”

Rainbow Dash was quiet for a long time. Her hoof was firmly placed on top of Twilight’s, as if afraid to let go, “Twilight,” Rainbow said seriously, “I don’t want you to feel as if anything between us is going to change.”

Twilight quirked a brow as the intense seriousness of Rainbow’s voice washed over her. She had heard this same tone on multiple occasions, when Rainbow was not only dropping all of her barriers, but was also placing a deep-seeded promise.

“Whatever this is, we’ll be beside you. All of us” her voice cracked as she finished her sentence.

“Rainbow, I-”

“Twilight,” Rainbow interrupted, she hadn’t finished, “There are times when life changes, and everypony around them has to adjust. This is one of those times.”

Rainbow’s wisdom had caught Twilight off guard. There was nothing hidden behind those words, no ulterior motive or hidden feelings, she was being the real Rainbow Dash. Her mask had been removed.

Twilight smiled, “Thank you.” She raised her hoof, pressing it on top of the pegasus’, She slowly followed the length of her friend’s arm before leaning forward and embracing her tightly, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” she repeated tearfully.

She felt Rainbow Dash embrace her again, “No need for that.” Twilight could only imagine that playful smirk that Rainbow wore so well as her mask was slowly replaced, “After all, I wouldn’t be too awesome if I left you because of some silly thing like this, would I?”

That’s Rainbow. Twilight smiled inwardly. A few heartfelt words were more than enough before Rainbow returned the mask of coolness. In truth all of them knew, that deep down Rainbow was more sensitive and wise than she would ever let anypony believe. She was the youngest of the group, and she still held public appearance to heart. One day, she would grow out of that, and prove to the world what loyalty meant.

“Should we tell the Princess?” Spike asked, reaffirming his existence.

Twilight let go of the pegasus, turning towards Spike, “No.” The amount of conviction in her voice surprised her. One of her deepest thoughts had been how her mentor would react, if she knew that her most prized and faithful student was defective. She might disown her, or send her to a facility for the disabled!

Defective. The chilling thought flashed through her mind, causing her stomach to constrict.

“She doesn’t need to know,” Twilight justified, “it doesn’t affect her. So long as I report to her, send in my assignments and exams, she won’t even know the difference!” She forced a smile, trying to sound cheerful.

The tone in Spike’s voice begged to differ, “You can’t do that.” Twilight could imagine Spike’s worried expression. She wondered if he already had a quill and paper in hand. “She’s the Princess. She needs to know what’s happening with those closest to her!”

“No, Spike! We can’t tell her!” Twilight snapped, putting a hoof to her mouth as she realised her sudden outburst. “I mean... it’s not important.”

“Twilight,” Spike whined, “You of all ponies should know that’s not true.”

Twilight shook her head, “No. And I don’t want anypony sending it on your behalf or mine. Do I make myself clear?”

 

The safest option. I can’t disappoint her.

Spike sighed after a pause, “Alright.”

Twilight nodded, “Thank you, Spike. This is the best way to handle this.”

She chided herself inwardly for saying it -no- she was not important. She was the Princess’ prized student, after all. With this plan in place, she’ll continue being just that! If the Princess never found out, then her esteem will continue. That was the most important thing.

“Well, I brought some paper for you, Twilight. It’s Tuesday.” The weight from where Spike was sitting lightened, followed by a thump on the floor next to her.

Twilight paused, “Then, I... should send something to the Princess. Um...” she furrowed her brow, tapping her forehead. Her thoughts had been so involved in preventing herself from being disowned by the Princess that she hadn’t had any time to consider what this week’s letter would contain. She was supposed report on her recent study on...

“Spike, did you find what I was studying last night?”

“Uh, you... what?” Spike stammered, “Oh! Something about Para-die-gems of magic. That’s what was on your desk, at least.”

Twilight brightened, raising a hoof in the air, “Of course! Paradigms of magic!” The memory clicked to her with glee.

“Uh... para-what?”

“Para-dimes, Spike. The set rules, formations, runes and symbols that can be used to alter the appearance, strength and use of an original spell, by changing its inherent structure at the source! Basic paradigms can be used to change the brightness of a light spell, or the size or temperature of a pyrokinetic spell.” Twilight’s speech quickened as she gestured in the air to illustrate her points. She pictured where her hooves were, in relation to the description she was trying to convey.

“What?” Spike sounded even more incredulous than his previous question.

Twilight sighed, “It’s what we call the framework of magic. Changing the paradigm, or ‘paradigm shift’, changes the framework of the original spell. While that’s the most basic, and perhaps generalised explanation of the term, that is basically what it means. It’s mostly a term for the ‘setup’ of a spell, as paradigms are mostly conceptualised. So while changing the framework of magic is physical, it is brought under the conception of being a paradigm.”

Twilight scowled at Rainbow’s quiet muttering of ‘egghead’ before turning back to Spike, “Does that make sense?”

“No, but I’ll take your word for it.” Spike replied. There was the familiar sound of unravelling paper at the corner of the room, “so, you want me to tell the Princess about paradigms?”

Twilight paused, “I... didn’t get to finish my research,” she said, disappointed in herself, “I only managed to understand the basics of conceptualisation to practicality, before...” Before what? What was I doing before I came here? “I don’t know.”

Twilight shook her head, Think, Twilight, think! There has got to be a way to remember what happened. There was one spell, that allowed a caster to see repressed memories, but would the caster be able to apply that spell on themself? The book didn’t specify.

“You don’t know? Twilight, that’s not like you.” Spike’s sarcasm sounded less apparent than usual. The sound of paper was heard once again, followed by the familiar audible clack of a clip.

“I don’t remember,” Twilight sighed. “Princess Celestia won’t accept a letter on the basic synopsis of what I’ve been studying! She’ll want a detailed report!”

Spike muttered something under his breath, which brought a giggle from Rainbow Dash.  Twilight frowned, having missed the apparent joke.

“I’ll send her a letter tomorrow. That’ll give me time to remember.” Twilight forced a smile. In truth, she knew she was just procrastinating until she found a reasonable excuse to send a letter. Retrograde Amnesia had been known to never recover.

“So...” Rainbow Dash began beside her, an excited inflection in her tone, “how about that new Daring Do book? We can get started on it now!”

Twilight lay down on the bed again, righting the hat to sit skewed between the pillow and her horn, “That sounds nice, Rainbow.” She smiled lightly, turning her head towards her friend.

The sound of a scraping echoed through the room from the far end of the bed, screeching loudly as it circumnavigated closer to where Dash had been sitting, “Alright!” Spike shouted enthusiastically.

Rainbow Dash chuckled under her breath, “Then let’s begin!” The first page was opened, filling the air with the scent of freshly printed paper, “Daring Do in Search of Marenkaura!” She lowered her voice menacingly, as she began her narration, “As Daring Do trekked through the scorching desert...”

 

 

“... and she catapulted in to the air, waving to the Watchmares as she flew over them! With a loud, audible crash, she flew through the entrance!” Rainbow Dash had taken to standing on the seat as she narrated the book energetically, acting out every scene with vigour and energetic strength. The book had been everything she thought it would be! Action, adventure and suspense, just like all the others! “And that’s the end of Chapter 7!”

Twilight applauded, a wide smile strewn across her face, “Wow, Rainbow! This has to be one of the best yet!”

Rainbow smiled in returned, it was good to see her friend could be distracted, even for a short period of time, from the looming disaster that had befallen her. She opened her mouth to begin the next chapter, as a set of hoof-stomps were heard from the doorway.

“Wonderful reading! It’s good to know my daughters will enjoy this next instalment,” the orange colt smiled, walking in to the room, “And I can tell you enjoy it, too.”

Rainbow’s cheeks reddened as she sheepishly slunk back in to the chair. Spike giggled.

The doctor’s horn lit with a bright yellow hue, levitating the medical report from the edge of Twilight’s bed, eyeing it carefully, “Well, Ms. Sparkle, it’s time for your tests. Your friends can come as well, if they would like?”

“Can I, Twilight?” Spike asked. The amount of worry on his face superseded his obvious desire not to return home. Spike had been watching the setting sun for a while now, glancing out the window whenever he could.

“Sure, Spike,” Twilight nodded, “Rainbow, are you coming, too?”

Rainbow considered for a moment, only now feeling the dryness of her throat after having read for such a long period, “Uh... yeah. I’ll catch up with you guys,” she smiled, glancing out the door in hopes of finding a small café meters away.

“Well, we’ll be in Room 2ICU.”

“Intensive Care?!” Rainbow snapped.

The doctor shook his head, “No, no, no. That’s CCU: the Critical Care Unit. Nopony really knows what ICU stands for; we lost that information in the Great Fire.” He gestured towards the door, and in nine other directions, “It’s just down the hall, just follow the signs.”

Rainbow wiped her brow, “Thank Celestia,” she smiled, heading for the door, “I’ll see--... catch you soon, Twilight.”

She hurried out the door, grimacing at her verbal slip. “Darn it, Rainbow. Don’t say that around her,” she scolded, “The last thing she needs is to be reminded of her problem.” She continued wandering the halls in search of the café she had managed to find the first time around.

After finding the café and purchasing a bottle of apple juice, she found herself simply staring out the window at the night sky, allowing the news of her friend time to sink in. It was true, that there was no concrete answer, however whatever damage there was, would scar Twilight for the rest of her life.

The bottle sat untouched on the windowsill as she continued to stare at the moon, hearing nothing of her own thoughts as they fought for dominance in her head. What was Twilight going to do if she was blind? Who would help her?  Could Rainbow keep the promise she made to her? Each thought had not been allowed an answer as a new contemplation entered her mind.

Her mind quietly wandered to the day before, when she had heard that disastrous call.

*

“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie’s voice sounded under her.

Rainbow alighted on the ground in front of her friend, “What is it, Pinkie?” She had asked irritably, “I’ve got stuff I need to do.”

How could I have been so rude?

Pinkie’s eyes were wide with shock and fear; her words more babbled than usual, “It’s Twilight! I was at the bakery when I heard the sirens, and I didn’t think anything of it, because those sirens could be anything. But then I thought maybe those sirens were for a party, but they couldn’t have been for a party, because who has loud sirens at a party anyway? You can’t hear all the cake! So, I went out to have a look, and there was nothing, so I went back to making sweets. They’re really good, Dash, you should totally try some! But then—”

Dash had rolled her eyes and sighed gruffly, “Get to the point, Pinkie. If I don’t get to Cloudsdale, I’m gonna miss a chance to get out of Storm Duty.”  

I didn’t know something bad had happened.

“Dash!” Pinkie gasped, “Twilight’s in hospital!”

That doesn’t mean I had to be so short.

“She’s what?! Why?” Dash had shouted, it had taken the news for her to realise something was wrong.

I came in the end, didn’t I?

“Nopony knows, not even Spike. We gotta go!”

What if Pinkie says something about my attitude?

*

I owe it to her.

 

She shook her head quietly, turning around to wander through the sterile halls and find her friend. Twilight would need comforting once the news was final. She picked up her pace, following the signs riddled around the hospital’s white halls leading to the department her friend would be waiting in.

Each corridor she followed, each hall she turned in to, felt further away than when she had began. At the end of her journey through the labyrinthine hospital, she would find her friend, and the answer to the horror that had been looming over her since she arrived at the hospital. She halted quietly, at Room 2.

Rainbow stared at the number on the door for a moment, scowling at the snake-like figure. She opened it slowly and quietly, glancing around at the various machines in the dimly lit room, each looking like a larger microscope than the last. Twilight sat inside the largest one in the room, appearing more machine than pony. The upper part of her face was secured by what appeared to be a metallic mask, with two looking glasses for eyes. Rainbow closed the door, looking around further as her eyes adjusted to the lack of light.

Spike glanced in Dash’s direction. As their eyes met, volumes spoke between them. Those two, teary orbs conveyed the news she had been dreading. Dash froze, her heart sinking in to her stomach, her eyes teared up sympathetically, as her gaze fell on to Twilight.

Twilight’s mouth was agape, as her body lay limply in the seat. Tears streamed silently down her face, slowly dripping on to her chest. Yet there she stayed, as silent and still as the room itself. Not a single sound escaped her, not a single breath was heard, and not a single twitch was seen. She was still, and silent.

Rainbow Dash simply stared at her, unable to think, unable to move. Her entire body ceased, her entire thoughts silenced, as the realisation of her friend’s wound slowly sunk in to her every fibre. Her mouth twitched, as her own tears slowly descended her face.Twilight, no...

She turned toward Spike, opening her mouth to speak. Spike interjected, shaking his head quietly. Why would he want to talk now? The news would hit him almost as deeply as Twilight. Rainbow inwardly chided herself.

She moved to the far side of the room next to the dragon, who had been seated on a small swivel stool. There was nothing to say, no pony to talk with. She could only let her two friends grieve in peace.

 

 

You’re useless now. Everything you’ve ever worked for, everything you had ever hoped to be, means nothing. Without your eyes, you cannot read. You cannot learn.

But you can adapt, there are ways for blind ponies to cope in the world.

Twilight couldn’t move. When the doctor had removed her bandage, the void that remained already answered her darkest fears. Yet she could have hoped for some miracle of magic or science. The doctor had said nothing, only the grim, dark news that she had been expecting all along.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Sparkle. Your eye sight has completely deteriorated.”

You’re blind, Twilight. She had heard, instead. There was no sympathy in the words, there were no plans or programs that she could go on to restore her eye sight, there was no substitute she could use to replace her own eyes, and magic, her most faithful and loyal friend, could not repair organic matter.

“Remember, Twilight, magic has limitations. It cannot repair organic matter, it cannot raise ponies from the dead, and it cannot change the past. Magic is functional, and can only be used functionally. Do you understand that?” Princess Celestia’s voice rang through her head.

I don’t want to understand. Not now. I want to be fixed. I want my eyes back.

Twilight shuddered inwardly, as every ounce of her body screamed out in anger, fear and grief, all in a single fluent motion. She screamed, so as to make sure the heavens themselves knew that fate had betrayed her.

The world still turned, time moved on, and the room was silent. No retribution came; no heavenly light or mystical being appeared to fix her. Even the warm air of Princess Celestia, never embraced her. She was alone in a real world.

If the Princess found out, she would send her to an institution for the blind. Spike would be given to the next unicorn that the Princess took in to her tutelage, and Twilight Sparkle would forever be forgotten. Without sight, she couldn’t leave. Someone would have to lead her out of the hospital, and everyone would know that she is a flawed unicorn.

Click.

Twilight silently waited for the doctor to speak, yet not a word was spoken.

Click.

The door had closed. By now, the doctor should have announced himself. What more bad news could he give to her tonight? Had her home burned down, too? Had her family been sent to the dungeons for one reason or another?

She heard a quiet sniff in the corner of the room.  It sounded larger than Spike. It was another pony. Perhaps, if she was lucky, Rainbow Dash had returned as she promised. If it was her, why hadn’t she said anything?

Twilight choked, “W-who’s there?” Her voice came out in a raspy squeak, its tone changing rapidly.

“It’s me.”

Rainbow had returned, “Rainbow... I’m... it’s...” Twilight gagged, a fresh onset of sobbing breaking loose from her throat. If it weren’t for the machine holding her in place by whatever metallic device had been placed around her face and eyes, she would have slumped to the ground.

“I know.”

“I can’t... I don’t...” She couldn’t bring herself to say those words. She couldn’t admit to herself what was wrong.

“I know,” Rainbow’s voice cracked.

“Rainbow... what have I done to deserve this?”

The unfair question held itself heavily over the air. Twilight resented herself for directing it at her friend, as if she were the one who caused this. She was trying to help, she didn’t deserve any questions like that.

“I don’t know.”

Twilight sighed heavily, every fibre in her body shuddering. The doctor was supposed to return soon, once he had the results. Then, she could return to her bed. Then, she could sleep. If she was lucky, maybe she wouldn’t wake up. Maybe, if there was something out there to give her some form of justice, she wouldn’t have to put up with the hardships and changes that she’ll be forced to uphold.

Selfish. She chided furiously at herself. Don’t even think that. Your friends and family would be devastated to learn that you were no more. They would prefer you in your condition now, than the darker alternative.

So many emotions filled her entire being, fighting for dominance. She wanted to cry, to accept, to blame, to scream, to bargain, to live and to die. Each emotion combated by its alternative, never allowed to rest on one decision.  There was no true answer in this unreality that was her new life. There was only one fact in this whole scenario, that she needed to accept.

“Rainbow Dash...” Twilight said slowly through her tears.

“Yeah?”

“I’m blind.”

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