Grapefoot

An Apple In The Barrel Part 1

Jul 2nd, 2014
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  1. Big Mac, Granny Smith, and Applebloom were out of town for the weekend, and it was just Applejack at home all weekend. She had a big Saturday planned at the market. Everything was packed and ready to go. She was going to sell some high quality, all organic, juicy red apples, straight from the orchards. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and some big wispy white clouds floated by in the light breeze. It was pretty much the perfect autumn day. Only problem was, Applejack. She wasn't feeling 100% today.
  2.  
  3. Nope, she woke up with a stuffy nose, and feeling under the weather. She contemplated not setting up shop today, but felt she had too. It was the prime season for apple buyers, on one of the busiest shopping days of the week. Applejack figured she would just pinch her sneezes, and wash her hooves as much as possible. She brought a few jugs of water with soap just for that purpose. She even brought some latex gloves. She didn't want to ruin the sterling Apple family reputation for honest to goodness, quality apples.
  4.  
  5. She finished locking the wheels of the cart in her designated spot in the market. The same spot she got nearly every week, between a handful of other vendors trying to sell their goods. She waves at her neighboring vendors as they waved back with a smile. Through the years, she had gotten to know many of them quite well, and always enjoyed seeing their company.
  6.  
  7. Applejack finished polishing the apples and placed the open sign on the front of her cart. While she wasn't feeling too well, she did the set up quite hassle free. Only a sniffs. Today might be so bad after all. She might be so busy working, that she will forgot she is even sick. That is what usually happens anyways. Applejack is rarely sick anyways, so she could just go on like usual, she thought.
  8.  
  9. The first group of customers walked up to Applejack's stand with a simple nod, coins in their hands, and bags around their backs. Applejack knew these customers, they were her regulars. They always came bright and early to get the biggest, plumpest apples. Most of these early customers ran businesses and had restaurants, and they wanted only the best for their customers. Applejack happily handed out her goods.
  10.  
  11. As the hours ticked by, the traffic slowed, and Applejack had more down time. With that added down time, she began to feel the effects of her cold slowly working in her. Her nose seemed to run more, she got more tired, and she felt the urge to sneeze more. But being Applejack, she tried to ignore these as much as possible. She every once in awhile bopped her nose, to stop it from tickling. Still no sneezes for the day, and no pony could visibly tell she was ill, though that began to change as noon time rolled around and most ponies were enjoying lunch, and not shopping at the market.
  12.  
  13. Applejack began re-arranging her product on the cart, when she heard a voice from behind her.
  14.  
  15. “Hi, Applejack!” Said the voice as she turned around.
  16.  
  17. “Oh hi, Junebug.” Applejack responded in a nasally tone. Junebug was a regular customer of, Applejack's.
  18.  
  19. “The usual pound of apples?” Applejack asked, already reaching for some apples.
  20.  
  21. “You know me too well.” Junebug said with a smile, as her eyes wandered at the big shiny apples.
  22.  
  23. Applejack's nose began to quiver, a tickle burned inside her, but didn't get any relief from her runny nose. She sniffed in as quiet as she could, looked over her shoulder, and saw that Junebug didn't notice. So she sniffed again, trying to quell the tickle. Again, Junebug didn't notice and actually turned away to get something in her knapsack. Applejack's nose still quivered, so she quickly jabbed at her nose with her hoof, then continued putting apples in a bag. She pushed the apple sack to Junebug.
  24.  
  25. “About a pound of apples, maybe a little over. Your pies are mighty fine, you going to make some more with these?” Not thinking, Applejack made the mistake of starting a conversation with Junebug.
  26.  
  27. Junebug turned and peered in the bag. “These look great at always! Yeah, I am going to be making some apple pies. You know what they say, pie is the best way to a stallions heart, and I am trying to impress this one stallion from my work. He's coming over this Sunday and . . . “ Junebug continued talking, and Applejack continued listening. She couldn't help but tune Junebug out as her nose continued tickling. Junebug was looking at Applejack directly in the eyes, so Applejack couldn't look away. Her nostrils flared, probably quite noticeable for Junebug. Applejack lightly sniffed to keep the mucus from dropping out of her nose. Junebug kept talking. Applejack's left eye began to close, as her nostrils tickled furiously.
  28.  
  29. “Excuse me.” Applejack finally had to say as she turned slightly to rub her nose and cough.
  30.  
  31. Junebug paused a second, then continued talking about something. Once she started talking, she could go on for quite awhile. Applejack watched as she droned on. The nose rub only helped for a split second, and the fluids in her nose were really starting to tickle badly. Her nose twitched again, and she could feel a sneeze building. If there was one thing that Applejack hated more then admitting she was sick, was showing signs of weakness in front of other ponies. In this case, sneezing in front of somepony was a sign of weakness. A vulnerability.
  32.  
  33. She kept trying to keep a straight face, as she kept dabbing her nose, and gritting her teeth. It probably looked weird having her nostrils flare every few seconds. You can always tell when somepony's nose is agitated, and you try not to notice their nostrils flaring. If Junebug didn't notice all this nosey action, then she was truly clueless.
  34.  
  35. Applejack turned away as her mouth propped open slightly, and a pre-sneeze expression filled her face. Junebug stopped talking for a moment and ask, “Are you alright?”
  36.  
  37. “I'm fin-fi-fi.... Eeettccchoo!” Applejack waited a second to see if a second sneeze would come, but then finished her sentence. “I'm fine.”
  38.  
  39. Junebug giggled. “Bless you.”
  40.  
  41. Applejack didn't like being blessed, but she begrudgingly said thanks and nodded.
  42.  
  43. “So where was I? Oh yes, so then I cooked the . . . “ Junebug continued. Applejack's nose continued to tickle. Her nostrils flared and she turned again, away from Junebug and let out a strong, somewhat subdued sneeze. “Eeeeettttcccchhkewww!”
  44.  
  45. “Oh wow! You're pretty sneezy.” Junebug giggled.
  46.  
  47. Applejack grabbed a paper towel from her cart and blew her nose, something she also hated doing.
  48.  
  49. “It must be something in the air.” Applejack fibbed. She knew it was her cold, but she didn't want to admit that. Her nose tickled right away, as if punishing her for the fib. She reached up her hooves and sneezed hard into them.
  50.  
  51. “Hhheeecccttttthhhh!” She raised her head and shot down again. “Heeeeettcchhhhhhooo!”
  52.  
  53. “Wow, you coming down with a cold?” Junebug said as she covered her mouth, as if protecting herself from germs.
  54.  
  55. “Well . . . Applejack looked down. I might have a little bit of a cold.” Applejack's sentence trailed off to almost nothing at the end.
  56.  
  57. “Oh, I'm sorry.” Junebug said still covering her mouth. “I will let you go then. Get well soon, and thanks for the apples.” She trotted away.
  58.  
  59. Applejack turned red, and walked behind her cart. She covered one nostril with her hoof and blew out real fast as snot shot out and splatted on the grass below. “Sigh....” Applejack wiped her brow. Hopefully she could just sell the last of her apples in her cart. There wasn't much left, then she could go home. She already felt weak in front of Junebug, and she hated that.
  60.  
  61. “Hey Applejack!” Applejack looked up over the cart, as she was washing her hooves.
  62.  
  63. “Hi there, Spike. What can I do you for?” Applejack said sniffing at the end. Her nose now a rosy red.
  64.  
  65. “I'd like two apples please.” Spike said confidently as he placed a coin on the cart.
  66.  
  67. “For you and Twilight, hun?” Applejack asked.
  68.  
  69. “Yeah, Twilight's on the rampage. So I am hoping if she just eats something, she won't be such a beast today.”
  70.  
  71. Applejack smiled and rolled her eyes tossing Spike two apples. “On the house.” She smiled.
  72.  
  73. Spike thanked her and took his coin, running off into the market crowd.
  74.  
  75. Applejack's confidence rose. She just dealt with Spike without so much as a tickle in her nose. Maybe she could do this for a few more hours. Applejack smiled, cupped her hooves, and waited for the next customer.
  76.  
  77. She looked to her right, and saw her vendor pal had left for lunch themselves, as did her vendor friend from the left. It was just her now for at least fifteen minutes or so. The market had mostly cleared out, as lunch time was not yet over, but off in the distance a figure walked towards her, a clipboard dangling at their side.
  78.  
  79. “Apples eh?” Said a stern voice.
  80.  
  81. “Yes sir! The best apple's in all of Equestria!” Applejack said.
  82.  
  83. “The best? That is a bold statement. You sure they aren't the best in Mare County, or maybe the best in town?” The voice of the stallion talking to her warmed up.
  84.  
  85. “No, the best in Equestria!” Applejack repeated.
  86.  
  87. “Very well, I work for the Mare County Health Department.” The stallion held out his name badge and certificate. “I am just choosing at random some carts to inspect, I need to make sure everything is in tip top shape. Clean food, clean handlers, safety measures are being accounted for. You know, the works.”
  88.  
  89. Applejack's nose twitched but she continued. “Well, I can assure you everything is of the best quality and cleanliness here.” Applejack pointed to her water jugs and soap.
  90.  
  91. The health inspector smiled and nodded. “Very nice. A washing station is a terrific idea for a vendor. I'm impressed.”
  92.  
  93. Applejack's nose twitched again, and her left nostril flared up and wide. She could feel a sneeze coming on.
  94.  
  95. The inspector picked up an apple, inspecting it closely, then putting it down. He wrote something on his clipboard. “As well, we don't want sick ponies serving people. That is a health violation that is all too often broken.”
  96.  
  97. Applejack gulped. “Is it now?”
  98.  
  99. “Of course it is. I'm going to try and crack down on it today if I see any.” The health inspector added, pushing his glasses up slightly.
  100.  
  101. To Be Continued.
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