I told her not to go; lots of ponies did. I told her it was dangerous, that most of us didn't know what lay beyond Equestria's borders. Such a journey was sure to be arduous, but she wouldn't listen to us, no matter how much we tried to talk her out of it.
But, that's just like Rainbow. When she makes up her mind she's gonna do something, she's gonna do it, and ain't nopony's gonna stop her.
I remember how it all started. It was just a few days after the 'Iron Pony' competition she and I had. We never did decide on a winner. I accused her of cheating, while she made it clear our rules were not.
"You never said I couldn't use my wings!"
"I didn't think I needed to tell you to play fair!"
The two of us just got so caught up in the competition. If I knew it was going to lead to me never seeing her again, my best friend, I would have never let myself lose my cool.
But I didn't know, and now she's gone.
She just I just we got it in our heads that we were each the best athlete in Ponyville. Rainbow even insisted she was the best in all of Equestria.
After the race, in which we both placed last, Rainbow must've felt like she had something to prove to everypony, something to prove to me.
Something to prove to herself.
She craved attention, you know. She craved the competition, the prestige of being the best. I suppose she thought maybe if she could prove to Ponyville how great of an athlete she was, how great a flier she was, that maybe the Wonderbolts might take notice.
Maybe that was her drive for taking the trip.
I'll never know for sure; nopony will.
But, anyway, I'm rambling now. On with the story.
It was the day after the race. I was down in the orchard buckin' apples, the way I usually spent my mornings, when Rainbow Dash touched down in front of me. She had this look of contempt on her face. A look that said, "You didn't beat me." But, somehow, she looked so very defeated.
She got in my face, trying to intimidate me.
"This isn't over," she piped up, "That race didn't prove anything."
Now, I'm all for competition, but by this point I was dog-tired from all of the stuff we'd been doing over the past couple days. I wasn't in the mood for any of Rainbow's challenges, and I certainly wasn't in the mood for her attitude.
"Rainbow, y'all need to simmer down. I ain't about to compete with you again today. There ain't no sense in fussin' over who's best."
"That's because I am!"
She looked so angry, yet so sad. She puffed out her chest, and stuck her nose in my face.
"I'm the best athlete in all of Equestria, and I'm going to prove it to you, and everypony else!"
She was getting on my nerves, but I wasn't about to let things get heated up again.
"Rainbow, you do what you gotta do, but this pony's got some apples to buck."
She backed off, obviously irritated that I didn't want to hear about how she was going to prove how great she was.
"Fine!" Her voiced cracked a little as she retorted. "When I get back, everpony is going to know Rainbow Dash is the greatest flier ever! Nopony's ever flown all around the world before, and I'm going to be the first!"
"What in the hay is she spoutin' off about now?" I thought.
She launched herself back up into the clouds before I could ask her anything.
As it turns out, Rainbow had decided to do something nopony had done before. She was going to fly all the way around the world . without landing. To her, it was the ultimate test of athletic ability, and something nopony would ever be able to top. If she made it, she would be the best forever, and everypony would know it.
I found all of this out from Twilight Sparkle, whom Rainbow had spoken to after confronting me on my farm. I guess she needed a little more information on Geography or something, and everypony knows that if you need to know anything about anything, you go to Twilight Sparkle.
Twilight told me at the speed Rainbow Dash could fly, the trip would take her at least twelve days.
Rainbow touted she could get the whole trip over within ten days . flat.
It was such an outrageous claim, and such a dangerous thing to try. Thousands of miles of travel, not knowing exactly where you're going? Not to mention she wasn't going to land. She wanted it to be the ultimate test. She said it'd just be sight-seeing if she didn't make it hard on herself.
The day she left, me, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle all came to Ponyville Square to see her off. Well, the rest of 'em did anyways. I showed up to beg her not to go.
The six of us spent a few minutes talking about the trip, before I pulled her aside to speak with her in private.
"Uh, Rainbow, can I talk to you for a minute?"
She followed me as I walked far enough away from the rest of our friends that they wouldn't be able to hear the two of us.
"Rainbow I don't want you to go. I admit it; you're the best athlete in Ponyville, not me."
I would have said anything to keep her from making the trip. I was so worried about her.
"Nopony knows for sure what's beyond Equestrian borders, Sugar Cube. There could be dragons, and I ain't talkin' about little dragons like Spike. I mean the big, mean ones like the dragon we convinced to leave Ponyville not too long ago. What would you do if you got too close to one? You know there are dragons out there who eat ponies. It just ain't safe. And, what about you not landing? Even if it only takes you ten days, that's still a lot of flyin'. How're y'all gonna sleep, or eat? How're y'all gonna keep alert enough for ten whole days to make sure you know where y'all are headed?"
I could have went on for hours coming up with reasons for her to stay, but she stopped me.
"Applejack, I need to do this."
That's all she said. Six little words said more than I ever could have. Six little words, and I understood what she was feeling. I was going to have to let her go.
"Please, Rainbow, promise me you'll be safe."
She took that moment to lighten the mood a little. Classic Rainbow.
"Ha! This is gonna be a cinch! I'll be back before you know it!"
The smug look on her face somehow made my worries subside.
The six of us ponies talked a little more before she left. Twilight gave her a map to help her on her way. It wasn't exact, but it was the best anypony in these parts had. Rarity gave her a luxurious scarf she had designed, insisting that Rainbow should need to keep warm. Pinkie Pie, being as random and care-free as always, gave her a balloon.
"This will keep you up in the air if your wings get tired!"
Fluttershy was next. She didn't say anything. She hadn't said much at all the entire morning. She just approached Rainbow, and hugged her. From where I was standing, I could see Fluttershy tearing up a little. If anypony wanted Rainbow to stay more than I did, it was her.
Rainbow looked at me next. "Well, aren't you going to give me something, too?" She joked.
I smirked. "I'll give it to you when y'all get back." I put her in a headlock, playfully messing up her mane with my hoof.
She closed her eyes as she smiled. "Okay then."
Things got a little awkward after that. Nopony wanted her to leave, but there was no stopping her by that point. Rainbow was the last to say anything. I forget exactly what it was, but I remember it made me smile. She turned away from us, and blasted off into the horizon. The other five of us stood there in silence for a little while. Each of the others left after a few minutes, but I stayed. I was hoping maybe she would back out, and I would see her rainbow-colored mane coming back my way, but it never did. I stood there, waiting for her, until the sun went down.
"Alright Rainbow, that's one day down." I thought.
I threw myself heavily into my work over the next few days, trying to keep my mind off her. I figured, the less I thought about it, the sooner she would be back. Sad thing is I'm still waiting.
The following nine days had passed. I had found myself believing Rainbow could make it all the way around the world in just ten days, despite Twilight telling me it would have been scientifically and physically impossible for her to make it back in less than twelve. I went back to the place where she had left from, and I waited.
Ten days since she had left, right on the nose. I sat there patiently, waiting to give Rainbow the gift I had promised her.
Hours later, and it had grown dark with no sign of Dash anywhere. My heart sank.
"What if something happened to her?" I thought.
I continued to wait. I sat there, waiting for her in the middle of the square for two more whole days with no sleep, no food, and no water as other ponies passed me by.
I would have waited an eternity for her to come back if it weren't for Big Mac forcing me to go home and rest. I remember crying out her name in between sobs as he guided me away from the square.
I didn't eat or sleep for another two days after that.
I would have went after her myself if I had wings. If I had a horn, I would use my magic to turn back time, so I could keep her from leaving.
But, I'm just an Earth pony. There's nothing I can do. There isn't anything anypony can do.
It's been almost a year now since I last saw Rainbow. I still go to the square every morning, and every night, hoping that maybe she'll be there waiting for me, so I can give her the kiss I promised her the day she left.