Hard Cider heaved a barrel of his famous homemade Hard Apple Cider onto the bar, his bar, at least, his for the next seven days. He let loose a very soft and uncharacteristically sad sigh. Retirement. It sounded like a dirty word to him now. He remembered the days back when he had first started up this poor excuse for a pub, thinking that he would rather die then retire.
“Times change,” He muttered to himself. Giving the bar a final polishing, trying to make the wood shine like it was brand new, and deciding that it was a hopeless task, he trudged up to the door, flipping the open sign and settled behind the bar to start the day.
He had been cleaning the same glass for the last hour, waiting for someone to come in, when the tell-tale ring of the door mounted bell announced the arrival of the first costumer of the day. He put down the glass and looked up, giving his world known Hard Cider hospitality. The thing that put his pub above the rest.
He frowned instead of a full on scowl.
“Hey, Cider, how’s the day?” Johnson asked, settling on one of the stools in front of the bar and ordering his customary bottle of Buck Danials. Cider filled a glass with the amber liquid and gave him a noncommittal grunt.
“That good, huh?” Johnson asked with a smirk. Cider gave him his own version of a smile, more of an upturning of the corners of his mouth than anything.
“You?” Cider asked, every the conversationalist.
“The same, the Mrs. took up sowing, and the kids started school two days ago,” Johnson said. Cider nodded, and was about to continue the conversation, when the bell rand again. Cider looked up to find the start of the lunch break rush had started and got ready for the task at hand, forgetting about his impending retirement for the next few hours of heavy work.
That was how it was for the next six days. He greeted, served, and made idle conversation. Every day, he would wake up, get the pub ready, and give a glance at the small calender behind the bar, seeing the day of retirement draw ever near.
He never told anypony the news, never shared the info. And no pony seemed to be any the wiser.
It was on the seventh, and final day, that he final decided it was time to share.
He looked out across his pub, his place of business and home away from home that had been that way for the past thirty-five years. He saw many faces, all of whom, he knew. There was not a single pony here who did not know of Hard Cider and his brew. Some even knew him enough to be privileged enough to count him as one of their friends, but even past those select few, there was not a single one who had never spoken to him. Weather they needed advice, or somepony to talk to, or just wanted to talk about the Celestia damned weather.
He cleared his throat, it seemed strangle raw and tight. He looked out once more, then he banged a glass on the bar top. Though the sound was quiet, the ones at the bar stools had heard. They looked at Cider, then turned to the ones at the table closest to the bar, and hushed them, then those looked at Cider in turn, and hushed the next tables, and so one. Like a wave of silence, everypony stopped what they where doing, and turned to the bar.
“I’m retiring, and closing the pub,” He announced, never one for speeches or tact. He looked, and saw many faces, looks of surprise, anger, and a few that looked on the verge of laughing at what they believed to be a bad joke. But then they realized who was talking, and many faces sobered almost instantly. When this happened, the looks of anger and surprise where still there, but they where all overridden with another emotion.
Cider didn’t understand this at first, why where they sad, where they going to miss the pub that much?
And then it happened.
Not a word was said. Instead, every pony in the pub lifted their glass, or bottle, or flask, or whatever it was that they were holding, then they pointed there respective drinks at Cider, clinked them together in a silent toast, and tossed back a shot in a silent and respective salute.
Cider, for the first time in what had to have been nearly thirty-five years, gave a true, if small, smile.
A nice piece. we can really connect with Cider and the customers. Don’t we all have that one place where we hang, where we have a whole small community? And I’m sure we’ve all had that sadness when that place closes down. Good story.