* * *
or, Twilight Sparkle Gets Intimate With Her Table, Part One
Jeffrey C. Wells
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Deep in the purple force-fielded darkness of the Ponyville Library's common room, now crowded almost to bursting with purloined furniture, an unlikely puppet-master was speaking to a rather large armoire. Rather more unusually than that, the armoire appeared to be taking careful note of her words.
"All right!" declared an utterly mane-frazzled Twilight Sparkle, a tiny nervous tic picking at her eyelid as she paced back and forth in front of the sizable piece of furniture. "You are no longer just a cabinet! You are now Shining Armoire, captain of my Royal Guard!"
"Something's wrong here," said Shining Armoire. "I'm... pretty sure I belong to a pony named Rarity?"
"Not today!" cried Twilight, her irises shrunken to the size of bit-coins. The little unicorn's horn flared as she dragged a markedly less-towering bit of furniture across the floor, its stubby animated legs scrabbling to keep up. "This," declared Twilight, "is your bride, Princess Mi Amore Credenza. On the surface, you have a happy marriage, following a beautiful wedding that you almost didn't inform your sister about!"
"Wait, wait, hold on," said Shining Armoire, "who's my sister again?"
Twilight glanced around the room and then, coming to a decision, blasted a tiny fairy-lamp with yet another Advanced Come-To-Life spell. "There. That's your sister, Nightlight Sparkle."
"I approve of everything that's going on here," said Nightlight Sparkle. "Even the construction of a giant force-field around the library so that no one in town can interrupt your master plan to forcibly manufacture a satisfying atmosphere of romantic tension using sapient furniture."
"Thank you, Nightlight Sparkle," said Twilight, sniffing primly. She turned her attention back to the rather larger pieces of furniture in front of her. "So, everything should be happy between you two lovebirds, right?"
"It... certainly seems that way," said Princess Mi Amore Credenza. "I mean, Shining Armoire is a handsome enough wardrobe. I think we could be pretty good friends, at least, right?"
"Wrong!" shouted Twilight, gesturing with one hoof. "Because you, Princess Credenza, have secret amorous designs on Princess Sofa, immortal and extremely comfy alicorn of the night sky!" She gave the credenza a sly look. "They say she's a love-seat."
"But... why would I do that to Shining Armoire?" protested Princess Credenza.
"YES, PRITHEE, EXPLAIN!" thundered Princess Sofa. "WE FIND THE TWO OF THEM TO BE A DELIGHTFUL COUPLE!"
"Oh, what do you know?" snapped Twilight. "I just brought you to life five minutes ago!" Twilight's gaze spun around the room like a crazed drill sergeant improbably surrounded by his own troops on all sides. "And what's up with you hanging lamps?" she cried. "You're supposed to be swinging!"
"We've decided that we prefer monogamy," said a hanging lamp. Somewhere in the darkness, there came the noise of a rhythm hit on a trap-set.
Twilight frowned, then waded through the sea of furniture until she found the drum kit she'd taken from Pinkie Pie. "No," she said to it, sternly.
"Sorry," muttered the drum kit.
Twilight pounded a hoof on a nearby desk. "What's wrong with you furniture?" she exclaimed.
"Ow," said the desk.
"Sorry," she said. "But, seriously, what's wrong with you? Why aren't you engaging in sexy romantic liaisons with each other? You're as bad as the actual ponies I know in real life!" Her neck twitched a little, causing her completely disheveled mane to rustle like a cheerleader's pompon. "They all laughed, laughed at me when they discovered the secret book of romantic stories that I've been writing about all of them!"
She blinked, a flicker of sanity reentering her bloodshot eyes. "Well, maybe they didn't actually laugh," she caveated. "Really, they were quite understanding. But they told me in no uncertain terms that none of them harbor any hidden lusts for one another."
As quickly as it had appeared, the flicker of sanity guttered and was gone. "It was so humiliating!" she cried. "I'm tired of being embarrassed about my romantic fantasies! From now on, I'm going to live in a tiny world of my own devising. If I can't find a universe filled with romantic tension... I'll make a universe filled with romantic tension!"
As she stood there in the darkness, her chest heaving from the force of her tirade, Twilight Sparkle felt the little nudge of a drawer-pull on her shoulder. "Excuse me," came a gentle voice.
The unicorn turned and looked to see a little bedside table standing next to her, its front drawer bashfully extended. Her very own bedside table, in fact.
"I know you," said Twilight, quietly.
"You should," said the bedside table. "I'm one of the few pieces of furniture in this room you haven't stolen."
"Temporarily borrowed," corrected Twilight.
"Semantics," said the table, gesturing absently with a drawer. "What I was going to say was, romance isn't something that you get by awkwardly placing two pieces of furniture next to each other and making them interact. Romance is something deeper, and far more special, than that. It's not some sort of magic spark that happens all at once. It does depend on the feelings you have during the time you spend together, yes. But it's less an emotion and more an action you take; in fact, it's a series of actions you and your very special sometable take, together, throughout your entire life. And that's not something you can force into being over the course of an afternoon."
Twilight gazed deeply at her bedside table. The bedside table gazed back at her.
The little purple librarian sagged, then. "You're right, little bedside table," she said. "This is all really foalish of me." She sniffled a little.
"Don't cry," said the table. "There's a pure desire underneath your strangeness of execution. All you want is for ponies and, by extension, their furniture, to love each other. You just need a little more time and experience to realize what love truly is."
"Thank you, table," said Twilight Sparkle, wiping away a few tears. "Hey, how did you get to be so smart?"
"Books," said the table, modestly. "Every night when you finally raise the gumption to drag yourself to bed, you're still never ready to break from your reading. I am there beside you every night, watching you read, happy to be the thing that supports your lamp and your little mug of bedtime tea. Thank you for always using a coaster, by the way. It means a lot."
"You're welcome, table," said Twilight.
"And when you finally, finally can't keep your eyes open for even one more moment, you lay your book down upon me and shut out the light, and I abide all night feeling the weight of your chosen words upon me. It is a thrill and a comfort to serve you in this way."
"Gosh," said Twilight. "I never knew you felt that way, bedside table."
The bedside table turned away, looking a bit ashamed. "I have to admit," it said, its voice thick with emotion, "that all my proselytizing aside, I do have feelings for you, Twilight Sparkle, though I know you have always favored your writing desk over me."
"Don't say that!" cried Twilight. "Yes, I love my writing desk! In its own way, it's my faithful collaborator on all my letters and stories, and yes, I'm very fond of it. But I never share tea with it, like I do with you. And I never sleep next to it at night." Twilight took a moment to stroke the table's smooth, well-sanded surface. "Bedside table," she said, "I'm so grateful to you for all the jobs you do as the one piece of furniture I keep next to my bed, and you will always be special to me."
The table gave a shuddering sigh, and there was a note of bliss in it. "May I share a secret with you, Twilight Sparkle?" it asked.
"Of course, table," said Twilight.
"You speak of sleeping next to me at night," it said, "but always, there is a distance between us. I must confess that, just once, I would like to lie with you as an equal." The table looked a bit downcast, then. "I quake at my forwardness; perhaps I should not—"
"No!" said Twilight. "Please, I want to hear it!"
The table squared its top. "Twilight Sparkle," it said, "would you share your bed with me?"
"Oh, dear sweet little table," said Twilight, laying her hoof gently upon its top. Then she stopped. "Wait, that'd be kind of weird. Did I or did I not animate my bed today?"
"I would never stand between the two of you," said the table, hastily.
"No, no, it's all right," said Twilight. "I think my bed is still just my bed." She knelt down beside the table, spreading her mane across its surface. "Little bedside table," she said, "I am so touched that I mean that much to you."
"Don't worry," said the table. "If you're still thinking about it, I don't intend any funny stuff. I am a gentletable, and besides, it could never work between us. I am furniture, and you are pony. We come from two vastly different worlds, destined to be forever together and yet forever apart. But here, on this one magic afternoon where our worlds have intersected, just for a moment, I would like you to hold me as you drift off to sleep. Just once."
"It's not nighttime yet."
"Afternoon nap, then," said the table, eagerly. "Please, Twilight Sparkle."
Twilight closed her eyes. She breathed, softly, once, twice, her breath fogging against the table's glossy, impeccably-waxed finish.
"All right," she said. "I would be honored to accommodate you. Let's go up to my loft."
"You," said the table, "have just made me the happiest piece of furniture in the world."
And with that, the two old companions made their way out of the common room, upstairs to the unicorn's bed.
A moment of silence passed.
"Um, should we have been watching all that?" remarked Shining Armoire.
* * *
Twilight Sparkle was roused from her nap by the bright coruscating flash of a Princess-level Failsafe spell, a flash that tore away the layers upon layers of purple force with which she had shrouded the library. Blinking against the sudden sunlight, she disentangled her hooves from the legs of her bedside table, half-hidden next to her beneath a spread of astronomy-print sheets. It was the second Princess-level Failsafe spell that had been unleashed upon Ponyville in as many months, and there was a part of Twilight that hovered on the verge of panic in expectation of yet another calm, impossibly patient upbraiding from her mentor and teacher; but right now, in this present moment, such thoughts were second in her mind to a single question that burned in her. She bit her lip and turned to her faithful table.
"Bedside table?" she whispered, quietly. "Are... are you still with me?
There was no response. The Princess-level Failsafe spell had stripped all her well-intentioned enchantments from the library, including every last Advanced Come-To-Life spell. All the furniture constructs she had made were back in their own world now, and it was for the best, of course; as her table had said, furniture was furniture and pony was pony.
But still, there was a pang of loss and regret in Twilight Sparkle's heart. She had felt such kinship with her bedside table, for those few fleeting instants. And just for a moment there, she thought... maybe...
Twilight Sparkle sighed.
"I thought maybe I could love you," she whispered. "But you were right. We're not each others' soulmates. We can never be together, not truly. For I am a pony wizardess..."
Twilight sighed again and laid her head against her faithful table, cuddling up against it one last time.
"...and you," she said, "are just my one nightstand."