Fluttershy lay curled up in her cozy bed, blissfully ignoring the rising sun for just a few more minutes. Her inner peace was soon shattered, however, as her mother sang up to her. “Fluttershy, sweetie, wake up! Today’s the big day!”
Fluttershy’s sleep addled mind struggled briefly to recall what was so special about today. Several moments passed before it called up the reminder that today was Monday, and the first day of Flight Camp. Fluttershy was also reminded that she was of the personal belief that Cloudblossom was far too cheerful about the end of her daughter’s life. Oh goodness…uhm, did I just think that? I would never say such a thing out loud. Instead, she replied “Coming!” so softly that if Cloudblossom hadn’t raised Fluttershy herself, the hushed reply would have gone unnoticed.
The tall-for-her-age filly climbed gingerly out of her bed, shook her mane out, and made for her vanity desk, promptly tripping over her covers that had slid to the floor with her. Determined not to be brought low so early in the day, she stood carefully, so as to not tangle herself anymore than she had. After replacing her blankets and straightening them on her bed, she climbed onto the stool in front of her mirror, slid her brush onto her hoof, and faced her reflection.
She then screamed, threw her brush at the menacing dark shape in front of her, and fell off her stool, landing on the floor with a thud. Now shaking in her purely metaphorical boots, she mentally kicked herself for - once again – being frightened by the large stuffed dragon that her cousin Waveform had won her at the Summer Sun Festival games several weeks ago. She peeked at the cracked mirror nervously as her mother started up the stairs.
“Honey? Fluttershy, are you alright?” came her mother’s concerned voice.
“I’m fine, mom…” Fluttershy sighed heavily as she flopped back in exasperation. “Just wonderful… “
After a pleasant breakfast, and no further mishaps, Fluttershy and her mother had left the safety of home and caught an air bus across town to the Junior Speedsters Flight Academy, where the camp was set up.
Before them lay the administrative building, where the mare and her filly had been not two weeks before, to register the reluctant camper. It was a short, flat building which contained only a few offices. Beyond that and off to the right, the primary school building stood tall and proud. This was where classes were held during the school year. Opposite that, to Fluttershy’s left, the dorms looked much more welcoming. During the year students with moneyed parents, or who lived too far to travel here every day, lived in these dorms. Over the summer, however, the dorms were given over to use by the camp, and though Fluttershy herself wouldn’t be staying here, many of her fellow campers would.
They walked around the first small structure, Fluttershy growing more nervous by the second, until they rounded the corner and were greeted by the sight of the central courtyard and the looming Stadium beyond.
The square was expansive, and currently full of eager colts and fillies, all dragging their parents to and fro attempting to find friends they knew were going to join them. Fluttershy recognized a few classmates of hers, but none who she would claim as a friend, if they even knew her name at all. That’s okay. she thought, If they don’t know me, if they don’t recognize me, they can’t make fun of me. It’s safer that way.
Her mother, of course, had other plans. As Mommy-dearest made a beeline for a familiar face (and the familiar filly attached thereto), Fluttershy reflected on the inconveniences of having parents, namely their inability to pick up on discomfort and reluctance. She did follow, in the end, but did her best to hide behind her mane and act like a shrubbery. It didn’t work, however, as she came to realize that despite her best efforts, Golden Feather was glaring fearful death at her from behind her father. Fluttershy backed up, till she was well behind her mother, and at least mostly out of sight, as the parents talked about their recent experiences at work. Or whatever it was that grown-ups talk about…actually, Fluttershy really wasn’t paying much attention to them, instead focusing on escaping the fear and anger rolling in waves off of her classmate.
Golden stepped around both grownups, and tilted her head in a clear request to hold a private conversation, away from the prying ears of meddling parents. Curious, though still nervous, nodded her agreement, and followed a few steps away. They hadn’t spoken since the...incident, and other than receiving glares from the other filly from across cafeterias and classrooms, and giving morosely apologetic glances in return, they had almost completely ignored each other in the year-and-a-half since. Fluttershy had never spoken to anypony about that day, and from the fact that her mother had never confronted her about it (and was happily trading cubicle gossip with Golden’s father), it could be assumed that Golden hadn’t either.
In the little filly’s room at East Cloudsdale Elementary, Fluttershy was washing her hooves, getting ready for lunch, when the door opened to admit another filly, Golden Feather.
“Oh, hello Golden. How was spring break?” Not that they were friends, per se, but Fluttershy liked to be polite when possible. And not awkward. She tried to avoid awkward whenever possible.
The other girl stiffened slightly, then slid into a scowl. “Hey Fluttershy, how about you mind your own bees-wax? It’s rude to butt in.”
“Oh, umm…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“Didn’t mean to what? Snivel like a baby?” Golden was clearly looking for any leverage to empower herself.
And Fluttershy saw it all. Her defensive stance, the sudden shift from the friendly (if slightly aloof) attitude she usually held, the mad scrabble for control over the present situation, and a hundred other things Fluttershy knew, but couldn’t put words to. She saw, and somehow knew what it meant. That Golden’s parents had fought almost all break, fought over her, and that they were now looking at separating. But she couldn’t hold that against her, would never use it.
But over the next week, Golden took her unwillingness to fight back as an excuse to ramp up her attacks, until one morning she had backed Fluttershy into a corner in the same bathroom where it had began. She pushed and prodded, both physically and verbally, until Fluttershy had lost her temper, and unleashed a monster.
The minutes that followed were still a red haze, but she did remember that the tables had turned so quickly, and so hard, that they’d flipped onto Golden, then shattered and staked her to the far wall of that tiny restroom. Golden had fled crying wordlessly, and the guilt had kept Fluttershy home from school for three days, a sobbing wreck. But she’d never told anyone what had happened, and she’d returned eventually, to endure the hatred she knew she deserved
“Truce?” Golden’s voice interrupted.
“Huh?” Fluttershy replied intelligently.
“I said, ‘truce?’. Like, you stay away from me, I stay away from you, and we pretend like nothing ever happened?”
Now Fluttershy was confused. “I thought that’s what we were doing?”
The other filly narrowed her scowl. “That was in a big school, and we haven’t been in the same class since then. This is kind of a small camp, so avoiding you will be way harder.”
Again, just as before, Fluttershy saw it all. It was a curse, she’d long since decided. Golden was afraid of her, probably thought she was psychic, and was terrified that she’d do it all again.
Instead of bringing it all up again, trying to apologize, she decided that if Golden was willing to make any kind of peace, she could, and would, do the same. “Deal.” The fillies shook hooves and returned to where the grownups were still chatting.
Golden was the first to interrupt them. “Daddy, I think I see Flitter and Blossomforth over there, I’m gonna go say hi!” She then quickly bounded away, eager to enact her plans of avoiding her she-hulk classmate. Her father bid both mare and filly goodbye, and followed.
Perhaps this camp won’t be all bad after all. Fluttershy thought to herself.