There’s something about other ponies that just rubs me the wrong way.
I think it started in grade school. Our teacher blew up a balloon, wrote “Self Esteem” on the side, and taped it to the wall. She explained to us that we were all like the balloon. If we didn’t have any self-esteem, we would only be limp and small and sad. Of course she exaggerated a bit to make us understand.
Everypony else seemed really inspired, but it didn’t click very well with me. Watching that balloon on the wall deflate a little bit each day until it withered away… I felt that self-esteem didn’t do much other than make ponies falsely large for a little while. But no one else seemed to notice. Everypony kept going along their short lives, puffed up with their self-esteem, getting smaller and smaller each day.
What I hate the most are those idealistic ponies who think they can change the world. Behind all those grand ideas of a better life, I think they’re just desperate to be remembered. Desperate to keep their withering balloons filled so they can feel important.
But things never change. No matter how hard you fight, it hardly makes a difference.
One pony’s life is just a drop in a bucket.
A lot of ponies think that I’m a real pessimist because I think this way, but it doesn’t really bother me at all.
It’s easier to live life if I don’t have to worry about changing the world. That way, I can just concentrate on what I want, like my photography. I’m good at it. It’s my special talent; the camera on my flank shows as much.
The pictures I take will last a lot longer than I ever will. Not that it matters.
All I ever photograph is nature; something that will be the same until the end of time.
I hate photographing ponies. I hate those who leap into my view and prance around and wave their hooves, desperate to be captured on film so they’ll be remembered.
There’s no way I’ll ever capture such worthless things on film. When ponies die, they’re gone, and that’s fine with me.
This town isn’t very large, but there are so many places hidden away that I always find something new whenever I explore. That’s one of the things I like about Ponyville.
Today, it’s this place: a small park tucked away between a row of trees and an old school building.
There doesn’t seem to be much here worth photographing, but at least there isn’t anypony here.
I aim my camera at a nearby bush to check the lighting. It’s late afternoon, but the sun is still high enough for me to get some decent shots.
What’s that sound?
Something behind the bush is moving. I creep forward, holding my camera in front of me as if it would actually provide a decent shield, should something leap out at me. Considering how much this camera cost, I’d probably be better off if I just took the hit.
It’s a mare. Pink, with the poofiest mane I’ve ever seen. What is she doing here?
Is she… crying?
I take an uncertain step back. If some mare is using this place as her secret crying spot, I want no part of it.
But the sound of crying sounds more like… cats.
“Oh, hi there!”
The mare looks up at me with a smile, and I realize that she’s patting a small kitten on the head.
Two more kittens are rolling around with each other on the ground beside her. They must be the source of the crying I heard.
“Uh… hey. Sorry to bother you. I’m just gonna… go.”
“You’re not a bother you silly. Stay.”
The kitten that she’s patting yawns lazily and paws at her hoof.
“Oh, here you go kitty.” She says.
She pulls out a cookie and holds it above the kitten’s mouth. It reaches up and bats the cookie with its paw before clamping the cookie firmly between its tiny teeth.
“What are you feeding them?”
“Cookies. I baked them myself this morning.”
“Sure seems like a waste to give that to a bunch of cats.”
“No, it’s worth it.”
“They’re just gonna die anyway, you know. Strays rarely live long on the streets.”
“So why bother feeding them?”
“They’re hungry. Do I need any more reason than that?”
“I guess not. But why cookies?”
“Because they’re the only ones who would eat them…”
Suddenly she gasps loudly,”I had to be home 10 minutes ago!”
She gives the kitten in front of her a fond pat on the head before leaving.
She didn’t even say goodbye to me. I’m not sure whether or not I should be offended, but I guess it doesn’t really matter. The kittens swarm around my legs, and I kneel down to take a few pictures of them.
Ah… but it’s already getting too dark to take any decent pictures. At least, not with this camera. I guess I won’t be taking many pictures today, after all.
I don’t know why I came back here. I keep telling myself it’s just for photography, since I didn’t get any good shots yesterday, but…
I’m pretty sure I’m just lying to myself.
“Ah, you came back.”
“I just wanted to take a couple of pictures.”
“I’ll get out of the way, then.”
I snap a few half-hearted shots, but I keep glancing at her and all the kittens swarming around her.
“What are you feeding them today?”
“Hm… I guess you could call them donuts.”
“Did you make those too?”
“Yup! This morning before work. I had to get up early to make them.”
“Well, the dough needs time to rise properly, you silly.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Oh? Then what?”
“Why work so hard just to make food for a bunch of cats?”
“I told you. It’s because they eat it.”
“I’ve always loved baking. The best thing about it is being able to share with others. There was a point in time when I wanted to own my own bakery.”
“So?” I briefly wondered why she was talking in past tense.
“A few years back, for a party in Canterlot, I baked muffins for the entire group. This would be the first time I’d help the Cakes with their catering.”
“I woke up early so they’d be fresh, and I filled them with the best ingredients I could afford. I wanted them to be something special.”
“Except… nopony liked them. A lot of high-class mares wouldn’t even try them, claiming they had strict diets. I was so happy when some stallions took a couple, but apparently it was just to look busy. Would you believe that they just took one and stood around holding it? I mean, why waste sweets? And why would you need to look busy?”
“I even gave some to the staff, who seemed to appreciate it. But at the end of the day, I found them in the trash.” She ended, now wearing a small frown on her face.
“Well, yeah. Ponies never appreciate things they’re supposed to. Working so hard for them is a waste of time.” I said back.
“After the party, I came here. I wanted to be alone for a bit, thinking I didn’t do a very good job at my first catering, but these
little guys came and cheered me up.”
“I fed them the rest of the muffins, and they ate them without hesitation. Ever since that day, I’ve brought them something every day. As a way of saying thanks.” Her smile grew as she told me that.
“Thanks for what?”
“For being happy when they eat my food.”
“..?” I was simply baffled at her answer. Why?
“What I like more than anything else is seeing others smile when they eat what I bake. I want to cheer ponies up and make the world a better place. I even wrote a song about it!”
“Cheering others up is pointless. They’ll just get depressed again anyway. And then they die.”
“…Do you really think that?”
“I see. That’s awfully nihilistic of you.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to go all philosophy on me.” Why do I feel like she just used a word she’d never use otherwise?
“No. Well, I have to get going. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“My name is Pinkie Pie. And you are?”
“Then I’ll see you tomorrow, Shoot.”
“Don’t count on it.”
She smile fondly at me and leaves. Again, the kittens turn their attention to me, but I don’t bother to take any pictures of them. This place is so boring, and it’s much too dark, anyways.
Even though I didn’t get many shots today, I don’t think I’ll be coming back here.
And yet… somehow…
“You’re only here to take pictures, right?”
“Yeah. The ones I developed yesterday weren’t very good.”
“You develop your photos?”
She sounds genuinely surprised. For some reason, I feel a little victorious. I know I shouldn’t; this always seem to catch others off guard, but regardless, I still feel a bit good about myself right now.
“Digital is too easy. There’s no fun in it anymore. Makes you sloppy, too, since you can afford to make mistakes.”
“I see.” She says with a look of admiration.
“This is for you.” Her smile grew to an almost unrealistic size when she told me that.
She hands me a small plastic bag tied with a ribbon.
“What is it?”
“Cookies. You want some, right?” Pinkie tilts her head when she says it, still wearing a smile on her face.
“What makes you think that?” I ask, wondering why she thought that.
“You came back didn’t you?”
With a sigh, I open the package. I’m greeted with the sweet smell of cinnamon and chocolate. I take a bite of one. It’s actually quite good. For a moment, I wonder why anypony would even think to dislike this mare’s cooking.
But I guess that’s just the nature of ponies.
“I’m sorry.” She says, her smile now replaced by a sad expression. Her mane had gone a bit straight and she seemed a bit darker somehow. Must be the lighting in this place.
“You’re not smiling. It must not be very good.”
“That’s not it. I’m just a bit angry that ponies don’t appreciate your baking.”
“You shouldn’t be. If you think it tastes good, then smile!” Her colors had returned to her usual pink shine and I was sure her mane made a “poof” sound.
“Why are you trying so hard to get me to smile?” I ask. I’m starting to feel a bit irritated by her constant trying.
“You don’t look like a happy pony.”
Her honesty is like an arrow to my heart.
“That’s really none of your business.” I say as I try to avoid her gaze.
“It is if you keep coming here to see me.”
“I didn’t say I was coming here to see you.”
“You didn’t have to, Shootsie.”
“Besides, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just be depressed again tomorrow, anyways.”
“Then I’ll bring you more cookies tomorrow.”
“Do you really want to see me smile that badly?”
“I want to see everypony smile. You don’t remember what I said about the song?”
“Huh. Another impossible dream. This is why I hate ponies so much.”
“You don’t like ponies?”
“Of course not! They always ruin things.”
“How so?” For some reason her smile is still present on her face. Is she playing with me?
“They leap into pictures when I don’t want them to, or obsess over how they look as if it really makes a difference. I can’t stand it! They’re all so annoying.”
“Am I annoying?”
Optimists like Pinkie have always aggravated me, but there’s something about her straightforward honesty that’s actually really refreshing. I just can’t say anything mean to her. I try to find the right words.
“I don’t know.”
She giggles and turns back to the kittens, patting one of them fondly on the head.
“Okie dokie lokie.”
“It’s not that you’re annoying or anything. It’s just…”
I strain my mind, trying to figure out how to explain my feelings. Why do I find it so hard to talk some sense into her?
“I just don’t like ponies who think they can change the world.”
“Because it’s dumb! One pony’s life is just a drop in the bucket, after all!”
“You don’t really believe that.”
“Yes I do! It’s better than believing that I can actually change anything!”
“Then why are you here?”
“Wh-what?” Once more she completely catches me off guard. How does she do this? Why haven’t I just snapped at her yet?
“You want to believe it, but you’re just afraid to. You’re afraid that you can’t make a difference, so you don’t try.”
I can’t actually bring myself to deny her statement. She’s… she’s right.
“Even if my life is just a single drop, every drop of water leaves ripples.”
She leaves before I can respond. I don’t have a response, anyway. Normally, I’d be angry if somepony tried to sell some trite inspirational phrase to me.
But this is different. She’s not trying to sell me anything. It’s really what she believes.
Pinkie is so cheerful and confident, but there’s nothing about her that’s desperate or puffed up. She believes she can change the world with nothing more than cookies and a smile. Honestly… I don’t know if she can or not…
But I do know that she managed to change me.
The sun is setting, and as I raise my camera to photograph it, I can’t help but wonder what she’ll bring me tomorrow. Maybe I should bring something for her.
Maybe I’ll ask if I can take her picture.
This is only the first drop.
This was an idea that came to mind when I has read the novel. It didn't take me more than a few hours of writing, before I sent it off to my editor.
I want to thank a few people for the help I've gotten while making this:
My editor Kiroberos, without him, this would be a mess.
My buddies RaiderRy4n and Gyrofest96 for pre-reading.
And last but not least Hydkore and Mister Fluttershy for their help on the story.