“I just know I’m forgetting something, but I can’t quite put my horn on it. I got out the extra bed, made all the dinner arrangements, planned out an itinerary, and made sure to allow adequate flex time in the itinerary for the inevitable craziness that always seems to happen around here, so what else could there be?”
Spike couldn’t resist the urge to roll his eyes. This was hardly the first time Twilight Sparkle had worked herself up into a frenzy, and it probably wouldn’t be the last, but that didn’t mean the baby dragon was at all used to it, especially when the unicorn’s hooves got into that particularly choppy pacing rhythm that was astonishingly effective at producing headaches in the acoustics of Ponyville’s library. “Maybe you haven’t forgotten anything, Twilight. After all, that’s why you made a checklist, right?”
The pony’s pupils suddenly widened with a realization: “Of course! I forgot to double-check the checklist!”
“Um, actually, you’ve already quadruple-checked the checklist.”
“I’ve quadruple-checked to make sure I didn’t forget to do anything on the checklist,” the purple unicorn corrected. “What I haven’t done is double-check to make sure that there was nothing important missing from the checklist in the first place!”
“What is it, Spike?”
“I’m sure your parents will be happy just to spend time with you.”
Twilight sighed. “I know that, Spike. They’re my parents, after all. But this is their first visit to Ponyville, and I want everything to be perfect.” That was true enough; in fact, she had been so focused on making sure that her parents would enjoy their stay that she occasionally had to be reminded that it was her birthday that the trip was meant to commemorate in the first place. Even the fact that some of her friends had agreed to take on a few select responsibilities had failed to calm her down—instead, it just sent her into “supervisor” mode.
“But do you really need to get this frazzled about it?” Spike asked in an attempt to reason his boss/maternal authority figure down to a more manageable level of neurosis.
“Spike, they’re my parents. You know, the reason I even exist in the first place? Regardless of whether or not it’s necessary, I want to get frazzled about it. They are more than worthy of a frazzling.”
“Yeah, but I’m the one who has to deal with your panic attacks,” the dragon muttered.
“Huh? Did you say something?”
“Er, no. Nothing. That is, uh, I mean….” Spike wracked his brain to try and come up with some means of changing the subject. “Why don’t you read a book or something? I mean, your parents won’t be here until tomorrow, right?”
“Hmm… no,” Twilight responded, much to the disappointment of her assistant. “I’ve got a better idea: research!”
Spike perked up noticeably at this proposal. If the habitually bookish unicorn was engrossed in an effort to answer some obscure question, the odds were good that she’d be a lot more tolerable. “Roger that. So which boring magician will you be studying today?”
Twilight chose to ignore the suggestion that her interests were “boring,” and instead offered a different suggestion. “Actually, I think now would be a good time to crack out the list of conundrums.”
“The what now?”
“You know, the list of difficult-to-answer questions I’ve been compiling to give me something to do when I need to keep my mind occupied.”
“Oh, right. That one.” The dragon walked over to a drawer containing assorted scrolls and pieces of loose-leaf paper, all filled with various notes, scribbling, and random ideas. He rummaged around for a minute or two before he found what he was looking for. “Ah, here we go,” he said, unrolling yet another checklist.
“Great. What’ve we got?”
“Come on, Spike, I know I haven’t answered all of them yet.”
“Yeah, I know, but… most of the ones left on here are about Pinkie Pie in some way or another.”
Twilight looked crestfallen. “Oh… I see.” There was something about the pink earth pony that simply refused to get along well with logic and common sense, and Twilight had already had to learn this the hard way before.
“Wait… here’s something. ‘What exactly is rock farming?’” Spike read aloud. He sighed. “Never mind. It’s another Pinkie Pie question.”
The mare held up a hoof. “Hold on a minute, Spike. That one might actually prove fruitful.” After all, she’d never heard of rock farming before Pinkie Pie had revealed how she’d received her cutie mark, but it had sounded quite interesting, if only because the idea of growing inorganic material seemed to be a contradiction in terms. If she could learn the basic principles behind it, the knowledge could, perhaps, be applied to solve other, more vexing problems in the future.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it isn’t just about Pinkie Pie, right? She said her entire family did it, and they’re relatively normal.”
“I dunno, Twilight. Sounds like you’re just going to end up pulling at straws again.”
“Well, I suppose I could go back to worrying about my parents….”
In a flash, Spike was on his feet and headed towards the bookshelves. “Okay, so where’s the geology section?”
Spike sighed. “Nothing. Not one word about rock farming in any of these books.”
“Did you check the indexes?”
“Well, maybe it’s listed under something else. Try ‘petriculture.’ That sounds like something a scholarly source might use.”
“You already suggested that one. I looked. It isn’t there.”
Twilight thoughtfully tapped her hoof against her chin. “Hmm… maybe we’re approaching this wrong way. After all, for all we know, ‘rock farming’ is nothing more than a figure of speech. It might not have anything to do with growing crops in the traditional sense.”
“Great… so how do we figure that out?”
The unicorn shrugged nonchalantly before answering, “I’ll just ask Pinkie Pie.”
“Um… are you sure that’s a good idea? She doesn’t seem to like talking about her past very much.”
“Spike, it’s not like I’m going to ask her about the members of her family—this is something that’s tangentially related at most. Look, why don’t you keep researching here, while I go do some fact-finding?”
This sounded good to the dragon, if only because it meant he’d get a break from Twilight’s obsessive perfectionism (although he didn’t dare actually say this to her—he may have been a baby, but he wasn’t a moron). “Sure thing. See you later!”
As Twilight Sparkle entered the local bakery, she was greeted with Mrs. Cake’s cheerful, matronly voice. “Welcome to Sugarcube Corner! How may I… help… you?” The cheerfulness seemed to drain away from the plump mare’s demeanor as she recognized the customer. “Twilight! Um, it’s nice to see you again. Er, I suppose you’ve got some further specifications for the cake you ordered? I assure you, Mr. Cake and I have followed the frosting recipe you provided to the letter—we made sure to use the slide rule you gave us to scale down the ratios the way you asked, and we went out and got the brand of vanilla extract you requested, and we’ve mixed the food coloring to the precise shade of blue you wanted, and we’ve made sure that the piping is exactly 3 millimeters thick, and…”
“Uh, actually, Mrs. Cake, I’m here to speak with Pinkie Pie. Is she here right now?”
“Pinkie Pie? Oh, right! Of course, you want to speak with Pinkie Pie, since she’s your friend, and all that.” Being a polite sort of pony, Mrs. Cake did everything she could to avoid showing her sense of relief at not having new qualifications added to the order (and at this, she failed spectacularly). “Pinkie! Twilight Sparkle’s here to talk to you!”
Seconds later, the earth pony in question bounded exuberantly out of the kitchen. “Hey, Twilight! What’s up? Need some help with the party?”
“Uh, not yet—but thanks for the offer.” The unicorn had made it clear that she wanted to handle the details of this particular celebration, partly to make sure that her parents would enjoy themselves, and partly because she’d always wanted to try her hoof at planning a party on her own, which was why Pinkie Pie’s involvement had thus far been limited to advice about party supplies. The earth pony still didn’t quite understand why Twilight was so insistent on planning her own birthday party, but since this was obviously important to her, she’d (very reluctantly) let the subject drop.
“Oh? Okay… so what are you doing here?”
“Well, the planning is starting to stress me out a little, so I’m trying to create a diversion for my mind. I, uh, was hoping you could help me answer some questions.”
“That sounds great—Ooh! Ooh! Does this mean you’re going to hook me up to all that cool science-y stuff in your basement again?”
Twilight shook her head. “Not this time, actually. Right now I’m looking into something other than how it is you’re able to do the impossible, but I was hoping you could give me a starting point for my research.”
“Um… okie dokie, I guess.”
“Great. So, what can you tell me about rock farming?” That this blunt approach to the issue was a mistake immediately became apparent when Pinkie Pie went silent and started staring at the floor. “Oh, I’m sorry, Pinkie. I forgot how sensitive you are about that. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
“It… it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just… I don’t actually know that much about it. I, um, just followed my parents’ instructions, that’s all. I never really thought about how it actually worked.”
Twilight sighed. “Okay, can you at least tell me whether you were actually farming? Or is ‘rock farming’ just a figure of speech for some sort of mining?”
“Well... uh, I’m pretty sure it was actual farming. I… um, never saw anypony digging things up, and the rocks had to come from somewhere, right?”
Watching the most cheerful pony in Ponyville (and quite possibly all of Equestria) express any emotion other than exuberance was starting to get depressing—and it almost seemed as though her mane was starting to get noticeably less frizzy. “Alright… it’s a start, at least. Sorry for dragging up the past, Pinkie.”
The change of subject alone seemed enough to perk up the earth pony’s mood. “It’s okay—just make sure your party is super-duper!”
Twilight chuckled. “I’ll do my best.”
Despite leaving Sugarcube Corner somewhat nonplussed, Princess Celestia’s faithful protege wasn’t totally discouraged yet. After all, even if Pinkie Pie didn’t know enough about farming to give her any definitive answers, there was somepony else who might. Thus, the purple unicorn trotted confidently through the entrance of Sweet Apple Acres.
“Applejack!” she called out. “Are you here?” Twilight spent several minutes searching before she found the palomino earth pony tending to a group of saplings. “Hey, Applejack!”
The blond-maned pony let out an audible sigh—which seemed to be an attempt to disguise a groan—before looking up at her friend with a somewhat forced smile. “Well, hey there, Twi! What can I do ya for?”
“Well, do you have some time to answer a question or two?”
This time Applejack didn’t even bother suppressing the groan. “Look, Twilight, is this really necessary? Nuthin’s changed in the last twelve hours—we still got all the ingredients we’ll need to make the four-course meal ya asked for, Granny Smith’s modified her recipes to deal with your Mom’s allergies and Pinkie-promised to get plenty of sleep to make sure she’s in top shape tomorrow, and Big Macintosh has been warned not to bring up Manehattan Tech’s trouncin’ of Canterlot U last month when your Dad’s got food in his mouth. Trust me, everything’s gonna be fine. Ya don’t need ta be worryin’ about anything here.”
“Have I really been that neurotic?”
“Do ya really want me ta answer that question?”
“Uh, no. Actually, I have a question about farming—and no, it isn’t related to tomorrow night.”
“Really? Oh, then go right ahead an’ ask.”
“Well, you remember when we were all telling the Crusaders about how we got our cutie marks?”
“Well, ever since I heard Pinkie Pie’s story, I’ve been wondering about rock farming. I mean, if it’s really possible to grow rocks for later harvesting, then the magical ramifications could be huge, not to mention the potential economic—”
Applejack held up a hoof as she interrupted her friend. “Okay, stop right there, Twi.”
Applejack sighed. “Sugarcube, don’t take this the wrong way, but that might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard come outta the mouth of a pony as smart as you.”
“Oh, come on, Applejack.”
“I’m serious, Twi. I know ya explained how earth ponies got their own kinda magic in ’em same as unicorns and pegasi, but you know darn well that it’s way too subtle for the kind of whiz-bang thing you’re talkin’ about.”
“But… there’s nothing subtle about what Pinkie Pie can do. Maybe, just maybe, if her raw talents run in her family, then the ones with a stronger connection to the earth can make the earth do ‘whiz-bang’ stuff like growing rocks.”
“Twilight, just trust me on this one. I just can’t imagine why any earth pony with even an ounce of sense would ever try to farm rocks. An’ you know why? Because we can mine all the ones we’d ever need without havin’ to waste time trying to grow ’em.”
“So... what did Pinkie Pie mean by ‘rock farming’?”
“She probably meant that her family owned a quarry.”
“But who calls a quarry a ‘rock farm’?”
“Pinkie Pie, apparently.”
“Twi, it looks to me like you’re tryin’ ta explain somethin’ that don’t need an explanation. It’s just Pinkie bein’ Pinkie, and it ain’t worth gettin’ all worked up over.”
Later that afternoon, Twilight Sparkle was back at the library, getting all worked up over the subject of rock farming. This in itself wouldn’t have been so bad, were it not for the fact that the library had three patrons at the moment, all of whom were attempting to read various books: Rainbow Dash was working her way through a stack of Daring Do novels, Rarity was looking into ways to increase the market awareness of her brand, and Fluttershy was deeply engrossed in a book about three-toed sloths for some reason.
Of course, all three happened to be very good friends of hers, which is probably why she didn’t seem to have any second thoughts about venting her frustration. “‘Pinkie being Pinkie’? What kind of answer is that?”
“Um, isn’t it the same one you came up with the last time?” Fluttershy proffered.
“No, the last time, the answer I came up with was that I didn’t necessarily have to understand something in order to accept it. You know, pretty much the exact opposite of what Applejack suggested?”
“I don’t see why you’re obsessing over this, darling,” Rarity added. “Applejack’s explanation sounds quite reasonable to me.”
“Give me a break! Pinkie Pie may be a bit out there at times, but she’s not an idiot. Or do you seriously think she doesn’t know the difference between a quarry and a farm?”
Rainbow Dash briefly peered over her book before shrugging. “Well, maybe she was making it up.”
“But why on earth would she do something like that?” Rarity asked.
“I dunno. Why do you try to hide the fact that your family’s from St. Paulomino every time you go to Canterlot?”
This left Rarity predictably flustered. “What… well… I… that is… well, I never!”
“Where’s St. Paulomino?” Fluttershy asked.
“Oh, it’s a ways to the north of here,” Rainbow Dash replied in the accent stereotyped with the region. “Yah, you only have to talk to her parents for about a minute before it’s obvious that’s where they’re from, don’tcha know.”
“First of all, that doesn’t sound anything like a St. Paulomino accent,” Rarity eventually replied. “And secondly, I don’t hide the fact that my parents are from that region—it never comes up.”
“Because the folks in Canterlot aren’t curious, or because you’re steering the conversation away from it?”
“Is this really worth fighting over?” Fluttershy asked weakly.
“Ah, I’m just teasing,” Rainbow Dash said. “Sorry if you thought otherwise, Rarity.”
“That’s… alright. One must be able to make allowances for the personalities of others, after all.”
“In any case, Rainbow Dash does have a point,” Twilight Sparkle reluctantly concluded. “Pinkie Pie doesn’t like talking about her past, and she could have just been trying to end the conversation as soon as possible.” The purple unicorn sighed. “I guess it’s another dead end.”
“Well, at least you didn’t spend the time worrying about your parents,” Fluttershy said.
“Um... actually, that might not matter as much,” Spike said, walking into the room with a recently opened letter. “You’re going to want to read this, Twilight.”
The unicorn levitated the letter out of her dragon’s claws and briefly scanned its contents. “Oh, no!”
“Is something wrong, dearie?” Rarity asked.
“It’s my mother—she’s sick.”
“Oh dear,” Fluttershy said. “Is it serious?”
“No, she should be fine, but her doctor told her to get lots of bed rest, so she can’t come to Ponyville. And that means my father can’t come either, since there’s no way he’d leave Mom alone long enough to come out here.”
“Oh... I’m sorry, Twilight. I know you were anxious to see them.”
“Yeah... although... now that I think about it....”
“Um, Twilight, are you okay?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“I’m fine. Hey, could guys do me a favor and let the others know that the party’s off? Spike and I have to catch a train to Canterlot.”
“You know, for a little while, I actually thought you were here to see your parents. I should have known you’d use it as an excuse to go to the library.”
Twilight groaned at her dragon’s persistent grumpiness. She could hardly blame the guy, since he hadn’t expected to find himself rushing to make an overnight train to Equestria’s capital, but that didn’t mean he had to be rude. “Listen, no matter how curious I was, I wouldn’t have made the effort to come here if I didn’t have a reason to see my parents. But since the Royal Library is on the way, I figured we could take advantage of the fact that it has more resources and perhaps make some headway on the rock farming problem. If there’s an answer, it’s in here.”
Three hours later, Twilight was beginning to feel ever-so-slightly flustered. “What do you mean there’s no answer?!”
This earned her little more than a glare from the unicorn mare sitting behind the reference desk. “Ms. Sparkle, please, this is a library.”
“Sorry. It’s just... how can there not be anything on the subject?”
“More than likely, because the subject doesn’t exist.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense.”
“It makes more sense than growing rocks. Granted, there are ponies who are currently looking into the possibility of creating gemstones in a laboratory setting, but that’s still in experimental stages—they’re nowhere close to commercial applications.”
“Of all the lousy, rotten...”
“Um, Twilight,” Spike interjected, “shouldn’t we be getting to your folks’ place soon?”
The purple unicorn sighed. “You’re right, Spike. And in the meantime,” she added, turning back to the reference librarian, “maybe you could get the contact information for Pinkie Pie’s family. If anypony can make some sense of all this, I’m sure it’s them.” The mare agreed to check the census records while Twilight visited with her parents.
“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I don’t know about this,” Spike said as the pair exited the library. “Do you really think Pinkie will be okay with this?”
“It’s not like we’re talking about her childhood, Spike. I just want to know more about the family business, that’s all.”
As she half expected, the time Twilight Sparkle spent at her parents’ home zipped right by, mostly because she’d always enjoyed the time she spent with them ever since she first moved away to begin her studies. After spending the night catching up with them (and eliciting a promise from them to visit Ponyville as soon as her mother recovered) she packed her birthday gift—a scrapbook of assorted items from when she was a filly that her mother had spent several months compiling—into her saddle bag. She had initially wanted to avoid looking at it until she got back home, but her mother had insisted that she at least start reading it on the way, because “it isn’t right to just let your foalhood memories fade.” Twilight headed off to the train station, with Spike in tow. There was just one stop to make along the way....
“So, can you tell me how to get in touch with the Pie family?”
The reference librarian looked rather ill at ease. “Well, actually, Ms. Sparkle... you can’t.”
“Huh? Why? Is it because they’re the type who don’t like to talk to ponies they’ve never met?”
“No... it’s because... well... there’s no record of them.”
“Please, Ms. Sparkle, your voice.”
“Sorry. But still, what do you mean, ‘there’s no record’?”
“I mean that they don’t appear in any census, tax record, or genealogy available here at the Royal Library. As far as official documents go, there’s no evidence that your friend even has a family.”
“But... what about Pinkie Pie?”
“Well, there’s plenty of proof that she exists, but...”
“...but until about ten years ago, there wasn’t any record of her, either.”
The violet unicorn simply stood silently for nearly a minute before Spike spoke up. “Um, Twilight? Are you okay?”
Another long pause. “I’m fine, Spike. I guess the Pie family somehow fell through the cracks. Come on, we have a train to catch.”
Twilight Sparkle sighed as she stared out the window of the train, watching the scenery roll past. “Well, thus ends another wild goose chase,” she muttered to nopony in particular. Once again, her attempts to delve into the great mysteries of Pinkie Pie had fallen flat. Maybe someday, far in the future, she’d be able to accept the fact that her light-hearted friend was, to some degree, utterly ineffable. At least I had something to think about other than Mom, the unicorn thought to herself. She probably would have just switched from worrying about the party to worrying about her mother’s wellbeing were it not for the quandary that had been brought up—which had been the reason Spike had suggested thinking about it in the first place.
“I guess this goose chase wasn’t all that pointless after all,” Twilight concluded with a smile. Her issues thus resolved, she decided to open the scrapbook her parents had lovingly assembled for her.
What she saw in there nearly caused her to drop the book on the floor.
“Um... are you okay? You haven’t said anything since the train ride.”
Twilight sighed as she walked through Ponyville. “I’m... fine, Spike. I just... need to think things through for a bit, that’s all.” The two moved on in silence until the library came into view.
“Thanks, Spike,” the unicorn said, finally allowing herself to smile as she opened the door. “Right now, I—”
Twilight was stunned to see her five closest friends standing in the main library, which had been decorated to the nines with streamers and balloons in various shades of blue. All five of them were grinning at her, with Pinkie Pie’s being the widest (as usual). “Pinkie Pie... you planned a party for me?”
The earth pony laughed. “No, silly. You planned this party. I just took over to make sure everything got done when you left for Canterlot. See, everything’s been done exactly the way you wanted it!”
It was true: the cake, the food, the decorations, and even the party favors conformed to her original plan perfectly. “Wow, guys... this is... great.” Twilight Sparkle’s mouth turned up into a full-toothed grin of her own. “Well, what are we standing around for? Let’s get started!”
The party itself was fairly low-key; when Pinkie Pie said she had used Twilight’s plan, by Celestia, she’d meant it. This was an evening not of zaniness and physical activity, but of calm laughter and conversation. Not too stuffy, but not too crazy, either, it was the kind of party the introverted mare had always wanted to have ever since she was a filly. Thinking about her foalhood, however, reminded her of the contents of her scrapbook, and she soon grew noticeably quiet.
“Twilight? Is something wrong?”
The unicorn looked up to see Pinkie Pie’s face looking at her with some concern. “Oh, uh, I’m fine, Pinkie. It’s just...”
“Can we talk? Privately, I mean. There’s something I need to get off my back, as it were.”
“Okie dokie lokie! How about your kitchen?”
“Yeah... that’ll do.”
The pair snuck off to the room in question while their friends were otherwise engaged, closing the door behind them. “Okay, we’re here!” Pinkie Pie said. “What did you wanna talk about?”
Here goes nothing, Twilight thought to herself. “Well, you know how I’ve been interested in rock farming recently?”
“Um, yeah,” Pinkie replied hesitantly.
“Well, since I didn’t get anywhere in Ponyville, I stopped by the Royal Library... and they’ve never heard of anything like it. So, I figured I could actually contact your family—just to talk about rock farming, nothing more—and, well, there weren’t any records for them.” Twilight paused to see how Pinkie Pie had reacted, but instead it seemed that she wasn’t reacting at all. The unicorn decided to continue on as she pulled her parents’ gift out of her saddlebag and set in on a table. “I... actually wasn’t going to bring this up, but then I looked at this scrapbook my mother gave me. Take a look.”
Slowly, Pinkie Pie walked over to the table and peered down at the page her friend had opened to. Looking back up at her was a somewhat crude crayon drawing of a white pegasus with a distinctively frizzy blond mane, deep purple eyes, a huge smile, and cutie mark consisting of three purple balloons. She was surrounded by cake, confetti, and other assorted “party” paraphernalia. Pinkie Pie stated the obvious: “She looks kinda like me, doesn’t she?”
Twilight chose not to respond to this directly. “As you can probably guess, when I was a filly, I was even more of an introvert than I am now; I think you could say I was a loner. Most of the time, I was able to get by. I always had my books, my family, and toys like Smarty Pants, but there was still something missing, and it was always obvious whenever there was a party. From my point of view, there were two kinds of parties: the kind I wasn’t invited to, and the kind where I was invited because somepony’s parents made them invite all the foals in their class. Both kinds made me feel utterly miserable, so eventually, I decided to create my own friend—a pony who would throw parties for me no matter what happened. I named her Surprise, and I drew this picture of her. We... I mean, I had a lot of fun with her. When she wasn’t throwing me a party in my room, she would make me laugh by doing all kinds of crazy things that shouldn’t have been possible, but it was okay, because she was imaginary, so the normal rules didn’t apply to her. But... after I got my cutie mark and Princess Celestia accepted me as her protege, I... stopped thinking about her. In fact, it wasn’t until I opened this scrapbook that I remembered who she was. Besides the different colors, and the fact that she had wings, she... she looked just like you, Pinkie Pie. She acted like you. I think her voice even sounded like yours.”
Pinkie Pie didn’t respond, continuing to stare at the picture in the scrapbook.
“Pinkie Pie? How did you really get your cutie mark?”
The pink earth pony still didn’t say anything. Instead, she shut her eyes tightly, as if trying to extinguish a rapidly forming tear.
“Look, Pinkie, I know you don’t like talking about this, and you don’t have to answer my question, but... after all I’ve seen, and all I’ve remembered, I’m finding myself coming to a conclusion that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. I... I don’t want to be right about this, Pinkie Pie, but it seems like the only solution that fits, which is why I’m hoping you can give me that one piece of evidence that I’m missing—something that wraps everything up in a neat, logical package.”
After a long silence, the earth pony looked up at her friend. “I’m sorry, Twilight,” she said in a much more even-keeled tone than the unicorn had ever heard her use before, “but I can’t.”
“You don’t want to talk about it?”
“No, I mean that I can’t give you the missing information you want... because there isn’t any.”
“What?! But, Pinkie... you... you do understand what I’m getting at, right?”
Pinkie Pie didn’t answer, choosing instead to tell her own story. “Before I saw Dashie’s Sonic Rainboom, all my memories were... like a dream. They sort of came and went, but they were never solid, like the normal kind. It was so much fun. There were the parties, sure, but more than that, it was fun because I got to spend all my time with this awesome unicorn filly. She was really, really, really super-duper-ultra smarter-than-smart, but she didn’t have a lot of friends, so she needed to be cheered up a lot. I loved it when I got her to smile.
“But after the Rainboom, everything was different. I mean, not just because I was a pink earth pony instead of a white pegasus, but... it was... real. Oh, and my cutie mark wasn’t purple anymore. Since I don’t really have any memories of not having one, I guess this is as close as I get to a cutie mark story.”
“So, rock farming is...”
“It’s something I made up on the spur of the moment so the Cutie Mark Crusaders wouldn’t think it was strange that I hadn’t told them my story. I thought it would be a good one, with the way it went from not-fun to lots-of-fun. I... I shouldn’t have lied to them.”
“It’s alright, Pinkie... I don’t think anypony was ready for the truth at that time. I mean... I’m not certain I’m ready for it, but here you are telling me. So... have you always known?”
“Well, I found myself just outside of Ponyville when I saw the Rainboom, and when I walked into town, all the ponies thought I had amnesia. The dream-memories didn’t help anypony figure out who I was, so I decided the best thing to do was start over. Since one of the nurses in the hospital called me Pinkie Pie, I decided to use that as my name. The Cakes took me in, and gave me a job to pay for my rent—which I know was way less than normal, since I still had to go to school at the time. Fortunately, I was able to get by in class pretty easily, probably from spending so much time in your head.
“After a few years, things seemed to settle down pretty well. After graduating, the Cakes gave me a full-time job, which was great. There were times when I almost believed I really was just a normal earth pony who had amnesia. Then... you came to Ponyville. When I first saw you, I thought you looked familiar, so I walked over to talk with you, but then you introduced yourself as Twilight Sparkle...”
“...and you freaked out because you realized your memories were true,” the unicorn finished.
“Uh huh. It took me a while to get back to my usual cheerful self—otherwise, you’d have gotten the full-blown Pinkie Pie treatment right there on the spot!” the earth pony concluded with a giggle.
Twilight sighed. “It must have happened during that surge of magical energy during my test. I mean, I turned my parents into potted plants. Causing an imaginary friend to appear in the real world isn’t much more unbelievable.... I’m sorry, Pinkie Pie.”
Pinkie Pie looked confused for a brief moment, but then she broke out in a large, comforting grin. Here was yet another chance to cheer up a friend—familiar territory. “Why? You don’t have anything to be sorry about. It’s not like you tried to get rid of me on purpose.”
“But things must have been so difficult for you.”
“Well, yeah, at first, but I wouldn’t have given it up for anything.”
“Of course! I mean, being your imaginary friend was super fun—if the others knew how amazing the inside of your head was, they’d love it, too—but it’s nothing, and I mean nothing like being your real friend!” Any hint of moroseness was, by now, completely absent from Pinkie Pie’s voice.
“But I forgot about you for years...”
“Well, duh! I wasn’t in your head anymore, so why would you think about me?”
“Still, I didn’t recognize you until earlier today.”
“I don’t look like Surprise anymore. You, on the other hoof, still look like Twilight Sparkle.”
“You really aren’t mad?”
“Nope!” Pinkie chirped.
“Pinkie... I don’t... I...” Twilight was at a complete loss for words, so instead she walked over to her friend and hugged her. “Thanks.”
“No problem, Twilight. Um, if we’re finished, can we get back to the party?”
“Oh, yeah! The others are probably wondering what’s taking us so long.”
“Not really. They’re all listening on the other side of the door.”
“What?!” The unicorn used her magic to open the door as swiftly as she could, causing four ponies and one baby dragon to collapse in a pile in her kitchen. “You guys...”
“Uh, sorry, Twi,” Applejack said as the pile untangled itself. “But we got a might curious about what ya’ll were talkin’ about, and...”
“Well, did Pinkie Pie really just say she was your imaginary friend?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Pretty much,” Pinkie confirmed.
“But... how does that work?” Fluttershy asked.
“You know what? I have no idea,” Twilight Sparkle answered. “And I really don’t care right now. Pinkie Pie’s still Pinkie Pie, regardless of where she came from.”
“You know,” Rarity suddenly mused, “this does technically make you Pinkie Pie’s mother.”
“I guess... wait, what?”
Pinkie’s eyes widened. “Ooh! Does that mean I can call you ‘Mom?’”
“No! I don’t even let Spike call me that.”
The earth pony gasped. “That’s right! You created me the same day you hatched Spike! That means we’re twins!”
Twilight rolled her eyes and groaned. This is going to give me some headaches before everything’s said and done. Still, in the grand scheme of things, that was a small price to pay.
Dear Princess Celestia,
When you first gave me the assignment of learning about “the magic of friendship,” I assumed that you were speaking metaphorically. This has remained the case since then; even within the context of wielding the Elements of Harmony for the defense of Equestria, I’ve thought of friendship as more of a psychological lubricant that allowed our magic to function efficiently, rather than as a source of magic in and of itself. To be honest, this approach has helped me see how friendship can, in many ways, be just as powerful as the spells I learn about in my studies of formal magical theory.
But the recent revelation that Pinkie Pie is, in fact, one of the imaginary friends I had as a filly, given a physical form during the burst of magic that occurred when I received my cutie mark, has led me to the conclusion that there exist circumstances in which friendship is indeed magic in the most literal sense possible. All the things that make Pinkie Pie such a unique pony are a direct result of the attention I gave to her when creating her previous incarnation as Surprise. Even her Pinkie Sense is the direct result this: as a filly, I wanted to have a friend who could calm me down when I started worrying and confidently reassure me that everything would be alright—so I gave Surprise the ability to predict the future. In other words, it’s because of the friendship I forged with her as a filly that Pinkie Pie has all these strange abilities that can only be classified as “magical.”
I still don’t understand how it is that Pinkie Pie’s coat and mane changed color, or why she materialized as an earth pony instead of a pegasus. I would assume it has something to do with my inability to control my magic at the time, but if anything, this experience has reinforced the importance of never assuming anything when it comes to Pinkie Pie.
With all that being said, I currently have no idea how this will change the relationship I have with Pinkie Pie, but I’m confident that with the help of our friends, everything will work out.
Your faithful student,
Luna set down the letter her sister had given her. “You’re right. That was indeed... interesting.”
Celestia raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “That’s your only comment?”
“Well, I’ve only met Pinkie Pie twice, and the first time was under rather unpleasant circumstances, so I’m not quite certain how to react. Had you already realized her true nature?”
“I had my suspicions, but there was no way I could confirm them. Still, I feel I should send some sort of encouragement to Twilight Sparkle.”
“Well, if you do, you could tell her that she did a superb job in creating her friend. From what I do know of Pinkie Pie, she seems like a wonderful pony.”
“Yes, Pinkie Pie did turn out well, didn’t she?” Celestia stated as she absently stared out the window of the palace at the sculpture garden. “Better than our experience, to say the least.”
On hearing this, Luna allowed herself the luxury of a barely noticeable smile. “As usual, your talent for understatement is uncanny, my dear sister.”