4w, 1dEQD on FIM
A unicorn mare has given birth, but the foal isn't moving or breathing. Both of the parents are devastated. Quietly, the mother nudges the foal, and it stirs, breathing weakly. It doesn't cry. Relieved and overjoyed, the parents name him Phoenix.
Brownie is lost on the way home from school. A police officer pony helps her cross the street. She likes him. He helps her find her way home. Her parents thank him, and he goes on his way. She never sees him again, but remembers him. She'd like to be like him.
A pegasus couple is moving out of their home in the clouds. They have adopted an earth pony, and she won't be able to live there. They don't mind, though. They'll care for her like they should. They meet the filly. She sees their wings and wishes that she could fly.
A family of unicorns is packing up a wagon. The parents can't afford to live in the house anymore, and they need to find someplace else to work. They pack up some furniture, food, and a few spare belongings. The youngest one, Gold Standard, has a stuffed bear.
Ritardando has a gift. He can learn how to play almost any instrument very quickly, and he has a good ear and strong music-reading skills. He’s not really good at reading things that aren’t music, however. His tastes in music are also undiscerning, and that hurts him at a recital. No matter how much talent or skill he has, a rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is only so impressive.
Raincloud wants her mother to read her a story. A new one, in a book she just found at the library. Her mother is hesitant to read the story, but she insists. It's about a foal that searches and searches for her parents, and then, at the end, comes to a grave. Raincloud cries. She is very upset.
Phoenix loves magic. As a small colt, he learns how to do some simple tricks, and he’s able to impress his friends. His parents encourage him. He feels special.
Ritardando enters into a music contest. His special talent is music. So is everypony else's. His hastily-constructed, under-rehearsed one-pony band show does not impress the judges. The contest is won by a unicorn who can magically produce the sound of a fifty-piece orchestra.
Brownie leads some fund-raiser efforts for her school. She organizes several bake sales, for which she supplies her own goods. She gets awards from the school for her participation and leadership skills.
Kite gets average passing grades. She manages to get by just coasting through her work. She does better in art classes.
Gold Standard watches as her father tries for job after job, but nothing seems to work. Her father’s talent is bowling. That doesn’t really help for getting a job.
Phoenix has very supportive parents. They sign him up for the school for gifted unicorns. Phoenix is excited. He has wild fantasies about how great it will be.
Raincloud doesn’t have a lot of friends. She’s fine that way, though. She likes to be by herself. She likes to be by herself and think. She can’t think as well when ponies are trying to talk to her. It keeps her head clear. It keeps her content.
Ritardando is thrown out of a department store. He doesn’t know that you aren’t supposed to play on the pianos. He’s dumb like that.
Gold Standard doesn’t like being poor. She doesn’t like seeing her parents worried about putting food on the table. They sell the table to try to buy food.
There is a hill behind Kite’s house. Every day, she walks up there to look. She can see for miles. Sometimes there’s a cool breeze. When that happens, she sits and feels it. Sometimes she closes her eyes.
Raincloud often goes to that same hill. Raincloud likes to come to the hill to sit and think. She doesn’t always like sharing it with Kite, because she likes being alone, but they share a common interest. Raincloud has a friend now. If there isn’t one, sometimes Kite asks for a breeze.
Phoenix is eagerly anticipating his admission into school. He can barely contain himself. He’s excited. Happy, even. He smiles a lot.
Ritardando joins a caravan. It’s filled with traveling salesponies and craftsponies. He doesn’t really do a lot. He just does music. In a way, it’s less that he joined the caravan as it is that he coincided with it. Sponges happen.
Brownie keeps a journal. Every recipe she’s ever come across, and many she’s invented herself. She’s good at memorizing them. It’s a hobby. A very intensive hobby.
Kite would like to fly. She sees her foster parents, and they have wings. Why doesn’t she? She asks a few of her pegasus friends to help her, including Raincloud. Raincloud thinks it’s a bad idea. Kite doesn’t really care. That’s how dreams work, sometimes.
Gold Standard feels helpless. It’s another addition to the list of things that she hates – being poor, being uncertain, watching ponies she cares about worrying. She looks at her teddy bear.
Ritardando is walking in the wilderness again. When he comes to the top of the hill, he trips and falls down, tumbling to the bottom. His leg is hurt, and it's painful for him to walk. He sits down under a tree. He calls for help, but nopony answers. The sun comes down, and the night arrives. Ritardando is afraid of the dark.
Phoenix takes his entrance exam. He can’t do it. He fails. He is devastated. His parents try to comfort him, but he can’t hear them. It’s the worst disappointment he’s ever felt in his life. He cries.
Brownie wins a baking contest. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. It’s an emotion that she comes to hold very dear. It’s at this moment that she realizes that baking is more than a hobby – it’s the thing she’s best at. She gets her cutie mark. It’s another feeling of accomplishment.
Other ponies don’t like Raincloud. She’s too sarcastic. She’s fine with that. They leave her alone. Besides, she likes being sarcastic. It’s how her sense of humor works, and it makes her feel clever. Sometimes, other ponies find it funny. At least, she finds herself funny.
Kite does not have Raincloud’s support in her flying experiment. She tries to construct a flying device. Kite was always better at aesthetics than engineering, however. It doesn’t work. She’s okay, but she’s terrified after the ordeal. She doesn’t want to fly anymore.
Phoenix is alone. It’s night. He is at the top of a hill. His disappointment about rejecting is gone. He heard that some purple unicorn filly was accepted as Celestia’s pupil. Now he is angry. That was something that he had fantasized about, and now it’ll never happen. He knows that even if he had passed the exam, he wasn’t that good. He stands up. He tries magic again. He conjures a swirl of magical energy. His cutie mark appears. It doesn’t make him feel better, though.
Raincloud takes up gardening as a hobby. She’s not very good at it. The plants need water. She gets the idea of setting up rainclouds over it, rather than getting a hose or watering can. She drowns the plants.
Ritardando has acquired and either broken or lost a guitar, a mandolin, a trumpet, two flutes, three violins, a cello, fourteen harmonicas, a kazoo, three oboes, and a portable harpsichord.
Kite isn’t outside quite as much. She stays inside and tries her artistic skills some more. Her failure at engineering has motivated her to review geometry. Not that she wants to fly anymore.
Gold Standard tries to use her unicorn magic. She turns her teddy bear into a number of gold coins. She is overjoyed. She rushes to show her parents. Now she can help. Maybe her family won’t be poor anymore.
A bully taunts Brownie. Her cutie mark is a star. That makes her special, she says. Brownie, she says, will never amount to anything but someone who makes snacks. Brownie is angry. She won’t let her be right.
Phoenix’s parents have died. He has inherited a large, and now lonely, house. He buys a pet blackbird. That will be his friend. The bird is the only friend he needs.
Kite takes that applied geometry and makes a kite. She goes to the top of the hill, and with Raincloud’s help, she sets it flying. Kite smiles at her work. It’s beautiful.
Gold Standard turns various odds and ends into money. Not enough to live luxuriously on, but enough to act as start-up capital. She has a shrewd eye for business, and so her family starts a shop. They aren’t poor anymore.
Ritardando doesn’t worry about money. He’s a vagabond, after all. He gets by on the kindness of strangers and whatever luck he can muster. And he’s happy, more or less. He loves to sing, anyway, and he can do that all he wants. As long as somepony else isn’t annoyed.