50w, 3dTwilight's Library
Just kill me now, Celestia, thought Fluttershy, miserably hiding in her cabin. She knew that she was supposed to be at her flight lesson, but none of the counselors were in the cabin, so she figured it was fair game. Besides, the flight lessons weren’t going to help her fly. She’d already discovered that she might as well be an earth pony with big, ugly wings sticking out of her back.
She punched her pillow with her hoof, and immediately felt bad. It wasn’t like the pillow had done anything to her. Truthfully, the one she really wanted to punch was Gilda. Hoops would be fine, too, but Gilda was the one who invented a second horrible nickname for her. Besides, she was always hogging Rainbow Dash, squashing the small chance there was of Rainbow Dash talking to Fluttershy.
She really won’t want to talk to me after tomorrow, thought Fluttershy, her stomach flipping. She tried to push the thought out of her mind.
Mr. Cloudy, the flight instructor, had announced yesterday that they would be putting their skills to the test in a couple days. They would stand on some high clouds and try to fly through hoops—in front of everypony. Fluttershy was certain that Mr. Cloudy was just doing this so he could laugh while Fluttershy fell to her doom. Her doom wouldn’t be the impact of the fall—falling onto the clouds was like falling in a big pile of cotton candy. No, her doom would be when everypony crowded around her and laughed until they couldn’t breathe, pointing at her and calling her Klutzershy.
The thought of that made her ill. That was it; she had to get some fresh air. She stumbled out of the cabin and took deep gulps of fresh air. In the distance, she could see the other ponies flying through hoops and joking with each other. A lump formed in Fluttershy’s throat. How were they able to talk so easily? Didn’t they know that the pony that they were talking to would soon turn on them, soon call them names, soon . . .
Fluttershy instinctively raised a hoof to feel her bruise. It was almost healed, but if she pressed on it, she could still remember exactly how it felt when her mother’s hoof drove into her face.
She swallowed hard and bit her lip, pushing all thoughts of her mother out of her head. Instead, she focused on the hoops in the distance. There was a small rainbow blur zooming through them. Instead of stopping at the flag, like others had, the blur kept on going further. Fluttershy squinted. It looked as thought it was coming closer to—
WHAM! Fluttershy was knocked back by the force. Dazed, she simply lay on the clouds instead of getting up. Sitting up was too much effort for her shaky, dizzy head. The pony who had crashed into her didn’t seem to have that problem.
“Aah! I’m so so sorry! Are you all right?” cried a filly. Her voice cracked on the last word, which only added to Fluttershy’s headache. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I only meant to go really fast and really far, so everypony would think I was super-cool. I was planning to do this awesome flip, but it didn’t really work out. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be in our class right now? What’s your name again?”
Fluttershy opened her eyes and picked herself up. For a moment, all she saw was a rainbow. Then, as her brain grew less fuzzy, she realized that the rainbow was a mane, and the mane was attached to a blue filly, and the blue filly was Rainbow Dash. Fluttershy gasped and backed away, hiding behind her pale pink mane.
“Hey, are you all right? Did you hear me?” asked Rainbow Dash. Any moment now, Rainbow Dash was going to recognize her as the idiot who tripped. Rainbow Dash was going to remember, Oh, this is Klutzershy.
Recognition dawned on the cyan filly’s face. “Hey,” she said, “aren’t you—”
Before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence, Fluttershy bolted away. She wasn’t sure where she was going, but she knew it had to be somewhere where she could be alone, somewhere where nopony would know who she was.
Ahead of Fluttershy, fillies and foals giggled nervously and joked about how they were going to fall midway through their journey through the hoops. They could joke, because they knew that they wouldn’t really fall. Even if they did fall, it wouldn’t be a big deal—at least they would have flown for a little while.
Even though she had missed yesterday’s class, Mr. Cloudy was insisting that she had to fly through the obstacle course like everypony else. “Nothing short of a serious illness will stop you from doing this obstacle course,” he declared to the entire class. “I don’t want no faking, either. You came to this camp to learn how to fly, not to learn how to sit around on your rump.” When his students giggled, he had barked, “This is serious, my little ponies!” He glared at Fluttershy as if it was her fault.
Now, Fluttershy thought that she might throw up. Did that count as a serious illness? Maybe if she threw up enough, the teachers would get so disgusted that they would just send her home. It was a long shot, but it was possible. She tried to encourage the butterflies in her stomach to get worse, but she was shaking so hard that she could barely think straight. The line in front of her was getting shorter and shorter. She risked a peek behind her. Great, just great—Rainbow Dash was standing directly behind her, and Gilda was behind Rainbow Dash.
“Fluttershy!” said Mr. Cloudy impatiently. “It’s your turn. I’ve called your name twice already.” Fluttershy stood frozen, her eyes wide with dread. “Get your flank up here!” he snapped.
Humiliated, she unfroze and stumbled up, peering over the edge. She swallowed hard. The students were waiting there at the bottom, staring up at her. Her breaths came out unevenly. No. She was going to fly. But when she tried to move, she felt like she was frozen.
Fluttershy had sensed that Mr. Cloudy was getting irritated, but she never expected him to do what he did next: Push her off. She screamed and flailed her arms and legs around, but it was no use. And just when she thought that things couldn’t get any worse, her wings stopped working. Just . . . stopped, and glued themselves to her sides. She hovered in midair for a second before dropping like a stone onto the clouds.
Dust from the clouds surrounded her for a moment, shielding her view. When it cleared, there was silence as ponies gathered around her. Then she heard a few voices begin to chant.
“Fluttershy, Fluttershy, Fluttershy can hardly fly!” More and more pegasi began chanting, until it seemed like devils were screaming at her. For every hoof that was pointed at her, a spear drove into Fluttershy’s heart. She squeezed her eyes closed and clamped her hooves over her ears. She knew that she looked like a baby, but she didn’t care.
Fluttershy felt a hoof tugging at her. Surprised, her hooves dropped from her ears and her eyes opened. “Come on,” said a voice. She looked up and saw Rainbow Dash. “Come on,” repeated Rainbow Dash, urgency in her voice. Fluttershy stumbled up and allowed Rainbow Dash to lead her away from the voices. Rainbow Dash was much faster than Fluttershy, so the yellow filly was dragged most of the way. When they could no longer hear the voices, Rainbow Dash let go of Fluttershy’s hoof.
“Are you all right?” she asked Fluttershy, her rough voice filled with concern.
Fluttershy opened her mouth—and promptly burst into tears. Rainbow Dash looked startled. Apparently, she hadn’t counted on any crying. As Fluttershy wept violently, Rainbow Dash struggled to come up with something soothing to say.
“It’s okay,” she said uncomfortably. “They’re idiots. Don’t worry about them.” Fluttershy only cried harder. Rainbow sighed. “I am so sick of them picking on everypony.”
Fluttershy shook her head. “They don’t pick on everypony,” she choked.
“They do pick on other ponies,” said Rainbow Dash firmly before sighing. “They just pick on you the most.”
“Why?” asked Fluttershy. It was the question that had been nagging at her the most since she had arrived at this camp. Out of all the ponies, why her? She had to be at least a year older than Hoops and his followers.
Rainbow Dash shifted uncomfortably. “Well, you kinda—” They heard a pony’s voice in the distance. Fluttershy groaned miserably. It was Mr. Cloudy, shouting something about how this camp was not a joke and how they had to start taking life seriously.
Rainbow Dash winced. “He’s probably mad at me. I didn’t even take my turn before flying down. I just got really angry at everypony, and sometimes when I get angry, I just forget about everything around me and don’t think about what I’m doing.”
“Do you want to go?” asked Fluttershy. “He’ll probably be less angry if you come out now.”
“Nah, said Rainbow Dash. “I’d never leave a friend hanging. We can face him together.”
Fluttershy beamed and almost skipped towards Mr. Cloudy with Rainbow Dash. Though the chant of “Fluttershy, Fluttershy, Fluttershy can hardly fly” was still echoing in her mind, another word was echoing louder—a word that Rainbow Dash had just spoken.