Bon Bon was only halfway through her vacation in Canterlot when she received the letter. It was the most troubling letter she had ever received. It was short in nature, yet revealed very clearly that her roommate and best friend, Lyra, had gone completely insane.
She had received it one morning as she was leaving her hotel in an attempt to find more sweet shops in the city. Before she could leave, a bellhop stopped her.
“Miss! Miss, Bon Bon? Are you Bon Bon?”
Bon Bon turned and greeted him. “Yes, how can I help you?”
“We received an urgent telegram for you. I was given explicit instructions to make sure it got in your hands, and not to read it myself.” He handed her the envelope from his pack with his mouth. She took it with her mouth, wondering, as she always did in this situation, if there was a less awkward way for earth ponies to hand things to one another.
“Whatever it is, it sure must be important!” The bellhop said, and nodded to her politely as he ran off, clearly very busy.
Bon Bon attempted to look down at the envelope with it still in her mouth. Finding this impossible, she looked around the hotel lobby until she spotted a table. She walked over to it, placed the letter upon it, and read the address, written in red ink:
THE GRAND HOTEL AT CANTERLOT
POSSIBLY VERY SECRET
This in itself was rather curious, but no cause for alarm. There was no return address, but there were very few ponies who would send her a letter in such a strange fashion. She already suspected Lyra.
Now, the tricky part. Bon Bon really had no idea how other earth ponies opened letters. The mouth was dexterous enough, but did other ponies simply chew it open? That seemed barbaric. Still, how could you possibly open a letter using only your hooves? Bon Bon could not think of a way. She always wanted to ask someone how they opened letters, but she was afraid that they would laugh at her for not knowing the obvious way. She was determined, one day, to figure it out on her own. She always tried to watch other ponies open their mail, but they seemed to always do it in the privacy of their own home.
She looked around the room, and seeing that no one was looking, placed the letter on the floor. Putting one hoof over it, she tore at it with her mouth until the letter underneath was revealed. She pulled this out and put it on the table. She would worry about the scraps later.
She had to read the message a few times before she even began to understand what Lyra meant.
ISN’T IT STRANGE HOW HARD IT IS TO OPEN LETTERS WITHOUT MAGIC? THE SECRET IS IN THE TEACUPS. I HAVE MADE DISCOVERIES, RETURN HOME. TELL NO ONE.
P.S. VERY SECRET SEEMED TOO SUSPICIOUS, SO I ADDED POSSIBLY TO ENVELOPE.
After reading the message a few times, it became clear to Bon Bon that Lyra, always a bit odd to begin with, had finally gone off the deep end. Though it pained her to do so, she would have to return home from her vacation to see if her friend was alright.
She was about to bend over to get the scraps off the floor when the Bellhop returned with a broom.
“Nnn, nnn, hh ggtt itt,” he said, holding the broom in his teeth. She had no idea what he said, but he began sweeping. He had to tilt his head at an incredibly uncomfortable angle to do so, but he seemed used to it. He then had to drag the dustpan over with his hooves, and doing so was an incredibly awkward process.
Everything was just a little awkward for Bon Bon, as always.
“Lyra? Lyra, are you home?”
Bon Bon walked around their den. Nothing seemed to have changed. The couch, the bookshelves, their small kitchen, all of it was unchanged since Bon Bon had left.
Lyra’s voice was panicked. “I’m upstairs! Come, quick!!”
“Lyra, are you alright?” Bon Bon was genuinely worried about Lyra, but now suddenly she was worried about her own safety.
“Come up here, come quick!”
Lyra walked up the stairs, walked up to Lyra’s door, and opened it gently. Nothing could prepare her for what she saw.
Inside was a complete mess. New drawings, pictures and photographs covered every corner of her walls. Newspapers and magazines were stacked everywhere. Books, from history books to cookbooks, were spilled in every corner of the room. Random objects were thrown everywhere.
But by far the most disturbing thing was in her small room had to be at least two hundred teacups. All completely different shapes and sizes.
“Lyra... what in Equestria...”
“Come in, Bon Bon, lock the door!”
“I don’t know if I...”
Convinced by Lyra’s sudden forcefulness, Bon Bon entered the room and locked the door behind her, wondering why she had done so immediately after.
“Awesome. So, how was your vacation?” asked Lyra casually.
Bon Bon looked shocked. “My...”
“Your vacation? To Canterlot, how was it.”
Bon Bon could not believe that Lyra was attempting to make casual conversation in the middle of hundreds of teacups.
“It was... fine... Lyra, your letter... the one you sent me...”
“Yeah! I’m glad it got to you.”
“Yes, but... what in Equestria were you talking about?”
Lyra became very quiet. “Well... I tried opening a letter without using magic the other day. How do you earth ponies do it?”
Bon Bon became very nervous. This was the question she dreaded anyone would ask her. She often fantasized about knowing the answer and being able to tell other ponies just how to open letters, and showing them how she was very smart and not at all an idiot. But she didn’t know the answer, yet. So she stalled, and thought about the answer she had wondered for her entire life. “I... I just... how do you open letters?”
“Magic, mostly. What do you use? Your teeth?”
“Yeah, but how?”
“Lyra, don’t be ridiculous, you just open it.”
“Show me,” ordered Lyra. “Show me how.”
“I don’t have an envelope!
“I do.” Lyra pulled out a sealed envelope, which magically floated over to Bon Bon.
This was Bon Bon’s worst nightmare. “Why do you have a envelope?”
“For you to show me how to open it.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Don’t want to open the envelope?”
“Because this is probably some prank. There’s probably something in the envelope.”
“No, I think you have no idea how to open an envelope.”
Bon Bon froze. “No!”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure you don’t.”
“No, I do!”
“You know how!”
“No I don’t.”
“Well, it’s not my fault that you’re so dumb for not knowing how to do something that clearly every other pony around you knows how to do!” Bon Bon had lost control for a moment.
Lyra’s smile was sly. “But do they?”
“Do who? ...do who what?”
“Do other ponies know how to open letters?”
“Of course they do.” Bon Bon worried that sounded like admission. “As do I. We all do. All the ponies. But not you, I guess.”
This is what Bon Bon didn’t understand: she was almost positive that Lyra was the crazy one in their relationship. However, every time they began to argue, Bon Bon always sounded much crazier than Lyra. This made Bon Bon worry she was crazy, but was confident that crazy ponies didn’t think they were crazy, and so comfortably concluded that she was not crazy, and that Lyra certainly was. Unfortunately crazy people often thought that everyone around them was crazy, which made Bon Bon nervous that she was, indeed, crazy again. This confirmed to her that she was not crazy, and that Lyra was. Which, of course, is crazy pony logic.
Luckily Lyra interrupted Bon Bon’s circular thoughts with something crazy.
“I’ve asked a dozen earth ponies how they open letters, and none of them give me a straight answer. They all start deflecting, like you are doing right now. And that’s the thing... not only is everyone avoiding the question, but I can’t think of any logical way to do it myself. So I think that nopony really knows how.”
Lyra became even more intense. “Is it though? I’m not so sure. This led me to think about: writing. That seems weird, too, right? Like, with a quill.”
Bon Bon was relieved to get off the subject of letters. “Yeah?”
“You have to write with your mouth, right? But a quill is totally impractical for doing so.”
“I guess, but it works.”
“Yeah, but don’t you think something could work better? Something easier to hold steady in your mouth? Something stiffer than... a feather? Why has nobody invented something easier to work with?”
“I don’t know, it seems like a good thing to–”
“Or how about a horse drawn carriage, isn’t that weird?”
“Well some Ponies need their items carried...”
“Or how about a park bench.”
Bon Bon narrowed her eyes. “Is this related to the way you sit on them?”
“Yes, though I never had any idea it was related till now. I sit on the bench that way because it seems like they are designed to be sat in that way. Don’t you see?”
“Neither did I, until: I passed a teacup in the square. A teacup is the strangest object of all. Because what in Equestria is that thing attached to them?”
Bon Bon looked to where Lyra was gesturing. “The... the handle?”
“Exactly. What is that?”
“It’s a handle, Lyra. It’s just the handle of a teacup.”
“Yeah, but what is it for?”
Lyra paused. “I...”
“A handle, by definition, is there to help you hold whatever it’s attached to. But how on earth would you hold on to that?!”
“It’s just decorative!”
“No, it’s not! All teacups have them, and everypony in the world knows to call it a handle! But why? Why in Equestria is it called that?”
“I don’t know!”
“It seems like it’s been designed for some other type of creature... some creature with nimble hands. In fact, everything seems that way!”
“Door knobs and books and forks and knives and shovels and brooms and lamps and sinks and cups... everything seems close to how it should be, close to be designed for ponies, but doesn’t everything just seem a little awkward? Like it was designed for some other creature, some other culture, and someone is making us use them, somehow?”
“It all became clear to me when I saw the teacups.” Lyra gestured to the hundreds of teacups around her.
“Lyra, this is crazy. You sound crazy!”
“No, I sound normal! Everypony else is crazy for not noticing this.”
“That’s exactly what a crazy pony would say!”
Lyra continued on, unheeded. “And what about... those six? Those six ponies?”
Bon Bon knew exactly who she meant. “What about them?”
“Don’t you think it’s weird, how much stuff happens to them? Every corner they turn, they seem to run into some mystery or save the world again. How does that happen to them, all the time?”
“What does... this have to do with the teacups?”
Bon Bon hesitated. “I guess they’re often in the news–”
“A suspicious amount, don’t you think?”
“They’re the elements of harmony!” Bon Bon wasn’t sure about this one. They were the elements? They carried the elements? It was never made clear to her.
“So what? Every week some new adventure seems to wait for them.”
“You think they cause all the problems they solve?”
Lyra looked at her like she was an idiot. “What? No, of course not. You can talk to them for five minutes and know that they would never be able to pull of deception like that.”
“Then what are you saying?”
“That someone is causing all the problems they solve.”
“Who would do that?”
“Who, indeed? And that’s when it hit me. Let’s say you were a storyteller. And if you wanted to tell a story about... say, some squirrels. And you wanted to make the squirrel as smart as you are, and make a whole world filled with squirrels... would you make totally new items for the squirrels to use, or would you just add the items from your own world? Make it more relatable?”
“I don’t, I don’t really–”
“The... the same as my world, I guess?”
“Exactly right. You’d add in teacups, wouldn’t you?”
For a few moments, there was silence, because Bon Bon was finally beginning to see where Lyra was going. Bon Bon was starting to see Lyra’s logic. “You think... you think we’re in a story?”
“Well, I think those six are in a story. I think we’re just background characters.”
Bon Bon shook her head. “I think... I think you’ve lost it, Lyra.”
Lyra seemed not to hear this. “And have you ever read those letters they send to Princess Celestia? Those letters are... really stupid. I mean, the things they send to her about friendship! Tell the truth? Help your friends? These things are really, really obvious.”
“So, I don’t just think we’re in a story. I think we’re in a Children’s story.”
“Lyra, stop it, you’re scaring me.”
“Also, have you noticed how adorable everyone is? From foals, to old mares? How everything is just so freakin cute?”
“Lyra!!” Bon Bon’s tone surprised even her, but she had enough. “Stop it. Stop. You have to know what you’re saying is crazy, right? You have to know. Right?”
Lyra blinked at her. “Come on. It makes complete sense! You're crazy!”
Bon Bon shook her head. "I'm crazy?! No, no no, you are! No! You're wrong, and you need help!" She opened the door and headed downstairs to tell the police to come and help.
Lyra called after her. "You'll see that I'm right! I'll show you! I'll find the teacup makers, I'll find them!" Lyra, unbeknownst to Bon Bon, jumped out the window.
The authorities arrived, having received a report of a deranged pony on the property, only to find Bon Bon in a house, alone, yelling about how she wasn't crazy, her roommate upstairs was.
Bon Bon was found insane.
I relate to Bon Bon, actually.