by MyOwnNameWasTaken

Author's Afterward

Greetings, everypony! Thanks for reading my 'fic! This is one of the first pieces of creative writing I've done in my life, and certainly the first I've shared with complete strangers on the 'Net, so your kind comments were very encouraging! I'm sorry for those who seemed to be expecting a much longer tale, but this was a first attempt, and I felt it reached a natural conclusion. This story is, after all, about Rainbow and Fluttershy making, well, Contact. Further developments in their relationship will have to be explored in later stories -- or I suppose I could switch this story's status back to "Incomplete" and keep going from there. Either way, I didn't want to keep waiting indefinitely for something that may not come.

I realise an afterword isn't standard procedure at, but while I've seen authors post their acknowledgements and attributions in their stories' long descriptions, I felt it would interfere with the description's aim of hooking potential readers, and so I've added them as an additional chapter. As long as I publish it immediately after the last chapter to contain actual story, I shouldn't get a "bump" and so abuse the submission system.

This story owes a great debt to CLAVDIVS CEASAR's Ditzy Doo's Dismally Derpy Day, already mentioned in the Author's Notes. Not only did the author dream up an explanation for Derpy's cutie mark so fitting that I simply can't imagine it meaning anything else (and thus, I used it in this 'fic), but the details on hoof structure prompted me to do a little research on my own, which led directly to my imagining that pegasi might need to trim their hooves regularly, creating the hook for this story.

I would like to extend a big thanks to my pre-reader for all the helpful input!

This story is dedicated to Mai, who taught me that tickling isn't always fun and games.

"Is this really Romance?" Alternatively, "Isn't this Dark?"

I hesitated over whether to add the Romance and Dark tags to this story.

I put something quite dark in Rainbow's past, but the story isn't about her abuse, but about that abuse acting as a catalyst to allow her to finally open up to another pony, about many things that might have been weighing on her mind, especially when one considers how much Dashie has grown as a pony since she first crashed into Twilight in "The Mare in the Moon." As such, I felt that the Dark tag didn't reflect the tone, and that the Teen rating and cover picture were sufficient.

Contrariwise, this 'fic can be read as a pure friendship 'fic, but I felt the Romance tag was necessary, because I see Rainbow Dash & Fluttershy's relationship as romantic.

Edit: I have since removed the tag. While I see their relationship in this story as romantic -- my reasons are explained below -- a number of commentators didn't, and ultimately tags serve as tools to guide readers to the stories they want to read. A reader coming here expecting a full-blown FlutterDash romance is going to be disappointed, so I finally decided the tag would be best unchecked, at least until I return and extend the story.

Both pegasi were raised in Cloudsdale, and both left it behind, moving to Ponyville. Fluttershy's reasons for doing so are obvious: she didn't belong in the clouds. Rainbow, on the other hand, clearly loves Cloudsdale: this is obvious even in "Sonic Rainboom," and Discord broke her by trapping her between her loyalty to her friends and her loyalty to her home -- explicitly shown to be Cloudsdale. Further, she aspires to join the Wonderbolts, and she lives for flying. Everything about her, right down to her colour palette -- rainbow on azure -- calls her skywards... and yet she turned her back on that sky to live in Ponyville, a sleepy (well, it was, until Twilight came) little town where she works a two-bit job as a weather pony, a job that clearly neither interests nor challenges her.

The only thing that could have drawn her there was Fluttershy, and yet Fluttershy proved such a draw that she outweighed everything else. This is all the more telling when we realise that Rainbow and Fluttershy can hardly be described as "friends," at least according to C.S. Lewis.

Lewis termed the love between friends philia, and defined it as a powerful bond that comes from sharing mutual interests or activities. Rainbow is ceaselessly trying to do things with Fluttershy, mostly by forcibly dragging her off on escapades, but once even trying something Fluttershy wanted to do (specifically, watching the butterfly migration referenced in "Dragon Quest"). Rainbow is trying hard to develop philia with Fluttershy, but one must wonder why it matters so much to her.

She actively avoided Pinkie Pie, regarding her as a nuisance, until she learned that they were both pranksters. She didn't spend time with Twilight until she discovered the joys of reading, after which she began dropping by the library. She has yet to voluntarily do anything with Rarity that didn't involve the whole group, because they share virtually nothing in common. And yet, while Fluttershy has no more in common with Rainbow than Rarity, Rainbow keeps trying to make friends.

I believe that Rainbow actually craves romantic love, which Lewis called eros, from Fluttershy, probably without realising it. Eros is characterised by a deep, intimate emotional connection to another, or at least, the longing for such a connection. (Note that it need not involve physical attraction.) While this story is only the tentative beginning of a possible romance, my view of their relationship coloured the writing throughout, and thus I felt the Romance tag was necessary.