As her footfalls pounded against the dirt path, Scootaloo started to wish she’d brought her scooter. She probably would have if she hadn’t been in such a hurry to get to the sleepover. She’d been halfway through packing when Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle had showed up at her house. In her excitement, she’d run out the door without half of her things, and as luck would have it, her scooter had been among the thing forgotten. If she’d able to fly, she would probably be there already, but that was even farther out of her reach than her scooter, so she decided not to think about it.
Presently, she arrived at the intersection of Stirrup Street and Oat Lane. Bearing left, she looked for the easily recognizable Quill and Sofa sign. Passing store after store, she looked at the signs one by one. First was Colgate’s confectionary shop, followed by the foreign flower store. At least, Scootaloo figured it was a foreign flower shop, since – other than a picture of a flower - the sign was covered in a foreign language that she couldn’t understand. Half out of boredom, she tried to sound out the words as she passed. “Magazine D … flea-urz exotics?”
If Scootaloo had paid any more attention at school, she would’ve recognized “magasin de fleurs exotiques” as the rarely-used language known as “fancy”. She also could’ve picked it up from Apple Bloom’s cutie pox incident as well as Rarity’s constant use of it. Ironically, her sudden interest in this particular essay stemmed from the same bad attention span. This Ponyville History essay was her last chance to get her grades up before year’s end, and for once, she’d decided to put some effort into it.
“I really hope this doesn’t take too many more ponies,” she thought aloud. Looking up, she saw she was already at the Quill and Sofa shop. Without hesitation, she opened the door and strolled in. If Scootaloo had been any other filly, she probably would’ve thought it awkward to go into the store, and might even have talked herself out of it. But not Scootaloo; as flightless as she was, she was near replica of her idol where personality was concerned.
Although walking into the store wasn’t awkward, not finding anypony there was. The only things to keep her company were the quills, ink, and sofas, all of which reminded her of a particular incident at Twilight’s library. But rather than dwell on that catastrophe, she asked a question: “Is anypony here?”
Almost immediately, she heard a movement in the room behind the counter, and a moment later, a face appeared. It was so startling that Scootaloo nearly jumped to the ceiling, for instead of a stallion there was an elderly mare. There was no surefire way to guess her age, but from Scootaloo’s best guess, the mare must have been nearly as old as Granny Smith.
Scootaloo’s stunned silence continued for a few more seconds until it was broken by the rasping laughter of the old mare. “Who are you, little filly?”
“I’m, uh, Scootaloo,” she answered, not sure if she should trust the mare or run away.
“Scootaloo? That’s a nice name, yes it is.” Opening the cash register, the mare appeared to busy herself counting the bits within.
Not knowing what to do, Scootaloo called upon a figure she often thought of when she was in a fix
What would Rainbow Dash do?
Of course, Rainbow Dash would continue on her objective, smoothly talking to the mare – as startling as she was – and figure out what was going on. So Scootaloo set about to do just that.
“Excuse me, Ms.”
The mare looked up from the register. “My name’s Ms. Divan, and what is it you want, missy?”
“Oh, okay Ms. Divan, it would be really cool if you could tell me where Davenport is. Somepony told me he owns this place.”
“Oh, yes, that would be my nephew. You see, I’m in town visiting for a few weeks, and Davey said he had something important to attend to and left me in charge of the store for a few hours.”
For a moment, Scootaloo went off topic. “And you don’t have any problem with that?”
The mare scowled at her slightly. “My, it’s no trouble at all, really. Even though I’m just a little older, that doesn’t mean I can’t—“
“Oh, sorry, that’s not what I meant,” said Scootaloo, partially because she didn’t want to offend the mare, but mostly because she didn’t want her to go on an annoying tangent.
“Oh, dreadfully sorry my dear, I’ve always been one to jump to conclusions, so I’m told.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” replied Scootaloo with more than a hint of sarcasm. Fortunately for her, Ms. Divan didn’t seem to pick up on it.
“Well thank you dearie. Now, like I was saying, back in my glory days, I used to run a shop of my own selling sofas back in Hoofington, and ‘though I can’t run a store full-time anymore, I can still take care of this one for a spell. Y’know, I was the one who gave him the idea to sell the sofas in the first place. Before that he was always obsessing over the quills, ‘though I suspect he still likes ‘em better for some reason.”
“That’s great, but I was sort of wondering where he is. I have some questions to ask him for a school project.”
“Do you now? What’s this project about?”
“The history of the Ponyville market.”
“Really? Well of course Davey would know about that. He was around since the thing started. I can remember that clear as day - that’s when he started his first business by himself. I remember it like it was yesterday; that was the first time I visited Ponyville.”
Remembering her experience hearing the cutie mark stories of each of the elements of harmony, Scootaloo knew what was coming. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
“Why, it’s my pleasure. So like I was saying, I was on a walk around the town when I came across a little filly at her market stand…”
Although the previous day had been beautiful, today the sky was overcast. It seemed that nopony noticed this than Divan. As she looked up the sky, she groaned, hoping for a change to the sunlight of the previous day. Of course, she knew that sort of shift was nearly impossible. It was rare that a weather team – even in such a small town as Ponyville – made a mistake that large. A combination of efficient management at Cloudsdale and well-trained bosses in all the towns around Equestria made the kingdom’s weather effort an efficient one, and despite having no interest in weather, Divan knew this because it was common knowledge. Knowing all of these things didn’t make her feel any better. Here she was, on her first vacation in two years, and it looked like there was going to be a torrential downpour in for the next few days.
“I could always give myself more vacation if I wanted too,” she reminded herself. “I am self-employed, after all.” As much as she wanted to believe that, she knew it wasn’t true. Sticking by her store had done her good for the decade she’d owned it, and it had been difficult to even leave it even for a week. She knew her husband was perfectly capable of running the shop, but she always liked being there herself.
Sighing, she turned back in the direction of her nephew’s house. The reason she’d agreed to come to Ponyville was not for pleasure, although she had to admit that the near ghost-town was much more scenic than Hoofington. Her nephew Davenport had decided to open up a business in the run-down town, seeking a new business opportunity rather than endure the constant competition of the Hoofington business world. It seemed a foolhardy attempt to her, but she knew that her nephew had a sharp eye for opportunity for his age. He would make it work somehow.
“Excuse me, miss,” said a voice, interrupting the mare’s thoughts.
Looking up, she saw a filly standing behind what appeared to be a market stand. Divan thought that odd, as most market stands had a whole market around them, while this one was solitary. It intrigued her so much she decided to stop and chat.
“Well, this is interesting; a market stand set up in the middle of nowhere. I take it you’re selling something?”
The filly smiled. “Yes, I am selling – flowers, actually. And I wouldn’t say this is the middle of nowhere, at least not for you.”
“And why wouldn’t it be?” asked Divan, incredulously.
“You live right across the street, don’t you? You came out of Davenport’s house this morning.”
Looking across the street, she realized she was indeed across the street from her nephew’s house. If she’d been a younger mare, she would’ve blushed, but she was long past the age where she cared if anypony else thought she was dumb, ugly, or anything else. So she laughed instead. Within a few seconds, the filly joined in with her, and the two spend a minute chuckling.
“My, I think that’s the first time I’ve smiled since the clouds rolled over. Thank you, filly.”
Unlike the older mare across from her, the filly did blush. “No problem, and it’s Lily, by the way. So, do you want to buy anything?”
Wiping a laughter-induced tear from her eye, Divan surveyed the floral items for sale. She didn’t really need or want any flowers, but seeing the filly making the effort to make a business compelled her. After all, she was part of the next generation of business ponies, and Divan felt the urge to nurture that. Besides, flowers were not in competition with Sofas.
“Why yes, I’d like to buy some. I’ll get a dozen lilies. I’d assume you have those?”
“Yes I do,” said Lily, grinning ear to ear as she grabbed the flowers. “That’s … 24 bits”
“A reasonable price,” said Divan, biting back her urge to barter. This was a filly, after all. Taking the flowers and exchanging them for bits, she turned to Davenport’s house.
“Have a nice day!” Lily shouted after her, waving goodbye.
“You too!” Divan shouted back. Opening the door to the house, she sighed contentedly.
“And thank you for making mine.”
“So that’s my story … I see this has been helpful, has it not?”
Scootaloo, who had been busy writing notes on the story, looked up, pencil still in mouth. “Yeah. I didn’t really read anything when Miss Lily told me about it, and I didn’t really know where the stand was either. It’s cool to know it was right across the street there.”
“Ah, so Lily was the one who sent you to find Davey?”
“That would make sense. She’s the one who organized the whole thing, if what Davey told me is the truth.”
For a moment, Scootaloo was confused. “Wait, what do you mean she organized the whole thing? You said it was only one stand!”
Divan stepped out from behind the counter and started idly inspecting the merchandise. “Oh, you don’t know yet?” she replied.
“Don’t know what?” Scootaloo answered with a question.
“Oh, you’re going to be in for a big surprise, then. I can’t really tell you what happened after that day, since I was gone after that. Davenport did tell me what happened; the whole thing was very important to him, and I’m sure it still is. Without that market, I don’t think he ever would’ve been able to succeed in this little village here … but don’t you go telling him I said that.”
“No problem,” said Scootaloo uneasily. “But let me get this straight, since I know you can’t tell me the whole thing: that one little stand is going to turn into the Ponyville Market.”
“You’ll just have to see,” said the old mare vaguely. “But until then, you’re welcome to stick around, maybe buy something if you feel so compelled?”
Scootaloo could tell the mare was hanging on her answer, so she made it brief. “I’ll just chill here.”
“I’ll just assume that means you’re not buying; this modern day slang really throws me for a loop. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go over my nephew’s records and see if I can get him a bigger profit.”
Scootaloo watched the mare go, first behind the counter then into the room behind it. Looking around, she thought about the mare’s last words. “It’s not like there’s anything worth stealing in here anyway,” she said to herself, giggling. “It’s either too heavy or something I already steal from school.” Leaning up against the wall, her laughter quickly faded into boredom.
“I hope this doesn’t take too long.”