• Published 15th Oct 2013
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I Wish I Had Met You Yesterday - 8686



A day in the life of the lucky pony who plays Daring Do as she attends a book signing in Ponyville.

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I Wish I Had Met You Yesterday

I Wish I Had Met You Yesterday

Hi there! The name’s Footlight. Just your average mare from Fillydelphia with an affinity for the stage. I grew up in a small house with my mom, dad and little brother, no different to a lot of kids my age. I had a few friends but no-one really close I suppose. I guess I was pretty happy growing up.

But you didn’t come to read about that. It's okay, I know you came to read about her. My day job. She’s more interesting than me anyway.

Alright. Here it is.

I’m Daring Do.

Yeah, I know. Hushed gasps and probably scoffs of ‘Yeah, right!’ But it’s true. If you’ve seen Daring Do at a convention, promotion, book signing or whatever anytime in the last five years, well, that was me.

I know, you've never heard of me. Well, there's a reason for that we'll get to.

I can still remember the competition like it was yesterday. I was such a Daring Do fan then. I had all the posters, the collectible figures, the trading cards, you name it. I knew those early books back to front and I ruined more than one of my dad’s hats dragging it through the mud on my many adventures.

I had already decided that I wanted to act, so when the publishers of the books announced that they were going to cast an official Daring Do I thought it was fate! I begged and pleaded with my parents to take me to Manehatten for the auditions.

There were actually very few requirements. Pegasus and female was pretty much it, and I qualified in both of those regards. The Publishers didn’t really know what they wanted back then, and figured on interviewing as many potentials as they could. I’d had a few minor appearances in local shows so I kinda knew my way around a costume and a script. Even so, there were thousands of applicants, and I didn’t really believe I had a shot until I was put on the final shortlist with four other ponies. Then I got so excited I could almost taste it. You have no idea.

Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurts? Something that seems unattainable but deceptively almost within reach? It’s really hard to describe, but it’s how I felt. I was so close!

I was inconsolable when I didn’t get it.

See, I wasn't the first Daring Do.

Twice Bright was her name. She was a reasonably well-known actor from the big screen at the time and the Publishers figured having her name on board would lead to increased publicity and therefore sales. The concept was new then, and they were doing their best to muddle through and make the most sensible choices they could.

So she got the part, and I cried a lot over the next few weeks as I saw her go on to be Daring Do. Living the life that I had always wanted. Being the hero, going on 'real' adventures for publicity, while I was left with my memories of trekking through the hedgerows in another ruined hat.

It wasn't until a few years later that I learned the ink had barely dried on that first contract before the Publishers realised they’d made a mistake.

See, having someone famous like Twice Bright playing Daring Do didn't work with the vision the Publishers had. They wanted to create the illusion that Daring Do was a real pony with real adventures that folks could meet and talk to to drum up interest and book sales. But as far as Twice Bright was concerned, she was the star. Daring Do was simply another character that she was playing to further her career, and she had a sharp agent who gave the Publishers no quarter when it came to billing and self-promotion.

That doesn’t mean she deserved what happened to her.

Five months after casting and as far as the public was concerned, Twice Bright’s appearances as Daring Do were huge. The Publishers may have been disquieted behind the scenes, but they were getting massive interest in the franchise that they couldn’t argue with. The Daring Do concept was a success.

There was a big stage-show planned in Manehatten. Bright lights, fireworks, the whole nine yards. I went along – I had largely gotten over my disappointment by then. I saw the whole thing. So did hundreds of others.

Part of the show involved re-creating the volcanic temple escape from Sapphire Stone. It went wrong. I can still see the cable snapping, Twice Bright falling, unable to shake the costume bandage from her wing in time. I can still hear the crack her leg made as she landed awkwardly and howled.

She was fine, eventually. But she was to be out of action for at least two months. The Publishers saw their chance and activated a six-month termination by frustration clause in the contract. Twice Bright was furious, and her agent was powerless.

The media storm that followed criticised the Publishers heavily for their handling of the whole affair, and then assumed that the hunt for a new Daring Do would begin again.

But the Publishers must have seen something worth remembering from my auditions because instead they quietly came straight to me.

One thing I will say for them is they don’t make the same mistake twice. They’d learned, and they were upfront about it. They told me they liked me because I was passionate, already had a great knowledge of the literature, and importantly I was unknown with no agent. They offered me my dream job and I couldn’t refuse.

I was so happy. I became Daring Do. It was everything I had ever wanted.

Yeah.

What a difference five years makes.

I’m sat here alone in a private carriage on the Express from Manehatten as a knock at the door announces the arrival of another nameless stallion in a too-expensive suit. He enters with a polite but neutral smile, devoid of all familiarity, carrying a sheaf of paper. My new contract. It's exactly a year to the hour since I signed my last one. I know the Publishers are pedantic about stuff like this, but why they figured it had to actually be done on the train is beyond me.

We exchange a few professional niceties and he places the contract on the small table before me. I skim it while he waits patiently in silence. It’s largely the same as last year’s contract. I notice the health-care plan has improved a bit and there are minor variances to the appearence fee structure, but I don't read the whole thing. If there were any major changes in there, the Publishers would have told me.

That’s another thing I’ll say for them: they're stringent but they play the game with a straight bat. They’ve never tried to screw me over with small print, or attempted to sneak carefully worded hidden clauses in. In fact, there have been occasions in the past when I've messed up; when they’d have been within their legal rights to fire or fine me...and they’ve chosen not to. And then there are times when they act almost overly protective of me. They've had me do some real crazy things in the role, but they've never ever risked my health or safety just for the sake of a cool stunt or a quick profit.

That’s not to say they’ve never screwed me over. But when it happens they’ve always told me why it has to happen.

I can’t blame them. Their job is to bring happiness to a whole lot of Daring Do fans, and they take it seriously. I know that's a real tough ask. Sometimes, it means concessions have to be made.

So, yeah. It's...a strange relationship. Sometimes I can almost think they care about me as a pony. The cynic in me believes they're only nice insofar as I'm valuable. They learned a lot from Twice Bright. They don't make the same mistakes twice.

Gripped in my teeth, I poise my pen over the new contract with a measure of contemplation. This is the one time this year that I'll get to write my own name, and the significance always hits me hard.

One day, I always tell myself, I’ll end all this and go back to living my own life, without the Publishers pulling my strings.

And yet every year, when they put that contract in front of me, I always sign.

I'm Daring Do. I guess I don’t know how to be anything else.

Inexorably, I inscribe my name on the parchment, taking care over every letter. Then it's done.

The suited pony gathers up the contract, treating it as though by signing it I've just turned it into gold. We say professional goodbyes, and he leaves the carriage with notable curtness.

Then I'm alone once more, with nothing to do but wait until the train reaches its destination.

I don’t even know how much Daring Do gets paid. On my instructions, everything I make gets sent to my family and to charity. I’ve never had a need for money – the Publishers pretty much take care of everything. They put me up in nice, lonely hotel rooms, organise my travel to the next gig in solitary train carriages, ensure I get only the finest food at quiet, secluded tables for one. I don’t need to worry about a thing. I suppose a lack of choice in the matter is a small price to pay.

I would never have time to spend money anyway. The schedule is brutal, especially right now with a new book just being released. They’re rolling it out across the country in stages, so that Daring Do can be there in person wherever it’s due on the shelves. Yesterday it was a huge, exhausting affair back in Manehatten. Today it’s a more low-key song and dance routine in the small village of Ponyville. Tomorrow it’s another draining big show in Las Pegasus. But hey, I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it.

Right?

I turn my attention briefly to my own advance copy of the new book. I’m supposed to have read and memorised it by now. Before yesterday, even. I have to absorb every detail of the latest adventure so I can talk about it as if it had actually happened to me. After all, I'm Daring Do.

Don’t tell the Publishers, but I haven’t even opened it.

I'm not lazy as such. I want to read it. Or, actually, I want to want to read it. There was a time when you wouldn’t have been able to separate me from a new Daring Do novel. It’s just...it's been a long while now since reading about her adventures went from being my favourite pastime to a contractual obligation. The different stories have long since blurred into a hazy mess. The thought of making that mess worse makes me feel a bit sick.

Besides I’ve been at this long enough to know how the game works. I know my lines, and since the new book is out in Ponyville today, no-one in the crowd is going to have read it yet. I can get away with not reading it for one more day. Maybe two.

The train pulls into the station and I see from the station clock that I have about ten minutes to get to where I need to be. I step out of my private carriage and off the Express into a town filled with lively, vibrant ponies.

I eagerly take in the sights, smells and sounds of this new place. This is my absolute favourite part of the job. Arriving somewhere, out of character, just as myself. For the next ten minutes I’m just another pony, free to do whatever I want. Nobody knows me. I’m under no obligation to make anyone happy. If I want to wave and smile at somepony it’s because I want to. And if they wave back and wish me a good afternoon, they’re saying it to me, maybe because they like me.

And that’s a wonderful feeling.

A feeling that will last for ten minutes.

The time goes by in a flash as I slowly make my way through what appears to be a peaceful and friendly town. I give several cheerful waves and get several more in response. It’s a shame that Daring Do has never made an appearance here before now, but the whims of the Publisher’s scheduling department are known to nopony.

Too soon, I arrive at the venue for today’s performance; an open space outside the local library. The library itself appears to be inside a hollow tree, which gives me pause. I’ve never seen anything quite like that before and it fills me with a sense of whimsy. I wonder what it's like inside while at the same time accepting that I'll likely never know.

Already a small wooden stage and scaffold has been erected on the green out front, complete with a red curtain as a backdrop. Not far away, Argento’s make-up tent has also made an appearence. I take a quick glance around but nobody is watching. Why would they be? I walk over to the tent and duck inside with a sigh. Ten minutes is up.

Argento greets me with his usual sympathetic smile. He knows that every time he sees me, it's because I have to leave myself behind and become somepony I'm not. I always get the impression that he feels guilty doing his job.

Argento is the stallion responsible for turning me into the Daring Do that the crowd expects and demands. He’s been the official Daring Do make-up artist since Twice Bright's day, and he is a total perfectionist and a nice guy to boot. I trust him completely, which is good considering he’s responsible for covering me head-to-hoof in stage make-up, including the uh, major plot points, so to speak. But he’s never anything but completely professional in every aspect of his work.

Which is a shame, because while he’s a real nice guy, he’s not much of a talker when he’s on the job. Considering that make-up takes about an hour and a half from start to finish, our conversation will usually run to about fifty words. And that includes the ‘Hello’s, the ‘How are you’s and the ‘Thanks, see you tomorrow’s. I think he was on the wrong end of a few bad exchanges back when he worked on Twice Bright, and I worry that he’s afraid of talking to me. That he’s afraid of saying the wrong thing lest he get into trouble with the Publishers and be out of a job forever.

I wouldn’t let that happen. I’d refuse to work with anypony else. I know how lucky I am to have him.

We exchange our usual pleasantries and he gets to work, applying Daring Do’s khaki coat-covering over my own natural cream colour. He works methodically from head to tail, and as ever he takes care to cover my cutie-marks last of all. So that I can be ‘me’ for as long as possible. It’s always been a sweet, considerate gesture and it’s little things like that that are the reason I trust him so much.

My real cutie mark? A pair of gold theatre masks, since you ask.

Once I’m the right colour he moves on to my hair, dyeing my blond mane and tail into the various shades of grey required, then shaping and sculpting until it’s just right. A unique pair of magenta contact lenses make my irises appear the right hue, and then Argento returns to my flanks, recreating Daring Do’s compass cutie mark with total accuracy.

Ninety minutes later and with the addition of a drab shirt and the all-important hat, the illusion is complete.

I bid Argento farewell until Las Pegasus tomorrow and he quietly sets to work clearing down his equipment and packing his supplies.

It's odd. I never spend more than two hours a day with him, and say fewer words to him than to that pony on the train...and he's the closest thing I have to a friend.

I leave the tent, and as soon as I'm outside Footlight ceases to exist.

I’m Daring Do.

Things have changed a little. There’s a sizeable crowd in front of the stage now, maybe fifty ponies strong which isn’t bad for a town this size. As I look toward them I smile a little as I catch sight of some of my regulars. The hardcore fans that follow me around to every convention and appearance they can get to. I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well and their familiar faces are always a bit of comfort. I know if I wasn’t stood in front of them in costume, I’d be stood beside them looking at somepony else.

Of less comfort is the pony in the suit stood to the side of the stage. He’s here for the Publishers, to make sure things go smoothly and that I don’t get out of line. I’ve done enough of these to know the drill, but seeing the suit always sends a chill up me. I’ve never seen this one before. He looks young. Maybe he’s new. Usually small shows like this are a chance for me to have a little fun with the format, engage with the crowd a bit more, but now I’ll have to play it careful until I can get a read on him.

The suit steps onto the stage and gives a quick introduction before announcing Daring Do.

He leaves the stage and I step on, to much applause. I thank the crowd for coming to read about my latest adventure, assuring them that it’s my best yet – it always is – and give them a few pre-rehearsed lines by way of synopsis.

Then a couple of pantomime gasps eschew from the crowd and a young foal somewhere screams “Look out behind you!”

I turn with mock surprise to be confronted by an almost-life-size paper maché marionette of recurring villain Ahuizotl, manipulated magically by some stagehand behind the curtain.

Myself and the fake monster exchange a few scripted lines of dialogue from an early chapter in the new book, adequately setting up the main conflict, before I chase him offstage to more applause and cheering. It’s standard fare so far. I’ve been at this for so long that I’m basically on automatic; Daring Do’s mannerisms and responses coming more naturally than if they were my own. I can sit back behind my own eyes and watch as Daring Do does her thing with the same attitude and pizazz she’s known and loved for. I can't help but wonder why even though we're the same pony Footlight will never be loved like this, while to Daring Do it's effortless.

I reach the end of Daring's monologue-slash-sales pitch, and open up the floor to questions from the audience.

I get a couple of nice easy introductory questions from my regulars to put me in the right mood – easy stuff that Daring Do can either quip or improvise on the fly. I still have to be a little cautious about what I say: accidentally contradicting established facts is a big no-no of course, but similarly if I give any new opinions, well, they have a strange habit of becoming official somewhere down the line. Did you read Cursed Casket and think Daring Do's craving for pistachio ice cream was a little odd? Yeah...my fault. I'm more careful now.

There’s a question about the new book from someone at the back, but I manage to avoid revealing that I have no idea by playing the ‘You’ll have to wait and see’ card with a cheeky wink. One of the crowd asks about a continuity error between the third and fifth books, but it’s one I’ve heard before and Daring already has a response lined up. A young unicorn wants to know if I write the books myself. I tell him of course I do, though in truth I have no idea who the author is. Most folks will tell you it's a mare called A.K. Yearling, but I've known for a while that that's a pseudonym. It doesn't matter anyway. The older ponies know the score – they’re here to willingly suspend their disbelief and ‘meet Daring Do’, but as far as the young ones are concerned, I’m the real deal.

Maintain the illusion.

Then there’s a new question, asked by a fan I don’t recognise. A pale blue pegasus with far too many colours in her mane hovers over the crowd wants to know...in intricate detail...exactly how some minor relic referenced in one paragraph in the second book then found its way to somewhere else in time for some ceremony to happen. Whoa. Okay. Apparently I'm a little rustier than I thought, because I have no idea what she’s talking about. Daring Do tries to quip it away, but the fan looks annoyed – and from the corner of my eye I can see so is the suited pony.

I’m supposed to know this. The fan is not happy. I'm not doing my job. The Publishers will be told.

The insistent questioner, whom I have now dubbed Bad Rainbow Pony, presses harder and Daring Do is struggling for a response. I’m frantically digging through my memory trying to recall what the hay she’s on about, but nothing’s coming up. The pressure takes its toll and Daring Do's personality abandons me completely, leaving me on stage alone in a cheap costume and a naff hat. Desperately I try and cobble together an answer using some half remembered details and a little creative interpretation.

It doesn’t work, and she calls me on it. Big time.

I feel a little grateful that a couple of my loyal regulars give her a dirty look, but I’m trapped on stage with nowhere to go.

Then Bad Rainbow Pony disappears: her tail seized by a magical aura conjured by someone else in the crowd, and dragged downwards back into the throng. I wait with bated breath, expecting her to leap up and continue her interrogation of me, but it doesn’t happen.

No longer caught in the headlights, Daring Do's confidence returns and I regain my composure surprisingly quickly with a self-deprecating comment. The crowd seem relieved. The suit still looks unimpressed.

It’s only fair to grant my saviour the next question if she wants it. She speaks up – a lavender unicorn with bright eyes and a reverent expression. I dub her Bright Eyes. She wants to know about my early life, my family, where I grew up. Phew, that’s easy. I smoothly launch into Daring Do's pre-rehearsed, given-many-times account of her childhood and how she got into adventuring...and then I stop.

She used my name.

Oh no. She wants to know about me! I...I can’t. I’m Daring Do now. I can’t talk about myself.

Can I?

I glance at the suit. For a moment he seems perplexed. Seems he hadn’t anticipated this either. The fan needs to be kept happy, after all. I do my best to plead to him with my eyes.

Let me. Just this once. Let me tell them that there's a real pony under here.

Slowly, very slowly, he shakes his head. He has the grace to look apologetic as he does so.

Maintain the illusion.

I’m Daring Do.

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I tell her that, sorry, I don’t know anyone called Footlight, but as for Daring Do’s early life...and then I’m back on autopilot, listening to Daring Do give her rehearsed speech about her fictional childhood.

Why is Daring Do’s childhood more important than mine?

Bright Eyes looks disappointed, but still thanks me for answering her question.

Sensing that I’ve had enough questions, the suit steps onto the stage and announces that Daring Do will be signing copies of her new book right here in ten minutes.

Ten minutes is a longer break than I’d usually get. Maybe the suit has taken pity on me. I step off the stage and behind the curtain, a horrible feeling of anguish settling over me. I wish I had somepony to talk to.

I’m alone. And I just told the world I don't exist.

Why is Daring Do more important than me?

Maintain the illusion.

I take a deep breath and slowly compose myself. I realise that I’ve only just managed to avoid crying. That’s crazy. Daring Do does not cry.

I’m Daring Do.

I step confidently around the side of the stage. Ten minutes hasn’t passed but I’m eager to get this show on the road. The sooner it starts, the sooner it’ll be over.

A small table is set up adjacent to the stage. I take a seat behind it and invite the crowd to approach with their copies of the book, autograph pads, memorabilia or whatever they happen to have.

Daring Do is back in charge. I make witty conversation with everyone who comes to the table, to the increasing approval of the suit. I take a few moments longer with my regulars when they get to me, even throwing them a few quiet, out-of-character jokes that I can usually get away with. The kids are a delight as always – they seem so pleased to see me that it can’t help but cheer me up. A couple of folks congratulate me on my performance: one of the few times I'm allowed to let the façade slip for just a moment as I say thank you. The Publishers know it would be impolite to pretend I don’t know what they’re talking about.

Then come the last two ponies. Bad Rainbow Pony and Bright Eyes stepping up side by side, one copy of the book between them. I should be annoyed at Bad Rainbow Pony for making me look bad on stage, but truth be told I deserved to be caught out eventually, and it's an established fact that Daring Do isn't a spiteful pony. I make nice with her, Daring Do offering her usual cocky banter while at the same time apologising for not being able to answer her question properly. I try to contextualise it by saying that it's been a while since I've read that particular journal of my adventures and I make her a promise that I'll send her an answer when I can. It's not seamless, but she seems happy enough now that she's talking to Daring face to face. In fact, she seems a little apologetic herself, even. She tells me not to worry, that it was just a detail that had always bugged her and she'd hoped to get an answer from the horse's mouth as it were. She's still a huge fan. We share a grin.

She puts the book down in front of me and asks me to make it out to Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which pony is which.

I risk a quick glance at the suit, but he's stood a little way off in frantic conversation with another suit who appears to have materialised from nowhere. I look back at Twilight Sparkle and drop the act completely. In my own voice I apologise to her for not being able to answer her question either. I tell her that I wanted to, more than anything. She seems to understand, and smiles kindly. I get the sense that she's genuinely interested in me. I've never had that before.

I try to give her a real answer but before I can, the suit hurries over looking flustered and I'm forced back into character.

The suit interposes himself between me and the fans and begins talking animatedly. Sensing that they're not invited to this conversation, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash awkwardly turn and leave while the suit ignores them completely. I want to call out to Twilight to stay, but I can't. I'm Daring Do. Maintain the illusion.

Las Pegasus is cancelled. Catastrophic logistical difficulties, apparently. In other words, somepony screwed up. The Publishers are gonna be miffed for sure. Daring Do acts all disappointed and annoyed but in truth I'm elated. I won't have to travel to Trottingham for the next show until tomorrow evening. I'll get to spend nearly a day in this neat town just being myself. Maybe I'll get to talk to Twilight Sparkle some more.

I watch as she walks into the library just opposite while the suit drones on at length about organising suitable accommodation for this evening. Then he turns and smartly trots off.

I'm alone again. Sat at the table in a cheap Daring Do costume and a naff hat. A couple of crew emerge from the background to dismantle the stage, but they ignore me.

My eyes come to rest on the still-unsigned book on the table. I realise that Twilight and Rainbow have left it behind, forgetting it in their awkward departure. I should return it. I want to return it. And not just because that's what Daring would do.

Scooping the book up, I trot the few steps over to the whimsical tree. I knock on the wooden door and push it open, walking into the library proper. I look around and realise it looks exactly like what I would expect the inside of a hollow tree to look like. Well, at least I know.

I don't know how to act at the moment. I'm not sure if I'm here as Daring Do...or as me. I want so desperately to be me, but I still look like the explorer.

Maintain the illusion. The Publishers wouldn't be happy if they found out that I wasn't acting like Daring Do while still in costume. But, surely just this once...that would be okay.

I figure I'll let Twilight Sparkle decide whether she wants to talk to Daring Do, or to me. After all, the most important job is keeping the fans happy.

I call Twilight Sparkle's name to the apparently empty room, before announcing that I'm here to return her book. Hoofsteps approach from upstairs, followed quickly by a smiling purple pony.

She warmly bids me hello. She calls me Footlight.

I'm so happy that for a moment all I can do is stand there and smile at her, a tear threatening my eye. I tell her that she and her friend forgot their book at the signing table, and give it to her. She says thank you. I mention that she looks busy and suggest that I should get going. She asks me where I'm headed, offering directions – and I admit that, with tomorrow's show cancelled, I don't have anywhere specific to go right now.

And we start talking.

She really does want to know about me. I've never had anypony take an interest in me before, and she's easy to talk to. I happily tell her everything she wants to know, and I ask about her in return. She gladly tells me all about herself, her friends, and her life in Ponyville. I ask how she knows my name – after the Twice Bright debacle, the Publishers have always been careful about that. She tells me it took her a little detective work, but she thought it was only right to find out who I really was before meeting me. I'm touched.

Inevitably we share our thoughts on Daring Do and I...I realise I can't hold back. I tell her everything: how I've spent the last five years trapped living somepony else's life rather than my own; how I'm at the mercy of the suited ponies day in day out; how my past present and future are essentially the flights of fancy of a reclusive author I've never even met!

I realise too late that I've had a little outburst. Great. The only pony who's ever shown any interest in me now probably thinks I'm a crazy angry diva pony or something. I look at the floor and apologise. I say that I've never told anypony these things before. I didn't think I would get so angry. I expect Twilight to hint that I should probably leave but instead, in a concerned voice, she asks me why I've never talked about any of this to my friends.

I'm forced to admit that I don't have anyone to talk to. After all, everypony wants to be friends with Daring Do, don't they? Nobody wants to be friends with Footlight.

And the look she gives me. Such sympathy in those eyes that I think I'm gonna start bawling all over her floor.

She comes close to me, and tells me in a kind voice that, if I want, I can call her a friend. That if I'd ever care to talk, she'll listen. I ask why she would do that for me. Her only answer is that everypony needs a friend.

Screw it. I'm crying. Right here, right now.

I'm not Daring Do.

There's an unwanted knock at the door, and the suit enters abruptly. Apparently he was told I was in here. The Publishers are cobbling together a new promotion in Canterlot tomorrow morning to make up for the loss of Las Pegasus. I need to leave immediately to catch the train. I have a room booked in the city.

I'm furious. I was going to be myself for a few hours. I've just met someone who likes me and wants to be my friend. And now they want to take all that away!

I almost scream at him. I almost tell him to go and do something unpleasant with himself. I almost yell at the top of my lungs that Daring Do can go to hell, that I don't want to be her anymore, that I just want to have a friend.

Is that too much to ask?

But...I remember that piece of paper with my signature on from only a few hours ago. I breathe deeply, and reluctantly tell myself that I knew what I was getting into when I put my name on that document. Another year living Daring Do's life at the expense of my own. It doesn't matter how much I regret it now, it's done.

At least when the Publishers screw you, they tell you why. I still can't blame them. They have their own job to do keeping a lot of fans happy. I can't be selfish now and take that happiness away just because I want a friend.

Now that the suit is here I'm forced back into character again. I give Twilight a confident smirk and joke that it looks like I've got somewhere to be after all. Twilight looks disappointed, but she knows what's about to happen and gives me a sad nod in reply. Before I go, I notice that I've still not got round to signing her book. I grab a nearby quill in my teeth and scribble a quick, heartfelt dedication inside the front cover.

Reluctantly I leave the library with the suit, bound for Canterlot and another lonely hotel room. I don't know if I'll ever see Twilight Sparkle again. She wanted to be my friend. I wish I could tell her how badly I just want to stay and talk and be friends...

But I can’t. I’m in character.

I’m Daring Do.

To my number one fan, Rainbow Dash – A wizard did it.
– Daring Do

To my friend, Twilight Sparkle – I wish I had met you yesterday.
– Footlight

Author's Note:

Edit - I couldn't leave this alone. Chapter two is now a thing. Also, I'm aware that large parts of this, including the actual premise, are somewhat irreconcilable with the fact that we now know that Daring Do is herself actually real.

Oh well. Never mind, eh?

---

This was just a palette-cleanser between stories. Thought I'd try something different. Turns out that meant a first-person present-tense story with almost no direct speech. I don't know how well it worked.

I loathe unhappy endings. I never thought I'd write one. I don't know if I'll come back to this later with a more optimistic second chapter. Depends on whether you'd want to read it I guess.

Anyway. On to the next one.

Stay safe and have fun.

--The Author

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