• Published 29th Nov 2013
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The Diamond Cutter - Nova Force



She’s a rich filly. He’s a poor colt. What happens when Diamond Tiara accepts a dare to take Snips to the Sadie Hoofkins Dance?

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The Art Show

Chapter 11: The Art Show

“Big Mac, can you run into my office? My planner should be on my desk,” Cheerilee said.

“Eeyup.” The red stallion gave a quick nod before dashing away.

The backyard of the Ponyville schoolhouse had been transformed. Cheerilee, Big McIntosh, and a hoof-ful of student volunteers worked after school to set up for the art show. They cleared the backyard by moving the picnic tables to the side and covered them with light refreshments. While Big Mac went to retrieve Cheerilee’s planner, she marked the areas where her student artists could showcase their projects. The volunteers placed lanterns around the yard for decoration and to keep the bugs away.

Big McIntosh returned to Cheerilee with her planner. The magenta mare leafed through it until she found the spot where she made her memo. “Miss Photo Finish said she would arrive ‘at zhe sunset’.” Cheerilee looked to the sky and watched as Celestia’s sun slowly sank into the horizon and made way for Luna’s night stars. “I guess that means she’ll be here any minute.”

The students participating in the art show needed to arrive early to prepare their artwork. When school had finished, Diamond Tiara didn’t go home to freshen up; she continued working on her project. Her peers could recognize whenever she was determined to get her way, so no pony interfered. Some of the volunteers outside passed by the art room window and could see her intense focus. They whispered about her not wearing her tiara, but none wanted to ask about it.

As Diamond Tiara worked on her project, Pipsqueak tried to sneak a peek of what she was adding. Unfortunately, he found out the hard way that she would have none of it. Before, she flaunted being the first pony finished in class; now, she acted as if her project was top secret. Pipsqueak scuffled into the backyard looking rattled.

“Hey, Pip, you all right?” Featherweight asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine, but I made the mistake of bothering Diamond Tiara. She looks pretty frantic right now, and I was curious to see what she was doing. All I did was approach her and she snapped ‘get lost’. Another step closer and she probably would’ve flung paint at me.”

Featherweight rolled his eyes. “What a drama queen. She’s probably trying to decorate her tree with jewels.”

Pipsqueak laughed, “Yeah, in her world, money does grow on trees!”

The two colts shared a good laugh as more students began to arrive. The artist ponies went inside the art room to get the easels and brought them outside. Friends and family arrived and congregated around the picnic tables. Among them was Snips, carrying Diamond’s tiara in his saddlebags. He overheard Featherweight and Pipsqueak’s joke, but didn’t laugh. He might have a year ago, but a weird part of him felt protective toward the filly who had dumped him.

Snips scanned the crowd, but could not find her or her project. He hoped that he could leave her tiara by her easel when she wasn’t looking and go home. While he was searching, he bumped into Twist by one of the picnic tables. “Oh, I’m sorry, Twist.”

The frizzy-maned Earth pony adjusted her purple glasses. “That’s okay! I’m just getting some lemonade. Where did you set up your project?”

Snips frowned. “It’s not here. I didn’t get done in time.”

Like the lemon floating in the pitcher on the picnic table, Twist’s face went sour. “Aw, that’s too bad! I liked what I saw of it in class.”

“Yeah, me too.” He wanted to shift the focus from him. “Where’s yours?”

She pointed across the schoolyard. “It’s that one over there, the one Snails is standing by.”

“What?” Snips darted his eyes to her easel and saw that Snails was standing by himself. He expected it to be at least another week before Snails set hoof on the school campus again. “Excuse me, Twist. I’m gonna go talk to him for a sec.”

The pony took a sip of her lemonade. “See ya!”

Snip’s bounced as he zipped through the groups of ponies having conversations. He tried to think of why his best friend would be at the art show, but his mind drew a blank. When he reached him, he cut to the chase. “Snails, what are you doing here? I thought you’d still be spinning on your stool at the Sugarcube Corner.”

Snails did not say anything. Snips could see there was something different about him; his posture was less gangly. He looked… confident. “Are you okay?”

The taller unicorn had a “fear no pony” attitude that would have instilled terror into the heart of Equestria’s most wicked creatures. He spoke in a lower register, only this time it was natural. “I had a nice long chat with Mrs. Cake after you left. I’m here to give Silver Spoon a piece of my mind.”

Snips had never seen Snails with this much concentration before. Whatever Mrs. Cake said had unlocked a hidden strength in him. “What did she say to you? I mean, you were there when she talked to me, and you were acting like a pudding zombie.”

His expression did not break. “Just tell me where Silver Spoon is.”

Since Snips had already scoped the area for Diamond Tiara, he had seen Silver Spoon standing by her own easel waiting to be judged. Snips pointed in her direction. “Uh, she’s over there, but what are you going to do?”

Snails did not answer his best friend. He locked onto his target and moved like a homing missile. His swift movement caught her attention. Snips could see Silver Spoon brace herself as if Snails was going to crash into her. Fortunately for everypony there, Snails stopped without making a scene. “Silver Spoon, I have something to say.”

The gray filly had already begun to feel frightened. “What?”

“I was in love with you for the longest time. In my eyes, you could do no wrong. I thought the ponies who said mean things about you were just jealous. When you agreed to go with me to the Sadie Hoofkins Dance, I felt an indescribable happiness. There you were, the filly I placed above all the rest, asking me to be your date. Do you have any idea how important that was to me?”

Silver Spoon gave no answer. Beads of sweat began to form on the back of her neck.

Snails continued, “As Celestia is my witness, I was going to make darn sure I didn’t mess things up with you, so I did everything that you asked. Everything. But I didn’t mind because I knew it would make you happy. That’s all I ever wanted to do – make you happy. Each morning I would wake up and put my hooves on the floor with that goal in mind. Seeing your smile and hearing your laughter was all that I needed.”

His words were striking a nerve, for her eyes were welling up.

The unicorn paused and took a breath before finishing, “But then you hurt me. You hurt me really bad. The worst part is that I know you didn’t feel an ounce of regret about it. Well, Silver Spoon, I want to thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes, because, now, I see. I see what you are, and do you know what that is? You are afraid. You’re afraid that a pony could love you the way I did.”

Silver Spoon said nothing. Her cheeks now were red and her head was bowed.

Before returning to Snips, Snails gave her his parting words. “I don’t intend to waste another moment on you. Goodbye.”

When the two unicorn colts regrouped, loud music could be heard from the distance. Cheerilee and Big McIntosh looked around the schoolhouse and saw a herd approaching. Being carried on the backs of two ponies on her trademark litter was Photo Finish. Her entourage was larger than normal.

The two litter-carrying ponies knelt down, allowing Photo Finish to step onto the ground. “I, Photo Finish, have arrived to judge zhe art of zhese little ponies. Remember! Zhere can only be one vinner. Zhere vill be no runner-up. Vhere I come from, second place is not good enough. Vhere shall zhe magicks begin?”

“Start with me!” A voice cried. Photo Finish and everypony else turned to see where the voice originated. Diamond Tiara had swung the schoolhouse backdoors wide open. As carefully as she could, she hobbled her easel through the door frame and planted it in the center of the exhibit. “I’m ready to present my project!”

Photo Finish approached the pink filly. “And vhat is zhis zhat you’re so eager to show?”

Diamond Tiara surveyed the crowd. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw that Snips was watching with Snails near the back. Since she was making a splash in front of Photo Finish, everypony wanted to check out what she had. Some of the students wondered if she had gone mad since she was not wearing her tiara. Diamond Tiara took a deep breath and ripped the cloth from her easel.

Photo Finish lifted her sunglasses to get a clear look at the painting. “Oh my. Can you describe for me vhat is happening in zhis piece?”

At first glance, nothing about Diamond Tiara’s painting seemed different from the work she declared finished a few days ago. On the canvas was a tiny hill with trees that had leaves blending into each other and stratus clouds in the sky. However, with a second look, ponies could see two major additions. Painted on the middle of the hill were two ponies: a pink filly with a paintbrush in her mouth and blue unicorn patting her on the back. Both ponies were smiling at each other. Next to them was a rocket ship that looked like a dragon: its wings were the engines and the front door was the mouth.

Diamond Tiara reared onto her hind legs and presented her story. “This is my painting. See the pink filly in the middle? She was sad because she couldn’t find her paintbrush. Her job was to paint clouds to the sky, but she couldn’t. Before she gave up hope, this blue unicorn arrived in this rocket ship with her missing brush. After he gave it to her, she was able to add the clouds, and now they are celebrating the finished sky.”

“How sveet. So many interesting choices.” Photo Finish tilted her head from side to side. “I must go see zhe others! Sank you, my little pony, for showing me your piece.” The famous mare gave a single clap of her hooves and her personal carrier ponies lifted her onto her litter. Her entourage brought her to each of the student projects this way.

While Photo Finish was judging the various artworks, all the other ponies went back to their conversations. Diamond Tiara was left alone with her easel. Although she had revealed her work, she still had something left to say. She left her post and made her way through the crowd to the blue unicorn who inspired the one in her painting. “Hi, Snips.”

He stared at her blankly. “Hey, Diamond.” He then looked to his best friend. “Uh, Snails, can you give us a moment?”

“No problem.” Snails could see that Pipsqueak and Featherweight were laughing with Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo by the picnic tables. He trotted off to join them.

Snips looked past Diamond Tiara to her artwork. He studied it for a moment before bringing his focus back to her. “That rocket ship was from my project…”

The pink filly smiled and blushed. “Yeah, I know. I remember you didn’t finish in time. I hogged the round bristle brush the whole class. Since you put a lot of work in your project, I… you know…” Diamond Tiara looked at her hoof as she traced a circle in the ground, “I felt bad that you couldn’t showcase yours here. So I spent the weekend copying your work onto mine.” She lifted her head to make her eyes meet his. “Those ship panels were hard! I see why you had trouble with them.”

Snips struggled to make sense of what was happening. “Diamond, I don’t understand. Why–”

She cut him off. “Snips, I’m sorry. I was wrong. I was rotten to you, and you didn’t deserve that.” There was a pause to allow the apology to settle.

Diamond Tiara continued. “The truth is that Silver Spoon dared me to ask you to the Sadie Hoofkins. If I didn’t take you, she wouldn’t have invited me to her birthday party. So I asked you, and no part of me wanted to. But that night you were in a dream I had. In it, I was frustrated and lonely until you showed up. It’s almost like a seed was planted because I woke up questioning if I actually like liked you. I had no idea how to handle it.”

Snips remained calm. “If you started to like me, then why did you push me away at the dance?”

“None of this is meant to be an excuse for what I did at the dance. I made a terrible decision. I barely slept that night. I went to Silver Spoon’s party, but I left once I got the idea to combine our paintings.” Diamond Tiara felt like she had more to say but came up empty. “So, that’s what happened.”

She waited for Snips to say something. His expressions were always hard for her to read. She watched as he reached into his saddlebags and pulled out her tiara. “Um, I found this.”

Diamond Tiara’s face brightened. “Oh my goodness! Where was it?”

“I found it on my way to the town square this morning. I figured you might’ve lost it… so, uh, here you go.” Snips’s horn lit up as the tiara floated from his hoof.

This, despite what I did to him… the pink filly thought as her tiara fitted to her head. Once it was snug, the two ponies gazed at each other. Diamond Tiara leapt forward and planted her lips on his. The sudden movement of her body caused her tiara to fall off again. It wobbled on the ground as they kissed. When the two ponies pulled away from each other, Diamond Tiara spoke first. “Thank you, Snips,” her voice then cracked, “I’m so sorry.”

Snips reached down and put her tiara back atop her head. “Apology accepted.”

“Will you stand with me by my project? You can help me explain it to others who want to know about it.”

“Sure! I’d love to!” He smiled with his buck teeth.

For the rest of the evening, ponies passed by Diamond Tiara’s painting. Some stopped and asked about the design and the coloring, but Diamond Tiara’s favorite question was about her source of inspiration. She was always more animated telling the story of the heroic blue unicorn who found the paintbrush that belonged to the pinky filly. Snips enjoyed listening to the ponies who heard the story walk away and make assumptions how the painting was inspired by real-life events.

As the evening wore on, the Canterlot entourage lifted their most prestigious pony into the air on her litter. Photo Finish seized the attention of everypony in the backyard. “I, Photo Finish, have made my decision! I have zeen everythink from rocket ships to drills! Now, it iz time to announce zhe vinner!”

Diamond Tiara was so overcome with anticipation that she grabbed Snips’s hoof. His mind raced. We’re holding hooves – in public!

The student artists were rapt with attention. “Zhe vinner of tonight’s art show iz… zhe pony named Tvist!”

The frizzy, red-maned pony jumped for joy hearing her name announced. She dashed to Photo Finish to receive her Canterlot crafted medal. “Zhere vere so many vunderful artvorks, but yourz vas zhe only vun bold enough to be hoof-painted. Such a style is difficult to pull off. Most ponies cannot hoof-paint zheir way out of pre-school, but you, Tvist, have managed to transcend zhe challenge. Congratulations, indeed.” A round of applause was given to her as she bowed in front of everypony.

Although she had lost, Diamond Tiara was still holding Snips’s hoof. “I’m sorry that you didn’t win, Diamond.”

She gave his hoof a squeeze and kissed him on the cheek. “I already did, dolt-colt.”

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