• Published 29th Dec 2013
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Obiter Dicta - GhostOfHeraclitus



A collection of short stories, vignettes, and deleted scenes, mostly based in the Civil Serviceverse and tending to be either slice of life or comedy.

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On the Inaccuracy of Proverbs

On the Inaccuracy of Proverbs


Cadence sighed, and addressed the little bundle under the blanket.

"What did they say, Twilight?"

There was a silence, broken only by a few sniffles from below the embroidered stars. Cadence felt something knot unpleasantly in her gut. She was not a violent pony, never that, but the idea of someone teasing Twilight until she wept and hid herself under her blankets made something cold and ugly uncoil inside her. For a fleeting moment, she recalled how certain ancient chronicles described Celestia as 'terrible.’ Right now, Cadence felt she could be terrible, too. All too easily. But that thought fled soon enough. There were more pressing things, like trying her best to be a good foalsitter. She laid a gentle wing across the bundle, and stroked it lightly with a hoof.

"Were you hurt by the things they said?"

A face peeked from under the blankets. A tear-streaked, puffy-eyed face of a tiny unicorn filly pretending with all her might that she wasn't as upset as she was.

"There's—there's a saying about that," said Twilight, voice raw and wavering.

Cadence lifted her up gently, and let the little filly lean against her. Absentmindedly, she wiped away a tear with a wingtip.

"And what would the saying be?"

Twilight's face took on a look of extreme concentration.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones," she said in a sing-song voice, "but words are the smallest units of language capable of carrying meaning in isolation and, thus, cannot exert the four thousand neightons of force per square centimeter necessary to break pony bone."

Cadence managed to choke down a laugh. She'd bite her wings off before hurting Twilight's feelings in a time like this. Still, it took some concentration to ask her question without snickering.

"That's all true, Twilight, I’m certain, but that's not how the saying goes, is it?"

"No. Mine's better. I improved it. 'Cause--'cause, it's more accurate, I looked it all up, and I was thinking..."

"Yes, honey?"

"Sticks and stones can break my bones. That's why mom says to be careful and not climb things, and words can't break my bones, but—"

Cadence didn't say anything. She simply tried to look encouraging, and shifted her wing so it covered her charge. Twilight snuggled into the down, and for all that the little filly tried to be serious and scientific, she could feel a quivering under the sensitive feathers. Her weather-sense tried to tell her it was a storm coming. It wasn’t entirely wrong. After a while, Twilight spoke up again.

"They can't break my bones but they can hurt. The saying is stupid. So—so I made it better," said Twilight, looking up at Cadence, proud, but with fresh tears welling up in her eyes.

There was nothing Cadence could think to say, so she just scooped Twilight up in her forelegs and held her close, as she wept, and wept, and wept. She held her like that until the little filly, exhausted by tears, drifted off to sleep.

Author's Note:

This story was written chiefly because I watched this video, heard the, ah, improved version of the saying and had to give it a home.