• Published 27th Apr 2014
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Friendship Harder: Collected Microfiction - KwirkyJ

Collection of stories too short to publish individually. There is ostensibly no consistent underlying theme.

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Heartbreaks and Hoofaches [Sad, Romance]

Sotto Voce stood on quaking limbs, gasping, as the knock-knock echoed through the door. There was a light inside, but maybe she had simply left it on when she went out. He hoped she was there. Through the ringing in his years, he listened, waiting for any movement inside. He thought about knocking again, but hesitated. He could wait…

Work had stretched later than expected. This should not have been a problem, but he overheard his mixer mention plans for the evening, and he remembered. Sotto Voce remembered a promise. For the final hours, he danced on his hooves, cast frequent furtive glances at the clock, and pictured the two leagues across town to a mare he knew.

He had missed the taxi, missed the trolley. He would have to run. So he ran. Down through the business district he raced. A card; he needed a card. A vendor there at the edge of the square was packing up after hours and was nearly collided with in Sotto’s dash. Quick words, a few bits, a piece of decorated parchment, and a few encouraging words were exchanged, then they separated. Twilight, the lamps would be list soon.

His breath caught, Sotto reached up again and gave another knock-knock on the door, hoping. He looked into his saddlebags, verifying their contents. It wasn’t much, but it was all he could have managed. He muttered at himself for not doing more, for remembering sooner. She would understand, she had to. She would, she would…

Through district after district he ran, the streets thankfully sparse. Some shouts followed in his wake, each answered with a heartfelt, if brief, apology over his withers. A few of these resulted in additional apologies and no small number of stuttered hooves not-always-near-misses.

Had it been a league yet?

Chocolate! Flowers would be shredded, of course, but chocolate he could carry! There, five blocks later, he caught a stallion at his door, keys in his mouth. A few words and bits, then he was on his way, a small parcel thudding rhythmically against his side. Surely it had been a league by now, it was fully dark. On and on, he ran.

Sotto sat on the stoop, humming to himself. How long had he been sitting, ten minutes? Sixty? He should have paid attention to Luna’s moon, before, but, somehow, hadn’t the spirit to look up at its lonesome glow. Beside him was a small wrapped box and a pale envelope, nearly glowing from the soft light of the street lamps. He rubbed his hooves occasionally, the throbbing there matching the ache in his chest. It was almost easy to imagine it was because of the running…

Had he gotten turned around? He asked for directions several times, each pointing this way, to the East, or that way, South. A curt ‘thank you,’ and then he would be off. Twos, always twos. It felt odd, being only one in a forest of couples, but Sotto didn’t let that bother him. He could focus on the thud, thud, thud of his hooves on the earth, always running on. His breath was shuddering in, out; in, out. He wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t. She would be there.

Another couple passed by along the road, their warm giggles and muted, indistinguishable voices piercing the night. Sotto watched them, never given cause to wave…

Sotto knew this street. He knew this street well. Three blocks, weave left, there on the right with the flower box under the window; tall grasses in front of brick, a frosted detail on the door’s glass oval. There, two steps up, right before him. He paused, collecting himself as best as able. His legs shook like jelly beneath him, his breath quick and coarse. A moment, he could wait for a moment for this. Out of his saddlebags he took an envelope and a foil-wrapped box, smiled, and made his way up to the door. A light glowed inside. He dared to hope, lifted a hoof, and knock-knocked on the perfect door.

Sotto Voce stood on quaking limbs…

He knew the laugh walking along the lane. He knew, that was, one of the laughs. That rich, sparkling laugh he wished he could have heard every day. The other voice he did not know. It was a stallion’s, none too low. The exhaustion caught up to him, for Sotto’s chest tightened terribly.

It was a simple matter to scrape the items from the earth and slip away from the lights. Maybe there would be a night bus for Sotto Voce.

Author's Note:

Written for the Thirty Minute Ponies legacy prompt 22 of the same name. Conceived in some ten minutes, written and edited in another thirty (or so).

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