• Published 1st Nov 2014
  • 20,639 Views, 1,634 Comments

A New Sun Rises - CommissarAJ



Sunset Shimmer has never needed anyone or anything - she had her magic, she had her ambition, and she had intellect. Others just stood in her way or held her down. So what do you do when your plans for world domination fall through?

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Act IV-I

Despite sending a text message to Twilight Sparkle the day after the Harvest Festival, the two of us didn’t begin to exchange messages in earnest for several days. The main culprit behind the delays, I suspect, was that Twilight simply wasn’t used to receiving frequent messages from anyone besides her family. Unlike most teenagers, she didn’t appear to live with her phone glued to her palms, and it was actually two days before my initial message even got a response, which consisted of ‘my brother gave you my number, didn’t he?’

Fortunately, despite some initial disparaging remarks, Twilight soon got over her brother’s meddling and our back-and-forth messages became a regular occurrence. After a few days, I found myself getting more excited whenever my phone beeped and I saw her name on the screen. It wasn’t as though texting was a new thing to me, but I never felt that same exhilaration whenever it was Pinkie Pie or Applejack. Most of the messages between Twilight and I were quite innocuous as well; it took a few days just to get her to use more than one-sentence responses. It was a week before Twilight actually sent the first text of the day, and I felt a bizarre thrill when I woke up that particular morning and saw a text from Twilight warning me of impending thunderstorms.

Apparently amateur meteorology was another hobby of hers.

I awoke on a Friday morning to the chiming and buzzing of my cell phone. The morning weather report from Twilight was becoming something of a routine to my morning, and thanks to her fanatical devotion to punctuality, it made for a better alternative to an alarm clock. From within my warm cocoon of duvets, I blindly palmed the bedside table until I managed to grab my phone, and then retreated once more into my cozy sanctuary.

Twilight’s message read, ‘Sunny but cool today. Strong northeasterly wind. Be sure to wear a coat. Hope you have a good day.’

I wondered if that warmth and rush I felt was that magic of friendship the others were always telling me about. Was it weird that I didn’t feel the same about my other friends? I worried that it made me a bad person, or perhaps that I wasn’t really much of a friend to them. Much in the same way that tofurkey wasn’t real turkey, and it just made everyone at the table uncomfortable but unable to say anything because the hostess still had a twelve-inch carving knife in hand.

As I sent back a text relaying my thanks and wishing her a good day, I heard something from out in the hall that was becoming an increasingly regular occurrence in the household: Luna raising her voice at something. I was about to shrug it off as just one sister playing a prank on the other, and return to enjoying a few more minutes of lazing in bed; however, the conversation parked itself right outside my bedroom.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” Luna demanded, making no efforts to conceal her annoyance.

“Because I didn’t know until last night,” Celestia answered. Her voice carried its usual diplomatic tone, but I sensed a bit of tension underlying it. “It’s one weekend, Luna, I think you can manage it without me.”

“It’s not about the meetings! You said you would always keep me informed,” the younger sister snapped. “And you knew what I had planned this weekend. What am I supposed to do now that I’m stuck watching over her? This is so typical of you—shoveling things into my lap without even asking me about it first.”

“She’s a big girl, she can handle a day by herself.” I could almost feel the eye-rolling in Celestia’s tone, and the frustrated growl that followed it suggested that Luna wasn’t happy about the response. “Please, Luna, don’t make this an issue about you and me: this is necessary for the school.”

The conversation didn’t go any further, and Luna departed with little more than a frustrated growl like some Tartarus-spawned demon. It was only once the walking nightmare was a safe distance away did I finally head downstairs to get breakfast. I felt like a gazelle on the way to the watering hole, unsure of what dangers might be lurking just out of sight.

So imagine my surprise when en route to the kitchen, I saw Celestia in the front hall, already fully dressed for work and with a small suitcase in tow.

“What’s going on?” I asked, feigning ignorance. I could’ve mentioned that I overheard some of the conversation, but it was second-nature to me to always keep my cards close to my chest, and in my early-morning state, I wasn’t thinking about proper etiquette.

There was the briefest hint of surprise on her face, and were I not a more observant person, I would’ve blinked and missed it. “Oh, good morning Sunset,” she greeted. “I’m afraid an emergency meeting was arranged with the regional school board and the Ministry of Education, so I’m going to be out of town until Sunday evening.”

“You mean… I’m spending the whole weekend with Luna in charge?” I replied. Though I acted surprised, in truth I was feeling quite nervous about the prospect.

Celestia saw through my facade, and she donned her always comforting and reassuring smile. “I know that you and Luna don’t always see eye to eye, but please try your best to get along,” she asked. “I don’t expect the two of you to be best friends or anything, but please try not to set the house on fire while I’m gone.”

I promised to try my best, but I worried that empty platitudes might be all that I could offer. To say that we didn’t see ‘eye to eye’ was like describing the banishment of Nightmare Moon as a simple difference of opinions. Luna and I hardly even looked at each other these days, and the less we spoke, the better both of us seemed to be. As Celestia said her farewells and departed, I was contemplating how to best avoid Luna for the next sixty hours. With any luck, maybe I could even spend the next few days without ever having to say a single word to her.

Of course, the moment I believed that was a possibility, the universe decided to put Luna two feet directly behind me so that the moment I turned around, I was staring straight into her disapproving frown.

Whoever thought Nightmare Moon was terrifying had clearly never dealt with Vice Principal Luna before her morning coffee.

“G-good morning, Luna,” I greeted while trying to force a smile.

“What, are you a weathergirl now?” she snips in response. “How do you know what kind of stinkin’ morning it is?” She let out a disgruntled snort and then took a slow sip from the coffee mug she carried. “Celestia has informed you of her departure, correct?”

I responded with only a silent nod.

“I hope you understand that the only reason she’s being dragged out by the school board is because your antics have left such a gaping hole in our budget. Now Celestia has to go before those self-absorbed bureaucrats and practically beg for emergency funding.”

While this wasn’t the first time that school finances has been mentioned around me, I hadn’t realized how dire the situation had become. I again answered with a silent nod, but this time because my thoughts were now on Celestia’s predicament. I knew little of how this world handled administrative duties, but back in Equestria going to your boss and asking for more money was seen as a sign of poor leadership. Judging by Luna’s scowl, she held me responsible for this new mess, and I couldn’t blame her for that sentiment.

“Now I’m going to lay down some ground rules so that we both might survive this weekend,” she explained while still glaring down at me like a stern-nosed drill sergeant. “You will not bother me with anything unless it is important. If I instruct you to do something, you will comply. Be aware that I will not drive you anywhere, or feed you anything, or clean any of your messes. You will tend to your own needs, and I will tend to mine.” So far it wasn’t anything I didn’t already expect, but Luna still had a way of delivering the information as though she were handing down a prison sentence. “And you will be quiet during this weekend. If I have to leave my room to tell you otherwise, I assure you that you will regret it. Otherwise, you have free reign of the house. Is this understood, Miss Shimmer?”

Even though nothing Luna said came as a surprise to me, it nonetheless felt belittling for her to spell out all these rules to me like something terrible would happen the moment Celestia left. There was due caution and then there was the vacuum of trust that existed between us.

Actually, a vacuum implied that it was merely devoid of anything; it would be more accurate to describe it as a No Man’s Land of trust, where even the slightest inkling of movement was pounded into oblivion by artillery.

“Now get ready for school, we leave in twenty-five minutes,” Luna instructed.

“Twenty-five minutes?” I repeated in disbelief. “But that’s almost half an hour earlier than when Celestia leaves.”

“I’ve got to do Celestia’s duties on top of my own, so I need more time to prepare,” she explained in her typical blunt fashion. “You can either get ready now or you can walk to school. Take your pick.”

With my options being either to submit to Luna’s ridiculous and arbitrary departure schedule, or brave the elements and walk to school, which would require me to leave at roughly the same time, my choice was obvious.

*******************

“Holy enchiladas, Sunset! You look like you woke up on the wrong side of every bed today.”

Pinkie Pie’s surprise was warranted when she set eyes upon on me: my disheveled hair and the frown etched upon my face was a stark contrast to my friend’s cheerful and bubbly demeanour. I looked like I had just gone five rounds toe-to-hoof with a windigo, and got walloped in each one. Just on the opposite side of her, Rainbow Dash had also gotten a peek at my new hair style, and was two seconds away from falling out of her desk in a laughing fit.

“My breakfast was a piece of cold toast, and I didn’t have enough time to dry my hair before running to school,” I answered, followed by a tired groan and faceplanting into my textbook. And even despite my best efforts, I arrived at school late, missing the entirety of homeroom and just narrowly arriving in time for first period.

“But I thought you rode in with Celestia every morning,” Pinkie Pie remarked. “Unless you were in a convertible, or a motorcycle, or like an airship. Or maybe a convertible motorcycle airship.”

I didn’t even bother to dignify Pinkie’s ramblings with an answer. In the time since the Fall Formal, my relationship with Pinkie and her friends has undergone a rapid transition from ‘target of opportunity’ to ‘trusted friend.’ It was quite jarring for me emotionally, as many times I felt myself wanting to react to them like I used to—bullying Fluttershy, taunting Applejack, deceiving Rainbow Dash—but all of them managed to survive the transition. Nowadays, I could talk to Applejack or Rarity without those old hatreds flaring up. The exception to that, however, was Pinkie Pie; a person who I admit I would not normally associate with even if they were the only person within a hundred miles. Maybe I just didn’t like the random tangents, or perhaps it was her relentless optimism, or perhaps it was just because I envied her ability to be what I could never be anymore - universally adored.

At the time, however, a lot of that aggravation came from the fact that she always steered every conversation back to the same point.

“Hey, if you’re feeling down, maybe I can help!” Pinkie offered before she began shimmying her desk closer to mine. “We need to turn that frown of yours upside-down, and maybe get Rarity to help you with your hair. You know what always cheers me up real quick?”

I turned my head just enough so that I could see Pinkie out of the corner of my eye, which was just enough to give an effective, hateful glare. Not that such things ever worked on her. “Pinkie, if you say ‘party’ just so you can ask when my birthday is, I will staple your lips together.”

“Boy, somebody sure is a crankypants,” Pinkie replied, undaunted by my verbal barbs. “Guess that just means I’ll have to work even harder to get you smiling again.”

I should’ve realized sooner that trying to push her away would only invite her to try harder. That kind of persistence I could’ve admired were it not being levied against me. With any luck, though, the teacher would start the lesson and that’d be enough to keep Pinkie off my back for a little while.

That rescue came in the form of a series of quick taps of a ruler against a desktop. “Okay class, it’s time to begin today’s lesson,” the teacher called out. “So please quiet down, and Pinkie put your desk back into its proper place.”

Listening to a teacher’s endless droning was not what most people would consider enjoyable, but for me, the escape from having to endure someone else’s endless prattling made class feel like a paradise. I felt bad for taking enjoyment in avoiding Pinkie, but today my patience had already been worn to a nub before it even began in earnest.

For whatever reason, perhaps a foolish attempt to recover some semblance of happiness in my day, I carefully pulled my cell phone out and brought up the last message I got from Twilight. It might have just been wishful thinking, but seeing her message of ‘hope you have a good day’ helped give me some shred of optimism.

And then, of course, came Pinkie Pie once again. “Hey, what’cha looking at?” she asked while peering over my shoulder.

Having her suddenly appear at my side startled me so much that I almost fell from my chair in my desperate attempt to hide my phone.

“Pinkie, do you mind?” I whispered back in hopes I don’t draw even more attention to myself. A smarter person would’ve just told Pinkie the truth about my newly established correspondence with Twilight, but Pinkie was about as good at keeping secrets as she was keeping her voice down.

“Oh, right,” she apologized in a prompt fashion. There was a fleeting moment of relief until she somehow managed to sit down on the two inches of seat that was available on my chair. “So who were you texting?”

“It’s… uh, nobody really,” I hastily replied. Lying might not be the smartest move, but I was nervous, and like always my nervousness had me falling into comfortable and familiar habits. “It’s… just somebody I know, that’s all.”

“Oooo! Is it a new friend of yours?” Pinkie asked, leaning in once more to try and catch a glimpse of my screen. Thankfully, I was more prepared this time around and kept my hand over the screen. “Is it anybody that I know?”

“No, it’s not anybody you know,” I snapped back. I was forced to keep a hand across her face just to keep her at bay, but in my haste I accidentally pushed too hard and Pinkie fell out of the chair. While some teachers might have been willing to ignore a couple of whispering teenagers, the moment somebody’s butt hit the floor, that tolerance vanished faster than the cafeteria’s fruit parfaits.

I didn’t even have time to hide the evidence before I was stared down by a frowning teacher. No words even needed to be exchanged as an outstretched palm gestured all that needed to be done. With a disheartened sigh, I surrendered my phone, and the class eventually resumed, albeit with a few disapproving glares tossed in my direction.

Despite the loss, I found some solace in the fact that Pinkie was back at her desk, and I could focus on my work in relative peace. Or at least that had been the hope. The distractions had left me so frazzled that I could barely focus on what the teacher was saying, not to mention I had already missed everything up to this point, so I was trying to catch-up with no gas in the tank.

And just because the universe liked to remind me that I can never know peace, not even five minutes had passed before I felt something flick into my hair. At first, I thought it was just another paper ball, but it felt less like it was pitched and more like a lob. That meant either it wasn’t thrown with malice or it was committed by the weakest, most girliest pitcher in the entire school.

And Fluttershy was three classrooms down from mine.

When I checked my hair, what I found was a wad of paper folded into a tight triangle, rather than the crumpled mess I often found. Confused didn’t even begin to describe what I felt because this archaic form of passing notes went the way of the dinosaurs once everybody had cell phones surgically attached to their palms. I unfolded the note and was greeted to a faint ‘pop’ and a spray of confetti. That answered my question as to who was responsible, though that just left me with other questions.

Rather than drive myself insane pondering unanswerable questions, I chose to see what Pinkie felt necessary to communicate. Within the note was just the word ‘sorry’ with a picture of a sad kitten hastily drawn next to it. Out of curiosity, I glanced over to Pinkie and saw that she was trying her best not to look like she was watching and waiting for my reaction. Given that she was trying to peek over the edge of her textbook while still sitting three feet to my right made her about as subtle as a herd of elephants doing a line dance.

I scrawled ‘why?’ on the note and waited for the teacher to turn away from me before tossing the note back to Pinkie. A few seconds later, the note came flying back, although my friend’s aim was off and the note ended up landing and falling down the front of my shirt.

“Really Pinkie?” I sneered in a whisper.

I checked my lap to see if it had fallen through, but seeing no sign of it, I was reluctantly forced to reach up into my shirt to find the accursed note. Under my breath, I grumbled about how I wouldn’t have had to deal with this brand of nonsense if I were still a unicorn.

“Is everything okay, Miss Shimmer?” the teacher’s voice cut in once again. This time, though, it drew everybody’s attention to me with my arm still half-way up my shirt.

Not wanting to embarrass myself even further with the truth, I decided that the best defense was a good offense. “What? You think I got a demon stuffed in my bra?” I contested. This strategy also had the added benefit of buying me a few more seconds to grab the note.

As much as I imagine the teacher would’ve liked to make a bigger issue out of this, the further distraction from the lesson couldn’t be afforded. With an eye roll and a shrug, the teacher went right back to the lesson. With enough people already snickering and casting wary glances in my direction, I bided my time until I could open the note with a bit more security. The note went:

‘I’m sorry because I got your phone taken away and it was clearly making you happy because I saw you smiling when you were looking at it and you were all frowny-face before that so clearly what was on your phone was super-duper important. I just got carried away because I wasn’t able to make you happy but your phone did and so I wanted to see what it was so I could maybe do that too. But now you have no phone and all sad again and that just makes me super sad. Forgive me?’

In all honesty, I was surprised by her earnest response. I was expecting more confetti to fly out of somewhere, but instead I had a genuine answer and a heartfelt apology. Now I felt like an absolute heel for being so hard on her in the first place. It was still easy for me to forget to take other people’s feelings into consideration. I was so wrapped up in my own concerns that I didn’t even stop to think how Pinkie Pie was feeling seeing a friend in dismay. Even now as I continued staring at her note, I could see my friend out of the corner of my eye waiting in tense anxiety for my response.

As I didn’t want to risk drawing any more attention to myself than I already had, I conveyed my apologies as best I could through a quick smile and a silent nod.

Silent-as-a-spring-breeze Pinkie Pie, however, jumped to her feet in celebration and shouted, “Yes!”

“Miss Pinkie Pie, please take your seat.”

Unsurprisingly, nobody was bothered by Pinkie’s outburst. Even the teacher just shrugged it off and resumed his lesson once my friend took her seat. I wished I could get away with things like she did, but when you spent the past couple years building a reputation of backstabbing, it’s no surprise when people learn to always keep an eye on you. Or perhaps it was more because Pinkie had spent her years at school finding ways to brighten the day of those around her. As I listened to the snickers from the surrounding students, I sensed no malice in their tone like they had with me. They found her antics amusing, and they loved her for it.

I began to wonder if my frustration with her was because I resented her so easily having everything that seemed impossible for me to reach. Did those feelings make me a horrible friend?

As the lecture began to wind down to its conclusion, the teacher announced, “For the next project, you’ll need to organize yourself into groups of three.”

No prizes for guessing who I was going to have to group with.

*******************

In the old days, when group projects came around, I would often just join up with the people I pegged as the most intelligent, capable, or easily manipulated. It was child’s play to convince the brainiacs in my classes to do all the work for me, not that I couldn’t do the assignments myself if need be. Now, though, the only people I could convince to work with me are the few friends who’ll still talk to me, and neither Pinkie Pie nor Rainbow Dash did I consider to be intellectual powerhouses.

That meant, for once, I was looking at doing most of the work for this project. I didn’t mind that, though, as I knew that Dash and Pinkie could pull most of their own weight, but if I wanted good marks then I was going to have to carry the bulk of the burden. Just another case of sleeping in the bed I made.

Still, the prospect of a group project with my friends remained a promising one, assuming that I could survive being stuck in close proximity with Pinkie Pie for so long. But believe it or not, my greatest concern as the weekend began was not having to spend a Saturday afternoon with Pinkie, it was convincing Vice Principal Luna to let Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash come over to work on the project.

Although I had spent many a lazy Saturday with my friends, they had yet to visit me in my new home, and that was because I felt it was improper for me to invite friends over to a house I had no claim to. I still considered myself nothing more than a guest in Celestia and Luna’s home, and while I wouldn’t have felt hesitation asking Celestia, her sister was another story. Even knowing that Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie had very valid-sounding reasons for why their home was unavailable that weekend, Luna could still very well refuse just to make my existence all the more difficult. While I doubt Luna would sabotage my school work, forcing us to go to a library or some other venue was within the realm of possibility.

This challenge is what led me to try my hand at cooking dinner that evening. I pinned my hopes on some vegetable stir fry winning me enough favour from Luna that she wouldn’t object to granting me a small boon. Though my experience in the kitchen was limited to pre-packaged foods with the most complex instruction being ‘add water and stir,’ if cooking and baking could be tackled with ease by people like Pinkie Pie, it shouldn’t be too challenging for a person of my intellect.

Cooking was just chemistry that you got to eat afterwards.

There’s a curious sense of fulfillment that came from cooking your own meal from scratch. I had to make a few substitutions with the recipe I got from the internet, but I saw no reason why I couldn’t use things like asparagus and eggplant. The sweet fragrance of peanuts began to fill the kitchen as the oil heated in the frying pan. It didn’t take long before I was humming to myself, dicing peppers and peeling carrots. Unfortunately, my sense of perfectionism had me turning back to the recipe every few seconds just to make sure I was doing things correctly, to the point where I almost cut my thumb thanks to my carelessness.

My plans to have everything ready to surprise Luna when she returned, however, failed to come to fruition when the radio that had been blasting tunes suddenly fell silent. Perhaps in my constant double-checking, I had underestimated how long I would need.

“What is going on?” Luna asked as she stood in the doorway.

I looked to the diced vegetables on the countertop. then to the frying pan just behind me. and then to the large kitchen knife I held in my hand.

The only response that came to mind was, “Is that supposed to be rhetorical?”

The frown that soon adorned her face told me otherwise. “I’m referring to your antics in class today,” she explained. “Texting in class. Disturbing the lesson. Assaulting another student.”

While my new life meant owning my mistakes in both past, present, and future, it didn’t include readily accepting other people’s misinterpretations. “Assaulting? I gave Pinkie a slight nudge and she fell out of my chair.”

“That’s not how the other students described the incident.”

“Because they’re a reliable source of information,” I scoffed while waving my knife around. “I bet if you ask them, they’ll describe me as some violent sociopath.” Unfortunately, I realized a bit late that my words were not in sync with my appearance. Her skepticism hardened as she watched me try to deftly put the knife aside.

“I can’t imagine where I might get that idea,” Luna replied, letting some sarcasm slip into her voice. “I mean, aside from throwing books at students, trying to smash the Wondercolt statue with a sledgehammer, and getting arrested for a cafe brawl.”

Try to defend myself and I get three separate incidents thrown at me. Luna definitely subscribed to the ‘shock and awe’ method of discipline, as I had no way to fend off that many accusations at once. I had to redirect the conversation away from them.

“I’m trying to change, Luna! Everybody else understands that it isn’t going to be a perfectly smooth transition, but I’m doing the best I can.” As far as defenses went, this was about the equivalent of trying to lock the door while she still had a fire axe. It was a stalling action against somebody who was used to hacking through verbal tripe and excuses on a daily basis.

I did, however, succeed in cracking her stoic facade. “This isn’t your best! And if my sister would stop coddling you, you’d get the proper rehabilitation you deserve.”

“Your idea of rehab is sending me to jail! That’s just the quick and easy solution for you, but I guess it makes sense since you’ve done nothing but treat me like a criminal since I’ve moved in,” I snapped back. Despite knowing full well that getting angry wasn’t going to help, Luna was throwing torches at my short-fused temper.

“Property damage, attacking other students, and we’ll pretend that trying to hypnotize the school to conquer another world doesn’t sound completely ludicrous!” Her voice was flaring, but I could tell she was trying to restrain herself. Did Luna have just as bad a temper as I did? I had no idea, but a smarter person wouldn’t have been trying to find out by poking the tiger. “Anybody else who had pulled that would be spending their days in juvenile hall. At least in there you’d be taught how to control yourself rather than all this hand-holding ‘just try harder next time’ nonsense that Celestia has you undertaking.”

“Hey! What Celestia and my friends are doing for me is working!” Perhaps it was my lingering guilt over my past relation with Princess Celestia, but I felt a need to protect her.

“Only when they’re around to keep you on a leash. You’re just being taught that your relapses are honest little mistakes. You’re not learning how to control yourself because this soft-gloved approach is not giving you any reason to.”

I could feel the raw heat of my rage beginning to boil over. She was insulting everything that I had been working so hard to accomplish like I could just flick a switch and stop being who I was. “Is it so much to ask for just a little benefit of the doubt?” I shouted. “Why must everyone keep treating me I’m always going to cause a problem wherever I go! I’m not some ticking time bomb!”

Luna calmed all of a sudden, which from anyone else would be reassuring, but that just warned me that she was getting precisely what she wanted: more proof that I was doing the same song and dance.

“You sound pretty explosive to me,” she answered.

“Well guess what, Luna, nothing bad is going to happen here.”

“Your cooking oil is on fire.”

That was when I realized that the heat I was feeling was not the figurative fire inside but the literal one behind me. I spun about to see yet another disaster of my carelessness raging out of control on the stove.

“Golden throne of Canterlot!”

If I had my magic, I could snuff out those flames in a heartbeat, but the conventional means of fire suppression seemed to elude me in my panic. The cacophony of the fire alarm didn’t do any favours for my concentration. In haste, I grabbed a nearby towel to try and smother the flames. That just succeeded in setting the towel on fire.

“That’s not helping! That’s not helping at all!” I yelped before flinging the towel towards the sink. Once I had it contained, I was more than content to let it burn itself out. Just as I was about to turn my attention back to the oil fire, Luna proved to already be on top of the situation, dropping a pan lid overtop of the flames and snuffing them out.

“So much for dinner,” Luna remarked, moving the frying pan off the active element. “Now would you like me explain to you the extent of your mistake, or would you prefer if we just shrug and you promise to do better next time?”

Now that was just twisting the knife. I had already started one fire, but Luna seemed intent on making sure the figurative fire kept burning. There was only one way for me to deal with this and keep my sanity intact: I headed for the door.

“Oh, to Tartarus with this!” I shouted upon my departure.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Luna called out.

“To get dinner!” There was no point trying to broach the subject of Pinkie and Rainbow Dash with so much anger and hate being volleyed about. Some time away and some food in my belly might help cool me down. I could manage with one of the two, but angry and hungry was a recipe for disaster. Even as I put more and more distance between me and home, I was still cursing and grumbling to myself. How could she just keep treating me like this? I wanted to just scream out loud, but that would just draw more unwanted attention. Eventually, though, I realized that I could use somebody to talk to.

I reached for my phone and fired off a quick text message that read:

‘This day has been awful. I could use a friend right now. Are you free to talk over dinner? I’m heading to the MacDougal’s on Bridle street.’

It was a longshot, but at this stage all I had left in me was hope. The anger had burned everything else in me, leaving just ash and cynicism behind. The long walk to the MacDougal’s gave me plenty of time to think, as well as feel that hope begin to slip further and further away. I was just about to write off any chance of a reply when I felt my phone vibrate. The message back read:

‘So sorry to hear that. I think I know where that is. I’ll be there as soon as I can.’

People might say to always wait a few moments before replying to message, but I didn’t care if I sounded desperate.

‘Thanks. I’ll see you then, Twi.’