• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes

Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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Rendezvous with Reality

"Olly olly pony free!" Velvet squealed right as she burst through the doors to Sunridge Sweets. "I win!"

Crystal lagged a good many paces behind her, panting and gasping for air. Although she was petite, Velvet was involved in dance and ballet, so she worked her legs, lungs, and endurance every day. Crystal never realized how out of shape she was until she was barely able to push open the door and stumble into the bakery.

"I—I—hah! I got you," Crystal managed in heavy breaths before she collapsed against Velvet, who hadn't even broken a sweat.

Velvet crumpled under the exhausted weight and laughed. "Too slow!"

Crystal grunted. Her chest rose and fell as she took quick, shallow breaths. She dropped her head on Velvet's and closed her eyes. "Maybe so, but I'm not budging until you talk."

Both remained willfully ignorant of the confused and somewhat judgmental stares they received. Velvet squirmed and tried to get her hooves planted firmly enough on the ground to pull herself out from underneath Crystal, but to no avail.

"Crystal! G'off me!"

Crystal shifted to put more of her weight on Velvet. "Confess your sins."

"Never!" Velvet laughed and managed to free one of her forelegs. "You lost the bet, fair and square." She wiggled her hoof against Crystal's side to search for a weak point.

"That won't work," Crystal mumbled while she bit her lower lip. Her muscles twitched from the tickling, she began to tremble, and her eyes started to water. Finally, uncontrollable laughter poured forth and she reflexively squirmed away, wrapping her forelegs around her stomach to try to defend herself. "Stop, stop!"

"Girls," Sunbeam said as she approached the two. Velvet stopped her tickle attack, but Crystal kept laughing, the tingling sensation lingering. "Is everything all right?" Her tone was hesitant. After all, she was more than aware from what and where they had just returned, and their behavior was understandably unexpected.

"Yup!" Velvet sat up and beamed at her mother. "I won a race!"

Crystal swallowed the remainder of her giggles. She rolled over upright and wiped a tear from her eyes. "But that doesn't mean you're off the hook."

Sunbeam raised a hoof, then slowly dropped it back down. After a moment, she smiled. "I'll go get a milkshake ready."

"Thanks, Mom!" Velvet trotted over to an empty table and took a seat.

Crystal took the seat across from her and sat with her shoulders bunched up, brow furrowed, and lips pursed. "Velvet."

Velvet hummed that guilty tune again. Her gaze wandered around the bakery while she blatantly avoided looking at Crystal.

"Velvet. You know I'm not going to let it go."

Velvet's humming stopped and she beamed at Crystal, clapping her hooves together. "Okay! I know, I know. I just want you to be so riled up that when I tell you the truth, by comparison to whatever you think I've done, it seems better."

Crystal raised one brow. "Uh-huh."

"So." She swung her legs. "You know that magazine, Mares Monthly?"

"Mares Monthly?" Crystal paused to think it over, then nodded. "Yeah." Her heart pounded even louder in her ears. Mares Monthly was, as its title suggested, targeted toward the fairer sex and published once a month. It usually contained mare care product advertisements, articles on what to do to attract a stallion or how to improve one's body image, and the like.

"In the last issue I read," Velvet continued, "there was a letter from the editor saying that they were going to start featuring literary works that included strong female leads. Well, the mares in your stories aren't always the typical damsels in distress, so—" She threw her hooves in the air and finished quickly, "I submitted some samples of your work to Mares Monthly."

The pounding stopped for a brief moment, then grew more intense. Her chest tightened from the sudden panic that overwhelmed her. "You did—what?!"

Velvet dropped her hooves back down onto the table and pulled herself up to move her face closer to Crystal's, a serious frown on her lips. "Look, you can't become a famous author if you just sit around and never do anything! So I did it for you!" The frown lifted into a smug grin. "It's my job as your friend to look out for you, you know."

Crystal stared at her, mouth agape. She struggled to swallow around the lump that formed in her throat. As if on cue, a milkshake was set between them.

"Here you go, girls," Sunbeam chimed before she walked back behind the counter.

Velvet's grin fell when she noticed Crystal was starting to tremble. "Hey, Crystal, it's okay! I submitted it myself, as your representative. Your name's not on it. I just said it was by my client, C.W."

"C.W.?" Crystal dropped her face into her hooves. "Oh, Celestia. What if they accept it and my mother reads it?"

Velvet tapped her chin, then smiled. "What if they accept it and you get published?"

Silence fell on them. Crystal lifted her head just long enough to sip the milkshake, then dropped back down. Finally, she mumbled softly, "That would be—it would be totally awesome."

"Yeah?" Velvet's ears perked straight up. "Wouldn't it?!"

"But what if they hate it?" Crystal looked up at her.

"What if they love it?"

"What if—" Crystal was cut off by Velvet's hoof clamped over her muzzle. She mumbled the rest of her sentence incoherently, brow furrowed.

"When have I led you astray, huh?" Velvet smiled softly. "I have a good feeling about this, just like when we were fillies." There was a pause before she giggled. "Maybe I misunderstood my cutie mark, too. Maybe the slipper represents kicking your plot into gear." She winked. "Nicely, of course. Thus the pink."

Crystal laughed after the hoof moved to let her do so. "Okay, okay. I'll try to trust you." Despite her words, her heart continued to thump painfully against her ribs. "So when do you hear back, Miss Representative?"

"I'm not sure." Velvet pulled the milkshake closer to herself and took a sip. "I hope soon. I think it'd be a great start to a great career."

"Career, huh?" Crystal mused quietly. "It's weird to think about having a career."

"Yeah, I know. I just hope you'll take time to remember us little folks when you're up in your mansion, writing prose and sipping wine." She grinned.

Crystal rolled her eyes. "Of course I would, if that ever happened. You know authors don't make very much money, right?"

"Really? Oh." Velvet paused for another sip. "Well, I hope I'll take time to remember you when you're living in a cardboard box."

"Thanks a lot," Crystal said in a playfully bitter tone, rolling her eyes but smiling nonetheless.

Crystal paced around her bedroom. All of her notebooks were strewn across the bed and floor, each open to different parts of different stories.

"If I'm going to be writing for real," she muttered aloud and continued to pace, "I need to write something great. Wonderful. Amazing!" She stopped and turned to her notebooks. "Which of you wants to inspire me to write my best work?"

The notebooks, as one would expect, gave no response. She frowned before she raised one up, rotated it, and flapped it open and closed while she said out of the side of her mouth, "Oh, Crystal, everything you write is inspirational!"

Her tone returned to normal. "Thanks, Notebook #17, but you just don't understand. If this works out, then ponies all over Canterlot are going to read this! Maybe even Equestria!"

"But Crystal," she said in her notebook's low voice, "your special talent is writing, so as long as you pick up that quill, you'll be just fine."

She stared at the notebook. If it had eyes, it would have stared back. "Go home, Notebook #17. You drank too much hard cider." She sighed while her magic dissipated and dropped it to the floor. She could have sworn she heard a tiny ow! when it landed.

She returned to her pacing, more frantic this time around until she skidded to a halt. "That's it! Inspiration comes from around you, right?" She walked out of her room and trotted down the stairs. "Mom! Dad!" She received no response. "Mom?" She reached the bottom of the stairs, frowning. "Dad?"

"What is the matter, dear?" her father asked. He sat up in his recliner, yawning.

She blinked a few times. It wasn't like him to nap during the day, and certainly not in the recliner. "What is the matter with you?"

Jet Set chuckled. "Ah, worry not for your dear old dad. Your mother was up all night talking about an event today."

"Oh?" She walked over to the coat hanger and put on one of her mother's fancy hats, giggling at her reflection in the mirror. "Is that where she is?"

"Yes." He yawned again. "Now, what did you come down here for?"

Crystal smiled ever so sweetly and returned the hat to its resting place. "I'm trying to work on a new story, Dad. I'm just not sure what the topic should be."

"Is that so?" He rubbed his chin. "Crime novels are rather popular right now, you know. A good thriller will put you right on the bestsellers list!"

She did her best not to groan at the mere idea of writing something that gritty. Velvet and Horsey were the only ponies at that time who knew the particular brand of story she liked to write. It was easy for others to infer that the heart simply represented her passion for writing and she was fine with keeping it that way. Romance novels had a bit of a stigma in Canterlot for their often salacious content, and she couldn't imagine what her mother would say if she knew the truth.

She shook her head quickly to return to the moment at hoof. "But if they're popular now, then by the time I write it, it won't be popular anymore." She walked over and sat down by his recliner. In typical doting daughter form, she rested her snout on the arm of his chair and peered up at him through her eyelashes. "I want to write something more real. Something—" She hesitated. "Something about romance, maybe?"

"Romance?" He chuckled. "Oh, dear, you're simply caught up in the love-struck years of your youth. No, you should pursue a more substantial literary topic."

Her voice caught in her throat like a heavy lump that she couldn't swallow. "But," she mumbled before trying to regain her composure. "I mean, don't you and Mom have a really sweet love story? I'm sure a story like that would be wonderful."

Jet Set was quiet as he stared at her in intimidating silence. He sighed, raised his glasses off the bridge of his nose, and set them aside. "I see."

She flinched. "See what?"

"You're still stuck on wanting to hear the story, aren't you?" He smiled, though it was somehow distant. "My dear, why don't you take a seat on the couch."

The pit of her stomach twisted up in sudden knots. She moved over to rest on the couch, now no longer able to meet his gaze.

"You're almost a fully grown mare now." He leaned back into his chair. "You're old enough to know that some things are better kept from ponies like your mother. As you know, she is a very particular kind of mare." He turned his head to look at her.

Crystal flinched under the weight of his stare and nodded. "Yes, Father."

"Good." He crossed his hooves over his stomach. "Well, then. How much do you already know from peeking in your mother's hope chest?"

Her cheeks heated up with embarrassment. "Not much, um, just a little."

Jet Set chuckled. "It's all right, dear. We both know you were always messing about in there as a filly." He closed his eyes. "Your mother was a very simple mare. You know that her parents are not quite of the same caliber as mine."

Crystal slowly nodded. She had never met her grandparents on her mother's side. Upper Crust always spoke ill of them, so she knew next to nothing about who they really were, but she did know that they didn't live in Canterlot anymore. The Jet family, on the other hoof, went back several generations and had a substantial role in the invention of the first Equestrian airship, though Jet Set seemed much more interested in high society than his family's accomplishments.

"I didn't lie when I said the color guard was when I noticed her, nor was your mother lying in her diary when she wrote that I asked her to the Fall Formal Gala." He shifted his hooves, almost uncomfortably, making Crystal feel even more uncomfortable herself. "My parents wanted me to marry a fine mare from a fine family and work at Jet Ventures. I was a bit of a rebellious young stallion, not much unlike yourself." He chuckled. "You do give your mother quite the headache."

One eye cracked opened to peer at her as he continued, "The mare I knew back then wasn't learned in all the formalities of Canterlot society, and I knew it would be a thorn in my parents' side, so to speak." He inclined his head to look at the ceiling. "Of course, they threatened to cut me off from my inheritance. I dare say I almost believed them, but I called them on their bluff."

Her ears started to fold backward. This wasn't sounding at all like what she had envisioned all these years. Risking his inheritance was a romantic gesture, but she had a sinking feeling there was little that was romantic about it at all.

"Not long after we started dating, she began to change into exactly what I was trying to avoid. She so desperately wanted to be one of the elite, after all. And I did nothing to keep her the way she was. It made her so happy to be the pony everypony should know, and I eventually grew to love that joy in her eyes."

Crystal couldn't keep her mouth from voicing her thoughts. "Grew to love?"

Jet Set nodded. Both of his eyes opened halfway. "I'm quite aware that you love the idea of romance, dear. But that isn't how it works in Canterlot, I'm afraid. You grow to love the pony that best suits you."

"No!" Crystal surprised herself at the volume of her own voice. "But," she said, quieter, "you love Mom, don't you?"

"After a few years of marriage, I discovered that I did, yes. I still do."

The idea was so shocking to her—so polar from the notions she held dear—that she felt as though she might be sick. The room was suddenly suffocating and she bolted upright. "Thanks for the talk, Father. I'm heading out."

Jet Set's expression shifted to an apologetic one, but he smiled and nodded. "All right, dear. Just be home in time for dinner. Your mother worries when you stay out so late, you know."

Crystal was already halfway out the door. "Yeah," she called over her shoulder.

Tears pricked at her eyes. What sort of love story was that? She stormed down the street, each hoof falling harder than the last while a confusing, bubbling turmoil of anger and sadness boiled in her chest. That wasn't romantic at all! Upper Crust wasn't what his parents wanted and that was enough? It had taken years for him to even feel love for her?

The more she wandered, the more she started to feel a hollow sense of calm. She stopped to sit on a bench and buried her face in her hooves. A part of her, though it was a sickening realization, understood. After all, could she honestly say that she wouldn't spurn a stallion Upper Crust had picked for her purely out of spite? Or that she wouldn't look at another stallion and think about how it would ruffle her mother's sensibilities to bring him home?

She looked up and noticed that she was across the street from a cafe. A hot cup of a tea sounded wonderful to her right then, so she trotted over and inside.

The cafe was fairly quiet. Most ponies were deep in thought, pondering over books and magazines. They all seemed to be too lost in their own worlds to notice her wandering gaze. After she ordered a cup of tea, she took a seat at a table for two.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath of the tea's aroma, and held it to let it calm her from the inside out. She released the breath through her teeth. Feeling much more relaxed, even the air around her seemed different once she opened her eyes. Her table was right by a window, so she looked outside, watching the world go by.

Most ponies walked in proper form with their noses in the air, but she noticed a few that were different. There was one couple that walked slowly, hoof in hoof, gazing into each other's eyes. It brought a small smile to her lips and she took a sip of her tea.

A stallion stopped to open the door for a mare. They smiled, and for a brief moment, their worlds connected, only to be pulled apart by heading in opposite directions.

A small giggle escaped her. Tea always had that effect of making everything seem warm and fuzzy. Perhaps she was just overreacting. She knew as well as anypony that Canterlot was not a city of passion, but that didn't mean these love-starved, socially-obsessed ponies couldn't appreciate the stories she wanted to share. In fact, a little romance might be just what the love doctor ordered.

"Yeah, I'm so lame," she muttered to herself, giggling, and took another sip.

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