• 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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Gateway to the Future

The city of Manehattan was overwhelming. It made up for what it lacked in Canterlot's splendor with imposing buildings that reached into the sky. Crystal guessed that inattentive pegasi were at risk of crashing through windows with the buildings being as tall as mountains. She gazed up at the towers of glass that glittered in the midday sun.

"Move it or lose it, lady!" a gruff voice said. The stallion brushed past her, his shoulder hitting hers a little harder than necessary.

Crystal blinked and her focus fell from the skyscrapers to the crowd she was in. A moment ago, the sidewalk only had a few ponies on it, but now it was like a river full of confused but determined salmon going up and downstream. Her ears pinned back as she tried to wriggle herself into the flow heading further into Manehattan.

"Excuse me!" she called above the noise of hoofsteps and grumbling ponies. "Excuse me! Could somepony tell me where Eminence Tower is?"

A mare beside her snorted. "Really?"

Crystal looked at her with the most innocent eyes. "Really!"

The mare raised a hoof and pointed. Crystal's gaze followed the direction to see the exceptionally tall building in the center of the town. A golden stallion's bust was perched at the very top of the tower, overlooking its domain with extreme indifference.

"Oh." Crystal blinked. "The super tall one, got it. Thanks!"

Now with her destination clear, she navigated through the busy streets, eventually breaking out of the stream and landing on the steps leading up to the tower.

She looked up at the double glass doors. Hesitation halted her and she gulped, her ears drooping as her confidence faltered. So many fears ran through her mind all at once: flubbing the interview, not being as strong of a writer as she thought she was, or sneezing right on the interviewer. She took a moment to swallow her worries then, holding her head high, strode up to the doors.

The lobby was absolutely stunning. Considering all of the harsh metal and glass with which the buildings of Manehattan were constructed, she felt like she had just been transported somewhere else. The floors were marble and a luxuriously soft, red carpet guided her from the door to the front desk. There was no steel or silvery metal visible; instead, anywhere metal was necessary to be shown, it was either gold-plated or pure gold. She was no expert in such things, so to her it all seemed to be the real deal.

"Hello," the mare said from behind the rich, dark mahogany desk without looking up from filing her hooves. "What can I help you with?" Her tone was rather matter-of-fact and it gave Crystal a hesitant pause. A moment later, she glanced up with a frown at the lack of a response. "Yes?"

"I'm here for an interview with Mares Monthly," Crystal said a little too quickly, but the other mare nodded nonetheless.

The receptionist returned her attention to her hoof care. "Floor 63."

"Thank you." Crystal smiled and started over to the marbled stairs with gold railings. She paused just at the bottom of them and inclined her head to look up the tower. From her vantage point in the lobby, she had to guess that the ceiling extended thirty floors up. She stared in awe for a moment longer, then started the long trek up the stairs.

By the time she reached the sixty-third floor, she was out of breath and sore all over. She spied a water cooler resting against a wall and hurried over to it, filled up a small paper cup, and downed it in one go. The cold water refreshed her just enough for her to regain her composure.

"All right," she mumbled and looked around, still somewhat out of breath.

The doors were made out of the same mahogany as the receptionist's desk and one was adorned with gilded lettering that read: "Mares Monthly". Excitement bubbled up in her chest and gave her the extra energy necessary to walk over and inside.

Another bored receptionist sat at the only desk in the room, but at least she looked up to acknowledge Crystal's entrance. "Welcome to Mares Monthly's main office," she said in a tone that was anything but cheerful. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes—No—" Crystal bit her lower lip, then quickly scolded herself inwardly. She put on her most confident appearance. "I received a letter to drop by for an interview regarding serial publication in your magazine. I'm Crystal—er, C.W."

"I see." The receptionist gestured at a row of chairs as she stood from her own. "Please take a seat and you'll be called in shortly." She walked into the next room and mumbled something inaudible to somepony before returning to her desk.

Crystal sat in the chair as best she could. It was far from comfortable and there was no way to sit naturally in it at all. She had to dangle her legs off the front, but there was no room to rest her forehooves on the seat, which felt a little immodest, so she draped her tail over her lap.

The quiet, awkward minutes ticked by. She could hear muffled voices on the other side of the wall, but she couldn't make out exactly what they were saying. Finally, a stallion leaned in through the doorway and smiled at her. He had on a collared white shirt and a green tie, though the knot was loosened to hang a few inches from where it should when properly affixed.

"Hello! So glad you could make it!" The stallion waved a hoof and disappeared back into the other room. "Come along!" When his ear twitched at the sound of her following, he continued, "Welcome to the main Mares Monthly office. Here is where we make,"—he spun around and stood on his hindlegs to wave his front ones—"the magic!"

Crystal blinked a few times. "The magic?"

The stallion frowned a little at the lackluster reaction and dropped back down, turning away and walking forward. "You know, the writing, the researching, the printing."

"So, the opposite of magic?" She giggled.

"Well, I suppose as a unicorn, 'the magic' has a whole different meaning to you," he said with a chuckle and shook his head. "It's a figurative but special magic! The magic of making mares happy all over the world." He stopped outside an office. "Come on in."

Crystal glanced around the room. Papers were strewn about and the walls were covered in various charts, articles, and pictures, all thumb-tacked into place. She took a seat in the first chair while he shut the door and sat on the other side of the desk.

"If I remember correctly," he said while he opened, closed, and tossed aside manila folders until he came to one that made him smile. "Your agent reached out to us about having you be a part of our upcoming serial team?"

"Yes, sir." She nodded. "That's correct."

"Sir? Oh! Forgive me." He flashed a smile. "I'm Sunset Coffee. Don't ask why; weird parents." He looked back down at the papers, his gaze skimming over them. "From the notes here, it looks like the reviewer says you clearly have a knack for this sort of thing." Somewhat unceremoniously, he tilted his head to look at her flank. "Not a surprise there, eh?" He winked. "Hard to argue with a cutie mark."

Crystal flushed. "I guess so, Mr. Coffee."

Sunset Coffee laughed wholeheartedly. "Now that's even worse than sir! Just Sunset's fine. It's a little feminine, but Mr. Coffee makes me sound like a coffee maker." He closed the folder. "Anyway, this is more of a formality so I could meet you. I'll be your main contact from here on out."

"My—?" She blinked slowly.

"Main contact. Of course you're going to get the job." He folded his hooves and rested his snout on them. "There're just a few things we need to hammer out, then I'll be waiting for your pitch."

Crystal still hadn't caught up quite yet. "I got the job?"

Sunset paused curiously, then smiled. "You betcha. Like I said, can't argue with a cutie mark. That'd be like denying your destiny, after all!"

She swallowed an excited squeal like a heavy lump in her throat, but allowed a wide smile. "Thank you, Mr. Sunset!"

"Sunset." He squinted. "I'm only a few years older than you, so it's just Sunset."

"Really?" Crystal glanced around his office. "Not that you seem, um, old, exactly, but, well—"

"It's quite all right," he interrupted, the smile back in place. "You're from Canterlot, so it makes you feel younger."

Her brow furrowed. "What does that mean?"

Sunset gestured vaguely in a wide circle. "Here in Manehattan, secondary school is half as long as yours, so we get jobs much sooner. Canterlot keeps ponies in school longer than anywhere else." He stretched his forelegs above his head, then folded them back on the desk. "I don't have your exact age in the profile your agent sent, but it said you'd be finishing your first year, so that'd mean you'd have already graduated here."

Crystal's gaze slowly fell to her lap as she mulled it over. "That's kind of depressing, actually. I feel like I just aged three years."

He chuckled and dismissed her with a wave of his hoof. “Still plenty young enough to start your glamorous career as an author here with Mares Monthly! Now, about those details I mentioned.”

She looked back up at him. “Oh, right, yes.”

“First of all, your representative just wrote down C.W. as your name. I’m fine with keeping things anonymous, but it’s not exactly common to have a pseudonym consisting of only initials. Do you have a family name or something you'd like to use at the end?"

She twiddled her hooves, considering the options very carefully. This was her future she was talking about! She couldn't pick something that she'd end up hating—"Step." She smiled. "C.W. Step."

Sunset picked up his pencil and scribbled down a note. “Mmhm.” He spat the pencil out onto the table. “Where would you like correspondences mailed to?”

“Correspondences?” She tilted her head.

“You know, letters. All of our editors receive regular mail for their articles, and you’re bound to receive fan mail as an author.”

“Fan mail?” The words fell from her lips as if from a foreign language. “Does that really happen?”

Sunset shrugged. "It depends on your popularity." His expression turned suddenly serious. "Do you think you won't be popular?"

Crystal straightened up. She needed to be confident—or at least appear that way. "Of course I will."

He stared at her a moment longer, then laughed. "There's that Canterlot confidence! Don't worry, it's in my best interests to make sure you're popular. Your success is my success now."

"I didn't know that." She pursed her lips in thought and muttered, "Well, I didn't discuss this with her, but I'm sure she'll be fine with it." She nodded in agreement with herself. "For now, I think it'd be best to use my representative's address."

"Sounds good." He made a note of that. "The last question I have for you is regarding timeline. Do you think you'll be able to get a pitch and a draft of the first installment within the next month? Obviously, this month's issue is out of the question, but if you've got a good story from the get-go it might make it into next month's."

Crystal fidgeted somewhat nervously. She had been trying to think of what she was going to write ever since Velvet had first mentioned Mares Monthly, and so far had come up short. Fear started to grip her chest tight that she would continue to not find any inspiration.

"I can try my best, Sunset," she finally said.

"Works for me!" He reached across the desk to offer his hoof. "I'm looking forward to hearing from you, C.W. Just send a letter when you've got a pitch and if it passes, I'll need a draft as soon as possible."

"Absolutely!" She smiled at him, shook his hoof, and started for the door. "Thank you so much for the opportunity!"

Sunset waved from his desk. "Have a safe trip back to Canterlot!"

Crystal nodded. She navigated her way out of the office area, through the Mares Monthly lobby, and to the stairwell. When the door shut behind her, she looked around to ensure she was alone before she bounced in a small circle. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" She stopped just as suddenly as she began and started the trek down the massive staircase with poise and grace in every step.

She had done it. Velvet had started it, but she was going to finish it. All she had to do was figure out what she was going to write, but her life was finally heading in the direction of her dreams.

The sound of a piano resonated under the current of meandering conversations. Ponies were gathered from the highest rings of Canterlot society, all dressed in their finest garments. The occasional titter or chortle stood out against the velvety tones of the solo pianist's music.

Crystal wasn't sure what plagued her mind more: the plastic smile that she hadn't been allowed to drop for an hour straight, or that her mother had been waiting for her when she got off the train. Upper Crust had likely all but outright interrogated Velvet for her whereabouts, because Crystal sure hadn't told her mother when she was returning. She had planned on spending her spare time before the party with Velvet.

Her mother, of course, had other plans. She endured three days of what was essentially social cram school. In some ways, she understood. They had hosted the Canterlot garden party for two years in a row. Any mishap on her part would knock them off their self-made pedestals. So she just kept smiling—and smiling— and smiling.

Fancy Pants approached her. "I say, Miss Wishes, as always, your parents are quite the perfect party hosts. It must be delightful having their care and expertise guiding you into adulthood." He straightened his monocle. "You are turning quite into the charming mare."

"Quite indeed!" his wife, Lyrica Lilac, agreed with an emphatic, single nod. The others nearby nodded with her.

Crystal smiled. Of course, she was already smiling, but she had to remind herself to continue doing so. "Why, yes, I am quite grateful to my parents, of course."

The nearby mares gave the hollow chortle of geese. Fancy Pants chuckled.

"It's a shame Golden couldn't make it," Crystal continued, her eyelashes fluttering. "I hear her modeling career is doing well."

Fancy Pants's chest swelled with pride. "Why, yes, it is! She's quite busy these days. I'm very proud of her."

"Excuse me," came the sweet and airy voice Crystal dreaded most of all, approaching them from behind her.

Crystal clenched her teeth together. The smile faltered briefly, but thankfully all eyes had turned on her mother. She inclined her head to acknowledge her mother's presence. "Hello, Mother."

"Pardon my intrusion," Upper Crust said in a perfectly apologetic tone. "If I may, I would like to borrow my daughter for a moment."

"Certainly!" Fancy Pants nodded. "Always a pleasure, Miss Wishes."

The other ponies nearby followed him as he walked away to talk to other guests.

Slowly, Upper Crust circled around to Crystal's front. A sly smile was on her lips. "A very important guest has just arrived and I would so very appreciate you greeting him. As is polite, of course."

"Of course." Her ears flicked to pin back against her mane. She forced them forward with some effort while she walked alongside her mother. "Who is this guest, anyway?"

"Why, Prince Blueblood himself, of course."

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