• Published 10th Mar 2016
  • 371 Views, 22 Comments

Like a Flower to the World - Loganberry



Newcomer Verdant Plateau is happy enough eating daisies. Pinkie Pie has other ideas.

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The Quiet Shadows Falling

As Verdant Plateau gulped down her seventh daisy of the day, she became aware of the curious cloud that had obscured the noonday sun. Its shadow wandered and weaved, bobbed and bounced, swayed and swerved. Verdant swallowed again, but this time all that slid down her gullet was a sticky, sickly mixture of saliva and dread.

The shadow moved in for the kill.

“Hellooo! I haven’t seen you around before! You’re new in Ponyville, huh? Well? Are ya?”

Verdant nodded awkwardly, spotting as she did so an eighth daisy sheltering beneath a particularly expansive dandelion leaf. She reached out with a gentle, ginger forehoof to touch it and feel its delicate petals for just a moment, then craned her neck and used her teeth to pluck it smoothly from its hiding place.

“Aw, just boring old flowers? How do you feel about cake?”

A thrush called in a nearby tree. Verdant sucked the new daisy into her mouth, then listened with rapt attention, ears up and head down. There was a sudden commotion in the branches and she looked up reflexively. The bird took off, wings beating smoothly, almost lazily, as it disappeared southward.

“What’s your name?”

Verdant slowly raised her head and was confronted by one of Pinkie Pie’s heartfelt smiles of welcome. Teeth. So many teeth. She shuddered, wishing she shared the songbird’s ability.

“Mmm?” Pinkie batted her eyelashes at Verdant in a way that she found more than faintly disturbing.

The other mare cringed. There was nothing else for it. “Verdant Plateau. I was a language student in Fillydelphia, and now I’m taking a year off.”

“Oh, wow, that’s such a nice name! And it fits so well with your super-amazing coat! I don’t think I know another Verdant, which is odd because I know everypony around here and you’d think there’d be another one in a town like this although I guess Ponyville isn’t a very large town and— oh! I’m Pinkie Pie! And I just know you’re going to love—”

Verdant gulped down the daisy and was immediately seized by a fit of coughing. Her eyes bulged and rolled in her face; her long auburn mane flopped and flashed in the sunlight; spittle flecked the teeth and gums of her wide-open mouth. In seconds, Pinkie was with her, thumping her hard on the back. Verdant stopped coughing and rolled away hurriedly.

“Thanks, Pinkie Pie.” She got unsteadily to her hooves.

“Oh, it was nothin’. But now you owe me for it!” An avaricious light flashed in Pinkie’s eyes.

Verdant sighed and reached for her saddlebags, but her hoof was quickly swatted away.

“Don’t be silly, silly! What would I want bits for? All you have to do is to come to the bakery at six o’clock tonight. You know Sugar Cube Corner, right?” Verdant nodded unwillingly. “Make sure you come to the back door — it’s a little boring on the outside, but it’s what’s inside that counts! Be there or be an éclair! And ooh, that reminds me...”

“What?”

“See ya later – gotta cater!” Pinkie bounced off, whistling a cheerful three-part harmony. Verdant sighed again, returning her attention to the daisies.

* * *

On her third attempt, Verdant finally managed to make it all the way to the bakery’s small and rarely used back door. She knocked once, softly, and listened.

Nothing.

She exhaled and turned away, the ghost of a smile playing on her lips, but found her forehoof reaching out again. She rested it against the surprisingly unadorned brown wood for a few moments. Then she sucked at her teeth and knocked a little louder, giving two brief raps.

Nothing.

This time, only Verdant’s head turned away. Her hoof remained resting against the door, feeling its small depressions and cracks. She gathered herself for one last attempt, weighing in her mind just how hard she really wanted to knock. Eventually, she pulled back her foreleg and, winding herself up for a solid blow— she let the hoof drop.

I have an invitation, after all, she reasoned, and pushed at the door.

It yielded and opened smoothly: there was no scrape or creak, and — oh, what joy — no bell to tingle at the young mare’s passing beneath, but simply the sudden rush to her nostrils of a hundred captivating confections. She closed her eyes tight, but that only made the scents even harder to ignore. Opening them again and taking a deep, broken breath, she entered, leaving the door ajar behind her.

The long hallway was dark and shadowy. A cool breeze filtered in from somewhere above and there was a faint bubbling sound in the distance. There was another door at the end of the passage; this one was firmly shut. After a quick glance over her shoulder, Verdant approached it warily. She reached out to turn the knob, but once more she abruptly dropped her hoof. She bent down to listen.

Nothing.

Muffled and distant behind her, the Town Hall clock chimed six times. She waited for the echoes to die away.

Nothing.

Well, she’d kept her part of the bargain by coming when she’d been told. If nopony else had, that was their problem. Letting out the stale lungful that she hadn’t realised she’d been holding, Verdant turned to leave, relief flooding through her as she stepped—

Pinkie Pie was leaning easily against the painted wall of the hallway, silent and still. She was munching on the remains of a small white flower. A daisy, it looked like.

“You!” Verdant straightened up suddenly. “You startled me! I didn’t know you were even here!”

Pinkie swallowed her snack in one quick gulp and beamed. “Then you, Verdant Plateau, have your head screwed on right.”

“I do?”

Pinkie put a hoof to her temple. “Or was it left?” Her smile wavered for a fraction of a second, then returned in full force.

“Are... are you here to throw me a party?” ventured Verdant.

Pinkie raised an eyebrow. “A party?”

“Isn’t that what you do to new ponies in town?”

“I most certainly do not!” There was sudden, startling weight behind Pinkie’s words, and Verdant took half a step backwards. “That wouldn’t be very friendly!”

“Then what—”

Pinkie Pie pulled herself up to her full height and cleared her throat as though preparing to issue a proclamation. “I do things for new ponies, and I do things with new ponies, and sometimes if they’re pegasi I do things under new ponies. Doing things to new ponies isn’t very friendly, and being a Pinkie Pie means being friendly to everypony.”

Verdant’s brow furrowed. “A Pinkie Pie?”

Pinkie waved a hoof dismissively. “Eh, it’s kind of quantum. Please don’t tell Twilight or she might want to take a look at it and then it might disappear, and I don’t want it to disappear because it is me, and me needs to be here!”

You never really stop being a language student; Verdant couldn’t resist correcting Pinkie. “I need to be here.”

A fraction of a second later, as she realised what she’d done, Verdant braced herself for the inevitable, terrifying hug. It never came. Pinkie was still propped up against the wall, munching steadily on another daisy.

Where did she get that?

“So, Verdant Plateau,” said Pinkie, leaning forward with a neck that seemed made of rubber as she swallowed her latest snack, “did you like your Patent Pinkie Pie Preception Party?”

“Um, what?”

“Preception Party! It’s kinda like a reception party, except that it always comes first!”

“And this was it? Just now?” Verdant’s brow furrowed once more.

Pinkie nodded and smiled. Not a grin, not a smirk, not a beam or a simper. Just a smile.

Verdant started to turn for the door, her face now wearing a remarkably similar smile.

“Yes,” she said.

Author's Note:

A significantly revised and expanded version of my Writeoff minific entry And Thou No Breath at All from the "Things Left Unsaid" round.

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Comments ( 22 )

I don't really understand what happened, I think. Mostly just Pinkie welcoming this character to town in a quiet way? Either way, I like this. It's simple and clean and just nice.

I thought this seemed familiar. An excellent example of Pinkie at her best. I'll try not to collapse her wavefunction on my way out.

7017926 Thank you! :pinkiehappy: Even though the minific didn't do too well in the Writeoff, several people liked how I wrote Pinkie and I thought the story had potential to be expanded to a short one-shot. I'm moderately satisfied with how it turned out.

7017921 Verdant Plateau has social anxiety, something I have (to a degree) myself. Pinkie starts off doing her usual, bouncy welcoming act, but later realises what's going on -- which is why her "party" isn't the huge, loud affair that Verdant fears, but a simple, quiet, heartfelt welcome. Pinkie is much more than a one-dimensional silly pony, and that's what I've tried to get across here. :pinkiesmile:

The original minific was criticised (rightly) for the fact that it was too obscure -- though the prompt for that contest was "Things Left Unsaid", so I couldn't make things too obvious. I've tried to give some more clues in this revised version, but I can see why it might still be a little confusing.

I do things for new ponies, and I do things with new ponies, and sometimes if they’re pegasi I do things under new ponies.

derpicdn.net/img/view/2015/1/25/814032__safe_solo_princess+celestia_meme_le+lenny+face_artist-colon-godofsteak_wollap+style.png

7018294 I say, sir/madam! This is an E-rated story, what! :pinkiegasp:

No genre tags?

7018498 Ooh, thanks for picking that up! It's supposed to be tagged [Slice of Life], and that tag's now been added.

Doing things to new ponies isn’t very friendly, and being a Pinkie Pie means being friendly to everypony.”

Verdant’s brow furrowed. “A Pinkie Pie?”

Pinkie waved a hoof dismissively. “Eh, it’s kind of quantum. Please don’t tell Twilight or she might want to take a look at it and then it might disappear, and I don’t want it to disappear because it is me, and me needs to be here!”

Okay, I really enjoyed this exchange. :pinkiehappy:

7018751 Pinkie can be so much fun to write! :pinkiehappy:

7018170 Hi there :pinkiehappy:

This one was quite difficult... but since it had been written under the preamble "Things left unsaid", it makes sense for it to miss some explanations^^ (You might want to put that point into the description? ;) )
I guessed something like social anxiety at the begin, and I think I myself would be afraid of entering the village as well if I knew Pinkie would be waiting for me, and I don´t have any issues like that xD For Verdant, this must be pure horror...
I like it that you portrayed Pinkie as somepony really investing the effort to find out what just fits the other one perfect.

7018988 Didn´t try it yet, but I really like your version of her. Btw, you should read the scene of Past Sins with Pinkie overcoming the guards of Nightmare Moon by thinking they want to play catch with her xD Just brilliant.

One point:

A thrush called in a nearby tree.

Either I misunderstand the meaning or the verb here, or it´s a typo^^ Isn´t a bird in a tree supposed to rustle or something like that? Or are my English lessons just too long ago? :twilightblush:

I liked this but didn't love it. Some of the Pinkie dialogue feels a little too Louis Carroll to me, rather than feeling authentically Pinkie in voicing. A couple of British turns of phrases as well.

I was a language student in Fillydelphia, and now I’m taking a year out.

'Taking a year out' just isn't an American phrase, and since Fillydelphia is analogous to Philadelphia, I'd expect it to be something like 'taking a break' or taking a year off.' Of course, going to school in Fillydelphia isn't the same as being from Fillydelphia. She could be a British pony, but I'm not getting that sense from the majority of the dialogue.

I think the thing with this story is that Pinkie is written well in terms of acting like Pinkie, but sometimes doesn't sound like herself. With a little tightening, she could really shine through. In certain instances, she's pretty informal. She uses an 'Are ya?' and has a usage of 'nothin'', yet in other places she's a little stuffier sounding.

I most certainly would not!

It goes so well with your really nice coat.

This vacillation pulls me out of the story a little bit.

Putting that aside, I do really like some of the bits of Pinkie-ness that shine through. Acknowledging a quantum nature that no one else understands. Intrinsically knowing what kind of party the new pony needs. Whistling a three part harmony. All good stuff. I enjoyed that a lot.

As a character, Verdant works well, though she's a little bland. Nothing wrong with bland, but I don't have a burning desire to know more about her story. I'm much more interested in Pinkie here, and that's probably largely the point. Verdant is basically a surrogate Fluttershy here, so it leaves me wondering why you didn't just use Fluttershy's first meeting with Pinkie. One thing that I did really like was the conflict at the bakery door. Verdant's head wants to leave, but her heart has at least some desire to go through with it. I like that window into her personality. I do think it would be a touch stronger with one little thread in the beginning that gave a tiny indication that she wanted this, rather than just full on socially uncomfortable with Pinkie. Nothing major, but just something that gave the hesitation at the door a justification.

Anyway, I'm probably nitpicking this to death the way that I do. I enjoyed the story overall. Nice, descriptive prose. Two solid characterizations. An understandable plot that moved toward a satisfying conclusion. All in all, quite good.

:pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy::pinkiehappy:

Honestly, I thought that was a fantastic little story. I wasn't *quite* sure what had happened at the end, but I read that part again and it twigged. It was a very nice thought that Pinkie wouldn't always be loud and crowdy if she realises it would make another pony feel unhappy or even scared. That made her seem so much more thoughtful than she might normally seem. (Crankie springs to mind at this point. With the best will in the world, Pinkie just would not leave the poor guy alone, even if it did all work out okay in the end.)

Also, I thought you'd written Pinkie just right. I know from what you and others have said that she isn't all that easy to write for, or at least not convincingly. Not that I've any actual experience of attempting to write a Pinkie for a Pinkie story ever at all so I have no idea in the slightest just what it would be like to write Pinkie in a Pinkie style that is definitely absotootily Pinkie through and through like a stick of rock but pink even though some rock is pink anyway and *huff huff huff* :pinkiegasp:

Uhoh... Schrödinger's Pinkie. That proves without a doubt that there are definitely more than one. The mirror pool was just a distraction to hide us from the truth. :derpyderp1:

7020621 I read Past Sins quite a long time ago. I reviewed it here. :pinkiesmile: And birds do indeed "call", so that word is correct.

7020679 Thank you so much for that comment -- what other fandom would give me feedback like that on a story this short? I'll address a few of your points in a moment, but as a general thing: you may remember that some time ago I described myself as a "middling to good" ponyfic writer. I think this story is firmly in the "middling" class, whereas (say) It Doesn't Matter Now is further towards the "good" end of the spectrum.

'Taking a year out' just isn't an American phrase

This is American English failure on my part, I think partly because "taking a year off" and "taking a year out" aren't quite synonyms in British English. (The "out" version strongly implies a link to education.) As it's such an easy edit, though, I've changed it to "taking a year off" now.

It goes so well with your really nice coat.

Ah, I thought you'd pick out that one, and I agree: it's probably the weakest line of dialogue in the entire story. I can hear Pinkie saying, "I most certainly would not!" but not this. I'll think about how to edit that.

Verdant is basically a surrogate Fluttershy here, so it leaves me wondering why you didn't just use Fluttershy's first meeting with Pinkie.

Partly because I didn't want a well-known character for the original Writeoff round, partly because my headcanon for pre-show Fluttershy wouldn't allow it and partly because I needed a pony who couldn't fly away!

All in all, quite good.

For a little story like this, I'll take that, thank you! I did come close to simply putting the Writeoff version in Little Bits, partly because it's not one of my best, but a couple of people I showed that to urged me to turn it into a standalone story.

7020684 Thank you! :pinkiehappy: As I said in my reply to xjuggernaughtx, I don't think this is my best Pinkie fic, but it does have its moments.

7020916

And birds do indeed "call", so that word is correct.

Haha, would have wondered if it actually hadn´t been a fault on my side. :twilightblush: *Takes a look on a calendar* Eeyup, I´m definitely allowed to forget some of the stuff from school by now :twilightsmile:

Please, tell me: What is your headcanon for the early Flutters?
And: Is your review spoiler-free or do I have to cut it at one point?

7020916 You're very welcome.

and partly because I needed a pony who couldn't fly away!

This is a damn good reason.

8088234 Thanks. I think. :rainbowderp:

7020948
Even for me, waiting nearly two years to respond to a comment is a bit much, so my apologies for that. At the time you asked the question (March 2016) my headcanon was what I wrote in Where They Understand You. Some of that story was rendered irreconcilable with canon after "Flutter Brutter" aired, but it's still the most I've ever thought about that issue.

8711066
Hey there.

It's been quite a while indeed, but I don't mind.

Honestly forgot about this comment, but it's nice to see there's a story covering that matter, too. And hey, most stories eventually clash with the show canon. The older they are, the higher the risk. I don't think anyone really expected that we'd get focus episodes for all of the Mane Six' parents. (After all, only Rarity's parents remain)

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