• Published 6th Jan 2017
  • 1,921 Views, 21 Comments

Either Or - SPark

A pony, caught between two conflicting desires, contemplates who he wants to be.

  • ...

A Difficult Choice

Big Macintosh Apple stared at his closet.

It felt symbolic, given what "coming out of the closet" meant. He ran a hoof down the soft fabric of Orchard Blossom's dress. He'd had Rarity repair it. She'd made it in the first place, long before he'd finally dared to put it on to take part in the Sisterhooves Social. She'd never breathed a word, of course. She loved gossip, but when push came to shove she could keep a secret. Though that particular secret was out. Probably. He had no idea if anypony had guessed that the dress was something more than just a desperate ploy to bond with his little sister. If he ignored it, hopefully they would all forget that day had ever happened.

The big stallion sighed, feeling its silky softness. Putting it on had felt so right in so many ways. He could put it on now and go look in the little mirror on the bathroom cabinet. But he knew what he'd see. He wouldn't see a slender, graceful mare with a mare's curves. He'd see a stallion, huge and blocky and awkward, in a dress.

With another sigh he shut the closet door and set about his day.

No matter how he tried to put Orchard Blossom and his divided feelings about her out of his mind, though, he just couldn't. His managed to put on a good face for his sisters, but when they were out of sight his feet dragged and his head hung low. He felt trapped, caught between two things, and having both was utterly impossible.

Orchard Blossom was one of those things. He wanted to be her. Something about her was freeing. Donning the dress set his tongue loose, and it seemed to set his spirit loose as well. It felt so good, so right! The worst thing was that he knew he could claim that rightness if he truly wanted it. There was a way. There were unicorns who had spells that could erase that blocky shape that looked so wrong in the dress and replace it with the curves he desired. He could become her.

But only if he gave up the other thing he wanted; only if he gave up Big Macintosh. The spells were permanent. If he chose, there would be no going back. He would be a mare, plain and simple and in so many ways wonderful, for the rest of his life.

He knew that many of the things he loved about his life would still be his as a mare. He had only to look at how Applejack worked up an honest sweat around the farm to know that he'd still be able to enjoy tending apple trees. And yet there would be things missing. He wouldn't be the same person. He wouldn't fit into the world in the same way. He'd be letting go of so much that made him who he was. No matter how right the dress felt, no matter how much he longed after Orchard Blossom and all that she represented, he couldn't give up Big Macintosh for her.

So he went about his day as he did every day, trying to not think about the dress in the closet, trying to pretend that half of his Self wasn't missing, trying to insist that Big Mac was just fine the way he was, in a sweaty old yoke, hauling apples into town, with no hint of grace or beauty about him whatsoever. He was as rough as the work-worn cart he towed. He was not made for the softness of satin and silk. That was how it always had been, that was how it always would be.

"Fresh apples, two for a bit!" His deep voice boomed under the higher tones of the other sellers at the Ponyville Square Market. Most of them were mares, but even the other stallions were mostly baritones and tenors to his decided bass rumble.

He wasn't fond of selling, he'd rather just pull the cart and let Applejack sell the apples, but sometimes things just worked out that way, so he did the best he could. As he called out his wares he let his eyes scan the crowd. Ponies of all sorts wandered amid the various stalls, examining the wares, searching for whatever produce or hooficrafts they found themselves needing. He'd never been a fan of crowds, but sometimes pony watching was interesting.

As he scanned the throng, his eyes fell on one pony in particular. He was an older stallion with a gray coat and a faded indigo mane and tail. He wore a red hat and a collar with an old-fashioned bolo tie that matched the bolo tie on his cutie mark. Also, he was threading his way through the crowd, directly towards Big Mac's apple stall.

Oh no.

Big Mac very definitely recognized the pony. He'd been one of the officials at the disastrous Sisterhooves Social. He must have recognized Big Mac too, or he wouldn't be heading for him with such obvious determination. For just an instant the big stallion considered trying to hide or flee the inevitable embarrassment, but in the end he just stood beside his stall, watching probable doom slowly approach.

"Hello there young stallion. Fine afternoon we're having."

"Uhm. Ayup."

The older stallion's greeting was surprisingly light and cheerful. Well, doom surely was about to descend at any second.

"I have a feeling that you might be able to do me a little favor. I hear you might know a mare, fine figure of a lady, by the name of Orchard Blossom."

There it was. Though the doom had arrived in a very confusing form. Why was the old pony asking if he knew Orchard Blossom? Surely it was obvious that he had been Orchard Blossom? The other officials had certainly been clear on that point.

"If you would be so kind as to tell her that she has an admirer in Aglet Finding—that's me, of course—and that he'd love to treat her to a dinner out sometime, I'd be very much obliged." He hoofed over a card, which Big Mac took instinctively, without even looking at it.

He found himself at a complete loss for words. He was often laconic, but he was seldom utterly speechless. Now, though, all he could do was stare. "I..."

"She doesn't have to reply if she doesn't want to. You can take your time relaying my message." The old stallion smiled and winked.

"I... she..." He tried to collect his thoughts and finally blurted, "There ain't no Orchard Blossom. Never was. Just... just a stallion looking like a fool."

Aglet chuckled softly and reached out—and up—to pat Big Mac's shoulder. "I'm old, son, not stupid or blind. I know that. But there's just something about a stallion in a dress. Something about all that ruggedness being all lady-like. Can't really say exactly what, but it does things for me."

"I..." Big Mac shook his head, utterly confused and baffled.

"Take your time to think about it, but I really would be honored to take her—and by her I do mean you, yes—out sometime. Nothing too serious, I know I'm twice your age, but still, the invitation stands." Aglet patted him again, smiled, then turned and walked back into the crowd.

Moonlight washed out the colors of the dress, but Big Macintosh stood looking at it all the same. He stroked it, thinking about the startling day he'd had. That somepony might find him interesting—attractive even—despite the fact that he didn't remotely pass for a mare had never crossed his mind.

The moon had only just risen, so the night was still young. Young enough that even an old stallion would probably still be awake. Certainly young enough that the restaurants of Ponyville would still be open.

Aglet's card, which had proved to bear his name and his address, neatly printed next to a picture of his cutie mark, sat on the bedside table. Big Mag glanced at it, then back at the dress again.

Finally he stepped forward and took the dress off its hanger.

Minutes later, Orchard Blossom quietly slipped out of Sweet Apple Acres and headed towards town. Maybe this wouldn't work. Maybe it would be too uncomfortable, or embarrassing, or shameful. Maybe she would hate Aglet. Maybe Aglet would hate her.

But maybe, just maybe, there might be room in this world for Orchard Blossom and Big Macintosh both.

Author's Note:

I know this is a very short thing, and it doesn't really come to a perfect conclusion. But such problems really don't have perfect conclusions. I just wanted to express some thoughts I'd had about the subject, and thus the best conclusion I could find was having Big Mac arrive at a hopeful thought, which certainly beats having no hope at all.

That said, I kind of would like to eventually add a second chapter with a better resolution, I'm just still not quite certain exactly what the resolution would or should be. Suggestions are welcome!

Comments ( 21 )

Should you decide to go onward, I would be quite interested to see where you take this.

I mean, at the very least, he could probably do what Eddie Izzard does, and dresses up, while remaining still him. It allows the comfort of exterior appearance, while still letting him retain his identity.

Nice and sweet. I liked it! <3

Who Orchard Blossom, and where is he (She?) from?

7846085 Did you see the Brotherhooves Social episode where Big Mac dressed up as a girl to pretend to be Applebloom's sister? That's where. :twilightsmile:

7846079 Thanks!

7846070 Yeah, I lean towards something like that, but with Big Mac not being an entertainer, but a country pony, it puts different obstacles in the way. And also trying to figure out how to end up at that point of comfort in a way that makes sense as a story is difficult. I don't want to just have like... Luna lay that option out to him in a dream or something that's a Deus Ex Machina cop-out, but for satisfying storytelling there does have to be some kind of precipitating incident, and I'm not sure what it would be.

Oh, my! What a delightfully accepting trans-spectrum story! :pinkiehappy: I love it!

This would make a really nice chapter (especially if extended a bit) in a longer story that explored more fully Mac's history and feelings about it. Has he felt that way a long time? When and how did he do the research that told him the change was permanent? And - pardon my delve into metamagic - if there's a spell to make a change one way, why wouldn't there be one to go the other, and/or why wouldn't it work on somepony who had already changed?

And of course, has Mac told anypony about this before? What happened? How does he get along with them now?

I could go on, but suffice it to say I enjoyed this delve and am glad to see more stories from you!

Light and laughter,

7846120 You ask good questions! And actually if I do end up expanding this, a flash-back about how this started and what his early experiences were like is not a bad idea.

I have a hand-waving idea about why the spell to change might be permanent, but even if it isn't, Big Mac isn't a unicorn, so he'd have to pay or get a favor for each back and forth, which still would complicate things immensely.

I actually have at least one more story on a similar theme coming out soon, for a given value of soon.

Oh, that was quite well done. Good story, good inner conflict, even if it was rather short- And you're right. Often situations like these have no good, clean conclusions. Nice work!

I still like this a lot.

7846179 Thank you both. I'm glad people are enjoying this odd little thing.

Where are the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo when you need them? :pinkiehappy:



I could imagine he encounters someone super deadpan, and they just flat out say "why don't you do both?"

7846816 Ha ha ha. Yeah, that'd solve things pretty quick. Though of course it presents all new problems of its own!


Well, it is a curse... :pinkiehappy:

7846100 I think there are more or less straightforward paths to things working out. At the very least, they're currently going out on a really weird date with this old dude that probably has arbitrary knowledge about trans-stuff. What that date looks like would probably work fine as a chapter even if it doesn't act as a larger precipitating factor to Mac working things out. And should you so desire, it provides a decent angle towards whatever pony and/or pony group you'd want to point them towards.

On top of that, Mac is going out, to a restaurant, in a dress, and without any clear dress-motivating factors like they had last time. Someone's gonna see them like that, and from there word is going to go in some direction. They weren't clearly out as trans until this exact point, and from there you have a whole group of ponies to work with. The ponies who directly see Mac get some potential narrative input, and word's inevitably getting back to AJ, Bloom, and the rest of the mane 6 and CMC, along with Granny. Also, Mac probably gets some direct mental input into what goes down, as opposed to simply acting as the repository for the trans-plans of others.

So, there's a pretty broad and well defined possibility space here that probably doesn't include Celestia or Luna, because they'd only really make sense here as an information source that never makes a true appearance. You also presumably have a place you want Mac to go with this, as an end-condition. The way from the start point to the end state likely makes some use of a subset of that possibility space. AJ in particular I'd think would have a lot more difficulty with an unsure Mac than a clear transition Mac.

As a general outline, I personally would probably start on Aglet, because jeez, then that allows for some AJ interaction, which has a decent array of possible interactions to work with (by tradition you'd start at the more confrontational end, and have a second interaction later, with the main conflict sources being her learning of this from gossip, meaning some degree of dishonesty, and the indeterminacy of Mac's gender identity, but you could always keep the interaction count at one), along with some lower key interactions with Granny and Bloom. Then, the really obvious next place to go is Rarity, because first, she's always known about this, and second she might actually be pretty knowledgeable, plausibly all the way up to pony-Izzard awareness if you want to go the really direct route. That interaction could be the big revelatory one, if you want, or you could have a bunch of others. The mane 6 has a bunch of fanonical coming out reactions, ones that'd presumably be adapted to the fact that they don't actually care overmuch about Mac, meaning they'd take a relatively objective stance.

So, yeah, lots of possible precipitating stuff.

This is good. Glad I took a bit of time to read this! :twilightsmile:

7849353 Those are some great suggestions! Though as the length of your comments makes pretty evident (though I already knew), resolving this in a way that isn't very trite or cheap would require me to embark on yet another lengthy epic, and I have too many of those on my plate already! Thus odds are that it won't happen. One more chapter, if I could think of a good way to wrap it up quickly, I might consider, but a novel-length treatment is pretty unlikely unless something unusual inspires me. :twilightsmile:

7849425 Thank you! :pinkiehappy:

7850049 Yeah, there's definitely a super long version of this story. The shortest extension would probably just cover this weird date you've set up, which would incidentally allow for a lot of plausible conclusions to the arc. It seems unlikely that a longer version wouldn't feature AJ, or that Mac could plausibly conclude this problem solving expedition with her, so anything past that one chapter extension would likely mean about three chapters. And then, past that, it probably would inevitably structure itself as a ridiculous non-binary epic.

I liked the ending and all the possibilities it offered, which felt conclusive in itself.

8118036 I'm glad you liked it. :twilightsmile:


I think this story is best left open-ended... I think that makes the impact much more powerful.

i love this story and should you add more which i hope you do ill gladly read it

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