• Published 11th Aug 2017
  • 2,757 Views, 168 Comments

Vanishing Act - redandready45

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Sunday Morning

Sunny sat down on a bench in the middle of Canterlot Heights Park. The sky was blue, the weather was perfect, and she had her favorite lunch in the typical paper bag. She stuck her hand into it, pulled out her sandwich, and bent her neck to take a bite.

"Mmm, ham," Sunny said happily, chewing on savory ham-with-mayo.

When she raised her neck for a moment, she saw a purple haired girl. Her neck jolted up, and she saw Twilight facing away from her.

She dropped her beloved sandwich in shock, jumped up from the bench, and ran over to Twilight, a smile on her face, and tears flowing from her eyes.

"Twilight," Sunny croaked, her sad voice tinged with joy as she ran over to the geeky girl, "you're alive! I'm so glad your OK. How did you survive the purple light thing?!" Twilight didn't turn to face Sunny, to the Shadowbolt's confusion, which displaced her tearful happiness.

"Twilight," she repeated with some trepidation, but the lavender-skinned girl refused to face her. She sighed sadly. "I know what we did was wrong, but do you really need to do the silent treatment?" she asked, some desperation in her voice. "Look, just give us a chance to make this up to you." She reached over a hand to put on Twilight's left shoulder. "Please, just-," as soon as Sunny's hand made contact with Twilight's shoulder, the bookworm turned around abruptly with an inhuman speed.

Instead of seeing Twilight's lavender head on its neck, Sunny saw a corroded skull, with flies and worms pouring out of its eye holes and mouth.

"AAAAAAAAH!"

Sunny awoke with a gasp, and started breathing heavily. Once she caught her breath, she fought not to sob, even as warm tears swirled down her cheeks.

******

Sunny sat down with her parents at breakfast. Her father, Late Shift, and her mother, Mink Coat, were focusing on their smartphones, texting with some colleague or client. Sunny was struggling to keep her emotions in check.

Sunny's parents, Late Shift and Mink Coat, were the parents who had to give up family time for the corporate rat race. While Sunny felt neglected sometimes, she understood it was only because of their hard work that she could afford to be at Crystal Prep. She learned long ago that parents have to do things they don't want to do in order to provide for their children.

One of the reasons why Sunny fought back her sadness was because Sunday mornings were one of the few times she ever had time to spend with her family, and she was determined not to ruin it with grief.

Yet, she even couldn't muster the will to eat the pancakes her mom had made.

"Sunny," Mink Coat uttered in a concerned tone, looking up from her phone,"why aren't you eating your pancakes? What's wrong?"

Sunny sighed. Her mom may have been a career woman, but that didn't stop her from a being a mom. She could tell when something was bothering her daughter. Her father too could read her a mile away, and he was now looking at her with the same concern in his eyes.

"Sunny," Late Shift asked in a soothing voice, "are you still upset what happened at the Friendship Games?"

Sunny's parents weren't there Thursday. They only knew the official story, and believed her grief was due to seeing her teammate die.

She saw her parents rise from their seats and hugged her tightly. Sunny again fought off tears, for getting comfort she didn't deserve.

"Sweetheart," Mink Coat said soothingly. "I'm sorry you saw your classmate die." Sunny couldn't take it, letting guilty tears roll down her eyes.

"Besides," said Late Shift,"it wasn't your fault that the Twilight girl died." The reassurance and sheer irony echoed in Sunny's ears like a horrible violin solo. Sunny started hyperventilated. She broke out of her parents' hug, and ran out of the house, barely hearing the concerned cries of her parents behind her.

******

Sunny drove away from her family's house in her used convertible. Even after ten minutes, she still couldn't stop crying. After nearly tailgating someone due to her grief distracting her, she pulled into a public parking lot where she could let out her sadness safely. After five minutes of weeping Sunny sat there, staring at the her own reflection.

'I've always tried to hide my bad behavior from my parents,' Sunny thought to herself. 'because I was afraid they would take away my cellphone, but they were always minor things. I do the worst thing ever-murder- and I want to tell them. I want to be punished.' Sunny hugged herself and starting sobbing again. 'But I can't tell them, or else everybody will know Cadence lied. That means she'll lose her job, and Cinch will come back.'

She leaned on the steering wheel, careful not to press the horn, the feeling of guilt making it almost impossible to breath.

'But I've got tell someone. I can't take this anymore.'

******

Sunny pulled up to the Canterlot Memorial Church. It was a wooden, white building with a mid-sized steeple that had a cross at the tip. It was about 10:30 am, which meant that the morning services were over, and most of the congregants were now leaving and going home.

With tons of people driving away, Sunny had no difficulty finding a spot close by. Nevertheless, getting out of the car was still difficult, considering who she was about to see, and what she was about to do.

'I haven't seen him in two years,' Sunny thought to herself. 'Will he care about what I have to say? Will he be mad that I never talked to hiim.'

But her burning guilt drove out her other guilt, and forced her to leave the car.

She walked into the building, and began feeling a bit nostalgic. The old wooden pews, the colorful mosaic windows, the choir singing haunting but beautiful chants from centuries ago, the simple giant wooden crucifix on the wall above the altar. The sights and sounds of her childhood were lifting her spirits a bit. But her mood turned serious once she remembered her reason for being here.

She slowly walked down the path between the pews, her click of her heels muted by the red carpet. Behind the altar were two doors that contained offices. With a heavy heart, Sunny knocked on the door on the right.

"Come in," said a male voice. With some reluctance, Sunny opened the door. Inside was a green-colored, elderly man wearing a cassock, a clerical collar, and a pair of glasses. He was balding, with his remaining hair having turned grey. He was sitting in front of the simple desk, looking down on a notebook, writing intensely in it.

"So," the man said,"how can I help you, young...," the man looked up from his notebook, and his attentive face twisted into shock. Sunny flinched back a bit.

"Sunny Flare," the man said in disbelief. "Is that you?"

"Father Golden Cross," Sunny said reluctantly, "how have you...", her nervous words were cut off when Father Golden Cross gave her a gregarious smile.

"It's good to see you again Sunny," the man said happily,"how have you been?" Within an instant, Sunny's guilt over not visiting in two years was shredded by Father Cross' warm welcome.

"It's good to see you too Father," Sunny said happily. Her face then twisted into a frown, " But...I've been better." She looked down in shame for a moment. "I'm sorry I haven't been here in a-,"

"Don't worry," Cross said happily. "I know you've been busy with school. Besides I know you're only hear because you want to eat the cookies off of my desk".

"No," Sunny said almost playfully, nostalgia washing over her as she remembered their weekly meetings. From when she was 8 to when she was 14, Sunny would always pay a visit to Father Cross for some advice. One of the things Sunny loved about Father Cross was that he was a good listener and he gave good advice. Whenever she couldn't count on her parents for advice or support, Sunny could count on Father Cross to lend an ear. He was never mean or demanding in his advice, nor would he rat her out to her parents or the police.

But then she entered Crystal Prep, and those meetings ended, as she was pulled into the world of high school politics and homework. But today, she needed Cross' ear and wisdom. And the fact that he still remembered after all these years warmed Sunny's heart.

"I want to confess something," Sunny said carefully.

"Sit down." Father Cross said peacefully. Sunny fell into the chair in front of the desk. He got up from his chair and went over to a coffee maker in the corner. "Would you like some decaf," Father Cross asked.

"Sure, black," Sunny replied. Father Cross returned with two Styrofoam cups of coffee. He placed one directly in front of Sunny, and placed the other cup in front of himself as he sat down. "Thank you," Sunny uttered.

"So, what's on your mind?" Father Cross asked. Sunny struggled to find the right words, taking several minutes to do so. Her face must have looked stupid to others. But Father Cross didn't glare at or condemn her reluctance. He waited patiently as she tried to come up with a proper response.

"Well," Sunny began, tears threatening to leak down her eyes. "There was this girl." She stopped. "Me and my friends, well, um," she fought another sob. "We wanted to win this contest really badly." Her eyes were watering. "And this girl had this thing that we thought would help us win. We made her try and cheat with it," she paused, tears about to leak out of her eyes. "And it.... hurt her badly. And now she's...gone" With those final words, Sunny broke down in tears. She cried for a minute, letting loose her anger and shame, all the while Father Cross sat their patiently, not even shaking his foot, as Sunny let it all out. When her cries returned to whimpers, Father Cross raised his voice.

"I see," Cross muttered calmly,"what do mean by 'gone'? Is she...not at your school anymore?"

"Sure," Sunny said after a few moments. It wasn't the complete truth, but it was a way to confess her deed without giving it fully away.

"Was this girl a friend of yours," Father Cross asked.

"No," Sunny said flatly,"she was this little nerd with glasses who no one at our school liked."

"Why did no one like her," Father Cross asked, but in a way that was not judgmental.

"Because she always showing off how smart she was," Sunny muttered in frustration.

"Did you ever interact with this girl before," Father Cross asked her.

"Well, we had some classes together," Sunny said, "but the only other time we, for a lack of better term, 'hung out' was..."

Flashback

Popular girls always threw the best parties, Sunny Flare observed. And the parties thrown by Suri Polomare were no exception. Her home was full of the coolest stuff. Suri's parents ordered the best food. The best DJs were there, able to make even most vapid pop songs sound awesome. Almost the entire freshman class was here.

"Hey Sunny," Suri said cordially. "How are things?"

"Fabulous," Sunny replied, sounding like a noblewoman,"you never do anything by halves."

"No other way to do it," Suri said with a smile. Suri was about to say something when Fleur ran up to them.

"Suri," Fleur said with a wicked smile, "our 'special guest' is here ". Suri's face also contorted into that weird smile, like when she was about to strike down a perceived opponent.

"I'll let her in myself," Suri said in an unusually cheerful tone. Sunny saw Suri walk over to the door. To her shock, Suri was welcoming that pedantic teacher's pet from her business class. Why would Suri invite that loser here?

"Sunny," Suri said, her arm around Twilight's shoulder ,"this is Twilight". The girl looked scared of her own shadow, but nevertheless let Suri drag her across the room. Twilight smiled a little bit and looked happily at Suri. Suri, in return looked at her like a shark about to consume its prey, which Twilight misread as welcoming..

"OK everybody," Suri said outloud, cutting off the music and grabbing everyone's attention, "put down your sodas and your snacks. Right now, we start our main event. And to help us out is Twilight Sparkle!"

Twilight gave a weak wave at everybody and laughed nervously. Everybody, in return, looked confused or annoyed with the girl being here, like Sunny did.

"Twilight," Suri said," go stand in that corner there to get us started." Twilight, somewhat eager, did exactly was she was told.

"OK Fleur," Suri said with a grin, "do the thing!" Fleur returned the grin, and pulled on some string that was connected to the ceiling. Suddenly, a whole bunch of green and blue paint fell on top of Twilight. For a moment, the room was so quiet, one could hear a pin drop, as both Twilight and everyone else struggled to register was happened. During that minute Sunny looked up, and saw a bucket suspended from the ceiling connected by the string Fleur pulled.

The silence was broken by Suri and Fleur laughing like loons.

"Give it up for Twilight everybody," Fleur said sarcastically. Within a minute, everyone was laughing like crazy at the girl who got nailed by paint, except for Sunny for continued to stare at Twilight, who stood there in a trance.

Twilight broke her trance by looking up at the bucket, staring dully. Then she looked at the party-goers who were laughing at her. Her lip started to quiver. After about ten seconds, the paint-covered girl let out a pained wail. She ran out of the room in tears, her sobs drowned out by the cruel laughter and fake applause of everyone present.

Sunny saw the girl run out, leaving a trail of paint and tears behind her. Part of her wanted to run after Twilight, and tell her-

NO! That girl was some showoff who needed to be put in her place. Sunny was here to be popular, not play babysitter to some nerd. So she laughed along with everyone else.

Sunny finished the story, looking thoroughly ashamed. She looked at Father Cross, expecting admonishment, but instead, she still saw those same kind eyes she had seen since she was small.

"So you let her get bullied because you were more concerned about popularity," said Father Cross. Any other person would have said that with scorn, but Father Cross said that without any hint of emotion.

"Yes," Sunny Flare, tearing up. "I didn't care about her, only about what I wanted." She let out a deep breath, trying to control her emotions and continued.

"Eventually, she ratted on Suri and Fleur, and Cadence gave them a really bad detention," she let out a deep breath. "Suddenly she was a snitch, and we all avoided her instead. Every day, I always made fun of her, or make her sit in the corner of the lunch room." She let out another deep breath. "And I made her do that thing during that contest because...I again didn't care about her, only about what I wanted. I realize I never cared about her-,"

"And you feel upset because now that she is 'gone'," Father Cross said,"you can't make it up to her." Sunny hung her head in shame, and sobbed and sobbed like a baby. Cross went over to try and give Sunny a hug, but Sunny stopped her.

"No, Father," Sunny said, holding her hands up, in a quiet, pained voice. "I don't deserve a hug. I don't deserve forgiveness. I can't make it up to her, it is too late for me to be forgiven."

"Sunny," Father Cross said forcefully. The strong tone broke Sunny out of her pity party ,"understand, that I have not always served the word of the Lord. I, like you, once chose popularity above what was right. I too have done things to people that they didn't forgive. " Sunny looked at him, stunned.

"I once dropped a bucket of glue on a boy's head," Father Cross said with a sheepish smile. Sunny's jaw dropped,"and eventually, I did go over to his house, and try to make amends." Father Cross said. He then gave a sad smile. "He hit me in the face, and told me to go to Hell," Father Cross said.

"Did it hurt," Sunny asked, "when that guy said he wouldn't forgive you and hit you?"

"Yes," Father Cross said solemnly,"it hurt a lot. I laid down and cried, thinking I would never be liked again. I would never be good." He then gave a smile, "but then I learned that the path to redemption is not about seeking forgiveness or hiding in the room, thinking you don't deserve love." Father Cross sat back in his chair. "The way you redeem yourself is through repentance."

"Repentance?," asked Sunny confused.

"Here's the first thing you need to do!," Father Cross said, leaning in. "you have to first forgive yourself, which is always the hardest part," Sunny began tearing up a little. " After that, go home and ask your parents to make you your favorite dinner. Make yourself feel better."

"And after that?" Sunny asked.

"Just be a better person," Father Cross said simply. "'Repent' doesn't mean punish or discipline. ' It originally means 'turn away'."

"Turn away?"

"Turn away from sin," Father Cross said dramatically. "Turn away from evil. Turn away from selfishness. Turn away from cruelty. Turn away from hurting others who have done you no harm!" He leaned back, relaxing a bit. "In other words, you just have to be a better person." Sunny looked down. "It's not impossible. I overcame what I was, and I now serve the Lord and heal souls."

"I want to be better," Sunny said quietly. She looked up at Father Cross with tired eyes. "But I don't know how."

"I have an idea," Father Cross said. "Throughout history, when warriors slayed their foes, they were told to raise the orphaned children as their own to redeem the blood they shed."

"You want me to kill somebody and steal their kid?" asked Sunny Flare, aghast.

"That's option B," Father Cross quipped. He then let out a small laugh. Sunny smiled a little. "No. Here's what you can do. Find a girl like this other girl you didn't care about. A girl with no friends and with glasses, and who seems too smart for her own good. If you meet her, be the friend you wish you could've been to this other girl. If you meet her, be the friend you wish you could've been to this other girl. Give her the love and care you wish you could give to the other girl. That is your mission, Sunny. Be the person you wish you could've been, and you will have repented".

Sunny stared at Father Cross for a few seconds, before letting out the widest smile she had smiled in days.

"That's a great idea Father," Sunny said. "I'll do it!"

"Good!" Father Cross said happily. "No I want you to understand that you're not a bad person. If you were, you wouldn't be here trying to be better." Father Cross got up and put an arm around Sunny's shoulder. "Even if you lose faith in yourself, I have faith in you Sunny, that you will try and be better."

Father Cross was cut off by a huge hug that Sunny was giving him. He decided to return the hug as well. After a minute they parted.

"Thank you so much," Sunny Flare said, grinning. "Can we start our weekly chats again? I remember how they make me feel less...sad."

"Of course!" Father Cross said happily. "I'd be delighted."

Sunny walked out of the Church with a new lease on life, feeling better then she felt, having found a new mission in life.

Twilight, wherever you are, Sunny Flare thought as she looked to the sky, Heaven or some place else- I promise you, I will never make the same mistake again. I'll be the friend I wish I could've been.

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