• Published 15th Jun 2021
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Back to School - Coyote de La Mancha

Along with being Princess Twilight's apprentice, Sunrise Shimmer hopes to become Ms. Cheerilee's teaching assistant. The first day is often the most challenging.

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Chapter Five: Dealing with Parents.

“Oh?” Miss Cheerilee said carefully. “What about?”

“Well, it’s been the first day of a new school year,” Diamond’s mother said as she entered. Behind her, Diamond Tiara followed suit, ears and tail down, clearly feeling more mortified by the second. “Classes have begun again. And plans, for however much they’re worth, are being made.”

“Yes, that’s what the first day of school is,” the teacher replied with an eyeroll. “We all know—”

“Actually, I’m not sure we all do,” the pink mare interrupted, cocking an eyebrow at Sunrise. “I’m certainly not familiar with your latest curiosity.”

“Mom, I already—” Diamond Tiara started.

“Don’t speak while your elders are talking unless you’re spoken to, Diamond Tiara,” her mother cut her off primly. “It’s a sign of poor breeding.”

Taking in Sunrise’s mohawk and ear piercings, and then letting her gaze slide down to her bandaged hoof, the older mare added, “Amongst other things I could mention.”

Wincing, Cheerilee snuck a glance at Sunrise. But Sunrise seemed to be contemplating the ceiling with an almost philosophical air.

You’re putting on airs about being a thoroughbred pony, Sunrise thought, keeping her face neutral as she could. You’re actually doing this. You’re a pony, and you’re bragging about your own breeding. That’s… kind of amazing.

Just how many competitions did you have to show in, before your hubby said ‘I do,’ she wondered. Or did you judge him on his dressage instead, make him show his technical skills and endurance before condescending to let him into your boudoir?

Then, her eyes narrowing as she brought her attention back to the ponies around her, It would be funny if you weren’t using it to stab your fucking kid.

“Oh,” Cheerilee was saying. “Well, Mrs. Rich, this is Sunrise. She’s—”

“Not the pony I came here to speak with,” Mrs. Rich interrupted.

“…been helping me teach today, and incidentally doing a splendid job of it,” Cheerilee plowed on with slightly gritted teeth. “Sunrise, this is Spoiled Rich—”

“Diamond Tiara’s mother, and senior member of the Ponyville School Board,” Spoiled broke in again with a dismissal wave. “Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the matter at hoof.”

Cheerilee sighed. “Which is?”

“My Diamond Tiara happened to mention that there’s to be a school play put on this year, and obviously you’ll want the best actress for the lead,” Spoiled said, circling Cheerilee and Sunrise as she spoke. “I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that Diamond is a gifted artiste, and sure to make your little production a smash hit not only by her own performance, but also by her star example as a natural diva.”

“Mom, that isn’t what that means anymore!” Diamond Tiara objected, mortified.

“Quiet, dear, adults are talking. Anyway, as you know, the budget for this year’s school projects is coming up before the board in a few weeks. And, of course, the higher the quality of performance being offered, the more likely a higher number is to be settled upon…”

“Mother, stop it!” Diamond cried. “Please!”

“Diamond Tiara, that will do,” her mother snapped.

“Do you think I want you to buy a part for me?” Diamond demanded. “Do you really think anypony will respect me for that? You’re always doing this, making sure everypony will hate me, no matter what I do!”

“Diamond Tiara!”

“Just this once, let me earn it myself!”

There was a moment of pure ice, while Spoiled stared at her daughter, one eyebrow upraised. Then, she spoke.

“Let us be completely clear on something, young lady, right now.” She spat. “You were allowed to attend this little shack of a school again only under certain circumstances, Diamond Tiara. This filthy little chattel cage is lucky to have someone of your superior class and breeding even condescend to grace their peasant little lives with an example of proper pony leadership and the very least you could do is be grateful that you have parents who are willing to do the thankless work of guiding your life in a proper direction, not that I ever expect you to show any true gratitude…!”

The tirade continued, with Diamond Tiara shrinking more and more beneath it, wincing with every emphasized word as though she were being physically struck. Her ears lay flat and her eyes were tightly shut, with tears forming in their outer corners from sheer humiliation.

But Sunrise was no longer hearing Spoiled Rich’s words. A dim, high-pitched whine had overtaken her voice, drowning her out completely, even as a crimson, flickering haze had begun to overtake the edges of Sunrise’s vision.

Sunrise closed her eyes. She could feel the warm, dark hatred rising up to enfold her like a well-worn and comfortable robe. An old friend, now returned to visit her again. And for all that it had been a relief to be without it for so long, crazily, she realized she’d also missed that crimson rage.

And Spoiled Rich was certainly well-named. She was pampered. Soft. And ponies were just as fragile as humans, really.

From within the hidden recesses of Sunrise’s heart, a voice identical to her own seemed to hiss softly to her, It would be so easy…

With a deftness born from a lifetime of practice, Sunrise took hold of her hatred and expertly folded it within her psyche like a poisonous cloak. She caged it in a box and stored it in the back of her mind along with countless others acquired over the years, to be quietly forgotten.

Then, she opened her eyes again.

Outwardly, the entire process had only manifested as a long inhale, and then a longer exhalation. It had taken a moment at most. Mrs. Rich seemingly hadn’t noticed, her attention now being focused entirely upon Miss Cheerilee. Apparently the teacher had said something – Sunrise thought she might have dimly heard a ‘that’s enough’ – and Mrs. Rich was now staring at her in stunned silence. Meanwhile, Diamond Tiara was looking away from them all, obviously struggling against her tears.

Then, Cheerilee broke into Sunrise’s thoughts.

“Sunrise, would you take Diamond to the playground, please,” she said in a quiet and controlled voice, still looking at the matriarch before them. “Mrs. Rich, perhaps you’d care to join me in the classroom. Then we can continue this discussion in privacy.”

Recovering herself somewhat, Spoiled Rich shifted her condescending gaze back to Sunrise with the inevitability of a lighthouse’s glare.

“Oh, by all means, let’s do,” she said. “This is a conversation for the grown-ups, after all.”