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Nailah


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"Is there a good way to deliver bad news? If there is, I haven't found it."

Prereaders: Applezombi, Garatheauthor, Stinium_Ruide, Holtinator, Undome Tinwe, Oceanbytes, Vis-a-Viscera, and a few others.

Edited by: Stinium_Ruide, Dreams of Ponies.
Cover-art by: Snow Quill

Dedicated to the soldiers, the fighters, the ones on the other side of the door.

Featured-10/17/2020
Featured on Equestria Daily: December 1st 2020 Try

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 23 )

I love the additions you made. Well done, Nailah!

Editing this reminded me so much about my own personal experiences. This piece invokes experiential emotion that ties into the reader's heart. Intriguing, captivating and inspiring. Great work.

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Haha Fimfiction's drunk

Anyways, well done! This was a pretty nice story :twilightsmile:

:fluttercry: oooh my heart!

...this is good writing.

The story was short and succinct. In defiance of "show, don't tell," you've managed to make telling a great experience that will bring readers closer to relating to the horrors of war. And there's the novelty of it too: other war stories would focus on soldiers or workers on the homefront, but I've never thought of reading about a day in the life of a wartime death messenger (if that's the term for it).

Thank you for this good story you've got here!

What a story...

An very well written story about a less spoken duty of war. I've seen too many war stories focus on soldiers or workers on the homefront, it's good to see a story focus on something else that happens in war.

Excellent work Nailah.

Damn, I felt an ache there...:rainbowderp:.

She is not doing a good job of it. She is lying to ponies telling them that their loved ones died easily. This is how a war like that drags on. These ponies need to know the truth. A pony who knows the truth will be more likely to do something about it, rather than being resigned to it. Especially when dealing with a pony like Sombra, the propaganda part of the war of high importance.

How the grief of the ponies physically manifests is very well portrayed. What made the story interesting is that so many different characters had so many different reactions. The first mare's reaction made me want to punch her in the face but at the same time I can kind of sympathize with her.

Also, the drama and emotions the main character grapples with are so real and so realistically portrayed. When she starts drinking, you can really tell that she's going through it. One thing though is that this story refers to her partner as both her marefriend and her wife. I'm wondering if this was a type or if it was intentional.

Also, yeah, something to comment. Sometimes the best person for the job is someone with lived experience. I can definitely relate to peer support being better than professional support sometimes.

Loved this story; the reactions of the citizens of Ponyville, the thoughts going through Lightning's mind, her way of dealing with it, it's all done so well. This was a beautifully written sadfic, Nailah, and I love the effort you always put into your works! Good job!

“They died peacefully”
A lie she told many ponies. And a lie that was told to her. Beautiful story, I wish I found it sooner

Being in a world like that really takes your energy away. Almost wondered why she'd lie, but I got the impression she knew she was lied to, and knew how important a lie like that is for others.

Actual comment.

Greetings. Your reading has been completed and can be found below. I hope you enjoy.

"Why must we kill our own kind?" -Boom, system of a down.

Hello, a review to your story has been posted. I hope you find it helpful. :raritywink:

Congratulations on taking a new lens and approach on a popular theme: an analysis into the inner psychodrama of the bearer of "bad news", as it were, who brings news of deaths during a war.

The first deliveree's response was interesting. It told me that I was in for reading something that was not just "color by numbers" comfort the weary--good execution! And it was followed up by the stiff upper lip of the second recipient who ended up comforting the bearer (WHITE Lightning), who was biting her lower lip while telling white lies.

The juxtaposition of the two deliverees was a strong one. (Our star's visceral response to both set the stage for her poignant flash-back. Maybe (although I suspect this is reading a bit too much into it, but I like the parallelisms) one could even see the two responses as what she could be hoping for--she wants to leave her loss behind like the first deliveree was able to or at least to accept it like the second deliveree, but she cannot--she drinks hard cider and soldiers on as best as she can.)

One concern: It surprises me that she is doing this job even though she is not injured or a conscientious objector--she mentions the war in generally positive terms and how she wants to try to becomes a Wonderbolt after the war but she does not seem to be a soldier out on leave from the front or on light duty or rotation. Either I missed something (very possible!) or this might benefit from some explanation of why an able-bodied pegasus is doing this rather than serving at the front. If the stallion who apparently inspired her had been incompetent or delivered the words wrong, I'd find her career more believable--she'd have direct drive to deliver these words and a justification for doing it rather than to do something else for the military. Also, I get that she may have wanted to do this job but why wouldn't a recruiter have steered her towards the front? She was training to be a wonderbolt--she should be particularly skilled. (Maybe she's caring for an elderly family member or has as secondary job as home front police, etc.? It's just hard to understand why she is allowed to do this job.) Also, if her past career had something to do with counseling, or something of the sort, then the idea might have been stronger. To be fair, you did provide her a motivation for the job she is doing; however, a very few words might go a long way to making the grounding stronger and more relatable.

Thank you for sharing the story! :twilightsmile:


This comment was written since this story is in the "I Just Want a Comment Group" and someone signed it up for a different comment group, so I presume the above is desired and will be welcome. :derpyderp1: If not, just let me know!:

Howdy, hi!

I had the pleasure to read this before and the pleasure to do so again. I really like this one. The perspective in this story, told from the bearer of bad news over the victims, is unique and gut punch that doesn't feel cheap. The emotional turmoil the character feel at doing their job is poignant and heartbreaking in the suffering they feel due to it. It was a well-paced, short story about the struggles of one pony that I enjoyed reading even if it left a bittersweet taste at the ending of the fic. A just solid emotional fic without any of the usual trappings of "CRY YOU FOOL".

Thanks for the read~!

Hiya! I saw this story recommended over here (but you probably knew that already) and thought I'd give it a read. I had an idea of what to expect, and this was definitely a heavy read for a Monday night. I like that you took the perspective of the messenger. That's a point of view I haven't seen explored very often, and as you've described, it is a harrowing position to be in. I won't compare the grief of the messenger with the grief of the survivor, because they are different, but both heavy and, possibly, soul-crushing. It was a good choice for Lightning to have experienced both sides of that conversation.

One aspect of that dynamic that I thought should have been explored more was how Lightning might choose to use her own experience to provide empathy and understanding. You hinted at the possibility toward the end:

She knew it was not a glorious job, nor a fun one, but if any pony had to do it, it might as well be a pony who had gone through it herself. Losing a loved one was hard, as she knew it all too well.

But we never saw her apply her empathy to the ponies she talked to, nor did she attempt to rationalize why she wouldn't. A bad experience when she tried it? Did it make the job harder, and so she stopped for her own sanity? I can speculate, but I would have liked to see it explored more. If that wasn't you aim with this story, well, that's fair enough. Just because I want something to happen doesn't mean you have to make it happen, after all!

The beginning was rough for me, mainly because you have a lot of repetition. I understand why you've written it this way. You're trying to show just how harrowing this duty is. However, I mostly felt you were expressing the same ideas with slightly different phrasing, rather than adding new levels of dread over time. As an example, you have these phrases written in paragraphs one and three:

White Lightning always hated this part of her job. ... Approaching the front door, she sighed heavily...

White Lightning sighed heavily. Words could not describe how much she abhorred this aspect of her job...

The phrase "sighed heavily" is identical, and the rest is saying essentially the same thing: I hate doing this. You've said twice what need only be said once, and that brings the emotional stakes to a standstill.

I noticed other instances of repetition, though they didn't interfere with my emotional investment as much as the previous one. For example:

as the pony who had to deliver this terse message, it was her duty.

Duty means "have to do something." The two halves are saying the same thing.

she closed her eyes, and tilted her head towards the ground. As the emotionless, earthen ground

The word ground is used twice here, and describing the ground as "earthen" seems unnecessary in Ponyville. "As the emotionless earth" might be a better phrasing.

On a much smaller note, there were a few instances I found slightly confusing. This interaction, for example:

White nodded her head subtly, and turned around to leave. ... With that, the mare quickly slammed the door right in White Lightning’s face.

If Lightning had turned around, wouldn't the door be slamming her backside? You don't mention that Lightning turns back to face the mare when she speaks.

“None of that now,” he stated, trying to keep a brave face.

She saw the tear ducts of his eyes starting to water, as he looked at her once more. “Do you know how she passed? I do hope she was able to go peacefully.”

So the small confusion here comes with who is saying that second line of dialogue. From the context, it has to be the stallion, since it makes no sense for Lightning to ask that question, and "he" is the last subject pronoun before the dialogue begins. However, you've started a new paragraph, which generally indicates a change in speaker, and started it with "she," which may imply Lightning is the one acting, and therefore speaking, in this paragraph. I think keeping this passage as a single paragrpah would improve clarity, since it's a matter of convention that only one character speaks in a single paragraph.

I was also a little confused when you transitioned to the flashback. You do have a setup for it, but I didn't recognize it as such until I was a few paragraphs in. Indicating a temporary time change with italics might help with that.

I know I've spent a lot of time on "issues," but for the most part they really were minor enough not to distract from the main point and emotional core. This is a difficult subject to tackle, and I think you've done a good job of it. Keep it up!

not knowing anything about the fic going in, i was pleasantly surprised to see that it was about the Crystal War timeline! it's always a great opportunity to imagine a version of Equestria that is the inverse of the one we know: a place where ponies do not get to find their purpose and follow their dreams in a peaceful utopia, but rather must sacrifice and suffer.

it's hard to imagine informing ponies of the deaths of their loved ones in war being the job of anypony in the normal Equestria we know, and with how specialized Equestrian society is, it makes sense for that to be White Lightning's entire job, as awful as it is for her. with how new the concept is to Equestrians, so does the lie told with each message. something interesting to think about is how that lie was told to White Lightning, which means that she now knows what her marefriend's death must have really been like. seeing that from both sides, and the way the reactions to her message differed so much between the ponies, was a nice touch.

finally, i loved the background details: the mother carrying the crying foal, the stallion's cough, the boarded up cottage. they come together to really underscore how dreary and miserable this world has become. but really, dreary and miserable in a way that just makes it feel closer to the human one! incessantly crying babies, nagging coughs, and unfurnished houses are very everyday imperfections, not out of place to encounter or deal with in our lives at all. and though most of us on a site like this don't have the experience of loved ones dying in war, that too used to be a very common thing throughout human history. stories like this are so great for reminding us that living without worrying about such things is a privilege not to be taken for granted.

A day late and a dollar short. Either way, a comment was promised! Here we go!

With the first mare, I thought it would be a plotline that the story would come to full-circle in, as apathy was a change of pace for White Lightning. Turns out it’s just an anti-cliché, which is quite welcome. This story offers something unique and you see a tidbit of that from the beginning.

Just a preface, there is some criticism sprinkled in. If it is unwelcome, let me know.

She walked up to the porch… She then took a step back… She waited

Not sure how to get past this one editing-wise, but three sentences start off with ‘she’.

The whole minute that passed from the time she knocked on that door, to the pony answering it, made time feel like it was frozen.

Love this description. How does it feel to deliver bad news? You don’t want to do it and as an effect, time crawls.

“What do you want? How many times do I have to say it? I don’t want any cookies!”

Pinkie probably pressed some buttons here. Or filly scouts.

She lied.

White Lightning telling white lies.

Her days were long, and her nights were often sleepless, but White Lightning found some solace in that she was doing good for Equestria.

I related, but I get the feeling that its denial; white lies to herself.

It was her duty as a soldier and she hated it.

Just a minor thought, but I bet it has crossed her mind that she’d rather be fighting than playing the bearer of bad news.

Twilight’s Castle

Need some clarification here. At first, I thought this was the alternate universe in which there is no Rainboom, Twilight never got her cutie mark in time, and Sombra’s running rampant in the north. But then again, this is not something of huge consequence, just something that I got tripped up on.

She remembered training to be able to go into the Wonderbolts Academy.

This tells a story in and of itself. The achievement of being a Wonderbolt cut short by impending war. A dream that would never come to fruition.

Her house was rather empty, it had all the basic furnishings, a chair, an oven, a table, a bed upstairs. It had everything a mare could need, and yet she stood there silently, unable to move herself forward

I'm a fan of the minimalist style. This adds a detail of personality as well as a small indicator to how life is with the war against Sombra.

However, grammatically, replace the first comma with a semicolon. May work better. Plus, connect the two sentences here, or clean up the second sentence. It took me a minute to line up the connection to ‘needs being met’ but ‘unable to move forward’.

“Am I making a difference? Am I even helping them?”

A weak smile rose upwards on her lips, while she sighed heavily, lidding her eyes, and wishing to wake up in a world where Sombra never took over Equestria, a land where things were normal and fun. A place where she could be a normal pegasus, and be able to try to become a Wonderbolt someday.

These hit home. Hard. Sometimes we wish that some things never happened but they did. The doubts undermine your resolve to keep moving forward. Most that we can do is grin and bear it.

His words hit her like lightning. …

:fluttercry:

She didn’t bother to cover herself up, as she sprawled herself out over the bed.

Goes to show how taxed she is due to her job/life in general.

Well done here! Overall, this story helped open up a brand-new perspective for me. The several intricacies of a soldier’s life (including their families).

For the first one (apathy), Wife remarries after news of husband is MIA, then husband returns. How does one begin to understand what it is like? Betrayal? Maybe. Awkward? Yes.

But even more so, the heartbreak again and again of White Lightning. At first, I didn’t know why she kept on going with her job since it carries a cloud of grief. But, given the details of love lost, it all fits together. Gratitude and heartache, normally like oil and water, but mixed together expertly.

A masterpiece indeed.

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