• Published 18th Feb 2013
  • 10,074 Views, 586 Comments

I Am Not the Actor - cleverpun

After one of Pinkie's clones wins the paint-watching test, she slowly finds that "being yourself" is never as simple as it sounds. Especially when everypony has a different idea about who you are, and who you should be.

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10. Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

10. Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

Twilight hadn’t slept well. The reasons were more numerous than yesterday. Now thoughts of Pinkie were accompanied by thoughts of Applejack and Rarity and Rainbow Dash.

She reluctantly rolled out of bed. She was used to juggling lots of thoughts, but this was an entirely new experience; it slowed down her morning routine considerably.

She trotted down the stairs and into the kitchen. The toast was a bit dry—they were out of butter. The mechanical manner in which she chewed likely didn’t help.

After her breakfast, Twilight walked over to the door. Perhaps the mail would distract her for a moment.

Something seemed off. She glanced down, and there was a plain, pink envelope sitting on her floor. The angle suggested it had been slid under it. The lack of dust suggested it was a recent addition.

She picked it up. “Twilight” was written on it in shaky, uneven block letters. She flipped it over. The flap was sealed with a sticker; there was a trio of balloons and an exclamation point printed on it, both drawn in the same puffy, overblown style. There was a microscopic line of trademark information visible on the white background.

Twilight contemplated it for a moment. She only restrained herself for a few seconds before tearing the envelope open

The penmanship was atrocious. She had to read it twice to understand the whole thing. If nothing else, that softened the blow.

Come celebrate Fluttershy’s Funeral Party!
Help her feel better about her dead pet!
Sugarcube Corner, refreshments included.
Today; AfternoonPM to EveningPM

Twilight knocked loudly on the door to Sugarcube Corner. The response was immediate and enthusiastic as Pinkie flung open the door.

“Hi, Twilight!” Her smile was large and sincere.

“Hi.” Twilight said curtly. She poked the envelope into Pinkie’s face. “What is this, exactly?”

“It’s a party invite, silly! Did you come to reese-veep?”

Twilight grimaced. “No, I—”

“Well, it doesn’t start for a while.” Pinkie rubbed her chin. “I sure hope nopony else got confused about it—I could not figure out the clock at all.”

“No, Pinkie.” Twilight tried to relax her frown and failed. “I mean, don’t you think throwing a party to celebrate somepony…somepony’s pet dying is inappropriate?”

“‘Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.’” Pinkie smiled. “Pretty good, right? I found it in a book while I was looking for things to write on the cake.”

“That sounds depressing and terrible.” Twilight’s voice was flat.

“Oh, Twilight, you’re so funny!” Pinkie patted Twilight’s shoulder and stepped backward. “Why don’t you leave the party planning to us professionals. Sorry I can’t tell you more about it right now, I’m still finishing up.” Pinkie bounced up and down a few times. “Oh boy, everypony is gonna really love this party! I stayed up all night preparing it! Just you wait!”


“See you at the party! Gotta go!” The door swung shut with a gentle click as Pinkie bounced back inside.

Twilight knocked loudly on Fluttershy’s door. She was breathing heavily, mostly from running. The moment the door opened she stormed in.

“Oh, hi, Twilight,” Fluttershy said. She hesitated briefly before closing the door.

Twilight shoved the invitation at Fluttershy. “Have you seen this?”

“Well, I did get one too.” Fluttershy gestured at her coffee table. A similar envelope sat on it.

Twilight snatched it up. It wasn’t quite identical to her own. The information written on it was the same, but Pinkie’s penmanship was anything but uniform. A slightly different sticker had been used to seal it—it had a picture of a rabbit instead of balloons, though it was drawn in the same chubby art style.

“What’s wrong, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked softly.

“What’s wrong?” Twilight spun around. “What’s wrong? Isn’t it obvious?” She threw the envelopes on the table and jabbed a hoof at them. “Just look at it! Why would you even need to ask?”

Fluttershy coughed into a hoof.

Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “What?”

“Well…it’s just…” Fluttershy’s gaze drifted over to a plant sitting on one of her windowsills. “Isn’t this what you wanted? For her to be like Pinkie Pie?”

“Does this piece of junk look like something Pinkie Pie would make?”

“Well…maybe the party will be better…?”

Twilight took a step forward. “Excuse me? You’re not going to that, that travesty, are you?”

“Well, it is technically for me…”

“Pinkie Pie wouldn’t throw a party to celebrate somepony dying!”

“But she would throw one to cheer up her friends.”

“That..that doesn’t mean… This is all wrong.”

“Twilight,” Fluttershy inched over and put a hoof on her friend’s shoulder, “I know this wasn’t exactly in your schedule, but maybe it will all work out. Practice makes perfect, right?”

“And what if it doesn’t?” Twilight asked quietly.

“Well…then you can take notes on her party, and see what she needs to improve on? Make your plan more, um, efficient?”

Twilight chewed her lip for a moment, then turned to the door. “Thanks, Fluttershy. I guess I’ll… I guess I’ll see you at the party.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Don’t panic, Twilight. Maybe Pinkie will surprise you.”

The door swung shut, slowly and softly. “Let’s hope so,” Twilight muttered.

The sunlight was very bright for most of the day. A little before the party began, clouds started to build up across the sky. The pegasi were between shifts, so nopony bothered to clear it until it had already built up. It gave the dusk a bright orange flavor, so there wasn’t any rush to fix it anyway.

Rainbow Dash stepped into Sugarcube Corner’s main room. A streamer snapped in half as she opened the door. Another fell down as she closed it.

“Hello? Pinkie?” she called.

There was a thunk from upstairs and Pinkie appeared at the top of the staircase.

“Hi, Rainbow Dash!” She trotted down the stairs. “Welcome to the party!”

“Hi.” Rainbow waved a hoof at the streamers on the floor. “Uhm, sorry about those.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I was having some trouble with the tape, so I figured a few might fall down. I put a bunch of extras just in case.”

Rainbow glanced upward. A thick web of streamers covered the ceiling. It was almost like a hammock spun from crepe paper, sagging heavily under its own weight. One came loose as Rainbow surveyed it and drifted listlessly to the ground. Crumpled, uneven strips of tape were visible on either end of it.


“Whoops, let me get that.” Pinkie scooped up the limp decoration and trotted into the kitchen. “Make yourself at home! There’s food on the table!”

There was certainly a folding table at one end of the room. It was covered in various dishes and tins. Rainbow gingerly wandered over to it, and briefly swept her gaze up and down the food. None of the items looked terribly appetizing. Most of the dishes were covered, but a few sat out in the open; it was hard to tell whether that was intentional or not. A brown, lumpy paste sat in a pie tin in front of her, a few cookies poking out the top of it. Another dish held an attempt at a lemon cake, but it looked more like yellow highlighter on cardboard than anything. There was a pitcher of green liquid in the center, along with very small stacks of paper plates and cups.

She was about to uncover one of the dishes when the door creaked open. Rarity walked in, scanning the building cautiously. A few steps into the building, another fallen streamer crunched under her hoof.

“Am I late? Or…dare I say early?” Rarity asked. She pulled the streamer off her hoof and dropped it in a trash bin.

“I was about to ask you that.”

“Nope, right on time!” Pinkie hopped back into the room. “Sorry about the invites, I could not figure out how the clock worked at all.”

A soft, squishy splortch leaked out of one covered dish.

Rainbow Dash leered at it. “Pinkie, what is all this stuff anyway?”

“A very good question,” Rarity added. She approached the table and stopped next to Rainbow Dash. A less polite pony would have stared daggers at the food, but Rarity managed to restrict herself to a restrained leer .

“Well, Applejack showed me how to make apple pie, and it was amazing.” Pinkie punctuated her sentence with a bounce. “So I figured, if apple pie was so good, what about other types of pie?” Pinkie pointed at the lumpy, brown paste in the pie tin. “This here is cookie pie. I baked the cookies myself, so it’s extra yummy!” She flicked her hoof to the side. “That one is coconut pie, and this one over here is chocolate apple pie, with extra chocolate.” Pinkie pointed to the next and stopped. “You know, I forget what this one is.” She giggled. “There were so many delicious things to try, I kinda lost track.”

“Is pie the only thing you made?” Rainbow asked skeptically.

“Oh, don’t be silly, of course not! I also made some fruit juice.”

Rainbow Dash leaned over the table. “You mean this green stuff? What fruit did you use?”

“Hmm.” Pinkie put a hoof to her chin. “Peas and cucumbers mostly. There were some apples and some other things too.”

“Peas and cucumbers are vegetables, Pinkie,” Rarity pointed out.

“Oh, well, call it plant juice then. I tried some earlier, it was pretty tasty either way.”

Rarity bit her lip. “Perhaps we’ll wait until your other guests arrive. We would not want to be rude.”

“Yeah, let’s go with that,” Rainbow agreed.

Rarity poked Rainbow with an elbow.

“So, uh, how many other ponies did you invite, Pinkie?” Rainbow asked.

“Oh, just five. The book said Fluttershy didn’t like large parties.”

Rarity raised an eyebrow. “What book?”

Pinkie smiled. “Oh, I found a journal in my room. It had lots of little tidbits like that in it.”

“Pinkie Pie didn’t seem like the journal type. She just committed everything to memory,” Rarity mused.

Rainbow poked Rarity with an elbow.

“Well, I guess not, since I don’t remember any of that. Well, not yet. Maybe I forgot to remember it?” Pinkie shrugged.

An awkward silence filled the room. Pinkie waited for the others to say something, but neither of them did. The moments stretched on. Rainbow briefly considered eating something to break the uncomfortable chasm, but the food itself stopped that plan. The same thought entered Rarity’s mind, but if the food didn’t discourage it then her earlier excuse about decorum did.

Minutes dragged by, unbroken except for an occasional nervous rub of the neck or quiet cough. Pinkie leaned forward, trying her best to appear a good listener.

The door creaked open, and Applejack and Fluttershy walked in, Twilight lingering behind them.

Pinkie’s gaze locked onto the doorway and her eyes lit up. “Hi girls! Wow, everypony I invited is here already!” She swept a hoof at the table. “Help yourselves to some food! Rainbow Dash and Rarity waited for you.”

Rarity and Dash shuffled uncomfortably, but didn’t say anything.

Applejack wandered over to the table. “How, uh, polite of ‘em.” She leaned forward, her eyes squinting at one of the pie tins. “Is that cookie pie?”

“Yep! Help yourself!”

Applejack frowned. “You were, uh, certainly creative with that recipe I showed ya.” The cookie pie jiggled slightly when she poked it. “Not sure it’s supposed to do that, th’ jigglin’.”

Rarity cleared her throat loudly. “Well, now that everypony is here, I suppose I am sort of thirsty.” She levitated a cup off the stack and gingerly picked up the pitcher. “And we wouldn’t want all of Pinkie’s hard work to go to waste.”

The juice did not really pour out of the pitcher. To say it fell or crept or meandered would be better. If anypony present had ever seen pitch or tar, they would have been reminded of it.

Rarity poured herself as much as she dared and set the pitcher back down. The liquid did not budge as she held it up to a light, nor as she swirled it. Finally, she brought the cup to her lips and took a small sip. She coughed very loudly.

“How is it?” Pinkie chirped.

Rarity coughed loudly again. “Thick.” She coughed again. “Very, er, flavorful.”

Pinkie smiled. “I’m glad you like it! Help yourselves, I have to go be a hostess.” She hopped away. Every one of her hops caused the hammock of streamers to waver slightly.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack leaned in. “How was it really?” the former muttered.

Rarity set the cup down. “It reminds me of the time I accidentally swallowed a part of my seaweed wrap.” She coughed softly. “Though if I am honest, that was easier to swallow.”

Twilight and Fluttershy were still milling about by the door. Both of them seemed transfixed by the ceiling, though for entirely different reasons. Fluttershy was concerned the whole thing might fall down. The fact it hadn’t was nothing short of confusing. Twilight was counting all the incorrect anchorings; she was up to eighty-two.

“Hi girls! Enjoying the party?”

“Well…we haven’t really been here that long,” Fluttershy said softly.

Pinkie leaned in. “Do you want some food? Or maybe we could play a game? I just learned the rules for checkers.”

“What does that have to do with Fluttershy’s pet dying?” Twilight said. Her voice was low and flat.

“Twilight, it’s fine,” Fluttershy said.

“No, no, she’s right.” Pinkie draped a hoof over Fluttershy’s shoulder. “It’s your party, what do you want to do? Sorry I didn’t throw you one sooner, but I just found out about your dead pet yesterday.”

“Uhm, well, I guess I could eat something.”

The two of them trotted over to the table.

Twilight stood by the door. Fluttershy had convinced her not to bring a quill and parchment. She had claimed there wouldn’t be that many things to list and Twilight would be able to handle it in her head. She had been wrong.

The other ponies were still standing near the table. Aside from a periodic cough, there was no real noise. Aside from various glances and hesitant attempts at picking up food, there wasn’t a lot of movement.

Applejack reached for a plate, but quickly withdrew her hoof. “Uhm, Pinkie, why is it so quiet?” she asked. “Shouldn’t there be some music, or somethin’?”

Pinkie gasped. “Oooh, that’s a great idea! There’s a big brass thing in my room, I figured it was a musical instrument. Or we could sing a song, I know a bunch!”

“No, I meant like a record, or somethin’.”

“What's a record?”

Fluttershy and Rarity had drifted to one end of the table. When Applejack hunted for some help, Rainbow Dash was the only one close to meet her gaze.

“It goes with a record player and they play music,” Rainbow explained. “I’m pretty sure Pinkie has… I mean, I’m pretty sure there’s one around here somewhere.”

“Ooh, Twilight’s pretty organized, maybe she knows.” Pinkie hopped over to Twilight, who was still standing near the door.

The mental checklist of Pinkie’s mistakes had gotten far too long, and Twilight had only stepped into the building a few minutes ago. The streamers on the ceiling were anchored incorrectly. The ones on the posts and bannisters weren’t anchored at all and had pooled at the bottom or fallen off. There were too many of them. The food table was supposed to go on the east wall, so there would be more room. Most of the dishes weren’t covered correctly. There were too many plates laid out. Pinkie had forgotten to put out chairs. The lights in the kitchen and upstairs bedrooms hadn’t been turned off.

She had lost count around item four-hundred-three. Her brain kept trying to catalogue them all, but between stress, fatigue, and volume there was no point.

Pinkie poked her face in front of Twilight’s “Hey, Twilight, do you know where a record player is? And how to run it?”

“I have to go.” Twilight spun around and trotted toward the door.

“Twilight, what’s wrong?” Pinkie asked.

“Nothing.” The door slammed shut. Everypony in the room continued to stare it, mostly for lack of other things to do.

Pinkie turned to the other ponies. They were still gathered around the food table. “Did she not like the party?”

A small chorus of coughs leaked out of the four of them. None of them answered, and the silence quickly became noticeable.

Finally Rarity made an attempt. “I’m sure she just forgot an assignment or somesuch scheduling error. Being Princess Celestia’s personal student is quite time-consuming.”

Pinkie cocked her head to the side. “Who’s Princess Celestia?”

Twilight flung open the library door. It was dark, and she hastily lit up her horn. “I can fix this. I have to,” she muttered to herself. She trotted up to her room, tripping on the stairs three separate times. She shoved her door open and fished out her lesson plan. She had barely consulted it since showing it to Fluttershy.

She had estimated it would take three weeks to properly train Pinkie, but those equations had clearly overestimated her abilities. Her cooking was atrocious. Her arrangements were inept. Her speech and movements were off. Teaching her would be like teaching a pony from scratch.

Twilight slapped the parchment onto her desk. Quills and scrolls floated out of her cabinets. In moments mathematical symbols littered them, and more and more splattered across the page as Twilight checked and rechecked her equations. The amount of time it would take to learn cooking, the number of hours to memorize proper furniture placement, and the amount of flashcards it would take to learn to tape a streamer correctly.

The flurry ended, quills fell unceremoniously onto the floor. Twilight stared at the parchment.

“That can’t be right,” she muttered to herself.

Teach her from scratch… a voice at the back of her mind said softly.

Twilight shoved it out of the way and grabbed a fresh quill. She began to recalculate everything. Every skill and memory and party plan.

She paused. She flung the parchment aside and started again. The results stayed exactly the same. They did for the fourth time, too. She fell asleep staring at the same numbers.

Author's Note:

Anyone else notice how Pinkie hasn't slept in like two days?