It's Not Fine

by Inky Shades

First published

Sunset is forced to pick up the pieces of her life after her world is shattered.

Tragedy shatters Sunset's world. Laced with guilt over what happened, she cuts herself off from her friends. A month almost passes by before she forces herself to leave her apartment in a halfhearted attempt at regaining some normalcy from the broken shards of her life. However, recovery isn't an easy process, and with each day that passes, her pain only intensifies. But as long as she puts on a smile and tells people what they want to hear, it doesn't matter whether or not she gets better. So long as no one else suffers because of her, that's all that's important, right?

Chapter I: Guilt

View Online

It's Not Fine

Written by

Inky Shades


Sunset knew it was a nice day. She knew. Pretty purple, and yellow flowers bloomed along the edge of the sidewalk, releasing their sweet fragrances into the air. Yet their scent brought her no joy. Today was a beautiful day. If she tilted her head towards the sky, she knew she'd be greeted with the sight of deep cerulean. On any other day, she'd enjoy the cloudless morning and the rays of sun bathing her in warmth instead of thinking about how the heat made the back of her neck sweat.

Her face scrunched when a gentle breeze blew a lock of hair in front of her eyes. 'That's one of the reasons why I wear my hair up.' The memory stopped her in the middle of the sidewalk. She stumbled forward a few steps. Why? A moment passed before she registered that someone bumped into her.

“Sorry,” the person said. “I should've watched where I was going.”

But all she acknowledged was the speaker's feminine voice. Sunset noticed the girl's shadow shift on the sidewalk. Why did she just stand there? Then she realized the girl might want a response from her before leaving.

“It's fine,” Sunset said, vision trained on her own shadow.

“Oh, um, okay. Have a nice day then.”

“Yeah.” She watched the girl's shadow leave from the corner of her eye. Sunset sniffed and wiped her nose with the back of her hand. Pull yourself together.

The strap of her backpack dug into her shoulder. She shifted it into a more comfortable position. When did her school books become so heavy? They didn't used to be. Could it be because she hadn't had to carry them for so long? No. Not even a month had passed yet.

'Am I nervous? No, no. Well… maybe a little. I know it's silly since everyone is so nice, but after the Friendship Games… Let's say I feel better knowing you're with me.' Sunset shook her head, clearing her thoughts.

“I need to do this,” she said and continued down the sidewalk.

The familiar horse statue came into view. She made it. Canterlot High. But she went no farther than the statue. She simply watched. Watched the students flow into its doors. Watched them laugh and talk with friends. Watched them have a perfectly normal morning. How could they act like everything was the same?

Did you expect them to still be sad? Yes, she—no… How could she think they'd feel the same way? No one can feel like you though, can they? Not even your friends. The school blurred in her vision, but she quickly wiped her eyes.

This was a mistake. She wasn't ready to be here. That's all you say anymore. That you're not ready. Then why did she bother to get dressed and leave her apartment? You know why. Today was supposed to be her first step… If you don't do this—She made it to the front of the school. Good enough. But what about your friends?

Right. Her friends. Don't you want to see them? You know they're worried about you. She thought about it for a minute. It would be nice to see her friends again. Well, most of them, anyway. But not like this. She couldn't let them see her like—What? Do you think they haven't already seen you at your worst? They need you almost as much as you need

Not today.

Tomorrow, she decided. With one last glance at the school, she turned around. You'll never come back…

“Sunset?” A soft voice, a gentle touch of her shoulder.

Crap.

Sunset paused to put a smile on her face, but the edges wavered when she turned to face—“Fluttershy,” she said.

“You're here,” Fluttershy said. “Does that mean you're—”

“I'm not staying.”

“Oh…” Fluttershy ran her fingers through her pink hair. “How, um… How are you doing?”

Sunset felt a flicker of undeserved anger over her question. However, the feeling came and went in a flash. “I'm… fine,” she said. But you're not, are you?

“You don't look very fine.”

A match struck in her chest. “How am I supposed to look, then?” She regretted her tone when she saw fluttershy flinch away from her as if slapped in the face. Why did she do that? Sunset held her arms. “Sorry, Fluttershy. I didn't mean to raise my voice.”

“It's okay,” she said.

“No, it's not. I should go. It was a mistake to come here.” Sunset turned to leave.

“Wait!”

Fluttershy's exclamation stopped her.

“Can you… Can you at least let the other girls know that you're okay?” Fluttershy's voice wavered. “Please? You never answer your phone.” There was hurt in her voice, and it pained Sunset to know that she caused it.

Tears stung her eyes. “I'm sorry.” She had to get out of here.

“Sunset…”

“I can't deal with this right now!” Sunset ran.

“Sunset!”

But she didn't stop until Fluttershy's voice faded to silence. Why did she do that? Why did she run? Sunset sat down on a bench to catch her breath and wipe the remaining tears off her face. Would it have killed her to say hi to the girls? It was a simple enough request and yet the thought struck a panic inside her core. Why though? Why, why, why? She didn't have answers.

What was it she feared? That they'd pity her? Treat her like a glass doll that'd shatter at the slightest touch? Hate her? Why shouldn't they? It was her fault after all. They had every right to blame her like—How you blame yourself? You saw Fluttershy. You know she doesn't blame you. And you know the others don't either. You know what the reason is. What if they wanted to help her?

There was her answer, and she felt the truth of it grip her with its icy claws. But she didn't want their help. She rejected it. Every pang in her chest, every tear that stained her cheek, she deserved all of it. Because if it wasn't for her, Twilight would still be alive.

Chapter II: Smile

View Online

You need to stop beating yourself up someday. Did she? It was an accident. Did that matter? Sunset leaned forward on the bench and peered down the street. Her gaze bounced between the people around her, people she knew. Yet, from where she sat, they might as well have been strangers. Their smiles were foreign and routines that she'd seen them perform countless times before struck her as strange.

Sunset sighed. Maybe she was the strange one, not them. After all, she wore a fake smile solely to prevent people from asking if she's okay. Are you okay? A question she'd heard countless times in the past couple weeks, and every time she heard it, she always replied with a halfhearted, “I'm fine.” Even though she was anything but.

Maybe if she kept up the lie, she'd start to believe it. Wouldn't that be nice? But you'd never let that happen. You couldn't.

What good would it do her, anyway? A lie was still a lie. And the reality Sunset found herself in wouldn't change. “It should've been me,” she whispered. “Why couldn't it have been me?” Tears filled her eyes. Not again. It felt like all she did anymore was cry. She blinked repeatedly and the tears subsided.

Escape your pain and have your friends mourn you instead. No one wins with that scenario. At least Twilight would be alive to—mourn you too. Did you even consider that? That she might feel the same way about your death as you feel about hers? Would you want to pass your pain onto her?

No she wouldn't. Sunset slumped. Why did she think that'd be a good idea? How stupid of her. You're not stupid. You simply need hel—rest. You know that's not what you need. She rose from the bench and headed in the direction of home. You're sinking. Do you even realize it? But she pushed those thoughts away. How much longer can you stay afloat? The words echoed in her mind. How much longer…

A bell chimed, and Sunset stopped to avoid bumping into someone leaving the Sweet Shoppe. The smell of fresh baked pastries wafted out the door, causing her stomach to rumble. You should eat something. But she turned her head away from the cafe. What would be the point?

“Sunset, is that you?”

A voice from inside the cafe. But who called her? Go in and find out. No, she needed to continue home. It'd be rude if you don't see who spoke to you. No one said you had to stay long. She stepped inside and saw a woman behind the counter, eyeing the entryway.

The woman smiled warmly at her. “I thought it was you,” she said.

Sunset couldn't help but give the woman a slight smile in return. “Hi, Missus Cake,” she said with a small wave.

“It's good to see you. I haven't seen you around since”—Sunset saw the joy in Mrs. Cake's eyes flicker—“well, in a long time. How are you doing?”

She wished people would stop asking her that question so she'd no longer need to answer. “I'm fine,” Sunset said.

“That's good. So are you on your way to school?”

“Uh, yeah…” A small lie, but she didn't want to tell Mrs. Cake that she was on her way home and give the impression that she was—not actually better at all.

“You're going to be late.”

“I guess.” Sunset shrugged.

“Well, no matter. It's good that you're starting back!” Mrs. Cake smiled. Maybe that made her lie better. Doesn't that make it worse? Sunset turned around, leaning against the display case to avoid looking at Mrs. Cake's genuine smile over her disingenuous words. Big mistake.

Because she saw the couch and the patrons on it. Only she didn't see them. She saw her friends and all the times they sat together, laughing and talking lazy afternoons away. Saw Twilight push her glasses higher on the bridge of her nose whenever they slid too low…

The last time she came here was still fresh in her mind. It'd been a little overcast that day, but she was with Twilight. So it might as well have been a perfect, sunny day. 'Hey, Sunset. Can we go to our spot? I have something I want to tell you.'

Ever since the accident, she'd wondered what Twilight wanted to tell her.

“Sunset?”

Ever since the accident, she'd wondered why Twilight couldn't tell her whatever she wanted to say here.

“Sunset?”

Ever since—was someone talking to her? “Sorry, what did you say?” Sunset asked.

“I wanted to know if you ate breakfast,” Mrs. Cake said.

“Oh, uh, no.” In truth, she hadn't been eating much at all. Did it show? Worry reflected in Mrs. Cake's eyes. “I just forgot. That's all,” she said. Another lie, but what harm could it do if it made people worry less about her?

“Let me grab you something from the display, then.”

“That's not—”

Mrs. Cake raised a hand, silencing her before placing a white paper bag on the counter. “I won't take no for an answer.”

“How much do I owe you?”

With a shake of her head, Mrs. Cake pushed the bag closer to her and said, “Nothing.”

“Are you sure?”

“Don't worry about it, sweetie. Now hurry on to school.”

“Missus Cake…” You should tell her.

“Yes?”

Sunset shook her head. “Thank you,” she said, taking the bag. Why make her worry?

“You're welcome.” There was a pause before she said, “Are you sure you're okay?”

No. Her eyes watered briefly before she blinked. “I'm fine,” Sunset said, and to her credit, she managed to keep herself in check.

She was about to leave when she heard Mrs. Cake's voice. “Don't be a stranger. It was nice to see you again.”

Sunset waved back to her, offering a slight smile to reassure Mrs. Cake that she was fine. And it worked when she saw her smile back. Or is she faking it like you, only smiling for your benefit as you are for hers? Did it matter as long as people stopped asking how she was? The bell chimed when she left the cafe, and her false smile faded. But isn't people asking how you are exactly what you need?

Chapter III: Words

View Online

What did she need? The question plagued her thoughts as she walked down the street, but there was only one thing that came to mind. Well, one person, anyway. But you can't have her and she isn't what you need right now. But she was. Sunset felt it with her very being. What you need is to accept the fact that—No. She didn't have to accept anything. She couldn't. Can't you?

Sunset bit into her pastry. Its flaky crust broke apart in her mouth, overwhelming her taste buds with the sweetness of the jelly inside. After she swallowed, she felt the bite sit heavy in her stomach. She glanced at the pastry and felt queasy. So she placed it back in the bag. Maybe she'd feel like eating it later.

She passed by several eccentric shops, barely paying them much attention until she came across the one at the end of the street. Quills and Sofas was the name painted on the wood sign that hung above the shop's door. Which claimed to only sell quills and sofas. It was so strangely specific that when she and Twilight saw its grand opening months ago, they had to see for themselves if it was true.

It was, hilariously enough. Sunset smiled at the recollection. They spent most of that afternoon in the store, testing out the various couches and peering at shelves lined with quills. Most would find a store like it boring, but when she was with Twilight everything seemed… more. More enjoyable, more fun, more happy. They even bought a pair of matching quills to commemorate the visit, Sunset keeping hers on the desk in her bedroom.

But this store was also one of the last ones they passed before getting on the bus the day of the accident. Sunset remembered there had been a sale on quills, buy one get two free. And she'd asked why Twilight couldn't tell her what she wanted to tell her now. She also recalled Twilight playing with her hands. 'It-It's just really important that I tell you there. So can we go? Please?'

How could she say no? Especially since her response caused Twilight to flash her a shy smile that made her heart flutter. Perhaps if she had said no then Twilight would still be alive and she could still see her smile. You can't play that game. You'll lose every time. But hadn't she already lost? She could still feel the prickle of the first rain drops...

If she'd known what would happen that day, she'd never have agreed to go to their spot. But you can't predict what's going to happen at any given moment. You know this to be true. Besides, you know full well that you'd never be able to say no to her when she asked for something in that shy way she sometimes spoke. Stop blam—What did Twilight want to tell her?

Sunset racked her mind, trying to guess what Twilight's words could've been for what felt like the thousandth time. It was futile. So why do you torture yourself with attempts to figure it out? Maybe you should let it go. Whether you know what she wanted to say or not won't change anything.

She sighed, turning from the store window, continuing home. While she knew nothing would change—could change, the question haunted her. Twilight's words mattered for the roll they played in her death. But now they were lost.

What would her words change if you learned them? Would everything make sense? Would you have peace of mind? Would anything change at all? Sunset stopped at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn. In truth, she had no idea what she'd d—Yes you do. You'd crucify yourself further no matter what she wanted to say. Please let this go. There's no need for you to keep torturing yoursel—the signal turned.

Walk.

And so she did. But she never stopped thinking about Twilight's words the rest of the way to her apartment. Her mind was so wrapped up in the possibilities that she accidentally dropped her key.

“Ah, Sunset, I'm glad I caught you!”

Sunset was thankful that her face wasn't visible when she heard the voice of her landlord, Silver Coin. Otherwise, she feared that she'd cringe at her presence. All she wanted was to be alone now, but she took a quick breath and plastered what hopefully passed as an adequate smile on her face before she turned around.

“Hi, Miss Coin,” she said.

“It's good to see you out and about. So are you leaving or did you just get back?”

“I just got back.” Sunset picked up her key.

“Ah, I see.” Silver Coin nodded. “I'm sure the fresh air did you good.”

It didn't. But there was no reason to tell her that. “Did you need me for something?” Her words sounded a little more impatient than she intended. However, she just wanted to go home and—Cut yourself off from the world again—sleep.

If Silver Coin noticed her tone, she didn't show it. “Yes. I wanted to discuss your rent due at the end of the week.”

“Oh...” You forgot again didn't you? Sunset wanted to kick herself. You don't even have the money.

“Look, I can give you one more week if you need it.”

Relief coursed through Sunset's veins. “I'd appreciate it.” Then the guilt set in. And you still won't be able to pay her. What then? She's already been kinder to you than she needs to be.

“Okay.”

When Silver Coin turned to leave, Sunset said, “Thank you.”

“You're welcome,” Silver Coin said. “I know you've been through a lot these past couple weeks. Which makes me wonder. Sunset, do you have anyone to help you?”

Smile. “I don't need any help”—liar—“I'm fine.”

Silver Coin nodded slowly. “I'll see you next week then.”

“Yeah...”

She unlocked the door to her apartment and tossed the pastry bag into the trashcan on the way to her bedroom where she flopped face first onto the bed. Embracing her pillow, she stared at the clock sitting on the nightstand through half-lidded eyes. Each minute that passed by her, she felt her shell of a world fracture further, and she was powerless to stop it.

You know that's not true. You have the power to heal. All you have to do is try, push forward with your friends. But that was her problem. She didn't want to try. The world could threaten to consume her, and she wouldn't fight it. All she wanted to do was rest.

Chapter IV: Messages

View Online

Morning or night? Sunset hadn't opened the blinds in weeks. So the two times blended into each other to the point where she no longer could tell the difference between them. If it weren't for her clock, she'd probably never know what time it was. Of course there were days where she didn't bother to check the time at all. On those days she remained in bed staring at the bumps that covered her ceiling. Today felt like one of those days.

There was a weight that kept her tied to the bed, motionless. Or at least that's what it felt like. But she didn't have anywhere to be this morning so it didn't matter. What about school? Didn't you say that you'd try again today? Right. There was that. She sighed, but still didn't make an effort to get up.

Gone were the days where she'd lie in bed because she wanted to, not because she felt she had no choice. There's always a choice. She turned her head in an effort to distance herself from that thought. In doing so, she remembered the times she spent with Twilight lying on the bed during or after one of their study sessions.

'You know, when I was little, my brother used to tell me that the bumps on my bedroom ceiling were made by the sandman every time I slept. He said that it was the only way the sandman could communicate and that's why the bumps looked like they moved every morning. Unfortunately, no one could ever understand what he wanted to say. Of course I knew my brother's story wasn't true. But sometimes, even now, when I'm stressed, I like to imagine some ethereal being trying to write encouraging words on my ceiling. Hey—don't laugh!'

Sometimes Sunset heard Twilight's voice so clearly in her mind that it felt like she was right there, like she could reach out and touch her. If she closed her eyes, Twilight was there beside her, and everything was as it should be. But you can't live in dreams. You need to live now

Her gaze drifted to the sea of bumps above her. Part of her wondered if maybe in those dots, Twilight was trying to say something. Wouldn't that be a surprise? But would she want to know what she'd say? Why the hesitation? Are you afraid about what she might say? Yes. Why?

Because what if—she's angry at you? What if she hates you for what you didn't do? Do you honestly believe that? Sunset sighed. Exactly. Do you want to know what she'd actually tell you? No. She'd tell you to—no—stop blaming yourself. You know this is true.

And it was. Sunset knew deep down that Twilight would want her to stop the blame. If anything, Twilight would be distressed in the knowledge that she hadn't been to school in so long. How are you going to get into a good college if you don't graduate? She could hear it now.

“I should get up,” she murmured. Still, she didn't make much effort to move, instead glancing at her phone by her bedside. “Maybe I'll just check my messages.” You're stalling. Reaching over, she grabbed her phone and played back the first message.

“Hello, Miss Shimmer. This is the manager of the Cafe Hay, Coffee Grinds, calling to issue you a final warning. You were supposed to show up for work a week ago on the tenth. If you don't come to work tomorrow, then I'm going to have to—”

Skip message. Next.

“Hi, sugarcube. Just calling to see how you're doing. I've got a lot of work to do on the farm tomorrow, but if you want to come over for a visit, I'd be happy to have you.” End message. Next.

“Sunset, darling, Fluttershy told me she saw you this morning. How come you didn't say hi? I know things have been rough for you, but we all miss you. Give me a call back when you get this. Much love, darling!” End message.

Why didn't you say hi? Sunset lowered her phone, eyes downcast. “I'm sorry,” she said. Next message.

“Hey, so I heard you made it to the front of the school. That's awesome! You could've stopped by though, but I won't hold it against you. Fluttershy and I are at the park if you want to hang. Say, let me pass this off to her. Fluttershy!”

There was a brief pause before the message continued.

“H-Hello, Sunset. Don't worry if you can't come to the park.” Sunset had to press her ear to the phone to hear Fluttershy's voice. “You know you can call me whenever, right? I mean it. O—” End message.

“Thanks, Fluttershy.” Do you hear how much they care about you? She did, and it made her want to smile and cry and stop playing the messages. But she continued.

“Sunset Shimmer!” She had to hold the phone away from her to avoid being deafened by the voice on the other end. “I'm so proud of you for leaving your apartment. Ooh, I know. I should throw you a 'leaving your apartment' party. It'd be so much fun! There'd be streamers and balloons and we'd all be together again.” Beneath the sounds of exuberance, Sunset heard a hint of sadness. “But only if you feel like it. Let me know!”

She was about to turn her phone off when she noticed a final message. So she played it.

“Hello, Sunset.” That voice. Her heart jolted and she sat rigid against the bed's headboard, hands shaking as she gripped the phone, vision glued to the screen. “It's Twilight Velvet. We need to talk in person. It's important. Can you come over to the house tomorrow? I'll be home all day. So anytime will do. That's all.” End Message. The phone slipped from her fingers and a chill traveled through her body. Twilight's mom had just called her.

Chapter V: Journey

View Online

Sunset sat motionless, eyeing her phone like it was a monster waiting to consume her if she made any sudden moves. Twilight's mom wanted to see her. She couldn't wrap her mind around the idea. Why her? Why now? If anything, she should be the last person Mrs. Sparkle would want to see. Are you going to go? A good question, one that caused her to think back to the last time she saw Mrs. Sparkle. Twilight's funeral.

The funeral took place on a Saturday, and she remembered the fresh smell of grass as the rain had only stopped that morning. However, most of the day was a blur, like she was peering through a dirty telescope at something in the distance. She knew it was there, but most of the details were hidden. Her friends were there and she recalled seeing some of the Students from Crystal Prep, and words were spoken, but all she heard was whispers.

One thought permeated her mind clear as day. She shouldn't have been there. She didn't belong. It was her fault everyone was there to begin with. So she'd done her best to be invisible, avoid contact with everyone, but especially Twilight's family. It wasn't hard to do since she couldn't open her mouth to speak before the tears would flow. And she really, really didn't want anyone to see her cry. Not there. She didn't deserve to.

Yet, there was one thing she had to do, and couldn't avoid. Apologize to Twilight's mother. What good would it have done? She didn't know—and still didn't, but she'd felt the need to just the same. Whether her emotions got the better of her in the process didn't matter. However, when she'd reached a tentative hand towards Mrs. Sparkle's shoulder, she heard Shining Armor's voice, rough and acidic. His words caused his mother to turn around and face her.

The apology died in her mouth. Just thinking back to that moment made her throat tighten. Seeing Mrs. Sparkle's puffy, red eyes glistening with tears barely suppressed, noticing her dark circles and knowing that she probably hadn't slept much in the past few days since the accident, it was too much. So she'd left without uttering a word. You didn't even stay long enough to say goodbye to Twilight.

Sunset swung her legs over the edge of her bed. Are you sure you want to do this? Honestly, she had no idea. Probably not. Definitely not. But she couldn't deny the curiosity she felt about hearing what Mrs. Sparkle wanted to say. Even if she yelled at her, she had to know. Do you think she'd ask you over just to yell at you? Maybe. Maybe not. If Mrs. Sparkle did, she'd take it. But you didn't do anything wrong. It didn't matter.

Reaching for her shoes, she wondered at what part of the night she kicked them off. Or was it during the day? What time was it? Sunset checked her clock. A quarter to nine... in the morning. Okay, good. If she hurried then she could make it to the bus stop and catch an early ride into the city.

After buckling her boots, she headed towards the door. Shouldn't you eat something before you leave? But she knew there wasn't much left in her cupboards beyond dust and possibly stale cereal. When was the last time she went shopping? It didn't matter. She wasn't hungry, anyway. If you don't eat an actual meal soon, you'll waste away. It's already happening. Have you looked in a mirror recently? She hadn't. And truth be told, she was a little afraid to.

Sunset left her apartment, placing all thoughts about her appearance into the back of her mind. If she looked as bad as she thought she did, people would've commented, right? Unless they were trying to spare you the embarrassment of inquiring as to why you appear so thin. Only the most oblivious wouldn't be able to see that you have a problem.

No, that couldn't be. Her facade was solid… Wasn't it? She made herself smile when she deemed it necessary. Your smile doesn't fool yourself. How can you expect it to fool anyone else? They just don't tell you they notice because they don't want to know how you actually feel. Sunset wasn't sure which was worse. Knowing that people saw through her like a window or that it didn't bother her that they didn't care. But you do have people that care for you.

When she came across the bus stop, there were already a couple people sitting in wait. So she sat away from them, near the end of the cold metal bench. It was true. She knew her friends cared for her. The messages that she heard on her phone just a short while ago proved it. But she wished they didn't. Because it hurt. Their kind words were like knives to her chest, cutting deeper with each well wish, each declaration of love. But have you considered how much more it'd hurt if they didn't care at all? What would you do if they treated you like how you treat yourself?

She… She didn't know. Would she even want to—live? That's what you're thinking, isn't it? But you're not really living much anymore, are you? You know you've thought about it before. A chill traveled down her spine. It would be so easy…

The arrival of the bus pulled Sunset from her thoughts. Don't think like that again. When the door opened, she was the last to board, pressing her card to the scanner. Was her card still valid? For the few seconds the scanner took to check her card, a worry set in her. What would she do if it wasn't valid anymore? But the feeling was fleeting when it was accepted. So she took her seat a few rows down and rested her head against the window, feeling the vibrations as the bus drove off.

She peered out the window, but didn't see anything. The world was little more than a mash of movement punctuated with occasional stillness. In these moments, Sunset stared at the drivers and passengers of the cars stopped next to the bus. And she wondered, for the few seconds before the light turned green, what were their lives like? Were they happy with the hand life dealt them up to this point? Or were they mourning the death of a recently passed loved one? Going to work only to find out that they're fired? Taking their kids on a long overdue vacation, except the kids are no longer interested? Infinite stories around her, but she could only guess at the words hidden under the cover.

Making up stories about various motorists was a game that she often played with Twilight during their bus rides together. The game became so commonplace that she often forgot she did it, even now, it seemed. Old habits… She mused. Except those times with Twilight were far more joyful and less… depressing. The bus began to move once more, and she saw a brief flash of Twilight sitting next to her in the window. Sunset remembered the scent of her hair as she leaned over her, pointing a finger at some spot in the road. Lavender.

'So, Sunset, what do you think her story is over there? Sunset? Are you still trying to guess what I'm going to say to you later? Sunset closed her eyes and saw the cute, nervous grin on Twilight's face. Well, I'm still not telling, but it won't be much longer. Our stop should be coming up soon. A respected scientist? Oh, right. The game. I like that idea. All right. It's your turn to pick.'

By the time they'd reached their stop and disembarked the bus, the rain felt like needles against her skin. She'd asked Twilight if she should just take her home since the rain intensified. Yet Twilight scrunched her face in determination. 'It's not that much rain and besides, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do this if we wait for the weather to let up.'

Why didn't she put her foot down? Tell her that it wasn't safe with so much rain? Too much rain made the ground slippery, and when the ground was slippery, it made it hard to keep your footing. One had to be extra careful or else they'd—

“Now arriving at Granite Street,” the bus driver said.

This was her stop. Sunset left the bus and rounded the corner. Crystal City was a labyrinth of high-rises that sparkled like the finest crystal under the morning sun. If you didn't know where you were going, it was easy to get consumed by its splendor and seemingly infinite roads. The first time she came here to visit Twilight, she got lost for half an hour. You refused to call her after all your talk about remembering the street she lived on. Of course she did eventually call. Twilight had such a cute laugh when she told you where her house was again.

Now she knew her way to Twilight's home just as well as her own. 'You're always welcome at my house, Sunset. My family and I love you.' After turning down one final street, she was there. Even though, Mrs. Sparkle invited her over, the last thing she felt was welcome. The house loomed over her as if to warn her to stay away. And as she walked up the brick path, she could've sworn the windows were narrowed in a glare.

Her heart slammed against her chest, sweat built on her brow. It was a mistake coming here. She stopped half way to the door and turned around. No. You can't turn back now. You've come this far already. Just a few more steps. But those few steps felt miles apart from where she stood. You owe it to Mrs. Sparkle—to yourself to hear what she has to say.

“Okay,” she whispered, turning back to face the house. One, two, three... She kept track of each tentative step towards the door, still feeling like the house might try to attack her at any moment.

Sunset reached for the doorbell, but as she did, her hand shook. A question formed in her chest, causing dread to creep through her veins like a monster in the night. What would she say to Mrs. Sparkle once she saw her? You already know the answer to that question. And she did. She just didn't want to admit it. Taking a deep breath to steel herself, Sunset pressed the button and a small chime rang out.

Chapter VI: Sparkle

View Online

The sound of the doorbell faded to silence. After a few seconds passed with no activity from the other side of the door, Sunset rang again. Maybe Mrs. Sparkle didn't hear—but then she heard a faint voice in the distance growing louder.

“I'm coming! Hold on.” Then the door opened, and Sunset was left face to face with Mrs. Sparkle who's eyes widened at the sight of her. “Sunset?”

“H-Hi, Misses Sparkle.”

“You're here.” Surprise was etched in her words.

Sunset shifted her feet and rubbed her hands together. “Well, you said any time so...” Was she too early? Of course she was. Idiot. “I'm sorry I bothered you.” She had to go. She had to leave. She had to—relax.

“Bother me? What? No. I'm just surprised to see you so early. I didn't think you'd be here till after school, at least.”

See? Now breathe and calm down. In and out. There you go. After a few breaths, Sunset had to admit that she felt better. You need to stop making mountains out of molehills. She'd been doing that a lot lately, hadn't she?

“So it's really okay that I'm here?”

“Of course it is,” Mrs. Sparkle said. Though Sunset could've sworn she heard a brief pause in her words, but it may have been all in her head. “Why don't you come in?” She felt Mrs. Sparkle's hand on her upper back as she led her inside the house.

It'd been a long time since she last stepped inside the Sparkle residence. So long that she was almost certain things would've changed. However, things were exactly as she remembered them. Not exactly though, right? Family portraits lined the walls in level rows, and the blanket draped over the back of the couch was folded end to end between the two back cushions.

“So what have you been up to?” Mrs. Sparkle asked.

“Oh, you know”—lying in bed as my life falls apart—“just… stuff.”

“I see.”

“What about you?” Sunset asked, hoping to shift the conversation off herself.

“Just living day by day.” Mrs. Sparkle picked up an askew picture frame sitting on a small table by the entryway. Even without a clear view, Sunset knew it was a picture of Shining Armor. “I sent Shining out to do some errands earlier. It's been a blessing having him around the house these past few weeks.”

Sunset's gaze wandered to the door. If Shining Armor was out then the last place she wanted to be was in his home when he returned. Any second now the door could open, and there'd he be, and that wasn't a situation she wanted to be in. Maybe you have nothing to worry about. Things might have changed since the funeral. But she knew it was wishful thinking. He was furious then, and she remembered his burning expression, his painful words… No, she doubted that much—if anything had changed since then.

“He still hates me, doesn't he?” she asked, knowing full well what the answer would be.

Mrs. Sparkle's face fell when she glanced at the picture in her hands, confirming her expectations. “I don't think he hates you. He's just hurting. I've tried convincing him and his father to join me in counseling, but...”

“You're going to counseling?”

“Yeah.” Mrs. Sparkle placed the picture back on the table. “I started a few days after the funeral. Doctor Balm's been helping me find ways to cope with Twilight's death.”

“That's… good.” What else could she say? Guilt washed over Sunset like a wave. While she was glad that Mrs. Sparkle's therapy seemed to be working, if it wasn't for her then she wouldn't need to find ways to cope to begin with.

“Why don't you have a seat? I'll make us some tea,” Mrs. Sparkle said, walking towards the kitchen.

'Organization is the key to a happy mind, at least that's what my mom taught me.' That's what Twilight told her the first time she visited when she asked why the living room looked like a picture in an interior design magazine. With everything so immaculate, she remembered feeling awkward about even sitting on the couch, and joked about how her presence would somehow ruin the perfect image.

But then Twilight's expression intensified as she placed her hands on her shoulders. Sunset could still feel the gentle squeeze of her fingers. 'If you're in this house then you have a place.' The words made her smile then, and they made her smile now.

Sunset ran her fingers along the picture frames that sat on the end table, but she didn't dare look at them because if she did, she felt like she might cry. So she sat on the couch at an angle that didn't risk glimpsing the pictures in her peripheral vision and waited. A few minutes passed before Mrs. Sparkle came back carrying a small tea tray.

After placing the tray on the coffee table next to an album named “family”, Mrs. Sparkle picked up a white pot and poured the tea into a couple ceramic cups. Sunset felt the steam rise from the cup when she accepted the plate from Mrs. Sparkle. To avoid appearing ungracious, she took a small sip of tea, and winced as the scalding liquid slid down her throat.

“Be careful. It's hot.” Mrs. Sparkle took her cup and sat in a cream colored armchair across from Sunset.

Silence fell upon them, and Sunset shifted her position. Should she say something? Now would be a good time. She had the words ready. Just two, but that was all she needed and probably all she'd be able to manage. Yet the more she thought about those couple words, the faster her heart beat. You can do this. But the words stuck to her tongue, allowing the silence to continue.

Then Mrs. Sparkle put her tea down.

“It feels like a lifetime has passed since I last saw you.”

“Ye-Yeah.” Sunset tensed at Mrs. Sparkle's voice, fearing the upcoming conversation. The last time she saw her was at Twilight's funeral, the funeral she ran out of. What if that's what she wanted to talk about? Or what about how she was directly responsible for her daughter's death? Was she ready to hear those words come out of someone else's mouth besides her own? But it wasn't your fau—What if?

“You must be tired of hearing this question, but… how are you doing?” Mrs. Sparkle asked.

That question wasn't even on her mind, and it took her a moment to realize it'd even been asked, but she had the answer in the chamber ready to fire. “I'm...” Sunset paused. Do you want to lie to her? Can you lie to her? “fine,” she said. What's one more time, right? For a moment, she considered asking her how she was, but thought better of it. She lost a daughter. How fine could she be?

“Hmm.” Mrs. Sparkle gave her a sad smile, nodding as if she got the answer she expected. “I'm fine,” she repeated. “Don't you get tired of those words? I'm fine. You say it so often that you sound like a record stuck on repeat. Eventually, you don't even notice when you say it. It just becomes second nature. But it wasn't my truth, and I can see in your eyes that it's not yours either.”

Sunset placed her tea on the coffee table. She was right, of course. But how could she admit that to Mrs. Sparkle, the mother who's child died because of her actions? Honestly, she was tired of keeping the lie raised as a shield all the time. Could it hurt to lower her guard and be honest?

“You know it's okay to say you aren't fine,” Mrs. Sparkle said.

Was it though? Sunset felt the words wrap around her chest, cold and hard. How she wanted to release herself from their burden even if it was only for this moment. However, the words locked her tongue. It wasn't right for her to confess to Mrs. Sparkle. Mrs. Sparkle's pain was more important than her own. She didn't have a right to free herself from her chains, not when she sat across from Twilight's mother. Your feelings are valid too. Just because someone may have it worse, doesn't mean what you feel isn't important. Sunset's nails dug into her palms when she braced against her thighs.

Why was Mrs. Sparkle telling her it was okay? Because it is. Why wasn't she angry with her? Why wasn't she yelling at her, screaming that it was her fault? Because she isn't, and it wasn't. Why—can't you stop blaming yourself? You're the judge and jury to your own trial. Can't you see that the only person that hates you in this room is yourself? But she had every reason to hate her. Was Mrs. Sparkle simply good at hiding it or did she really not hate her?

Sunset lowered her gaze away from Mrs. Sparkle, fearing that she might see something that wasn't there in her eyes. You need to stop forging monsters out of nothing. What has she done to make you question her motivations? The truth was that she hadn't done anything. Then why are you desperate to find something that isn't there? She didn't know.

In the silence, Mrs. Sparkle said, “I remember when I first spoke the words, 'I'm not fine' out loud. It was like a weight had been—”

“Do you hate me?” Sunset's voice wavered.

“Hate you?” Surprise weaved through Mrs. Sparkle's words. “Why would you think that?”

“Why not?” In the corner of her eye, Sunset saw the family album, and knew that it would never be filled the same way again. It was broken beyond repair. Just like her. “I could've saved her.” Sunset's voice cracked and her vision blurred and she wanted to stop, but she couldn't. The words poured out of her. “If I'd been faster. If I'd tried harder.” Her body shook. There were so many things she could've done differently that day. “If I'd held her hand. If I… If I… If—”

A warm pressure wrapped around her body. “Shhh...” It took her a moment to notice Mrs. Sparkle's presence next to her. And when she did, she pulled away. Yet Mrs. Sparkle held on. “It's okay.”

“No it's not! Please let me go.” It was supposed to be a comfort being wrapped in someone's arms, but the embrace only intensified her pain. The action felt… wrong—sick, like it was a crime made worse by the fact that it was Mrs. Sparkle who hugged her. She didn't deserve the kindness, not with the pain she caused.

After Mrs. Sparkle released her, she hugged her arms, keeping her head lowered. She feared the look on Mrs. Sparkle's face. Why did she have to react like that? It was just…

“Mrs. Sparkle?” Her voice was so small that she was reminded of the time when she was a foal back in Equestria. “I'm...” What should she say now? Her mind went blank.

“Is it okay if I touch you?” Mrs. Sparkle asked softly.

She nodded quickly, still averting her gaze.

Hands on shoulders, a reassuring squeeze. “Look at me,” Mrs. Sparkle said softly. Sunset tilted her head up, meeting her tired, tearful gaze. “It's not your fault. I don't blame you.”

Sunset opened her mouth to speak, but only a half choked sob came out.

“It's okay. I'm going to hug you now,” Mrs. Sparkle said, pulling her close.

Guilt and anger and sadness swirled inside of her. But there was another feeling too. Want. She wanted the contact. Perhaps even needed it. So she didn't fight Mrs. Sparkle this time. Despite the confusing storm raging in her heart, she reached her hands behind Mrs. Sparkle and dug her fingers into the back of her shirt.

“I'm sorry,” Sunset said, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“You don't need to apologize.” Mrs. Sparkle ran her fingers through Sunset's hair. “It's not your fault what happened. Alright? It was a tragic accident. There's no one to blame.”

“B-But there is! I could've prevented it. If I'd known what would happen that day, I wouldn't have given up on trying to stop her,” Sunset said. “She'd still be with us.”

Mrs. Sparkle shook her head. “None of that. There was nothing you could've done.”

“How can you say that?” Because it's the truth, and you know it too.

“Sweetie, you need to stop beating yourself up. You'll wear yourself away until there's nothing left. I know it's hard, but you have to trust me on this.”

She was right, but—What would you do if you stopped blaming yourself? You don't know, do you? “I can't,” Sunset said.

“I understand,” Mrs. Sparkle said. “Sunset, do you ever talk about what happened that day?”

A lump formed in her throat and her heart felt like it wanted to fall from her chest. The memories of that day reached for her mind with cold, shadowed fingers. No. She didn't want to think about it.

Rain pelted her face and drenched her clothes. Each step weighed heavy as she trudged through the mud. And she remembered reiterating how dangerous this would be with all the mud and rain.

'As long as we're careful we'll be fine. Okay? Trust me.' Then Twilight flashed her a smile, and despite her doubts, she believed her. Up ahead of them was—No! Sunset pushed the shadowy hand away. The memory faded leaving a chill down her spine.

“It hurts too much,” Sunset said.

“I know,” Mrs. Sparkle said. “But it's not good to keep those feelings bottled up. They build and build until the pressure reaches a breaking point.”

“Yeah...” Where is your breaking point? Have you reached it yet? You're almost there, aren't you?

“Just know that it's okay to talk about Twilight. It's okay to feel.”

But what Sunset wanted was to feel less. You know that's not true. Why don't you listen to her advice and—“I should leave before Shining gets back,” Sunset said, rising from the couch.

You know that's not the real reason you want to leave. You're afraid of dealing with your loss. That wasn't… She wasn't afraid. Your life has been on pause for so long that you don't know where to find play anymore. Was she?

“You don't have to do that,” Mrs. Sparkle said.

“It's for the best.”

“Okay. Let me give you another hug before you go.” As Mrs. Sparkle embraced her, she whispered in her ear, “My daughter cared about you a great deal. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help if you need it.”

Sunset felt a twinge of pain in her heart at hearing the declaration of affection, but her lips turned to a small smile. “Thanks, Misses Sparkle.”

“Before you go, there's something important I want you to take home and read,” Mrs. Sparkle said.

“What is it?”

“The last entry of my daughter's diary.”

Chapter VII: Diary

View Online

“You want me to read her diary?” Sunset asked. “Why?”

“I think there's something you need to see for yourself,” Mrs. Sparkle said.

But to read Twilight's diary… Wasn't that an invasion of her privacy? But she's not here, anymore. Still, it felt wrong. Even if she was no longer here, the diary was a piece of her soul, her innermost thoughts. She had no business reading something so personal. Her mom wouldn't suggest you read it if it wasn't important. You should see what it is.

Could she be in it? What would Twilight say about her if she was? “Okay.” While she was still apprehensive, Sunset couldn't deny that a part of her was curious about the contents of the diary.

“I'll go get it then. It's still on the desk in her room since I wasn't expecting you till later. Did you want to come with me?”

“Um...” Sunset hesitated. Did you? Can you handle it? You have to try. What if she cried? Oh, come on! At least be honest with yourself. You're afraid of the memories.

“It's okay if you don't want to,” Mrs. Sparkle said, seemingly taking her silence as an answer. “I understand. Wait right here, and I'll be right back.”

But what if the memories are what you need? “Wait!” Sunset grabbed Mrs. Sparkle's wrist, stopping her. “I'll go with you.”

Together they went upstairs.

“Are you sure you don't want to wait?” Mrs. Sparkle asked.

Sunset saw the concern on her face, and she appreciated it. While she wasn't sure how she'd react, she knew she had to try. “I'm sure,” she said. This is a good thing. Still, she took a couple quick breaths to calm herself.

“Alright.” Mrs. Sparkle turned the knob.

The memories flooded back. 'Pardon the mess.' She closed her eyes, envisioning Twilight with a light blush on her face, hurriedly picking up the stray papers that littered her floor. 'Sorry, I was working on a few notes for Miss Beakers' class. Okay. So maybe it was more than a few. Why don't you make yourself comfortable? I'll be with you in a second. No, no. You don't have to—thank you.'

“Do you want some time alone?”

“Huh?” Sunset blinked a few times before she realized that Mrs. Sparkle had spoken. “Why do you ask?”

“I can see it in your eyes,” Mrs. Sparkle said. “You two spent a lot of time up here together. So I think it's only natural that you may want a moment to yourself.”

“Is that okay?”

“Take as long as you need. I'll be in the living room if you need me.” She placed her hand on Sunset's shoulder. “Don't forget the diary on the desk before you leave.”

“Thanks, Misses Sparkle.”

When she was alone, Sunset steadied her breath once more. You ready? She didn't know, but she entered the room anyway, leaving the door slightly ajar. As she walked towards the desk under the window, she expected to hear the crinkle of paper beneath her feet. The thought alone made her want to apologize to Twilight for not watching her footing close enough, but there wasn't a stray paper to be found. There wasn't a stray anything. And that felt… odd.

All she saw were the shadows of how the room used to be. Books pulled from their shelves, strewn over the bed during one of Twilight's reading sessions. A sea of papers littering the floor because she was taking notes and couldn't stop for fear of losing her thoughts. The curtains closed since her experiment was sensitive to light… just shadows. Since in the light that shown from the window, nothing remained.

Sunset frowned. It was still Twilight's bedroom despite everything being put in place. Yet it didn't feel like her. There was none of her personality left, her “organized chaos” as she liked to call it. But then again, what else did she expect—could expect since Twilight wasn't here anymore? A sigh parted her lips. She'd spent too much time in here already. Better just grab the diary and leave.

Purple flowers and copper gears decorated the cover of Twilight's diary. Sunset ran her fingers along its surface, thoughts drifting to the words etched on the pages within. What did she need to know? Curiosity built, but then so did the anxiety. Though, she didn't understand why. Are you afraid about what won't be there? Or is it what is written that scares you? To think that she should read it now…

No. Not now. Later. She grabbed the diary and was almost out the door when her gaze was drawn to the dresser, more specifically to what sat atop it. Pictures. They pulled her towards them, and brought their memories to the forefront of her mind. Most were of the group of them. There was one picture in particular near the left edge where they were all piling onto Twilight in a group hug. Sunset chuckled at how imbalanced they all looked, and she still wasn't quite sure how Pinkie managed to fit them all in the image. When will you see them again? When?

Then she came across Twilight's nightstand with a single photograph on it. Her lip quivered when she tried to smile. Placing the diary on the edge of the bed, she held the picture in her hands, rubbing the frame with her thumbs. It was of them. Only them. Sunset's arms were wrapped around Twilight, and they both had the largest grins.

She reclined on the bed, holding the photo above her face. This was the first picture they took together shortly after the Friendship Games. Sunset recalled the euphoria she felt upon hearing that Twilight would be transferring to Canterlot High that she just had to hug her. And she knew Twilight was excited—if a little nervous—to begin her journey of friendship with the girls. With her. But she was happy, so happy.

If she'd never come to Canterlot, she'd still be alive. If she never met—stop. Sunset exhaled, caressing Twilight's cheek. What she wouldn't give to see her smile again. She brought the picture to her chest and stared at the crackled ceiling.

“What are you trying to tell me?” Sunset asked. “Can you let me know if-if you...” But she chose not to finish what she was going to say, choosing instead to simply lie on Twilight's bed.

“What are you doing in here?”

Sunset's heart jolted, gaze jumping towards the doorway. “Sh-Shining Armor!” She fumbled placing the picture back on the nightstand. “I uh… I—” How long had she lain there for?

“Get out.” Shining Armor's voice was low, dangerous, filled with warning.

He didn't need to say it twice. “Okay, I'm going.” Sunset's hand shook when she grabbed for the diary, allowing it to slip from her fingers.

It was a delay too much. “Now!” he said.

“Okay!” She flinched, voice cracking.

When she managed to get a grip on the diary, she pressed it back to her chest and was almost out the door when Shining held his hand out, stopping her. “Hang on. What's that?”

“Wait!” But she couldn't stop him ripping the diary from her grasp.

Fire blazed in his eyes as his gaze shot between the diary and her. “What are you doing with this?”

Shining's tone was accusatory like she had tried to steal a piece of Twilight. “I can explain,” she said, wringing her hands. “Your m—”

“You don't deserve to have her diary.”

“I know that, but your mom said that I could take it with me.”

“Haven't you done enough damage to our family? Do you know what it's been like since my sister's death? There were days when my mom would stay up half the night in tears. She claims she's doing better now, but I know she still has trouble sleeping. Dad rarely says more than a couple words to us anymore. And there's only one person to blame.” Shining's voice went cold, and Sunset was certain that if a person's tone could kill, she'd be dead. “You.”

“Shining...” Her voice wavered and a tear rolled down her cheek. He was right. No he's not. It was her fault. No it's not. Misses Sparkle even told you so. It didn't matter.

“Do you want to know something about the day she died?”

“Please stop...”

But her words fell upon deaf ears.

“I was supposed to take her to a movie that day.”

“Please. I don't want to hear any—”

“Shut up! You're going to hear every word of this,” Shining Armor said.

“What's going on up there?” Mrs. Sparkle's voice carried from downstairs, growing closer until she appeared next to her son. “Shining, you promised that you'd be nice.”

Though Sunset was glad at Mrs. Sparkle's arrival, she could see in Shining Armor's glossy, anger filled eyes that it wouldn't stop him from what he wanted to say. “But she rescheduled her date with me because she had something else she needed to do that just couldn't wait.”

No. She didn't want to hear this. If Twilight canceled on Shining Armor then that meant their day, the Sweet Shoppe, the bus, the accident, all of it… The realization turned her stomach as if she'd been punched. She didn't even need his words at this point, but she knew she wouldn't be spared them.

Mrs. Sparkle glanced at her son. “Shining Armor.” A warning voice. “Enough.”

“It was you,” he said. “Twilight died because of you.”

“Shining Armor Sparkle!” Mrs. Sparkle turned to her. “Sunset...”

Fists closed, eyes shut. Sunset tried to force his words out of her mind, but it was too late. The truth behind the words permeated her thoughts. Her body trembled and she felt the tears leak from the corners of her eyes. He's wrong, he's wrong, he—confirmed what she already thought, already knew.

She wanted to run, but the energy drained from her in the blink of an eye. “I'm sorry I bothered you.”

Who were her words directed at? Shining? Mrs. Sparkle? Both? What did it matter? Head down, don't make eye contact. Just leave quietly. She shouldn't have come. As she left, she heard Mrs. Sparkle and Shining exchange words, but she tuned their voices out. She'd heard enough.

“Sunset, wait!” Mrs. Sparkle's voice.

Sunset stopped atop the staircase. After wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she turned to see Mrs. Sparkle's apologetic face. “Yeah?”

“What Shining Armor said… I'm so, so sorry you had to hear that. If I'd known that's what he was going to say...”

“It's okay,” Sunset said, giving a pained smile.

“No, it's not. There's no excuse for him being so cruel. You didn't deserve that.”

“Why not? It's what he feels. Besides, what he said was true, anyway.”

“No.” Mrs. Sparkle shook her head. “There's more to that day than what he said. Just please read the last entry. I think it will provide you with clarity.” She gave her back Twilight's diary. “And once again, I'm sorry. I promise I'm going to have a talk with him.”

“Thanks, Misses Sparkle.” Sunset accepted the diary and left without another word.

Chapter VIII: Nothing

View Online

Sunset couldn't do it. Hours. That's how long she spent staring at the cover to Twilight's diary while she sat on her bed. 'I think it will provide you with clarity.' Mrs. Sparkle's words echoed in her mind. The sun must have set by now. Why couldn't she do it? She had every intention of reading it the moment she returned home, but whenever her fingers reached for the diary's edge to open it, she froze.

It's only Twilight. Why are you so afraid? That was the question. If her diary could provide her with clarity, maybe even with some closure, she should jump at the opportunity, hold it tight so it couldn't escape. Yet she hesitated. Why? You're afraid of the truth. You're afraid of potentially learning why she wouldn't stop that day.

That had to be it. She flicked on her bedside lamp, and a dim light filled the room. But wouldn't she feel better knowing the reason behind her insistence? Or would it hurt worse if she learned there truly wasn't anything she could've done short of slinging Twilight over her shoulder to carry her home?

You need to find out either way. She knew she had to, but… It will only get harder to read the longer you wait. Do you want to make your trip to the Sparkle household all for nothing? No. She sighed. This is important. Take a breath.

“Alright.” She glanced at her ceiling as if waiting for a cosmic cue to tell her to proceed. The sound of her heartbeat berated her ears. Her fingers gripped the diary's cover. Once she opened it, saw Twilight's words for herself—whatever they may be—there wouldn't be any turning back.

She opened the diary.

The last entry. As she flipped through the pages, she forced herself to remember why she had the diary to begin with, lest she get distracted by any of the other thoughts contained within it. Though, her gaze did wander over some of the pages slower than others. Whether it was curiosity of having such an intimate look at Twilight's self or just a way to prolong the inevitable final entry, Sunset wasn't certain. It was probably a mixture there of.

Focus, focus. If she delayed much longer, she knew she'd lose the nerve to continue. Just a few more pages she hoped, but her mind screamed at her to stop. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea, though. With how emotionally draining her day was, could it really hurt to take a break? You're looking for an out. Don't give it to yourself. It can't be much further. Right.

Then she came across it. Twilight's last entry. Sunset exhaled a breath, gaze drawn to the date written in the corner. The day before the accident. Was she ready for this? No, but she didn't have a choice. She started to read.

“Dear diary,” Sunset said. “I accompanied the girls to their band practice in the music room today. Once again, Rainbow tried to not so subtly get me to join the Rainbooms.” A chuckle escaped her lips. Rainbow could be a little too brash sometimes. She continued reading.

“She says that I must have an interest in becoming a member since I've come to more and more practice sessions.” Thinking back, Sunset remembered seeing Twilight at every session. Or at least all the ones that she attended, anyway. Where did she leave off?

“I assured her again that I simply enjoy listening to them and have no desire to sing for crowds—which is the truth. Well… most of the truth, as I've stated before.” Most of the truth? Did Twilight have other reasons for joining them? Whatever her reasons, Sunset was always happy to have her presence nearby. Shaking her head, she said, “Unfortunately, that didn't satisfy her this time. So she pressed.” Really Rainbow?

“A not entirely unforeseen possibility. However, I hadn't prepared a secondary response today as a safeguard. As you know, my well of answers has proverbially dried up as of late and I've yet to refill it. Thankfully, Applejack and Rarity interjected on my behalf, dissuading Rainbow from asking me to join further. At least for today.” Why would Twilight have prepared answers? Sunset paused, pondering this question. Maybe if she read further...

“Honestly, I think everyone is starting to get suspicious of me. I see a lot of raised eyebrows in my direction except from Fluttershy. And I'm pretty certain that Pinkie knows already. I'm not entirely sure how, though. But every time she looks at me, she has this huge “I know what you're hiding” smile. Of course that may just be Pinkie being Pinkie. I don't know.”

What secret was Twilight hiding? Was she in trouble? No, that wouldn't make sense. If Pinkie thought there was something wrong, she wouldn't smile like that. You're right. She'd fake it. Just like you. Sunset didn't have time for that right now. Best to keep reading.

“It's so embarrassing,” she said, picking up where she left off. “Yet, I can't help but smile whenever I watch Sunset perform. She just looks so right when she sings. It's—She's beautiful.” A pause long enough to let her words sink in. Sunset felt her face warm and quickly blinked away the wet that collected on her eyes.

“Occasionally, she'll catch me watching her and she'll smile back at me. I feel my cheeks heat at the thought! Sometimes I wonder if she suspects something's up. I like to think she has an idea, but it may just be wishful thinking on my part. Still, until I'm certain on what she feels, I do my best not to stare too long. If I think I am, I resort to glancing to and from her and one of my text books. Come to think of it, I'm not sure which is more obvious. Why does this have to be complicated?”

Twilight's feelings. Flushed cheeks, stealing glances. Did that mean… Sunset felt her mind work the pieces of the puzzle. No, the answer couldn't be—but you know it is. Oh! Oh. Oh…

Did she want to continue reading? You have to. She took a breath before she continued. “My life has changed so much since I met the girls, met Sunset. I love the time we share together when it's just the two of us. We don't even have to do anything exciting. It's just nice, you know? I don't want to imagine what my life would be like if I never met her. I'd probably still be at Crystal Prep…” And she'd still be ali—No more thoughts until the end. Just a little further.

Sunset collected herself then pressed on. “You know what, diary? I'm going to do it. I know, I know. I've been saying that for awhile now. This time I mean it! Hmm… probably, have been saying that too much too come to think of it. Anyway… Tomorrow should work. Oh, wait! Shining Armor was going to take me to the movies tomorrow. That's a problem. Well, I suppose I can ask if we can do the day after instead. I'm positive that will work better for him time wise.

“Hang on. Didn't the weather man say it would rain tomorrow? You know what? Forget the weather! I'm tired of coming up with excuses as to why I can't tell Sunset how I feel about her.” She felt her voice waiver. Keep going.

“If there's one thing I've learned from her, it's that you have to follow your heart. And right now my heart tells me that I have—no, need to do this. I've lived my life too long without following my heart. That ends today. Well, tomorrow, technically.” Everything in her mind screamed at her to stop, begged her. But there were only a few sentences left.

“I have to go. Mom's calling me for dinner. But I'm so excited for tomorrow! Okay, maybe a little nervous too. Things are going to change. For the better I think. I hope. I'm going to tell Sunset how much I lov...” Her voice hitched in her throat and she had to look away from the diary for a moment. “Love her,” she said.

Sunset stared at the last two words on the page, the last two words that Twilight ever wrote. The world rumbled around her, growing more violent as the seconds ticked by in painful slowness. Jagged cracks formed in her walls, formed in the very air. She watched this happen. Breath calm, heartbeat steady, and her vision clear.

Then the world fell away.

Small pieces at first. She barely acknowledged those. Yet even when slabs crashed around her in a thunderous roar, she didn't react. She should scream or cry or… something. Anything. But nothing. The void revealed itself to her, dark and infinite. It's arms wrapped around her and it pulled her towards itself, sapping the air from her lungs.

The light left the room, consumed by the void's hunger. And she knew she was next, but there was no point fighting it. Let it torment her. Let it devour her. She didn't care. In fact, Sunset welcomed it. If the void wanted nourishment from her body, her mind, her heart and soul, it would be disappointed. Because there was nothing left for it to take.

Chapter IX: Shatter

View Online

Mistake. If Sunset had to summarize her life in one word, that'd be it. It was a mistake running from Princess Celestia, from home all those years ago. It was a mistake to think she could steal Princess Twilight's crown and usurp rule over her homeland. It was a mistake for her not to return to Equestria after the Fall Formal. If she'd done that one simple thing, Twilight would still be alive. You can't blame yourself for 'what ifs'. There's no way to know what would've happened had you left. But she did know.

The headboard to her bed dug into the back of her neck when she leaned against it. Why did Mrs. Sparkle insist she read that entry? All it did was reaffirm what she already thought. Only now there wasn't any chance at all for her to be wrong. The words were right there. Twilight died because of her. So why did Mrs. Sparkle think she'd be helped by the diary?

You know exactly why she wanted you to read that particular passage. She wanted you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it's what Twilight wanted. It was her choice. What Twilight 'wanted'. And what did her want get her? She died. All for what? Her? Because she fell in love?

Sunset didn't mean for that to happen. Most don't intend for it to happen, but love is a funny thing and crops up when you least expect it. If she'd known Twilight loved her so much, she'd have pushed her away to begin with. Spared her, her fate. So then you both suffer. What kind of life is that? One where she's still alive. You can't know that. No one can. Life is precious and fragile and all it takes is a single moment. None of us are guaranteed anything.

No. She pushed those thoughts away. Twilight deserved so much more. There was no doubt in her mind that Twilight would be a light to more people than just her. She felt this in the fibers of her being. So then why did the world take her away, snuff the light? Wasn't there already enough darkness? Why did the good have to suffer? Sometimes things just happen.

But it wasn't right! Fire flowed through her veins. She gripped her pillow, tossing it across her room. It impacted above her dresser. Several pictures fell out of place, a few shattering upon hitting the floor.

Great.

Sunset carefully avoided the glass shards scattered on the floor when she went over to the fallen frames. Bending over, she picked up the closest one. Behind the cracked glass, she saw a photo of Twilight sitting under a tree, nose buried in a science book. She fell against the side of her bed, gaze glued to Twilight's concentrated expression.

'I don't remember this picture. When did you take it? Really? Why? Oh! Well, you know this means I'm going to need to take a picture that captures who you are now, too. Not that a picture could adequately show how amazing you are… Hmm? Oh, nothing, nothing!'

Pain. That's all she ever caused. You know that's not true. From the moment she came through the portal, she caused suffering to others, to those that would become her best friends. But you changed. But it wasn't enough. If anything, she caused more pain with her “change” than she ever did before the Fall Formal. How messed up was that? Her lips curled into a painful smile at the realization.

How cruel.

Why didn't the Elements destroy her? Because that's not how they work. They should've destroyed her. Your friends would miss you. No they wouldn't. They'd miss the you that you'd become. The true you. Their friend. Their friend that broke them apart. Their friend that broke their hearts. Their friend that destroyed a families' lives. That friend? But—No.

All she'd ever do is cause pain to those she loved. And they didn't deserve that, and she didn't deserve them. She never did. They would be better off if she… if she'd just…

Die.

Sunset shot to her feet as if startled. No, that's not... that's not what she wanted. Isn't it? You can lie to everyone else, but you can't lie to yourself. Not anymore. The thoughts have crept through your veins like a poison since the funeral. You knew it was only a matter of time. Why do you deny them?

She gripped the door frame as she stumbled out of her bedroom. Where was she going? One step. Two. Her body felt driven by someone else with her in the passenger seat. You don't have an answer, do you? The poison pulses in your soul. Can you feel it?

Yes. An all consuming emptiness ripped at her core with tooth and claw. Sunset clutched her chest from the pain and was almost surprised to feel her heartbeat. Shouldn't she be hollow, numb to the world around her, by now? The seconds ticked by in excruciating slowness, exacerbating her anguish. She was a shell of herself. Why did she still feel when just a few minutes ago, she felt nothing at all?

Because there is always more pain to find, and you are a buffet of misery. The poison won't be satisfied until every last shred of you is corroded beyond recognition, beyond repair. You will find no rest. You will find no solace. This is your existence from now on. Endless suffering. But there is an antidote, a way to take all the pain away. You know what you have to do.

Sunset leaned over her kitchen counter to catch her breath. She wanted the pain to end, but what about her friends? What about them? You said so yourself. They'd be better off without you. Why do you hesitate? Do the right thing.

Would they miss her? Why should they? You've pushed them away for so long that they won't even notice you're gone. They'll probably be relieved. No. That didn't sound like them. Her friends… They'd hurt if she died. It be like Twilight all over again. It wouldn't be like her at all. Sure they may hurt a bit right away, but they'll come to realize why you did it. They'll know it was to protect them from yourself. They'll see the selfless love of your act.

But…

Enough! You have to do this. What kind of friend would you be if you didn't? You know the risks that you pose to them. Twilight's dead because of you. It doesn't matter what her mother said. You know the facts. If you live, how long will it be before another friend dies? A week? A month? A year? She didn't know.

Who do you think will die next? Pinkie? Fluttershy? Oh! Maybe Rarity. Yes. What do you think your surviving friends will say when they lose another friend in your presence? Will they be able to forgive you knowing that you could've stopped it? Will they understand? How selfish can you be?

“Shut up!” Sunset swept her arm across the counter. Knives scattered from their wood block and clanged onto the tiled floor while the phone dangled over the edge, tethered by its cord. “Am I being selfish?” She whispered as she slid down the cabinets.

Are you afraid? She hugged her legs, resting her forehead against her knees. You shouldn't be. It's what you want. Is it? It's the only way to end your pain, end everyone's pain. Was it? What would she do? She raised her head and spotted a knife by her left foot. It will be so easy. Just a bit more pain to never feel pain again.

Sunset reached a tentative hand towards the knife. That's right. Then she pulled back. Why did you stop? Her heart pounded against her chest in response to the conflict in her mind. What would she do? The question repeated. Sunset peered at her ceiling hoping to hear an ethereal voice tell her there was another choice. She needed to hear someone—anyone tell her there was a second option. There is no other choice. The thought rang with finality. There was only one other thing she could think of to do.

Reaching for the phone, she dialed the only number in her mind. What do you think you're doing? “Please pick up. Please pick up,” she said, listening to the phone ring. Sunset knew it was a long shot, but if there was ever a time for someone to answer the phone…

A yawn followed by a quiet voice. “H-Hello?”

“Fluttershy,” she said, voice equally as quiet.

Another yawn. “Sunset? Is something wrong?” Despite how tired she sounded, Sunset heard the concern in Fluttershy's voice.

Look at you disturbing your friend's peaceful slumber. You want to make her suffer too? No, she—Hang up the phone. “No, I'm sorry I woke you u—”

“What's wrong?” Fluttershy's voice was soft yet firm, inviting her to tell the truth. Wasn't it time?

Sunset's vision blurred. “I...” Her voice cracked. “I need help.” Sobs wracked her body.

“I'm coming over. Just stay on the phone until I arrive, okay? Sunset?”

Through her tears, she managed to choke out a single word. “Yes.”

But in the corner of her vision, she saw the knife still sitting, still waiting for her. Pick it up. She shook as she reached for it. “Please hurry,” she said, fingers wrapping around the handle.

Chapter X: Silence

View Online

“Can you tell me what you're feeling right now?” Fluttershy asked.

“Like I want the pain to end,” Sunset said.

Silence fell over the other end of the phone. Then Fluttershy spoke, “Are you… Are you considering...” Her voice was hesitant as if she didn't want to finish her thought. Sunset heard her take a deep breath. “Are you considering suicide?”

Sunset lowered the phone from her ear and thumped the back of her head against the cabinet. Should she tell her? Is that what you want to do? Burden your friend that you claim to love so much? You're so cruel. Tell her to go home, and hang up the phone.

“Sunset?”

Spare her. Tell her she has nothing to worry about. Tell her you're sorry for disturbing her. Tell her—Sunset brought the phone back to her ear. “Yes,” she said voice strained. And you call yourself her friend.

“How long have you felt like this?” Fluttershy asked.

“On and off since the funeral,” Sunset said.

“Why didn't you tell us?”

Because you deserved the punishment, right? Suffer alone, but you can't even do that, can you? You're not strong enough. You need to bring down one more friend in flames with you. Selfish to the end. But there is one way out. One way to redeem yourself.

You know what needs to be done.

“I didn't want to be a burden,” Sunset said. That's not the only reason.

“A burden?” Surprise in Fluttershy's voice. “Why would you think that?”

Go on. Tell her everything! Tell her you deserve this purgatory you find yourself in. Make her listen to every horrible, little detail about that day! Do you think she'll still want to be your friend afterwards? Will it matter if she does?

Sunset's grip tightened around the knife. Just let it end here. After a shaky breath, she relaxed her hand. Why fight the inevitable? You don't want help. This is an act, a facade. Nothing more. You know it.

Tears stung her eyes. “Why not?” she asked, voice quiet. “All I seem to be good at is causing pain to those I care about.”

“What? But that's not true.”

“Isn't it? Look at what happened to Twilight, and tell me it's not true.”

“No, it's not. I don't know what we'd do without you.”

“You'd all be better off without me.” Sunset wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.

“Please don't say that! We love you.”

Listen to the strain in your friend's voice. You claim you don't want your friends to suffer anymore because of you, but what do you think you're doing to Fluttershy? Do you need it spelled out for you? Causing pain to others is so ingrained in your nature that you simply can't help it. Do them and yourself a favor.

Sunset remained quiet as Fluttershy's words nipped at the corners of her heart. Then a pang came followed by an echo. 'I love her.' Twilight… Fluttershy says she loves you, but you know what happened to the last person who said that.

Give up.

Do it because they love you. Do it because you love them. There is no greater love than self sacrifice. Unless of course you don't love your friends as much as you claim. No! Of course she—was this the only way to show them she cared? You're beginning to see the light. Send her away.

A resigned sigh parted her lips. “I'm sorry I woke you,” Sunset said. “Why don't you go home and pretend this conversation never happened?”

“No. I-I'm glad this conversation happened. I want to help you.”

A kind offer, but there's nothing she can do. She doesn't know the risks you pose. Only you can fix this problem. Only you can protect your remaining friends. You just have to be brave enough.

“I don't think anyone can help me anymore. I don't know why I thought anyone could.”

“If you thought it was impossible, you wouldn't have called me,” Fluttershy said. “Just hang on. I'm almost there!”

“Don't bother,” Sunset said. “I know what I have to do now, what I've always had to do...”

“I see your building. It'll just be another minute. Can you hold on that long? Sunset?”

Sunset stared at the knife in her hand. A choice. That's what she faced. She closed her eyes and breathed. Slowly, Fluttershy's desperate cries faded to the background. You've thought about it before. It will be so easy… But would it? Would ending her life make things easier?

“Please answer… Can you hold on for one more minute?”

Can you? Should you? Do you want to? What do you want? All your suffering can end this moment. No pain, no guilt. Nothing. You want that, right? That's all you want. The pain to end. The answer sits before you. Why do you persist?

Why?

What's left for you with Twilight gone? Your life is in pieces. It will never be the same again. There will always be a hole. You can't live with that. There's nothing left for you, anymore. End your suffering.

Her friends though… 'Would you want to pass your pain?' The thought from the other day flickered in her mind. You keep saying your friends would be better off without you. So which is it? You can't have it both ways, and you know you can't live any longer like this.

Why did she continue? Why didn't she give up? The way out was in her hand, yet she couldn't take that final step. But her grip refused to lessen. Living one more day, let alone one more hour felt like an insurmountable challenge. One that she couldn't beat on her own. Give up! But…

Maybe she didn't have to.

'Can you hold on for one more minute?' Sunset took a deep breath. She didn't know, but she'd have to try—

Frantic pounding on her door.

“Sunset, Sunset! Can you hear me? Sunset, please—”

“The door's not locked,” Sunset said.

In stepped Fluttershy, cheeks red and tear stained. A fragile smile alighted her lips. “You're still here! When you didn't answer, I… I thought that maybe…” Her voice shook.

Then Sunset noticed the butterfly pattern that covered Fluttershy's outfit. She'd run all the way here in her pajamas. “I'm sorry, Fluttershy.” Sunset turned her head away from her as if that'd somehow help her to not think about what she might have gone through during her silence.

“I'm so proud of you,” Fluttershy said.

“What?” After what she put her through, Sunset didn't expect to hear those words. “How can you say that?”

“Because you held on. You're so strong, Sunset.” Fluttershy approached her cautiously, avoiding the fallen cutlery littered on the tile.

“Don't say that!” Sunset's voice fell to a whisper. “I'm not strong. I… I don't even know what I am anymore.” She rested her forehead against her knees. You're broken. Irreparably so. And do you know what you do with something that's broken? You throw it out. Fluttershy may be here, but you can still do it.

“It's okay,” Fluttershy said, and she heard the pause that followed her words. A pause that spoke of hesitance, of carefully selected words as to not push her further into the abyss. But there was nowhere left for her to fall.

“No it's not,” Sunset said. “There's no use pretending anymore. Everything is just… It's too much, you know? I don't know what to do.”

“Can you drop the knife?”

A simple request. Yet it felt impossible, like she was asking her to cut off her arm. The knife was an extension of herself, and no matter how much she wanted to, her grip wouldn't loosen. How weak of her.

She shook her head. “I can't…”

“That's okay.”

“You say it's 'okay', but we both know that's a lie.”

“What would you have me say, then?”

Sunset raised her head and saw Fluttershy crouched across from her. “I… I don't know.” And truthfully, she didn't. There's nothing your friend can do. There's nothing she can say that can help you.

There's no respite—no salvation from your hell. Only by your own hand can you hope to make it stop, but you don't have what it takes, do you? Could you make her watch you bleed out before her eyes? Your pain would be over. Wouldn't that be worth the consequences?

That… that would destroy Fluttershy. It'd be Twilight all over again. 'Have your friends mourn you instead.' Would Fluttershy end up like her? Would she wonder if she could've saved her? Would the pain become too much for her to bear too?

Does it matter? Do you care?

Of course she cared… Really? A dark truth crept on spindly legs inside her chest, whispering to her heart. The truth was that a small part of her didn't care if her actions caused Fluttershy pain—caused her friends pain. And she hated that. And she hated herself for even considering ending her life here and now, but she'd been suffering for so long. She was done fighting that small voice in the back of her mind.

“Can I tell you something?” Fluttershy asked.

Sunset shrugged. “Sure.”

“I want to help you,” she said. “But I don't know how. I don't know what to say to make you not hurt anymore and that makes me feel so… useless.”

Useless. Now that was a word she could relate to.

“It's hard to watch your friend—someone you love suffer.” Fluttershy continued. “You feel helpless. To be honest, I don't think there is anything I can say that will make you feel better.”

“Yeah...” Sunset placed her head against her knees once more.

“But maybe I could share some of your burden with you.” Fluttershy took a deep breath. “Sunset, can you tell me about the accident.”

“The accident?” A chill traveled up her spine. “I don't want to—” But what did she have to lose? “Okay,” she whispered. “I'll tell you what happened.” After a shaky breath, she started. “There's a spot that Twilight and I have—had—that's just off the trail…”

The ground was sludge beneath her feet, and she kept her arms extended to help her keep whatever little balance she had remaining as she made her way down the embankment next to the trail. This is a bad idea. Her mind warned. And she knew that it was, but when Twilight felt determined, few things could stop her. Just a fact. But it was something that Sunset loved about her. However, in this situation, her determination was a problem.

The rain and wind bit at her extremities. “I think I've lost feeling in my fingers,” Sunset said. “I'm telling you, we should turn back. This isn't safe with the storm. We can come back once the weather passes, okay? Twilight?” She glanced to her right and knew right away from the focus in Twilight's eyes that she didn't hear her. “Twilight!”

“Yes?” Twilight held onto a small tree to prevent herself from losing her balance.

“I know you have something important to tell me, and I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but can't you tell me somewhere safer?” A final plead, but she had to try one last time. Though, she knew what the answer would be, what it'd always be.

“But we're so close! As long as we're careful we'll be fine. Okay? Trust me.” Twilight flashed her a reassuring smile.

'No.' That's what she heard. And though she expected that to be the answer, she still held out hope that maybe Twilight would reconsider. But it just wasn't meant to be. Once Twilight set her mind on something… Still, she sounded so certain. Maybe she should trust her.

Up ahead of them was the river, it's waters rough and choppy. Sunset stood near the water's edge. “Alright,” she said. “At least let me go first, okay?”

“But...”

Sunset flashed her a look that spoke volumes without words. This wasn't up for debate. If they were going to do this, it'd be her leading them over the river.

“Alright,” Twilight said.

After climbing onto an old log, Sunset rose slowly. Once she was quite certain the log wasn't going to roll out from under her feet, she helped Twilight up. “Watch your step.”

Sunset extended her arms out and stepped forward. Together she and Twilight had walked this log countless times and never once did she have any concerns. But the slick of the mud under the soles of her shoes caused her feet to glide over the rough bark. Her right foot slid off the side of the log, and her heart leapt into her throat as she steadied herself.

“You okay?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah,” Sunset said. “It's a little more slippery than I was expecting. Just be extra careful.”

“And you were telling me to watch my—whoa!”

“Didn't I just get through telling you to be extra mindful? Twilight?” After a silence that lasted a fraction of a second too long, Sunset turned around.

But Twilight was nowhere to be seen…

“And like that, she was gone,” Sunset whispered.

“Sunset...” Fluttershy's eyes glistened, and before Sunset knew it, she felt her arms around her.

“I-I...” Her voice wavered and her hands trembled. “I...”

“Shhh.” Fluttershy ran fingers through her hair.

The knife fell with a clang on the floor. As the kitchen blurred, Sunset gripped the back of Fluttershy's shirt. “I wish it was me and not her.”

“I know.”

“I wish she'd never met me.” Sunset clung to Fluttershy like her life depended on it.

“I know.”

“I loved her!” She buried her face into Fluttershy's shoulder.

“I know.”

“I'm so tired of the pain.”

“Maybe it's time for you to stop blaming yourself,” Fluttershy said, rubbing her back.

'What would you do if you stopped blaming yourself?' It sounded so easy. Just stop. A snap of the fingers and she'd have peace of mind. But how? 'You don't know where to find play anymore.'

“I don't know how to stop.” Sunset said. “And even if I did, my life's in so many pieces that I'm not sure if I can ever glue the pieces together again. So what's the point?”

'If you don't come to work tomorrow, then I'm going to have to—'

'Look, I can give you one more week if you need it.'

The words of her former boss, and landlord swirled in her mind, and the gravity of her situation slammed into her like a freight train. What would she do without her job? A quickened heartbeat. Without money, she'd lose her apartment. Pain permeated her knuckles. Where would she—

“To live,” Fluttershy said. “The point is to live despite the pain.”

“I don't want to be alone anymore,” Sunset said.

Fluttershy placed her hands on her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes. “You're not alone, Sunset. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere.” She sat herself next to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “And no matter what happens, from now on we'll figure it out together, okay?”

“Okay,” Sunset said.

In silence they sat, but that was fine. No other words needed to be said. Because there was a flicker of warmth in Sunset's chest and that was good enough for now.