To Her Surprise

by Askesalsa

First published

All you need to get ahead in life is the right pony.

Finding your motivation in life can be tough when you live on a rock farm. Pinkamina's everyday consisted of nothing but gray skies and sad sighs for the major part of her foalhood. But when she met a certain white pegasus, things rapidly began to change.

The White Pegasus

View Online

Pie Fields did not have the gentle morning sounds that were common to most other parts of Equestria. A pony spending the night there would never wake up to the lustful chirping of birds or the busy buzzing of bees. No matter how thick the clouds above the house were, the drumming of rain on the roof would never resonate in the ears of its residents. Such sounds were unthinkable on this farm. What woke Pinkamina up this morning was the subtle sound of voices, guiding and instructing each other outside her window.

She turned on her back and stretched her hooves as far behind her head as possible. Her straight hair covered half of her face, creating a curtain to further block out the farm’s nonexistent sunlight. She blew away the pink threads from her face and to the side of her head where they belonged. Taking a moment to breathe and let the thought of a new day sink in, the filly stared aimlessly at the ceiling while trying to make sense of the almost inaudible words from the outside. That somepony other than her family would be there led her mind to only one plausible conclusion: It was that time of the month again.

Slithering sideways to the edge of her bed, she slipped out of the comfort of her blanket. She let a long yawn escape her as she dragged her body over to the window so she could take a good look at the rock farm and the source of the voices. What she saw was hardly different from the usual: A barren wasteland of rocks and dust. The entire area of Pie Fields was nothing but the family’s hard-shelled crops and the brown-gray, cracked earth on which these crops drained nourishment from the air. Every now and then a plant sprout would attempt to defy the laws of nature, only to wither away as soon as it touched the dry and dead atmosphere, leaving behind a sad, black, plant corpse among the many gem-filled rocks. Natural life is unnatural on rock farms.

Still at the window, she moved her chin upwards and got a good look at the necessary reason for this sad sight that she saw every morning: A thick layer of clouds covered every inch of the sky, making sure that no sunlight would ever breach its borders. She noticed the source of the voices as well: A couple of pegasi molding a few gray additions to the layer. They were almost done with their job of blocking out Celestia’s gift. In fact, only a few pieces remained to make sure that the gray layer would hold another month.

Pinkamina nodded at the hard work she saw, her expression tired and grim. She let out her breath in a gloomy sigh as she cracked her neck and stepped away from the window. The rest of the Pies were waiting downstairs.

She entered the kitchen where everypony else was already sitting at the table, enjoying their daily share of bread and butter, jam and juice. She greeted them apathetically with a ‘good morning’ that escaped her mouth at the same time as a long yawn, and everypony else replied the same way and with just as much intensity. Her mother, Sue, was the only one who looked up from her plate and offered her a quick smile.

“Good Morning, Pinkamina,” the gray mare said. “Did you sleep well?”

Pinkamina nodded in reply, not bothering with words at the moment. She was too tired. She moved to her designated seat and pulled out her chair, making an awful noise as it dragged over the hardwood floor. She sat down, picked up her knife and a piece of bread, and slowly applied the required butter, never looking up or showing any signs of anticipation for her healthy breakfast.

“I’m guessing you’ve seen the pegasi outside?” Clyde Pie, her father, asked from her side. Though he was smiling, his expression was still stern, and Pinkamina found it hard to believe that he was enjoying his morning. In fact, she found both him and the rest of her family to be as dull as the landscape outside.

She nodded once again in reply, not bothering with looking up. “I have.”

“Good, good,” he said while straightening his back. He put his elbows on the table and rested his head on top of the bridge his hooves created, his eyes pointing straight ahead and his expression full of thought. “They’ve done a pretty good job covering up the sky, but I can’t help but be a little nervous about their color. They look like they might rain.”

“So what?” she replied thoughtlessly, and she clenched her eyes as soon as she realized what she had said. There was no doubt in her mind that he would now begin one of his boring lessons in the principles of rock farming.

“So what?” he began, just as she had feared. “So everything. Remember the three ground rules to rock farming?”

“Yes, dad,” replied the pink filly irritated. She took a deep breath, rolled her eyes and with a semi-sarcastic voice counted the principles: “Number one: Never expose the rocks to sunlight. The gems inside will lose their radiance. Number two: Always keep them dry, or the gems will shrink inside the rocks. Number three: Remember to turn them over several times a day. This way you’ll avoid awkward shapes when they’re finally harvested.”

“That’s my girl,” the old stallion finished the lecture with another unconvincing grin as he nuzzled her mane to her irritation. He got back to his thoughtful position; his eyes turned to the window on his side and locked on the clouds in the sky. “Now, I really need to talk with these pegasi. I can’t have it if they’ve given us bad clouds. Our agreement with Cloudsdale clearly states that we only get their dry, gray clouds that keep the water in until bucked by a pegasus.” He leaned back and crossed his hooves, still looking past the window frame. “These look dark enough to be regular rain clouds, though. Celestia help them if they ruin our crops.”

“So I’m guessing I’m in charge of the farming until you’ve sorted that out with them?” Pinkamina said through another yawn before she took a bite of her bread.

“You don’t mind, do you?” he pleaded. “It would really be a big help.”

When she replied she did so with a nod of the head, which she pulled off at the same time as she swallowed her bread. This mix of movements made the bread momentarily clog up her throat, and she flinched with her entire body while trying to cough it loose. This whole scenario caught the attention of her two sisters, Blinkamina and Inkamina, who looked at her through the corners of their eyes, silently waiting for it to pass. Only when the coughing stopped and Pinkamina gave them a dry look did their eyes revert back to the table, and their mouths continue chewing their food.

Her mother also had her gaze locked on her, but Pinkamina did not pay much attention to it. She just continued eating as always, getting it all down so she could get on with her daily duties.

But unlike her sisters, the gray mare did not look away. In fact, she continued looking at her eldest, pink daughter, waiting for her to become curious enough to look up. When Pinkamina finally did so, not hiding her irritation with being interrupted from eating all the time, the gray mare put on a weak smile, looked the filly in the eyes and said, “So, will you be eating lunch with the rest of us today?”

Pinkamina replied with a slow shake of the head. “No, I’m going to the river as usual.”

“Is that so?” Sue said with a tone of disappointment. She kept watching the filly, analyzing her reaction with a hopeful look in her eyes. But the gaze Pinkamina returned coldly grew disappointment in her. It forced her to accept the filly’s decision with at least a nod of the head. “Ok, then. I guess it is somewhat more interesting than here, anyways.” She put on another smile of hope and looked back up at the filly. “But what about your studies? You know we usually go over that during lunch.”

“And you know that I always study in the evening,” Pinkamina instantly replied, looking to the side to make her mother stop talking. She was used to the spectacled mare asking this same question every morning, but it bothered her endlessly that no matter how many times she answered, the mare would ask again the next day. “But when it’s lunch break, I like to go down to the river and relax.”

“Of course, of course,” the gray mare replied with a few hasty nods. “I hope you’ll have fun then.”

The rest of the breakfast passed in silence. Each Pie member had their eyes locked on the plates, only really looking up and saying anything when they needed something that was out of their reach on the table. Of course they all had their reasons to look away every now and then anyways, but it was always for the same reasons: Clyde Pie would look at the clouds through the window every now and then as he did every month, Sue Pie would shoot quick smiles at the family that never noticed, and the Pie sisters would slowly chew their food. That was how they got ready for the rest of the day.

The first few steps she took onto the field whirled up small rings of dust that immediately stuck to her hooves. There was no wind, and the air had the dry feel of a desert to it. She smacked her lips and ran her tongue from one edge of her mouth to the other to moisten them. It was a futile attempt though, since they soon returned to their uncomfortable dry state. From what Pinkamina could tell, this day’s workload would become even more unbearable than usual.

The voices she had heard this morning made her look to the sky. The two pegasi had just finished up, and they met in the air to soar back to the ground together. With wishful eyes, Pinkamina took a good, long look at their movements in the air. She found herself mesmerized by their outstretched hooves that pushed them through the air, their unfolded wings on which tons of feathers stirred from the pressure as they descended, and the way their manes and tails blew backwards from the wind that hit them head on. Though there was no such thing as wind this morning, their movement created it artificially for them. They defied the dryness of the wasteland with their dance towards the ground. Unlike Pinamina, they were able to feel the coolness of the wind and the vapor of the clouds, just like she wished she could. They had this freedom: The freedom to fly wherever they wanted. Even through these dark clouds.

They landed a few yards from her, this light pink mare with a bushy blue mane, and her stallion colleague with a green coat and a brown mustache that matched his mane. The pink filly stared at them without thinking, her eyes specifically centered on the mare’s wings. She was not able to hide her presence well though. The mare had noticed her watching, and she responded by grinning with amusement and by doing a few courtesy flaps with the wings for the curious filly.

“Pretty cool, huh?” she suddenly said, her voice tomboyish and hoarse.

Pinkamina then snapped out of her fillyish fascination with the pegasus’ feathery part, and a great blush appeared on her face as she realized she had been discovered. Trying to keep her cool, the now red-cheeked filly clenched her eyes, forwarded her bottom lip and looked to the side as she responded with an awkwardly shaking voice, “Yeah, I guess so.”

“I make sure to train them every day,” the pegasus proudly went on. “It’s always good to stay in shape.”

“True,” Pinkamina replied, still trying to keep her cool.

“Mr. Pie,” the stallion beside the mare suddenly said, shooting a polite smile in Pinkamina’s direction. The filly was a little surprised at first, seeing as the stallion had barely noticed her presence, but when she looked over her shoulder, she saw her brown father and her two grayish siblings standing on each of his sides, she realized how that he was the one being addressed.

“Pleasure to see you, Miss. Firefly, Mr. Beard Stache,” her father then replied with a polite smile of his own. “I see you’ve done a good job on the clouds, but I do have some questions, so if I could talk to you for a bit?”

The stallion shrugged. “I don’t see why not. We got time.”

When the stallion said this, Clyde looked down on the pink filly before him. He gave her a wink and a quick smile to hint for her to get to work, and Pinkamina was quick to get the command, nodding acceptingly at him.

“Come on, Blinkamina, Inkamina,” she said with a stern voice as she beckoned the two fillies, who wordlessly followed her in the blink of an eye. They slowly continued out into the fields, walking in line with Pinkamina as the head and Inkamina as the tail. When they finally stopped, they were surrounded by rocks on all side, and Pinkamina turned around to give out the commands to her sibling supporters. “All right, Blinkamina, you go over there and take care of the rocks there.” Her hoof pointed in the direction she meant, and Blinkamina did not hesitate to trot over to her designated spot. Moving her hoof to point out another direction, she commanded her second sister, “And Inkamina, you go over there, ok?”

Unlike Blinkamina, Inkamina did not move out immediately. She stood still for a second, her big eyes looking thoughtfully at her big sister’s face. Pinkamina found it a little annoying to be stared at like this, because she had no idea why her little sister would do so. She returned the gaze, making sure to seem as stern and determined as possible to make the nuisance get to work. Finally, after a short moment of silence, the gray filly turned and slowly walked away, her head hanging low. Letting out a sigh and slowly shaking her head with irritation, Pinkamina too turned around and walked over to a stone of her own. It was time for her to get started as well.

She took a good look at this large, hard shell before her. It was rather big, so she would have to use quite a bit of strength to move it as she wished. After taking in a large lump of air, which she let slowly seep back out through her mouth, she bowed down, dug her snout beneath this gemstone embryo, and lifted it with all the strength of her legs. It was definitely heavy, and just as she had suspected it took a lot to turn it over. She felt her forelegs vibrating because of its weight, and when she had finally lifted it enough for it to fall down on its other side, she gasped in relief. A sweat had already formed on her forehead, even though it was only the first rock of the day. Wiping it off with her hoof, she sighed at the thought of having to do this all day long once more.

While she walked along the trail of the rock she was pushing, the sound of flaps hit her eardrums from above, and she looked up with tired eyes and a mouth open for panting. The pegasi were flying away. Having fulfilled their end of the deal and finished speaking with her father, there was no longer any reason for them to stay. They could fly back to the blue sky of Equestria, while Pinkamina could only look at them go from the dry earth of Pie fields.

Now that the pegasi were gone, Clyde was free to join in on the farming. He did so quietly, not wasting any time with telling the siblings that they were doing great. Finally, all four of them were together in labor, while Sue was inside preparing lunch. But even though they were working as a unit, to Pinkamina it felt like she was doing it all alone. There were more than enough rocks to turn for four ponies, so she had no time to rest. They did not speak either, or even look at each other for that matter. Farming rocks was hard enough, and it left them too exhausted to say anything to each other. They were all too busy with their task to even notice each other’s presence.

After a few hours, the bell called the family to a regenerative lunch. But as she had mentioned at breakfast, Pinkamina would not be joining them. While the others went to the house, the filly took a moment to catch her breath before she would haste to the edge of the farm and to the river that separated the Pies from Ponyville. Sue Pie looked at the filly, and she smiled and wordlessly asked if she would join them after all. But the filly replied with a less than genuine smile and a shaking head. Clearly disappointed with the filly’s decision, the gray mare nodded a single time and went back in the house, closing the door slowly behind her.

There was no time to lose at this point. Pinkamina was anxious to relax, and she ran as fast as she could to get to her little area of peace. The river was where she could be at ease.

The nature of Ponyville River seemed almost impossible, considering how close to Pie Fields it was located. Though the farm itself was out of sight, hidden behind a convenient wall of trees that was lush and green on the river’s side, withered and gray on the farm’s, the enormous pile of gray clouds hang ominously close like an unmoving storm. Luckily, the keyword was unmoving, and silent for that matter. Its shadow would never reach this side of the wall, so life was free to flourish.

Every day Pinkamina would sit by the river with her eyes closed, letting every single muscle in her body relax, and this day was no exception. She would look at the village on the other side of the river, at the many pretty houses that touched the riverside, and the ponies crossing the nearby bridge into and out of Ponyville. She would notice the clear blue sky and the peaceful fluff of the little white clouds that dotted it, and she would see pegasi soaring past above her with stretched bodies. She would sigh and wish for their wings.

But she always kept her distance from these things. She sat alone in the grass, feeling the safety of solitude in her little green spot. Her only company was the comfortable weather, unheard of on Pie Fields, which caressed her body gently. The wind had picked up just a tad, enough to blow her hair in front of her face and run through her coat, leaving a trail of cool on her skin. Her mouth was slightly open, and she could taste the aroma of the riverside flora; a fresh and sweet taste that lingered for her to cherish. It was not at all dry and dusty like the scent of the farm. The grass she sat on was still wet from the morning dew, and it washed away all the dirt that had stuck in her coat from the hard work. It was her sanctuary, from where she could watch life pass by.

But a perfect sanctuary it was not. No matter which pleasant sensation she felt, her mind would interfere with something unpleasant. The sapphire blue water before her, beautiful and calming as it was with the gentle sound of the river flow, reminded her of the lack of water on the wastelands at home. The sun that touched her skin through her coat, its warm rays mixing with the coolness of the wind, reminded her of the farm’s lack of light. Even the busy ponies that passed the bridge with their carts full of baggage reminded her only of her dull and gray family. Though she found some comfort by the river, she was haunted by the image of Pie Fields. She found no real escape from the everyday stress, and that made her smile unintentionally waver.

She took a step closer to the water and looked at her reflection. Her long hair covered half of her face, leaving only one of her clear blue eyes to be visible, though the image was slightly distorted by the river’s steady flow. She reached out for her mirror duplicate, carefully touching the surface of the water, which created a set of blurry rings that shook up the image even further, making it impossible to properly make out what the mirror told.

It was then she noticed a strange appearance in the blur: A white shadow with a wide variety of colors hanging above it was approaching her from behind. Its movement was slow and steady, as if it was flowing through the air rather than treading the grass. But instead of looking back for a better view, Pinkamina squinted to see if she could make out the true shape of the watery image.

“Surprise!” the white shadow suddenly yelled in a high pitched voice, and Pinkamina jumped into the air as if a surge of electricity had just run through her body. She stumbled forward, waving her forelegs rapidly in an attempt to regain her balance before she would fall head first into the river. Luckily, she managed to plant her hooves safely in the grass before such an event happened, and she let out a sigh of relief. She could hear the voice that startled her laugh behind her now, and in between the laughter it spoke in a fast paced manner, “Oh my Gosh, you were just really surprised there, weren’t you? I mean, I knew I could surprise you, because you were so far away in your thoughts just now, but I never thought I could surprise you this much. Lucky you didn’t fall in, huh?”

While Pinkamina did her best to catch her breath, she also tried not to let her irritation get the best of her. The stranger probably meant no harm, so she forced a smile upon herself and did her best to take a deep breath between the panting before she would turn around to face the source of the voice. “Yeah. Really lucky.”

What she saw when she turned around was a pretty, young pegasus mare. She had a snow white coat, completely clean of any dirt or natural spots that would otherwise stain such a bright and lively color. Her mane and tail were golden and curly, and thick enough for the slight bit of wind there was to be too weak to do more than sway it a bit back and forth. She had a wide, toothy grin on her lips, almost invisible due to her teeth being just about the same color as her coat, though her deep purple eyes were easy to spot, and they shivered with delight in her eye sockets.

But there was something about her that made Pinkamina wonder. Though the pegasus’ wings were tightly tugged to her sides, and though she stood like a normal pony would stand on the ground, her front hooves even crossed, she was in fact floating just half an inch above the grass. The filly then noticed a bunch of thin, almost invisible strings tied around the mare’s chest, and she followed their straight lines with her eyes into the air above the mare. What she saw there explained the hovering, though still made the straight haired filly’s jaw drop and her eyes widen.

This was what Pinkamina had noticed in the mirror image of the river, and was now seeing without the censoring blur: A cluster of bags in many different colors, almost sporting the entire rainbow’s spectrum, was floating in the air above the mare. They were tied individually to the strings bound around the pony’s waist, lightly bumping into each other in the sway of the wind. The bags’ skins were smooth enough to reflect the light of the sun, blinding the filly as the rays enhanced their bright colors. But even with such a blinding light, Pinkamina could not look away from it. It was too fascinating.

“Can’t believe I could surprise you like that,” the white mare then said from below the bags. She moved parts of her body in excitement, and those movements made the rainbow cluster move as well, and Pinkamina followed the bags with not only her eyes, but her whole head. “I was just on the way back to my house, and then I saw you staring into the water and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to surprise her?’ and it was! But that aside; I’ve never seen you around here before. Are you new? Did you just move here? Where do you live?”

Pinkamina did not answer though. In fact, she did not even notice that the mare was speaking. She was far too busy getting dragged into the colorful light of these strange, floating bags. Looking at this cluster alone filled her with a strange mixture of bliss and awe, as if they were created for this very purpose in the first place. It was impossible for her to look away.

But the mare did not give up on contacting her. She raised an eyebrow and trotted through the air. Slowly approaching the sky-looking filly, whose neck bend even further back as the cluster came closer, she leaned in to get her attention. “Helloo? Anypony home?”

But Pinkamina remained silent. Even with the pegasus waving her hoof in front of her gaze to get her attention, she did not react in the slightest. After a moment, the mare let a short snigger escape and began whirling around in the air. Naturally, when the pony span around, so would the rainbow cluster. The many bags were dragged along when the strings became tight enough to pull them, and Pinkamina instinctively followed the motions with her head, shifting it from side to side with a faster and faster pace. When a short while had passed, the filly could feel the inside of her head spin as well, and she had to manually stop the rotation by using both her hooves as brakes. Her eyes rolled around in her head for a few seconds, but she quickly snapped back to her senses with a swift shake of the head.

“Hi there,” the mare said cheerfully as soon as she stopped spinning and was facing the dazed filly. “Looks like I broke the spell, huh?”

Feeling rather lightheaded and confused, Pinkamina blinked a few times before she could respond, “Who are you?”

“My name’s Surprise, just like how you were surprised when I surprised you before, logically,” replied the pegasus with a cheerful voice and a hoof to her own chest. “It’s kind of what I do, well, one of the things I do, and I do it pretty well. But the real got-to-know curiously good question is: Who are you?”

“Pinkamina Diane Pie,” the slightly dazed filly replied without really knowing what was going on. She had been too far away in this strange cluster, to which her eyes moved every now and then, and the way the pegasus spoke did not help to ease the confusion. “But why is that the real question?”

“Because I don’t know you,” Surprise said. She began trotting through the air, moving forward by the simple kick of the legs. She was rather hyper, showing so in both her manner of speech and her movements, and she circled around Pinkamina while letting out a rapid stream of words, “And I know pretty much everypony in Ponyville, even the ones who don’t want to be known, although they don’t mind that I know them, which is kind of odd, isn’t it? But since I don’t know you that must mean you’re new in town, and if you’re new then I have to get to know you, or I wouldn’t be able to say I know everypony. Plus, I like getting to know new ponies. It’s kind of a hobby of mine, even though I have several hobbies. Like tens, hundreds, thousands. Well, maybe not thousands, but a lot.”

“So…” Pinkamina tried to sum up from what she understood of this random stream of consciousness the white mare just let out. “… You want to get to know me because I’m new?”

The white pegasus nodded hastily. “Uhuh.”

“Sorry to burst your bubble then,” the filly then said with a smile on her face. She was a little bedazzled by the behavior of the mare before her, nervous even because of her random nature and confusing way of speaking. But she still did her best to be polite and neighborly. “I’ve actually been living just outside of Ponyville all my life.”

The pegasus then gasped loudly and in a rather exaggerated manner that made Pinkamina do a little jump. “You do!? Where!?”

With a stretched hoof Pinkamina pointed to the sky above the hedge of trees. The white pegasus followed the line of the hoof with her eyes and when her gaze was locked onto the correct target she let it rest there for a moment in silence. She seemed like she was away in thought, but Pinkamina could not make out what kind of thoughts they were. In fact, there were a lot of things about this strange pony that puzzled her to no end. Yet the filly felt somewhat intrigued by this fact.

“You live up there?” the mare finally said, breaking the short moment of silence her own thought process had created. “But you’re not a pegasus, are you?”

Pinkamina could not help but giggle a little at the pegasus’ clueless reaction. “No, no. I live under those clouds. On a rock farm.”

“There’s a rock farm under there!?” the mare exclaimed in another exaggerated rush, slapping her cheeks with her hooves. “Oh my Gosh, I never knew that! I thought it was just some sort of emergency cloud storage. You know, should there be a drought or something. But it was actually a rock farm!? That’s so cool!”

“It’s not cool,” replied the filly with a side of angry eyes, all as an act of reflexes. She quickly realized her rude behavior though. It made her shrink with shame. Clenching together, her nose pointed to the grass beneath her hooves and her shoulders reached her ears. She gritted her teeth hard enough to feel actual physical pain, albeit only a slight bit. The shame of suddenly snapping at a stranger, even if only for a split second, was that unbearable to her. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s ok,” Surprise said cheerfully. Though she did turn her head when the filly’s tone turned grumpy, she seemed otherwise unfazed by the slip-up. Her smile was still wide and her person still hyper.

Pinkamina wanted to apologize and opened her mouth to do so, but before she could utter a word she was cut off by a sudden raised a hoof, telling her to hold on for a moment. The white mare then reached for the strings tied around her waist, and showed a grimace of concentration as she fumbled with one of the knots. One of the bags broke loose and hovered away from the bunch, but the pegasus was quick to react and snatched it by the string before it could get away. Swimming through the air to the ashamed filly, she presented her with the string and a warm smile and tone of voice, “Here: A little ‘I’m sorry if I said something wrong’ gift.”

Though at first a little surprised by this sudden offer, Pinkamina soon found herself beaming with delight. In less than a second she snatched the strings and kept it tightly clenched between between two hooves. Having let go of the bag, the weight of the mare overcame the rest of the floating cluster. She lightly descended to the ground and her hooves finally got in contact with the earth. But she did not mind that even a bit, instead showing a toothy grin to the filly, who now brightened from her earlier gloom.

“For me?” Pinkamina said with a fillyish tone, more excited than she had ever been before. “That’s so nice of you I don’t even know what to say.”

“Well, I have a ton of them here,” the mare said, pointing to the rest of the cluster. “Well, maybe not a ton, since they don’t really weigh anything. They might actually weigh less than nothing since they float and all. Can something weigh less than nothing? Anyways, I noticed how you were staring at them before and thought it might cheer you up to get one.”

Pinkamina heard everything the mare said, but paid little attention to it. She simply nodded and smiled while her gaze focused on the beautiful, shining red skin of the object before her. It filled her with so much excitement that she forgot everything about her little shameful slip-up. She coiled one hoof around the string so the other could let go and she could get a proper feel of the bag. With much care and precision, she slowly let that other hoof touch the skin, and gently stroked along its side. She noted that it had a rubbery feel to it, though it could also be plastic. Whatever it was made of, it shrieked a painful shriek when her hoof ran along it, but neither she nor the white mare was bothered by the ghastly sound.

“You like it?” asked the mare with a hearty voice, somewhat excited to hear the answer.

“I do,” Pinkamina replied with a nod of the head. She looked away from it for a second and into the deep puple eyes staring gently at her. “It’s really beautiful. But what is it?”

“It’s a balloon, silly,” Surprise replied with a short giggle. She began bouncing in place, letting another one of those fast paced streams of words out that seemed common to her, “I was just on my way home with a bunch of them before. It’s this bunch actually, but you probably realized that, unless you’re dumb, but you don’t seem dumb to me, but if you didn’t realize then I’m sorry for calling you dumb. I didn’t mean it like that. You’re not mad at me, right? But anyways, then I saw you sitting here and thought I’d pull a prank on you, and then you almost fell in, but you know the rest. But I’ve actually been wondering…” She stopped her bouncing immediately, not even taking time to slow down, and looked Pinkamina in the eyes with a hearty smile on her face. “Why were you sitting here all alone?”

It took Pinkamina a moment once again before she could make out what the pegasus had just said. She looked back at the so-called balloon before her, and smiled because she now knew what it was called. “Actually, I’m here on a break from work,” she began replying while she played around with the string between her hooves. “I like to go here and get away from the stress. It’s kind of my happy place.”

The white pegasus sat down on her flank, ready to listen even more to what the filly had to say. “So you always go here alone, like, every day?”

“Yep.” The filly nodded.

“Well, that sounds kind of boring,” said the mare, making a strange grimace where she made a smile that only stretched to one eye corner. “Wouldn’t you rather play with your friends?”

“I don’t have any friends,” replied Pinkamina, but even though she did so with a straight face, saying those words gave her a strange ache, like a paper cut inside her.

It also made the mare gasp exaggeratedly and jump to the air where she flapped her wings and front legs alike like a humming bird. “You don’t have any friends!? But what about the kids from your school?”

“I’m actually home-schooled,” the filly replied, revealing a sad light in her eyes. She suddenly found that it was harder to maintain a proper smile, though she did her best to maintain it anyways. “Rock farming is an all-day job, so my sisters and I have to study at home.”

“Well, no worries,” said Surprise, as cheerful as ever. Flying forwards, she grabbed the young filly under her foreleg-pits and lifted her into the air. The balloon almost flew away from the shock Pinkamina got from this sudden action, but she luckily maintained her grip. She was held up with stretched hooves, their eyes on the same level and connected. Their looks differed quite a bit, Pinkamina’s puzzled and shocked, the mare’s carefree and excited. “I’ll be your friend from now on.”

“You?” Pinkamina asked with a confused raise of an eyebrow. “But we just met. I’m just a stranger.”

“Don’t be silly, filly,” rhymed the mare, and she giggled a little at herself. “You can’t meet a friend before you meet a stranger, right?”

Though spoken with a carefree attitude, these words somehow reached Pinkamina in a way she did not expect. A spark awakened in her pupils, sending a shiver of good feelings all the way down her spine. She could not help but smile as she looked into the pretty purple eyes before her, which showed no ill will, no remorse, not the slightest trace of anything but good cheer. They did not even show any thought process either. Offering her friendship was just a shot from the hip, yet Pinkamina felt so oddly touched by it. It made her happy.

Taking a good look at the pegasus, the filly suddenly noticed the cutie mark on her flank. The white coat was painted with a simple portrait of balloons. It was a trio of balloons in fact, each one of them the same shade of purple as the mare’s eyes. They were all tied to strings, but nothing was holding them down. They just looked like they were flying freely into the air, only to stop where the sky had its limit, and perhaps not even there. It was oddly fitting for this pony, the filly thought. The bohemian nature of the mare resembled the lightness of the balloons. The innocence and cheer did as well.

“Oh, oh, oh!” Surprise suddenly exclaimed, overly excited over something that Pinkamina could not put a hoof on. She put the filly down quickly, and began flying about in loops and circles, dragging the cluster of balloons along in her tracks. “I just had a brilliant idea!”

A little stumped by the sudden eagerness, Pinkamina tried to follow the pegasus’ swift movements with her eyes and asked, “What idea?”

“Well, the reason I was getting these balloons back home in the first place…” the mare said, beginning yet another quick paced speech. “… Was that I was going to use them for decorations for a party. You see, I’m having this great party back at my place, and there’s going to be cake, and candy, and dancing, and laughing and everything in between, and it’s going to be so much fun, and then I thought: ‘I should totally bring you along’. Because all of my friends will be there, and they’re such nice ponies, and since you don’t have many friends you could make a ton of friends there.” She stopped up and soared down to stand right in front of the filly. Her tone had become less hyper and gentler, yet was still full of the innocent cheer that was so common to her. “I know it’s kind of sudden, but I really think it would be good for you. You don’t seem like the kind of pony who likes being alone all the time, so what do you say?”

Disregarding the whole sudden invitation for a moment, even disregarding the reason behind it, Pinkamina decided to pink the most important part of the speech and ask about it before anything else, “What’s a ‘party’?”

The pegasus suddenly froze, as if hit by some sort of invisible freezing ray. She fell backwards, comically landing on her back, but she was luckily completely unfazed by this crash when she got back up. All she was focused on was the filly’s, apparently unseen, response: “You don’t know what a party is!?”

Pinkamina could not find any other way to reply but with a slow shake of the head, all the while staring curiously at the strange pony.

“I can’t believe it! First she doesn’t know what balloons are, now she asks what a party is? What’s going on here?” Though it seemed rather comical the way Surprise was panicking, Pinkamina had a feeling she was serious. Apparently, not knowing about balloons and parties were uncommon, and it seemed like it meant a lot to the pegasus. When she was done with her little panicky scene, Surprise rushed forwards, stopping before the filly in a way that should have required a braking distance. Her eyes were wide and her gaze serious and she got so close to Pinkamina that the filly had to move her head back so they would not smack their faces together. With a comically deep voice, and glistening eyes, the pegasus then said, “In that case you have to come to my party. I will not take no for an answer.”

“But what is it?” Pinkamina asked again, eager to find out. “I can’t just go with you to something I don’t know what is.”

Surprise retracted her head. She looked the filly in the eyes for a moment, leaving a tense silence in the air. After that, she moved her hoof to her chin and looked up to the sky in wonder, pondering the response she would make. “A party is like: When you like to be with somepony, but not just be with them like you normally are, and not just with a few ponies but a lot of ponies, then you have this huge celebration with them.” She looked back down at Pinkamina and offered her a warm smile. “It’s hard to explain really. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. But I can promise one thing: You’ll definitely love it.”

Uncertainty was rushing through every bit of Pinkamina at this point. She was unsure how to respond to Surprise, unsure what would happen if she would attend this party, and of course unsure of what a party even was. There was not much for her to get out of the pegasus’ vague description. Scratching her cheek in silence, the filly thought the offer over. Though it was dangerous to go with such a strange mare, she really wanted to. She thought about asking her family’s permission, but was sure that they would say no if she asked. But curiosity took her over. There was something about this Surprise before her, about these balloons and the whole cheerful character of the mare that made her want to know and see even more. In the end she had one conclusion: “Ok then. I’ll go.”

The pegasus mare lit up with excitement, and she jumped high into the air, almost exploding as she responded, “Great! I can’t wait to show you to all of my friends! It’s gonna be super-duper funerific!”

“I hope you’re right,” Pinkamina nervously replied, shooting the mare a weak smile.

“Anyways,” Surprise then said as she landed on all four. “The party starts at eight, but you can come any time you like. It’s not like my parties stop before at least six in the morning anyways. And it’s at Sugarcube corner. Do you know where that is?”

The filly shook her head. “No, I don’t.”

“Well, just go to the center of Ponyville,” the mare began explaining. “When you see a really delicious house, you’re there. That’s Sugarcube Corner. That’s where I work and live with one of my friends.”

“Delicious house?” the filly asked, raising an eyebrow at the mare.

But Surprise simply repeated with a carefree smile and a nod, “Delicious house.”

She was still as clueless as before, but considering Surprise’s odd person, Pinkamina gave up trying to find out more about the address. She would just have to do her best to find it. What she needed to think about at the moment was how to get to this so-called ‘party’ in the first place. She would have to lie to her parents, and she would have to sneak back and forth from the farm. But it was an opportunity she could just not give up on.

With bright eyes the filly looked at the white pegasus before her. She let the edges of her mouth push part of her eye corners back, and reached out a hoof for a friendly shake. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tonight then.”

“Oh, I’m sure we will,” Surprise responded. Disregarding the hoofshake, the white pegasus stormed in on the filly and lifted her into the air with her in a tight hug. “I got a good feeling about this. I’m sure you’ll have the best time ever.”

While she was choking from the tight clutch of the white pony, and while her eyes felt like they would pop out at any given moment, the pink filly stretched her smile even further and in a choked up whisper she replied, “I hope you’re right.”

It took the filly about five minutes to get back to Pie Fields, but it was still too late. Both her sisters were already busy shoving rocks around on the fields, not even noticing her return. Clyde Pie, however, was awaiting her arrival before he would get back to work. He stood by the front door to their house, his stern gaze locked on the pink filly, and his left front hoof tapping the dry earth with impatience. Pinkamina swallowed a large lump of spit. She slowed down the pace as she trotted towards him; her head hung low with fear. She was sure she would get a massive scolding from her brown farmer father.

“Well, you sure took your time today,” the brown stallion said with a passive aggressive tone. “Five more minutes and I would’ve probably gone looking for you myself.”

“Sorry, dad,” responded Pinkamina with her lowest voice. “I got kind of caught up in something.”

“I’d say,” the stallion replied. “What exactly took you so long?”

She looked up at him and into the eyes that cut her like a knife. Thinking about Surprise’s invitation, she searched her mind for some sort of excuse that the old stallion would buy. The way he was still impatiently tapping his hoof had a stressing effect on her. She bit her teeth together, a sweat forming on her forehead. Stumbling through her mind, she looked panicky from side to side, doing her best to find a valid lie.

“I-I’m really s-s-sorry,” she stuttered, buying herself some time to get her words right. “But I met this old mare that was carrying a really heavy cart. I-I wanted to… to help her, but she somehow tricked me into carrying her things all the way to Po-Ponyville. I just couldn’t say no.”

Clyde Pie raised an eyebrow at the filly, which put on an awkward grin, hoping he would buy this lie. He held a suspicious gaze for a moment, but after a while he let his breath escape him and stopped tapping his hoof on the ground, giving her a smile of approval. He then walked past her, passing her a line as he continued out on the fields, “Guess there’s no helping it. But you’re gonna have to work twice as hard now, missy.”

Pinkamina gasped and wiped the sweat off her forehead. It seemed like she had averted the crisis. Now all that was left was to make her escape and go to the party tonight. She turned around with a slight grin, galloped to the nearest rock and let out an unordinary, “Yes, sir!”

The Party

View Online

The farm was constantly dark at daytime, but at night it was even darker. Seeing anything on the outside was next to impossible with no stars, no moon, or any lights whatsoever. There was no need for curtains. But Pinkamina did not mind the night. The darkness was actually helpful to her. She sat in her pitch black room, her cheek pressed against the door as she listened to her parents preparing for their bedtime. Making sure to catch every sound of their steps and voices, she patiently waited for the door to their bedroom to make its final slam of the night. They were both sound sleepers, rarely waking up before the break of dawn, so chances were she would be able to get out of the house and back in unnoticed.

The sound of a turning was the signal for the next step of her escape. Her face beamed with an excited grin, and she made a silent gesture of accomplishment with her hoof before she tip-hoofed to her bedroom window. Though she could hardly see anything, she still took a look outside before unlocking the frame. Nerves had her acting with extra caution. It was the first time she had ever snuck away from the farm, after all.

Before closing the window behind her, the filly made sure to grab a rock she had prepared beside the window frame. She used it to block the frame from connecting with the lock, securing her route back into her room. She carefully snuck across the rooftop towards its corner where she knew an unnecessary drainpipe led down to an unnecessary water barrel. Grabbing it tightly and clutching to it with her whole body, she slowly and carefully climbed down until she was close enough to the ground to make a final jump. Dust swirled in the air as she landed, but she did not mind the dirt. She only cared about getting to Ponyville. A sigh of motivation and a nod at her own effort and she galloped across the wasteland.

She had been in the village a few times before with her mother, mostly dragged along to help carry the groceries, but she had never been there when it was dark. While trotting through the wide streets, she shifted her eyes curiously from side to side and even bent her neck for the sky. There was a lot of light in the village compared to the farm. Windows burned a bright yellow, showing off little theatrical plays with the shadowy silhouettes of the ponies inside acting as marionettes. Lamps hang on every street corner, guiding the ponies who were not yet inside through the city for whatever errands they had. But the thing that struck the filly with awe, making her smile as she leaned her head as far back as possible, was the village’s sky.

She had never seen a cloudless night sky before. She had read about it in books, about constellations, meteorites and other objects of the night. But she had never had the chance to see it with her own eyes. Countless white dots hang freely on the perfectly black roof. Some were brighter and bigger than others and some had a slight shade of red and blue. Though they hang still, blinking in each their designated spots, Pinkamina found that they seemed to interact with each other. They were connectable. She found that she could draw lines between the dots however she wanted, and she smiled as she did so in her head. There were possibilities on this large blackboard of the sky that the filly had never had before. She was free to imagine, free to play with it however she wanted.

But when she reached the center of the village, her attention moved back to the earth. A source of light craved her attention, moving her gaze to a point directly in front of her. What she saw made her eyes widen and her jaw drop: It was the most magnificent piece of architecture, an enormous gingerbread house. Its roof was like chocolate, sweet and dark with plenty of cocoa. Its pillars were swirling red and white candy canes, sure to tempt any sweet tooth that would happen to pass. In its middle was a cupcake tower, taller than any other building in the village, and with actual living candles lighting its roof. Pinkamina felt her mouth water, and a drop of drool ran down to her chin as she watched the building in awe. The sweets and treats that she so rarely got at home were right in front of her, gathered in the shape of a large candy house. She remembered how Surprise had spoken of a delicious house, and she suddenly felt the initially vague description to be more than accurate enough. This was Sugarcube Corner.

Swooning was something Pinkamina rarely did, yet swooning was just what she did at the sight of this building. With a shake of the head she snapped out of it, and she moved her attention to the interior of the place where the party was being held. Just as with most other houses in Ponyville, the lights from the windows performed little shows of the shadows for her. These were much faster paced than the others she had seen though, and they played with a side of noise. This noise was what really separated Sugarcube Corner’s interior from the other houses. Loud voices of laughing ponies was competing with the deep sound of a bass, reminding Pinkamina of the cello in her father’s old records, though this bass was slightly different and much more repetitive. She took a few moments to absorb the atmosphere of the place. A few deep breaths, a bit of self-motivating thoughts, and the filly walked tall to the front door.

The door itself had the color of her coat, and Pinkamina thought it to be much bigger than it actually was when she stood in front of it. She raised her hoof, neared the pink colored wood, but she barely got to knock before it swiftly slammed open and she was tackled by two things at once: One was the massive wave of the bass that almost swept her off her hooves; the other was the white lightning with a golden mane that finished the job. She was grabbed before she even got a chance to notice what it was, and it dragged her back outside. It was clutching tightly to her, slamming her carefully on her back on the main street of Ponyville. There Pinkamina lied with tightly shut eyes when her attacker rose to stand tall with her between its legs.

“Surprise!” a high pitched voice called happily out to her. She opened one of her eyes and got a good look at the grinning white mare before her. It was Surprise, and she was laughing as heartily as the filly had expected. “Finally! Wowzies, I’ve been doing this to every guest the entire evening, trying to surprise you!”

Still a little dazzled from the sudden tackle, Pinkamina blinked her eyes and asked, “Why would you surprise me like that?”

“Because it’s a party,” answered the cheerful mare. “And it’s your first party, and since it’s your first party I wanted to get you ready for it, and what better way to ready somepony for a heart-racing event than by getting their hearts racing?”

Pinkamina could not deny that her heart was racing. Her chest expanded and contracted rapidly as she caught her breath from the sudden startle. When she tried to get back on all four, she was met with a helping hoof by the white pegasus. Accepting it with a smile, she grabbed the offer and let herself get dragged back up. With her tail she brushed off the dust that had stuck in her coat, and she looked back up to see the white mare in a halo created from the light of the party behind her.

“Welcome to Sugarcube Corner!” exclaimed Surprise, doing a loop-de-loop ending in a flex to present the gingerbread structure. “Are you as excited as I am? Huh? Huh?”

Pinkamina grinned widely and nodded hastily in response. She instinctively began skipping towards the front door, suddenly feeling even more ready for the party than before. Surprise’s welcome had done that to her. She could not wait to reopen the door, though she hoped that she would get a chance to take a look at the party this time before somepony would tackle her.

Surprise managed to beat the filly to the door by swiftly soaring over her. Holding the door in a courteous manner, she bowed and pointed the filly inside. Pinkamina giggled at the unnecessary act and decided to play along, respectfully bowing her head as she trotted inside with her nose high in the sky.

But she dropped the high class act as soon as she got inside. The atmosphere inside surprised her as much as Surprise’s welcome had, and she gasped and widened her eyes from the doorway. The party was even more than she had seen from the outside. It was every sort of loud and bright. Brilliantly colored garlands ran from corner to corner, their ends tied in pretty bows pillars and shelves alike. Tiny strips of paper, resembling something that had been sheared off a rainbow, covered every inch of the floor. The tables were decorated with pink cloth, but the colorful paper strips hid this quite well. Even the pink punch had a bit floating on the surface, making it a challenge to get a clean drink. Pinkamina made notice of the balloons she had seen Surprise carry earlier. They were scattered across the room, some hanging in their respective strings, tied to chairs and tables, and some lying defenselessly on the floor. They were still her favorites, but the many colorful decorations made them blend in with the environment in a way she had initially thought impossible.

There were tons of guests. Enough ponies to fill out the entire room, all having the time of their lives. They were dancing on the dance floor, moving their heads and flanks to the rhythm of a couple of enormous speakers that blasted their ears full of bass. Drinks were abundant, and everywhere Pinkamina looked somepony had their hoof or unicorn magic wrapped around a glass of rosy punch. Though the music was loud enough to shatter windows, nopony kept back from trying to deafen it with their voices, and some even succeeded in having their laughter heard across the room. Everything and everypony was brimming with good cheer.

“Come on!” Surprise said from Pinkamina’s side with a voice loud enough for her to hear, even with the deafening music. “Let me show you around!”

The white pegasus trotted a few hooves ahead and into the wall of guests. Looking back before disappearing, she beckoned the filly to follow, and Pinkamina did just so. As the two of them walked through the cramped spaces between the other ponies, the filly’s eyes scanned the terrain with astonishment. There were a lot of bad mannered ponies. They were yelling at the top of their lungs, shoving rudely into each other without apologizing, and spilling drinks and food everywhere without cleaning up. Everything the filly had been taught about good behavior was being violated by everypony in this room. Yet she saw so many smiles. No matter what happened nopony got angry and no smile disappeared. Whenever she saw a different smirk or grin on somepony’s face, she felt her heart racing. It was almost a rush to her, and as looked around with sparkly eyes, she could not help but smile widely herself.

“Oh my Gosh,” the white mare in front of her said with her hooves on her cheeks. She had taken to the air, making it far easier for Pinkamina to see her in this myriad of guests, and far easier to follow her. “I can’t wait to introduce you to all my friends! Well, everypony here are my friends, since everypony in town are my friends, but not everypony is here tonight.” She shook her head to snap back to her point and turned around, flying backwards so she could see the filly while talking. “Anyways, some of my really, really, really good friends are just dying to meet you. Well, they must be, because I told them everything about you.”

Pinkamina tilted her head in confusion. “About me? But you only just met me. It’s not like I’m anything special, is it?”

“Of course you are,” the white mare grinned. “You’re my new friend.”

Pinkamina had left the crowd before she could react to Surprise’s statement. Suddenly realizing the much wider space, she saw that she was standing before a glass counter almost twice as tall as herself filled with all sorts of sugary treats. Surprise flew over it, and she stuck her head through the door leading to the kitchen, leaving only her bottom half visible to Pinkamina.

“Hey Cuppy!” the overactive mare called out, beckoning somepony on the other side of the entrance. “She’s here! She’s here! Come out and meet her!”

A light cerulean earth mare appeared soon after, holding a large tray of steamy fresh muffins between her teeth. Her flank sported a trio of cupcakes, which helped Pinkamina quickly identify her as a baker, and probably the pony that Surprise ran Sugarcube Corner with. She was rather slim for a baker though, and rather young as well, and her strange, double-shaded crimson hairdo made her look like an ice cream cone. But odd as she looked, she was definitely a pretty pony.

Without a moment of hesitation, Surprise bounced back over the glass counter and presented the pink filly for the baker with both hooves. “Cup Cake, this is Pinkie Pie.” She then pointed back to the mare. “And Pinkie, this is Cup Cake; one of my bestest of best friends ever.”

Pinkamina looked at the white pegasus with a confused face. She touched her on the side, lightly nuzzling her to get her attention. “Um, Surprise? My name’s not Pinkie.”

“I know, silly,” the white mare replied as she randomly jumped over to the filly’s other side. “But I just thought it sounded so much better than ‘Pinkamina’, so I said to myself: ‘Hey! Why not give her a nickname?’ and ‘Pinkie Pie’ was totally the first thing that I thought about, and it sounded so adoracutable that I decided to call you that.” She bent down, bringing her eyes on level with the pink filly. “Unless of course you’d like to be called something else?”

The filly thought about it for a moment while rubbing her cheek. She had never had a nickname before. It had never even occurred to her to get one. ‘Pinkamina’ was what she had always been called. But there was something about the sound of ‘Pinkie Pie’ that seemed right to her. It felt light and cheerful, like a cluster of balloons. Therefore, she decided to accept this new name, and she shook her head at Surprise with a smile on her face. “Actually, I think I like it.”

“Great!” the pegasus shouted ecstatically as she bounced back into the air. “Then I’m totally gonna call you that!” She looked back over the counter at the light cerulean mare. “How about you, Cuppy?”

“I think it sounds sweet,” the mare replied with a sweet smile, having put the tray down on the counter. Pinkamina noted how her voice was pleasant and mature. It was almost motherly. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Pinkie Pie.”

The pink filly smiled back and bowed politely. “You too, Miss Cake. Thank you for having me here.”

“And thank you for the polite ‘thank you’,” the mare replied chuckling. “Your parents must be proud to have such a sweet, polite daughter. Are they here with you?”

The pink filly flinched at these words. This was the one subject she hoped would not come up during the party. She had never lied before and did not know quite how to do it. Putting on a silly grimace, she let an awkward laugh escape before replying with a high-pitched lie, “Well, actually, they couldn’t come tonight. They said I could go alone as long as I make sure to stay safe.”

The light cerulean mare seemed unconvinced. She was still smiling, but with a raised eyebrow and a suspicious look in her eyes. “Is that so?”

“Yep,” Pinkamina replied, widening her grin as far as she could.

There was a short moment where the atmosphere between the baker and the filly became thick enough to cut. As the eyebrow kept slowly rising on the baker, Pinkamina felt her nervousness steadily increase in tact with it. A sweat formed on her face, and her eyes kept shifting from side to side. But she did her best to keep them locked to the suspicious gaze of the baker.

After a long moment, the earth pony lowered her eyebrow. She dropped her suspicious look and replaced it with a sweet smile. “Well, as long as we have the parents’ permission. It’s good to have you here, Pinkie.”

Pinkamina let the breath she had held in escape in one go, and the tension in her body dropped immediately. “Thank you Miss Cake. I hope to have fun.”

Cup Cake gave Pinkamina a quick nod. She then looked at Surprise and asked with a friendly tone, “Surprise, dear, could you maybe go get some more punch in the kitchen? Wouldn’t be any good if we ran out, right?”

“Aye, aye,” the pegasus replied, stiffening her body like a plank and saluting comically at the baker. She then rushed back over the counter and into the kitchen, leaving a trail of white smoke in the shape of her body behind. “Be right back.”

There was another second of silence between Pinkamina and the baker when their eyes were simultaneously looking at the doorway that the white pegasus disappeared through. It was not an awkward silence this time though, but the sort of silence that came before a conversation would start. The light cerulean pony looked back at Pinkamina with a smirk that stretched further to one side than the other. She pushed the tray on the counter to the side, leaned in over the glass, and with a hoof told the filly to get closer.

“You didn’t really get permission from your parents, did you?” the mare asked when Pinkamina was close, not in a whisper because of the loud background noise, but still in a much lower voice than was usual in such surrounding volume.

Pinkamina was shocked. Her eyes widened at the earth pony’s suggestive question, and her mouth trembled during her reply, “How did you find out?”

“It was obvious,” she responded with a wink. “You’re a pretty bad liar, Miss Pinkie Pie.”

Putting her hoof together in prayer, Pinkamina got on her knees and put on the best beggar face she could muster. “Please don’t tell on me. I just really wanted to go to the party. I swear I won’t cause you any trouble, but please don’t tell anypony.”

The mare chuckled heartily. She waved a hoof before her face, dismissing the filly’s fear, and she spoke with the chuckle still in progress, “Don’t you worry. It’s okay for foals to be a little naughty every now and then. Your secret is safe with me.”

Hearing this, Pinkamina felt she could rest easy. She got back on all four and wiped a sweat off her forehead. “Thank you. That’s so nice of you, Miss Cake.”

“Don’t mention it. It’s going to be our little secret,” the baker replied with another wink. She reached a hoof to the side and grabbed the tray of muffins, dragging it closer to herself. Picking up one of the hot, aromatic treats, she forwarded it to the filly. “Would you like one? It’s on the house.”

“Do I!?” Pinkamina loudly exclaimed. Her eyes became sparkly, her expression excited, and it took less than a second before she had grabbed the sugary treat.

While she was eating the muffin, gobbling it down with an immeasurable speed and sense of delight, the baker stood watching over the counter with a kind smile. She seemed happy that Pinkamina would go at it with such energy. Halfway through the muffin though, the baker’s expression turned a little more serious, though her kind smile and caring eyes were still present and noticeable. “Surprise told me earlier that you two met for the first time today. Is that true?”

“That’s right,” Pinkamina said with her mouth full, nodding hastily enough for crumbs to fly about.

“Don’t you think it’s a little dangerous to just go to some random stranger’s party at your age?”

The pink filly stopped with one bite of the treat left between her hooves and crumbles on her cheeks. She looked up at the light cerulean mare and into her rosy eyes, keeping eye contact in silence for a short moment. When she finally ate the last bite, she chewed it slowly before sinking, and let out a satisfied sigh. “I do,” she said as she dusted off the crumbs. “But I don’t know why, but there was just something about Surprise that made me trust her. I know I have to be careful around strangers. My mom says so too, and I’m not stupid. But I just knew she was a good pony right from the start.”

“She tends to have that effect on ponies,” Cup Cake chuckled. “But you were lucky that it was surprise and not some shady pony you met. It’s a pretty dangerous decision for a filly your age to make.”

“You’re right,” Pinkamina replied with a weak smile and a slightly reddened pair of cheeks. She looked to the floor for a second, creating yet another short moment of silence between them. “Can I ask you something?”

The mare nodded. “Of course, dear. What’s on your mind?”

“Is she always like that?” She tilted her head to the side with interested eyes on a solemn face. “Surprise, I mean. Is she always this hyper and happy?”

The baker retracted from the counter and got back on all four hooves. She stretched her back, ridding herself of the tenseness that had accumulated in her spine from leaning in over the glass for so long. She gave the filly a kind smile, replying with a merry tone of her own, “Tip of the iceberg, dearie. You’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Surprise.”

As soon as Cup Cake had said this, the white mare reappeared from the doorway as if summoned. She had a bewildered look, and flew over to her light cerulean friend, hovering just before her as she said, “I couldn’t find any punch. You sure we don’t have it all out here?”

“Really?” said Cup Cake with a slightly sarcastic stretch of the voice. She looked to the side, winked at Pinkamina, and Pinkamina smiled and winked back. There was no need to tell Surprise what they had talked about and risk shaming her. “I guess I miscounted earlier then. Why don’t you and Pinkie go enjoy the party, then I’ll see if I can find some more.”

“Sounds terrific,” Surprise said cheerfully, and she jumped over the counter, landing right in front of Pinkamina. “So, wanna go dance?”

Lights were abundant at the party, but the area just before the speakers was especially luminous. A metallic ball hang just above the middle of the area, its surface scaled with tiny mirrors. It slowly orbited near the ceiling, reflecting the colorful lights that struck it, and as it turned it cast little colorful spots that moved along the dance floor, touching the many dancing ponies for added effect.

Pinkamina and Surprise stood just by the edge of the dance floor, looking into the chaos with each their perspectives. While Surprise was shimmering with eagerness, her hind legs shaking with the desire to join in on the fun, Pinkamina could feel a lump in her throat, and her body shrank with nervousness. The ponies on the dance floor all moved with grace and heart, and she truly wanted to join in with them. The only problem was herself: She could not dance, and would not risk the humiliation.

“So what are we waiting for?” Surprise asked from beside the filly. Her eyes were sparkly and her smile wide enough for a bit of her gums to show. Eagerness burned within her.

But Pinkamina did not share that sentiment, instead lowering her ears with her eyes forward. “I don’t wanna go out there.”

“What?” gasped the pegasus as she out of reflex took to the air. “But why not? Don’t you like dancing?”

“I don’t know,” answered the filly with a long sigh. “I’ve never tried it before.”

“Well, that’s why you’re here, right?” Surprise said flew around the ground-stuck filly. “You’re here to try partying, because you want to see if it’s fun, right? But you can’t see if it’s fun unless you try something, and dancing is definitely one of the things you wanna try at a party. Besides, I bet you’ll be crazy amazing at it.”

“But all these ponies are so good at dancing. I’ve tried skating a few times before, but I’ve never danced with anypony looking at me.” She shrunk even further, hiding her neck with her shoulders. “I’m too scared to go out there. They’ll just laugh at me.”

“What’s wrong with making them laugh?”

“Everything!” shouted the filly. She bit her lips together and shifted her eyes from side to side, checking if somepony had heard her little outburst. When the coast was clear, she let her breath out in relief and lowered her voice as much as she could with the infernal noise of the background music. “I’m no good around other ponies. I don’t know anything other than what my mom and dad taught me. I don’t want to get humiliated at my first party.”

The pegasus landed before her once again, the flap of her wings blowing a quick gust through the filly’s straight mane. Bringing a hoof to Pinkamina’s chin, she gently forced it upwards for their eyes to meet. There was a sudden change in the way she was looking at Pinkamina. Calm warmth shone in the blackness of her pupils, and her mouth had a caring tone to it. Every part of her expression suddenly showed a form of understanding that Pinkamina had not seen before in this hyperactive pony. It left the filly speechless.

“How about I go first,” she said kindly, making sure to keep the filly’s eyes locked with her own. “I’ll show you there’s nothing to worry about. Then you’ll decide if you’d rather stay here or join in, ok?”

It took a moment for Pinkamina to grasp what the pegasus was saying. But when she found out, she swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded slowly. Surprise then moved her hoof away from Pinkamina’s chin and up to her mane, nuzzling it quickly before she lightly soared off the ground again. Keeping up eye contact, she soared all the way to the middle of the dance floor, where she landed and looked to the speakers. Her head bopped along with the rhythm for a moment, her left hoof got her ready, and then the next song came on. She began dancing.

Though the white mare had much more experience with parties than Pinkamina, her dance was no less awkward. She was swinging her flank around in the air as if she did not care, and her hooves kicked and punched around with seemingly no purpose. Accidentally bumping into everypony else, she kept going with no sign of regret, and more and more eyes locked onto her silly moves. Even her face had stuck in a silly grimace: Her tongue stuck out of her mouth and her eyes were tightly shut. It did not take long before everypony were laughing at her, and Pinkamina was cowering with shame on her behalf.

But things did not turn out as Pinkamina expected. Instead of Surprise becoming embarrassed with her own behavior, she kept on going. While everypony was laughing and pointing their hooves at her, she kept clowning around without a care. Soon the laughter changed as well. Loud cheers and whistling noises were now aimed at the clowning white pegasus, and the floor trembled with the stomping of excited ponies. It made the filly’s jaw drop. Instead of becoming a dancing disaster, Surprise had become the main attraction of the party. She was not making a foal of herself. She was making everypony else happy.

“She cracks you up, doesn’t she?” a sudden tomboyish voice spoke from beside Pinkamina.

Having been wrapped up completely by Surprise’s antics, she was startled at first. But she quickly managed to look to the side and identify the stranger. Surprisingly, it was somepony she knew. Standing right beside her, with eyes on Surprise, was the pink pegasus she had met just this morning, the one that helped with the clouds, the one called Firefly. She was laughing heartily, letting a cheering whistle escape every now and then as she watched Surprise do her thing. Her hoof was tapping to the music and sweat poured from her body like a waterfall, probably from having given it her all on the dance floor.

“It’s so weird how she can keep partying like that,” the mare continued without looking down at the filly. “I mean, I’m usually the tough one. But she just works on a different level than the rest of us. It’s like she only gets tired when she wants to.”

“Yeah, I guess she does,” Pinkamina replied with a quick smile. She turned her head back to Surprise and let her breath out slowly. “She really does things differently.”

“Hey, by the way, don’t I know you?” the tomboyish pegasus suddenly said. She was now looking at the filly, reacting to her as if she had been talking to herself this whole time. “Aren’t you that filly from Pie Fields?”

Lowering her ears with worry, Pinkamina smiled weakly and nodded. “Yes. I am. But please, please don’t tell them you’ve seen me here.”

“Snuck out to party, huh?” laughed the mare, stomping her hoof lightly on the floor. “And at that age too? Wow, you’re pretty daring for such a small filly. Don’t worry though, squirt. I won’t say a word.”

Pinkamina smiled as she diverted her attention back to Surprise. Though she felt a little weak for not even being able to go out and dance, she felt lucky to have met so many nice ponies in just one day: This cool and kind mare at her side, the polite and levelheaded Cup Cake, and of course Surprise, the pony that had shown her it all, and who was at this point beckoning the filly with exaggerated motions while dancing.

“By the way, is this the first time you’ve gone to one of Surprise’s parties?” Firefly asked as they continued watching. “Seems like she wants you to get out there with her.”

“Yeah it is.” Pinkamina lowered her ears again, but maintained the smile on her face. “But I don’t think I can go join her now. I don’t know how she can dance like that without getting embarrassed.”

The pink pony looked at her with surprise in her eyes and amusement in her smirk. “Wait, so you’re saying you don’t wanna join Surprise on the first time at one of her parties?”

“Yeah?” the filly replied, putting a stretch on the word. She looked confusedly at the pink pegasus, raising an eyebrow as she noticed how she seemed to be struggling with maintaining her grin.”

“Oh, then you’re in for one hay of a surprise.” Firefly then took to the air. “Just stay there. I’ll be waiting a few hooves away, ok?”

“Ok?” Pinkamina replied. She had no idea what was going on, but felt that she would not get an answer if she asked. Instead, she simply shrugged it off and turned her eyes back to the white mare. But she did not see what she had expected. Though the space where the white pegasus had foaled around was still wide open, it was nothing but an afterimage of her presence. Surprise was gone. Wondering whether this was related to what Firefly had said, Pinkamina’s eyes opened as she began searching vividly around the room for the white pegasus. She was sure that she would be surprised, but did not know whether she should fret or look forward to it.

A sudden shriek from the speakers made everypony in the room call out in agony. Ponies were simultaneously covering their ears and gritting their teeth until the noise stopped, after which they all looked up to check for its source. Between the speakers, holding a black microphone with a silver head between her hooves was Surprise, poking the head of the mike to further test it. When the drumming of the pokes was done, the white mare nodded to approve of the device’s function, and she moved it to her mouth and took a deep breath.

“Hey everypony!” she shouted to the party with a metallically enhanced voice. “Sorry for interrupting you all, but I got a super duper important announcement to make. First of firsts I’d like you all to meet my newest, youngest and most cutely adorable friend at this party: Pinkie Pie!”

She pointed her hoof to the middle of the room where Pinkamina sat. Like a meteor hitting the ocean, everypony moved away from that spot, and they all moved their eyes to the filly in the middle. After a short moment, they all put on big smiles and used their most cheerful voices, to greet her at the top of their lungs. The filly sank shyly into herself, her cheeks flushing a deep red as she waved softly to the crowd. Such attention had never been on her before, and it made her a little uncomfortable, though she smiled nonetheless.

“Today I learned something that made even me Surprised: Pinkie has never been to a party before!” the white mare exclaimed with an exaggerated expression of horror, and the entire party gasped immediately, playing along with the pegasus’ silly performance. “I know, right!? But then I thought: ‘Hey, if she hasn’t been to a party before, then why not make sure her first party ever will be her best party ever?’ Am I right?” And everypony cheered in agreement, stomping the ground and waving their hooves in the air. “Now she doesn’t wanna dance, and we all know what happens when somepony doesn’t wanna dance with me, right? We bring out the bouncy blanket!”

The entire party went wild with cheers, deafening everything as it echoed along the walls. A couple of hooves grabbed on to the pink filly and lifted her up in the air, and she tilted her head back to see who it was. With dazzled eyes she saw the same pink mare from before, winking at her with a big smile before she carried her towards the door. She had known this would happen. But it was not just Pinkamina, Firefly and Surprise. Every single pony at the party was following them, their eyes and cheers directed solely at Pinkamina. The pink filly could not stop the blush on her face, though she tried her best to hide it with her hooves as she was carried over the many ponies and back out on the street.

The cool night air made her open her eyes once more, and she saw a bunch of ponies, including Surprise and Cup Cake, carry out an enormous piece of gray cloth, devious grins stuck on their faces. They stretched it out wide, revealing a huge circular blanket that was kept elastic by the many ponies holding on to each their edge with their hooves. The pink mare carried Pinkamina up above the circle and held her out in stretched hooves. Unsure of how to react, the nervous filly looked down at Surprise, who gave her a comfortable smile from her edge of the cloth.

“You ready?” the white mare called out.

Pinkamina blinked hastedly. She had no idea what was going on, and that showed in her face. “Ready for what?”

Without actually answering, the white mare gave her a quick wink and then gave the pink pegasus holding her a quick command, “Now, Firefly!”

With that, the pink pegasus let go of the pink filly. Screaming as she fell, Pinkamina closed her eyes and feared the worst as she was about to hit the ground. But instead of plunging to the hard surface of the earth, she was instead caught in the comfort of the cloth. She opened her eyes as she felt herself sinking into it, steadily settling in before she was sent back into the air with great speed.

This process kept repeating over and over. The first few times she was sent flying she screamed as if she was being chased by Timberwolves. But as she got an understanding of the situation, the screams of terror steadily turned into screams of laughter. Tears ran from her eyes when she flew up and down with high speeds and a wide smile on her laughing face. She felt the wind caress her coat, sending chills down her spine as it hit her head on. Looking above her, she noticed that the night sky that seemed so untouchable was getting closer every time she was cast back into the air. Though she knew she would never reach it, she still felt like the wings of a pegasus had made it possible. She reached out a hoof to the stars, trying her best to reach the night sky and catch as many as she could. She was flying.

Turning her head in the air to see the pony trampoline below, Pinkamina’s laughter turned hoarse from all her joyous screams. The ponies who kept tightening up the gray cloth all watched her with smiling faces. They were genuinely happy for her. This was what happened to those who would not dance: They would have to experience the joy another way. As she closed in and drew away from them, her attention fell on Surprise, who seemed to be laughing even harder than she was herself. This was the pony who had showed her a whole new world, the pony that wanted her to dance, and the pony who could make even a rock die laughing. Tears followed in the pink filly’s trail, staining parts of the cloth when they hit it. With her tear choked voice, she screamed as loud as she could in a mantra that lasted as long as her joyful ride, “Thank you!”

And from the movement of Surprise’s lips she could read, “You’re welcome.”

It seemed almost wrong to leave the party at such an hour, but she had to get back in bed before her parents would find out she was gone. She bid farewell to the party guests, shaking hooves with some and hugging others as she thanked each and every one of them for showing her the best night of her life. When she reached Cup Cake and Firefly, she made sure that the hug would last just a little longer, and she thanked them with a high pitched whisper. But the one she clutched on to the tightest and held on to the longest was Surprise. Tightening her grip, the filly began shaking, and her thanks were followed by whimpers of happiness and sorrow combined. She did not want this night to end.

The white mare kept quiet doing the hug, respectful of the filly’s emotional outburst. But after the hug had gone on long enough, she finally pushed her back, offering her a warm smile as she dried away a tear that had stuck in Pinkamina’s eye. With a smile that reached from ear to ear and a friendly wink, she gentle nuzzled the filly’s mane. Her voice was cheerful, calm and quiet when she said, “Why are you crying? It’s not like we’re never gonna see each other again, right?”

Pinkamina sniffed a few times and whimpered, “It’s not?”

“Of course not silly!” the white mare laughed, “You can come around any time you like. That’d be so much fun, right Cuppy?”

She looked back at Cup Cake, who replied with the gentlest voice Pinkamina had ever heard. “Of course it would. You’re always welcome here, Pinkie.”

Pinkamina wiped away one last tear and nodded quickly a single time in appreciation with the offer, which she would most definitely accept. She waved to everypony one last time before turning around and running back to the farm. Everypony were shouting heartily behind her, a few voices recognizable in the crowd, and they wished her all good things in the world as she galloped away. Her smile reached the corners of her eyes, and she thought of the great event of her life that was Surprise’s party.

It was a strange feeling for her to trot back into the darkness of the farm after having been exposed to the cloud-free starlight. The dry night air hurt her throat, and she could no longer feel the cool breeze of the night or the delightful smell of the plants. But her spirit was as high as ever, and she found comfort in the fact that the darkness was total. That no lights were to be seen in her house could only mean that nopony had found out about her sneaking away.

Her smile grew bigger as she trotted along the cracked, dry dirt of the farm. In her head, she ran through everything that had happened at Sugarcube Corner, going over every strange and happy encounter and experience. Surprise’s funny being and kind soul, the politeness and sweet nature of the pretty Cup Cake, the cool Firefly, and the cheers she heard from everypony. But the thing that lingered in her mind the longest was the feeling of the trampoline cloth. The freedom she had felt while bouncing through the air was unlike anything she had ever tried before. She could not help but wonder if that was anywhere near how flying would feel.

An idea came to her as she neared her house. While making sure to be quiet, the pink filly began skipping steadily ahead instead of walking like a normal earth pony. It felt weird at first, but soon she was able to bounce forward with only as much trouble as she had walking. It came strangely natural to her, in fact. She could feel a slight gust running through her mane, created artificially with every hop. Though it was nowhere near the sensation of the trampoline, it still had the effect of easing the stillness of the farm. It brought the sense of life back to her. This would be her new way of moving.

After climbing back up the drain pipe and back into her room, the filly made sure to sneak as quietly as possible back to her bed. She let the window stay open, thinking that the need for fresh air, however rare that was on Pie Fields, would be enough of an excuse to clear away any suspicion. It would make sneaking out easier in the future. Scooting back into her bed, she rested her head against the pillow and dragged the blanket over her shoulders with her hooves. She kept her eyes open, looked through the darkness at the ceiling, and sighed as she happily mouthed the words: “Thank you.”

The Song in the Sky

View Online

Another hard first part of the day at the farm had passed. Pinkamina stretched her back, making cracking noises as her spine corrected itself. She looked around the field and at her family, panting with their heads hanging between their legs, giving their sweat but a small distance to fall and stain the hard earth. Blinkamina noticed her looking, and with a breathless expression she gave her pink sister a trembling smirk. But although Pinkamina smiled back, it was not because of Blinkamina. It was finally lunchtime, or in Pinkamina’s case; time for a well-deserved break. It was not the river calling however. It was a certain bakery. Making sure not to waste any time, the pink filly rushed through Ponyville, her eyes focused on the road ahead. She was panting when she reached the gingerbread house, and when she stopped street’s width from it, she took a moment to look at the cupcake tower. Her eyes sparkled and drool slipped past her lips while she stared dreamingly at the building. Her stomach growled to wake her up, and she giggled to herself before proceeding happily towards the pink front door.

A bell rang her welcome as soon as she entered. It surprised her a little, since she did not hear one the night before. The loud nature of the party had drowned its jingle. What really surprised her though, was how much the bakery had changed in such a short while. All the confetti, as she had found out the small paper strips were called, and all the garlands and balloons had been taken down and swept away. The enormous speakers were nowhere to be seen, leaving the room in utter silence except for the meek chatter of a couple of mares at a table. Everything was neat and clean. But the merry atmosphere was still present in the everyday decorations and the tasty treats on display in the glass counter. There was a heavy of delicious cookies and delightful muffins in the air. It was a bakery after all, and it reminded Pinkamina’s stomach of how hungry it was, making it snarl even louder.

She looked up at the desk before her, noticing a little silver bell, ready to call for assistance. Stretching her body along the surface of the tall counter, she did a few careful jumps in an attempt to reach it, but her body was yet too small for it to make any difference. When she heard the soft giggle of the mares behind her, and their whispers mentioning the words ‘cute’ and ‘short’, her cheeks flushed a deep red and she immediately stopped her attempt. Instead, she found a nearby chair, pulled it over to the counter and got up on it, making sure to keep her balance as she reached for the bell. Finally, she made it ring, sending its echo through the kitchen.

“I’ll be right out!” a sweet voice called from the kitchen, and the soft clanking of hooves soon followed. Cup Cake appeared in the doorway, and she moved her gaze around the room with a smile, searching for the patient customer. As soon as her eyes fell on Pinkamina, her smile widened quite a bit and she trotted hastily over to the other side. “Why, if it isn’t the sweet, little filly from last night? I sure didn’t expect you to come around here so early.”

Pinkamina returned the light cerulean mare’s smile, though her ears also fell timidly down her face as she replied with a humble voice, “Sorry if it’s any inconvenience.”

“It’s no inconvenience at all, dearie,” the mare chuckled heartily. “I said you’d always be welcome, didn’t I? I’m just a little surprised that you’d come by already. It’s been less than a day, after all.” She trotted back behind the counter and reached her hoof into the display. Pinkamina curiously followed her motions, and her eyes widened when the mare’s hoof grabbed hold of a cupcake matched the mare’s color. “Would you like a little treat?”

“Oh, I can’t accept that,” the filly replied, rapidly shaking her head and forelegs alike to decline. “I didn’t bring any bits.”

“Don’t worry about that,” said the earth mare while dismissing the filly’s concern with the wave of a hoof. “This one’s on the house.”

Hearing that, Pinkamina did not hesitate to accept the offer. With a wide open mouth that ran a waterfall, she grabbed the treat from Cup Cake’s extended hoof with her own two, and quickly bit deep into the tasty frosting. But before her bite went all the way through, her stomach interrupted her with a prolonged growl. Pinkamina’s cheeks turned a much deeper shade of red, and she moved her eyes to their top corners to see the now giggling baker before her.

“My, my, looks like somepony’s hungry.”

Pinkamina hesitated a few seconds before responding. Telling Cup Cake that she usually skips her lunch would probably be a bad move. She had already once made the kind baker worry, and she would rather not do it again. She swallowed the large lump of baked goods, letting it slide all the way to her tummy before inconspicuously changing the subject, “By the way, is Surprise here?”

“Oh, she’s out for the moment,” was the reply from Cup Cake. The light cerulean mare trotted away from the counter all the way to a closet, from which she pulled out a pink-tipped duster. Spitting slightly from her semi-muffled words, she kept on speaking from behind the shaft, “She’s helping Firefly out with something. She should be back in no time.” She did not look at the filly while speaking. Instead, she trotted dutifully around the bakery, dusting off tables and shelves alike. As she followed her around and listened, Pinkamina could see a grin form on the shaft-holding mouth of the baker mare. “Besides, if she had been here, she would’ve greeted you in some crazy manner as soon as you rang the bell.”

“I guess that’s true,” Pinkamina giggled. “She’s kind of strange that way, isn’t she?”

“Oh, don’t get me started,” Cup Cake said with a fake sigh of annoyance for comic relief. “She’s constantly hyper, loud, completely clueless, and has a weird habit of dragging you into everything she does.” She stopped at one of the taller shelves and got up on her hind legs, balancing as she struggled to reach the top of it. “I swear, I sometimes wonder why I’m still friends with her.”

Pinkamina stayed quiet thought for a moment, eyes on the working mare. She sat down on her flank, shaking her head so her hair would fall down the side as it was supposed to instead of blocking her view. Her voice curious and low, she tilted her head to the side and asked, “Why are you friends with her?”

Cup Cake stopped in her tracks, still on her hindlegs as she looked down on the filly. Her face was frozen for a moment, her eyes focused on Pinkamina as if she was attempting to analyze her expression. But it did not take more than a few seconds before she replaced this expression with a hearty grin. Moving the duster from mouth to hooves, she put it down at the same time as she got back on all four.

“Well, I guess it’s because she’s plain fun to be around,” she answered with a motherly tone while reaching out to nuzzle the filly’s mane, making her hair fall back in front of her face so she had to blow it away again. “Surprise has this weird ability to make friends with anypony she meets. It’s hard to frown at somepony as happy as her, don’t you agree?”

Pinkamina nodded hastily in response. She was proof herself of Surprise’s magnetic character. After all, even though they had only known each other for a day, the filly could hardly wait to see her.

“Besides,” said the baker all of a sudden as she returned to dusting. “Since we’re so different from each other, we kind of complete each other as a team. When I’m a downer, she lifts me up. When she’s uncontrollable, I take control. Guess that’s just how we work.”

Pinkamina nodded in silence. Though still looking at Cup Cake, her gaze had become distant, looking into the depth of her thoughts. She found it strange that these two opposites could attract each other like they did, but there was no denying the evidence before her. Different as they were, Surprise and Cup Cake cared much for each other.

She awoke from her thoughts at the sound of a bell; the same sound that had bit her welcome when she entered the store. Both she and Cup Cake lifted their heads towards the door, curious about who might have entered. But nopony was there. Only a closed pink door and a little bell that moved slowly back and forth without making any further sounds. The mares were still at their table, so it could not have been somepony leaving the shop. Pinkamina looked back in wonder, and she saw a devious grin on the light cerulean mare’s face, who had her sight fixed on the area above her. It was then that she noticed how she was standing in a shadow. With a confused expression, she slowly tilted her head back to see what this strange phenomenon was. She should probably have expected it, but was surprised anyway.

“Surprise!” the white pegasus yelled above her. With hooves spread like a flying squirrel, she was hovering just above the filly. A blast of confetti appeared from nowhere, accompanied by the sound of party horns, though none were actually in sight. It all startled Pinkamina enough for her hair to stand straight for a few seconds and her entire body to shake like a jackhammer.

The filly barely had time to catch her breath after the scare before a couple of white hooves reached under her, lifting her swiftly into the air. With no hesitation, the white mare spun her around in the air, laughing as she did. Pinkamina could see the room become nothing but streaks of light, but Surprise’s face perfectly clear, sporting a silly expression. After a moment where she recovered from the surprise, Pinkamina joined in on the laughter. She could suddenly feel the pleasant tickle in her tummy as she flew sideways around, her limbs dangling from the rotation.

When they finally slowed down and Surprise put her down, she leapt forward to hug the white mare. Though dazed and confused, she had no problem reaching her target, and they both fell to the floor in laughter. While Surprise lay giggling on her back, Pinkamina pushed her cheek against the coat of her chest and rubbed it up and down, all the while clenching tightly to her in a hug.

“You’re finally here!” she found herself yelling, feeling as happy as a dog whose owner had just returned after a long day.

“Yikes,” Surprise replied, still laughing heartily as she returned the hug. “Guess I overdid it with the spinning, huh? Can’t even stand up right now.”

“My, I didn’t expect for the Surprise to actually be knocked to her back,” Cup Cake chuckled from the side. “Guess you’ve finally found your match, huh?”

The white mare looked up at her light cerulean friend with a toothy grin. She picked up the filly, did a crescent move from the floor and into the air, and held out Pinkamina in stretched hooves, looking her in the eyes as she said, “It’s great to see you too, Pinkie.”

Pinkamina could feel the excitement rush through her veins, leaving her out of breath. She smiled widely, nodding hastily with delight. When she was put down once more, she began bouncing in place, ignoring any sense of moderation she might have had. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve wanted to see you all day so we can play together.”

“That sounds super fun,” Surprise replied. She joined in on the bouncing, landing and taking off the ground in perfect symmetry with the pink filly. “We can do all sorts of things together. So what you wanna do?”

Pinkamina then stopped her bouncing. She had not exactly thought about what she wanted to play with Surprise. She just assumed the white mare would have something to do. Putting her hoof in front of her muzzle, she thought it over for a moment before her eyes were caught by the wings on Surprise’s back. Her pupils widened. Out of pure instinct, she raised one of her hooves in silence. The room was silent for a few seconds, the mood patient and still. Everypony, including the mares at the table, followed the pink filly’s hoof to the point it marked: Surprise’s wing.

Surprise quickly understood the hint, and she nodded in agreement immediately. Flapping her wings she cooled the air, and Pinkamina’s still face slowly became filled with excitement as the white mare said, “Sure. That sounds like a superrific idea.”

But Cup Cake did not seem to agree with the idea. She bit her lower lip, her eyes switching nervously from side to side. Pinkamina lowered her ears a bit when the light cerulean mare finally let her thoughts out with a quiet voice and a held back tone, “Are you sure about that, dear? I don’t think-,”

“Don’t worry, Cuppy,” Surprise lightheartedly interrupted her. She gave her a pat on the back, rough enough for Cup to momentarily put on a pained appearance. “I’ll make sure to be careful. Besides, you know I’m a good flier. You’ve even flown with me yourself.”

“Yes, I know,” Cup Cake replied with unease. “But that was different. I mean, we’re both adults and we’ve been friends for a long time.” She looked at Pinkamina, who sat quietly still, watching them through the best puppy eyes she could muster. But even with this adorable stare the baker resisted, and she swiftly looked back up at her carefree white friend. “But Pinkie’s just a filly. Are you sure you won’t suddenly take it too far?”

Surprise saluted in response, the force of her hoof stopping abruptly at her forehead making a whipping sound. “You have my word. I’ll make sure to be as careful as a hippo on skates.”

Cup and Pinkamina joined their voices in a clueless ‘what’, but they both let it slip as soon as they said it. They simply shrugged in unison. They looked each other in the eyes, Pinkamina begging in silence, and Cup Cake using all her strength to come to a conclusion. After a short while of intense staring, the baker finally gave in. She rolled her eyes and emitted a sigh of surrender, much to Pinkamina’s delight. Cup Cake turned her head to face her friend with a serious look.

“All right, Surprise,” she said, shaking her head in defeat. “I’ll let you two do what you want then. But remember: You’re responsible for her safety.”

“No problemo,” replied the pegasus happily. She jumped into the air, over her baker friend and landed before Pinkamina, who sat watching with a happy smile of her own. Putting a hoof on the filly’s shoulder, she gave her a friendly wink and said, “So, are you ready for the ride of your life?”

And Pinkamina beamed with happiness. “Yes mam!”

“Great!” The white mare darted to the air, leaving a trail of visible wind behind her as a result of her speed. Pinkamina even had to squint as the air hit her eyes. She thought of it as a preview of what was to come. As soon as she straightened the windswept threads of her mane, she looked to the door that was now wide open, Surprise standing in its frame, ready for takeoff. She beckoned the filly to get on, seeming every bit as excited as Pinkamina was. “Come on, now. Let’s get going.”

There was no need for the white mare to beckon twice. Without hesitation, the pink filly balked and galloped the short distance to the door, her open-mouthed grin wide and her beaming with anticipation. Surprise bend over so she could climb up, though she still had some difficulties getting enough of a grip to get on the white pegasus’ back without stepping on her wing. Luckily, Cup Cake was still there to lend a hoof, or rather a snout as she gave the filly a helping push. Pinkamina settled in. She let her hind legs hang down the white mare’s sides, just behind her wings, and with her forelegs she reached around her neck, clutching tightly enough for her to be safe and comfortable, yet not so tight that she would suffocate her ride.

“You ready, Pinkie?” Surprise asked as she checked the firmness of the filly’s grip with a hoof.

“I sure am,” She looked at Cup Cake on the side, who stood smiling at her, though her look showed clear concern. Thinking she would make a little joke to lighten the mood, Pinkamina winked at her and said, “Don’t worry. I’ll keep her safe.”

It seemed to work as the mare’s tension eased with a hearty laugh. “Oh, will you now? Well, I guess I have no reason to worry then.”

Meanwhile, Surprise had already begun flapping her wings. The air from the strokes cooled the coat on Pinkamina’s legs and side, telling her to get ready for takeoff. She buckled up, clutching tighter around her idol’s neck as the nervousness finally hit her. But there was not enough of this nervousness to change her expression. She was too excited.

“Here we go!” Surprise finally yelled, and without giving Pinkamina any time to cheer, she darted off with the speed of a bullet. She did not hold back. Pinkamina felt the full power of a pegasus’ speed from the get-go, forcing her to shut her eyes tightly at first. They immediately took to the sky, Pinkamina holding on for dear life as she cheered loudly in competition with the pressuring wind. She was blasted into living out a lifelong dream.

She was flying. Though the wings were not hers, and though she had her hooves tightly bound to her white ride, the wind she felt flowing through her mane was the kind a pegasus felt. It blew her hair backwards, vividly shaking the pink threads in her mane as they ascended. Her eyes were forced shut, but she still kept a bit of them open to see the things they passed and would pass, ignoring the tears her stubbornness created. They were flying straight up with rocket speed, forcefully pushing their way through the air. Ahead of them was nothing but clouds, which turned to blurs as soon as they darted by them, leaving behind a whooshing sound.

“How’re you feeling back there!?” her ride called out, though her words were hardly audible at this speed. Pinkamina did hear her though, but she was unable to reply with the wind bashing her throat whenever she opened her mouth. She could only respond with a smile that Surprise was unable to see. But she seemed to know about it anyways. “I know! It’s amazing, isn’t it!?”

The white mare slowed down when they reached the highest cloud. When they stopped completely, the sound of birds and Surprise’s wings’ flapping filled up the otherwise complete silence of the sky. Pinkamina had expected some more wind at this altitude, but she did not complain about the lack of it. This way she could enjoy the warmth of the sun and the comfort of Surprise’s coat to its full extent.

“Hey, Pinkie,” Surprise said with a now steady voice, though it was a little hoarse from the speedy ascension. She pointed her hoof forwards and downwards at approximately a 45 degree angle. “Take a look.”

The pink filly climbed up Surprise’s back just enough to be able to look over her shoulder. What she saw made her gasp loudly, and she almost forgot to hold on, though Surprise had a good grip on her flank just in case. With only a few clouds blocking her view, she could see all of Ponyville and beyond. With focused eyes she followed the long, curvy stretch of Ponyville River all the way to the dam, from which the water flowed violently through small, square holes. The mountains stood tall and majestic in the background, looking over the quiet village with kingly postures, crowns of snow shimmering on their heads. Everything was shining in the light of the sun. Trees, houses, water, and rocks, nothing was free of the gentle rays of Celestia.

“Wow,” was everything she could say at this moment. An arrow of awe had penetrated her chest, leaving her at a loss for words and breath alike. She loosened her grip on Surprise’s neck, moving her hooves to hold on to the pegasus’ shoulders instead, and slowly moved her head to the side as she scanned the area.

“Pretty amazing, huh?” Surprise said with a surprisingly soft voice. She had her own gaze locked on the beautiful spectacle before them, and she even seemed to appreciate it just as much as Pinkamina did. Even though she could see this every day, she did not let a single piece of eye candy slip past her sugar craving sight.

Pinkamina nodded, her chin rubbing against the white pegasus’ mane with every slow movement. Her voice had become quiet, almost a whisper, from the shock of the sight. “So this is Equestria?”

“No way, José,” Surprise replied with a soft snigger. “This is just Ponyville. To see Equestria you pretty much have to go to the moon, and that’s impossible, unless you’re the mare in the moon, in which case it’s possible. Or maybe Celestia, since she’s said to be the one who banished that mare, but why would she banish herself? That’d just be silly.”

Pinkamina laughed heartily at Surprise’s silly little speech. She moved her head closer to the white mare, digging further into the comfort of her golden mane. Though the strains of hair tickled her nose, she did not wish to back out, containing the sneeze that pressed. She noted how the mane had a rubbery feel to it, almost like the skin of balloons, and it smelled sweet of cotton candy.

A thought suddenly came to the pink filly’s mind, and the smile she bore lessened in its intensity. She turned her neck to look backwards, wanting to see what was on the other side of Ponyville. There, she saw a familiar sight, albeit from a different angle: Pie Fields. The dark clouds were still hanging thick above the farm, but this time she was able to see exactly how thick. It was much more than she had expected. In fact, they were about as thick as the space between the ground and them. Though they were needed to keep out the sunlight, such thickness still seemed unnecessary.

Her smile faded away. There was something about Pie Fields that could drain her of every bit of happiness with just one glance at it. She tightened her grip around Surprise, pushing her cheek further through the mane until she brushed against the soft fur on the white mare’s neck. It was the only thing she could think of for comfort.

“Hey, Pinkie,” Surprise said with a low and careful voice. She turned her head, though she was not able to turn it all the way to see the pink filly on her back. “Wanna go over there?”

Pinkamina looked at the white hoof, which pointed to the dark side of Ponyville. But she did not respond immediately. Closing her eyes halfway, she shrank on the pegasus back, slipping a little down the white coat so Surprise had to push her back up.

Still, the pegasus continued to ask, putting a pleading tone in her voice to convince her. “Come on, Pinkie. It’ll be fun, I promise. I’ll even do some tricks on the way there.”

She still did not want to go, but the promise of tricks had her convinced. She nodded slowly from the white mare’s back, her cheek rubbing up and down Surprise’s coat.

“All right, then!” the mare cried enthusiastically. “But you’d better hang on, because this is going to be a rough ride.”

Pinkamina heeded the white mare’s warning. She got back in position, buckled up around the neck and narrowed her eyes in advance; knowing what kind of pressure would come.

“And away we go!” shouted Surprise as she took off with the speed of sound, leaving behind a trail of smoke in her and Pinkamina’s shape.

She started off the trip to the clouds with a nosedive, one hoof in front of her like Supermare as she approached the ground with mind-numbing speed. It was even faster than when they had ascended, and Pinkamina struggled quite a bit just to maintain her grip. But she was laughing nonetheless. The way they sped through the air had the pressure tickling every part of her body. She could hardly keep her tears from escaping her eyes from sheer, muffled laughter.

“Hold on to your hooves!” she heard the wind-drowned voice of Surprise call out. They approached the ground rapidly, almost crashing into the middle of an apple orchard before Surprise leaned back and shifted direction towards the sky. Creating a crescent trail in the air, she ripped off a bunch of leaves and a few apples with the sheer force of her movement as they flew over the trees. As she ascended, she flew in spirals, creating rings in her trail all the way to the top.

They were half way there. It was now impossible to see all of the gray clouds due to the layer’s massive size. Surprise ended her trick flying by rolling in the air, drilling her way towards the top of the layer. This was the hardest part for Pinkamina to hold on to. She lost her grip for a moment, screaming as she was cast backwards, blown away by the pressure of the air. She did not get to fly far though, before Surprise came rushing to her rescue, catching her in her hooves like a stallion carrying his newlywed wife into their new home. The white mare grinned at her, making it impossible for Pinkamina to do anything but laugh at this little incident. Flying carefully the last stretch, they reached their destination.

“Now, don’t jump off me just yet,” Surprise said as she landed with her hind legs on the gray fluff. Holding Pinkamina with one hoof, she had her other one on her back, searching for something with her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth. “Ah, there we go.”

She pulled out a brown leather belt, onto which several already blown up balloons were tied. The pink filly blinked in confusion. She had seen no sign of this device on the white mare’s back, making her wonder where she had been able to hide such a contraction.

“How’d you do that?” the filly asked out of pure instinct.

Surprise looked clueless for a second. She put her eyes on the belt in her hoof and kept staring at it for quite a while. Her face never changed, even when she shrugged and with a nonchalant tone said, “I don’t know. I just do that.”

Knowing that Surprise would never be able, or possibly willing, to explain how she disagreed with all laws of physics, Pinkamina simply shrugged as well. There was no point in questioning the unexplainable. She instead decided to focus on the strange item. “Well, what’s that thing for, then?”

“Well, only pegasus ponies can walk on clouds,” she said with a big smile, “So I brought this so you could have some time for yourself while we’re here.”

She hoofed Pinkamina the belt. The pink filly stared at it with a raised eyebrow for a moment, unsure what exactly to do with it. She grabbed it, put it around her waist, made sure to buckle up properly and presented it for Surprise to inspect when she was finished. As soon as the white mare had checked if everything was in order, she nodded a few times and then, with no warning whatsoever, she let go.

“Wait! Stop!” Pinkamina shrieked as the pegasus flew backwards away from her. She kicked the air instinctively, her legs creating a blur as she attempted to flap them like wings. But after a second, she noticed that she was not descending at all. Her face of terror quickly turned into one of surprise, and she looked above to see the thing that against all odds were holding her up: The balloons. Just like with Surprise the first time she met her, the balloons were keeping Pinkamina afloat. Her mouth gaped open and stretched to the corners of her eyes. She was floating by herself.

“There you go,” Surprise said cheerfully, her hooves behind her back and her smile as wide as ever. “Isn’t it so much better to be able to fly yourself?”

“I’m flying?” asked a dazzled Pinkamina. Though she was not actually flying, simply floating, she was doing so on her own. She looked down at her hooves, noticing her they felt heavy beneath her. With no ground to stand on, they were dragging her down, yet she stayed in the air. She began trotting through the air, checking if she would move forwards like Surprise did when she was held up by balloons. It was working. Slowly and steadily she moved through the air, a proud smile forming on her mouth as she kicked herself forward. Though imperfect, this was the freedom she had wished for. “Oh my Gosh, I’m flying!”

“You sure are,” Surprise said with a nod of the head, seeming almost proud of the pink filly she had only just met.

“This is amazing!” Pinkamina kept going, reaching the highest possible keys in her voice out of excitement. She swam through the air, first with a crawl stroke and eventually with a breast stroke, and it made her go through the air with much more ease. “I can’t believe it! I’m actually flying!” She stopped midair, her face turning serious as a realization rushed through her. Looking down, she saw the gray clouds below, under which her home was located. Looking up, she saw the clear blue sky she had always known was there, but never thought she would see. Now with a low voice, she spoke to herself, “I passed the clouds…”

Surprise bounced off the gray cloud, leaving it to vibrate smoothly for a moment. With a few short strokes, she flew up to Pinkamina who still had her eyes on the sky above her, and approached her from below. “What’s the matter?”

As if waking up from a dream, Pinkamina blinked in surprise at the mare’s arrival, even though it was one of her less surprising appearances. She looked down between her hooves where Surprise was looking up, a clueless, yet caring, look in her eyes. Letting her breath escape her slowly, the pink filly smiled, but she could not keep her eyes from revealing the sadness behind them. The sky above her was only temporary, after all. Her break would soon be over.

“I don’t wanna go down there,” she whispered with a sad voice, tears forming in the corners of her eyes, though they did not leave their place.

Surprise did a quick spin to look down at the gray clouds. “Why not?”

“Because it’s so gray,” the filly replied, “There’s nothing down there but dumb, old rocks. All I see every day is that boring old landscape with the same boring sky and the same boring family. I hate it down there.”

“Because it’s boring?” Surprise asked with the same clueless expression.

Shaking it off as just another case of Surprise’s obliviousness, Pinkamina let a weak smile form on her lips for a second. But she could hardly keep her head up. The gravity of the wasteland below pulled in her, forcing her to hang her head, her hair hiding her sad face. Reality was that the only thing holding her up was the balloon belt.

“Hey, cheer up, Pinkie,” Surprise tried to console the hanging filly. She flew up on her side and put a hoof around her neck, drawing her towards the comfort of her chest. “It can’t be that bad. I’m sure it just needs a little fixer-upper to be more fun.”

This statement Pinkamina could not overhear. Her brows gathered as a result of her wrinkly forehead as she looked at the white mare at her side. Her voice was hoarse and angry as she unintentionally flew into another fit of rage, “What do you know about it!? You don’t live there! You live in Ponyville where the sun always shines, while I work my flank off every day in that place!”

There was an awkward silence for a moment. Surprise’s expression had a slight edge of sadness around it as she looked through stunned eyes at the angry filly. It took a few seconds before Pinkamina realized how she had just reacted. Feeling ashamed, she let her head hang once more, and she pushed herself a little closer to the mare, bringing their coats further together.

“I’m sorry,” she said with a quiet voice, “I didn’t mean to sh-,”

“Hold on a moment,” the white pegasus interrupted, letting go of the pink filly and showing her a raised hoof to ask for patience. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

With that said, the white mare dashed down in a straight line, splashing through the ocean of clouds. Pinkamina did not get a chance to react before she was out of sight. Looking at the wavy clouds with dazzled eyes, she wondered what Surprise could suddenly be thinking. She did not seem upset in any way; neither hurt, angry nor sad. She just disappeared in an instant, leaving Pinkamina to drift in confusion.

But she was not left hanging for long before the pegasus’ top half resurfaced in the gray sea. After gasping for air, indicating just how thick the cloud layer was, she grinned at the floating filly, waving her hooves eagerly around. “I’ve seen it!”

Pinkamina was still stunned. She had no words to express her confusion, instead replying to this crazy behavior with a baffled, “Huh?”

“I’ve seen it now,” repeated Surprise casually. She flew back up to the filly, hovering before her with a silly smirk on her face. “I’ve seen your farm now. I stuck my head through the clouds and took a quick look around. I don’t think anypony saw me, but if they did I would’ve said ‘hello’, because that would be the nice thing to do, right? But I couldn’t stay for long, because I also promised I’d be right back, so I didn’t fly down and talk to them.”

Though her way of speaking was odd in itself, what really made Pinkamina blink at her was the strange act she had just performed. She blinked while looking the pegasus in the eyes, trying her best to comprehend her behavior. “Why would you go see it?”

“Well, I wouldn’t be able to convince you if I didn’t see it first, now would I?” the mare laughed.

“Convince me?” the baffled filly asked. “Convince me of what?”

“Now, just listen for a moment, will you?” the mare said with a smile, and Pinkamina had no idea how to respond other than with a single nod. Shortly after this, Surprise began singing.

It’s true your home is dull and gray
But please hear what I have to say
You don’t have to let it get you down
Everything is A-ok
Don’t let sadness break your day
Just laugh and replace that sad old frown

So Pinkie Pie, I’ll tell you why
You shouldn’t turn and run
Those sad old days, will go away
Just remember to have fun

Pinkamina had no idea what was going on. Acoustic guitar and the sound of drums suddenly filled the air, coming seemingly from nowhere. She looked around swiftly, searching for any sign of the instruments, but there was nothing to be seen. Just like the balloon belt, Surprise had summoned the music from nothing. Looking at the white mare, the filly noticed how she did not seem disturbed at all. She was dancing around, bouncing on the clouds and swimming through the ether as if it was the most normal thing in Equestria.

When the pegasus got to the second verse, Pinkamina stopped caring about what was going on. Her smile increased in intensity, her hooves began tapping the air, and her head bopped along to the rhythm of the music. Happily listening to the music, she watched the white mare with awe and amusement.

They may seem like a boring bunch
But Pinkie Pie I have a hunch
That they are not as boring as they seem
They just need a single chance
To laugh and play and sing and dance
Then I guarantee that they will beam

So Pinkie Pie, I’ll tell you why
You shouldn’t turn and run
Those sad old days, will go away
Just remember to have fun

Surprise flew up to Pinkamina, who was now dancing completely in the air, and she grabbed her by the hooves. Shun spun her around in the air, leaning backwards to properly circle the filly around. While looking deep her eyes, Pinkamina cried with laughter. And for Surprise, it was time for the last bit of the song.

Everypony loves to have fun
To laugh or giggle, to snort or chuckle, they love it either way
Gray is just a color; I can assure you of that much
So don’t give up on, don’t give in, lighten up, teach them how to play

So Pinkie Pie, I’ll tell you why
You shouldn’t turn and run
Those sad old days, will go away
Just remember to have fun

Yes, remember to have fun
Remember to have fun, just have fun

When the song ended it did so in a grandiose manner. Horns played the guitar out, and streams of confetti filled the air from out of nowhere. Surprise finished it all off by throwing the filly forward spinning, leaving her to laugh as she pirouetted away. She grabbed hold of her from the front, laughing as she tried to look into the giggling filly’s eyes, however hard that was with how fast they kept spinning in their sockets. The balloons had become entangled, and with the sudden stop they began spinning the other way, casting the light of the sun around in a pattern of rainbows on the clouds below them. Everything had to settle down before the two ponies could look each other straight in the eyes. A moment of silence fell between them as they smirked at each other. Their faces then steadily grew more and more cheerful, and in a matter of seconds they found themselves kicking the air in shared laughter.

“That was amazing!” Pinkamina called out with a cheerful tone, almost drowned in her merry tears. “How’d you do that?”

“Don’t know,” replied Surprise laughing. “But I’m glad it cheered you up. It’s no fun hanging with your head when you’re flying, am I right?”

Taking a moment to settle down, Pinkamina took a good glance at the innocent happiness in Surprise’s eyes. She swiped a hoof across her face, wiping away the leftover tears that had cleaned away all her bad feelings from before. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right,” the pegasus loudly exclaimed as she gave the filly a careful push, making her ride the wind backwards. “When it comes to having fun, I’m always right.”

She tagged along with the floating filly. Back crawling through the air, Surprise slowly followed just beside Pinkamina, her eyes on the sky and a carefree smile on her face. She was perfectly relaxed with her hooves behind her head and her mane blowing in the slight breeze their movement created. Even Pinkamina could feel the soft cool caressing her flank as they slowly drifted away from the sea of clouds. She did not care that she could not see where they were going. She just let the balloons carry her away.

When they had floated far enough away from the sea of clouds, the filly saw the brown, dead landscape below. She saw the wall of trees that withered halfway, leading to the beautiful green by Ponyville River. Putting on a weak smile, she let her body relax, all the time staring at her cold home.

“You know, it really doesn’t have to be all bad,” the drifting mare said from beside her.

Pinkamina looked up at Surprise, but she was not looking at her. Instead, her eyes were looking far away, beyond the blue of the sky above. “I know,” the filly responded with a quiet voice. “But it is. We can’t have sun on that farm. We can’t even have plants or animals. Even if I tried, I don’t think I could make my family smile in that place.”

“Pinkie,” Surprise said, still without looking at the pink filly. She wet her lips and let her body relax with a sigh. “I’ve met a lot of ponies in my life. I’ve met big ones, small ones, happy ones, sad ones, funny ones, boring ones, and a whole bunch of other types, and you know what I realized?”

The pink filly shook her head in response, though since she was not within Surprise’s vision, she added her voice to it. “No.”

Switching to float on her belly, the white mare finally looked at Pinkamina, one hoof supporting her own cheek as if she was lying on a mattress instead of hovering in the sky. “I’ve realized that there’s not a single pony who doesn’t like to smile. I bet it’s the same with your family.”

The pink filly smiled. She looked to the sky herself, the edge of her balloon carrier visible in the top corners of her eyes. They were shining as pure as their colors were, the spark of Celestia enhancing their cheerful effect to a relaxing maximum, making it much easier for Pinkamina to have this conversation. “I know they’re not bad ponies, but they’re just not the same as everypony else. I mean, I’ve never even seen them do anything fun. My sisters are just kids, and even they don’t ever laugh.”

“You’re a kid too, you know,” Surprise added on the side, giggling as she did.

Pinkamina gave her a quick smile before going on. “Well, yeah, but I’m different from them. I hate spending time at that place, and they don’t. They’ve never once thought about how it would be like outside the farm.” She took a moment to breathe, her head shaking steadily from side to side as she looked to the ground below. “I really wish they’d give the outside a chance. Maybe they’d smile some more.”

“So you’d like to make them smile, huh?” asked Surprise as she changed her position, going from horizontal to vertical.

“Of course I do,” was Pinkamina’s reply as she looked up at her idol. The filly noticed the smirk on the white mare’s face, but she did not give it any further thought. She just continued, her voice low, “They’re my family after all. I love making them smile, but it’s just almost impossible to do that.”

The pegasus shook her head. “It’s not impossible, silly. You just have to try harder.”

“Yeah, right,” the filly snorted, rolling her eyes in disbelief. “As if it was that easy. They won’t leave the farm in a million years.”

“If the cake doesn’t come to the mouth, the mouth gotta come to the cake,” Surprise said merrily as she booped Pinkamina on the nose. “Just give them a good time at the farm. I’m sure you’ll have loads and loads of fun if you do that.”

“On that farm?” the filly asked with a raised brow, pointing her hoof to the dusty brown below the clouds. “Didn’t you see it before? That place is the dullest place ever.”

The mare shot her a heartwarming smile. She flew upwards for some reason, leaving Pinkamina’s eyes to follow her curiously as she reached the balloons above. One by one she began popping them. Their short-lived yet loud bang blew little pieces of plastic to the side, which slowly drifted towards the ground and past an astonished filly. Not long after, enough balloons had been popped for Pinkamina to feel her course shift. She was drifting downwards now, slowly and carefully approaching the ground below.

Surprise flew back to her, looked her kindly in the eyes and grabbed her cheeks with each hoof, forcing her to look back at her. The intensity with which Surprise was staring at her made Pinkamina instinctively gulp. With a soft voice and a calming smile, the pegasus half-whispered to her with a soft, determined tone of voice, “Listen, Pinkie: There’s no place where the sun can’t reach. That’s what I believe, through and through. You gotta promise me you’ll think like that too, all right?”

Pinkamina was unsure how she would respond to this. She kept eye contact with Surprise for as long as possible, dazzled as she studied the purple color of her irises. After this long moment and just before they landed, the pink filly nodded slowly in response, her face unchanged.

The soft grass beneath her hooves suddenly felt like little spikes. Compared to walking on air, everything on the ground was rough and painful. Yet it also had a distinct, calming smell that no sky could reproduce. The variety of colors of the earth also had a swell effect on the mind, leaving Pinkamina to breathe steadily as she untied the balloon belt from her waist.

“I guess I should get home now too,” she said as soon as she got the balloons lose. She hoofed it over to Surprise, but the white mare ignored it, caring little about this contraption of hers.

“It was fun seeing you again,” the white mare said cheerfully, reaching her hooves out to hug the pink filly. “Make sure you come by again soon, all right? Though not tomorrow.”

Before accepting the hug, Pinkamina tilted her head to the side in confusion. “Why not tomorrow?”

“I gotta meet up with some ponies about some thunderstorm preparations,” she replied with a smile. “I may not look it, but I’m one of the best thunder pegasi around after all. Years of experience.”

“Experience?” Pinkamina asked curiously.

But Surprise simply reached out a hoof and nuzzled the filly’s mane. “I’ll tell you some other day. You have to get home now, right?”

Smiling softly, the pink filly shoved away the white hoof. She leaped in for a hug, reaching her hooves all the way around the white mare’s chest. The sensation of white hooves on her chest made her clutch even tighter and smile even wider, but she soon let go anyways. It was time for her to get home. She leaned back, her hooves on Surprise’s chest, and shot the pegasus a wide smile, which was returned with an added wink. After their goodbye, the filly started galloping towards the farm, leaving Surprise to wave for her as she created a distance between them.

“Remember what I told you, Pinkie!” she was calling at the top of her lungs behind Pinkamina.

“I will,” Pinkamina replied with her own wave as she galloped along. “See you later, Surprise!”

The Explosion

View Online

Another morning, another breakfast. The tired silence in the room was broken only by the sounds of ponies clearing the table, doing the dishes, and yawning. Sue Pie stood with her hooves in a tub of hot water, carefully scrubbing the jam and crumbs off the plates, and Inkamina stood ready beside her with a dishcloth, all the while making smacking noises with her lips. Clyde had noticed something wrong with his collar, which left him irritated in front of a mirror in the living room, gritting his teeth as he desperately tried to correct this farmer’s fashion emergency. Blinkamina and Pinkamina were free to as they liked while waiting for the others to get ready for some more hard and dull labor. Therefore, Pinkamina sat bored in the living room’s armchair, and Blinkamina kept busy by poking Sue’s ball of yarn that she puzzled with every night, all the while listening to their father’s irritated noises in the background. It was just another Pie morning.

Two prolonged rings sounded in the house, the distinct ringing of their rarely used doorbell. Pinkamina shifted her eyes to the corners of her sockets, fixing them on the hallway without reaction. Eye boogers kept her blinking tiredly, and she was sucking on a thread from her mane as she watched the door, waiting for somepony to answer. It rang again, but nopony reacted. The pink filly looked around at her family. They were all ignoring the calls of the bell, too lazy to even give it a second thought. There was no sign of excitement in their eyes.

“Pinkamina, would you mind getting that?” Clyde Pie said with an irritated tone, though that was probably only due to his fight with the collar.

After a long sigh and a roll of the eyes, the filly rose from her seat and landed on all four on the floor. She walked to the door with a slow pace, her hooves making muffled clop sounds when she stepped on the rug, and louder steps and creaking sounds when she entered the domain of the hardwood surface in the hallway. When she reached the door, she leaned her tired filly body against it, stretching her neck to reach the way-too-high-up doorknob. She bit down, turned it along with her head, and took a quick step back as the squeaky hinges moved the wooden door towards her.

“Well, hi there, Pinkie,” Firefly said in the door, offering the filly a cool smile and a surprised glance.

Pinkamina returned the smile, but unintentionally let a yawn slip out with it. She shook her head to get back to the present, avoiding suddenly falling asleep in the hallway. She looked back up at the pink pegasus. “Hi, Miss Firefly. What’re you doing here? It’s not cloud delivery day already, is it?”

The pegasus shook her head. “I’m just here to collect some money your dad owes us. He didn’t really have enough last time. We had to add some extra layers because of the sun prognosis from Canterlot.”

“Oh,” responded the filly. She leaned to the side and took a look at the outside behind the pegasus. The wasteland was dull and dusty as always, and the sky was sad and gray. She found it hard to believe that the same clouds could seem so amazing when looking at them from above, seeing the underside as boring as ever. Shifting her eyes from side to side, she looked for the other pegasus that helped Firefly deliver the last patch of clouds, but he was nowhere to be seen. She had come alone this time. One was probably enough to collect a bit of cash.

“So I hear you were out flying with Surprise yesterday,” the pink pegasus suddenly said, a curious tone apparent in her voice.

Pinkamina woke up at the words in this sentence, her face beaming with delight from the simple mention of Surprise’s name. The pegasus before her seemed to notice this as well, as proven by her smirk. Nodding hastily, Pinkamina responded with a cheerful voice, “Yeah we did. It was super fun.”

“She says so too,” the mare replied with a bright expression, “And I hear she showed you some of her flying skills too?”

“She sure did.” Pinkamina got up on her hind leg and tried to imitate some of her experiences from the day before with hoof gestures. She could hardly keep her balance as she excitedly showed off the loops and dives the white mare had dragged her along on. “First we were all like ‘zoom’, and then we were ‘woosh’ flying back to the ground, and I got really scared at first, but then she flew back into the air, and I almost fell off, but she quickly caught me.”

Firefly let out a hearty laugh, after which she forwarded her chest, taking a proud posture as she cleared her throat. “You know, I was the one who taught her most of those tricks.”

“Really?” The filly’s eyes sparkled and her jaw dropped as she stared at the pink pegasus in awe. “Were you also the one who taught her how to hide balloons so nopony will notice them? And play music with no instruments?”

Once again, the mare before her laughed. She shook a hoof before her to dismiss the filly’s strange ideas. “No, no, that she learned on her own. Honestly, I have no idea how she does it.” They both giggled, amused by the crazy antics of their fellow pegasus friend. “Nah, I just taught her some basic moves. I’m a pretty decent flier actually. Even better than Surprise. I even teach a class back in Cloudsdale.”

“Wow, that’s pretty neat,” Pinkamina replied, honestly impressed to hear that somepony had even better flying abilities than Surprise. She never had the chance to see a pegasus’ full potential until she met that white mare, after all.

“I see you two are getting along well,” the voice of Clyde Pie sounded from behind the pink filly. With a hint of panic in her expression, she turned around to see her father approach them with a friendly grin. She suddenly remembered that she only got to know Firefly at Surprise’s party, and this event was something she would rather that her family did not know about. Drops of sweat began to form on her forehead, and she gritted her teeth anxiously, her knees suddenly feeling too weak to support her body’s weight. But when a hoof was gently placed on top of her scalp, she looked back up to see the pink mare wink at her with a cool attitude. This put her somewhat at ease.

“Yeah, she’s a sweet kid. Very polite,” Firefly said with a toothy grin as she nuzzled Pinkamina’s mane. “She asked me about Cloudsdale so we just started chatting.”

Clyde Pie let a one-syllabled laughter escape him, and he looked at his daughter with kind eyes. “Yes, she’s always been a fan of pegasi. No wonder she’d be interested in that city.”

“Well, who can blame her?” Firefly went on, her hoof still on Pinkamina’s head. They were chatting as adults at this moment, their words passing over Pinkamina. But the filly did not care. She was just glad her cover did not get blown.

“Anyways,” Clyde said to move the polite conversation along. He turned around and trotted back towards the living room. “I’ll go get the bits. I bet you’re as busy as we are, am I right?”

“As a bee,” Firefly energetically responded. When Clyde was out of the room, the pegasus moved her hoof away from Pinkamina’s head. They watched the doorway to the living room for a few seconds, not for any particular reason, but just because their eyes were already focused on that place. After a moment, the pink mare bowed down and half-whispered something to the pink filly, “Your dad seems like a nice guy.” Pinkamina looked back at her with a semi-confused expression, and she saw how Firefly had a rather gentle smile on her face. “You should cut him some slack.”

She blinked confusedly. This sudden sentence seemed rather personal and out of the blue at first, but after a few seconds she realized that Firefly had probably spoken with Surprise. Though a little irritated that the white mare would spill the beans like that, Pinkamina found the sentiment nice, and she responded with a nod and a smile of her own.

“Here we go,” the earth stallion said as he reappeared in the doorway. With a little, clinging bag between his teeth, he trotted back to the two ponies in the doorway. He tossed the bag through the air, and the pegasus was swift in her reaction, catching it as soon as it began descending. “Everything’s there, but you can count it anyways if you like.”

“That’s ok,” the mare said politely as she turned around: “I trust your math.”

She took a few steps outside on the dusty fields, the bag shaking back and forth with its monetary rhythm playing a merry jingle. Turning around, she waved politely at the two ponies, and they both waved back with each their smile. She winked quickly, fast enough that the stallion would only see a twitch, but the pink little filly’s smile grew at the glimpse of it. She knew better. After flapping her wings a few times, whirling up dust and dirt from the ground, the pink mare took off, flying away with both hooves in front of her. Pinkamina watched her fly away, smiling as she thought about how friendly a pony she was. Surprise definitely had some cool friends.

“Well, I guess we’d better get started with the day, huh?” the old stallion beside her said as he stretched his forelegs. “Those rocks aren’t gonna farm themselves.”

The filly’s smile faded away, though kept a simple form on her lips. She nodded once and took the first steps of the day out on the large family field. “All right.”

There was nothing new in rock farming this day either. She had not expected for anything to change, of course, but the thought that it might have was refreshing. But the clouds were still the same, the dead plants were still the same, and the back pain from shoving rocks was still the same. This day, however, it felt like her hope of change had been crushed even more violently than it had before. Whether it was Surprise’s attempt to comfort her the day before or just because she had a clearer picture of the outside world Pinkamina did not know, but she did know that the air felt as heavy as it always did.

They were preparing to move all the rocks to the south field. The location of the nutrients of the air was changing, and the south field would be a lot more fertile than the rest of the farm. Therefore, they would stack up as many rocks in little piles as possible, making it easier to shove a bunch at the same time so they could get them there in time. Pinkamina was almost finished with one of her piles. Digging the ground with her hoof, she freed one of the rocks that had stuck in the ground before shoving it over to the pile with her snout. After the final push, she sighed tiredly and with a hoarse throat.

The sound of the dining bell rang across the field, calling the Pie family to lunch. Pinkamina did not react to it though, instead sitting down on her flank and leaning her tired neck back to watch the sky. She heard her father clear his throat from the house and let her eyes move to the source of the sound. He was looking at her with a serious face, wordlessly asking if she would like to join them for lunch for once. But her answer was no as always. She would not spend her precious free time in cold boredom.

The door slammed and she was alone in the dead wasteland. Her break had started, but her body was weak. She could hardly move after having lifted so many rocks, so she did not move from the spot immediately. She had to take a moment to regain her strength.

While recuperating, she leaned her neck back as far as she could and locked her gaze on the still ocean of gray. Her mind wandered to memories of the day before. The memories of merry singing, the open space above the clouds, and of course what Surprise had tried to teach her. ‘There’s no place where the sun can’t reach’ she had said. But looking at this wasteland, Pinkamina found that highly doubtful. There was no indication of life. There was no place where the sun could reach. The warmth she felt was the warmth of acid, tearing away at her skin. For once, she thought, Surprise must have been wrong. There was no way the sun would ever reach Pie Fields.

But something happened. While Pinkamina had her eyes on the sky, she saw some strange movement accompanied with the loud noise of an explosion. An enormous wave blasted across the dark sky. It was a strange sort of wave, resembling a violent rainbow more than an actual explosion. With every color of the spectrum, it rushed through the ether, tearing away at the many clouds that had been blocking out the sun. A powerful gust soon hit the filly head-on, almost dragging her away along with the rocks and branches that flew past her, only missing her by pure luck. She felt her hair get shaken up by this odd shockwave, making a mess out of her perfectly straight mane. When the blast was done, she was left with a shocked pair of eyes and a clueless expression as her brain tried to grasp what had just happened.

When she got back to reality and took a second look at the sky, she saw something that she never thought she would see on Pie Fields: A rainbow. Hanging there above the dusty old rock farm was a beautiful rainbow, sparkling in the light of the sun that suddenly had become visible on a clear blue sky. The clouds had been blasted back by the strange, rainbow explosion, letting Celestia light up the brown dirt. The many rocks suddenly seemed to shine; the dust’s dark brown became light. A smile steadily grew on Pinkamina’s face, reacting to all the beauty that her home suddenly showed. The sun was reaching where it could not reach. Gray had become a rainbow. Surprise had been right.

She had never felt joy like that before. Not only did she get to see the sun shine on her home, but she got to see the magic of a rainbow, directly imported from the factory in Cloudsdale, in the one place she had always hated. Her face began aching from her broad smile, but she did end it for that reason. In fact, she wanted to smile forever and ever. But soon the layer of gray clouds had ben thick. As its nature would have it, it slowly began mending itself, locking out the sun once more bit by bit. The pleasure of the sun’s presence was a hasty one, but it was enough to have an effect on the filly. A thought came to her mind: She wanted her family to see this. But they would not be able to show them before the sky would be dull and gray once more.

She rubbed her chin, her brain running at full capacity in search for the best possible way to make somepony smile like she just had. Sunshine was not an option, and even if she could somehow remove the clouds in a way that would make the blue sky stay for a while longer, her father and mother would probably only be fearful of the state of their crops. Still, she needed something bright and cheerful. She tried her hardest to think back on something that made her cheerful in the past. Luckily, she did not have to go back long to find such a thing. A light of realization radiated from her face when she remembered the past few days. She quickly got to her hooves, wasting no time to get the materials she needed from Ponyville before their break would end. First item to find: Balloons.

She got the materials, but had no time to prepare the rest of her plan before her break was over. But she still had the night. She straightened her hair for the remainder of the day, keeping her smile secret from her family so they would suspect nothing, and helped move the remaining rocks to the south field. The morning would be the time for her surprise to be revealed to the family.

The silo was far from ideal, but lacking the time to find someplace else to pull off her plan, it would have to do for the moment. What made her choose that place was the fact that its tall and slim nature made it easy to decorate and hide the surprise she had in store for her family. After tying up the final knot, she wiped off a sweat of hard work from her forehead and took a few steps back to take a look at what she had created. Garlands hang all the way around the round metal walls, painting the dull silver with blue, red, pink and many more happy colors. There were streamers and confetti everywhere, hiding as much of the dusty floor as possible and coloring the many tables a different color than their normally pink cloth. Balloons hang scattered in strings, some in their regular egg-shapes and some formed as brightly colored horseshoes. All in all, she was pretty impressed with herself for recreating the party environment she remembered from Surprise’s party this well on her very first try and in so little time.

“Well, we’d better harvest the rocks from the south fields,” she dimly heard the voice of her father proclaim from the outside. This was her cue. Her hair exploded for some reason, becoming the same curly ball the rainbow explosion had made it the day before. But she did not waste time thinking about that. She dashed past the punch and cake all the way to her father’s old phonograph, swiftly put on a record, and carefully placed the stylus on it. It began playing a merry symphony of brass instruments, blowing their different shades of sound through the phonographs own brass head. She nodded to herself in approval of this folksy sound and stormed to open the door.

“Pinkamina Diane Pie, is that you?” the sound of her mother’s voice rang before she could reach the door. Pushing it open, a stream of confetti and a few balloons escaped as she quickly took a look at her gray and brown family members with a big, excited smile.

“Mom,” she said cheerfully. “I need you and dad and the sisters to come in here, quick!”

She closed the door before even seeing their reactions and hid near the great cake in the middle, readying herself to surprise them for life. Crouching like a tiger stalking its prey, the pink filly giggled excitedly as she thought of how her family’s faces would shine. The door opened, her family entered, and Pinkamina got ready to jump.

“Surprise!” she yelled happily as she bounced upwards, waving her hooves in the air. “You like it? It’s called: A party.”

Somehow a party horn went off right after she said that, but she did not take further notice of it. There was no need to notice the details. She put on her most cheerful smile and eagerly watched her awestruck family, waiting for their reaction. Every single jaw had dropped and their their eyes wide with a sort of horror. Loud gasps emitted from them, and the straw fell out of her father’s mouth while her sisters blinked at the spectacle. It worried Pinkamina to see these reactions. She bit her bottom lip, her eyes turned anxious and her smile faded away as she watched her family study the decorations, festive activities, and treats. Their lips were shaking and their eyes were getting teary. Their voices were trembling, getting ready for loud sobs as they looked terrified from left to right.

In the end, Pinkamina lost all hope. The excitement she thought she would have received seemed to have been but a dream. Bowing her head, she let out a heartbroken sigh as she turned around. “You don’t like it.”

But she was too quick in her judgment. Taking a last look over her shoulder, she saw the trembling lips steadying, forming the starting phases of a smile. Their initial shock wore off after a moment, and the shaking gray family suddenly beamed with delight, cheerful gasps and toothy grins replacing their otherwise worrisome expressions. They suddenly showed an amount of happiness that Pinkamina had never seen in her family before.

“You like it!” the filly happily shouted, inhaling a large amount of air in surprised relief. She stormed towards them, hugging her mother tightly before the party truly got started. It did not take many seconds for them all to occupy the dance floor, each of them doing their own silly moves without a care for appearance. Pinkamina supported her weight with her mother’s hoof, and her mother did the same with hers, and they waved their other hoof in the air while stomping the dusty ground with each groove of their flanks. They were all laughing, but the pink filly laughed harder than any of them together. She had finally seen a side of her family she never would have imagined existed. With nothing but bright colors, some sugary treats and some cheerful music, she had invoked an amount of cheer that filled her heart with pure sunshine. As a ticklish feeling momentarily ran through her coat on each side of her flank, accompanied by a faint shimmer of light, she shouted merrily into the air with all her heart, “I’m so happy!”

It was not the lack of will or spirit that cut the party short, but rather the lack of energy. Inkamina and Blinkamina were both too young to keep their groove thangs shaking so early in the day, and so they had found a comfortable spot on the floor on which to take a blissful nap together. Clyde let out his breath through closed lips, smiling as he shook his head slowly at the sleepy duo. Putting a blanket over them, the old stallion took care when he picked them off the ground and threw them over his back. He trotted towards the door, but stopped before opening it, his eyes moving over to his wife and oldest daughter.

“I think I’ll let these two skip a day,” he whispered across the silo, his voice gentle and calming. “They wouldn’t be much use in the fields like this anyways.”

Pinkamina hardly noticed his words though. The pink filly sat with a gaping mouth and wide open eyes, mesmerized as she stared at her flank through the mirror image of a silver tray. She only responded to her father’s words by nodding slowly, leaving the rest of her sentence in the hoof of her mother. Therefore, Sue Pie shot her husband a heartwarming smile, telling him that they were fine. The old stallion replied with a friendly nod. He opened the door slowly, careful not to accidentally wake up the fillies on his back, though the creaking of the hinges seemed to disagree with this sentiment of his. Luckily, he managed to get out without any trouble, and he made sure to close the door as slowly and quietly as he had managed to open it, leaving out the loud slam as it shut.

Three balloons levitating in strings on her flank, two in blue and a yellow one in the middle. They seemed to be flying upwards, attempting to leave the filly’s flank as they reached for the sky, only to somehow carry her with them. They made her feel as light as a feather. But what truly made the smile on the filly’s face was how much it looked like Surprise’s cutie mark. Though the colors were different, the unspoken words the shapes represented were the very same of her idol’s flank, and it made her more than happy to think that. She had the same party ability of the pony she admired the most.

“It really is a pretty mark,” the sweet voice of her mother spoke from beside her. Pinkamina looked up at her and saw a quiet smile on the gray mare’s face. Her glasses-hidden eyes bore a still sense of pride. “To think that it would appear on my little Pinkamina’s flank.”

The pink filly smiled and looked back at the balloon trio. “It’s just like I hoped it’d be too.”

“But I must say,” the old mare continued, and Pinkamina looked back at her curiously. “I never thought I’d see you throw a party for us like this. It was quite a surprise.”

“Well, I did want to make it a surprise party,” Pinkamina grinned. Though it was a phrase she had just made up, it seemed like a good way to describe such a secret sort of party. It was even a reference to the white mare.

“That’s not what I meant,” said Sue. It was then Pinkamina noticed just how grim the look in her eyes had become. Though she was still smiling, the gray clouds of Pie Fields blurred the light in her pupils, making her seem much sadder than the pink filly had anticipated.

She took a few steps closer to her mother. Looking at her face from below, she seemed even sadder, as if she was afraid of something. “What’s wrong, mom?”

“I thought you hated us,” she said with a low voice, almost tearchoked. Pinkamina did not move a muscle, completely stunned by her mother’s words. Though she cried out a loud ‘what’ on the inside, her body was too much in shock for her to do anything but blink. Meanwhile, Sue Pie was struggling to keep smiling, sniffing a single time before going on, “I was really sure you hated us. The way you always looked at us, how you never wanted to eat with us or be with us for that matter. I didn’t know what to do. I was just so sure you hated us.”

“But, mom-,” Pinkamina began, but she did not get to say more before her mother interrupted her with a tearful gasping sound.

“I’m so glad you don’t,” she said with a rather high-pitched voice. She covered her eyes with one of her hooves, desperately trying to hide her obvious tears. “I’m so glad you don’t hate us, Pinkamina.”

The pink filly did not say anything. Watching as her mother showed a side she had never seen before, her ears dropped to the side of her head. It was clear now how she had never given her family much thought. She always connected them with Pie Fields, blindly assuming that they were just as dull and dead as their home. That her own mother would fear being hated so much that she would even cry made the pink filly feel her stomach churn with guilt. She closed in once more, this time reaching her hooves around the sobbing mare before her. Her hooves slowly closed together and she pulled herself in, letting her cheek rest against the gray coated chest. The warmth it emitted was new. Even though they had always been together, the sensation of her mother’s warmth and the feel of her lungs sucking in and blowing out was new.

“I’m sorry, honey,” the old mare said with a low voice. Pinkamina could felt a couple of trembling hooves on her upper back and on her neck. The one on her neck caressed her, stroking slowly at her now curly mane as she began rocking gently back and forth. “I didn’t mean for you to see me like this. I’m just happy, that’s all.”

“I don’t hate you, mom,” Pinkamina said with a low voice of her own. Her throat was dry and her eyes were teary, but she did not cry. She simply let herself rock along with the tranquil movements of her mother.

“But, you know,” said her mother after a short moment of silence, using a tone of voice to change the subject to a more cheerful direction. “I never would’ve imagined you’d get balloons for a cutie mark.” She gave the filly a nudge, telling her to let her get a good look at this newly acquired mark of adulthood. “Where ever did you get the idea of holding a party?”

Pinkamina stayed silent for a moment, her head still glued to the old mare’s chest. Her eyes stared into nothing as her mind wandered, considering every pro and con of telling the truth. There was no telling how her mother would take it, whether she would be angry with her or glad on her behalf. But in the end, the pink filly thought she had to tell her. She owed it to her.

She sat up straight, letting the air in her lungs back out with a long sigh as she looked the old mare in the eyes. The glasses hidden eyes were puzzled at first, so Pinkamina offered her a warm smile before saying anything. It worked as intended and the gray mare relaxed again, sending the smile right back. Nervousness still hit the pink filly though. She quickly looked down to the ground, circling her hoof in the dust as she worked up the courage to say something. She instinctively blew upwards as she would if her straight hair had been in the way, but her mane’s new curly design did not allow for such a blanket to cover her face, making her blow air at air.

“Mom,” she started out, but she had trouble going on after that simple word.

Luckily, her mother’s soothing voice was able to calm her down as she leaned in and asked, “Yes, Pinkamina?”

Sinking a big lump of spit, Pinkamina looked back up, though only lifting her face half ways, and looked into her mother’s eyes from the top corners of her own. “What if I said that I haven’t been completely good these past few days?”

“What do you mean?” Sue Pie asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well, I kinda met this adult pegasus a couple of days ago,” she continued, her tone naturally apologetic, “On one of my breaks at the river. She came up to me out of nowhere and we just started chatting. She invited me to a party that evening and.” She took a deep breath. “I accepted. I snuck out of the house and went to the party without permission.”

Sue Pie was silent, and her expression was heavy with disapproval. Staring blankly at the filly with unmoving eyes, she stayed as still as a stone statue for several seconds. It even reached a point where Pinkamina was unsure whether she was still there. The unbearable silence made the filly cringe and nervously tap her hooves together, looking to the side with a child’s shame. When the old mare returned to her senses, she wet her lips in thought and looked at a point on the wall just behind the filly’s head. Pinkamina watched quietly as her mother scratched the back of her neck. She anticipated the worst, yet hoped for the best.

“This pegasus,” she said with a serious tone, not looking at her pink daughter, “What’s she like?”

“She’s amazing,” Pinkamina responded instantly. She did not even have to think before talking about Surprise, suddenly waving her forelegs around in excitement. Just getting a chance to praise the white mare was enough for the pink filly to forget all her nervousness for the moment she explained her characteristics. “She’s always happy and she always laughs at everything, even the things that aren’t funny. She’s totally hyper and can’t stand still for even a second, and she sometimes say the strangest things, but in a good way, and she’s super fun to be around.” Halfway through explaining, the pink filly began hopping around the silo, but she hardly noticed it herself. It was just something she did all of a sudden, and nothing could stop her. “And she’s friends with everypony in Ponyville, not to mention she’s even friends with ponies from Cloudsdale, such as Miss Firefly, who by the way taught her a bunch of tricks that she showed me, and she was really good at it, and she’s able to do a ton of strange things that she can’t even explain herself and-,”

“Hold on, Pinkamina,” Sue Pie had to interrupt the bouncy filly, laughing heartily as she did. Hearing this command, Pinkamina froze in place, standing on one leg as she realized what she had been doing while she was talking. It took a few seconds for the old mare to hold back her laughter enough to be able to say anything, “Since when did you get so talkative?”

“I don’t know!” the filly called out with an enormous grin, “It’s like: Whenever I think of Surprise I just get totally happy and psyched. She’s just that amazing!”

“So her name is Surprise, huh?” the gray mare said, not laughing anymore but still smiling widely.

It was then that Pinkamina remembered how serious the mood was before she began her little explanation. She sat back down, wide eyes looking straight at her mother and her expression completely serious once again. But Sue did not seem serious at all now. Somehow, the filly’s dance had replaced the frown on her face with a merry smirk.

“She’s that amazing, is she?” the old mare said with a cheerful tone.

Pinkamina nodded, putting on a smile herself. “She’s even better than that.”

“Well, in that case.” The old mare shook her head with closed eyes for a moment. Her chest blew out and went back in with a large breath. “I guess I’ll let you off the hook this time. But normally I’d tell you not to go with strange ponies like that, Pinkamina.”

“It won’t happen again, I swear,” Pinkamina proclaimed, saluting her mother as she did. She skipped to the gray mare, beaming with happiness as she did, and finished the stretch by leaping into her hooves and into another big hug. It was strange that she was suddenly able to be this open with her. Until now, Pinkamina had never been able to put any faith in her family, yet she suddenly found all the reasons to smile alongside them. She felt happy.

Finishing the hug, the gray mare quickly tightened her grip before gently pushing the smiling filly back. She raised an eyebrow at her, showing a silly grin as she looked at the top of Pinkamina’s scalp. “By the way, are you going to stay that way?”

Pinkamina tilted her head in confusion, her cheek touching one of the old mare’s hooves on her shoulder. “What’d you mean?”

“I mean your hair, Pinkamina dear,” she replied with a giggle, “Don’t you want to straighten that thing out?”

Pinkamina tried to look at her mane, but found that her eyes could not reach it unlike before. She could only see its tip. She opened her mouth to reply, but a sudden burst of realization hit her like lightning. Letting out a loud gasp, she felt her body stir with excitement as she spoke. “Actually, I think I might like a different sort of haircut. In fact, I think I know just how I want it.”

“Well, that’s fine, Pinkamina,” said the mare with a slow shake of the head. “But at least make it somewhat more stable than that.”

“I will,” she said while nodding, “And mom?”

“Yes, dear?”

“If it’s not too much...” Pinkamina put her hooves together again, a happy smile spreading from ear to ear. “… Maybe you could call me Pinkie?”

The Mentor

View Online

The following day on Pie Fields was like no day before. The smiles Pinkie Pie met at the breakfast table were wide as the horizon, accompanied by hearty greetings and cheerful laughter. What they ate was the same, and so was what they prepared for, but they ate in a currently unseen mood. Pinkie was ecstatic. She could hardly sit still in her chair, waving her arms around as she told her family of her experiences with Surprise, and they listened closely, joining together in laughter when told of the white pegasus’ antics, and joining together in jealous gasps when told of the party and the trip to the sky. Blinkamina and Inkamina would bounce around with Pinkie, but their little filly legs could never keep up with their big sister’s energy. When they finally lost all their energy, they would extend their hooves, craving for the sunrise dance to continue, and Pinkie and Clyde would pick them up and swing them about, all the while being watched and cheered for by a wet-eyed Sue Pie. The frozen morning was gone.

Though the sky was still dark and dull, though the earth was still dead and sad, and though the air was still dry and uncomfortable, there was no bad blood in the fields. Work was still hard, but they could cast around jokes and catch them with snorts and giggles, ignoring the painful sweat on their foreheads. Pinkie bounced around between the rocks, shaking the ache off of her back, never to let it settle in her spine. She hummed the cheery tone that Surprise had sung the day prior, and her sisters did their best to keep up with her energy.

But even with all the good feelings they shared, Pinkie would still not join the rest of the Pies for lunch. However, unlike before, this was not due to her wanting to escape her family. She simply had somewhere else to be, and her family had no intention of holding her back.

Sugarcube Corner sounded busy from the outside. As Pinkie reached its doorstep, she stopped up for a second and let her head fall back so she could take a good look at the swaying sign above the door. Her sunny smile broad and bright, she watched the piece of wood jive in the wind for several seconds, ending the long stare with a random giggle when she finally decided to open the door.

“Surprise!” she shouted at the top of her lungs, calling out the nature of her visit and her target’s name at the same time. Only when she had already closed the door did the lazy bell ring.

It hardly took a second before the kitchen sounded with the clanging of trays and glasses. Cup Cake’s voice called for her to wait, but the white lightning had no time to stop, darting out of the kitchen and straight for the pink filly. As always, Surprise’s intention was that of a predator, tackling her target and holding her in a helpless lock of the hooves. But this time, Pinkie was too fast for her.

“Surprise!” the filly shouted once again, her voice even happier as she countered the white mare midair. They fell to the floor, clutching tightly to each other as they rolled all the way back to the glass counter. It was pure luck that kept the glass from shattering when the back of the pegasus’ head banged into it. As the ending position of the roll, the pink filly sat up on the pegasus’ tummy, and the pegasus was leaning against the counter, rubbing the back of her head, both of them laughing to their hearts’ content.

“Welcome back, Pinkie,” Surprise said enthusiastically. She put her hoof on the filly’s back, rubbing it warm with fast paced movements. The ticklish sensation had Pinkie spasm like mad, running stretches in the air at the white mare’s sides. With all the good feelings, it took some time before Surprise noticed the completely new hairstyle of the young filly, the one that matched her own in every way but the color. “Wow, now that’s new.”

“You like it? You like it?” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, putting both hooves on top of her scalp. “I wanted it to be just like yours.”

Surprise’s cheeks reddened on a grinning face, showing a very distinct new color of the snow white face. Then a sudden flash of curiosity hit her, changing her expression in a split-second. Pinkie Pie tilted her head to the side, matching the white mare’s expression. A white hoof extended from her, touching and poking at the filly’s mane, and she tried to follow the movements from the top corners of her eyes.

“What’re you doing?” asked Pinkie Pie, rather amused by this strange behavior.

Surprise put her down, got up in the air and restarted her strange poking at the pink mane, now with two hooves. “Wow, it really is like mine.”

“Of course it is,” Pinkie said with a grimace that signified the obviousness of the pegasus’ statement. “Can’t you tell just by looking?”

“No, I mean it’s exactly like mine.” Reaching her hooves further to the side than a pony should be able to, Surprise stretched to a cupboard from which she extracted a pair of scissors. She then reached for the tip of her own mane with one hoof, readying the, for a pony impossible to use, scissors with the other while Pinkie Pie gasped when she realized what the curly haired mare would do. She moved to stop her, but it was too late; the white mare cut off a large lump of her own hair, only to smile at the shocked filly and with a cheerful voice say, “Here, take a look.”

Blinking rapidly, Pinkie looked at the yellow mane with astonishment. It was exactly as it was before, no sign of any hair having been cut off. A rather big lump had come off too, lying just beside the two, so the area from which it was cut should have been very noticeable. Yet there was no change whatsoever. Even though this was regarding Surprise, this still seemed too strange for Pinkie Pie to grasp immediately.

“How did you do that?” she asked curiously, pointing a hoof at the mane.

“I have no idea,” was Surprise’s answer as she stroked her mane from front to back. “It just does that. But what’s really weird is that your mane is exactly the same.”

This made Pinkie rather curious. She looked up from the top corners of their sockets and was just able to see the tip of her new hairdo. Clamping her hooves around the tip, she stretched it out as far as she could, and wordlessly asked the white mare to do the same with her mane. Surprise quickly got the hint, and in the blink of an eye she cut off a large lump of pink, giving it to Pinkie for her to inspect. It was definitely cut off. Moving her eyes back to the top of her head, she took another look at the tip of her mane. It was still there. Her mane had been cut off, yet it had not been cut off after all.

“How did I do that?” she reverted the question from Surprise to herself, completely stunned by the unnatural ability of her own mane.

“I have no idea,” Surprise answered again, carefree and clueless as always. “But isn’t it neat? We’re like sisters now.”

Pinkie Pie found herself rather confused with the moment. With a hoof she bopped the tip of her illogical mane back and forth. There was no questioning that it had acted just as regular hair did when her mother set it for her. She was even able to keep it straight while preparing for the party. Now, though it felt like regular hair, it was somehow unbendable, and for some reason she imagined the effects of a balloon being integrated in it.

“I just don’t get it,” she said with a sort of fascination in her voice. Her smile revealed that although she was more puzzled than ever, a sheer happiness filled her mind as she thought of how much like Surprise’s mane it was.

“Well, thinking about it will only give you a headache,” Surprise sniggered from the side. She leaned forward, bringing her eyes on level with Pinkie. “What I wanna know is why you suddenly changed your mane like that.”

The filly dropped every thought she had of her irregular mane, instead focusing with a sunny grin on the thing she finally had a chance to tell. Her body unwillingly began bouncing on the belly of the white mare, but she did not care to stop it. She simply let her voice ring high and happy as she bounced up and down, making a springy noise on the hard floor, “I got my cutie mark!”

“No way!” shouted Surprise, even more excited than the filly that earned it. She swiftly flew over to Pinkie’s side, her head nodding in tact with the bouncing as she studied the cutie mark with stars in her eyes. “Oh my Gosh, this is so awesome!”

“Isn’t it!?” Pinkie stopped her bouncing and leaned back on her hind legs, trying to reach the white mare that hovered above her. “I got it just this morning! I was throwing a party for my family when all of a sudden this tickly-wickly feeling started on my flank, but I didn’t know what it was until I was done dancing and-,”

She was interrupted when Surprise picked her off the ground. Holding her up in stretched hooves, the white mare looked straight into Pinkie’s eyes with pride streaming from her own purple wrapped pupils. Her voice hit an even higher note than usual. “We gotta show this to Cuppy! I bet she’ll be thrilled.”

“But I haven’t finished my story,” Pinkie said as she was shifted to the white mare’s chest.

“Oh, don’t worry, no way I’m gonna miss that,” Surprise replied as she darted over the counter and into the kitchen of Sugarcube Corner. “But such a story calls for lots and lots of snacks, don’t you think?”

This was a sort of logic Pinkie Pie could hardly argue against. Putting on a big smile, she nodded her head and said, “Sounds yummy.”

They blasted into the kitchen, and the sweet smell of cinnamon hit them hard when combined with the pressure of Surprise’s speed. Cup Cake was just about to pull out a batch of muffins from the oven, but the loud demeanor of Surprise’s and Pinkie Pie’s entrance made her lose her grip on her baked goods. With a loud gasp, her mouth opened and the muffins dropped to the floor, and the treats were launched in all directions from the impact on the tray when it hit the ground. It was pure luck that kept all of them from breaking into several parts. This luck, however, did not hold back the stern look in the light cerulean mare’s eyes that awoke when she got over the initial shock.

“Guess what, Cuppy,” Surprise said from the air with the filly hanging like a piñata under her foreleg. Though the baker’s eyes looked ready for the kill at that moment, Surprise did not falter from her regular irregular cheerfulness, and she kept talking as if she was completely oblivious regarding consequences of her surprising nature, “Pinkie Pie got her cutie mark!”

Suddenly, the two ponies were in the clear. This piece of information immediately removed Cup’s frown, switching it with an overly excited glow from her smile. Her rosy eyes shifted from pegasus to earth filly. With her hooves she pushed her own cheeks together and upwards, forcibly narrowing her eyes and forwarding her lips in a silly grimace with pure excitement. Meanwhile, Pinkie waved her hoof happily from the white pegasus’ side. It was impossible for her to compete with the excitement of these two mares of the bakery.

“Oh, Goodness,” Cup Cake exclaimed excitedly. “Congratulations Pinkie! That’s fantastic news.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Surprise answered in Pinkie’s place as she put the filly down. She rotated through the air and over to her light cerulean friend. “That’s totally what I thought when she told me! I was like ‘no way’ and then I was like ‘oh my Gosh, this is so awesome’ and I just thought we had to come tell you!”

Cup Cake ignored the crazy behavior of her white friend for the moment, instead focusing on her own excitement for the young filly. “I am so happy for you, dear. Now, how about I put out some cookies and you’ll tell us all about what happened.”

“Totally what I had in mind!” Surprise said, looking swiftly from one pony to the other, though the baker was still ignoring her as she trotted to one of the kitchen’s cupboards.

Pinkie sat laughing at the table. She had no idea how she would join the festivities of these two overly excited ponies. They were doing all the hard work of happiness for her. Therefore, she decided to watch for the moment, enjoying the show of the hyper-active white lightning and her motherly twisty-topped friend. She rocked the chair for a moment as she got comfortable on it, and smiled happily at the two of them, though they hardly noticed her, even if all the fuzz was about her.

A bowl of cookies were placed in the middle of the table with a bang so hard the cookies flew into the air and landed back in the bowl. Surprise circled the table a few times, seemingly for no reason, before gracefully landing flank first in the seat of the chair at Pinkie’s right. Cup Cake had on the other hoof calmed down a bit at this moment, though she still carried a toothy smirk of excitement as she sat down on the opposite side of Pinkie, elbows on the table and folding her hooves like a bridge she could rest her chin on.

“Now, tell us, Pinkie,” Cup Cake commanded sweetly.

“Yeah, don’t miss out anything,” Surprise cheerfully elaborated, quickly adding her needless, yet hilarious, quick speech. “Although, don’t tell us something that has nothing to do with it, unless you want to of course, and don’t tell us something you don’t want to, even if it has something to do with it, but tell us as much as you want as possible. Anyways, begin at the beginning and when you reach the end: Stop.”

Pinkie took a moment to laugh heartily at the white mare’s antics. She then took another to clear her throat. A third moment went with her eyeing the cookies before her, but she did not take one before a light cerulean hoof pushed it closer to her. Looking up, the pink filly saw a friendly smile on the baker’s face, and without hesitation she grabbed one of the chocolate chipped treats and stuffed it greedily in her mouth. With the mouth still half full she began her story, spitting out cookie crumbs at the start of it, “Well, I was working in the fields just like always, when…”

Pinkie was getting more and more visual by the minute, powered by her own enjoyment with telling her story. She waved her hooves frantically around, bounced back and forth on the wobbly chair with only a miracle keeping it from ever tipping over. Occasionally she jumped onto the floor, recreating the exact movements she did at that particularly point in the story. Surprise and Cup were eager listeners. While Cup Cake sniggered at the filly’s silliness every now and then, Surprise could hardly maintain her grip on the chair she sat on. She had to pin herself down with her hooves so as not to suddenly join the filly in the merriness.

When she neared the end of the story, Pinkie jumped back on her chair. She slowed down the tempo, feeling more and more emotional as she told the part about her mother. Visualizing that scene, the pink filly thought about how much she had missed from her family that she suddenly found because of a party. Her life had completely changed, and for the better at that. When she concluded, she looked up at the two ponies at the table, though her gaze mostly wandered to the area of the white mare. The every reason she was as she had become.

“Dear me,” Cup Cake said with a gentle tone, yet she seemed slightly concerned with her hoof at her mouth. “I never realized you had such problems with your parents. I just thought you were being a little rebellious.”

“She told me the day before yesterday and I told Firefly when she asked about her, but I never thought of telling you. Should I have done that? Sorry I didn’t do that, Cuppy.” Surprise answered nonchalantly as soon as Pinkie opened her mouth, and the filly giggled at it.

The baker did not seem as pleased with the interruption as the filly though, shooting her white friend a killer’s gaze. Surprise noticed, and she squeaked from an awkward grin in response. Making the motion of a zipper at her mouth, the pegasus told the baker that she could go on, and Cup did just so, “But I’m glad it all worked out for you in the end.”

“Thanks a bunch, Miss Cake,” replied Pinkie merrily. She reached out for the bowl before her only to realize that there were no cookies left.

“But that weird rainbow explosion was certainly something, wasn’t it?” continued Cup Cake. “They say it was visible from all across Equestria.” She stopped and took a good look at Pinkie’s mane, the sight of which gave her a silly smirk. “And to think it was violent enough to change your mane like that. Though I must say, it really suits you, dear.”

“Thanks again,” Pinkie said, beaming with pride over her new hairdo.

Surprise jumped off her chair, rocking the table and everything on it when she flew into the air. She splendidly slithered around like a serpent of the ether, and flew back down to the filly, taking another look at the cutie mark. “And I can’t believe how amazing your cutie mark is.” She put a hoof to her chin and looked to the ceiling. “But I can’t shake off that feeling that I’ve seen it before.”

“Well, duh,” Pinkie Pie said with an amused expression, stretching the sarcastic tone. “That’s because it’s like yours.”

The white mare raised her hind leg and looked over her shoulder as much as possible. A light came over her, and she rolled her eyes while giggling at her own silliness. “Oh yeah, so it is.”

“I can’t believe you don’t even remember your own cutie mark,” Pinkie teased through a burst of laughter.

“Hey, don’t blame me,” Surprise joined in on the laughing. “I’m probably the one who gets to see it the least. It’s on my butt after all, and I don’t have eyes there.” She gasped loudly and jumped into the air. “But wouldn’t it be amazing if I had? Then I could see everything behind me, although I probably wouldn’t want a nose back there.”

“I think we’re getting off topic,” Cup Cake said from across the table. She was doing her best to keep from bursting into laughter, her grin trembling at her cheeks. She got off her flank, picked up the empty bowl of cookies with her teeth and spat a bit as she spoke with her mouth full, “Anyways, I really should get back to the shop. Who knows what’s been going on in there while we were talking? I’ll leave you two alone.”

“Would you like any help, Miss Cake?” Pinkie asked politely, her hooves clamped together at the table and a halo appearing above her head.

But the baker refused. “No, dearie, it’s fine, but thank you for asking. Just promise me you won’t wreak too much havoc, ok?”

“We will” Surprise replied with a comical salute. When Cup left the room, the white pegasus turned around and smiled at the filly at the table. “So what’d you wanna do?”

Pinkie was glad that Cup Cake had turned down her offer, and even though she liked the light cerulean pony a lot, she was glad she left. This way she was able to be alone with Surprise. This way she could focus all of her attention to the pony she admired. She stared silently for a while at the white mare before her, long enough for Surprise to get a little confused. She even looked behind her back to see what it was the filly’s eyes had locked upon.

When an awkward amount of time had passed, Surprise let a single syllable of a laugh out, and her smile turned towards one side of her face, forcing one of her eyes to narrow as she said, “What’s up, Pinkie?”

Pinkie did not falter from her stargazing. But she did realize that she had been silent for longer than she had meant to. It was not as if she was silent just to be silent though. She was just building up her voice to let her words out probably. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Surprise asked puzzledly. “Did I do something good?”

Seconds did not pass before the white pegasus was tackled out of the air by a filly-sized pink blur. The small pink hooves locked tightly around the white waist, crossing each other on the back. She pushed her head deep into the white coat, smiling as wide as she had learned these past few days. They hammered onto the floor with quite a bit of force, but no sound of pain was uttered from either of them, though the hug had definitely surprised Surprise a little more than she was used to. Yet Pinkie did not ease her grip. She happily tightened with all her strength, hanging on as if her life depended on it.

“For everything,” Pinkie said lowly from the belly she clutched to. “It’s all thanks to you.”

“What that you got your cutie mark?” asked a confused mare.

Pinkie retracted from the comfort of Surprise’s belly, positioning herself on her flank between two white legs. She looked up with sparkly eyes and an admiring smile, her gaze catching the ponderous signals of the white mare’s blinking eyelids. “No, everything,” she continued with a sweet note, trembling with sheer bliss. “I was so alone before. I never even knew how lucky I was to have my family. All I could see was those hoof-darn clouds, and they made my family seem much grayer than they actually were. But because of you, I could throw a huge party for them and find out how much I love them.”

“But I thought that rainbow explosion made you throw that party,” Surprise said from a smiling face, though she had one puzzled eyebrow raised still.

“That was just a trigger,” Pinkie replied, shaking her head. “If you hadn’t told me those things in the sky, I wouldn’t even have thought about how I could make everypony else smile. I probably wouldn’t even have smiled myself.”

“I think you’re exaggerating a bit there, Pinkie,” Surprise laughed. Pinkie took a careful step forwards to convince the white mare otherwise, but as soon as she stretched her head and opened her mouth to speak, a white hoof lightly touched her forehead. It stroked along her mane, pushing the curly pink hair along before it stopped at the back of her head. Surprise’s smile had a sudden calm aura surrounding it. She seemed genuinely pleased as she looked the filly deep in the eyes and said, “But thanks.”

Pinkie returned the smile immediately. Stepping back, she let her emotional tension escape with a quick breath. Surprise was able to get up now, and she cast a long shadow over the pink filly as she slowly did so. When on all four hooves, Pinkie looked up at her once more, noticing how her white coat seemed to shine with the light from the sun in the window. A thought ran through her pink head, and she vaguely put her curiosity into words, tilting her head as she did, “I just don’t understand how you knew?”

Surprise gave her another curious look. “What you mean?”

“Well,” Pinkie began, wetting her lips in thought before going on. “It’s like you’ve known exactly what to do ever since you met me. You knew how to make me smile, you knew what I was thinking, you even knew how to make my family smile even though you’ve never met them. How’d you do that?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” Surprise said carefree and happy. She dropped her flank to the floor, getting comfortable with a loud ‘thump’ on the hard wood. “I told you that there’s nowhere the sun can’t shine, right? Well, even though that may seem obvious to some ponies, you really have to have lived in the shadows before you can realize that.”

This answer was hardly anything but confusing to Pinkie, so she pressed on with a puzzled, “Huh?”

“Remember that story I told you the other day that I’d tell you another day?” Surprise said with a glimmer in her eyes. “Well, this is another day isn’t it? And wouldn’t it be great with two cutie mark stories in one day, huh?”

Pinkie shone with excitement. Without a word or a moment of hesitation, she rushed for a pillow on the chair. The afterimage she left behind was still visible when she came back. She planted her flank and got comfortable, straightened her back and locked her face in an overly excited grin. Somehow, she had even acquired a bag of popcorn between her hooves, though she was far too busy being excited to give this any further thought.

“I think I was a little older than you, Pinkie,” Surprise started, looking to the ceiling as she searched her mind for the memories of her foalhood. “My dad was a thunder researcher in Cloudsdale. In fact, he was probably the most thunderrific thunder researcher ever. But because of his work, we were forced to live outside the city. Our house was made of the same kind of clouds that hang above your home, and just like with you, we had to keep them around all the time. Well, I said I didn’t live in the sun, but I did. What I meant was that I never really got to smile.” Her face had gotten somewhat serious now, though her smile was still present. “I didn’t have any friends. Everypony was afraid of my home because of all the thunder and lightning that my dad studied there, so they would never visit me. Some of them even bullied me for living there. It was horrible. I was so lonely. I had my dad, but we didn’t really get along that well.”

“Why not?” Pinkie asked, too absorbed in the story to notice how she was interrupting.

“Because,” Surprise went on with a low voice. “I’m kind of ashamed of it, but I was afraid of him as well. He never smiled, he was always buried in his research and he always had this stern look in his eyes, like he was made of stone or something. But then one day when I was out flying, something happened. My dad set off one of the nearby thunderclouds, but he accidentally gave it too much of a push and made it shoot out a little lightning. It almost hit me, and it was the biggest shock I ever had. But you know what I did?”

Pinkie shook her head. “What’d you do?”

“I laughed,” she laughed. “Isn’t it strange? I was laughing even though it scared me like that. The way it surprised me somehow made my heart race super-fast. I even wondered if it was able to do the same with my dad. So what I did was: I took one of the clouds, waited ‘til it got dark, and when my dad went to bed I snuck it in and gave it one big buck above him to make it crack. It was so funny! He literally fell out of his bed, and I couldn’t stop laughing about how funny it looked. But what was really great was that he actually started laughing with me. He was actually laughing at the prank I pulled on him. It was the first time I had ever seen my dad laugh, and it was the first time we had ever had so much fun together. That’s when I got my cutie mark. I found out my special talent was to surprise ponies and make them laugh. And I also learned something really important that day.”

“What was that?” Pinkie asked, hooves crossed and leaning forward with a dumbfounded expression.

Surprise widened her smile and leaned down. She was only inches away from Pinkie. Their eyes were on level, and close enough for them to be able to see their own reflection in the deep blackness of each other’s pupils. The voice she spoke with was firm and gentle, determined to get the message across to the pink filly before her, “I learned that everypony, no matter how dull and grim they may seem, likes to laugh. And that’s where ponies like us come in.”

Pinkie retracted her head a little, raising a brow in confusion. “Like us?”

“If you’re used to laughing you kind of take it for granted, don’t you think?” Surprise asked with a wink. She stood back up and looked out the window, the light of the sun reflected in the fur on her face. But even though she should be blinded by such light, the white mare did not look away, her gaze wandering the distance of the horizon. “Ponies like us know what it’s like not to live in the sun. We know how lonely it can be, so when we finally laugh, we laugh harder than anypony else. And more than that: We want everypony to laugh with us. Every time we see somepony frown we’re reminded of the loneliness, and we want to make them smile and feel the same happiness we felt the first time around.”

Pinkie Pie was left speechless on the floor. Everything about Surprise’s personality suddenly made sense to her. It made sense why she was always so hyper and happy, how she always knew what was on Pinkie’s mind and why she had taken such interest in her. They were practically the same. But the difference was that Surprise had fully matured. Though she cast aside all laws of physics, she kept focus on what she felt was truly important. She had a mission in life, a purpose defined by her own desire and former pain. With wide eyes, Pinkie sat watching in silent lucidity. There was no doubt in the filly’s mind: This pony was her idol. What she wanted to become.

“Well, that was boring,” Surprise said all of a sudden, changing the atmosphere completely. Her face lit up using the energy that had been bottled up during the short time her story took to tell. She bounced over to Pinkie’s side, lifted a hoof as if to signal that she wanted to race the filly to nowhere in particular. “I hate getting so serious. It’s not at all what I’m about.”

“You’re not very good at staying serious either,” Pinkie laughed as she positioned herself in response to the white mare’s body signal.

“I don’t practice it a lot,” Surprise replied with a snigger. “Let’s go play somewhere, huh?”

Pinkie did not care that Surprise threw away the serious moment like that at all. It was the lenient nature of the pegasus that was the most attractive thing about her, and having fun and laughing was what her words were all about anyways. The filly beamed with excitement, balking happily with a mix of a neigh and a giggle emitting from her. “Yay,” she eagerly replied to her idol. When her front hooves landed on the floor, she gasped out an idea she just had for their playtime. “Oh! Oh! Can I see you do some more tricks?”

“Tricks?” replied Surprise, retracting her neck and raising an eyebrow. “Well, sure, I guess. But I’ve already shown you some of my best moves. If it’s tricks you want, you should see Firefly. She’s amazing when it comes to tricks.”

“But I wanna see you,” Pinkie said. She put on her best pout and puppy eyes in an attempt to make her fillyish charm do the convincing. “Can’t you do something?”

Surprise scratched her neck for a second, looking at the filly with disbelief. But it did not take long before the puppy eyes had their effect, and Surprise changed her expression to one of ponder. She looked up through the top corners of her eyes, forwarding her lower lip while rubbing her chin with a hoof. After a while she put the smile back on, and Pinkie leaned forward in anticipation with the results. “Well, I guess I could show you how to make lightning.”

“Lightning?” Pinkie gasped, rather surprised by this turn of event.

Surprise nodded. “Yeah, I told you, didn’t I?” She forwarded her chest, taking a proud stance. “I’m one of the best thunder pegasi. I did learn something from my dad, after all.”

This was all the convincement Pinkie needed. Her bounce of excitement began, making little squeaks with every hop. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I wanna see that!”

“Well, in that case,” Surprise said. She flew to the kitchen’s backdoor and beckoned the filly. “Come on. Let’s go make some thunder.”

Rushing out the backdoor, Surprise left only a blur of her shape and a trail of white smoke behind her. Pinkie immediately followed her, coughing a little from inhaling a bit of the smoke as she trotted along. When she came out the door, what she saw was less than impressive. There were a few trees, a couple of benches and a gravel path with a swing. Compared to the rest of Sugarcube Corner, this place seemed rather dull.

Pinkie took a look around, but Surprise was nowhere to be found. She narrowed her eyes, searching the bushes and shadows, but nothing reflected the light of the sun in a way that Surprise’s coat would. It was only after a few seconds that Pinkie realized that it was silly to look for the white mare at ground level. She would be in the sky if she wanted to make lightning. Looking up, Pinkie immediately caught sight of her white idol, who levitated just beside a little white cloud, almost camouflaged because of their matching colors. She was analyzing the white fluff, tilting her head from side to side as she looked over every inch of it.

“You wanna make lightning with that?” Pinkie asked from below. She was a little confused as to why Surprise would even consider that cloud. Thunderclouds were supposed to be dark and gray, yet this one was a cloud of blue skies and summer days.

But Surprise simply replied with a nod and a smirk. She stuck the tongue out the side of her mouth, putting on a focused expression as she stretched one hoof backwards. It looked like she wanted to punch the cloud. Closing one eye, she took aim, found the right spot, and punched the little cloud mercilessly. While Pinkie stared from beneath in confusion, the white pegasus stirred her hoof around inside it, seeming completely focused on the task before her. After a while she pulled out, flew a few feet back and crossed her hooves, looking satisfied with whatever she had done.

“What’d you do?” Pinkie asked, raising an eyebrow in disbelief.

But Surprise simply waved a hoof at her. “Just wait.”

That she did. The filly sat down and waited. She never took her eyes off the cloud, not even for a second. With curiosity and wonder she waited for something to happen, but she was unsure what exactly to wait for. Then something changed in the white fluff on the sky: A loud noise of thunder made it vibrate. It began twisting and churning in the air, reshaping itself in its place. With a dropped jaw, Pinkie watched unblinkingly as the cloud slowly changed its color into a more dull and gray one. When it finally stopped moving, it had become completely dark, finally resembling a cloud of thunder.

“Yes,” Surprise said, making a motion of success with her hoof. She flew over to it and landed with all four legs on top of it. She looked down on the filly with a proud smile and a sense of accomplishment in her eyes. “So, what’d you think?”

Pinkie was left stunned below. Her pupils were vibrating in astonishment, and she had to fight to keep her tongue inside her wide open mouth. After a while, she finally snapped back to reality and asked, “How did you do that?”

“I told you I was a good thunder pegasus, didn’t I?” Surprise began with a giggle. “Well, it wasn’t easy. All clouds are pretty much the same, but if you put pressure on them in the right places they start to do this funny wibble-wobble thing and change into a different type of cloud. It’s normally something we do with machines, but if you’re good at it you can actually change them yourself. Neat, huh?”

Pinkie was even more stunned now than she was before. She got the entire explanation and pretty much the basics of what Surprise had done to the cloud. What was really weird was that Surprise actually explained what she did. No shrugging off the unnatural. No denying the facts of pegasi magic. Her lack of explaining apparently only reached as far as her own supernatural abilities. “Yeah, it’s amazing,” Pinkie said lowly, nodding as she did. She got up on her hooves and took a few steps forward while her smile widened, bringing herself back to the situation at hoof. “So, can you make lightning with that?”

“That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?” replied Surprise, “Just step back and watch the goodies.”

Pinkie did as told and took a few steps back. They were talking lightning here, so being careful was probably the best idea. As soon as she was within a safe distance, Surprise waved at her to signal that she could take place. The white mare looked around, checking for other ponies and things she could damage before she set off into the air with a wing-paddled jump. She then crashed down onto the cloud, making the loudest thunder noise Pinkie had ever heard, followed by a long streak of flashy static electricity. The flash lit up the underside of the pegasus, giving her an almost god-like appearance. This was what it meant to be a thunder pegasus.

She continued to bounce for a minute or two, creating noise and lightshows with every hop. Pinkie sat with the widest of smiles below, leaning forward so as to properly enjoy what she saw. It was awe-inspiring and amazing. These wild forces of nature that had been tamed by a single pony, flashing before the filly like the lights at Surprise’s party. That was what it reminded Pinkie of: In both noise and light and the dancing on the cloud it was a party.

Surprise finally dropped from the cloud and landed just before Pinkie, whose eyes were still reflecting the blinding flashes she had been presented to. She struck a finishing pose, crossing both fore- and hind legs as she asked the filly, “So, what do you think?”

“That was amazing!” Pinkie loudly exclaimed, even though she did her best to keep her voice down. Her eyes moved back and forth between the cloud in the sky and the white mare before her. Her admiration level had just gone up a notch. She got up on her hooves and began skipping around the pegasus, recreating the flashes and explosions with her excited recap of Surprise’s show. “It was like: ‘Boom! Bang! Ka-pow!’ I’ve never seen anything like it!”

“Wow,” Surprise laughed. “Somepony likes thundershows, huh?”

“Are you kidding? I loved it!” Pinkie replied reaching her hooves to the sky as far as possible. She even managed to stand on a single leg, though she quickly lost her balance and tripped over. Landing on her back, she heard Surprise laugh even harder. She stayed that way on the ground for a moment, smiling admiringly at the cloud above her. That dark, noisy cloud that made the rainbow explosion seem almost silent. That dangerous cloud that hang freely in the sky. Her smile steadied upon her face with every breath she took as she thought of the nature of the cloud. In the end, she calmed down and sat up, asking Surprise, “But isn’t it dangerous?”

“What, making thunder?” Surprise asked, pointing at the dark fluff in the sky.

“Yeah,” Pinkie said, “I mean, it’s gotta be dangerous working with lightning, right?”

“Well, yeah, I guess it’s kinda dangerous,” Surprise said as if she had never thought about that possibility. She was scratching her mane for a moment before looking back at Pinkie with a confident wink. “But really, you just gotta be careful. If you worry about the danger too much, you’ll miss out on the fun. It’s scary, but I’ve learned to laugh at scary things.”

Pinkie smiled toothily and nodded. “My granny used to say that to me when I was little and she was alive: ‘Giggle at the ghosties’, she said.”

“You must’ve had a super granny, then,” said Surprise as she flew over to Pinkie. The filly could feel the flap of her wings when she landed before her, and she smiled to see the warm look she got from the pony, whose mane looked like a halo in the sun. “So, what you wanna do next?”

Pinkie blinked blankly a few times. “I don’t know. Is there something else you can show me?”

“Well, I could show you things,” Surprise answered. “But isn’t it boring to just watch me all the time? Isn’t there something you wanna play or something?”

The white mare let her body fall on the ground swiftly enough to make a muffled sound as her tummy came in contact with the earth. She stared with anticipation at the pink filly, her eyes not moving any more than the occasional dryness-preventing blinking. But Pinkie was unsure how to respond. Though she searched her mind, she really could not find anything that she wanted to do. It struck her that she in fact did not know much of what there was to be done. Every game she had played on the farm in the past had been pretty much solo. She had no idea how to play. In the end, all she could do was shrug her shoulders and shake her head in response.

“Ok, then I’ll decide,” Surprise said. She looked up in thought, rolling her tongue in an open mouth. This seemed unnecessary to the thought process, but had a fun effect, which properly was her intention all along. Still, she did not have to think for long before the candle of clarity appeared above her head. “How about we play hopscotch?”

“Hopscotch?” Pinkie asked, tilting her head to the side.

The pegasus jumped to the air with a surprised gasp. “You’ve never played hopscotch!?”

The filly did not answer with words, but instead a quick shake of the head, and a smile that knew where this conversation was going.

“Well, we gotta fix that,” Surprise declared with an almost devious grin. “What else don’t you know? Pin the tail on the pony? Hide n’ seek? Catch? Bungee Jumping?”

“Bungee jumping?” Pinkie asked, finding the sound of that activity particularly fun and intriguing.

But Surprise laughed and smacked her own forehead with a hoof. “Maybe you’re a little young for that one yet.”

With that said, she grabbed the filly by the hoof, and with one strong pull dragged her along into the air. They blasted off, away from Sugarcube Corner and towards what to Pinkie was unknown. But she did not care. She let herself pull through the lung-filling blue and to wherever Surprise was taking her. Knowing the white mare, it had to be good.

“Let’s start with ‘hide n’ seek’,” the pegasus shouted to the filly in her hoof. “But I gotta tell you one thing, filly.”

Pinkie looked curiously at the pegasus’ face, though she could only see the side with her cheek. The way her mouth corner was present on it, however, made it obvious that she was grinning from ear to ear.

“I got a lot of things to teach you.” She moved her smiling face to the side, showing Pinkie one eye and half of her toothy grin. “So you’d better come around as often as possible so we can play, ok?”

Pinkie could not help but feel her stomach tickle from these words. Beaming with utter happiness, she nodded a single time and exclaimed in contest with the pressure of the air: “I will!”

The Twitch

View Online

She would get up every morning to a world of dark clouds with a sunny smile. She would dance with her sisters, help out her father, and talk with her mother. She loved every day she woke up to, because her life had changed in just that direction. It was still the same old farm, and the same old family, but it shone in a different light, cast by the brilliant grin of a snow white pegasus.

Every chance she had she would run off to play with Surprise. She would finish her work in the fields and hug her family goodbye for the time the breaks took, after which she would gallop at top speed to Sugarcube Corner where she was met by Surprise and Cup Cake, sometimes even Firefly, and they would welcome her with sheer pleasure. The breaks would then be spent by Pinkie and Surprise alone. Surprise would teach her everything she knew, of dancing and laughing and singing and playing. Every single game the white pegasus had ever learned or created herself was hammered into the pink filly’s head, and she loved every bit of it.

But of course there were times where they could not be together. Sometimes Surprise was busy, sometimes it was Pinkie. Pinkie would sometimes have to work extra hard in the fields, moving the rocks about should unexpected changes in the air happen. Surprise was on the other hoof busy with her work. She was a thunder pegasus after all, and she would have to meet up with the other pegasi to prepare for the season’s storm. This storm was always a major event for Equestria. It would cover up everything, villages, forests, and even the rock farms, leaving both her and Pinkie to be too busy to meet up during that particular event.

They had just finished digging the rocks deep enough into the ground for them not to get blown away with the strong winds. Little cloth tents covered each and every top of stone, protecting the precious gems from the harvest ruining rainwater, and the tents themselves were nailed to the dry ground, so only a tornado of unfathomable power would be able to move them even an inch. Everything was ready for the oncoming storm, and the Pies could relax safe and sound in the comfort of their house.

Her father was the last to enter the house, momentarily increasing the volume of the gusts as he opened and closed the door. He had just finished planting the magical lightning rod on the roof, making sure to protect the family from more than simple rain. He did a quick and exaggerated shiver, showing the rest of the family just how chilly it was outside, and bopped his hat off his head, hanging it on the coatrack. Now he too was ready to join in on the homely coziness.

They had the fireplace lit and a few lanterns as well. The normal darkness of Pie Fields was even more overwhelming now than usually, due to the fact that the thunderclouds would rule for the entire night, and endless amounts of rain would blur the view of the fields when the storm would cross their little house. Inkamina and Blinkamina was playing with the dices of their already unpacked board game, trying their best to find a way to cheat with them in preparation for family time. Meanwhile, Pinkie held her mother’s yarn straight between her hooves so it would not slip as she knitted her a deep red sweater for the winter. The wind rattled a bit on the windows and the dim sound of thunder in the distance told of the hard work of Surprise and the other thunder pegasi. Smiles were present on everypony in the house, and their breathing was steady and safe. No worries in the Pie residence.

“So, is everypony ready for game night?” Clyde enthusiastically asked the living room as he entered.

“Yay!” said Blinkamina with her hooves in the air.

“Yippy!” said Inkamina while doing the same.

Pinkie Pie and her mother shared a laugh over the cuteness of the younger ponies. The gray mare then nodded to the pink filly, signaling that she could let go of the yarn for now. Pinkie did so carefully, not wanting to somehow mess up their work so far. But she did not hesitate with jumping up on the sofa as soon as she had put it down, continuing over the back of it and storming into the kitchen, almost tripping over her father as she passed him. He only chuckled heartily at his daughter’s energy though.

“Anypony else want something from the kitchen?” Pinkie politely asked the rest of her family. She was already digging her snout through the cabinet, looking eagerly for the bag of candy that she got from Cup Cake a few days before.

“I’m good here,” Sue Pie replied from where she sat. “But make sure to bring some for your sisters too, ok?”

“Okie dokie lokie!” Pinkie heartily answered, and she giggled when she heard the loud cheers of her innocent siblings. When she finally found the bag, she pulled it out with her teeth and emptied its contents into a bowl on the kitchen table. It filled to the brim, but she had no trouble throwing it into the air, catching it on her back without dropping a single piece of sugar. Yet another trait she had acquired from her white mentor.

When she came back into the living room, everypony sat ready, smiling as they looked at her with anticipation. Blinkamina even went as far as to drool at the mere sight of the sugar in the bowl. A loud crack sounded from the outside, making the same drooling pony do a little jump in surprise, and Pinkie could not help but think that was something the white mare had done on purpose, even though she was nowhere near the farm. It did mean that the storm had gotten closer though.

“All right, who’s first?” she said with a smile as she placed her flank on the pillow between her sisters.

“Can I go first?” Blinkamina asked with pleading eyes directed at Sue.

The gray mare easily succumbed to the irresistible gaze. She tilted her head to the side with a warm smile. “Of course you can, sweetheart, since you asked so nicely.”

On Pinkie’s other side sat Inkamina, and she was fondling the ivory cubes. She had probably not heard anything that had been said, but she did notice that Sue was sweetly signaling for her to give up her playthings. Luckily, she did not seem to mind, and reached towards her sister on the other side of Pinkie as far as she could. This was not far enough, however, so Pinkie had to help her on the way. With a swift movement, she gave her dice-holding sister a tap under the stretched hoof, launching the spotted ivory into the air where she caught them with the other and presented it to her other sister with a smile. It seemed to have amazed them, as they both sat with sparkling eyes and mouth-open smiles when Blinkamina accepted the offering.

Though the game itself was quiet, the storm outside providing the background noise, everypony was satisfied playing it. The occasional joke and question broke the still silence, but other than that they just enjoyed the simple company of each other. But all of a sudden, just as the dices reached Clyde and he was about to throw them, something happened to Pinkie. A strange sensation in her lower region, her tail began vibrating rapidly. It was forceful enough for her whole body to shake along and her family looked at her with puzzled expressions. She had no idea herself what was going on, so her own face showed just as much confusion as she watched her flank from over her shoulder. The thunder and flashes outside their window broke the stillness of the dark and the silence of the rain every now and then, yet for some reason Pinkie found that the ones that occurred while her tail was shivering had an eerie feel to them. It was a strange, unnatural sensation.

It stopped in the blink of an eye. Just as random as it had appeared, as random it went away. She looked at it for a few seconds, expecting for it to somehow restart, though it never did. Instead, she simply looked back up at her family and shrugged her shoulders.

“What was that?” her father asked, scratching his cheek.

But Pinkie could only explain with another shrug and a curious tone of voice. “I don’t know. I’ve never felt like that before.”

“Well, your mane and tail are a little unusual these days,” Sue Pie explained with a snigger. “Perhaps they get the same kind of shivers the rest of your body does. I know the thought of this rain alone is enough to make me shiver at least.”

Pinkie giggled as well, and her sisters joined in only because she was giggling. “I guess you’re right. Let’s get on with the game, shall we?”

Clyde Pie gave his pink daughter a quick smile before turning his attention back to the board game. He put on a very serious face, as if his luck would become better if he concentrated really hard. The rest of the family sat patiently waiting for him to throw the cubes, smiling as they watched his hooves move the cups they were held in. They rolled over the table, sporting two eyes that looked at the stallion as if he was a loser, and he burst out laughing at the sight.

“Well, luck just isn’t with me tonight,” he said through the deep sounds of joy.

They continued the rest of the game. They continued to enjoy the night. They continued to laugh all the way until bedtime, not caring a bit about the minor things, just like how Surprise would have done it.

When the sky had once again cleared, the sun had risen, and her break from rock farming had arrived, it was time to trot back to Ponyville to meet that certain pony. Pinkie skipped happily over the dirt of the wasteland, making splashy noises with every hop as the storm had turned the dry dust into wet mud. She waved her parents goodbye and they waved to her in turn before they all walked into the house for a nice family lunch.

Ponyville looked pretty much the same as always. Though there were a few lose branches lying spread on the street, and puddles of mud and water alike randomly spread out along the road, everything seemed to be in order after the storm. Most ponies carried out their daily duties as they always did, whistling and chatting with their neighbors on this nice summer day. But every once in a while, the pink filly took notice of some less than happy faces, and some of the voices she overheard had a disturbed tone to them. It made her wonder a bit, but she mostly cast it aside as soon as she skipped by them. Some ponies are more sensitive to stormy weather than others, after all.

She reached Sugarcube Corner, the tasty bakery that still stood tall. The tiles were shining from the late night wash, and the wooden parts of it had turned a little darker from the wetness, but otherwise it was the same. Yet Pinkie could not help but hesitate a little at the doorstep. One thing was off about what she saw on the door: The sign said ‘closed’. She knew that a bakery had to close every now and then, but that it would be closed at this time of the day and at this time of the week was rather odd. She reached out her hoof, slowly turned the doorknob, and waited for the click of the door before she pushed it open. The bell rang her welcome, but the silence inside was much too irregular to believe.

But somepony was home. She could tell by a strange creaking sound coming from the kitchen. Silently tip-hoofing over to the doorway, she took a look inside to see what was going on. The creaking sound apparently came from one of the chairs, on which Firefly was sitting, gently rocking back and forth by pushing her hind leg against the table. On the opposite side of her sat Cup Cake, hooves in her lap, and she did not move a single muscle. They both bore grim expressions, their gazes looking past the table they were directed at, and the shade on the coat under their eyes dark, their eyes similarly shining wet.

Firefly was the first to notice the filly in the doorway. Though Pinkie tried to keep her presence silent, her breathing had become nervous and loud enough to be noticeable in this utter noise of the quiet. The pink pegasus brought a hoof before her mouth, straightening her posture on the chair as she quietly uttered to herself, “Oh no.”

This made Cup Cake raise her head to the doorway as well. The light cerulean mare shook her head slowly, and she narrowed her eyes in a way that made the tears that formed in their corners overflow and start running down her cheeks. “Oh, Pinkie, dear,” she said with a motherly whisper. “I’m so sorry.”

The pink filly instinctively took a few slow steps back. The way these two ponies acted made her fear the worst, but she still shook her head in denial. Her eyes were wide open and her lower lip was trembling, terror present in every inch of her face. “What’s going on?”

“I’m really, really sorry,” Cup Cake repeated. She got off the chair and took a few steps towards the pink filly that was still backing away. She reached out to her, but soon bit her bottom lip and retracted her hoof to her chest, her eyes now on the floor just beneath her.

“What’s going on?” Pinkie repeated her words as well, her voice trembling and higher than before.

“There’s been an accident,” Firefly said with a low voice from the table. Pinkie looked at her and saw a couple of serious eyes, narrowed in what seemed to be a sort of anger. “It’s Surprise.”

The pupils in Pinkie’s eyes retracted, and the wet tears that were forming made them glare with the light of the kitchen. She looked back at Cup Cake in some hope that she would see something different, but the light cerulean mare was sitting with the same pained expression as before. Both the filly’s and the baker’s bodies were shaking, but the only thing shaking on the pegasus’ body was her hooves, now in her lap.

“They told us this morning,” Firefly continued. “She was putting the finishing touch on some of the clouds, but she got careless with one of them. It backfired and sent a burst of electricity through her.” She took a moment to breathe, but seemed to find it hard to do so. Tears were forming in her sockets as well, and she gritted her teeth in obvious anger and a misplaced self-loathing. “She fell. They say that’s what killed her.”

“What do you mean, ‘killed her’?” Pinkie asked silently, and the two ponies looked at her. For a moment they all stared across the room, not saying anything to break this deadly silence. She asked again, but this time with much more force and volume, her body shaking as she shouted, “What do you mean, ‘killed her’!?”

Cup Cake finally broke into complete tears. She covered her face with her hooves, sobbing audibly and letting the drops darken the cerulean on her coat. Pinkie watched this while panting heavily. The oxygen in the air could not properly find its way into her lungs. She was choking on her own pain, but she was not yet crying. She was too far from believing what was going on to cry.

“I’m really sorry, Pinkie,” Firefly said, the only pony who kept up a semi-calm appearance. “I wish there was something I-.”

“This isn’t funny!” the pink filly cried out into the room, interrupting the, to her, useless things that Firefly was saying. Her throat hurt from the sheer force of her screaming, but that did not stop her from keeping it up. “This isn’t funny, Surprise! Just come out!”

“Pinkie-.” Firefly tried to intervene with a calming voice as she rose from the chair and slowly walked towards her.

But the filly continued, disregarding the pegasus, and she screamed her throat hoarse, “Come out, Surprise! I know you’re hiding somewhere! It’s not funny, so just come out!”


“Come out!!!”

“Pinkie!” the pegasus finally raised her voice, and she finally caught the screaming filly’s attention. Pinkie looked at her through tearful eyes, breathless and trembling all over. Firefly too was trembling. She stood in a defensive position, her teeth barred and her tears trailing down her cheeks. She was able to catch her breath after a moment, and wiped away the tears on one of those cheeks. “She’s not going to come out!” she said with a calmer voice, though still hard from the tension. “She’s gone. I’m really sorry to tell you, but she’s gone.”

“But…” Pinkie whimpered. “… Where is she?”

“She’s at-,” Firefly started, but she was interrupted by the tear choked voice of the light cerulean mare.

“You shouldn’t see her!” was what Cup Cake said with this voice. She had stopped her sobbing, but tears were still present in her eyes and her voice was still sad and low, almost a whisper. “You shouldn’t see her, Pinkie. It’s not good for you.”

“But I wanna see her!” Pinkie argued. “Why can’t I see her!?”

“Because you’re just a filly!” said the baker with a surprisingly stern voice. It was definitely painful for her to say this, but she maintained the sternness the whole time. “You’re too young, Pinkie. We’ve seen her already and... You really shouldn’t see her.”

“But I wanna see her!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. She stood panting with her tears flowing along her floor-directed snout from which they dropped to the floor, making little dark marks on the hardwood.

The silence filled the room, everypony avoiding eye contact with each other. The two adults were almost apologetic. They stood still as if somepony were scolding them, yet they kept up their maturity as if they were holding on to the secret they were being scolded for having. After a minute, it was Cup Cake who broke the silence with her own whisper, “I’m sorry.”

“Why…?” the pink filly said quietly to herself, but she looked up and repeated the word to the room. “Why?”

But all the light cerulean mare could do was to say the same thing again. “I’m sorry, Pinkie.”

“This can’t happen.” Pinkie was once again backing away. Her mane was beginning to change form on her head, but she was far too busy to notice. It lost its puffy feel, straightening out to the same hairdo that she had prior to holding the party for her parents.

The two ponies were watching with worried eyes with each step she took. They were sad too, but somehow that did not matter to Pinkie at this moment. She was the one who was hurting the most. She was the one who had lost everything with the death of the pony she admired the most. It hurt just to stay in the bakery, and after a while it became too much for her. She ran.

She could hear Firefly call out to her, telling her to wait, and she could hear Cup Cake tell the pegasus to let her go as she stormed out the door. She galloped through the village, the houses and ponies she passed nothing but a blur to her. With every step she took, she could feel the tears flowing with more and more intensity. Her sobbing became louder and she found it hard to breathe, yet she had to keep on running. She had to get away from it.

After getting halfway through the village, she suddenly had to brake when she almost hit a random brown stallion in front of her. He looked at her with wide eyes, seeming rather confused when he noticed just how much the filly was crying. Though a complete stranger, his heart was kind enough for him not to ignore a crying child, and with a puzzled tone he asked, “What’s wrong, kid?”

This was all it took. Pinkie could not hold it in any longer. She needed something to grab on to, so she jumped forwards and embraced this random stranger in a tight hug. Shaking, the filly cried as loud as she could, her tears running down her cheeks and further down the stallion’s coat. She pulled herself into him, though he was clearly unsure whether he should hug back, instead only stroking her mane slightly with one hoof as she let her emotions out.

“She’s gone!” she cried, and the ponies on the street gathered around, sending her worried looks and exchanging words of pity between each other while they watched her cry on. “She’s really gone! I don’t want this! I want her back! I want her back!”

“I’m sorry, kid,” the stallion said with a low, unsure voice.

“Please! somepony! Anypony!” she cried even louder, almost screaming. “I want her back! Give her back!”

This was how it went on until she cried herself to sleep. She did not know exactly how she got home, nor did she know how she had reached her bed. But she did know that it was not a dream. This kind of pain could not be a nightmare alone. Surprise was really gone. That pony that had opened her entire world was dead and gone, and there was nothing she could do about it. It made everything meaningless. The only thing she wanted was to pull the sheets above her head and stay in bed forever.

The Smile

View Online

She woke up this morning with a beam of sunlight caressing her forehead, the only part of her face that was not hidden beneath the blanket. Mumbling little sounds of irritation, she shifted to her other side, pulling the sheets out of position and her blanket along with her. There she stayed for a few seconds, pondering whether or not she should simply go back to sleep like she had the day before and the day before that. A long sigh escaped her while she opened her eyes, their lids heavy as lead, and she had a little staring competition with the sunlit wall when she finally got them open. Her motivation for getting up was lacking at best, but yet another day called and this one called for her to get out of bed.

She made a pained grimace from the ache that ran through her body when she stretched. It had gotten used to the fetal position she fell asleep in several hours ago. But the way the pain extended and her bones clicked made her feel just a little bit better, at least physically. It made it easier to get all four hooves out from the comfort of her mattress. Clacking her head from side to side, another sigh escaped her mouth, mixed in with a morning yawn. She blew the hair away from her dead eyes, took another look at the sunny sky from over her shoulder, and with an apathetic expression she finally managed to leave the heavy stench of her room.

Voices whispered across the table from the kitchen downstairs. They were meant not to be heard, but the way they were hastily cast between each other in preparation for her arrival made them easy to hear anyways. Pinkie could not make out what they said, but she knew it had to be about her, seeing as they sounded so anxious and panicky.

“Good morning!” her sisters called out from their semi-happy faces, waving at their pink big sister as she entered the kitchen. Blinkamina was rather eager, her smile genuine and optimistic, but Inkamina’s smile and wave stored a more realistic viewpoint, though also hope for the best.

But Pinkie had to disappoint them once again. Being a good sister, she returned their smiles and waves, but she could only manage so much with this sting in her chest. “G’morning.”

“Good morning, Pinkie dear,” Sue Pie said. Her face was kind and caring, her eyes understanding and warm, but little impact did it make on the pink filly that dragged her body over to her designated seat.

They all wore black. Blinkamina and Inkamina both wore a simple black tie, making them look like some sort of religious duo, and her father, half-smiling from beside her, wore his same old hat along with the same kind of tie. Sue Pie had somewhat more of an eye catcher on her. Her black dress ran all the way down to her hind legs’ hooves, though her front legs were kept free for movability. The hat she wore had a black veil attached to it, meant for hanging over her face, but she did not carry it so at this moment.

“It’s today, isn’t it?” Pinkie said quietly and with a sad voice, seeking confirmation on what she already knew. She hung on her chair, almost slipping off of it and under the table, her face directed to the pancakes before her. Delicious as they looked with their syrup coat, she had no appetite for them.

Clyde and Sue gave each other a concerned look for a moment, and her siblings kept quiet while they shifted their gaze between the bigger ponies. The only sound at that moment was of Inkamina uttering a soft whimper.

“You sure you want to go?” her father finally asked out of concern, his eyes serious and gentle.

It took longer for Pinkie to answer than she wanted. Her mind wandered unnecessarily over both fond and painful memories, mixing them in a pool of uncertainty. It was hard to properly let the words out in a way they could hear, but she managed to somehow break the silence anyways, “Yeah, I guess.”

“It’s starting in about twenty minutes,” he continued, never looking away from her, same as the others. “You wanna get dressed?”

“I’d rather just get it over with,” she answered. She pushed herself out from the table, making chair scream in agony when hauled along the floor. Her plate was left empty on the table, and it was obvious on Sue’s face that she had noticed that. But Pinkie’s appetite would not return just from that. All of her family’s attempts to cheer her up so far had been fruitless, even the clear blue sky they blessed her with every day, despite how it would hurt their harvest, was nothing but a bother. There was not enough sunlight in the world to reach where she was.

She could hear the rest of them get off their chairs as soon as she stepped out of the kitchen. There were no words of command, but they still followed her body’s orders. Their pity had made her the captain of the family these past few days; a position she did not enjoy having. Her father was the one to hold the door for them. He even offered his warmest smile to her when she passed him. But she did no notice. She did not care for anything, and it pained him from what she could tell from the movement of his lips as he closed the door.

The Celestian chapel was far from quiet. Though everypony kept their voices to a minimum, the acoustic of the room and the sheer amount of ponies in black made it as noisy as a party. Pinkie and her family walked down the aisle with a steady tempo. The ponies they passed all had their different ways of grieving: Some were mentioning the good times they had shared with the pony in question, some were crying and grieving the sudden tragedy, some simply kept quiet, watching the casket in the middle of the room with thoughtful faces.

They were lucky enough to find some empty seats in the front row, but only her family sat down immediately. Pinkie took a few steps towards the grand, well-polished, brown casket that seemed to shine in the light. It was bathed in neatly cut and prepared flower decorations, and a couple of purple balloons were tied to each end of it in honor of her being. There was a lid meant to be open at this certain ceremony so everypony could say their goodbyes, but it was tightly shut off from the surrounding world in this case. Even so, Pinkie stood over it and looked at where she knew the white pegasus’ face was located, trying her best to somehow see past the shiny brown wood that separated them even further.

A hoof was planted on her shoulder, and she looked up to see her mother smiling sadly at her. The gray mare guided her down to the others, who were waiting with their eyes directed at her in concern. She did not resist, but followed her mother to her seat, watching the floor on her way thereto.

“Friends and family,” an elderly mare said from a pedestal beside the casket when everypony had sat down, and the entire chapel became silent. “We are gathered here today in honor of…”

This was as far as Pinkie cared to listen. Her eyes were on the pedestal, watching without blinking, but her ears did not catch anything anypony would say. Nothing that was said would make her wish come true anyways, so she let her thoughts race instead. The occasional sob and cough worked as background noise, and the walls resonated with their sounds, enhancing these small quietness destroyers.

She leaned forward to see how everypony else looked. Her mother and father had respectful looks of sadness in their eyes, but they never knew enough of the pony in question for their eyes to tear up. This lack of knowing was also what made her sisters sit bored on their flanks rather than sad. Inkamina was fidgeting with her hooves, clearly annoyed with having to stay here, though years of rock farming had taught her how to behave and be quiet. Blinkamina, on the other hoof, caught Pinkie’s eyes, and she smiled carefully at her big sister. However, Pinkie simply looked away again, the thought of returning the smile never even passing her.

She turned to look over her shoulders, doing her best to see the ponies sitting behind her. From there she only saw two ponies she truly noticed. Firefly and Cup Cake sat still in their seats a few rows behind her and on the other side of the chapel. Firefly had stern eyes locked on the casket ahead, streams of thoughts seemingly invading her mind at that moment. Cup Cake too looked quite sad, but unlike Firefly she managed to notice the pink filly. As soon as the light cerulean mare sent her a warm and heartfelt smile, Pinkie turned back around and took another look at the pedestal, on which a different pony was now holding her speech. She told herself that she would listen from now on, but in the end she could not keep her mind clear enough for the words to reach her. She simply looked ahead with dead eyes for the rest of the ceremony.

The ceremony was over and the sound of ponies rising from their seats echoed in the chapel. Voices spoke in soft tones from here and there, all still respectful, albeit relieved that it was over. Only Pinkie did not stand up immediately. She had barely noticed it was over at all, her gaze locked on the casket. Not even when ponies walked past her did she blink or realize that everypony was leaving. It was only by the touch of her father that she looked away and up at him.

“Well,” he said with a still smile. “It’s over now. Let’s go home.”

“Actually,” she replied, looking away from him for a second. She took another long look at the casket and wet her lips. Her chest inflated with the air she inhaled in one big lump, and it seeped out through her open mouth as she looked back at the brown stallion. “Can I stay a little?”

“But you said you wanted to get it over…” he said with much uncertainty, stopping midsentence. The look Pinkie gave him had him frozen, and he fuzzed around wordlessly for a few seconds. “I’m not sure. What do you think honey?” He looked up at Sue, and Pinkie looked at her as well to see how she would reply. The gray mare kept still for a moment, but soon nodded in approval, and Pinkie could look back at her father for the obvious translation of this nod. “Ok, then. Would you like one of us to stay with you?”

She took a moment to think it over, finally responding with a slow shake of the head, “No.”

With ponies passing by one after another, the Pie family stood still, watching Pinkie as they waited to see if she would change her mind. Inkamina and Blinkamina clutched tightly to Sue’s sides, and she met them both with a calming stroke of the mane without looking away from her pink daughter. But Pinkie never looked back at them, and that was their cue to go. They walked away, the sound of their hooves enhanced by the walls of the chapel as they stepped down the aisle. The door slammed with a noise of thunder, lasting several seconds, and it made the filly’s ears tremble as it pounded on her ear drums. A shiver ran through her body, leading all the way from the tip of her hind legs through her spine, ending in a shaky whimper from her mouth. Only then did her body relax, and she could lean forward, her snout following gravity’s force.

“Hey, Pinkie,” a soft, kind voice suddenly said from beside her. She forced her neck to turn towards it, surprised that she was not yet alone. There stood Cup Cake in black on cerulean. Her eyes were wet and shaky, an earthquake happening in their rosy irises. But she still found it in her to smile at the lone filly. “Can I sit?”

Pinkie took a few seconds to look at her. But as soon as she had grasped that Cup was actually there, she lost her interest and pointed her snout back to the casket ahead. “Sure.”

The baker gave her a quick nod of the head, increasing her smile momentarily as she sat down. She moved her gaze to the same place Pinkie had hers, and the purple balloons reflected in her pupils. She released a short, single syllabled snigger in a less than convincing manner, and said with forced cheerfulness, “It’s kind of weird seeing balloons here, huh?”

Pinkie did not respond. She barely even moved. Her eyelids half covered her eyes, only the bottom half of her pupils able to see anything from the area of the deceased.

“Then again…” Cup Cake continued. “… I guess it matches.” She looked to the side and at the silent filly, staying still for a moment before asking, “How are you feeling, dear?”

“Hurt,” Pinkie instantly responded. It the first word that had come to her mind, but when she gave herself a short while to think, the word ‘hurt’ seemed inadequate. She wet her lips and took a deep breath, stretching her back as she clarified, “I don’t know. I don’t really know what to feel.”

She rose from her seat and walked back up to the coffin. A ray of sunlight shone through the tall and slim mosaic of Celestia on the wall at the back of the chapel, and it dimmed the brilliance and darkened the colors that landed on the pink filly’s forehead. Placing her hoof softly on the hard wood, she caressed its surface in circular motions, all the while staring at it with a look of the dead. Cup Cake followed her after a few seconds. She stood behind her, leaving the space around the coffin for Pinkie alone. Without a word or sound, she kept watching the pink filly, her eyebrows leaning away from the center of her forehead.

“I keep waiting for her to come out from there,” Pinkie said with a soft tone. “I know she won’t. She wouldn’t do that to me. But still…” A whimper entered her voice, hardening the words she spoke, “… I really want her to come out. I really want her to just shout ‘Surprise’ and then show me that silly face of hers that always made me laugh.”

Cup Cake entered her area. She stood beside her and put a hoof on her pink back. Gently stroking back and forth along the hairs in her coat, she did her best to comfort the sad filly. But Pinkie did not react in the slightest. She was too swept up in her own misery, leaving any acts of kindness and comfort meaningless at this point.

“It’s not fair,” the filly continued, hoarse and tired as she was. “She changed my life. My family, my home. She changed everything around me, made everything better. She showed me the night sky, and balloons and parties and everything else. Even my cutie mark was… I loved her.” She looked up at Cup Cake with tears running down her cheeks. “How am I supposed to go on without her?”

Cup Cake did not respond immediately. She looked the filly in the eyes for a while, doing her best not to let her own emotions get the better of her. In the end she could only respond with a simple and low, “I’m sorry.”

Pinkie looked back at the coffin, her teary eyes retracting and her lips trembling as a thought passed her mind. “I’m all alone.”

“Don’t say that,” Cup Cake said with a shake of the head and a tone of pity. “You’re not alone. You’ll never be.”

“But I owe it all to her,” Pinkie continued with a hint of panic. “Surprise gave me everything. I wouldn’t have met anypony if it wasn’t for her. I wouldn’t have had any fun. Even my family…”

She stepped back from the coffin, down the few steps it took to get back on the cold tile floor. Her gaze met with Cup Cake’s, and neither of them moved for a long time. The quiet of the chapel screamed, but nothing was said. In the end it became too much for the filly, and she turned around, facing the door at the end of the aisle, and trotted hastily towards it.

Cup Cake raised her hoof, calling for the filly with a trembling voice of her own, “Pinkie, wait!”

But Pinkie did not wait. With the tears flowing down her eyes, leaving her almost blinded, she felt her way through the chapel and to the great door. Cup Cake kept calling, and she kept ignoring her. With all the strength her filly hooves could bear she pulled it open, its hinges making deep clanking sounds that echoed over the seats. The bright outside blinded her, and she covered her face when she stepped into it. She kept going like this. She kept going back to the farm, back to her bed, and back to her solitary shell.

Her body lay heavy in bed this morning as well. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping, all for her sake. But it was simply not enough for her to want to move from her mattress. The nightmare of being awake was too much for her to handle. She did as usual: Turned around with a groan of annoyance, cursing the sun under her breath as she hid from it in the darkness of her blanket. She just wanted to get back to sleep.

But something was strange about the light this morning. She noticed on the sunlit wall that little spots of colors that were not supposed to be there was swaying back and forth in the light. Dim reflections of pink and purple, the colors of her coat and Surprise’s now buried cutie mark were tagging the wall, subtly moving and bumping into each other in their own slow dance. Something was reshaping the colors of the sun.

The door resounded with knocking, an eager sort too at that. It was not unusual that ponies would check up on her, but she did find the symphony of the tapping rather odd in itself. Followed by the knocking was the voice of Blinkamina, cheerfully calling her big sister out of bed, “Come on, Pinkie! You got to see this!”

She did not respond. She did not want to stand up. She lay still for several seconds, watching the little dots float back and forth on the wall. But curiosity finally caught up with her. With an irritated moan and a tired yawn, she slowly moved the blanket away from her body and sat up in the bed. She blew her hair away from her face, smacked her lips, and tried her best not to let the ache in her body get to her. The spots on the wall were now taking her shadow into consideration, disappearing where the light hit her backside. Finally, she cared enough about what was going on to turn around and looked at the source of these strange colors.

It was balloons. Outside her window hang countless balloons, all of the same two colors: Pink and Purple. They did all not hang tightly in a clump, but were instead separated to hang individually, free from the strings of the other balloons. The filly blinked. She could hardly believe her own eyes, and even had to rub them to make sure she was not seeing things.

She did not move over to the window, but instead got on her hooves and quickly trotted to the door. Whatever was going on, she thought it must have something to do with Blinkamina’s cheerful morning greeting, so she decided she would go down to the kitchen and see if she could figure something out.

There were nopony in the kitchen. There were no plates on the table, nor any sign of dishes having been done or anything. Every other room of the house was empty as well. It made Pinkie scratched the back of her head in wonder. Everything was different from the other mornings. Her family’s attempt to cheer her up was so unusual. It all seemed to lead outside, so this was where she would search next. She opened the door with one swift motion, took a step outside, and was met with something she would never have expected in her life.

“Surprise!” yelled her family members in unity, all cheerful and smiling vigorously.

Pinkie jumped with shock, her eyes wide open and a loud gasp accidentally escaping her. After taking a short moment to breathe, she took a look at the ponies standing only a few yards away from her, grinning happily. Though they had been smiling at her for the last few days, these smiles were different. They were genuine Pinkie let her eyes wander around the area, scanning both ground and sky alike. She saw even more balloons than the ones that hang outside the window now that she had a wider view. She saw a single, wooden table with a large, double-layered cake and a present beside it. She saw the old phonograph she had used at the party that brought the family together, ready with a record to play. Though the amount of decorations was scarce, what she saw was definitely a party.

“What’s going on?” she asked in confusion as she stepped out into the dry fields, her gaze shifting from side to side.

“Cup Cake visited with the cake earlier this morning,” Sue began replying with a merry tone of voice. “We had a good and long talk about you. She told me what you had said in the chapel, and we tried to figure out how we could turn that frown upside down. This is what we came to.”

Pinkie blinked her eyes as she watched the gray mare speak. “Huh?”

“It’s not as good as the one you threw,” her mother continued. She stretched her foreleg out, presenting what the family had created for the pink filly. “But this was all we could manage in so little time, even with help from Miss Cake and Miss Firefly. I guess it requires special talent to do it better.”

“You like it?” Blinkamina asked excitedly, happily bouncing up and down on the spot, whirling a bit of dust up that hit the less excited, but still smiling, Inkamina by her side.

Pinkie was as puzzled as she had ever been. She had never thought for a second that her family would throw a party. She was barely able to talk, much less respond properly until she could grasp the situation. She walked to the table with her mouth open, over to see the presented cake. She noticed that something was written in frosting and leaned in to see what it was. With neat writing, and in a lovely shade of pink, was written only a single word: ‘Smile’.

She felt a hoof on her head, nuzzling her gently, and she looked up to see her father looking at her with a toothy grin. “This is all for you, Pinkie.”

She stepped to the side, away from the brown stallion and the table with the cake. She needed space for the moment, avoiding her family like the plague in her confusion. But they did not seem to mind. Respectful of Pinkie’s situation, they clumped together in a family hug, keeping a distance so the eldest daughter could sink everything in at her own pace, and they looked at her bearing the same caring look in their eyes.

“But why?” Pinkie asked, shaking her head in disbelief. “Why go this far just for me?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Sue responded, her tone as gentle and motherly as possible. “We’re your family, Pinkie. We love you and care so much about you. Of course we want you to be happy, and we’d hate for you to ruin it for yourself.”

This sentence left the filly speechless. She kept shifting her eyes between them, her mouth gaping open with shock and bedazzlement.

“We just want you to know, Pinkie,” Sue continued, her eyes tearing up. “That even though it’s true that Surprise gave you everything, she didn’t take it away when she left.”

While Pinkie sat frozen on the ground, Inkamina moved away from the rest of the group and over to the table. She grabbed the wrapped box on it and lifted it with much care. Only then did Pinkie notice the air holes in it, and the way Inkamina stepped towards her slowly made her realize what sort of thing was in the box.

“This is for you,” she mumbled with the gift wrap still in her mouth.

Pinkie looked her deep in the eyes, finally noticing how they were wet and caring. There was so much love in those eyes, all aimed at her, yet she had been so blind to these looks. She slowly extended her hooves, letting her little sister place the box in them before she walked back to the rest of the family. They all watched in anticipation, and Pinkie had her eyes on the box with all sort of thoughts racing through her head. After a while, she carefully removed the wrapping and lifted the lid to see what sort of surprise was in it. A small, green baby alligator was sleeping soundly, its head lying on the tip of its tail in a little pile of comfortable hay. When it yawned she noticed that it did not have any teeth, and the sound it made was one of the cutest things she had ever heard.

“For me?” she asked with a tear-choked voice, even though her tears had yet to run from her eyes that were locked on the green reptile in the box.

“We actually wanted to give you a kitten,” her father then said with a big smile, scratching the back of his mane. “But somehow this seemed more like your kind of thing.”

Pinkie was careful when she put the box down. The green eyelids of the reptile blinked, revealing a clear shade of purple that reminded her so much of a certain white mare when she picked it up. She kept it in stretched hooves, looking at it curiously, and it looked back at her with a clueless expression. The hair on her head started changing, the quiet sound of something inflating emitting from it as mane and tail curled up. Now the tears began, and they helped to enhance the spark that was returning to her eyes. When she was finally back to her curly look, her trembling lips began forming a smile, following the wish and command of the cake on the table. She had finally realized the truth. She had finally realized that she was not alone, and never had been. The family that loved her, the friends that cared for her, the innocent being between her hooves: There really was a ray of sun that could breach the clouds.

With the tears flowing down her face, passing the smile on her lips, she brought in the little green reptile and embraced it in a soft hug. The rest of the family saw the opportunity to close in on her, and with every step closer they took, she found it easier to let her voice out, and when they finally reached her for a large family hug she was finally able to speak: “Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much. I love you all.”

Ponyville was just as bright and pretty as ever. The birds were chirping and the bees were humming, and young mare Pinkie Pie was skipping along the wide main road on her way to a certain bakery. The small suitcase in her mouth bounced up and down vigorously, and the alligator had made sure to lock its jaw on the tip of her tail, swinging around behind her and enjoying the ride to their new, yet familiar, home.

“Hello in the sugarhouse!” she merrily called out as soon as she entered, beating the bell in the race to announce her arrival.

“Hey there, Pinkie Pie,” the amber stallion greeted her cheerfully from behind the counter. “Ready for a change of scenery, eh?”

“Sure am, Mr. Cake,” she replied with a smile shining from across the suitcase. “Is Mrs. Cake here?”

“Just a moment, I’ll get her,” he responded, telling the pink pony to be patient with a raised hoof. He turned to the kitchen and trotted quickly into it, all the while calling out to his lovable wife, “Sugarplum! She’s here!”

It did not take many moments before the light cerulean, chubby mare appeared in the doorway. She beamed with delight at the sight of the pink pony, and Pinkie too could not help but put on a silly grin at the sight of this dear pony. The pink mare bounced forwards and over the counter, swinging the alligator on her tail in circular motions, yet it kept its grip with its toothless jaw.

“I can’t wait!” she happily exclaimed as she embraced both bakers in a tight hug. “I’ve been so excited for weeks to live here!”

“Well, we’ve been looking forward to it as well, haven’t we, dear?” said Cup Cake with a merry tone, looking across the pink pony embracing her to the stallion at the other shoulder.

And he nodded in response with a wide smile. “We sure have.”

“But enough chit-chat,” the light cerulean mare then said. She pushed Pinkie away and stepped away from the counter and into the store, beckoning the pink pony to follow. “Let’s go get you settled in, shall we?”

Pinkie nodded hastily, creating a blur with the speed of her moving head. She and Cup Cake left Carrot Cake with the store, swiftly trotting up the stairs to the room she would live in from here on out. The baker was the one to open the door, but Pinkie was the first inside. She opened her mouth in excitement with this place, all the memories from her fillyhood streaming through her. There was a distinct smell in the air, clean yet aging, as if all the wood in the room had become mahogany with time. This was her new home, and at the same time a place she knew as well as her old one.

“I’ve left it pretty much as it were,” Cup Cake said from behind her. “I’ve only changed the necessary things and cleaned once in a while, but other than that it’s just like it was when she lived here.”

Pinkie turned around and looked the baker deep in the eyes. Her smile was wide and her eyes shaky and it took all her strength not to suddenly burst into tears of joy at this moment. After a short while, she leaped forward and embraced the light cerulean mare in a tight hug, one that was returned with a few loving pats on her back. When she let go, she turned around and took another look at the room. The alligator had already let go of her tail and found a comfortable spot in the middle of the floor, on which it stood and did exactly nothing.

“Well, I’ll leave you to settle in, dearie,” Cup Cake said from behind her, ready to leave with a hoof on the doorknob. “Is there anything you need?”

“Nope,” she replied with a happy tone. She looked over her shoulder at the mare, winking with a happy smile. “Everything’s peachy here.”

With that said, Cup Cake left the room with a sweet smile of her own. Pinkie immediately grabbed the small suitcase and opened it on the floor, and it exploded in a myriad of confetti and stuff that should logically not have been able to fit inside it. From all this stuff, there was one particular item she grabbed in the air before it fell on the floor. She caught this framed photo with both hooves and brought it close to her chest, smiling a dreamy smile as she clutched tightly too it. There was already a destined place for it to be on the cupboard beside the bed, so she put the photo in her mouth, skipped cheerfully over and placed it so it would be the first thing she saw every morning.

The white mare in the picture bore the silliest grin imaginable. She was waving at the camera, hovering in the air with the sky and a few balloons hanging behind her. Pinkie sat for a moment and watched the picture happily, her eyes narrowed and her smile wide. She let out a simple sigh of satisfaction, turned around and trotted over to pick up the rest of the stuff on the floor so she could find somewhere to put that. Meanwhile the photo watched over her, safe on the cupboard as an eternal reminder and an eternal ‘thank you’ to her Surprise.