Pinkie Pie finds herself in a position where she can no longer recall the years she has spent in Ponyville, as if the memories were erased from her mind entirely. She must rediscover herself, her love for her friends, and her passion for life.
I've spent the majority of my life tilling the desolate land in which I live. Every day, I wake up to move useless rocks from one location to another. This is an archaic line of work that my family has clung to for generations. It is a dull, grey existence.
Today, I have woken up in a strange room, lying in a bed that isn't mine. I'm surrounded by five mares whom I've never seen in my life. They claim to be my friends, and expect me to bring joy to the hearts of everypony.
Joy? I don't think I've ever experienced this for myself, so how am I supposed to thrust it upon others?
My name is Pinkamena Diane Pie, and I'm not sure what to make of this situation.
Twilight shifted uncomfortably. She had never liked this room, and for good reason.
The waiting room of the Ponyville Hospital was truly living up to its name. After hours without any news from the doctor, Twilight’s anxiety threatened to break free at any moment.
For the past several hours, Twilight had attempted to distract herself. She initially took to studying the patterns on the floor. Once she had memorized each tile to the dot, she focused her attention to the ceiling. These efforts were futile, and her unease always returned. This feeling was like an itch, eating away at her sanity by the minute. If not for the four ponies around her, she would've lost it by now.
The sound of an opening door caused Twilight’s ears to perk. She looked up and, upon seeing the doctor headed in their direction, promptly rose from her seat. The others followed suit.
“How is she?” asked Twilight.
The doctor sighed. “If you five will come with me. The anesthesia is wearing off, and she should be coming around soon.”
I awoke to a multitude of unfamiliar voices. I was somewhat confused by this, seeing as how we almost never had visitors. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time someone came to visit our colorless farm. Who would bother making the trip out here?
I was still lying in bed with my eyes shut, but my mind was fully alert. I did that a lot. Sometimes, my internal body clock would wake me up earlier than necessary, giving me extra time to do as I please. The majority of this time was spent doing one of two things: either looking forward to the end of the day, or brooding about the day to come. A constant switch between optimism and pessimism, if you would.
I’d always wanted to speak up against my parents. I would often fantasize about standing up to my mom and dad and telling them how pointless our line of work really was. I could just imagine the looks on their faces if I did.
My thoughts were interrupted by one of the voices from before.
“Why is her mane straightened out like that?”
I didn't understand at first. My hair had always been straight. That was assuming, of course, that they were talking about me. I didn't recognize the voice at all, so it couldn't have been one of my relatives. Then again, maybe it was an obscure distant relative I'd never met or heard of. It wouldn't be the first time that happened. I decided to stop speculating with myself and opened my eyes.
Two things in particular surprised me. First of all, I had no idea where I was. It certainly wasn’t my bedroom on the farm. The mattress was too comfortable, and the walls were too colorful. Second, there were five mares standing around me. I’d never seen any of them in my entire life.
Before me were two pegasi, two unicorns, and an earth pony. I immediately dismissed the idea of them being relatives, seeing as they bore absolutely no family resemblance.
“Oh, she’s awake!” exclaimed one of the unicorns. This one was lavender with a highlighted mane consisting of three different shades of purple.
I continued to lie there without a word. The five mares were still staring at me, and I was unsure of whether or not I should’ve said something.
“Pinkie, are you okay?” asked the same unicorn.
Pinkie? What kind of name was that? It was obviously similar to my own name, but when could someone have come up with it?
“My name is Pinkamena. Who are all of you?” I asked, hoping for a decent explanation.
Suddenly, one of the pegasi broke down into tears. I didn’t know why, and I had no idea how to respond. The second unicorn, whose white coat and purple mane seemed to almost glisten, put a hoof around the crying canary-yellow pegasus, trying to comfort her to the best of her ability. I could see the tears flowing down the pegasus’ face into her voluminous pink mane.
“Are you saying... you don’t know who any of us are?” asked the purple unicorn.
“Am I expected to?” I replied, as I started to sit up in the bed.
“Easy, now,” said a male unicorn wearing a white coat. I hadn’t noticed him before, but he made his way towards me, and the mares created a gap to allow him through. I could only assume he was a doctor. “Try not to strain yourself too much.”
I looked around the room. As I observed my surroundings, I realized that I was in a hospital. I couldn’t have imagined why I’d be in a place like this.
“What’s going on?” I asked the doctor.
“You’re in the hospital, Pinkie Pie,” he said.
“I gathered as much, and that’s not my name. It’s Pinkamena. Just tell me what happened.”
The doctor recoiled slightly at my blunt manner of speaking, but I didn’t care. Something was definitely amiss, and I intended to find out. Courtesy meant nothing to me at that moment.
“Unfortunately, we’re a bit stumped for details ourselves. Zecora found you, unconscious in the Everfree Forest, and she brought you here. Your friends have been waiting for hours to confirm that you’re okay.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” I asked with growing irritation. “I have no idea who this Zecora is, and I don’t know these five ponies, either!”
The doctor had a look of worry upon his face. Then, he asked me a completely random question. “Pinkamena, how old are you?”
My frustration was almost at its peak, but I managed to keep my composure. “Eleven. Why do you ask?”
The ponies around me gasped simultaneously. The other pegasus’ eyes widened to a ludicrous size, and I couldn’t help but notice it.
I found this particular pegasus interesting. She had a sky blue coat, with a rainbow mane and tail. It was much more color than I was used to, that was for sure.
The doctor spoke up once again. “May I ask that you remove your blanket and turn onto your side?”
I complied with his unusual request. Gazing at the bare fur on my flank, he blinked several times at the sight. He then proceeded to rub his eyes, as if questioning his own vision.
“It’s just as I feared,” he said at last. He gestured to the mares. “I’d like the five of you to come with me. We need to discuss a few things, and it should be done in private. Pinkamena, please remain here. We’ll be back soon.”
The six ponies departed from the room, giving me various looks as they passed by. I’m not one for reading faces, but all of their expressions seemed to share at least one attribute.
The five friends were gathered in a plain office, in front of an empty mahogany desk belonging to the doctor. He had prompted them to enter the office and have a seat, and assured them he would return momentarily. The office didn't contain much, save for a potted plant in each of the rear corners and three extra chairs intended for conferences such as these. Rainbow Dash and Applejack were standing while the others sat.
To say that they were simply upset would be an understatement. They were, above all, profoundly disturbed by what had just occurred.
“It's hard to say,” answered Twilight, “I've seen ponies who experience memory loss, but this is on an entire new level. Pinkie Pie has lost so much, that she doesn't even recall who she is anymore. I didn't think amnesia could happen on this large of a scale.”
“Neither did I, until now,” stated the doctor as he entered the room. He approached the desk and sat down behind it with great care.
“In all my years as a neurologist, I never would have believed this existed, and I certainly never thought I’d be the one to whom the responsibility fell,” stated the doctor.
“What are you talking about?” asked Twilight.
“Pinkie Pie appears to have contracted something known in the medical world as ‘Enchanted Memory Regression Syndrome,’” he explained.
“I beg your pardon?” asked Rarity.
“Enchanted Memory Regression Syndrome,” repeated the doctor, “or EMRS for short. In basic terms, it’s a very rare disease that is under the influence of magic.”
“How rare, exactly?” asked Applejack.
“I don’t know.” The doctor squinted his eyes in thought. “The odds of acquiring such a disease are supposedly astronomical. Less than one in a million, I’d imagine.”
There were a few seconds of silence, until Twilight finally spoke up. “Is there anything you can tell us about what we’re dealing with?”
“Not much,” said the doctor, as he put a hoof to his chin in contemplation. “There is normally a limit to how much someone’s memory can possibly regress. It is an undefined limit, mind you, but a practiced neurologist can usually tell. EMRS is said to utterly ignore that limit, and go as far as it pleases, so to speak—”
“—due to its magical properties,” finished Twilight, perceptive enough to figure the last part out on her own.
The doctor nodded. “Yes. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment, as far as we are aware.”
The ponies’ hearts sank.
“EMRS was supposed to be a myth derived from something that happened hundreds of years ago. It was never taken seriously in the medical world. It defies all logic, and quite frankly, sounds too ridiculous to be true.
“But alas, we do not live in a world defined by science. Magic can always be a variable,” he stated gravely.
An idea came to Twilight. “What if I used a memory spell on her?”
“That might work, but you’d run the risk of only amplifying the magic and causing her to regress further.”
Twilight’s head drooped in hopelessness. She could feel tears starting to form in her eyes, but she fought back the urge to cry.
“Is there anything we can do to help her?” asked Rainbow Dash.
Twilight looked up in surprise. Normally, Rainbow was the one who would sit back and not ask questions. This was both uplifting and upsetting at the same time. While it did confirm the fact that she was a loyal, caring friend, it also showed just how desperate the situation had become.
“The best thing you can do for now is to readjust her back into her daily life. Make sure to tell her who she is, where she lives, and what she does. Don’t overwhelm her with details, but don’t hide anything from her, either. She may not believe you at first, so be patient. If you have pictures, show them to her. Things of that sort,” instructed the doctor.
He turned to Twilight. “If I’m not mistaken, you know Princess Celestia quite well. Is that correct?”
Twilight nodded. She didn’t want to speak, because she still had a knot in her throat.
“Well, I think it’s important that you contact her as soon as you can. She may have an idea of what to do, so I'd say it’s worth a try.”
He turned to address all of them once more. “I will continue to research this anomaly with diligence. With effort on all of our parts, I think this is possible to overcome. That means you all need to help Pinkie to the best of your ability. No matter how insignificant a simple favor or explanation may seem, it could mean the difference in Pinkie’s memory returning. I’m going to release her from the hospital’s care now, so I expect you five to start right away.”
The ponies took this as a hint that the conference was at its end. They got up one by one to leave the office. Twilight was the last to exit the room. Before doing so, she turned around.
“Doctor, how were you able to diagnose her so quickly? Surely you've had unusual cases of memory loss like this. How do you know this is different from the others?”
The doctor looked up from his papers, and removed his glasses. “Memory loss, even greater cases, does not strip a pony of her cutie mark, Twilight. There is no doubt in my mind that magic is at play here.”
The doctor returned to his work without a word. Twilight stood there in disbelief for the better part of a minute. Eventually, she returned to her senses and hastily left the room to catch up with her friends.
Given the circumstances, I’d say my reaction to all of this was quite understandable. These five seemed to think otherwise.
“We’re telling you, this is real!” said the unicorn who had introduced herself as Twilight Sparkle.
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I have no way of knowing for sure. Do you have any idea just how far fetched this sounds?” I rebutted. “This could be a dream, for all I know.”
Twilight lowered her head and let out a sigh of defeat. She had finally realized there was no way of convincing me, for the time being.
Following my surprisingly quick release from the hospital, these five mares escorted me to a place they referred to as "Sugarcube Corner," where they sat me down and attempted to explain the situation to me.
They started with a brief explanation of my condition. Apparently I’d been afflicted with some sort of disease. After much elaboration on that subject, they proceeded to the second stage of their operation.
A detailed summary of my life, according to them.
The entire ordeal took several hours. I've had superb memory for as long as I can remember, so retaining all of the information was easy enough. That being said, my willingness to accept it as reality was, and still remained, questionable.
Ponyville? Party-thrower extraordinaire? Element of Laughter? None of it made sense! Not a single thing they told me tonight existed within the realm of normality, as far as I was concerned. It was so contrary to everything I knew. Enough so, in fact, that it was even hard to believe my subconscious could have conjured up such images in a dream. Assuming, of course, that this was a dream.
I wasn't used to logic-defying dreams. There was only one dream in particular I could remember that was quite outlandish. It was about a giant boulder with bloodshot eyes and jagged teeth chasing me around the farm, with my family watching from the sidelines. Not a single one of them lifted a hoof to assist me.
I didn't dwell on it much. Dreams are just dreams, right?
As my thoughts circulated from one possibility to the next, I realized that my own perception of a typical dream did not differ much from reality, which made it rather difficult to distinguish between the two.
My mind was at war with itself. I found myself unable to decide if this was just one of those rare, bizarre dreams, or if it was truly happening. Every time one argument gained the advantage, the other side was able to contradict it in some way. Thus, the cycle began anew; a never ending battle in a field of uncertainty, so it seemed.
"Pinkie, are you alright?" asked Twilight.
I quickly snapped out of my trance to notice the five ponies staring at me with wide eyes and concerned expressions.
"I... I'm fine," I replied. My decision would have to come later, when I had some time to myself.
“Ah wish there was somethin’ we could say or do to make you believe us,” said the orange earth pony, Applejack.
I could feel my eyes growing heavy. I glanced at the clock, and saw that it was the dead of night.
“Perhaps I should sleep on it. We've been at this for hours, and I have quite a bit of thinking to do, myself. This is a lot to take in...”
“You’re probably right,” agreed Twilight. “I’m going to stay here tonight, just in case. What about the rest of you?”
The other four looked at each other, as if in silent communication.
Rarity spoke up. “I really should be getting back to the boutique. Sweetie Belle must be worried sick. Oh, I hope she hasn't stayed up waiting for me.”
“I need to be getting home, as well,” said the timid pegasus known as Fluttershy. “My animals are waiting for me, and I don’t think that afternoon snack will hold them off until morning. Sorry...”
“I ain't got nothin’ else to do. Why not? I’ll stay the night,” said Applejack.
“I’m definitely staying,” said Rainbow Dash.
How odd. Why would they have wanted to stay the night here? I looked around, and another question came to mind.
“Where are the owners of this house? You know, the Cakes?”
“Well,” started Twilight, “you previously told us that they’re on an important business trip. You never specified where they went, just that they’d be back in a few days.”
“Ah,” I acknowledged, and walked towards the stairs.
I made the ascent to what was apparently my room, leaving these strange characters to their devices.
“Well, that could have gone better,” said Twilight as she produced a piece of parchment from the drawer.
"What makes ya say that?" asked Applejack. She was settling on the the floor with a pillow and blanket, preparing to sleep.
"I don't know. I mean, I know she didn't leave us on bad terms or anything, but still... I feel like we handled it poorly."
Twilight continued to rummage through the various drawers and cupboards.
Trying to change the subject, Applejack spoke up. "Whatcha doin' there, anyway? Don't you wanna get some shut-eye?"
"I'm looking for a quill. I need to write a letter to Princess Celestia right away to notify her of this situation. It shouldn't take too long. Aha!" she exclaimed, pulling a quill from the kitchen drawer.
Rainbow uttered a strange sound from her place next to Applejack. Upon closer examination, one could see that the pegasus was out cold.
"How in the hay is she already asleep?" Applejack asked in a hushed tone. "Pinkie went upstairs less than ten minutes ago."
"She's probably just exhausted, like the rest of us."
Rainbow shifted in her spot, continuing to make unintelligible noises in her slumber.
“Go to sleep, Applejack,” insisted Twilight. “I know you’re tired.”
“What about y’all?”
“Not to worry. Once this letter is complete, I’ll be off to bed, as well.”
“Alright, then,” said Applejack as she brought her head down on the pillow. The crudely fashioned bed was more than sufficient, and sleep quickly overtook her, as well.
Twilight sat at the table, mulling over the letter she was about to compose. Once she was certain about how to convey her thoughts to the princess, she dipped the quill in some ink and began her letter in the usual manner.
“Dear Princess Celestia,”
Twilight jotted down her words with no pause other than to re-coat her pen. The quill smoothly ran over the parchment, and eventually came to a halt near the bottom of the page.
After signing her name, Twilight placed it aside and wrote a second letter. This one was much more brief:
Sorry to wake you, but this is urgent. I need you to send the enclosed letter to Princess Celestia right away. I’ll explain everything tomorrow.
Rolling up the first letter inside of the second one, Twilight focused her mind to perform a spell. The scrolls were enveloped in a glowing, purple aura, and in the blink of an eye, they vanished.
Twilight experienced a bit of vertigo and tried her best not to stumble. “If the events of today weren't taxing enough, that sure was.” Twilight chuckled weakly.
Taking great care not to wake her friends, Twilight arranged a makeshift bed. She was too exhausted to use magic at the moment, so it was a tedious chore.
After a long and tiring day, everypony was finally allowed to rest. However, that didn't necessarily mean they were all at peace. Rainbow Dash was still shifting and groaning in her sleep. Even in the dark, one could faintly make out the glistening teardrop that rolled down her cheek.
Before me was a staircase with no visible end. For some inexplicable reason, I felt compelled to travel down its cascading steps. Down I went, without a moment's consideration of the possible dangers ahead.
Deep into the darkness, I could no longer see my hoof in front of my face. I turned around, and to my horror, I saw nothing of where I originally began. I was surrounded by utter nothingness. Alone.
Panic began to set in, and I was sweating furiously. I was unable to go back the other way. The only option available to me was to continue my descent into the black void.
Aimlessly I advanced. If not for the sheer terror I was experiencing, I might have been genuinely curious as to what was at the end. Minutes passed. Maybe hours, I couldn't tell. At last, I saw a small speck of light, and I hurriedly made my way towards it. Freedom awaited, at last.
I stumbled into a familiar room. I quickly realized that it was the first floor of Sugarcube Corner, though it lacked the eye-popping colors from before. In fact, the color closely resembled the interior of my own house.
I turned my head, only to see my parents enjoying a cup of tea with the mares from before.
“Mom? Dad?” I asked, bewildered.
They turned their head. “Ah, Pinkie Pie. There you are,” said my father. “We were beginning to worry. Come, have some delicious tea with us.” At that exact moment, as if it was planned, Twilight lifted the kettle with her magic, silently suggesting that I try some.
I found it strange enough that my father called me "Pinkie Pie," but what disturbed me most was the fact that both of my parents seemed so relaxed and carefree.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Why the apprehensive tone?” asked my mother. “We just wanted to visit our daughter. Is that so strange?”
“I guess not. Did Twilight inform you about my trip to the hospital?”
“Oh, no need to spoil the mood with talk of such unpleasantries. Let’s just enjoy our time together, hm?”
“I don’t think this is something you can be so nonchalant about, mother. I lost years of my memory. Does that not faze you at all?”
“And how can you be so sure about that? How do you know you’re not dreaming?” she asked, her tone suddenly shifting into one of seriousness.
“Because, well...” I trailed off, unsure of how to answer. It was true, I’d been questioning the validity of this situation ever since I woke up in the hospital.
I looked down, and let out a deep sigh. “I just want to go home.”
My father smiled. “Oh, dearest. Don’t you see? You’re already home.”
The sheets of my bed rustled as I was thrust back into reality. I was discombobulated. My breathing was erratic, and my pulse was higher than normal. However, I was quickly able to regain my composure when I realized that it was merely a dream.
I looked around the room and saw that I was still in the upper floor of Sugarcube Corner. Perhaps it was a dream within a dream? I couldn't imagine that would be the case, but still...
I thought back to last night when I was pondering the very subject of dreams. How disconcerting that, as if on cue, I had experienced the second reality-breaking dream of my life. Or, at least, within my conceivable memory.
I got out of bed, and wandered around "my room," taking in the surroundings. I didn't have the opportunity to observe the room last night, for several reasons. I was beyond exhausted, both mentally and physically, and it was too dark to study anything closely. I barely managed to find the bed, as it was.
The bright colors in this room were enough to make me cringe. To be honest, I didn’t necessarily hate it, I just wasn't used to this type of... environment. Various colors of ribbon were scattered across the floor, the walls were adorned with pictures of sweets, and the aroma of cake frosting filled the air. In my opinion, it wasn't horrible, but it was not ideal, either.
As I continued to explore the room, I came across a tall mirror, mounted firmly on the wall. Staring intently at the looking glass, I realized that the reflection I saw was not that of an eleven-year-old filly. I was staring into the face of a young adult mare. I lifted a hoof to touch my cheek, and the image followed my movement perfectly.
Astounding. This certainly did some justice to Twilight's story.
I remained entranced by the sight until I felt a painless grip on my tail. It startled me slightly, but only to a minor degree. I looked down at the green figure that had latched itself onto me. Where I'm from, we didn't encounter many creatures other than bugs and the occasional rodent. In simple terms, I wasn't entirely sure what this creature was, specifically. A crocodile, perhaps?
The creature widened its abnormally large, purple eyes. It seemed to be looking at me expectantly.
"Hello. Is there something you wanted?" I asked, somehow hoping for an answer.
No response was given. Instead, the creature loosened its grip and dropped to the floor. It started walking towards another side of the room. Midway, it turned its head, as if to beckon me. I didn't even bother to question the situation. I simply followed in its steps.
The creature led me to a table. On top of the table was a collection of framed pictures. The creature stared up at the pictures, as if to... gesture towards them? Something told me this creature was more intelligent than I had originally assumed.
The photographs seemed to tell stories of numerous adventures and situations, each one wilder than the last. From calm picnics, to extravagant celebrations, to simple companionship. Each and every one of them seemed to hold some type of meaning, and I didn't even know where to begin in figuring them out.
I noticed that a particular pony was present in almost every single shot. This pony would've been strikingly similar to me, if not for the puffy consistency of her mane and tail.
One of the pictures I came across contained a large, round cake with the words “Happy Birthday Pinkie Pie” written on it. There was also a crude drawing of somepony’s face on the cake, and I assumed that was her. Crowded around the cake were the five mares from last night, and Pinkie Pie stood in front of them all.
Pinkie Pie... the name they’d been referring to me as ever since I woke up in the hospital. I also recalled something I heard upon regaining consciousness.
“Why is her mane straightened out like that?”
Did I really need to think about it, still? It was obvious that I was supposed to be this "Pinkie Pie" to them. Obviously, I was supposed to have a smile on my face for the majority of the time, and obviously, they expected me to represent laughter in its purest form.
Why was I still hesitant about it? Was it not clear? Perhaps I was in denial... or maybe I was just being completely unreasonable.
No, I wasn’t being unreasonable, I was being realistic. Anypony with sense would’ve acted similarly, wouldn’t they have?
The green creature, whom I’d almost forgotten about, somehow climbed to the top of the table and looked at me with those large, purple eyes. I reached out to stroke the top of its head, and it seemed to appreciate this. I let out a deep sigh.
“I wish I knew what to believe.”
Sunlight spilled into the room, bringing some degree of warmth to an otherwise deprived environment.
Twilight turned away from the brightness, wishing she could somehow delay the inevitable. Groggy and lethargic, she only wanted to continue sleeping.
An abrupt knock at the door denied her any hope of this, and she lazily got up. The substitute bed was now messy beyond recognition, due to the abuse it had taken from Twilight's restless tossing and turning.
Twilight approached the front door to the bakery, and without a moment’s hesitation, opened it.
The glare of the morning sun blinded Twilight. Squinting, she tried to identify who was there, but everything was white.
“Good morning, Twilight,” spoke a warm, familiar voice.
Twilight rubbed her eyes, attempting to regain her vision. When the dark spots faded from view, she looked up from the ground.
Before her stood the tall, radiant figure of Princess Celestia.
A light knock on the door gave me reason to get up from my seat. As I made my way over to answer it, I passed the creature. The green reptile seemed adequately entertained by bouncing up and down on a stray balloon that had been lying around. Under normal circumstances, I’d have wondered why the balloon wasn’t popping, or how the creature was maintaining balance so perfectly, but by then, I’d learned not to dwell on things of that sort.
I opened the door, and Twilight stood there. I waited for her to say something, but she remained mute. She appeared somewhat nervous.
“Did you need something?” I asked in as gentle a tone as I could muster.
Her eyes wandered past my shoulder to the green creature, who now stood on the ground next to a deflated balloon.
“I see you’ve met Gummy,” she said casually.
“So it has a name, then?” I asked. “Interesting... what is it, exactly? A crocodile?”
“Alligator,” she corrected.
“I don’t see a difference in the two. Then again, I wouldn’t know much about that.”
“Well, Gummy is your pet. I assumed you had some reason for picking an alligator in the first place, as opposed to a dog or—”
“Twilight,” said a completely unfamiliar voice. “Now is not the time for idle conversation.”
I resisted the urge to invade Twilight’s personal space and peer around the edge of the doorway.
“Oh. Um, of course, Princess. Pinkie, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
Twilight stepped aside, allowing room for the mysterious individual to walk through. From around the corner appeared a pony whom I’d never imagined I would encounter. I’d only seen pictures of her in storybooks. Her very mane emanated pure light, which flooded the room with a brilliant hue. She stood there, proud and dignified, and did not utter a word. She seemed to study me with intent, and I merely bowed in respect. I didn’t see any other choice.
After what seemed like an eternity, she spoke. “Rise, my little pony, and tell me your name.”
Her voice was powerful. It was rich and reassuring, while concurrently inspiring respect and obedience. I felt as though a poor choice of words would seal my fate.
“It’s alright,” said Twilight, obviously sensing my distress. “She only wants to help.”
I calmed myself to the best of my ability, and rose from my knees. “I-I believed my name to be Pinkamena, but I was recently informed that ponies refer to me as Pinkie Pie,” I stated.
“What age did you believe yourself to be?” she asked.
“Eleven years, Your Highness.” I was trying to be as formal as possible.
“You speak like no eleven-year-old filly that I have met before."
"Do you, yourself, have an opinion in this matter? What say you to all of this?"
I searched for the right words. “I believe myself to be in a state of discord,” I started. Twilight cringed upon hearing this, but I disregarded her obvious discomfort. “I have been told that everything I know is not correct, or rather, has long passed. I feel unable to ascertain the truth of these recent claims. How am I to react to such a thing, Your Highness?”
“What else would you have it be, besides the truth?”
“A dream, perhaps?” I suggested.
“Ah, but such is not the way of things,” she said with a smile. “Have you not already had a full night’s rest, and time to ponder things? Have you not previously considered that very possibility?”
“I have,” I admitted.
“With that in mind, how likely do you believe this to be a mere reverie? Do you believe it is common for ponies to realize they are dreaming before waking from them?”
“I wouldn’t know."
Princess Celestia raised an eyebrow, likely expecting elaboration on my part.
"I wouldn't consider myself familiar with dreams that don't adhere to the laws of the world. I do not live a life of thrilling adventure and joy. Rotating hard, lifeless rocks around a field is all I’ve ever known, and I suppose it makes sense that my dreams are so ordinary, and match my normal life so closely. I usually can’t tell the difference between the two."
"Have you grown partial to this lifestyle?" asked Celestia.
“Not really. I’d be lying if I said I don’t envy those who wake up each day feeling excited for the day to come.”
“But Pinkie!” Twilight cried. “That is your life now! You love everything about—”
Celestia held up a hoof. “Have patience, Twilight. You must not let your emotions get the better of you. Simply telling her who she is will not be enough to convince her.”
Twilight stopped her outburst, and lowered her head in resignation.
Celestia returned her attention to me. “You must overcome all doubts if you are to make any progress.”
“I don’t know how. Please, Your Highness... please tell me how,” I begged.
Celestia looked at me with pity, seeming to sense my anguish. Suddenly, her horn was wrapped in a golden aura. She stepped forward and lowered her head towards mine. I didn’t want to show it, but my legs were shaking and I had to force myself not to back away.
Her horn made contact with my forehead, and I expected the worst.
“Calm yourself, Pinkie Pie. Your mind must be relaxed and free if I am to perform this spell successfully.”
I hesitated, but quickly realized that I had no other choice but to trust her. I took a deep breath, and freed myself of all apprehension. My pulse slowed, and I felt at ease.
Moments later, my peace of mind was disrupted when I was hit by an indescribable sensation. The feeling washed over me, probing every crevice of my mind until I could think of nothing else. I felt as though the privacy of my thoughts was being violated, and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not figure out what it was, and the intensity continued to increase.
Just as I thought my head was about to burst, it stopped. As suddenly as it came, the feeling simply disappeared. I was truly perplexed.
I looked up at Celestia, who in turn looked down at me.
“Well?” she asked.
What did she expect me say? I didn't feel any different. Had she done something to me that I wasn't aware of? Perhaps this was just another trick played by my subconscious.
But... this wasn't a dream.
I stopped myself. This wasn't a dream. I was suddenly sure of that, but I didn't know why.
I looked around, and my perception of my surroundings felt completely altered. By some otherworldly power, I felt certain that everything around me was, in fact, real.
I looked up at the princess. "What... how...?"
"We'll give you time to mull things over," she told me. "In the meantime, I have some things I wish to discuss with Twilight."
Celestia turned around and made her way to the door, but Twilight remained where she was. She looked at me with questioning eyes, expecting me to tell her what had just transpired.
"Come, Twilight. We must leave her to her thoughts. She will come to a conclusion on her own when she is ready."
Twilight hesitated for a moment, but eventually obeyed the princess and followed her to the exit. Upon leaving the room, Twilight gave me one final glance before shutting the door behind her.
“I don’t understand, Princess. What did you do?”
Celestia remained silent as the two of them walked through the empty streets of Ponyville. The morning was still new, and they had just a few minutes of privacy before the town would be bustling with activity.
Twilight wanted to spend time with Celestia. She truly desired to enjoy the company of her lifelong mentor, but she knew it would not be so. There were more pressing matters at hoof, currently.
“What kind of spell did you use on Pinkie? What was it supposed to do? Did it succeed?”
“Thirsty for knowledge as always, I see. Very well, I will tell you,” she answered.
Twilight’s eyes widened in anticipation.
“That spell was one I developed long ago. Granted, the situation then was quite different, but I believe it achieved the desired result.”
“What was that result, exactly?”
Celestia paused for a moment. “Have you ever found it difficult to differentiate between dreams and reality?”
Twilight was thrown off by the sudden change in subject. “Yes, I suppose I have, on occasion. I’m pretty sure everypony has felt that before.”
“Indeed. The reason I ask this is because Pinkie Pie is, or rather, was, stuck in a similar situation.”
“Was?” asked Twilight.
“For her, the increasingly blurred line between dream and reality had all but faded. In most occasions, ponies only experience this for a few seconds upon waking. However, because of the monotonous lifestyle she was used to, likely mixed with denial, she was unable to realize the truth on her own.”
Twilight tried to imagine the horror of being trapped in a state of dreamlike uncertainty, and found it hard to comprehend.
“The spell I cast freed her from this prison,” continued Celestia. “The line has become crisp and clear, and she will be able to accept the situation for what it is: the truth.”
“But what about her memories?” asked Twilight.
Celestia’s head lowered in apparent sadness. “My abilities are limited, as I’m sure you are aware, Twilight. Even with my countless years of experience, there is only so much I can do.
“This disease confounds me, to the point that I feel inclined to research it myself. Despite this, I am bound by the throne, and my obligations to Equestria must come first.”
Twilight felt the utter hopelessness returning.
Celestia sensed her student’s distress. “Listen to me, Twilight. This is possible to fix. Though it may seem beyond our grasp, I know it is a task worthy of your ability.”
“My ability?” asked Twilight incredulously.
“Yes. You have yet to fully understand your potential, Twilight.”
“I-I don’t get it. What are you telling me?”
“Allow me to be as clear as possible. It is up to you to save the Element of Laughter from herself. You shall forsake your friendship studies for the time being.”
“What?” asked Twilight in shock. “How can I be expected to do that? Where do I even begin? I don’t have the background, or the means for such a task!”
Twilight began to pace back and forth, spouting nonsense in a panicked attempt to verbalize the thoughts running through her head. “Quills! I’ll need loads of quills. What else? Ah! I can’t forget the ink, and the parchment! I’ll get Spike right on that.” Twilight continued her frenzied to-do list.
“You must calm yourself, Twilight,” instructed Celestia. “Only with a clear and focused mind will you be able to succeed. If you allow the weight of the task to overwhelm you, failure is inevitable. Tell me, do you wish to help Pinkie?”
Twilight took a deep breath. “Yes. Of course I do.”
“Then allow that desire to drive you. Think not of doubt or hopelessness, but instead keep your sight fixed on progress and success.”
Twilight seemed unconvinced.
Celestia sighed. “In a world such as ours, one thing has always reigned true: What can be hoped for can, indeed, be done. You will persevere, Twilight. I have the utmost faith in you."
They continued to walk through the streets in silence. Celestia allowed Twilight some time to gather her thoughts.
Minutes passed, and Twilight spoke. “Neurology is a subject that I’ve barely scratched the surface of. I guess I’ll have to delve much deeper in order to have a decent understanding of it. That would be a good place to start.”
Satisfied, Celestia nodded her head. “Very good.”
After a full circle around Ponyville, the student and teacher eventually arrived back at Sugarcube Corner. They stood at the doorway, and Twilight was unsure what to say in addition to what had already been discussed.
“I must take my leave, for now,” said Celestia. “Let me remind you that you have full access to the Canterlot library, including the ‘Starswirl the Bearded’ wing. If you find yourself lacking in a book, scroll, or any other resource, do not hesitate to ask me by letter. I will make it my priority to have it sent to you.”
“Thank you, Princess.”
With that, Celestia unfurled her wings and gracefully leapt into the air. Twilight watched as her beloved mentor grew smaller and smaller, until she vanished completely into the morning sun.
I sat there, staring outside of the window in anticipation. Twilight and the princess were conversing, and though I couldn’t hear what they were saying, their body language suggested seriousness.
A mere twenty minutes had passed since my encounter with the princess, during which time I had made my way down to the first floor, taking care not to wake the others. Numerous questions had rolled through my mind, but they were quite different than before.
Rather than the existential questions that had burdened my mind before, I was now trying to figure out how I should approach this situation in a practical way. Though reality had somehow revealed itself to me through that spell, the fact remained that I had no recollection of my life here. I only had the words of others to go by. While I had no reason to doubt them, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to accept and adjust.
Rainbow Dash and Applejack walked into the room, stopping in their tracks when I came into view. They stared at me for a moment.
“Good morning,” I said, taking the initiative for once.
Rainbow Dash rubbed her eyes. “Um, good morning. We didn’t realize you’d be up this early. Is everything alright?”
“That don’t sound too convincin’,” Applejack said. “What’s on yer mind, Sugarcube?”
I sighed. “I’ve basically had the truth given to me, and I’m not sure whether I should be thankful or resentful.”
“I don’t get it,” said Rainbow Dash.
“Remember how I was arguing last night that all of this could be a dream?” I began.
“Well, that’s no longer an issue for me. Princess Celestia paid me a visit this morning, and—”
“Hold on, the princess was here?” Rainbow Dash interrupted. “What for?”
“I was getting to that. Anyway, I talked with her for a bit, and she used a strange spell on me. I can’t even begin to speculate how she did it, but I now feel certain that all of this is real.”
“What good is that going to do?” Rainbow asked, her tone suggesting disappointment.
I opened my mouth to speak, but the front door opened at the exact same moment. Twilight stepped inside, exhibiting a demeanor that, as strange as it sounds, seemed both positive and negative.
“Twilight, I need to tell you something.”
The unicorn looked at me. “It’s okay, Pinkie. Princess Celestia already told me what she did.”
“Oh. Well, alright then.” I assumed we were on the same page at that point.
“Now that you know you’re not dreaming, let me ask you something. What do you intend to do?” Twilight asked without much hesitation.
I thought on this question for a minute or two. Twilight stood there, patiently awaiting my response. The question brought countless possibilities to mind.
What was I to do?
I stood erect, allowing my resolve to take hold. “I intend to do what needs to be done, and I no longer have any reason to doubt your word. If I am an essential component in defending Equestria from harm, I can’t ignore my duty.”
The three ponies looked at each other, and a smile spread across their faces simultaneously. Not a smile of amusement, but a smile of true happiness.
I managed to smile back. “If this is who I am in the world, then so be it.”
As I approached the very average, thatched-roof house, I double-checked my map to verify that I was at the right place. Twilight had constructed this detailed illustration of Ponyville, including the names of its residents, so that I would have an easier time finding my way around.
I gave a light knock on the door. Within a few moments, the top half swung open. Standing there was a fairly young-looking mare. She had a beige coat, and a dark blue mane with a pink streak. She gave me a blank stare.
"Um, hello," I began. "Is this the uh, residence of Bon Bon and Lyra?"
The sound of my voice seemed to trigger a spark of familiarity in her expression, and she chuckled. "Very funny, Pinkie. Nice new style, by the way, but I think your usual poofy mane suits you better. How can I help you?"
"That's just it," I replied. "I was hoping we could help each other. You see, I've found myself in a predicament.” I paused for a moment, trying to find the right words. “I'm not sure how to put this any other way, but I have no idea who you are."
She gave me an odd look. "Excuse me?"
"Maybe it'd be more appropriate to say that I can't remember who you are. Either way, I was hoping you could tell me about yourself."
I heard an excited shout from within the house. "Ooh! Who's at the door, Bon Bon?"
Bon Bon replied, "It's Pinkie Pie... I think."
Not even three seconds passed before a unicorn mare appeared beside Bon Bon. This one possessed an aquamarine coat, and a mint-colored mane with a white streak. The seemingly hyperactive mare hopped in place with a huge smile plastered across her face.
“Hey, Pinkie!” she practically shouted at me.
"Hello. Lyra, I presume?"
Lyra stopped her bouncing and gave me a puzzled look. "Of course I'm Lyra.”
"Did you hit your head or something? What gives?" asked Bon Bon.
"Well, to be honest, it's a rather long story," I said.
“I’m not in a rush,” Lyra responded.
“Neither am I. Let's hear it,” Bon Bon agreed.
I started with my awakening in the hospital, and basically went in chronological order from there. I explained EMRS to the best of my ability, and my meeting with Princess Celestia. I'd begun my path to recovery, hoping that by some miracle, my memories would return. The entire time, Lyra and Bon Bon were giving me odd looks which I couldn’t read.
When I finished, there was no response.
“Aren’t one of you going to say something?” I asked.
Lyra sat there, silently, with a frozen expression. Her mouth was agape and her eyes wide. She looked like she had just witnessed something horrifying.
Bon Bon glared at me. “That isn’t funny, Pinkie.”
“W-What made you think I was trying to be funny?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said with sarcasm. “How about your daily shenanigans alone? The pranks, jokes, and generally crazy behavior? Don’t get me wrong, I usually get a good laugh out of it, but this... this is kind of distasteful, really.”
“This isn’t a joke!” I shouted in frustration. “I’m completely serious!”
“Sure, Pinkie. Look, why don’t you go unstraighten your hair and tend to Sugarcube Corner like you’re supposed to? I don’t think the Cakes would appreciate it if you shirked your duties while they’re gone.”
“Sugarcube Corner is closed until they return, whenever that is... I don’t know how to run a bakery by myself,” I said.
Bon Bon sighed. “I need to be going, Pinkie. I hope you realize soon enough that this isn’t one of your better ideas of a prank.”
She backed into the house, dragging Lyra with her. I opened my mouth to argue further, but the door slammed in my face before I could protest.
I looked down to the welcome mat beneath my hooves and sighed. This was the fourth house I’d visited today. At first, it seemed like they would take me seriously, but I was mistaken. This attempt had ended no differently than the previous three.
I understood that I was supposed to be a fun-loving, party-throwing, overly hyperactive mare, but to not be taken seriously by anypony I talk to? It seemed like an odd lifestyle, to be perfectly honest.
I pivoted in place, and trudged off towards my next destination in defeat.
Rainbow Dash watched Pinkie Pie from a nearby cloud. One by one, she had seen her friend’s failed attempts to explain things to the citizens of Ponyville. Each one had ended similarly.
I wish there was something I could do to help, Rainbow thought to herself. This isn’t right. They should know Pinkie wouldn't take a joke that far. It's obvious she's not messing around. I think the other four would agree with me, too.
She looked back down at Pinkie, who was moping away from Lyra and Bon Bon’s house.
I’m not going to sit here and watch this play out. There has to be something I can do, but what?
Rainbow put a hoof to her chin in contemplation. Suddenly, an idea came to her. She shot off like a cannonball in the direction of the library, causing the cloud behind her to dissipate.
I watched as the sun grew darker and richer in color. I always loved the sunset, mainly because it meant we were done working for the day.
That's what today felt like. Work. The same kind of needless, energy-wasting work I toiled through my entire life. I didn't accomplish a single thing I had intended. I had attempted to reintroduce myself to every last pony in this town, and not a single one of them took me seriously. Literally every pony in Ponyville thought I was joking. It made me sick just thinking about it.
"What's with the big frowny-wownie?"
I immediately sat up and looked around the room in suspicion. "Who's there?" I called out.
"It's just me, silly!"
I looked for the source of the strange voice, until my eyes wandered past the alligator. Then, my gaze shot back towards it.
"Gummy?" I asked.
"Umm, yeah! You guessed it! Ding ding ding! Hehehe, I love guessing games! Let's play again!"
"I don't understand," I said. "How in the world are you talking? Your mouth isn't even moving."
"Umm... it's a secret! Yup! It's for me to know, and you to maybe find out!"
"I really am going crazy," I mumbled, rubbing my head.
"No you're not! I promise, you're not going cuckoo, you're just in a bit of a jam, like blueberry, or grape!"
"Is this supposed 'jam' of mine the fact that nopony in this town takes me seriously, or the fact that I'm having a conversation with a reptile? Currently, I'd say it's the latter."
"I'm not your jam, silly! In fact, I'm here to help you!"
"Help me?" I asked with growing curiosity.
"Yuppity yup yup! Not now, though. You have something else to do, first! See you when you get back!"
"Wait, what?" I asked.
There was no response. Gummy continued to stare at me with those enormous purple eyes, but other than that, nothing else was said.
I would've continued to dwell on the matter, but there was a knock on the door. I walked over to answer it, and to my relief, Rainbow Dash was standing at the doorway.
For some reason, I liked Rainbow Dash. We hadn't had much of an opportunity to converse, but as far as I could tell, she was one I would definitely get along with in the near future.
"Hey, Pinkie Pie. What's up?" she asked.
"Oh, you know, the usual. Sitting in my room, not doing much."
Rainbow chuckled upon hearing this. "No offense, Pinkie, but that's nowhere near 'the usual' for you."
"I suppose you're right," I said with a grin, trying to infuse a bit of lightheartedness into the room.
"Anyway, there’s this town meeting going on soon. Wanna come along?"
"What exactly would that entail?"
"Not a whole lot. Just hanging out and stuff.” She awkwardly rubbed the back of her head, as if she was unsure of herself.
The way she said it seemed awfully suspicious. From what I had gathered from Rainbow Dash so far, she didn’t seem like the kind of pony that made it one of her priorities to participate in the community. Then again, I could have been wrong. Who was I to judge her based on her mannerisms alone?
“Alright, I’ll come,” I said.
“Great!” she replied with enthusiasm. “I’ll walk with you to Town Square!”
I stood at the rear of a vast crowd. Everypony in town seemed to be gathered here, and I was able to identify all of them thanks to my exertions from earlier today. What a waste of time and effort that was.
The stage, save for a large podium, was empty. There was chatter amongst everypony, and I got the feeling that they were as confused as I was.
“What’s the purpose of this?” I asked Rainbow Dash, who was standing next to me.
“You’ll see,” she replied.
Just then, everypony went quiet as Twilight walked up on stage and approached the podium. She had a thick stack of index cards with her, and it appeared that she intended to read off of them.
She straightened the stack, and began to speak. “Welcome, everypony. I’ve called you all here today for a matter of great importance.”
Twilight took a moment to transfer the front card to the back of the stack.
“Somepony we all know and love has been struck by grim circumstances.”
A wave of unrest swept through the assembly. Everyone exchanged gestures of confusion. I didn’t like where this was going.
“Settle down, everypony!” Twilight asserted, which caused them to go quiet almost immediately.
“Now, raise your hooves if you received a visit from Pinkie Pie today,” she requested.
After a second to process the question, every single pony present raised their hoof, excluding Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and myself. This caused another wave of shock and confusion among the citizens.
Twilight’s expression and tone did not change. “Now, keep your hoof raised if you took her seriously when she attempted to explain something to you.”
Not a single hoof lowered, which I was appalled by.
I looked to where Rainbow Dash had been standing previously, but she was no longer there. Instead, she was midair, already halfway to the podium.
Rainbow landed beside Twilight with an abrupt thud, which was enough to startle everypony. She had a look of scorn, and she stared at the entire crowd with contempt.
“Don’t you dare lie about this. I know for a fact that you, you, you, you, and you looked at Pinkie like she was crazy when she tried to explain things to you,” she said accusingly, pointing at several ponies in the crowd.
I couldn’t tell who all she had addressed, but I think I was able to identify Lyra among them, due to her mane color sticking out. Additionally, her hoof lowered shortly afterwards, which confirmed my suspicions.
“Also,” started Rainbow, this time with her eyes scanning across the entire town, “I’m willing to bet a hundred bits that the rest of you reacted the same way. Am I right?”
At that, the remainder of the raised hooves slowly lowered in silent shame.
“That’s what I thought,” snorted Rainbow, and she returned to her spot next to me. I looked at her, unsure what to say.
“I’m surprised at all of you,” said Twilight, glaring at the congregation. “As much as you all love and adore Pinkie Pie, you would just as quickly ignore her when she needs you? Have you forgotten everything she has done for us, or the countless times she has gone out of her way to lift our spirits? What do you have to say for yourselves?”
There was utter silence for a moment before a pony shouted from the crowd. “Maybe we would have paid attention to her if the story was believable.”
“Yeah!” agreed another pony. “How are we supposed to know she’s not just pulling our leg? It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. What proof do you have that she has this ‘EMRS’ thing?”
Twilight sat there for a moment, without a word. Then, an idea appeared to spark in her head as her eyes quickly widened and a short smile spread across her face.
“Pinkie, are you out there?” she called out.
I didn’t want to answer. I didn’t want everypony staring at me with their judgmental eyes. I slowly backed out from the rear of the crowd, trying to make my escape.
“She’s right here, Twilight!” answered Rainbow Dash.
My fate was sealed.
The crowd parted, and all eyes were now on me. I stood there, trying to hide that my legs were shaking.
“Could you come up here, please?” asked Twilight.
I didn’t exactly have a choice, now did I? Slowly, I made my way through the parted crowd. I looked at the ground to avoid eye contact with anypony. I heard gasps and murmurs of surprise among the crowd. I didn’t pay much attention to them as I made my way onto the stage, and towards the podium.
I gave Twilight a pleading glance as I approached her onstage, which she ignored. The crowd continued to gasp as they got a better look at me. What was it that shocked them so much?
“See, everypony?” Twilight said.
“See what?” I asked her, confused beyond words.
“What happened to her cutie mark?” shouted somepony from the crowd. The mass of ponies broke out into hysterics upon seeing my flank, which was devoid of any kind of mark.
“Calm down!” shouted Twilight, but her voice was lost among the chaos. She gave it a moment for the noise to die down, but nothing changed. She took a deep breath, and yelled “Be quiet!” at the top of her lungs.
Everypony was still and quiet, directing their full attention to Twilight once more.
“I know this is something none of us has seen before. Heck, it’s probably the first time in pony history that a cutie mark has disappeared, but we have to do the same thing we always do!”
“Panic?” Lily asked from the crowd.
“No!” answered Twilight in annoyance. “We have to work together to fix it. Princess Celestia has tasked me with coming up with a solution for the disease, but you all have to do your part, as well. When I say 'do your part,' that doesn't mean avoiding Pinkie like the plague! Got it?”
Everypony either nodded in agreement, or gave a vocal indication that they understood what needed to be done.
“Good!” said Twilight. “This town meeting is concluded!”
I closed the door behind me, and finally let out a deep sigh of relief.
“Well, that was a nightmare,” I said to myself.
“You can say that again!”
I looked around for Gummy. “Where are you now?”
“Umm... oh! Right over ther—I mean, right over here! By the bed!”
I looked in the direction of the bed, and sure enough, Gummy was standing on the floor right there. I walked towards Gummy and looked down at the alligator.
“Looks like somepony is being a silly surly-pants. Gimme a big smile!”
I let this superfluous request float past me without a moment’s consideration. “You said you could help me?”
“Well, duh! That’s what I’m here for! I’ll be like your guide, ready to help you out at a moment’s notice!”
“Right,” I said with hesitance. “So, what do you suggest I do first?”
“You can’t go about fixing things like that, silly!”
“I don’t understand.”
“First of all, there is no first, and there’s no last, either! Just go with the flow, and you’ll be fine!”
“But the Pinkie Pie they know does the exact opposite of 'going with the flow.' In fact, she goes out of her way daily to do things for others.”
“Oh! Well, I guess you’ll just need to do that, then!”
“What about parties? I heard the Pinkie Pie they know loves to throw parties on a regular basis.”
“Well, first you have to learn how to throw a party, silly! Might I suggest the party cannon? It’s over there in the corner.”
“That can’t be good,” I responded. Nevertheless, I wandered over to the corner of the room, where I found a small, blue cannon with a picture of a yellow flower on each side. I observed the strange contraption, trying to understand what the possible purpose for a 'party cannon' could be. I ran a hoof over the surface, and when I came across a button, I pushed it without really thinking about the consequences.
There was a loud blast, and the recoil slammed me against the wall, knocking the wind out of me. The force of the cannon pushed my bed, which was now covered in a generous amount of cake batter, across the room. Streamers of various colors were strewn across the floor, while balloons bobbed lazily on the ceiling.
I stared at the wreckage in dismay.
“Oops, hehehe! I guess you’re not enough of a party pony to use it right! Maybe next time!”
I stared at my room, which was now messier than I could ever imagine, and sighed deeply. I found a mop nearby, which seemed inexplicably out of place in a bedroom, and went to work.
The next several days proved to be much easier for me, considering everypony in town now believed that my condition was legitimate. In fact, some of the townsfolk even stopped by Sugarcube Corner to apologize for the way they'd acted before, which was rather surprising.
After almost a week in Ponyville, it was beginning to feel like a vacation. I was allowed to wake up whenever I wanted to, I wasn't required to do manual labor for the majority of the day, and I certainly wasn't prohibited from enjoying myself. It was a desirable change, to say the least.
Under the close watch of Gummy, I did my best to uphold my reputation as the "Element of Laughter." While I didn't needlessly giggle at everything I saw, I tried to go out of my way to put others in a good mood. I had managed to put a smile on somepony's face more than once, and it felt nice to do so. It brought me a sense of fulfillment, as if I had done some good for this world.
I'd gotten into the habit of watching Rainbow Dash practice each morning. Being a serious athlete, she needed to spend several hours every day working on her flying skills. For the majority of the time, she would repeat a particular maneuver over and over again until she was able to do it correctly. She occasionally got frustrated, but I just sat there and continued to be awed by the impressive display. I couldn't even begin to imagine pulling off the tricks she executed on a daily basis, with or without wings.
Today began no differently than the last few days. I woke up early to watch Rainbow Dash practice. Afterwards, we headed into town so that we could find someplace to get lunch.
On our way, Rainbow and I ran into Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, and Fluttershy.
“Hey there,” greeted Applejack. “What are y’all two doin’?”
“We were just about to grab some grub,” said Rainbow Dash.
“Well, I daresay we were about to do the same thing!” exclaimed Rarity.
“Do you want to join us?” asked Twilight.
“Sure,” I answered.
Together, the six of us made our way to one of Rarity's favorite cafés, The Equine Eatery. Once there, we were promptly greeted and seated at a table outside.
I was sitting there, enjoying my salad and partaking of the casual conversation, when I felt a strange twitching sensation in my tail. I ignored it, suspecting it was one of the strange spasms I had occasionally experienced for as long as I could remember. They were mildly irritating, but I had learned to accept them.
Suddenly, a blur of immeasurable speed zipped past my face and ended its course in front of us. There, in the center of the wooden table, stood three young fillies with ecstatic looks on their faces.
"Sweetie Belle!" shouted Rarity. I looked in her direction, and saw that her drink had fallen over. Fortunately, the glass was nearly empty, and a mess was averted.
The fillies seemed to disregard this, however, and instead stared directly at me with large, eager eyes.
"Hey there, Pinkie Pie!" said Applejack's younger sister.
"Hello, Apple Bloom," I said in response. "How's the crusading coming along?"
"Great!" she answered excitedly.
I smiled and nodded, thinking they had just stopped by to say hello. However, the three of them continued to stand there and stare at me. My friendly smile turned into one of awkwardness.
"Was there something you needed to tell me?" I asked.
My question seemed to break them out of some sort of trance, and their eyes widened, even after I thought they couldn't get any larger.
"Oh, yeah!" said Scootaloo. "We did want to ask you something!"
"You see," began Apple Bloom, "we were thinking... since you don't have your cutie mark and all, that you could maybe, just maybe—"
"—join us and become an official Cutie Mark Crusader!" blurted Sweetie Belle in excitement.
"Oh," I said with obvious hesitation. "That would be... interesting."
"So you'll join?" the three asked simultaneously, leaning their heads closer to mine.
"Y'all realize that Pinkie isn't like this forever, right?" Applejack pointed out. "It's just temporary."
The synergy these three fillies shared astounded me. They simultaneously put their hooves up to their chins in contemplation. Then, their eyes lit up as if struck with an idea. Finally, they all shouted in perfect unison, "Cutie Mark Crusaders temporary assistance!"
It was as if these three were meant for each other. I didn't realize it, but I sat there with my mouth agape. I was dumbfounded.
Before I could think about it further, I was being forcibly removed from my seat. I shot a pleading glance towards my friends, but they didn’t lift a hoof as I was dragged away by the feisty young fillies. In fact, it looked like some of them were chuckling at the sight.
"Don't you think we should have helped her?" asked Twilight, nervously staring after the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Pinkie Pie, despite the fact that they were out of sight by now.
"Nah, she'll be fine," replied Rainbow Dash. "Besides, she could use some loosening up, and the nonsense of those three might do the trick."
Twilight nodded somewhat hesitantly, and turned her attention back to her salad.
“Oh, Sweetie Belle. Sometimes you can be so oblivious of the messes you cause,” said Rarity, placing the glass back in its upright position.
"What was that?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"I was just recalling the numerous occasions in which Sweetie Belle and her friends have found themselves in the most bizarre circumstances. They tend to create quite a few messes in the process."
"Yeah, but the part where you called her 'oblivious' just made me think of something."
The other four ponies looked at her curiously.
"Okay, so remember that one time where those three spent hours trying to find me so that they could hear my cutie mark story?" asked Rainbow Dash.
"Didn't you guys tell them your stories, too?"
"Of course! I'd almost completely forgotten about that, considering the almost-insulting lack of interest on their part," said Rarity, sullen.
"What did you expect? They're kids," said Rainbow Dash. "Anyway, if the five of us told them our stories, who's to say Pinkie didn't tell them, too?"
“She probably did. So what?" asked Applejack.
"So that means that all three of them knew about the connection between Pinkie's cutie mark and the Sonic Rainboom, and it never once occurred to them to suggest the obvious!" said Twilight in sudden realization. She seemed ready to smack herself in the face with her hoof.
"Exactly!" agreed Rainbow Dash.
"Goodness," said Rarity. "Talk about oblivious."
"Um, wouldn't that make us just as much to blame?" asked Fluttershy, speaking for the first time since they ordered their food.
Fluttershy made a good point. They all stared back and forth between each other, not wanting to show how stupid they felt at that moment.
"Never mind all that," said Rainbow Dash, finally breaking the awkward silence. "I have a plan, and I wanna know what you guys think about it."
"Look, I understand how badly you three want your cutie marks. I truly do, but I don't think this is the right approach."
When someone's life is at risk, it can drive them to do a great many things they normally wouldn't do. Personally, I never would have dreamt of telling these three fillies that the whole "Cutie Mark Crusader" tactic they've been using for the last two years has been completely wrong. It was merely devised as a result of their preconceived, irrational fear of being alienated from society, or in this case, their classroom.
Alas, no amount of begging or logic on my part would make them stray from the objective in front of them.
"Of course it is!" shouted Sweetie Belle over the loud wind.
"Yeah!" Scootaloo agreed. "How else do you suggest getting them?"
I wasn't entirely sure how to respond to their arguments, especially considering the fact that I was too terrified to think clearly. This entire conversation was happening while we were suspended hundreds of feet off the ground. I couldn't imagine what had inspired those three to attempt bungee jumping from a hot air balloon. If they thought this would make them earn their cutie marks, they were out of their minds.
There I stood, leaning precariously over the edge of the float, preparing to jump at their command. Even though I was strapped into a harness, which I questioned the security of, I still couldn't believe I was doing this. I didn't see any point in jeopardizing my safety to entertain these children.
"Jump!" they shouted together, once again amazing me with their perfect synchronization.
I gulped loudly, knowing full well that there was nothing I could do. Judging from previous activities, if I didn't leap out of the balloon in the next five seconds or so, they would push me out themselves.
I felt a small force upon my back, and quickly realized that they did the very thing I had predicted. As gravity brought me forward, I resisted the urge to sigh.
I sat on the wooden floor in boredom. Hours of physical exertions had certainly taken its toll on me, but since I was quite used to the exercise, it wasn't as bad as one might think.
My eyes wandered throughout the interior of the clubhouse, trying to find interest in some of the various objects and furnishings around the room.
Something eventually caught my attention. On top of one of the small tables stood a balloon figure of Rainbow Dash. On the wall behind it was a poster of Rainbow Dash flying horizontally with a rainbow streak trailing behind her, as usual. The setup looked to me like the early stages of some sort of shrine.
I assumed those items were placed there by Scootaloo, judging by the way she constantly spoke of her admiration for Rainbow. For these last several hours, Scootaloo had, on multiple occasions, expressed a desire to be "just like Rainbow Dash." I found it rather obsessive and monotonous, but it didn't bother me much, nor did it seem to even affect the other two.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders were planning future activities at another side of the room. They offered for me to be a part of it, but I respectfully declined, seeing as how the only thing that came to mind was rock farming. Aside from my father, I couldn't think of a single pony in Equestria, myself included, who actually enjoyed rock farming.
"Any ideas?" asked Apple Bloom.
"I've got nothing. We did way more stuff today than usual," answered Scootaloo.
"Maybe we should call it a day?" offered Sweetie Belle. "We're all tired, anyway."
The three of them looked at me.
"Well, I think we're done for today, Pinkie," said Apple Bloom. Oddly enough, I felt a small feeling of disappointment. I'd grown to enjoy these three over the course of the day.
"Sorry we couldn't help you get your cutie mark," said Scootaloo sadly. "If only we had more energy and more time in the day. Oh, I know! Maybe we can talk to Twilight about that tomorrow!"
"Perhaps the fabric of time would best be left undisturbed," I said jokingly. "Besides, Twilight has her hooves full with researching a cure for me."
The Cutie Mark Crusaders looked down in disappointment. It was hard to see them like that.
"Don't worry about it. We had fun, so I'd call this a successful day." I smiled, and they looked up and grinned back at me about twice as big.
As I departed from the clubhouse, the three fillies waved goodbye to me from their deck. The sun was beginning its descent, and I wanted to get home before dark.
All things considered, and despite the repetitive complaints to myself, I had a lot of fun today.
I've never understood how pegasi can push themselves to such incredible speeds. Even the average, everyday pegasus can fly three times faster than any earth pony can run. With years of training, in addition to natural talent, the feats a pegasus can accomplish are phenomenal.
Rainbow Dash possessed these great qualities, and so much more.
Despite her unbelievable speed, she managed to make ninety degree turns mid flight with ease, displaying a level of agility that was unmatched in my eyes.
She stylistically turned the sky into a work of art, shaping and positioning the clouds so that they created beautiful panoramas which I could relate to and interpret as if I were at an art gallery.
Rainbow Dash truly had the sky at her beck and call. If she desired something, it was immediately ready to serve her with great pleasure.
At least, that's how I saw it. I probably made it sound better than it really was. If someone who did this sort of thing for a living, such as a member of the Wonderbolts, were to judge Rainbow Dash's performance, my guess is that they would be able to recognize certain flaws and improvements that could be made. An untrained eye such as mine wouldn't even know where to begin.
Rainbow had just finished a complex maneuver when she yelled down to me, "Hey, Pinkie! You watching?"
"Yeah!" I shouted back.
"Awesome! Check this out, you'll love it!" she said.
Rainbow Dash ascended higher into the air, gaining altitude until she was just a small dot to my eyes. I watched in anticipation.
Then, she began to rocket downwards in a full-on nose dive, moving faster than my eyes could discern.
Mere seconds later, the light spectrum seemed to shatter. A massive explosion sounded, and its boom seemed loud enough to be heard for miles around. A circle of rainbow expanded outwards from Dash's figure until it enveloped the entire sky.
The force of the blast almost knocked me off balance, and the trees around me were blown back like blades of grass in a light breeze. I had to fight to remain standing.
Dash emerged from the explosion with a rich, full rainbow trailing behind her. Instead of disappearing almost instantly like usual, the rainbow trail continued to extend and eventually she formed the typical semi-circle shape that everyone seemed to be most familiar with.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life.
When she finally began to slow down, she eventually made a soft landing on the ground near me.
When our eyes met, she wore a goofy grin, and it took me a moment to realize that my hair had been messed up in a ridiculous fashion. I would have to look in a mirror when I got the chance, but my guess is that I looked like I had just been electrocuted.
After this brief distraction, I ran over to Rainbow Dash.
"That was incredible!" I said with enthusiasm.
"Yeah, I know," she replied in a conceited manner.
"What exactly was it?" I asked.
"It's called the Sonic Rainboom," she answered. "It's my signature move."
"Wow," I muttered in hushed amazement.
After a brief moment of silence, Rainbow Dash said, "So... any major revelations?"
"What are you talking about?" I asked, confused by the strange question.
She looked to the ground in what looked like disappointment, which struck me as odd. "Oh, never mind," she said.
As tempted as I was to question Dash further about her sudden shift in mood, I decided to let it go.
Some days passed, and the image of the Sonic Rainboom still lingered in my mind.
It was so beautiful... so awe-inspiring. I couldn't get over the fact that one pony was capable of pulling off such a feat.
For some reason, I felt like I was doing something wrong by not openly showing my appreciation for it.
"I like your new mane style!" said a bubbly voice, which I quickly recognized as belonging to Gummy.
"Thanks," I answered in a somewhat reserved tone.
Ever since I witnessed the Sonic Rainboom, my mane had maintained this puffy style, similar to the pictures I'd seen. After attempting to brush it, the hair literally popped back into its curly state instantaneously. I realized it was a futile effort and decided to leave it as it was.
"Something on your mind?"
"Not really. I just..."
"...Feel like you're doing something wrong by not openly showing your appreciation for the awesomeness that is Dashie's Sonic Rainboom?”
“Exactly!" I said. "It’s almost as if... wait, what?” It had taken a moment to process the fact that Gummy had just recited my thoughts word for word.
"Well, I know what you can do to fix that!" said Gummy, ignoring my apprehensive tone and instead moving forward in the original conversation.
I dismissed it as a fluke occurrence, and decided not to pursue the matter further.
"What would that be?" I asked.
“A party?” I asked in a mocking tone. “Seriously?”
"Why?" I asked. "It seems so random and unnecessary."
"Duh! You're supposed to be random! That's Pinkie Pie in a nutshell! Besides, parties are always fun, and never unnecessary."
I looked around my room. All the supplies were available to me. I chuckled, knowing full-well that five days ago, I would have never even considered doing something like this.
"Alright, I'll do it, but I'll need your help. You probably know far more about throwing together a celebration like this than I do."
"Okie dokie lokie!"
The hardest part of this entire ordeal was locating Rainbow Dash. I eventually found her taking a nap in one of the local trees. After waking her up, I asked her to put on a blindfold and come with me. She was somewhat resistant at first, but eventually complied.
When we finally entered the unknown building, she became increasingly suspicious.
"Where are we going?" she asked with impatience.
"Just wait," I answered.
At last, we arrived at the intended destination, and I took off her blindfold. To my satisfaction, her facial expression was one of utter astonishment.
"Surprise!" shouted five mares, myself included.
Twilight, Fluttershy, Rarity, Applejack, and I stood in front of Rainbow Dash. Behind us were numerous assortments of decorations and snacks. There were a few things that Gummy had strongly suggested, such as a large bucket of water in which one dunks their head in attempts to grab apples with their mouth. Things likes this sounded odd to me at first, but I was assured that they were, indeed, extremely well-known and popular activities to have at a party.
Rainbow continued to stand there in shock, clearly not expecting something like this, particularly from someone like me.
"Well?" I asked. "How did I do?"
At that, Rainbow seemed to ease up significantly. She breathed in a sigh of relief, and said, "It's awesome, Pinkie! This is just like old times."
I smiled, glad to hear those words spoken from her. It meant a lot to me, and I wasn't entirely sure why.
All six of us spent the remainder of the evening enjoying each others' company. We talked, we laughed, we danced, and had a fantastic time overall. I would have never imagined myself participating in a game called "Pin the Tail on the Pony," and actually having a fun time doing it, for that matter.
Despite the fact that I genuinely enjoyed myself, something had been bugging me the entire time, similar to an itch. I didn't figure out what it was until the party started to come to a close.
"You guys," I started, getting their attention. "I forgot to make a cake."
There was a moment of silence, and then Twilight spoke up. "Don't worry about it, Pinkie. It's not a big deal."
"Yeah!" agreed Rainbow Dash. "Besides, we had fun either way. We don't need a cake for that."
"I know, but I just realized something,” I said while looking down, embarrassed. “I have no idea how to even make a cake.”
At that, the silence once again fell upon us. Then, out of nowhere, we all burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. For whatever reason, the fact that I had no clue how to bake a cake was absolutely hilarious to us. There were no words, only a mutual understanding between us.
As I took part in the merriment, I was overcome by a feeling of pure bliss. I observed my good friends, every single one of them having the time of their lives, and felt assured of one thing: right here, at this very moment, everything was going to be okay.
There I stood, in the kitchen of Sugarcube Corner, staring at a book titled "Baking: Back to the Basics."
I gathered the necessary ingredients and, when I was certain I had done things correctly so far, began mixing furiously. I continued to mix, making a bit of a mess in the process, when I heard the bell which signaled that someone had opened the front door of Sugarcube Corner.
I stopped what I was doing and raced to the door, either ready to greet one of my friends, or to politely let some unaware pony know that Sugarcube Corner would be closed until the Cakes return from their trip.
What I saw was neither of those things, but rather a very exhausted pair of ponies, whom I immediately recognized as Mr. and Mrs. Cake from the photographs I had seen. With them were two young foals, which Mr. Cake carried in a saddlebag designed specifically for babies.
After setting some of their things on the floor, they looked at me and smiled. "Hello there, Pinkie. We're finally back," said Mr. Cake.
"That's fantastic," I responded with indifference, diluting the words.
They both gave me an odd look, but quickly turned their attention back to unloading everything from the wagon outside. It would take several trips to complete this task, due to the massive amount of luggage they had brought with them.
I attempted to approach them in the midst of all this. They seemed rather preoccupied, and I wasn’t sure where to begin in my explanation. Should I start from the beginning? Should I clear up any potential misconceptions before they arise? These questions came to mind as I stood there like a dimwit and stared while they unpacked their things.
I was extremely hesitant about addressing this subject. I saw Mr. Cake enter through the door carrying an enormous metal cake platter on his back. Moments later, Mrs. Cake returned from upstairs after putting the foals in their crib for a nap. They were both in the room with me, and I saw this as an appropriate moment to talk to them.
“Mr. and Mrs. Cake?” I asked as politely as I could.
They turned their gaze to me simultaneously, and after they got a good glance at me, their expressions shifted from lighthearted to completely and utterly horrified. They both looked like they had just seen a ghost.
Mr. Cake was so overcome with shock that he forgot about balancing the giant cake platter, causing it to crash to the floor with a loud bang. This, in turn, woke up the babies who had just been put to sleep.
Neither the crash nor the wailing of their foals seemed to faze the Cakes. They continued to stare at me blankly, or rather, they stared at the blank patch of fur where my Cutie Mark was supposed to be.
Throughout the Golden Oaks Library, the only noise that could be heard at present was the sound of a book’s pages turning every minute or so.
Twilight Sparkle sat at the wooden desk, staring intently at the text she read. It was titled “The Key to the Mind,” and its description had initially shown a great amount of promise to the young unicorn.
However, that promise quickly waned as the pages went by, until at last she had reached its end. In frustration, she tossed the book to the other side of the room, where it landed with a disruptive thud, joining the other books and discarded notes scattered around the room.
Twilight sighed deeply. Two weeks without any results, she thought to herself. I’m beginning to think Princess Celestia put a bit too much faith in me.
In resignation, she stared out the window, only to be greeted by the approaching night. Once again, the day had gotten away from her.
Dusk, she noted, observing countless golden streaks in the sky. The last stage of twilight, ushering in the nighttime.
She sighed once more. When twilight is over, I suppose I won’t be at my peak performance level of thinking, she decided with mild amusement.
Twilight got up from her cushion and made her way downstairs, where she was met by her loyal companion, Spike.
“Hey there, Twilight. What’re you up to?”
“Just getting a glass of water,” she answered.
“Are you done researching for now?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Maybe for a little bit.”
There was a short silence as Twilight filled a glass to the brim with ice-cold water, and then eagerly drained all of the liquid from the large cup.
When she was finished, Spike gave her a worried look. “When’s the last time you ate or drank anything?”
She wiped the remaining water from her lips, then answered, “I don’t know. Maybe last night.”
Spike’s look of worry turned to one of shock. “Last night? You didn’t have breakfast or lunch?”
“You've been cooped up in that study room for too long, you didn’t eat or sleep, and the rest of you is, well, a mess,” he added, noticing that, in addition to her disheveled mane, her eyes were bloodshot and her fur was matted due to neglect. “You need to take care of yourself.”
“What?” asked Spike, apprehensive of her response to such a serious topic.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” answered Twilight. “I just never thought I’d be getting this kind of lecture from you, Spike.”
Spike smiled as well, though he did not dare stray from the original subject. “Talk to me, Twi. What’s going on?”
Twilight sat down at the kitchen table. “Princess Celestia trusts me to find a cure for Pinkie, and I just don’t know if I can do it. The mind is incredibly complex. The more I learn about it, the more questions arise in turn.”
Spike looked at her curiously.
“Think of it like a never ending knot,” explained Twilight. “You untie it, only to find a new knot underneath. No matter how many times you untie it, you can never manage to get to the center.”
“But why do you want to get to the center so badly?” asked Spike.
“Isn’t it obvious? I want to save Pinkie.”
“I don’t know, Twilight,” Spike rebutted. “Pinkie doesn’t look like she needs much saving. Have you seen her lately?”
“Well... yes, but that’s beyond the point!” Twilight said with increased agitation. “It’s not the same Pinkie, regardless of how well she has adjusted to Ponyville.”
“Why is that?” asked Spike.
“Well, her past memories are non-existent, for one. Plus, the way she acts around others... she’s like an entirely different pony!”
“Is that really a bad thing? Everypony else seems to like her.”
“It’s a bad thing if the Elements of Harmony are useless. No offense to her, but this Pinkie is not the Element of Laughter. She’s still too serious.”
Spike looked down in concession, realizing that Twilight’s words rang true.
“Well... what if you went to see Zecora?” he suggested.
Twilight looked at him quizzically.
“What? That’s where you usually go for things like this.”
Twilight’s eyes widened. “You’re right! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that sooner!”
Twilight got up from the chair and made her way to the door.
“Hold on... you’re going now?” asked Spike.
“Of course,” she answered without hesitation. “Desperate times do call for desperate measures.”
“Well, okay.” He decided not to argue. “But be careful. The Everfree Forest is dangerous at night.”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “I know that, Spike. I’ve only been in there about a thousand times. I’ll be fine.”
She opened the door and, before leaving, looked back with a smile. “When did you decide to take on a role as the protective parent, anyway?”
Spike chuckled sheepishly, but didn’t say anything else. He recognized a rhetorical question when he heard one, especially from Twilight.
The door closed behind her gently so as not to disturb the neighbors who were getting ready to go to sleep.
Spike stood there awkwardly for a moment. Then, he went to the kitchen and began preparing a meal for Twilight's return. It would be a late dinner, but she still needed to eat.
The young night sky was mesmerizing. I could have stared at it for hours, appreciating the warm glow of the moon, or attempting to count the inconceivable number of stars present. I could definitely relate to Princess Luna's love for the night.
Despite this being a relatively good distraction, the events from earlier today clung tightly to the front of my mind.
Even after I had managed to explain things to the Cakes, they still seemed on the verge of panic. Mrs. Cake had insisted on making me one of my favorite milkshakes: "The Chocolate Cotton Candy Strawberry Vanilla Swirl" with extra whipped cream. At first it had looked and sounded repulsive, but after a sip or two I quickly found myself delighted by the flavor.
Despite that pleasant discovery, the weight of the situation greatly outweighed the importance of my dessert preference, and the milkshake was soon at the back of my mind.
The reaction of the Cakes troubled me greatly. They had seemed particularly distressed, and they had acted in a very odd way. Perhaps they simply didn't know how to handle this emotionally. Then again, I could only assume that their behavior was out of the ordinary based on what I've been told about them.
Even now, as I lay in the grass staring up at the night sky, I had the nagging feeling that I was intruding somehow.
A slew of rainbow color passed overhead, and I easily guessed what it was before it came to a halting stop and veered down towards me.
"Hey Rainbow Dash," I greeted, not moving from my current position.
The pegasus made a soft landing on the ground near me. "What're you doing out in the middle of the park this late?" she asked as she approached me.
"Not much, really," I answered. "Just looking at the stars, mostly. They're pretty cool tonight, if you feel like joining me."
"Nah, I'm not much into stargazing. That's more Twilight's thing."
"Suit yourself," I replied, disappointed.
She turned to leave, but stopped. She was clearly hesitant, and eventually she looked back at me and asked, "Something on your mind?"
I sighed. "It's a long story... I doubt you'd be interested."
"Sure I would," she argued, approaching me once more and sitting down on the grass next to me. "Besides, I got time."
"Alright," I said.
I recounted the details of what had happened between me and the Cakes, making sure not to miss anything so that Rainbow Dash would have a concise series of events to go by.
"Okay, so they're worried. So what?" Rainbow Dash asked when I was done. "Isn't that what you expected?"
"Yes, I suppose I did. Still, I can't get over this strange feeling that I'm somehow..." I trailed off.
"Somehow what?" she pressed.
"Yes." I looked down in shame.
"What makes you think you're intruding?" she asked, bewildered.
"I don't know. It's as if I don't really belong here, and my presence is a burden."
Rainbow didn't say anything.
"Look," I continued. "I know all of you want the old Pinkie Pie back. It's completely understandable. You've been friends with her for years, and you've known me for barely two weeks. Plus, she's less of a drag to be around most of the time." I looked down again.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a second," Rainbow Dash said as she prepared for a retort. "Just because we miss the old Pinkie Pie doesn't mean we want you gone."
"You don't?" I asked, looking up with what must have been the most pitiful expression.
"No way!" she assured me in confidence. "I don't know if you realize this, but everypony loves having you around. We don't think you're a drag at all."
"Really?" I asked in disbelief, my mood beginning to lift.
"Yeah!" she insisted. "Memory or no memory, you're still the Pinkie Pie we know and love. That's why the Cakes are so worried about you. They care, just like the rest of us."
"That's... really great to hear," I said with relief.
We continued to sit there in silence, admiring the beauty of the night sky.
"You're a great friend, Rainbow Dash. You know that?" I said.
No response was necessary. Rainbow merely looked at me, smiled in understanding, and looked back up at the stars, which seemed to shine even brighter than before.
“There has to be another way!” exclaimed Twilight.
“No, and you do not need to shout,” Zecora stated. “For the old Pinkie to return, the new must be pushed out.”
Twilight paced around the inside of the hollowed-out tree, her thoughts jumbled and racing aimlessly to search for an alternative solution.
“How can you be so sure about this?” Twilight asked. “I’ve been looking into this subject for weeks! Are you trying to tell me that the doctor's diagnosis was wrong, and you already know what to do after a brief explanation of things?
"You have misheard!" stated Zecora. "I merely concurred. We cannot deny it is still Pinkie Pie, but perhaps what it's really about is a different life route."
“That doesn’t explain why she thought she was eleven years old at first,” Twilight pointed out.
“This type of magic is untamed and wild, inconsistencies would not be mild.”
Twilight had overlooked that possibility. She looked down, no longer having a valid argument for Zecora. The zebra had a coherent rebuttal for everything, it seemed. Her knowledge of magic was staggering.
“So... what am I supposed to do now?” asked a defeated Twilight.
"The mind is a powerful force. You cannot master it, so instead find the source. If you wish for your old friend to show, then this new one must willingly go."
“Yes, but is there a spell? There has to be some sort of medium!”
"I’m sure there exists a solution for you to broach, but first you should consider rethinking your approach."
"What are you talking about?" asked Twilight.
"To fully understand the complexities of the mind, one would require many a lifetime. Instead, the piece that houses the mind is where your studies should be confined."
Twilight contemplated these words of advice for a moment, and she quickly came to understand what Zecora meant.
“So, you really think the old Pinkie is in there somewhere?” Twilight asked.
Zecora nodded her head in response.
“Alright. I think I know how to figure this out,” said Twilight, now confident that she had a better grasp on things. “Thank you.”
Twilight turned to leave the hut. When she opened the door, Zecora spoke again.
"In doing this you must make haste, for in you all trust is placed. For now they are stuck together like glue, but a pony's mind is not meant to hold two. Eventually the one in charge will endure, and the other will fade away to be sure."
Twilight gulped nervously upon hearing this, but nodded in acknowledgment and closed the door behind her. She quickly made her way back home, thinking about the new Pinkie Pie they had grown so fond of over the course of these last two weeks.
I found it unbelievable that a little over one month ago, I had a rather melancholy outlook on life. After so many years of the same routine, I had grown accustomed to the monotony, even clinging to it like a child clings to a meaningful toy.
Why had I grown so partial to that lifestyle? Had I been afraid of change, or was it simply ingrained in my character to the point that it was the only way I could manage to function?
I was grateful beyond words for being yanked from such an existence.
That night, after the discussion with Rainbow Dash in the park, I lay in bed with my eyes fixed on the ceiling. For hours I remained there, reflecting on recent events and imagining the possibilities of a carefree life.
It had been then, and only then, that I realized something incredible: there was no need whatsoever for my drab, stark personality. The hesitant attitude during social interactions, the constant existential questions, and the needlessly depressed demeanor were mere obstacles keeping me from true happiness. If I was to bring joy to the hearts of myself and others, I would first have to let go of all the worries burdening my mind.
I had resolved to do just that.
In the weeks following, I made it my goal to live life to the absolute fullest. After finally laying my past worries to rest, I was able to effectively contribute to the overall happiness of the townsfolk, and in turn, we'd all grown quite fond of one another.
The hard outer shell that once confined me to a life without color had all but shattered, and I became a new mare. With this new found joy came an enormous increase in energy, as well as a constant craving for sweets and candies. Occasionally, I found myself bouncing up and down enthusiastically, without forethought or realization. More often than I cared to admit, I found myself doing this in situations where such behavior would not be appropriate.
Laughter came easily and felt natural. I was convinced that laughs contained some kind of cure-all magic, as it instantly lifted the spirits of almost any pony in any situation. I found it increasingly easy to regularly have a sense of humor, even when it came to the most serious topics.
My life could not have been better at that time. Every night, it seemed like I went to bed with a big, goofy grin plastered across my face.
All good things, however, must eventually come to an end.
Cheerilee sat at her desk, grading the quizzes her students had taken minutes ago. She could hear the sound of the children laughing outside, clearly enjoying their recess.
Cheerilee smiled. It brought her joy to know that the students—whom she considered her own foals in a way—were happy and safe.
Her thoughts were disrupted when a young filly burst into the room from outside.
"Ms. Cheerilee! Ms. Cheerilee!" she shouted.
Cheerilee stopped what she was doing for a moment. "Yes, Sunny Daze?"
"Pinkie Pie is so amazing at jump roping! Come take a look!”
Cheerilee smiled. She always found the enthusiasm of young ones to be delightful.
She stood up from her seat, leaving the remaining ungraded quizzes on her desk. She was more than willing to oblige the young filly, and this was a good opportunity to stretch her legs.
However, Cheerilee certainly wasn't expecting what awaited her as soon as she walked out the door.
At the other side of the schoolyard was a large crowd, consisting of practically every single filly and colt in her class. In fact, the only ponies who seemed uninterested were Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who stood outside of the crowd and faced in the opposite direction, pouting.
Cheerilee worked her way through the large gathering of children, and bore witness to a truly impressive scene.
Before her stood Firelock, watching Pinkie Pie in awe as she did breathtaking maneuvers with a jump rope.
"Now remember, it's all about maintaining your center of balance!" Pinkie Pie said casually while she continued to jump rope with ease.
"Once you have that part down, it'll become quite easy to do stuff like this!" Pinkie Pie performed a series of flips and turns. Amazingly enough, the jump rope's circular path did not change.
Firelock continued to watch, not speaking a word for fear that she might break Pinkie's steadfast concentration.
"You know, despite what those two said, I think you're already pretty good at this!" Pinkie Pie said to Firelock, whose facial expression beamed upon hearing the compliment.
"R-really?" Firelock asked in disbelief.
"Sure!" said Pinkie without hesitation. "Don't let those grumps get you down." At this, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon gave a disgruntled humph! from the back of the crowd, which everyone disregarded.
"Just keep practicing, and pretty soon jump roping will be as easy as getting a drink of water, or breathing! Why don't you try again?"
"Um, okay," replied Firelock, retrieving her jump rope from the ground.
"Remember, center of balance!" advised Pinkie as the filly began swinging the rope.
Eventually, Firelock was able to keep a consistent beat with the jump rope. Though not as skilled as Pinkie Pie, she could do fifty jumps without stopping.
"See?" exclaimed Pinkie. "It's like night and day!"
"I'm doing it!" said the filly excitedly, a large grin spreading across her face. "I'm really doing it!"
"That's what I love to see!" said Pinkie Pie, swinging her foreleg in a front hook motion to show emphasis. "Happy to help."
As the crowd began to disperse, Pinkie caught a glimpse of the familiar three-flower cutie mark among the multitude of ponies.
"Hey there, Cheerilee!" shouted Pinkie from a distance, getting the teacher's attention.
Cheerilee smiled. "Hello, Pinkie Pie. How are you doing?"
"I'm fantastic!" replied Pinkie. "How about you? How was your family reunion?"
Cheerilee smiled. “It was great! Thank you for asking.” Moments later, her face shifted to confusion. "Wait, you knew about that?"
"Well, duh! It's my job to know about stuff like that!" stated Pinkie, not offering further explanation.
Cheerilee chuckled, accepting it for what it was. “Well, it was very fun. I won the annual family baking competition with my upside down cake.”
"Glad to hear it!" said Pinkie. "I gotta get going, but maybe we can talk about it some more another time. Remind me that I owe you a 'successful family reunion' party in the near future!"
“I’ll make sure to do that,” the teacher said, returning Pinkie’s smile.
Pinkie's smile grew a bit, and she nodded enthusiastically. She turned to leave, but turned back once more.
"Bye everypony! See you all later!" she shouted, waving her hoof in the air.
The fillies and colts waved in return, voicing their own farewells to the pink mare.
Pinkie turned and headed in the direction of the Golden Oaks Library.
Cheerilee’s gaze followed the pink figure as it disappeared into the distance. “That’s amazing,” she muttered to herself. “It’s like having the old Pinkie Pie back.”
I walked through Ponyville with a spring in my step. I could see the Golden Oaks Library in the distance, and if I was correct, all five of them would be gathered there now.
I received multiple greetings from others on my route and returned them with friendly waves or greetings of my own. Whenever I took the time to interact with them, I seemed to notice a spark of familiarity in their expression, which always brought me a great sense of satisfaction.
Before I knew it, the door to the library was right in front of me. I raised my hoof to knock on the burnt umber door.
Suddenly, I heard a collection of voices. While I knew it was rude to eavesdrop, curiosity got the better of me, and I carefully pressed my ears against the door, making sure not to alert them to my presence.
“I’m afraid I don’t understand, dear. Whatever do you mean?” said a voice that I immediately recognized as Rarity’s.
“Well,” began another voice, this one belonging to Twilight, “the real Pinkie is definitely in her head somewhere. It's even possible that the two Pinkies have interacted in some way, since they're basically separate beings at this point."
There was silence, and I considered knocking on the door right then, but another voice spoke up.
“So you think just going behind her back like that is the best idea?” asked Rainbow Dash.
I froze in place with trepidation.
“Well, I...” Twilight said hesitantly, fumbling for the right words.
Out of impulse and fear for what was about to be said, I knocked on the wooden door. The sound reverberated throughout the library, and the voices went silent almost instantaneously.
A few moments later, Twilight answered the door. She was trying to hide the fact that something had just transpired, but it was a poor attempt.
“Hey there, Pinkie!” she said in a somewhat nervous tone.
I immediately put on a fake grin. “Hey Twilight!”
I poked my head around her, getting a glimpse of the other four, who were standing in the middle of the room. “Hey girls!” I said cheerfully.
“Hey Pinkie Pie!” answered Rainbow Dash.
“Come on in,” invited Twilight, stepping aside to allow me room.
“Thanks!” I said, trotting inside.
“So what brings you ‘round these parts, Pinkie?” asked Applejack.
The question struck me as odd, for some reason. I had merely stopped by for a friendly visit. I opened my mouth to clarify this, but stopped myself.
So you think just going behind her back like that is the best idea?
Rainbow Dash’s words rang in my mind, and I couldn’t help but worry. I stood there with a blank face, and very soon, all five of them were staring at me.
“Uh, Pinkie? You alright?”
I snapped back suddenly. Applejack stood there, awaiting a response.
“Oh. Um, yeah!” I said, reverting back to my state of excitement.
“That’s good,” Twilight said. “Was there something you needed, or did you just stop by to visit?”
I thought on the question for a moment. Even though I had originally stopped by to visit with my friends, Rainbow Dash’s words lingered in my mind, and I needed to do something about it. In a burst of last minute spontaneity, I pulled out several decorated cards that I had taken to carrying with me at all times.
“Invitations?” asked Twilight.
“Um, yeah!” I answered nervously, holding up the random party invitations, which lacked a designated rendezvous of any kind.
“I wanted to throw a party tomorrow at noon," I explained. "Just a small get together for all of us. Oh, and Twilight, I know you usually work Spike to the bone here in the library, but you should totally let him come if he wants to."
They all looked at me in surprise, except for Rainbow Dash, who wore a big grin on her face.
“My goodness, Pinkie, you've certainly been quite the hostess lately!” exclaimed Rarity.
“I guess so!” I agreed. “Then again, it’s a lot easier to do now that I've figured out how to operate my party cannon.”
“Is that so?” Applejack rubbed a hoof to her chin. “Ya know, I've been wondering how that contraption works ever since you blasted me with cake batter a few weeks ago.”
“Aw, you’re not still upset about that, are you? It only took three hours to get it all out of your mane and coat!” I said, trying to play it off casually.
“Only,” sneered Applejack.
"So how do you use it?" pressed Twilight.
"Oh, that's easy!" I said. "All you have to do is—"
"Twilight!" called Spike from upstairs, interrupting me. "A letter just arrived from the princess!"
Twilight looked at me and grinned apologetically. "I should probably check that," she said.
I nodded, and she promptly left the room.
"Wow, Pinkie!" blurted Rainbow Dash as soon as Twilight was gone. "You're almost exactly like your old self!"
"What do you mean?" I asked.
“Um, hello? The bouncy personality? The parties? Every day, you act more and more like your old self. All that’s missing is the crazy, random behavior.”
“Wow,” I said.
In actuality, I was thrilled to hear that I had made a lot of progress. However, given the current situation, my response probably lacked the enthusiasm she was hoping for.
I was pondering Rainbow Dash’s depiction of “my old self.” With only a few simple descriptions to go by, I didn't have much to work with.
A bouncy personality, a love for parties, and crazy, random behavior. Only one name came to mind which fit that description, and it seemed too absurd to consider.
However, I recalled something Twilight said when I was eavesdropping on their conversation. She had mentioned something about the real Pinkie being in my head somewhere, and the possibility that we had already communicated in some way.
It didn't take me long to make the connections, and when I finally came to the only conclusion I could imagine, the concept of it seemed way too far fetched.
Then again, I spoke those exact words when, just over a month ago, my life started anew. I decided to accept it as a possibility. Even so, I needed more evidence before I could feel sure of it.
By this time, the four of them were engrossed in a new conversation, which I had missed completely. When there was a brief pause, I chimed in.
“Hey girls, have any of you ever heard Gummy... talk?” I asked.
I was met with blank faces.
“Gummy talking?” asked Rainbow. “Are you crazy? Alligators can’t talk!”
At this, the four of them burst into hysterics, and I, not wanting them to think it had been a serious question, joined in on the laughter.
I decided to unveil the truth when I finished here.
The door closed behind me. Without a word, I walked to the middle of my room, and stood there for a few moments before finally speaking.
“We need to talk,” I said in a cold voice, slightly straying from my usual attitude as of late.
“Okay!” came a cheerful reply.
I looked around the room, and Gummy was nowhere to be seen at the moment. I smiled, realizing this was the perfect opportunity to get the truth.
“Where are you?” I asked.
It was almost as if I could feel the hesitance. As a matter of fact, I think I could literally feel it.
“Under the bed?” the voice suggested.
I made my way towards the bed and checked underneath it. As I expected, the alligator wasn't there.
“Give it up, Pinkie.”
“W-what?” the voice responded, a hint of fear in its tone.
“I know you've been deceiving me,” I bluffed. I actually wasn't positive about it yet.
“What are you talking about? No I haven’t!” it defended.
“Oh, really?” I asked with apprehension. “Well, in that case, reveal yourself to me right now, ‘Gummy.’”
More hesitance followed.
“I... I’m sorry.”
It was finally time for her to come clean.
“Tell me something. Why did you feel the need to deceive me?”
“See for yourself...” she replied.
“What do you mean?”
“How the heck do you think I was able to help you so much? I didn't just know what to do when you walked through the door each day. I was with you the whole time!”
“That doesn't exactly answer my question,” I said, somewhat irritated.
“I can read your mind. Duh!”
That came as a bit of a shock. I found it both fascinating and disturbing. I now knew that complete and utter privacy no longer existed for me.
“Oh, don’t worry! I don’t just listen to everything you’re thinking all day long. That would be rude!”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Then again, why was I afraid to share my secrets with myself?
“I only butted in when something came up that I knew I could help with!”
“That’s quite interesting, but my original question remains unanswered. How am I supposed to see your motives for myself? Are you suggesting that I can read your thoughts, too?”
“Yep! At least, you should be able to.”
I found this all very hard to believe, but I possessed no counter-argument to prove it wrong, so I accepted it. However, this sense of resignation did not help the fact that I had no idea how to access her thoughts.
I did the first thing that came to mind, and concentrated deeply. I tried to block out all distractions, with the direction of my intent quite clear to myself.
I found it rather easy to locate the second consciousness that dwelled within me. I was surprised I hadn't noticed it before.
I could feel the pure joy that emanated from this entity. Even with all the progress I had made in the recent weeks, my exuberance paled in comparison to hers.
It was an odd sensation to 'share minds,' for lack of a better term. My thoughts and emotions were not my own, and neither were hers. We were, in a way, two sides of the same coin.
I could sense her motives behind lying to me for so long. If I had realized earlier that I possessed this ability, I would have known the truth right away.
I realized that her reasons were, in all aspects, completely innocent.
"I never wanted to hurt your feelings," she insisted. "I just wanted to help you."
She was telling the truth. The only reason she had lied to me was because she had wanted to assist me in adjusting to my new life in Ponyville. No ulterior motives had even occurred to her. Everything she had done, she had done with my benefit in mind.
The reason she had chosen to reveal herself as Gummy was to allow me the satisfaction of accomplishing things on my own. Instead of instructing me like a child, she allowed me space to make my own decisions in most situations. She had only decided to intervene when it had been necessary.
A pang of guilt struck me as I realized just how thoughtless I had been. She had done everything with my own benefit at the front of her mind, and I had assumed the worst.
"Please don't feel bad!" she said, clearly feeling my shame. "I understand why you didn't trust me! It's not exactly easy to trust someone when they lie to you for so long, right?"
"I suppose so," I responded, not even realizing that I had just conveyed that message as a thought. "Still, I'm not positive I completely trust our friends after today."
"Well, I only know as much as you do about their plans," she stated, "but I promise you, they're good ponies. They wouldn't want to hurt anyone."
"I believe that. I truly do, but that doesn't change the fact that they are doing something behind our back. Something that has to do with us. I don't know what they're planning, but I'm going to find out at the party tomorrow.
I looked around my room, which was now decorated and ready for the party. Satisfied with my efforts, I let out an exaggerated sigh of relief.
I hadn’t used my cannon to prepare for the party. Seeing as this particular night was of utmost importance, I decided to put extra care into setting up.
"It looks nice," said Pinkie, surveying the work through my eyes.
“Good,” I responded, “because everything needs to be perfect.”
“Why do you have to be so sneaky?” she asked. "I don't think our friends will like it very much if they find out you're just making up an excuse to throw a party."
"They should have thought of that before they decided to go behind our back," I rebutted. "Besides, it's not like you haven't thrown a party for no reason, before."
"But... this is different."
Nothing else was said on the matter, but I could feel Pinkie's disapproval nonetheless.
An abrupt knock on my balcony door diverted my attention. I turned my glance to the heart-shaped window, and just as I expected, Rainbow Dash stood there, patiently waiting for me to answer the door. I promptly made my way over.
Time to find out what they’re hiding, once and for all.
A successful party depends primarily on the overall atmosphere, with music being a key element. I made sure the music was loud enough to dance to, but it wasn’t so loud that carrying a conversation was impossible. I considered this the ideal volume for party music, especially because it’s meant to be a social event in the first place.
For the better part of a half hour, I had been trying to find a good opportunity to speak with one of them individually. That may have been too much to expect, but as luck would have it, the perfect chance presented itself.
By now, everyone had grown tired of dancing except for Twilight. I’ll admit, I was becoming somewhat bored of it, as well. Even so, I had every intention of going through with my plan, so I remained on the dance floor with Twilight while everypony else made their way over to the punch bowl.
I glanced towards Twilight, who had become quite engaged to the point that it resembled more of a seizure than a deliberate attempt at dancing. She either had no shame, or she merely felt comfortable enough around us to act in such a way. I assumed it was the latter.
I didn’t want Twilight to think I was interrogating her, so I started with a basic question.
“Are you having a good time?” I asked her.
“Totally!” she responded, continuing her strange gestures.
“Does it remind you at all of the parties I used to throw?” I asked. “You know, before the whole amnesia thing?”
“Completely! I think you’ve gotten the hang of this!” she answered.
I smiled. The compliment felt good, but I couldn’t let it distract me.
“Speaking of amnesia,” I began, “how is the research coming along?”
Twilight slowed her dancing down a bit so she could converse more easily. “It’s coming along nicely,” she said. “I think I almost have it figured out, but there’s still a bit more to be done.”
“Any word from the princess?”
Twilight stopped. The moment’s hesitation that followed was a sure indicator that she was about to lie to me, due to the simplicity of the question. “Um, n-no. Nothing in particular.”
“I see.” I put my hoof up to my chin and looked down . Realizing something, I quickly glanced back up. "Wait, what about yesterday?"
"When I was at the library yesterday, Spike said you received a letter from Princess Celestia. What was that about?"
Twilight fumbled for the right words. "Oh! I almost completely forgot about that!" she claimed. "That was no big deal. She was just answering a small question I had."
I stood there, awaiting further elaboration from Twilight, but it soon became clear that she had no intention of telling me the details.
Twilight looked at me nervously. “Pinkie? Are you alright? You seem... different, somehow.”
"How so?” I quickly responded.
“Well, um... never mind. It’s probably just my imagination.”
“Alright then,” I responded, starting to walk away, “I’m gonna go mingle with the others. Have fun!”
It didn’t appear that anyone else was by themselves, which was what I had been hoping for.
Suddenly, I heard a yelp from across the room. I rushed over to see what was wrong, and came across Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Applejack was wearing a blindfold, and Rainbow was rubbing her own flank, which now had a red mark on it.
“Jeez, AJ. Watch where you’re poking that thing,” said Rainbow.
“Did Ah win?” asked Applejack in an oblivious manner.
“I don’t think so,” I chimed in, catching on rather quickly, “though you did manage to pin the tail on a pony.”
Applejack removed her blindfold, and looked around. Upon seeing the absurd sight of Rainbow Dash as she nursed the red spot on her flank, Applejack snickered.
Annoyed, Dash retreated to the refreshment table to avoid further injury. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to speak with Applejack alone.
"So, are you having a good time?" I asked, making my way towards her.
"Am Ah?" exclaimed Applejack with enthusiasm. "Ah gotta say, your parties are gettin' better and better, Pinkie!"
"Glad to hear it!" I responded.
The Element of Honesty is, by nature, a terrible liar. I decided to start with a more direct question in the hopes that she would let something slip. "How has Twilight's research been going? Any interesting developments?"
Applejack seemed taken aback by this. "Ah, uh..."
Her hesitance was obvious.
"Oh!" I added. "Wouldn't it be interesting if the old Pinkie and I turned out to be separate from each other? Like, what if we're just sharing a body right now?"
"Uh, yeah," she answered, smiling nervously.
"I tell ya, that sure would be crazy!" I exclaimed, finalizing my point.
At this point, Applejack was sweating profusely. Her nervous smile, which continued to grow in size, had guilt written all over it. It looked like she was about to confess, and I stared in anticipation.
"Um, I gotta go!" she blurted suddenly.
"What? How come?" I asked, disappointed beyond words.
"I wanna, um, see what's goin' on over there!" she said, pointing at a door at the far side of the room.
"But... that’s the closet," I said.
“Oh, is it? Well, then, Ah guess there’s somethin’ important happenin’ there. Bye!” Applejack bolted for the closet, leaving me to stand there with a look of utter exasperation.
I sighed deeply. What a terrible liar.
At this point, it had become clear that I was being deceived, and the knowledge of it was starting to seriously bother me. I couldn't concentrate, and I felt like I was about to have an anxiety attack. More than likely, I assumed, it was becoming evident in my behavior.
"Pinkie, dear, are you alright?"
"Huh?" I asked, caught off-guard. Looking up, I saw Rarity standing there with a concerned look on her face.
"I asked if you were—"
"Oh, right!" I interrupted. "Yeah, I'm fine! Never been better! Why do you ask?"
"Well, I couldn't help but notice that you're helping yourself to a rather... generous glass of punch."
I looked down, and realized that I was involuntarily ladling punch into a cup, and it was well beyond its liquid capacity. Needless to say, there was punch all over the table and floor around me.
"Oh, shoot!" I cursed, putting back the ladle and rushing for some nearby napkins to sop up the wet, sticky mess.
"Are you sure you're alright?" repeated Rarity.
"Positive," I assured. "I just lapsed for a second."
"Very well. If you say so." She promptly wandered off.
"Wait, Rarity!" I called out, but she was already helping herself to some food at the snack table, and my voice didn’t carry enough to get her attention.
I knocked on my head with a hoof in frustration. I was beginning to stray from my original task.
I shouldn't have missed that opportunity, I thought to myself. It was right in front of me!
All these failed attempts to uncover the truth were beginning to wear thin on my patience. Two hours into the party, the only thing I could say with absolute certainty was that I was being deceived.
I was beginning to feel increasingly agitated. I felt it was necessary to temporarily withdraw from some of the activities at the party, and so I decided to sequester myself at the punch bowl. After a matter of time, I had emptied and dutifully refilled it more times than I could recall.
The liquid had eventually begun to take its toll, and I was beginning to feel antsy. I made my way towards the filly's room, but along the way I ran into Fluttershy, who had decided to take a break from the dancing.
I saw this as another chance to discover the truth, and I had no intention of letting it slip away.
"Hey there, Fluttershy!" I blurted, not considering my tone of voice, nor the timid pegasus' tendency to be startled.
Fluttershy visibly flinched at my exuberant greeting, but recovered quickly. "Hi, Pinkie Pie. I really like the party."
"Really? That's so good to hear," I answered.
A moment of silence followed, but I jumped right back in. "Everypony has been acting strange lately, don't you think?" I asked, advancing towards Fluttershy.
"Um, no... n-not really."
I wrapped a foreleg around her and squeezed tightly. "Really? I've noticed that everyone seems like they're hiding something. It's so strange!"
"Oh... well, I don't know anything about that," she answered, trying to wriggle out of my grasp.
"You sure about that?" I asked, my smile growing.
Fluttershy finally managed to free herself from my grip, and slowly started backing away. "E-everypony seems normal. To me, that is.”
I took a couple steps towards the retreating pegasus. "Well, something definitely seems strange to me. You know what I think? I think there's something they don't want me to know about."
"But not you, Fluttershy. No, you're way too nice to hide something from me."
"Heh, of course," Fluttershy agreed, giggling half-heartedly. Her unease at that statement was as clear as day.
Fluttershy let out a feigned cough. "You know, all that dancing made me thirsty! Are you thirsty? I know I'm thirsty. I'm gonna get some punch."
Before I had time to process her words, Fluttershy flew off to the punch bowl.
I started towards her, wanting to finish what I began, but stopped in my tracks when I remembered why I had left the punch bowl in the first place.
Yeah, this can't wait any longer.
I turned around and bee-lined for the hall door, reluctantly abandoning what was possibly my last chance to find out what everyone was hiding from me.
Disgruntled and discouraged, I stood silently by the dessert table. In my hoof was a cupcake, which I nibbled in complete boredom.
Despite the fact that they had unintentionally given me plenty of hints, which certainly justified my suspicion, I was no closer to understanding the truth of the matter than I was yesterday. It was, to say the least, disheartening.
Even so, I had allowed my emotions to get the better of me. My erratic behavior had only served to confuse or repel my friends, which didn’t really help me at all.
Maybe tonight just wasn’t the right night. This plan was nothing but a last minute, impulsive decision that I hadn’t thought through very well at all.
As various possibilities for an improved plan entered my mind, Spike wandered my way. At first, it seemed like he was going to talk to me, but I quickly realized that he only wanted something sweet from the dessert table.
He eyed the choices before him, and grumbled in disappointment. “Man, all the good stuff is already gone,” he complained, settling for a very plain cupcake.
I allowed myself a chuckle. “I could always go make some more, if you’d like.”
“Nah, that’s okay. It’s not a big—”
Suddenly, Spike was interrupted by a belt of green fire erupting from within him. Devoid of forethought, I extended my free hoof to grab the incoming scroll before it had the chance to hit the floor.
"Woops. Thanks, Pinkie," Spike said, reaching out a claw to take the letter from me.
I stared at the parchment in my hoof, which I realized could possibly hold the answers I was looking for. I ignored Spike and quickly unrolled the letter.
"Hey! What're you doing?" He tried more aggressively to take the letter away from me. I held up the parchment higher than he could reach, and he resorted to hopping up and down to try and swipe the letter from my grasp.
"It’s not right to look through other ponies' mail," warned Pinkie.
"Be quiet," I responded sternly, silencing her.
Using one hoof to keep Spike away, and the other to hold up the letter, I was finally in a position to read it.
My dear Twilight,
I can tell that you have been diligent in your research of Pinkie Pie's condition. Your proposed "Split Entity Theory" is surprisingly simple, considering the supposed complexity of the situation. Despite this, I believe your theory to be correct, and if that is the case, you will, indeed, need to get permission from the consciousness currently in control of her body. It is quite unfortunate that this new Pinkie must willingly give up her existence, but I understand that such a sacrifice is necessary. Perhaps the fact that you have all formed friendships with her will prove to be advantageous in her decision. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.
I stared at the letter in disbelief. Nothing could have prepared me for this kind of truth. The mere thought of this seemed implausible. No, impossible. I read over the letter once more, desperately hoping I had made some sort of mistake. When I reached the end for the second time, I painfully accepted it as reality. The self-assurance that all of them had my best interests at heart began to weaken.
They betrayed me.
I approached the record player, which continued to emit casual party tunes. I placed a hoof on the tone-arm and dragged it off, scratching the record and catching the attention of everypony in the room. They all stared at me, confused.
I held up the scroll and addressed Twilight. “I think this belongs to you.”
The unicorn gulped loudly, and used her magic to levitate the letter over to her. Her eyes scanned it with intent.
“Read it out loud,” I hissed, a touch of venom in my voice.
Twilight glanced around the room at her friends, hoping one of them would intervene or at least offer some kind of support.
“Read it!” I repeated with a harsher tone, startling her.
She read the letter in its entirety, stuttering at the part where Celestia noted our friendship as “advantageous” for their goal.
Twilight looked at me with pleading eyes. “It’s not what you think, Pinkie.”
“‘Perhaps the fact that you have all formed friendships with her will prove to be advantageous.’ If I’m not mistaken, I’m the consciousness currently in control of this body. Now, what about this isn't what I think it is?”
Silence followed, just as I had expected.
“Is this what friendship is to you?” I began. “Is it just a tool used to gain leverage on one’s sentimental side in order to bend them to your will?”
“Of course not!” exclaimed Twilight.
“Then why?” I shouted. “Why have all of you been lying to me this entire time? Why couldn't you just tell me the truth?”
“It ain't that simple!” Applejack chimed in. “What did ya expect us ta do?”
“Anything but this!” I cried.
"Pinkie’s life is on the line!”
I shrunk back as the implications of her words hit me, and hung my head in dejection. “So is mine,” I managed, tears beginning to stream down my face.
By now, I was well aware of the fact that I was not the real Pinkie Pie. However, until this very moment, I had accepted the situation for what it was, and made the most of it.
When Applejack spoke those words, I was struck by the cold realization that they had never truly accepted me as “Pinkie Pie”. I was merely a shadow of the friend they knew before. All color seemed to drain from the world.
I turned around and made my way towards the door. My hoof hesitated on the knob, and I felt the need to say one last thing.
I turned my head. "Of every single pony here, I would have never expected something like this from you, Rainbow Dash.”
Rainbow looked guilty. She turned her head and forced her eyes shut, unable to face me.
I opened the door and left without another word, not realizing at the time that my mane had fallen straight, and flowed lifelessly down my neck.
I had been walking for hours, trying to put a good amount of distance between myself and Ponyville. Nothing was left for me there anymore, except a reminder of who I wasn’t. I winced at the thought, and clenched my chest to help alleviate the ache.
I trudged through the familiar landscape, unsure of whether it had become deserted, or merely remained the same as it had always been. Dirt coated my hooves as I slowly approached the only establishment for miles around.
I came upon a humble abode, which lacked the eye-popping structure and color of nearly every house in Ponyville. I cautiously knocked on the wooden door. Moments passed, and I couldn't shake the nagging fear that nopony resided here anymore.
Much to my relief, however, I heard the lock being fumbled with, and eventually the door opened to reveal a stallion whose face I'd not recalled seeing in a month. However, time had left its mark over the many years that had passed in reality.
He stared blankly at me, seemingly unsure of what to say. However, his neutral expression became one of understanding as he let his mouth slip into a gentle smile.
"Welcome home, dear," he spoke. "It's been too long."
"Yes, it has," I agreed.
"Please, come inside. Your mother just made a fresh kettle of tea."
I smiled. "Thank you... Dad."
“This is bad,” exclaimed Twilight. “Really bad!”
Twilight Sparkle scrambled around the library, scattering the books she had organized in a desperate search for an alternative solution. Meanwhile, her friends stood there, watching helplessly.
Fluttershy spoke up. “M-maybe we could—”
“No!” shouted Twilight, startling the four of them. “You would just be wasting time. Only Spike and I know this library inside and out.”
“Well isn’t there somethin’ we can do ta help?” pleaded Applejack. “Ah feel just as awful about this as you do.”
“I’m inclined to agree with Applejack on this one,” added Rarity. “Rainbow Dash is out searching for her, so surely there is something we can do to assist you, as well.”
Twilight stopped for a moment. “This isn’t your responsibility,” she said coldly.
“Of course it is!” exclaimed Rarity, taken aback. “Pinkie Pie is just as much our friend as she is yours! You may have been the one who told us to deceive her, but we’re equally guilty for agreeing to it in the first place.”
“What else was I supposed to do?” Twilight yelled, on the verge of tears.
“That’s not what I was saying, dear. I just meant—”
“I know what you meant, but that doesn't change the fact that none of this would be happening if it weren't for me! I've been a terrible friend in every respect.”
“Nonsense! You did the best you could with the circumstances you were given.”
Twilight sighed in exasperation. “My inability to handle this has not only cost us two friends, but it’s also put all of Equestria in danger. With the Element of Laughter gone, we won’t be able to defend Equestria from a new, untold force that’s sure to appear at some point.”
“If it came down ta that, why couldn't we just convince this current Pinkie ta help us?” suggested Applejack. “Ah’m sure she would put aside her differences for the good of Equestria.”
Twilight shook her head. “That wouldn't work. Her very nature wouldn't allow her to serve as the Element of Laughter. Despite how much she changed over the weeks, the element she’s supposed to represent just isn't strong enough in her. Not to mention, her newfound resentment towards us would render the Elements of Harmony useless, even if she were to willingly offer help. Remember what happened with Discord? This is the same thing.”
Silence followed, as nopony had any rebuttal to offer.
After a short while, Fluttershy chimed in. “So... there are really two Pinkies?”
“In theory, yes,” Twilight responded, “Though it’s not quite as simple as that. While it is true that they’re basically two separate beings, the one currently in control of her motor functions is, in simple terms, what she would have been, were it not for that Sonic Rainboom years ago. The one hidden away in her mind is the Pinkie Pie we’re all the most familiar with.”
“If that’s the case, why did she think she was a filly when she first woke up in that hospital bed?” asked Applejack.
Twilight sighed, remembering Zecora’s words. “I’m not really sure. There are so many things about magic that nopony truly understands. Plus, when wild, untamed magic like this is involved, such anomalies are even more likely to occur.”
“So... wait, if there are two Pinkies,” Fluttershy began, “Why can’t you just pull one of them out and put her in something else?”
“Fluttershy, that’s absurd,” Twilight responded.
“Well how come?” asked Applejack. “You were just plannin’ on switchin’ the two of them, right? Who’s ta say ya can’t pull one of them out completely?”
“If I were to do that, we would need a suitable vessel for her to stay in. One that could sustain a life. Since I cannot, in good conscious, rob a living creature of its mind and body, the only possible solution would be...” Twilight trailed off.
“Would be what?” asked Rarity.
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Twilight, her face beaming with some realization. “I can’t believe I forgot about that!”
Applejack looked bewildered. “Did Ah miss somethin’?”
“There’s no time to explain,” insisted Twilight. “I might have an idea, but I need to contact Princess Celestia, first.”
“Well then, what’re you waitin’ for?” exclaimed Applejack. “Do it!”
“You heard her, Spike. Take a letter!”
I told my parents everything. Everything I could recall, from the moment I woke up in the hospital, to the fateful events of earlier today. I hid nothing, being sure to include every detail of my situation and my lack of a cutie mark. To my surprise, they kept a straight face for nearly the entire time, only changing when my mother wanted to refill her tea.
In the end, I doubt it would have mattered what I told them, because when I finally finished my story, they simply nodded and reassured me that they would support me in whatever decision I made.
We talked for a good while afterwards, during which time my mother got up to make a hot meal for all of us.
By the time we were through with that, evening had rolled in and I was ready for a good night’s sleep. The events of today had exhausted me to no end, both physically and mentally.
I opened the door and peered inside the room that I once called my own. At first glance, I was taken aback by the unfamiliar atmosphere. Though not quite as flashy as Sugarcube Corner, it was nothing like I remembered.
The first thing to catch my attention were the walls, which had been adorned with painted-on balloons and a few posters. Next, I quickly noticed that a large, decorative pink rug covered almost the entire floor.
Finally, the once-plain bed cover had been replaced by garish, pink sheets, which clashed with the wooden bed frame.
I walked over to the bed and pulled back the sheets, which were neatly made. A small layer of dust drifted up from the exposed mattress, indicating that nopony had slept here for quite awhile.
I sat down on the mattress and let out a heavy sigh.
“I don’t know what to do,” I thought.
“Forgive them. Go back,” answered Pinkie.
“I want to, but you know I can’t do that.”
I sighed. “Pinkie, they... they don’t care about me. They only want you.”
“That’s not true. They want both of us.”
I grimaced. “They want you more. Enough so that they’d get gladly get rid of me.”
“No... they're not glad about it. You gotta believe me!"
I didn't say anything else on the matter. For some reason, I wanted to continue believing that my friends had done everything with the worst intentions in mind, and yet... I was unable to convince myself fully. I wondered if my actions hurt them, as well.
I rolled onto my side, sobbing quietly until sleep finally overtook me.
My parents assured me that I could stay here with no strings attached, but I felt that it was only right for me to do some work around the farm. So here I was, loading up a cartful of rocks so that I could rotate them to the East field.
Despite noticing that I could lift immensely heavier objects than I remembered, the fact remained that I had been away from rock farming for quite awhile, and the strenuous effort left me heaving for breath. Even so, I did not falter in my work, and after a matter of hours I had managed to get a considerable amount done before my father rang the bell for lunch.
I let out a sigh of relief, thankful for the interruption. I hopped out of my harness and looked to the farmhouse, more than ready for a break and a meal. As I headed back, something caught my attention.
A small, blue object slowly made its way to the ground in front of me. I reached out, allowing it to gently land in my hoof.
It was a sky blue feather.
I gasped, immediately looking up to where the feather had fallen from.
Sure enough, I saw her. The rainbow mane and tail were unmistakable. She remained in place, gently flapping her wings to stay elevated above me.
She did nothing, and said nothing. She merely looked down on me with sad eyes. Even the flapping of her wings was utterly silent, which I found odd.
I looked to the ground, tightening my eyes shut. This isn't real. There's no way she could have known where to find me. It has to be a figment of my imagination.
I looked back up and, as I expected, the phantasm had vanished. Even the blue feather resting in my hoof was gone.
Deciding not to dwell on it any further, I simply sighed and continued my walk back to the house.
“Are you sure you haven’t seen her?” Rainbow pleaded. “Not even a glance?”
“W-what if she’s in her room right now? Maybe she came home while nopony was looking.” Rainbow rushed towards the stairs, futilely hoping that Pinkie would be there.
“Pinkie!” she called out. “You up there?”
Rainbow felt a gentle hoof on her shoulder, and she turned around in surprise.
“I’m sorry, Dearie,” said Mrs. Cake comfortingly, trying to force a smile. "I miss her, too. I keep hoping she'll just walk through those doors, smiling and laughing like she used to."
As the co-owner of Sugarcube Corner stared at the door wistfully, her fake smile slowly melted away.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Cake. We'll find her, and we'll bring her home," Rainbow assured, trying to remain as positive as she could.
Rainbow Dash left the bakery without another word. She was confident that the next place she had in mind could yield some results. She flew there with conviction.
As she traveled through the sky above Ponyville, thoughts of yesterday's events plagued her mind.
Of every single pony here, I would have never expected something like this from you, Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow grimaced. The words had stung not for their meaning, but for their truthful implications.
Why didn't I say something? Rainbow thought with disgust. Why did I ever agree to lie to her?
The pegasus grunted in frustration. "What kind of friend am I?" she shouted to the lonely skies. "So much for loyalty. I'm nothing but a traitor!"
Rainbow came to a screeching halt, hovering in midair. She let out a heavy sigh. How the hay am I supposed to choose between two friends?
My mother insisted on making a cake for me. For whatever reason, she thought a pink cake would cheer me up somehow. As much as I appreciated the gesture, it didn't do much to ease my turmoil. Even so, I offered to help.
At first I just assisted in menial tasks, such as fetching ingredients. However, to my mother's surprise, I ended up doing the lion's share of the work. Because of the ease and speed at which I worked, my mother could only stand back and watch.
When at last the cake had cooled and we added frosting, all of us sat down to enjoy the treat.
As they each took their first bite, my parents' eyes widened. They stared at the cake in disbelief, and then at me.
"Goodness, Pinkie Pie. You've really become quite the extraordinary baker, haven't you?" my mother commented. Meanwhile, my father had gotten past his initial shock and started to dig into his slice with enthusiasm.
I shrugged. "Lots of practice, I guess."
I resisted the urge to chuckle. "I suppose I have you to thank for that," I thought, addressing Pinkie.
I received no response. Confused, I tried to get her attention. "Pinkie? Hey, Pinkie!"
"...Uh, what?" she finally replied weakly.
"Are you alright?"
Pinkie was silent for a moment before answering. "Oh! Um, yeah. Sorry, I'm just tired, that's all."
“Tired? But... that’s not possible," I exclaimed. “You've never needed sleep, or food and water, for that matter!”
I waited for an explanation from her, but it never came. “Pinkie?”
“Huh?” she replied weakly.
“Are you going to tell me what’s really going on?”
A moment of hesitation followed. “Whoa,” she finally said.
“I can’t see my hooves.”
“You... I... wait, what?”
No response came.
“Pinkie, I’m serious. Tell me what’s going on!” I pressed.
She voiced a fake, exaggerated yawn. “I think I’m gonna take a nap... recharge my Pinkie Power.”
“That’s not fair! You’re hiding something from me. Pinkie? Pinkie!”
Despite my pleading, she didn't answer me after that. I finally decided to take what she said at face value and leave her be, but that didn't detract from the growing worry in the back of my mind.
As the evening began to wind down, the three of us decided to relax for a bit in the living room. It wasn't long until my mother decided to retire early for the night, leaving me and my father to our thoughts.
I was sprawled out in front of the fireplace, enjoying the cozy heat radiating from the open flames. My father’s eyes were buried in a book of some sort, and had been for the last half hour.
Suddenly, he spoke up. “What’s the matter, Pinkie Pie?”
I looked up. “Huh?”
“I’d like to think I know you very well, and you don’t seem like yourself lately.”
My eyes wandered back to the flames, and I stared at them with intent. They seemed so... alive.
After some time, I heard my father again. “Well, Pinkie?”
Realizing I had gotten distracted and completely disregarded his question, I looked back to him. “Why do you all keep calling me that?” I asked.
“Why do you all keep calling me ‘Pinkie Pie?'” I repeated. “In the past, I only ever remember you, Mom and my sisters calling me by my full name.”
My father chuckled. “It’s been a long time, dear. I guess you wouldn't remember this, but it was actually one of your sisters who gave you that nickname in the first place.”
My eyes widened. “Really?”
“Yes,” he confirmed. “I’ll never forget that day we stepped into that silo and saw what you had laid out for us.”
I quickly grew curious. “I don’t remember that. What happened?”
“One night, when you were just a filly, you decided you wanted to camp out in the silo. Your mother and I thought nothing of it, and merely shrugged our shoulders.
“The next morning, you poked your little head out, and the first thing I noticed was your great, big mess of a mane.” He chuckled. “You called out to us, asking us to get in there, all quick-like. I thought for sure you were just wasting our time, but we came in and looked, anyway.”
He paused, smiling as he fondly recalled the scene in his head.
“I’d never seen so much color in one spot!” he continued. “None of us even knew what to do, until you explained the whole thing to us. After that, we just danced, ate cake, and danced some more! At least for one day, we didn't even care about all those rocks in the field.
“Sometime after that, one of your sisters started calling you ‘Pinkie Pie’, and it must’ve stuck because that’s who you've been, ever since.”
“Even you and Mom?” I asked, disbelieving. “That seems so unlike you two.”
“How could we not?” he asked. “You were just so... happy.”
“But what does that have to do with everyone calling me ‘Pinkie Pie’?”
“A pony’s name can mean a great deal to others. When I think of your birth name, ‘Pinkamena,’ I imagine the little filly who’s afraid to come out of her shell.
“Now, when I think of ‘Pinkie Pie,’ I picture the crazy, bouncing filly who goes out of her way to make everypony smile and laugh.”
My father reached over and tousled my hair, which had stayed straight since the party yesterday. “Besides, I think curls suit you better,” he chuckled.
I smiled softly at this.
As I continued to stare at the roaring flames, my thoughts wandered back to Ponyville. As scarce as the time had been, my days there had proved to be the happiest of my life.
I allowed these memories to fill my mind, giving me a sense of peace as I drifted off to sleep.
The sun shined gently, partially obscured by a few clouds. We bathed in its soothing rays as we made our way up the grassy hill.
“I think I've said this before, but I love a sunny spring day!” said Spike, who carried a woven basket atop his head. “It feels awesome! Not too bright, and not too cloudy. I could just lay out here all day!”
Everyone giggled at this, myself included.
This was a day of leisure. Nopony had any work to do, and we had decided a few days ago that this would be the perfect day to have a picnic. The wonderful weather had been a pleasant coincidence, as even Rainbow Dash seemed genuinely surprised that it was so nice outside.
When we finally reached the top of the hill, the expanse of the field came into view around us. Aside from a few trees, the grassy field went flat and uninterrupted for at least a quarter of a mile.
“Okay, before everypony starts digging into the grub, you all gotta see this new trick I've been working on!” insisted Rainbow Dash.
“Aw, do we have to?” asked Spike, who had already begun to unfurl a blanket for us to eat on top of. “I’m starving!”
“Man up, Spike. This’ll only take a second!” said Rainbow.
At that, the pegasus shot into the air. Taking no time with her routine, she went straight into a frenzy of stunning acrobatics and feats of agility unmatched by almost any pegasus in Equestria.
None of us were particularly surprised by the impressive display. Still, we offered our support and cheered for her.
Amidst the cheering and whooping of my friends, I heard a strange noise that seemed to stand out from the rest. It didn't sound like anything positive. In fact, it sounded like somepony was wailing. Looking around, I tried to isolate the distinct sound until I managed to determine the direction it came from.
In curiosity, I headed in that direction, noticing at this time that nopony else seemed to pay me or the unusual noise any heed. Regardless, I made my way towards the noise, which, I soon realized, came from behind one of the nearby trees.
At this point, I was sure somepony was crying. Determined to cheer up this mysterious pony, I only increased my pace until I arrived at the tree she was behind.
I took a deep breath, planning the conversation in my head. First, I’d ask her why she’s crying. Second, I would try to talk her through it, and offer my advice wherever I could. Third, I’d invite her to join me and my friends in this wonderful picnic. An infallible plan!
I rounded the edge of the tree, prepared to initiate the conversation. However, what I saw made me gasp, and left me utterly speechless.
There, isolated from everypony else in the shade of a lone tree, sat Pinkie Pie. Myself.
She continued her wailing, seemingly unaware of my presence. I hesitated, but eventually decided to stay true to my original plan.
“W-what’s wrong?” I asked.
The pink mare looked up from the ground. She seemed unsurprised to see me, but the despair in her eyes did not waver.
“I... I just want to have fun with them all!” she cried. “I want to watch Rainbow Dash do tricks, and I want to eat AJ’s yummy apple fritters, and I... I miss my friends so much!”
“Don’t cry...” I said gently. “Just come enjoy the picnic with us. Nopony is stopping you.”
“But... you’re stopping me.” Her crying suddenly stopped.
I froze in place. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, if you’re there, then I can’t be there,” she explained. “Only one of us gets to be with them. The other has to stay here behind the tree, where nopony will even look.”
I stood there, speechless.
“Don’t worry, it’s your choice, so you get to stay!” she said joyfully, but immediately looked back down in sadness.
“But... what if I don’t want to?”
“Why in Equestria wouldn't you want to?” she asked in disbelief. “Don’t you love it here?”
“Of course I do,” I responded. “I’m happier now than I've ever been in my entire life, but...”
“But what?” she pressed.
“Sometimes... I just don’t feel like I deserve it, especially over you.”
“Everypony deserves happiness!” she insisted.
“But why does it have to be at the expense of others? Why do they have to suffer for me to achieve happiness?” I asked while pointing to my friends, who seemed blissfully unaware of the conversation happening between ourselves.
I closed my eyes, holding back a fresh stream of tears. “Why do you have to suffer? It’s not fair. I just want you all to be happy.”
I stopped as the sudden realization hit me like a brick.
Pinkie looked at me with sad, gentle eyes. “It’s not too late, you know.”
Before I had time to respond, I felt reality’s inescapable pull.
When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was the coldness of the wooden floor. My father slept soundly in the chair beside me.
My recollection of the dream being surprisingly vivid, I attempted to contact Pinkie.
“Pinkie? Are you there?” I asked.
There was no response.
“Pinkie! I need you to answer. Please answer!” I begged.
After a slight hesitation, I felt her subtly stirring within me. “W-what?” she asked.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I... I don’t know. I have... this weird feeling... like I’m...” she trailed off.
“I feel so weak...” she said. “I thought... that nap would help, but... guess not.”
Applejack’s words came back to me.
Pinkie’s life is on the line!
Able to connect the dots, I realized there was no more time to think. I had to make a decision, and fast.
I attempted to connect with Pinkie once more, but at this point I could only feel her as a fading consciousness.
No, I thought. If she disappears, everyone will be devastated. Not to mention, Equestria will have lost one of its most important means of defense.
I heard a slight crackle, so I glanced at the fireplace in front of me. The flames had all but died away, leaving only a soft glow. I shuddered at the metaphor.
Pinkie Pie, I thought. Such a beautiful, joyful soul. To think that she might be gone forever... It’s just... I trailed off, the idea becoming too much for me to handle.
No! This can’t happen. I won’t let it happen! Twilight had a plan, right? It can’t be too late. I... I need to get to Ponyville, right now!
I stood up from my spot on the wooden floor with renewed vigor. I had a plan and a purpose, and for once I was completely sure of myself.
The sudden movement woke my dad from his slumber. He yawned widely, looking around the room in a disoriented manner. His eyes came upon the clock, which read as a bit past five in the morning.
“Wow, it’s been a long time since I fell asleep out here,” he said, looking over to me. “What are you doing up so early, Pinkie?”
I stumbled for the right words. “I... need to go, Dad.”
He appeared confused at first, but upon getting a closer look at my expression, the seriousness of the situation seemed to register.
“Your mother and I said we’d support you in whatever decision you made,” he replied calmly. “All I ask is that you take care of yourself, ya hear?”
As I turned around to make my way to the door, my father spoke once more. “Pinkie?”
I stopped in my tracks.
“All of yourself,” he said firmly.
I hesitated. “I love you, Dad. Can you tell Mom when she gets up this morning? Also... say hi to my sisters for me next time they visit.”
Without a single other word, I bolted out the door and made my journey back to Ponyville with the gentle warmth of the rising sun on my back.
A strange, glowing object sat on a pedestal in the middle of the room. Twilight Sparkle focused her magic on it, and seemed visibly taxed by her efforts.
Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity and Spike watched with bated breath.
“What if Rainbow Dash doesn’t find her in time?” Fluttershy worried aloud. “What if we lose Pinkie forever?” Tears filled her eyes as the words barely escaped her lips.
Applejack leaned over to place a comforting hoof on her friend’s back. “I reckon we’ve done everything we can, Fluttershy. Ain’t nothin’ good gonna come out of sayin’ things like that.”
“Indeed,” agreed Rarity, “nothing more can be done.”
Fluttershy nodded slowly at the harsh reality of the situation, and fell quiet.
Suddenly, the front door slammed open, everypony’s heads snapping at the sudden interruption as Twilight’s concentration was shattered.
I stood at the entrance to the library, gasping for breath. Sweat coated almost every inch of my body, and my heart raced so fast and violently that I could feel it beating in my head.
Through my desperate struggle for breath, I could just manage to feel the almost non-existent presence of my other self. Not much time remained until she’d be gone forever.
Four of the five ponies whom I’d hoped to see were standing there, wide-eyed and speechless, seemingly unsure of what to say.
Twilight opened her mouth to break the silence, but I held up a hoof before she managed a word.
“I’m so sorry for leaving,” I said, pausing to catch my breath again. “I was just so scared that I didn’t even stop to think about how it might affect all of you.”
Twilight again opened her mouth to say something, but I was eager to speak my mind.
“Maybe if I’d been more considerate of you all, I would’ve understood the decision you were being forced to make. I’m so sorry for putting myself above the real Pinkie.”
Twilight smiled gently. “It’s not your fault. I’m the one to blame for this mess.” She looked down. “I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for trying to manipulate you.”
Twilight looked back up at me. “Maybe if I hadn’t been so intent on my original plan, I would’ve thought of using Eternity’s Tear sooner.”
My ears perked up at her words. “Eternity’s Tear?”
Twilight nodded, and turned to face an object shaped like a perfect teardrop.
“This,” she said, gesturing to the the object, “is an ancient and powerful relic. Years ago, when I was a student at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, the princess showed it to me.
"Eternity’s Tear can serve as an artificial vessel, allowing a consciousness to exist without the support of a living, breathing body."
"So you're suggesting that I be transferred into this... thing?" I asked.
"Simply put, yes. However, this rite can only be performed if you're willing."
I walked up to the cerulean-blue tear, which rested on the pedestal with a faint glow. As I stared into its depths, the thought of living the rest of my days in such a confined space became increasingly daunting to me.
"Looks a bit cramped, doesn't it?" I asked jokingly, hoping to lighten the mood slightly.
"It wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to you," said Twilight, still serious in tone. "When you become separated from your body, physical needs, desires, and discomfort become obsolete.
"Unfortunately, because of this, you would be unable to communicate with others verbally. Perhaps a telepathic conversation with some unicorns would work, but I can’t be sure."
When the only response she received was silence, she continued. "Not to mention, you would endure far longer than most ponies could ever hope to. It would be like immortality, in a way."
I continued to stare at the smooth surface of the orb. "It sounds more like a prison," I muttered.
"But you would still exist," Twilight responded, almost desperate. "You would still live and think just like any other pony. You would be there to witness the wonders that ponykind will discover in the future. They may even come up with a way for you to have a real body in the future."
"It won’t matter if I'm forgotten in an attic somewhere," I said.
Twilight seemed taken aback. "That would never be allowed to happen. You would be on display in a place where everypony could look at you and know just who and what you are."
"Even so," I began, "what else would I have to witness? The passing of all of you, and everyone else I care about?"
"I... won't try to sugar coat it." Twilight bit her lip. "I know it’s not perfect, but it's the only thing we can do. This is no longer a matter of which friend we might prefer. It’s a matter of Equestria's safety, and I think you understand it just as well as we do at this point."
Just then, I felt a tiny nudge in the back of my mind. "Bye bye," it said, struggling for even those simple words.
Panic began to rise within me as I quickly realized what this meant. Mere seconds remained for me to make my decision.
"Do it," I said without another moment's hesitation. "Do it now."
Twilight looked surprised. "What's with the sudden eagerness?" she asked, clearly unaware of how precious each second was at this moment.
"It's Pinkie!" I said, finally revealing it to them. "She's almost gone. We need to do this now, or it'll be too late.”
As the words reached Twilight's ears, a grave expression made its way across her face, and I couldn't help but assume the worst.
"The tear..." she began. "I was charging it in preparation for the transfer before you arrived."
"And it’s ready, right? Right?" I asked desperately.
"It... still needs about thirty more minutes," she said flatly.
"I... but, what if..." I tried, but nothing came to mind. I was at an utter loss for ideas. Any sort of hope seemed to shatter.
Then, out of nowhere, I did something that even surprised myself.
"Just do it now," I said.
"W-what?" she responded. "Are you suggesting—"
"Yes, I am. You have my consent."
Twilight's mouth was agape, and her eyes widened to full capacity. "Do you have any idea what you're asking me to do?"
"I think so."
"No, I don't think you do!" she shouted. "This is the worst imaginable fate for anyone. If one doesn’t pass away naturally with their body, then they don’t live or die. They’ll just fade away into nothingness, ceasing to exist!"
"You don’t know that for sure," I said. “We don’t really even know what I am. We don’t know exactly what will happen to me.”
"Well it can’t be anything good," said Twilight. "Don't do this to yourself. Let me finish charging the orb. Pinkie is strong. I know she can last just a bit longer."
"No... I won’t take that risk," I said. "She's been holding on for days. We have to do this now."
Twilight looked at me with a pleading gaze as tears filled her eyes. "Why do you want me to do this to you? If something happens, I'll never forgive myself!"
"And if you lose your Pinkie, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Everypony stared at me, completely at a loss for words.
“Look, this isn’t just about Pinkie. I know the elements won't work with her gone. Where does that put everypony else?"
Twilight looked like she was about to object again, but I didn’t give her the chance this time.
"Please don't try to convince me otherwise. I've made my choice, and I'm asking—no, begging—you to respect it. I feel like this is something I need to do. If doing this will bring her back and ensure Equestria’s safety, then... I'll do it in a heartbeat."
A single tear rolled down my cheek as this epiphany rang true for me. At that moment, I realized that my utmost desire in the world was merely for everyone to be happy. I couldn’t explain or understand it.
Regardless, I knew it to be true. For the first time in my life, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I finally had the opportunity to seize it.
Suddenly, I felt a strange, tingling sensation coming from my flank. Turning my head, I saw the unmistakable image of three balloons, two blue and one yellow, ingrained into my fur.
The revelation of one's true purpose in life is an indescribable joy. Sadly, there was no longer a single second to spare, even if it was simply to appreciate my final success in this world.
"We're out of time," I said. "It's now or never."
Twilight merely nodded. She raised a trembling hoof, gesturing to a spot on the floor directly across from her. Without a word of question, I obeyed. The last few steps felt like they took a lot longer than they should have, and the others looked at me in solemn silence as I passed.
It seemed like Applejack and Rarity were trying to put on brave faces, whereas Fluttershy and Spike had looks of utter helplessness. It was heartbreaking to see them like that, so I flashed them a reassuring smile, to which they merely nodded in understanding. I wish I could have taken time to say good-bye to them all, but they knew as well as I did that time was something we no longer possessed.
When I was finally in place, Twilight’s horn lit up as she began the spell, and I became encapsulated in a magical aura.
All of a sudden, the front door flew open. Twilight, who refused to let her concentration waver for even a moment, paid no attention to this disruption.
There, in the front doorway, stood Rainbow Dash. The colors in her mane and tail were especially prominent in the rays of the morning sun, and shone brilliantly.
As she looked around the room, inspecting the faces of each and every one of us, she must have reached some sort of conclusion because before I knew it, she made a beeline for Twilight.
Applejack, quick to respond, leapt into the air and tackled Rainbow mid-flight, pinning her to the ground.
“Argh, let go of me!” shouted Rainbow, fighting desperately to overcome Applejack.
“Ah’m sorry, Dash, but Pinkie made this choice for herself. It’s what she wants,” Applejack insisted, struggling to keep her down.
“Pinkie doesn’t know what she’s doing! You guys probably just lied to her again,” cried Rainbow. “Lemme go!”
After attempting to squirm from Applejack’s iron hold, it eventually became clear that Rainbow Dash would not escape, and she finally relaxed her muscles in defeat.
Then, she looked up at me, eyes gleaming. “Pinkie...” she pleaded.
I was unsure what to say. So many words raced through my mind, but not a single one came to surface. Instead, I merely smiled and raised up my hoof, waving to her as a final farewell.
"No, don't go!" she screamed. "Pinkie!"
Without warning, I felt the darkness close around me.
These memories... so many memories, are flashing before me in my final moments. Even now, I can feel the void beckoning. I am beginning to feel weak. Before long, my very existence will be erased.
What will it feel like to not exist? Will I fall into an endless dream? Will I merely drift around, incapable of even the most simple thoughts? I can’t even begin to imagine what it will entail.
Now that I think about it, ‘weak’ may be the wrong word, because for that to be the case, I would need to have some sort of physical sense left. Perhaps the better word would be ‘weary.’ Yes, that sounds more appropriate. I am... weary.
Where am I? I wonder, where could Twilight’s spell have possibly placed me?
“I think we just switched places,” says a far-off voice.
“Places? What places?” I convey through thought alone. To whom I’m asking this, however, I’ve not a clue.
“It’s me, Pinkie!”
“So... it worked?” I ask.
A wave of relief washes over me. “How... how are things looking out there? How is everyone? How are you?”
“I feel as good as new! After all this time, it feels really weird to have a body again.”
Good. Everything is finally back to normal for them. Now I can go with a clear conscious, knowing I didn’t leave any irreversible damage.
“Um, well...” she trails off.
“The girls... they know you’re not coming back.”
“They’re not taking it well. They were happy to see me again, but then they remembered that you’re gone. Dashie, she...”
“She what?” I prod.
“She’s devastated. We all are. You were our friend.”
This comes as a bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t realize this would upset them that much, but Pinkie’s sadness is almost palpable.
I thought they would be thrilled to have their old friend back. Did I make the wrong choice?
No. I knew there would be consequences, but for everyone’s sake, I knew it had to be done.
“It’ll be alright,” I insist. “Even if things are bad now, you'll all get through this... together. I know it.”
I feel a bit of hesitance. I wonder if she heard me.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am, now that I can throw parties and have fun like before,” she finally says, “but it feels wrong that I have to have that instead of you.”
“They need you more than they need me," I say. "They want you more. No matter how much I didn’t want it to be true, there was no changing it. In the end, this outcome is better for everyone.”
“Not for you,” she says plainly.
“Well, almost everyone.”
After another short moment of silence, she speaks up again. “I’ll never forget you."
"I... hope... not."
"Are you okay?" she asks.
I’m so tired. I want to say something, but... the words just won’t come. I need to thank her for... something, but I can’t remember what it was.
"Are you there? Hello?"
I desperately want to say something.
“Say something! Anything!” she says in desperation.
I just... can’t find the words.
“NO! PLEASE DON’T GO!”
She seems upset. I wish I could apologize. Maybe... this is the end. What a shame.
Oh well... I had fun.
Many hours had gone by since Twilight cast the spell, during which time Spike sent a letter to Princess Celestia informing her of everything that had transpired. Almost immediately upon receiving the letter, the princess took it upon herself to visit them personally.
She now sat at the table with her protégé, blowing on some tea that Spike had shakily prepared for the two of them. Twilight’s loyal assistant had been greatly affected by these events, and immediately retreated to his bed after serving them.
The princess glanced towards the other end of the room where the rest of the ponies sat, and saw that nothing had changed. Everyone's tears had dried except Rainbow’s, who continued to weep freely.
The prideful pegasus had initially attempted to leave, not wanting her friends to see her in such a state. However, Applejack had insisted, "If'n there was ever a good time to cry, it'd be now."
By now, everyone else was less concerned with their grief, and more focused on consoling Rainbow. Celestia had planned to offer her own words of comfort, but quickly decided against it. This mare needed the support of her close friends, not her ruler.
Celestia averted her attention away from the scene towards Twilight, whose gaze had fallen to the floor.
Princess Celestia spoke up. “You may rejoin your friends if you wish. There’s no shame in grieving, and you do not need to keep yourself here for my sake.”
“I know, but... maybe I should give them some time. I don’t think Rainbow Dash is ready to forgive me yet.”
The princess looked at her student with sympathy. “I know this isn’t easy, Twilight.”
The unicorn looked up in surprise. "Huh? Oh... I’m okay."
"I know you much better than that. I can see that you’re troubled by this."
Twilight looked at her mentor with desperate eyes. "How am I supposed to live with myself, knowing I did something so... horrible to somepony?"
"You understand it was the necessary course of action, don't you?"
"Of course I do!" Twilight said defensively. "If there was another option, I never would have considered trying this in the first place."
"And," Celestia began, "she let you perform the spell, didn’t she?"
Twilight nodded. "Yes. I needed her absolute permission to do it."
"Of course. Also, wasn’t it her choice? No manipulative spells of any sort?"
"Of course not!” she said defensively. “I would never!"
"Exactly, which is why I think you have no reason to blame yourself any further."
Twilight looked down at the floor, remaining silent.
“This tragedy has struck quite a blow to us all. Knowing that I could do nothing to save her is incredibly difficult for me, as well.
“But life moves on, and so will we. For now, we must be thankful for what we do have, and keep moving forward. You and your friends have overcome extraordinary challenges in the past, and I have no doubt in my mind that the anguish of today’s events will, with time, fade away.”
After some time, Twilight spoke. “Princess?”
“What was the point to all this?”
“I am... not sure I understand what you’re asking.”
“There has to be a reason! Every time something significant has happened in my life, I’ve always been able to learn something from it.”
Celestia said nothing.
“What are we supposed to learn from this? It was just... needless suffering. The other Pinkie was finally starting to see life in the same way our Pinkie Pie does, and now she’s just... gone.”
“Not everything in life can be summed up in a letter, Twilight,” said Celestia gently. “However, if you care to listen, I can tell you what I would take from this.”
“Very well,” she said, putting down her tea.
“I believe, with all sincerity, that there was some good to be had here today. This other side of Pinkie Pie, created by a magical anomaly, was the epitome of selflessness. Her immense care for everyone led her to put all others above herself, and give up everything she was for our sake. No greater price could have been paid.
“Also, I believe, in my heart of hearts, that the Pinkie Pie we all know would have done the same thing.”
“It’s like that pony was born to love others,” Twilight said as she wiped the tears from her face.
“Indeed. It is her purpose in life.”
Twilight looked at her friends, and immediately noticed Rainbow Dash. After hours of sobbing she had fallen asleep, and lay peacefully in the embrace of her friends.
Twilight smiled at this. Maybe everything will be alright, after all.
It occurred to her that Pinkie Pie was nowhere to be seen. She must have slipped out at some point.
Twilight sighed. It’s hard to imagine what this has been like for her. I hope she’s okay.
Then, she smiled to herself. We’re her friends. I know she’ll come to us when she’s ready.
As she looked around the room, everything suddenly felt... different, as if an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She felt the smallest bit of hope well up in her heart, and smiled once more.
This is what she would have wanted, Twilight thought to herself. For us to live happy, fulfilling lives.
As the lively song came to an end, Rainbow Dash decided to take a break from dancing. The party had lasted well into the evening, and it’d likely wind down soon enough.
Rainbow made her way over to the punch bowl where Twilight had already begun to pour herself a glass.
“Hey there, Twilight.”
“Oh! Hey, Rainbow Dash,” she responded. “Great party, huh?”
“Yeah! Not surprising, really. This is Pinkie Pie we’re talking about,” Rainbow said. “Speaking of which, have you seen her around?”
“Now that you mention it,” Twilight began, rubbing a hoof to her chin, “I haven’t seen her in the last half hour or so.”
“Huh, that’s weird,” said Rainbow Dash.
“Yeah. Kind of unusual for her to take a break from her own party." Twilight chuckled.
Twilight left the punch table, leaving Rainbow Dash to wonder on her own. Rainbow scanned the room, but Pinkie was nowhere to be seen.
She was just about to rejoin the rest of her friends, but something caught her eye.
The door to Pinkie's balcony, which she had entered through more times than she could count, seemed to beckon her outside.
Without a second thought, she made her way across the room and opened the door. Instantly, a cool breeze swept over her body and ran loosely between the locks of her mane. After hours of exerting herself, the air was immensely refreshing.
Whew, that feels good.
She gratefully breathed a sigh of relief before taking two steps out to the balcony, the door closing softly behind her.
It took a moment for her to realize she was not alone. When at last she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, the very pony she'd been searching for, she jumped in surprise.
"Gah! Pinkie, what are you doing here?" she said, initially shocked.
Pinkie said nothing.
Confused, Rainbow Dash waved a hoof in front of her face. "Hello? Pinkie? Anypony in there?"
Pinkie didn’t respond, and her gaze remained fixed on the night sky.
Okay, this is weird, even for Pinkie, she thought.
Suddenly, Pinkie turned her head to look at Dash. With an unmistakably familiar tone and a gentle smile, she said, "Thanks for being such a great friend, Rainbow Dash."
Rainbow immediately recognized the sedate, yet warm voice, despite not having heard it in a month. The pegasus stood there motionless, too dumbfounded to speak.
Finally, she managed, "P-Pinkie?"
At that, Pinkie shook her head and blinked her eyes rapidly, seeming to snap back to reality. She looked around in confusion, and then straight at Rainbow. “Oh! Hey Dashie! Did you say something?” she asked.
The sound of the wind filled in the silence between them, until Rainbow finally replied, “Um... no, I didn’t say anything. I was just, um... looking for you. You’ve been gone awhile.”
Pinkie held up a wrist to look at her watch, which Rainbow hadn’t recalled seeing there before. “Oh, wow! I must’ve dozed off or something! C’mon, Dashie. We should probably get back to the party!”
Before Rainbow Dash had time to respond, Pinkie gleefully trotted back inside, leaving the pegasus out there by herself.
Dash looked up at the night sky, the light of countless stars shining back down on her. She rested her head on the railing, and smiled. Raising her hoof in the air, she waved at the ocean of stars.
Despite the explanations her friends had given her, Rainbow Dash was convinced that somewhere, somehow, she was waving back.