Vignette One: Lily
The house was a mess. No, it was beyond a mess. It was a catastrophe. Lily had heard about these foals’ reputation for destroying households, but she had never imagined that they could be this terrible. Rarity had told her that when she dropped the three off, but Lily hadn’t thought much of it, and only ten minutes later, there was a mess that would take at least an hour to clean up. Under normal circumstances, they would not have been here, but with Fluttershy, Applejack, Twilight Sparkle, and Rarity gone on a quest to try to convince that dragon to move, she couldn’t give them to anypony else. One thing was for sure: Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom were a hoofful.
She sighed, picking up a picture of her, Rose, and Daisy from her late foalhood. Thankfully, the glass had not shattered on the hardwood floor. In the picture, they were standing in front of a market stand, grinning ear to ear. Lily gave herself a moment to remember those days. It had been a hectic time, for sure, but easily the best time of her life. She put the picture back and moved on the next casualty, a sofa cushion.
In her focus on cleaning up, she neglected to notice the sound of hooves walking down the stairs. “Miss Lily?”
“What is it?” she asked, putting the cushion in what she thought was the proper place. When she realized that it wasn’t fitting, she tried turning it over, which seemed to do the trick.
“We’re sorry about your living room.”
Lily looked up at the filly, and she couldn’t help but smile. She saw that it was Scootaloo who had come down. “It’s okay really,” she said, picking up a cup which had been mercifully empty when it was knocked over; yet another stroke of luck. “Where are your friends?”
“They’re upstairs messing around. But I have a question.”
“Yes, what is it?”
“I have this essay I have to do on Ponyville history. I’m supposed to write about something important that happened, but I haven’t been paying any attention in class, and I don’t know anything.”
Lily giggled a little. “School can be boring like that, but you’ll get through it.”
“Now, you said you wanted to know something significant about history. Does it matter how long ago it happened?”
Scootaloo thought about it for a moment, and then answered. “Cheerilee said it had to happen before we were born. Do you have something?”
Lily glanced back at the picture of her and her friends she had picked up a minute ago. “Yes, I do in fact.”
“How long will this take?”
“Oh, it won’t take too long. It’s a pretty short story.”
“Good.” Scootaloo sat down on the couch with her hooves on her chin, waiting expectantly for what Lily had to say.
“Well, you know the town market, right?”
“This is about that. It all happened fifteen years ago. You wouldn’t believe it, but I had a project I had to do too …”
The classroom was abuzz, and the teacher was frantically trying to get it to quiet down. It was the last day of school, and everypony was understandably excited about that. Gradually, the class did quiet down, and the teacher’s voice could be heard. “Now class, since I don’t know what to do with you, I’m going to let you out an hour early. Have a good summer, and come back next year ready to learn!”
The class cheered in approval, and there was a mass exodus or fillies and colts trying to fit all at once into a doorway that could only fit one at a time. Lily was at the back of the group. She stayed as far away from the teacher as possible, trying to avoid contact and delay the inevitable.
Sadly, she wasn’t able to. The teacher caught sight of her, and remembered she had to speak with her. “Lily! May I see you for a moment?”
Lily sighed. She had been a mere two steps away from the door; so close to freedom, but still just short. She turned and sullenly walked over to the teacher’s desk. She didn’t look up at her, and instead decided to look at the nametag on the desk. It read: Chalk White. Even without looking up, Lily could tell that she was expecting her to say something. “Yes, Mrs. White?”
“Your grades this year were not so good. You know that, don’t you?”
Lily nodded, but still didn’t say anything.
“I know you’ve been trying your hardest to get them up, so I’m going to give you another chance. I want you to do a project over the summer; you don’t need to write me an essay or anything. I want you to do something that makes a difference in the community. It can be anything you want. When classes start next year, I want you to tell me what you learned.”
“How in Equestria am I supposed to do that?”
“However you want. Focus on what you’re good at, or try something new if you like. As I said, it could be anything.”
One hour later, Lily found herself back at home. Unlike most of the foals at school, she was not frolicking around outside and celebrating the fact that summer break had finally arrived. Instead, she was puzzling over the assignment she had been given. She thought about what Chalk White had said. She looked around the room. There were flowers everywhere, in vases, in frames, and drawn on paper. Flowers were her true passion. “Maybe I can do something with them,” she thought.
She wondered how flowers could possibly impact the community. She could plant them somewhere, but when she thought about it, that didn’t really teach her anything. She thought about it a little more, and as time passed, her thoughts began to wander. By the time she brought herself back into focus, it was getting dark.
“Well, there goes the first day of summer,” she said glumly. “I have to think of something, though. What else can I do?” Her eyes surveyed the room, looking for inspiration. One of the first things she saw was her Ponyville History essay. A measly 'C-' was written in the top-right corner in ink. But as she looked at it, she began to get an idea. The essay had been about the formation of Ponyville, and how Granny Smith and Filthy Rich had both played a part in its foundation. It had also mentioned a market where the ponies of that time sold goods.
“Maybe I can sell flowers,” she thought. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that it was a brilliant idea. It wouldn’t be that hard, after all. She had the flowers; all she needed was a place to sell them. She figured she might as well do the same thing they did back them by selling out of a stall. She remembered that she had built one when she was really young to sell lemonade out of. If only she could find it.
Excitedly, she got off of her bed and ran downstairs into the basement. She realized that she could actually have some fun with this project. She didn’t really have anything else to do over the summer, so it seemed like a good idea. The basement, as it always was, was dark, damp, and cramped. It was used more like an attic, since the house had two stories and they didn’t need the extra space. She pushed aside an old scooter, an armchair, and various other objects until she saw what she was looking for. And of course, it was all the way at the back of the room.
It took her about twenty minutes to drag the stand out of the basement and up the stairs. The thing barely managed to fit through the doorway. She dragged it out into the front yard and looked at the sun. It was starting to set, but it still had a ways to go. She figured she had an hour or two before it got too dark. She hurried inside and grabbed the paint she had seen in the basement, as well as some sandpaper. She then rushed back outside and set to work. By the time she was done, the stand looked less like a beaten-up pile of nailed-up wood and more like something presentable. For a finishing touch, she painted the words ‘Lily’s Flower Stand’ on the board that went over the top. She stood back and beheld her masterpiece. It was good enough, she thought. After all, this was just a simple school project, and she wasn’t being graded on how the stand looked.
Lily looked back at the sun, and was met with a dazzling array of colors that signified a sunset. It was a pretty sight, and it always reminded her of her flowers and their vast array of colors. She yawned, and for the first time realized how tired she was. She walked up to her bedroom and went to sleep, looking forward to starting her project the next day.
The next morning, Lily woke up and ate a large breakfast. She had forgotten to have dinner, since there were no parents to remind her. Her father was out on multi-week business trip, leaving her alone in the house. After finishing her food, she washed out the dishes. After leaving them to dry, she trotted out to her stand. She proceeded to drag it out in front of her house, and after fetching a chair and her flowers from inside, she sat and waited for a customer.
She was doing the same thing five hours later. Despite her large breakfast, her stomach grumbled. She tried to ignore it, vowing that she would not eat until she had made at least one sale. But as each minute passed, the temptation of food was even higher. It didn’t help that had a vast array of flowers sitting right in front of her. She would have eaten them, but these were her most beautiful flowers, flowers that she never ate for that reason. There were also the flowers she could not eat, like roses. Not only was she hungry, but she was dismayed with her lack of business. She would have figured that she could have gotten at least one sale, but she had forgotten how few ponies roamed the streets these days. She was used to this fact, but her father told her that the town was bustling when he was a colt, and that it had been even more populous before that time. But the modern reality was that Ponyville was slowly becoming a ghost town. The population was closer to two-digit figures than it was to four-digit ones. Most of the ponies that remained were on their way out. As a filly, she had always managed to have fun despite the oppressive environment, but when she grew up, she didn’t know how she would stay sane in a place like this.
She sighed in defeat. It was hopeless. There was no way she could change this town for the better. She was about to munch on one of her Magnolias when she was interrupted by a voice.
“Excuse me, but I couldn’t help but notice what lovely flowers you have here.”
Lily’s ears perked at the sound of the voice. She turned her head to face the mare, whom she recognized as Ramie, Ponyville’s seamstress. She did not make much of any special like the clothes available in Canterlot, but she was a master of repair and a virtuoso at the sewing machine. She was one of the few ponies in Ponyville who was older than Granny Smith, although she hadn’t lived in Ponyville nearly as long. She was also one of the nicer ponies in town, so it was not much of a surprise that she noticed Lily now.
“Hello, Mrs. Ramie. Do you really like them? Nopony has even bothered to say anything all day!”
“That’s unfortunate, because these really are beautiful flowers. How much are these Lilies over here?”
Lily realized with a shock that she hadn't even thought about a price. “It’s uh … one bit for each.” She said, coming up with a random number off the top of her head.
Ramie smiled. “You didn’t set the price beforehand, did you? If you’re going to sell something, you need to at least know what your starting price is. I’ll give you six bits for three of them.”
“Thanks,” said Lily, grateful for the mare’s honesty. She got out the three lilies she thought looked the best and gave them to Ramie. As quickly as she’d come, she wished Lily good luck and walked in the same direction she had come from.
Relief washed over Lily as she stared at the bits lying on the board. She put the coins in her saddlebag, which she had brought out with her. At that moment, he stomach growled, and she once again realized that she was hungry. As quickly as she could, she took trips between the house and the stand until all of the flowers were back in the house. Then she bolted into the kitchen and made herself a long-overdue dejeuner.
“I don’t get it,” said Scootaloo, her chin still resting on her hoof.
“What don’t you get?” asked Lily, still thinking fondly on the memory.
“What does that have to do with Ponyville history? You said one thing about it being a ghost-town, and that was it!”
“Well, if you want the whole story, you’re going to have to ask a few more ponies.”
“How many more?” said Scootaloo restlessly.
“Well, I don’t know, as many as it takes.”
Scootaloo sighed as if accepting defeat. “Can you at least tell me who to ask next?”
Lily answered enthusiastically, glad that the filly was not giving up. “Yes I do. Do you know who Davenport is?”
Scootaloo shook her head. This didn’t surprise her. The town was quite large these days, so unlike in her childhood, you didn’t know everypony by name. “He’s the stallion who owns the Quill and Sofa shop.”
“Quills and Sofas? That’s kind of weird,” commented Scootaloo.
Lily grinned, now returning to picking up the mess the filly and her friends had caused. “Yes, I guess it is. He says he can never find the right thing to sell. Quills can’t keep his business afloat by themselves, and he still hasn’t found something to go with it.”
“Oh, well okay. I guess I’ll go talk to him tomorrow.”
“You do that,” said Lily as she watched the filly gallop back upstairs. She heard the sound of an opening door, accompanied by the sound of excitement coming from her two friends as Scootaloo came back into the room. The next thing she heard was a crash, followed by a long silence.
“Just another mess to clean up,” she said. Unlike before, she found that she didn’t mind that much. Scootaloo had reminded her of a time she did not think of enough. Leaving the mess for later, she sat back on the couch. In truth, she could tell Scootaloo most of the story, and she could tell her why it was important to Ponyville history. She wondered why she shouldn’t just tell Scootaloo the rest herself and save the filly some time. Although it was true that Scootaloo would get more detail if she asked around, that wasn’t the real reason. It just seemed right for the filly to hear the whole story.
With a contented sigh, Lily leaned back on the cushions and recalled those days. It was a time of happiness and sadness, of things won and things lost. But one thing was for sure: everypony involved had enjoyed it, and over the next few days, Scootaloo was about to find that out.