Saturday, March 28, 2015

Here goes nothing

This is a short fanfiction I typed up last night. It's an idea that's rattled around in my head for a while. I don't read much fanfiction so I have no idea if someone has beat me to the idea or not (one thing that stays my hand on these things is researching the "prior art" - seeing if I'm taking an idea someone developed before me).

This has, as I said, rattled around in my head for about a year in longer and shorter forms. This is just a short version of it, where the protagonist doesn't wind up going to the town where I have her go on some versions of the story.

I have a hard time judging my own writing because I do mostly scientific writing which is a very different style and I have to go through so many tortuous (and torturous!) rewrites of it that by the time I'm done I'm sick of what I've written and unable to judge its merit. (And I've had a few "this is a long shot, but oh well" papers get accepted with minor revisions, and some I thought were pretty good rejected out of hand, which makes me mistrust my judgement).

So anyway, here it is. I haven't really edited it much; I pretty much wrote it as I thought it:


I have spent my life moving. I settle here and there, live for a while, but then my secret is discovered and I must move on.

When ponies learn it, they react differently to me. In some cases, mares grab their foals and hold them tightly to them – out of fear that my curse is somehow spreading and will afflict their offspring. In other cases, ponies are unnaturally interested – what is it like? How do I feel? Have I always known it would be thus? And in still others, they pity me, looking at me with large, watery eyes, and speaking in hushed tones.

The shunning is the worst – that is when I know I must leave, because in some towns, the shunning is followed by letters. Or worse, rotten eggs and mud thrown at where ever I am living.

In all cases I am sure the reaction is out of fear. What I am is unnatural. What I am is something that ponies believed could not be. What I am is something every colt and filly fears, but which comes true for none of them – none except me.

No matter how they react – fear, sick fascination, shunning, or even pity – their finding me out means I must leave, I must move on. I will find another town for a while, I will live there, and I will be discovered again.

I was born with considerable promise. I am told that my paternal grandmother, whose talent was divination of this sort, placed her ear to my expectant mother’s belly and informed my parents that the foal was going to be a mare, and that her name was to be Cypher.

Immediately the excitement started: why, the foal would grow up to be gifted at math! She would be brilliant, she would solve all the unsolved equations of Equestria. Or: She will be a genius at codes. She will create codes that allow the various princes and princesses of the different regions to communicate, safely, with no fear of their messages being intercepted by Changelings or other warlike creatures. She will help to keep peace in Equestria!

However, my name turned out to be a cruel joke.

In my travels, I have often longed for the strength and skill of an Earth pony – because then I could move to a remote area, raise crops, and live off the land. I would have no need of towns, no need of other ponies, no need to continue slowly depleting the inheritance my grandparents left me and worrying about how I could perhaps earn a few bits. Or I envied the mobility of the Pegasus ponies – I could live in a place safe for me (even atop a cloud of my own!) and merely go into town briefly, when food was needed.

Rather, I was born a unicorn. Born with a milk-white coat, a mane so pale yellow it looks white, and watery blue eyes. My unnatural appearance (in a world full of gloriously colorful ponies) seems to go with my unnatural nature.

For I am the one thing every young pony fears and the thing that every older pony reassures them is impossible: 

I am a grown mare with a blank flank.

It was not for want of trying. As a unicorn, it was expected I possessed some magic, some particular ability with spells. Some unicorns are gifted in being able to teleport large items; I strained for weeks to move rocks and fell trees, thinking perhaps I could work in construction. 

Other unicorns have particular fine-scale skill; one of my great-uncles created gorgeous tapestries, some of which still hang in royal palaces. He created them stitch by stitch, moving the needle and fiber with complex spells. But I had none of his talent: I could do only the most basic of sewing, and it was loose and unattractive at that. 

My maternal grandmother was a healer-unicorn; with her skill and her magic she could excise tumors and set broken bones. I could not even heal a scratch on my own knee.

Oh, I have SOME magic. I can move a quill to write, however sloppily, and I can levitate a brush to care for my own mane. But moving heavy objects, creating beautiful things, healing, helping ponies to fall in love or find peace – in short, anything that represents a special talent or even a skill to earn a livelihood – escaped me. 

And so, I remained a “blank flank,” as the schoolyard taunt goes. At first, my parents told me to be patient and keep trying: when I was a filly, it was not so alarming. But as I matured, I increasingly caught the looks of worry that passed between my mother and my father. 

When I attained my majority, the age at which a mare or stallion leaves home, I still had not found my purpose. My parents had nothing to say to me about it but I knew they were disappointed; I knew they had no ability to understand why they had been cursed with an offspring who would never reach the full level of maturity. 

I left, one night, after my parents had gone to bed. I left them a short note telling them not to worry and that I would return if I ever found my purpose. I would be provided for; my mother’s family was well-off and when her parents died, they left me enough gold to keep myself going for a long time, provided I was careful. And so I left. 

I have moved all around Equestria – from the big cities like Canterlot and Fillydelphia to the tiny towns, Whinnywood and Farrier Junction. I’ve tried living in the wilderness but without earth-pony skills or Pegasus mobility, it was too hard to keep myself fed.

Perhaps someday I might find my purpose and be able to stop moving around. But I have largely given up hope of that and have made the best of my life as it is. I don’t even dream of getting my cutie mark any more.


CGHill said...

I like it. A lot going on in those thousand words. There are a couple of phrases I might want to tweak, but as it stands, it's pretty powerful stuff.

Nicole said...

I know nothing of ponies. But as a story, I think it's a strong one. Should be counted as a good thing that I don't know squat about the fic that is being fanned but I still found it very worthwhile. :)