She must have thought I was out of my mind. Maybe I was.
“May I sit?” I’d asked, and still I felt shocked when she acquiesced, gesturing to the fountain’s edge.
If I had to be honest, I felt just like the day I met Celestia. A child awed by a mystifying adult, ethereal and entrancing. I didn’t quite know what to say, even though I could tell she was expecting me to say something.
“Cat got your tongue?” she teased. “So? How’re you supposed to help me?”
I pondered the question, uncertain beyond a burning feeling that I had to.
“You… You seem sad,” I said, hesitantly. It felt that way, at least, and I’d been sure of it not mere moments before, but her raised eyebrow made me pause.
“Do I? Huh. I’m not, though.”
Her response cowed me, but I feel it important to state she wasn’t being mean or condescending. If before I felt driven, now I felt like a child who’d acted carelessly, making assumptions I shouldn’t have.
“I see. My mistake.”
I suppose she noticed I was a little lost, because she changed the subject.
“You said you know me? What do you know about me?”
I’m not going to bore you with the details, so suffice to say I said as much as I knew in as little words as I could. I knew she was a sex worker, that she’d died quite young, and that Lady Luna had opened the Sapphire Carousel in her honor.
And… well, I told her that I gathered that she and Celestia had been close, and then they weren’t.
“Huh.” She looked away, her gaze distant. “How is Lulu?”
“Good. Well. I don’t know. She was well before I died, at least.”
This pleased her, a smile curving her lips. “Good.” She looked back at me. “So, you were Celestia’s protegée, you said? And you work at the…” She giggled, for a moment seemingly lost in a pleasant thought.. “The Sapphire? And you took clients?”
“My primary job was costume design for Sapphire’s cabaret shows, and I had my own clothes boutique, but I took clients here and there, yes.”
Her expression softened. Wary, but hopeful. “And Celestia approved, then?” My expression must have given me away, because immediately she hardened. “Oh. Guess not.” The resentment returned, if briefly. “Surprise, surprise.”
She snorted, interrupting me. “Lady Luna? I see! Well, If you’re going to be a madam, better make it sound fancy, huh?”
“She’s a fantastic employer, I’ll have you know,” I replied immediately, defensive.
“I don’t doubt it,,” Sapphire said, her gentle tone disarming me again. “I wouldn’t have asked her to open a brothel with me if I didn’t think she would be. I’m still allowed to make fun of her a little, though.”
“She still cares a great deal about you,” I added. I bit my lip, hesitating. “As for Celestia, she—”
She lifted her hand and smiled politely. “I realize Celestia is important to you, and I respect that, but I don’t really care to talk about her,” she interrupted.
The words left my mouth before I could stop them. “But… aren’t you curious?”
She didn’t even have to think. “No.”
“The last time I saw Celestia, she was a deeply prejudiced person who cared only for status, and I haven’t had a single thought about her since then, and I really want to keep it that way.”
Anger bubbled within me. You know how complicated my relationship with Celestia is. What Sapphire said wasn’t shocking, and was in fact something I’d said of Celestia before, but it offended me to hear her say that of her.
“She’s changed,” I interjected.
“Has she?” she asked me, and at my conflicted silence, she smiled politely. “Like I said. Surprise, surprise.”
I’ll admit I might have been projecting. I maybe don’t know the full extent of their relationship, and how close they were, but I knew Sapphire had been meaningful to Celestia even decades after Sapphire died. And I understood it, too. If Twilight and I hadn’t reconciled, I’m certain the memory of her and the pain of it all would have haunted me until death and beyond.
So, truthfully, I couldn’t comprehend how she could just not care.
“But you were close,” I protested. “Weren’t you? How can you not care at all?” I narrowed my eyes, challenging her. “If you really didn’t care, you wouldn’t mind knowing because it wouldn’t bother you to know.”
For a moment, she seemed caught. A second long hesitation that felt like a small victory for me.
“What is this?” she asked me, suddenly. “It’s like you want me to care.” She smiled mischievously at me. “That’s it, isn’t it? What you want to fix. What, are you trying to get me to change my opinion on her? You think I’m sad about what happened with her?”
My lack of answer was an answer in itself, and I felt ashamed again when she laughed.
“Huh! Didn’t think today would be the day a complete stranger tells me how I need to fix a relationship that died a lifetime ago, let alone tells me how I feel about it, but here we are. Death really is full of surprises!” She looked at me. “You know, you may not be her blood, but you sure did inherit her presumptuousness.”
She was right, of course, and though her slap was only verbal, I still felt the physical sting. I looked down at my hands, very much wishing I was anywhere but there.
“Then again, you did say you’re trying to convince death to bring you back to life, so I’m not sure why I’m surprised you’re so audacious.” After a pause in which I kept staring at my hands, she continued, “So, why do you want to go back?”
“My girlfriend,” I replied, quietly.
“Your girlfriend?” she asked, and the tenderness returned. “I’ve heard that before. I get it. You must be new here, aren’t you? It always takes a few cycles. How many have you been here for?”
“I’ve stopped keeping count.”
It’s funny. I never realized it until then, really.
Speaking with you, dear friend, telling you these stories… It’s consumed my mind so much, so completely distracted me from the rest of my thoughts, that it wasn’t until right then that I was struck by just how much I miss Twilight.
Time is personal here, isn’t it? It’s not like back on Earth, where it passes and we know it does in the rising and setting sun. Time doesn’t exist here, not in that way, which makes it so that we must decide what time is.
And it is my bleeding burden, my absolute sunforsaken misery that time, without Twilight Sparkle, is eternal. It’s not even that it feels eternal, it’s that it is. Talking to you distracted me from remembering that eternities of longing pass every moment I have to keep waiting for her and those that I love.
“Why now?” she asked.
“Honestly,” I replied, “because I’m bloody sick of waiting for her to get here.”
Her laughter enveloped me, and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s true, though. I’m so tired of waiting.
“I’m telling death about us,” I continued, feeling more at ease. “About how we met, and our life up until I died. I’m hoping he’ll be so charmed by us, and so devastated that our life together was cut short, he’ll bring me back just to find out how our story is really supposed to end.”
“A real Scheherazade, huh?”
“I suppose so, yes.” I smiled. “I have a talent for stories, I’ve found, which I think is mostly because of Auntie Celestia. She was a great storyteller. As a child, she’d sit me on her lap and tell me the grandest tales.” I paused, my fond reminiscing turning sour. “But never about her, no matter how much I asked. Never the real things about her.”
“I’m not surprised,” Sapphire mused. “She was always… private.”
Too private, I thought. That’s what hurt. I loved her so much, yet I was always aware she only let me see what she wanted me to see. Know what she wanted me to know. When I’d sought out her counsel, she’d always bring up what she knew from textbooks and others experiences, never from her own personal ones.
“When I was a child, she once told me that when I turned eighteen, I would be allowed to ask her twenty questions and she’d have to answer them truthfully no matter what they were,” I continued.
Sapphire leaned in. “What did you ask her?”
I smiled bitterly. “I didn’t. We became estranged a few months before my eighteenth birthday. By the time it rolled around, well… I really didn’t care for her in any meaningful way.” A dry laughter filled the air. “Which was stupid. Of course I cared. Of course I’ve always cared, even now, asking a complete stranger to tell me about her life.”
We fell into silence.
“I’ll give them to you.”
I looked at her, finding her staring out into the distance.
“Your twenty questions. You can ask me twenty questions about her, and I’ll answer them as best as I can.” Her eyes met mine. “But only twenty.”
I gaped at her, completely taken by surprise. “I—? What? But—Right now?!”
“No, not right now.” She giggled at me, standing up. “And not all at once. Come find me tomorrow, and you can ask me the first one”
“Tomorrow? But tomorrow doesn’t exist here!” I protested, standing up as she walked away with not a care in the world, her hands held behind her back.
“I suppose I’ll come find you, then.”
Sorry for the lack of content; this month was pretty hectic. Hopefully things will pick up soon!
As always, if you find any typos or the like, feel free to let me know in a comment (you can toggle your comment to be private if you want to keep it between you and me!).