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    In the back of her mind, where the sounds of the party around her were a distant hum, Twilight Sparkle wondered if she hated herself. 

    She must. It was the only thing that made sense in a scenario that made none, as unpleasant and lingering as the mixed drink Rainbow’d handed her. 

    “Just take it.” Rainbow’d hesitated for a second before handing her a glass of the poison-laced courage. Some awful-tasting soda, and rum, and a whole lot of lime. “You just came here to have a good time, remember?”

    In other words, don’t do anything dumb, just get through the night. 

    This was Twilight’s mantra. Get through the night. She just had to do that. Get through it, awkwardly smile at the friends she hadn’t seen, politely half-acknowledge the ones who’d clearly taken the other side, and then avoid Her. 

    She looked up from her drink, her eyes surveying the social jungle dimly lit by flashing lights. The dance floor was taken over by drunken young adults, enraptured with each other, none of them important in Twilight’s world. 

    If this nightclub was a jungle, then they weren’t even prey. They were just there—filler expected elements, like trees, and the wind, and the rain, and the sweaty humidity. 

    The only prey there was Twilight. 

    Four years. 

    Four years down the drain. Nearly half of her adult life, gone. Two spent as friends, two spent as more, and now what felt like forever trying to recover from the pain, every attempt botched by the one, masochistic question that plagued Twilight every fucking night:

    When had it been over for Rarity?

    When was the moment she knew that she was going to walk out eventually? 

    She took a wincing sip of the drink, hoping it would finally do its job of numbing her brain, but nothing was working. The music still blared in the background, her eyes glued to the dancing parade of shoes, and it wasn’t until someone accidentally shoved her that she stumbled towards an empty booth and sat down. 

    She wanted to bury her face in her hands, but didn’t. Not just because she was holding a drink, but because she’d look pathetic. It would be pathetic, considering… 

    She stared down at her drink, the eyes staring back windows into her memories. 

    Was it when I didn’t go to the New Year’s party with her friends? 

    The thought slashed into her brain unbidden, and the music around her became louder. The noises of people, who she struggled to engage with, were now loud and clear, reminding her of that stupid, stupid ni—

    Rarity was standing by the door, dressed to the nines, clutching her purse and phone. She existed only in the corner of Twilight’s eye, sidelined by the computer screen. 

    “I’m leaving,” said Rarity, slowly. 

    “All right.” Clackclackclackclack. “Have a good time!”

    She’d thought it was okay she wanted to stay. Wasn’t it? Maybe if she—

    Rarity faltered. “Are you certain you don’t want to come?” she asked for the third time. Or the fourth. Or the last. 

    “I am,” Twilight replied. She looked at Rarity and smiled. “I want to stay home.”

    Was that it? Was that when Rarity had made the choice? When she didn’t ask if Rarity wanted her to go? When she didn’t even think that might be the case? She’d thought if Rarity wanted her to go, she would have insisted more, like she always did, but, but, but—

    Rarity smiled, lovingly. Or was it thinly? Kindly? Resigned? 

    …Done? 

    “…All right. Happy new year.”

    “Happy new year. I’ll text you at midnight!”

    Her phone felt heavy in her pants pocket, still haunted by the ghosts of texts she’d deleted months ago and buried in an archival hard drive labeled ‘Trash’. 

    She took another sip of her drink, dismayed by how much still remained. She had half a mind to check the time, hoping maybe enough had passed that it would be acceptable for her to leave. 

    Instead, she stood up and made her way to the bar, hoping to discreetly get rid of her drink and get some water instead. She made her way through the crowd, trying her best not to look at the people. Trying but failing, her eyes wandering as they had the entire night, a sick masochism that bore fruits when a flash of violet hair moved closer on the horizon, its owner laughing at something the friend with her said. 

    Twilight immediately jerked away, making sure to go in a completely other direction, watching in the corner of her eye how Rarity continued on the same path, not having even noticed Twilight. 

    She felt sick by the time she got to the bar. 

    How did Rarity do it? How did she care so little? How was she so unaffected? She was probably enjoying the party, having fun, and there was Twilight, consumed, in pain, drinking even more of the so-called drink Rainbow’d ordered for her. 

    She leaned into the bar, grabbing a menu and reading the drinks over and over and over and over—

    When had it ended for Rarity? To be so okay, it meant it had ended long before the end, long before New Years, long before—

    Twilight heard the front door open, followed in short order by Rarity calling out her name. 

    “I’m in the room!” she called back, her eyes scanning her thesis for the tenth, eleventh, twentieth time. It had to be perfect, it had to be great, she needed that grant. 

    Rarity came in moments later, holding a folded dress she’d made.

    Before Twilight could so much as speak, Rarity unfurled her garment and displayed it for Twilight, modeling it over her clothes. 

    “Well? What do you think?” she asked. 

    Twilight frowned. She couldn’t help it. It was far from Rarity’s best work, and she only said that because she loved Rarity’s work. 

    Whatever cheer Rarity had died. Instantly. 

    “Oh,” she said, softly. “You don’t like it.”

    Was that it? Was it then? When Rarity showed her a dress, and Twilight couldn’t help but show what she thought? A dress Rarity made after a monthlong block, consumed by the extreme financial stress that came with trying to make it as an artisan designer that no one wanted to buy from when stores sold much more, much cheaper. 

    “I, I do!” Twilight quickly replied, a pit in her stomach. 

    She hadn’t meant to be rude. It was because she cared. If she hadn’t cared, she wouldn’t have said anything, she… It was because she’d cared. It was. 

    God, it was. 

     She swiveled her chair around, fixing her partner with her full attention, once more finding herself trying to save a situation she hadn’t meant to break. 

    “Here, let me—Let me think, why don’t you—?”

    “It’s all right!” Rarity replied suddenly, the smile on her lips genuine. Or deceitful? Fake? Pained? “Nothing starts perfect, after all!” Without giving Twilight a moment to speak, she strode out of the room. “Off to it!”

     Rarity didn’t slam the door closed when she left, but it sure felt like she did. 

    Just like Rainbow Dash didn’t slam the glass of water down on the counter, but Twilight flinched regardless. 

    “It’s just water, dude,” Rainbow clarified, mistaking Twilight’s hesitation as reservation towards Rainbow’s beverage suggestions. When Twilight said nothing, her mind still clawing its way back from painful memories, Rainbow’s tone softened. “You look like shit.” She nudged the glass towards her friend. “Drink it. It’ll help.”

    “Thanks,” Twilight managed somehow, her voice far away and everywhere at once. 

    She gingerly took the glass in her hand and gulped the water down, focusing on the sounds her throat made. They were so loud. Gulp gulp gulp gulp. Loud and obnoxious, probably bringing attention to her, like always, like when Rarity just kept walking, but Twilight moved out of the way, and Rarity didn’t even notice, or care, or see, or—

    “Have you danced yet?”

    Her train of thought came to a crashing halt, every word slamming into each other, splintering into a thousand more thoughts. 

    She should have stayed home. 

    Like always. 

    “What?” she asked. 

    “Dance?” Rainbow asked, jiggling a little in place to exemplify. “You know, what you said you wanted to do on the way here?”

    “Oh. Right.”

    Twilight looked back at her glass, and her stupid reflection, and the stupid lie she’d told Rainbow. It hadn’t been a lie. Well, it was a lie, but she hadn’t wanted it to be a lie. She’d wanted it to be true, that she’d come to dance, and see her friends, and have a good time—she’d meant it. 

    But she knew, and she hated that she knew, the real reason she was there. 

    Masochist, she thought, bitterly. Masochist, masochist, masochist. 

    And that wasn’t even correct, was it? Masochism implied some pleasure was being had, some sick sort of twisted gratification from enduring lacerating pain. 

    So, to be technically correct, she wasn’t a masochist. 

    She just hated her own guts, apparently. 

    “I changed my mind,” she lied, looking out at the crowd, an amateur trying to put on a performance. Was that it? When she’d realized Twilight would never be the sociable person she wanted her partner to be? Was that when Rarity— “Too many people.”

    “Yeah, makes sense,” Rainbow replied, then added playfully as a joke, and it probably was a joke, but— “Keep forgetting you don’t like people.”

    Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck—

    “So, what’re you gonna do?” Rainbow continued, leaning her back against the counter so she could survey the party, giving Twilight the shameful solace of not seeing her eyes welling up with tears. 

    “I’m not sure yet,” someone replied in Twilight’s own voice. It sounded like her, so it must have been her. She wasn’t sure. She hoped it was her. “You?”

    Rainbow took off in a ramble about her plans—something about a drinking game, and that must have been funny for some reason because she was laughing now—while Twilight stared at her drink. 

    She’d broken up with Rarity. 

    It was she who’d done it. If any of the two should have been okay, it should have been her. That’s what she’d expected, what made sense, what was right. If anyone had the right to still be devastated, it was Rarity, and it was good that she wasn’t, because Twilight didn’t want her to be in more pain, but she wasn’t, and Twilight was, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to go. 

    That was the crux of it, wasn’t it? 

    It was over for Rarity, it had been over for so long, but it wasn’t for Twilight. 

    Why wasn’t it over

    She stepped away from the counter, Rainbow Dash still rambling on and on, only stopping when Twilight spoke. 

    “I’m sorry,” she said, avoiding eye-contact. “I think I need to go outside for some air. I’ll be back.”

    She didn’t give Rainbow time to respond and marched off, not wanting to discuss the matter with her friend or anyone else. People pushed into her as she carved her way through the crowd. She didn’t care or notice, too single mindedly focused on getting outside and hoping the cold air would burn her throat so much that she’d have no choice but to scream.

    ….

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    4 Comments

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    1. Dimbulb
      Jun 22, '24 at 5:09 am

    2. SigmasonicX
      Jun 21, '24 at 9:03 pm

      Great stuff. It’s a shame you scrapped this, because this is really strong and evocative writing. Though it may not be the ending you had in mind, I think there’d be merit in adding a sentence or two to end this story on a somber note, leaving Twilight’s emotions as an open wound.

    3. scarredvirtue
      Jun 18, '24 at 11:31 pm

      Man, I can’t even make it two paragraphs without being visibly mesmerized by how well-crafted your literary voice is. I thought I’d stand a chance in the mono-trash-folder, but instead I stand corrected. I’m very jealous, you see.

    4. Noc
      Jun 16, '24 at 2:26 am

      Too bad this is canceled. Really got into it. Even your rejects are great, Mono. 💗

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