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Rot · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Peanut Butter Chocolate
I knew things would be over soon when she whispered in my ear: “I think I love you.”

The words came deep into the evening, when the Apple Family finally closed down their Annual Barnstormer and shooed all us local yokels out into the darkness. We were the last ones out on account of Greenie’s hooves being so sore. She danced to every song the band cranked out, fast or slow, which was why her front hoof was wrapped around my shoulders.

“I think I love you,” she says again, her other hooves shaking under the dirt road.

My heart falls a little lower.

“You think?” I say. I make the tone playful, just in case she doesn’t understand what she’s saying.

“Yep,” she says. She taps her head with her free hoof. “Fully calculated in the Leafy Green Calculator of Love.”

I let loose a sad chuckle masked in joviality. She’ll be gone from my life within the next two weeks. A month, tops.

Not that she’s planning it now. Even in her exhausted state, she means what she says.

I think I love you. The harbinger. A code uttered by Ponyville mares, a subtle escape clause for when the nagging doubts take control. The phrase they could point to when their friends gossiped about the dissolution. I thought I loved him. I didn’t really. Not now, at least. The affection came from one too many sleepless nights and lonely beds. You understand, right? And they will. They really will. It’s something everypony does at least once in this town.

A shame. I really liked her.

Not that this stopped me from being a gentlecolt, of course. I felt her weight digging deeper into my muscles and her discomforted groans becoming louder with each step. I asked if she would like to stay the night at my house. It was closer to us now, and she could rest her hooves in ice until she fell asleep.

“Oh, thank you!” she says, giving me a peck on the cheek.

“You’re welcome,” I say.

She giggles. “Stop being sweet. Too much sugar is bad for you.”

We come to my house just before midnight. The full moon makes it look light blue and bigger than the cozy bungalow it truly is. She’s busy whispering happy secrets into my ear, tales of a soft-nosed jackalope and mysterious lights she saw up north.

She follows me inside and flops on the couch. Her contented sigh accompanies the grey leather squelching under her emerald body. A bowl filled with the Cakes’ Peanut Butter Chocolate Surprises jingle in the bowl on the coffee table. In no time I’ve got ice in a green bucket, and Greenie lowers her back hooves into it.

“So much better,” she sighs. “I don’t think I could’ve walked another ten feet.”

“Then how will you get to the bed?” I say.

Her face goes red. “Robin! How can you be so crass?” The concern soon melts into a lascivious grin. “And how come you didn’t suggest so sooner?”

For a moment, the shame threatens to burst. I should stop this now. Just get up and say we might as well end it here and carry her back to her house even if she can’t stop crying into my neck. A mercy kill. It will be far easier than what’ll happen next over the following weeks. The conversations growing stilted, eyes glancing toward the clocks ever more often, the conveniently increased workload to justify canceled dates.

Then the final blow, announced in a quiet voice masked as mercy.

It’s only quick thinking that saves my charade: “Do you want some candy?”

Greenie smiles. “A little sugar never hurt anypony.”

I grab the bowl and hold it out to her. She takes a hoofful, as do I. She’s still chewing by the time I’m done, making soft mmm-mmms accentuated by the peanut butter making her cheeks stick to her teeth.

I lean down and kiss her chest, going as deep as I can into her thick fur. I feel her hooves come around my head, not so much holding me as guiding me upwards. Up her shoulders, to her neck, to her face growing red with anticipation instead of embarrassment.

“It’s so good,” she said. Her lips smack with each syllable.

“I know,” I say, staring into her now-happy eyes. “If only we could taste it forever.”
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#1 · 3
· · >>libertydude
This one hits like a load of bricks. Or maybe a piano. Well done.

First, the critiques. The first two paragraphs stand out as being off-tense compared to the rest of the story. Past, whereas the rest is very much present. The other quibble is using ice on sore limbs... I guess that's what people ponies do often enough, but it's wrong.

Those aside... what a somber drama, focusing on the dread of knowing things are falling apart, and not quite mustering the strength to do something about it.

ETA: I was reminded of this particular A Softer World comic, as it happens
#2 · 1
· · >>KwirkyJ >>libertydude
I enjoyed the story. Nice pacing and an effective use of dialog that pushes the narrative along to its ultimate conclusion.

I don't agree with the previous opinion that it is a story that is particularly somber piece that focuses on a character knowing things are falling apart and doesn't quite muster the strength to do something about it.

As far as I can tell it's the story of a guy who has a relationship with a girl and it's going well because they're just having fun (whatever that may be). She expresses deeper feelings for him than he has for her. He then more or less decides to get whatever he can out of how she feels for him that night before he'll ultimately break it off albeit over a short period of time.

Whatever negative feelings he has ultimately spring from the fact that he doesn't want to hurt her but he's going to. She's ultimately just a sometimes thing whose company he enjoys as such but that's really it. In a longer piece one could get into some of his psychology a bit more because the character has a little of that Tom Frank from Nashville in him. Kind of full of himself but also kind of hates himself too. That's where the rot lies.
#3 · 1
I'm not seeing this interpretation supported very well by the text...

Not that she’s planning [being gone from my life] now. [...S]he means what she says.

A code uttered by Ponyville mares, a subtle escape clause for when the nagging doubts take control.

The conversations growing stilted [over the following weeks], eyes glancing toward the clocks ever more often, the conveniently increased workload to justify canceled dates.

These passages strongly imply that the narrator views the fault and decision being with his partner. There may be more going on psychologically, e.g., projection or unintentional self-sabotage, but neither seems set up or explored, as it stands.

That is not to say that this well is dry. An expansion could pry into why he holds this conviction (a pattern of previous relationships? a story he keeps telling himself?), or plumb the actual – versus predicted – progress of the relationship and whether/how it degrades, or, as you propose, fully turn it on its head and make him the one actively pulling away.
#4 · 1
· · >>libertydude
I actually do feel it's self-sabotage.

"I think I love you" being code for "I'm going to break up with you" is on the face of it ridiculous. What would ponies say when they genuinely feel love, then? I think the narrator has had multiple break-ups, which may be his fault and may be because he has abandonment issues that lead him to unintentionally push ponies away, but he doesn't see his own role in them so he thinks they're pretty much entirely initiated by his partners and wholly impossible to prevent.

The tragedy is that that makes this a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because he thinks it's about to be over, he's preparing to pull away emotionally. This will, of course, end the relationship, but he'll feel like it came from her so he doesn't recognize the power he has to cause it, or stop it. And all of his relationships will end up this way unless he gets therapy or ends up with a really determined or clingy pony, because he doesn't recognize his own role in it, and every time they say they love him, he'll see it as the beginning of the end.
#5 · 1
· · >>libertydude
I'm going with:

Self-sabotage, too. Our Narrator makes a "cosi fan tutte" argument right at the beginning when he says that every mare in Ponyville behaves in this same way, and that's the sort of thing that signals an unreliable narrator to me. When a character says, "Everyone's wrong but me," that makes me think that it's actually the character who's wrong and refuses to recognize it.

If that's indeed what you're doing here, author, I'd recommend strengthening it a bit. Maybe have Our Narrator go through a quick list of other mares who've broken up with him and let us see by the circumstances that he actually maneuvered them into it like Big Mac breaking up with Sugar Belle because he thinks she's about to break up with him.

#6 · 2
Yes! After four long years, I finally manage to get a medal in the FiM round!

In more composed words, thanks to >>KwirkyJ, >>Misternick, >>alarajrogers, and >>Baal Bunny for your comments. This was a very difficult story to write, both emotionally and artistically, and I'm happy many of you enjoyed it. I'd originally wrote it with Robin and Pinkie Pie, and seeing how their relationship deteriorated to the point Pinkie goes to her canon husband Cheese. I didn't think I could explain that adequately within 750 words, so I focused on another OC instead to give me a little more creative freedom.

To answer some questions, yes, I was going for a character who was self-sabotaging his own romantic relationships. Not because he's a womanizing jerk, but because he lacks so much self-confidence and self-respect that he can't understand the idea he can be in a stable relationship. His claims there are codes for mares to dump their paramours was meant more as a self-justification for the deteriorating relationship that would follow, mostly because he would be doing many of the things that will alienate Greenie from him in the future. A sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I also thought of Robin as someone who would still continue the relationship for some time, just so he can give Greenie a longer period of happiness. In his mind, breaking it off right there and then would simply be cruel, while slowly drifting apart would provide a little cushioning for Greenie to realize things aren't working out and break it off on her own terms. Because deep down, he does want it to work, but his lacking self-respect makes it hard for him to see there may be somebody interested in him just because they like him. For him, their tryst on the couch will be the final romantic gesture done purely out of affection before everything else goes downhill.

Above all else, Robin was a difficult character to write consistently, and many of you pointed out the vagueness/inconsistencies to his character. I think revision will mostly focus on this aspect and expanding how Robin got this worldview (perhaps brief flashes of other relationships?). There's a lot of potential in an expansion, and I'm definitely interested in seeing where it could go.

Thanks again for your input, and I hope you all can see an improved version of this up on FimFic soon!