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Alone Together · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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Wrangling the clouds over Sweet Apple Acres is the loneliest job in the world, but I think maybe that’s why I like it.

It’s a worry that lurks while I push steel-grey rainheads over rows of trees, getting them ready to dump their water. My wife is down there, somewhere, but I can’t see her through the foliage.

The weird thing is? I’m glad I can’t.

I worry because I don’t think that’s how this should feel.

It’s just, the thing is, up here it’s only me and the sky; blue above, soft cloud below. I don’t regret marrying into the Apple family, not for a second, but they’re real workhorses, my wife most of all. When I’m up here, though, I get to set my own pace. I can squeeze in a quick nap, and nopony’s gonna know the difference, as long as it rains on time.

But then, for a fleeting moment, I wonder if she feels the same way about me: if she’s glad when it’s just her and her trees, and I’m not there. Sometimes it really seems that way.

I’m worried about that, too.

After the day’s work, and dinner, it’s bedtime. Applejack’s already there, as I crawl under the covers and join her.

I nestle in close, putting my hooves around her and kissing her neck. She knows what I want, and I don’t get any objections, but at the same time… I sorta feel like I’m not getting much enthusiasm, either. And, okay, maybe that’s totally fair. It’s been a long day for her, I know.

Just… somehow, I can’t help feeling like she’s acting on an obligation, instead of a desire.

I don’t think that’s how this should feel.

At sunrise, Applejack is long gone, leaving me with the bed to myself. By the time I’m actually out of bed, plodding my hooves down the stairs to join the living, she’s out working and already probably has about ten different things done.

Sugar Belle is in the kitchen, and insists on feeding me a slice of apple pie and some conversation for breakfast, although really I just wanted coffee. As soon as I can escape—while being, you know, diplomatic about it—I head out.

When I step out the front door of the farmhouse, I see her, sitting on the porch. She’s a little sweaty and her hair’s messy, loose straw-blonde strands sticking out from under her hat, catching the morning sunlight…

…Celestia, she’s hot. That’s still the first thing I think, every time I see her. But… is that enough? I don’t know. I really don’t, lately.

I walk over to her.

“Hey ’Jack.” The porch’s wooden planks don’t feel hot or cold underneath me as I sit down. They just kinda feel… there, I guess. And hard, and wooden, sure. But mostly just there.

“’Sup, Rainbow.” She doesn’t look at me. Her pale, leaf-green eyes stare out over the farm, looking blank, even though I know that’s not true; they don’t ever miss a single thing that goes on here.

“Not much,” I say, with a shrug. I wait a little while. “Just wondering something.”

“Yeah?” She continues staring away.

“…Are we still in love?”

A little jolt runs down her back, spurring her. She turns, leans in, and kisses my lips. And there it is. I feel that spark, like the static electricity just before the lightning strike, tingling, flowing, filling me with real warmth.

Then we’re staring into each other’s eyes, and the corner of her mouth bends upward and she gives me the most adorable little know-it-all grin, the way she does. “Whadda you think?”

“Heh.” I grin like a fool right back. “Yeah.”

She skootches just a bit closer, so that our sides are barely brushing together, sending more of those warm little electric sparks through me as I lean my head against hers and slide my wing across her back.

It’s no great big lightning bolt, but I know as well as anypony, a stormcloud can't keep thundering forever. Besides, what matters about the storm isn’t the lightning – it’s the rain.

That’s what makes things grow.

That’s what makes it worth moving clouds.

And I know that sometimes, when I’m up in those clouds, it’s okay to be alone. It’s even okay to like it.

Everypony needs to be alone sometimes, and right now, I know that’s fine, because it’s not all the time, and right now, when it matters… we’re alone together.
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#1 ·
I'm reminded of a friend who's hilariously anti-marriage. Seriously, he's unable to see any positive from it. To this day he champions the Shrek movies as being a testament to how marriage sucks and ruins a person. Love him to pieces, he's always a source of entertainment.

Dash and AJ seem to be going through a lull in their relationship, and I love how you portrayed it. These little moments that show how things have changed, and that longing Dash has for things to be normal, and how it ends on a high note showing that despite the low points, they still love each other and they'll make it work.

Just wait until winter. You'll have more downtime and a perfect chance to snuggle.

This is my favourite out of this batch, and I don't see that really changing.
#2 ·
Takes time the time to develop the emotional core of the story. In this case the setup needed the most time spent on it, and the focus given in the beginning makes the pacing of this piece excellent.
The portrayal of love in this story is realistic and I enjoy the focus of parts of a relationship that aren't in the honeymoon period.
I love how direct Dash and AJ are with each other. At this point in their lives it feels natural that neither of them have any qualms about taking direct action, especially with each other.

This is splitting hairs, but the brief inclusion of Sugar Belle slightly dampens the thematic elements of Applejack and Rainbow Dash being alone especially as she only has a small role.

I did find the last few paragraphs of the story, especially ending with the prompt, to be rather cheesy in the way it spells out the message. I think in a story like this it's earned to some extent, but I can also see people not liking it because of that.
#3 ·
It's really nice to be able to just set my thoughts aside and sink into a heartwarming story like this. Love it when a story just allows you to sink in and experience it firsthand.

I like Rainbow Dash's voice here. The way it's paced, the words that are used, all of it feels very simple and deliberate, yet there's this certain delicateness in the way it all comes together that makes me feel as though it's just one push away from crumbling. Which is not a bad thing, by the way, I love that it's there. It translates to us her insecurity really well. Absurdly well. 'So well that I'm kinda mad at you for writing this' kind of well.

I think if there's one thing that I'm curious to learn about, it's how Rainbow Dash came to feel this way in the first place. Maybe not the thought process, but more like where she was and what was she doing when it happened. You know, something that hints at the cause, not the cause itself. It's not a question that I think you need to answer, but I can't lie, I'm a bit tempted to know why she feels that way.

Thanks for writing, and good luck!
#4 ·
Genre: Realism

Thoughts: Dash's doubts and disconnection felt pretty authentic to me. There's a lot that's kind of "meh" in a long-term relationship, which isn't knocking it--it's just the law of averages, or something. Sometimes you just have a lot of time apart to think, and sometimes you wonder if it's really working. If the small weird things outweigh the big things. Or if the biggest thing is that you're just going through the motions.

This captured that well. It also captured the other thing, which is when you get the jolt that "oh yeah, that's why we did this, it's indeed working and I've just had a bit too much of a sit-and-think." Time to sit an think is important, but it's easy to overthink sometimes.

I feel like I'm writing in circles. But I'll give this one kudos for capturing something that rings true, and doing it with ultra-good prose.

Tier: Top Contender
#5 ·
Somehow it didn't post when I tried to submit my actual review last week, same time I reviewed all the other stories So below, verbatim as I wrote it then (as I write reviews in a notepad first, so had it saved.)


Dash worried about her wife, AJ? No names though. Doesn't feel like Dash would say "Wife" but just "AJ" or "Applejack."

Sex problems in a long marriage? How very traditional.

And it's all fixed with nary a word.

Alright, I like the metaphor at the end here, about the rain and such, but I feel this was another "emotional fast forward" entry. If a lover isn't responsive in bed, it's not just all fixed with a single question the next day. Never mind longer term concerns that Dash has apparently had. Dash isn't stupid, so if she's been suspecting something is "wrong" for a while, as you set the opening scene to show, then we want to believe Dash's feelings. There has to be some conflict somewhere, or the story just kinda falters. Maybe it's not what Dash thinks, maybe something else is causing stress for AJ, etc. But it can't just be "Is there a problem?" "Nope." and then all is good.

Now, as I said, I like the metaphor and story this feels like it's trying to set up. But I just feel it HAS to have more space to breathe. Resolutions, especially deep, emotional ones in a couple, can't just be solved in two sentences, or there's no satisfaction for the audience.