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Alone Together · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
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In Need
Celestia had become annoyed at first, when Luna locked herself in the closet of her bedchamber. The first ten minutes, anyway. Now her little sister had been in there for an hour, and she grew more worried with time.

She could, at least theoretically, bash open the door with enough magic. Wouldn't take too much energy.

But that wasn't the problem.

"Lulu," she said, "if you could stop this silly business and come out, I would much appreciate it."

"No," said Luna from the other side, muffled, choked.

Celestia sighed. "Now Lulu—"

"And don't call me that!" The suddenness of the outburst took Celestia by surprise. "I'm not coming out, sister! Just leave me here!"

"Until what? Until when? This attitude of yours is not healthy. The Nightmare can't hurt you anymore. Do you understand that? Neither can the Tantabus. I thought that we've been through all this before. I thought we..." She wanted to say "trusted each other," but she wasn't even sure how much she trusted herself at this very moment.

For an achingly long time, nothing came from the other side.

Then Luna said, "I'm staying here," with shame creeping into her voice.

Despite this admission, Celestia tried to not let it get the better of her. "So you'll stay there until you die?" she asked calmly. "Starve yourself?"

"I guess so, sister."

The urge to break down the door only intensified, but Celestia knew it wouldn't do too much good. She waited for some kind of elaboration from Luna, maybe an explanation as to why she was doing this. Then she realized she wasn't going to get one, so she sat by the closet.

"It would be a terrible shame if you died," she said.

"No it wouldn't," said Luna.

She tried to continue acting collected about the situation, but Celestia was never exactly a good actress.

But she tried.

"It would be a shame," she said finally, struggling to get the words out more than she'd like. "It would be a shame because I would have to bury you, dear sister."

"So what? You have to bury hundreds of your little ponies every year. Why should I be much different?"

"I know I have to bury them. I can't stop them from dying, no matter how hard I try. But I don't want to bury you too. I don't want to have to bury my own sister."

No response.

"Why are you doing this?" asked Celestia, flames of anger brewing in her chest.

"Because..." Uncomfortable silence. Luna thought about something, but Celestia couldn't tell what. "It wouldn't matter. Even if I told you, you wouldn't understand me. And if you don't understand me now, then you won't understand me in a week, or a month." She sounded more resigned than anything.

Part of Celestia wanted to do something terrible to her sister. She felt betrayed, like the pony she trusted most had done something secretive and wrong behind her back. Something treacherous, even. Yet she knew that her sister was in pain. "Very well," she said slowly. "I don't have to know what made you like this. Whatever is troubling you—whatever it could be—is what you can keep to yourself. I won't ask about it."

"Good. Then leave me be."

Celestia realized that she had a few choices. She could force Luna out, or she could let her stay, leave her to her fate. She didn't want her sister to die, and she didn't want her to be in pain. She knew that a pony in pain was a pony in need. But how could she help somepony who didn't want to be helped? Not just anypony, but the pony she knew most?

Celestia sighed.

She wanted to cry, but she couldn't lose control of her emotions in such a way. "Fine," she said. "If you stay in there, that is up to you. If you come out, I'll forgive you. You won't even need to ask me. Just remember that I love you."

She couldn't do any more than that.

Several hours later, in the middle of the night, Celestia had returned to her own bedchamber. She'd raised the moon, as she had to do during her sister's thousand-year absence, and let sleep overtake her.

So indeed she slept, albeit lightly—until she thought she heard something.

Seemed like the turning of a doorknob in another room...

Her ears perked up, and she awoke with a start.

"Luna?" she asked, with hope, with desperation.
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#1 ·
In which there's a skeleton in the closet and it's Luna's.

There's lots of mystery here that remains unsolved. I am in the dark as to just what is making Luna scared enough to hide in a closet, and I am in the dark as to what made Luna come out. I was about to say that too much unsolved mystery is a problem, but I realize the genius that in this piece:

You made me feel just like Celestia. I felt frustrated that I didn't know what got Luna trapped there, and, for a brief moment, I didn't care about it because Luna might be coming. As stated in the story, a pony in pain is a pony in need. Not knowing what the problem was, in this case, doesn't seem so important in the long run... though the reader/storyteller in me wants to know at least a hint, a right direction, as to what did plague Luna so badly.

So, overall, a good story if somewhat open-ended! I expect this around the middle of the pack.
#2 ·
· · >>CoffeeMinion
Hmm, nicely believable opening scene here.

"...With shame creeping into her voice" is a bit tell-ing (vs showing.)

"Celestia was never exactly a good actress." This also feels contrary to what we know of Celestia, but perhaps is forgiven as this seems to be far in the past.

Wait, it's not in the past. These are adults, not foals. We're told this is after the banishment and everything. But Luna locked herself in a closet?

Okay, author, I admit I'm confused. All the dialog sounds like a foal having a tantrum, yet there's talk of Celestia burying thousands of ponies all the time, and this is set after banishment (so in/after the show timeline.) Yet Celestia is worried about "burying" her sister because she locked herself in a closet?

I'm sorry, but it feels like some mix of adult consequences with childish prerogatives that just refuse to mesh in my mind.
#3 ·
Premise: Luna's in the closet and won't come out.

Literally. Or maybe the closet's a metaphor. Or both! It can be two things.

Now, the real question is, when do we get to find out?
I say that's the real question because the point at which we find this out is the point at which the central conflict of the story goes (or would have gone) from superficial to substantial, and the meaning here goes from ambiguous to tangible.
But unfortunately, we don't get there. The conflict is just left at "Luna is in a closet."

And, okay, maybe that ambiguity, the puzzle of the meaning to the literal situation, is the point. There's things to examine about how Celestia faces that literal situation and tries to solve it without many clues, and that can be good character exploration. This could be a good impetus for a character-driven piece... but the issue is, in this minific format, it seems that ends up being all there's room for. We get a good look at Celestia, but it feels so zoomed in on her that we don't get to see what (if any) greater depth exists to the conflict, and we don't get far toward a resolution to that conflict. Because of this, it feels more like a scene than a story. We get those last few paragraphs at the end, but that comes across more like a stub holding the place of a conclusion than an actual resolution. It needs a real sense of completion to be, well, complete.

My take-away? I like this one, actually. What's there is good, it just needs more. Keep going, build it out, finish telling the story.
#4 ·
In Need
A story based around a noodle incident, which creates a lot of ambiguity which can create frustration for the reader, both in a good sense and a bad sense. I think for keeping this isolated from Luna creates a good frustration because we all know what it's like to try and comfort someone who won't tell us what's wrong.

There are a few moments where it feels like we don't have all the information Celestia has, which pulls the reader out of her shoes and makes the story less impactful. The big part for me is Celestia saying she doesn't trust herself, which means she knows at least one thing that she did wrong that we don't know about.
I interpret the Luna saying she'll stay in the close until she dies to be a thing a child would do to be over-dramatic, and that there's no chance she'll actually come close to starving herself because people don't stay that angry for that long (and people don't tend to kill themselves with long, drawn out methods.) This part of the story takes up a lot of space for how little weight it holds compared to the rest of the piece.
The ending is well written to create a very tense moment and cliffhanger, but I'm not sure this is the best way to close this story. Luna staying in the closest for a little longer isn't bad enough of an event for the tension to feel justified.
#5 ·
Genre: Lock-In

Thoughts: There’s solid prose here. There’s believable emotion from Celestia as well. I appreciated the bit of humor about her not being a good actress—>>Xepher, I hate to call you on this, but we literally had a whole late-season episode dedicated to playing that concept out. The nod to the Tantabus is appreciated as well.

But ultimately I’m not sure what the story here is supposed to be. It plays so coy with its own deeper meaning that all I can really hang my hat on is Celestia’s reaction to what Luna is doing. Maybe that’s the point; but if so, IMO that’s not very satisfying. In a similar vein, the ending is just kinda there, adding to they mystery but not giving us a conclusion per se.

I’m possibly not the right audience for this due to its highly open-ended structure. But even making allowances for my general preference of tight conclusions, I feel like it’s a hard sell to set up a scenario like this where Luna is suffering, and not really give us much to cling to as to why.

Tier: Keep Developing
#6 ·
I think it's safe to say that I've enjoyed this story a little more than my fellow writers here. Perhaps it's because I'm always eager to sink into something moody to accompany my listen of the latest krautrock album I've dug up from the infernal recesses of Bandcamp. After getting a grasp of everyone's thoughts, however, I think I understand why.

I feel like this story isn't about Celestia or Luna than it is about the circumstances surrounding their relationship from Celestia's point of view. When I first went into this story, I unconsciously believed that what I was reading in the first two-thirds of the story was taking place before Luna was banished to the moon. I thought that this story was set in the distant past.

Then I got to the scene break. And then, this:

(Celestia) raised the moon, as she had to do during her sister's thousand-year absence.

And suddenly, my context of the story abruptly changed. Suddenly, Celestia has a character motivation that was never there before. She wants to stop a repeat of what had happened between them a thousand years ago. Maybe it was there the whole time but we couldn't see it past her actions. All it took was just a mention of the 'when' and suddenly everything clicked.

Now, a lot of this frankly is just me filling in the blanks here. I'm not exactly sure how much of this is intended. All I know is that it's the most positive interpretation I have of the story that I could conceive. That's the joy of an ambiguous story for me though, to be given the privilege to fill in the blanks. I do think it plays a little bit too ambiguous with how they got here in the first place, but it's a light bump in the road that I can put off my mind.

So yeah, I think the story's pretty neat. The krautrock album wasn't good though.

Thanks for writing!