Hey! It looks like you're new here. You might want to check out the introduction.

Will Friendship Be Enough? · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Fake Your Depth
There was a burning candle in her room. She watched as bits of wax drip down its sides, gathering in a small pool at the base. The light bounced across the room, casting shadows about her bedroom walls in a serene dance with the darkness.

Lyra paid it no mind. She stared up at the ceiling, hooves crossed on her chest and head resting on a pillow. A murky darkness surrounded her, leaving her like an island in a black sea. The silence that persisted was deafening, and the darkness so overwhelming that it clawed at her throat and eyes.

It pressed against her chest and squeezed her tightly, leaving her gasping for air as she shot up straight. She could hear the roar of blood in her ears and the banging of her heart as it threatened to fly from her chest.

And she wanted to pull the blankets up over her head and hide.

And she wanted to drown out the world and fall asleep at least.

And she heard a voice that wasn’t hers whispering through the darkness.

She was not the real Lyra.

The pony raised a hoof to her face shakily, feeling the curvatures and smoothness of the mask she wore. It was subtle and green, the same color as her fur, with painted bright eyes and a goofy painted smile.

Waves of darkness crashed around her island, threatening to drag it deep below the waves. A tsunami crashed over her and she was drowning the darkness.

The pony that wasn’t Lyra balled up and sobbed into her hooves as the silent waves crashed around her.

And we will all fall
Like leaves through the summer air
In an endless search for tomorrow.
That rain will fall from the sky.
Keep me floating, keep me breathing
Until I drown and die.

Laughter graced her ears as she squinted against the pale morning light. Octavia held a napkin up to her mouth politely while Vinyl burst into another round of giggles. “Funniest thing I’ve seen all day!” she snorted.

Lyra offered a small chuckle at that, sipping from her teacup and taking in the sounds of the cafe. But even as she sat there, smiling and nodding along, the warm rays of the sun failed to cut through the invisible water around her.

But with a great effort she shoved her head above the surface, keeping in time with the conversation. Laughing. Nodding. Drinking and eating.

“Dear, I swear. You’re going to give poor Noteworthy a stroke,” Octavia said to Vinyl, swatting at her shoulder.

“Might turn him into Chokeworthy,” Lyra said with a smile.

There was a ripple in the waters around her. The conversation tampered off around them, and Lyra glanced between her friends desperately.

Octavia was looking down at her cup, stirring it gently. Vinyl was playing with her food, and Bon Bon was trying to flag down their waiter.

Perhaps they hadn’t heard her. Or perhaps they didn’t find it funny. Lyra didn’t know.

The noise returned as Octavia sat up straighter. “Have you heard what happened to Sugarcube Corner?”

“Didn’t it catch fire again?” Vinyl said, leaning into the table.

Bon Bon waved her hoof dismissively. “Uh, yeah, minor grease fire, I think. Pinkie put it out right quick.”

Lyra took a deep breath, feeling her mask weigh heavily on her face. She pushed it up and propelled herself above the murky waters to smile. “I’m more impressed that she didn’t make the fire bigger.”

The mares giggled at that and the pony that wasn’t Lyra grimaced.

“Oh Lyra, I swear, sometimes you are just too much,” giggled Octavia good-naturedly.

“Yeah, you’re hilarious, girl,” Vinyl chimed in.

Bon Bon gave her a light shove. “Lyra, be nice to the poor mare,” she said, clicking her tongue in faux-disapproval.

And through the noise and the waves, the pony that wasn’t Lyra heard something shift beneath the iridescent waters. A thin white crack formed in her mask and she wanted to cry.

“Yeah? Why should I? She beat the best dessert maker in all of Equestria,” the pony that wasn’t Lyra siad, nudging Bon Bon with a wink.
Bon Bon giggled, blushing slightly. “Oh, shush, you flatterer.”

“Hey, I’d never lie to you,” she said as she sipped from her tea, the pang in her heart not breaking through the surface.

“I know,” said Bon Bon, genuinely.

And the pony that wasn’t Lyra felt her mask crack a little more.

As phantoms lifted
You up into the air
Where I couldn’t reach
And I couldn’t feel.
The waves crashed against my abandoned island
And clouds began to dot
Your paper mache skyline
I wanted to cry
But all I did was drown.

Lyra watched as the chaos of the farmer’s market unfolded in front of[/center] her. Ponies called out their wares and prices, offering their produce at steep discounts to try and outsell their rivals. It was a strange battle, one that Lyra never quite understood.

So she stood to the side while Bon Bon purchased some fruits and vegetables, chatting with the vendor as she did so. Lyra felt a slight envy as she watched her skillfully talk and smile, keeping in perfect tempo with the conversation.

Lyra was never the best at reading ponies. She was always amazed at ponies like Bon Bon, who seemed to be able to fit in quite effortlessly and be so well-liked.

Bon Bon left a few bits on the counter and scooped up her bag of produce, sticking it into her saddlebag. “Alright, I think that’s enough for the week. Anything you want to get before we go, Lyra?”

Lyra gulped nervously but tried to hide it. “How about some ice cream?”

Bon Bon giggled and waggled her ears playfully. “It’s too early for ice cream, silly.”

“It’s never too early for ice cream!”

And Lyra dipped deeper into her personal ocean, staring up and watching as raindrops splashed against the surface. She opened her mouth and a stream of bubbles climbed their way to the surface.

“Hihihi!” Lyra and Bon Bon recoiled as a mess of pink suddenly filled their visions. “Did someone say ice cream?” Pinkie Pie asked, bouncing in place eagerly.

Bon Bon recovered first. “Pinkie, please stop doing that!” she panted. “You’re going to give me a heart attack!”

“Hey, Pinkster,” the pony that wasn’t Lyra said. “You’ve got some sweets for me?”

Pinkie giggled, producing a minty cone of ice cream from thin air. “Yeppers! I always come prepared!”

Bon Bon rolled her eyes. “Well, that’s very kind of you, Pinkie, but I think Lyra’s had plenty of sugar recently. I don’t want to have to drag her to the dentist again.”

“Aw, come on, Bon Bon, you never let me have any fun,” the pony that wasn’t Lyra pouted.

Bon Bon threw her hooves up in the air in surrender. “Fine then! Just don’t come complaining when you have another tooth ache.” She reached for her purse. “How much should I pay you, Pinie?”

“Oh, nothing at all, silly!” Pinkie said, passing the cone over to Lyra. “Lyra’s such a great pony that I’m always happy to do things for her!”

And the pony that wasn’t Lyra felt her mask crack a little more. It snaked through the surface like a river, reaching from her chin to her eye. “I’m not a great pony,” she thought. “I’m arrogant, I’m cruel, I’m rude, I only think about myself. Why do you think I’m a good pony?”

“Yeah, I’m just the best,” the pony that wasn’t Lyra said pridefully, licking at her cone. It was cool and burned against her tongue.

Bon Bon giggled and nuzzled into her neck. “You really are, Lyra. Don’t ever change.”

“But I need to. I need to change. Because this isn’t me,” she thought.

“Never in a thousand years,” she said.

She sank a little deeper into the sea.

So sing me to sleep
And leave me to die
In this empty, homely field
Of death and all its friends.
And let me sink
Down and down
Into a sea of everything that I fear
And everything that I love
I opened my mouth to breathe
But you took my breath away
And all I could do was drown.

Lyra stood in her bathroom, staring into the mirror at a face that wasn’t hers. She held a shaking, trembling hoof to her mask, touching it gingerly and tracing the cracks along her face.

It wasn’t her face. It wasn’t her life. It wasn’t her.

The darkness of the room crashed around her, the waves roaring in her ears and pounding against her body. She took deep, ragged breaths, feeling herself unravel with every second that passed. Lyra gripped the sides of her sink as nausea kicked in heavily, while the pony that wasn’t Lyra laughed at her through the mirror.

Lyra couldn’t breathe. She clawed desperately against the waters, trying to tread against the unforgiving waves, but just before she’d break the surface, the waves would push her down just a little further. Lyra opened her mouth to scream and her lungs filled with water as her vision blurred and her body floundered.

Trembling, she reached up for her mask, wanting to tear it off and toss it aside like a discarded piece of garbage.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Lyra froze, staring at her reflection.

“Do you really think you can just stop pretending?” the pony that wasn’t Lyra asked, snide and arrogant. “Do you really think you’ll be accepted, when they see you for who you are?”

Lyra frowned, unsure of the answer.

“Your life depends on your mask. Without it, who are you? You think I’m the imposter?” The pony that wasn’t Lyra laughed. “No. Without this mask, you are the imposter.”

And the pony that wasn’t Lyra reached through the mirror and dunked her underwater, holding her down in the river. Lyra tried to struggle against their hooves, against their magic and against their grip. But she couldn’t.

She couldn’t.

And when she opened her eyes she was alone. Blue filled her vision, stretching for miles and miles around her. She was floating, submerged in the water completely, with the surface so many nautical miles above her.

Lyra gave up. She let herself drift in the abyssal ocean around her, hearing the distant noise of life above the surface. With an empty sigh, Lyra let herself sink deeper into the ocean, lowering her hooves away from her mask.

When she opened her eyes she realized she was crying. She dried her tears with the back of her hooves, Biting back the nausea and discomfort.

The door to her bedroom creaked open. “Lyra?”

Bon Bon’s voice was soft and gentle, like it always was and always would be. It was natural and smooth, reminding her of the wind and the sun that never seemed to warm her body. “Yeah?”

“Are you alright?”

Lyra trotted out of the bathroom slowly, not bothering to spare a glance at the mirror. She sighed quietly and pushed her mask further up against her face, putting on a thick, plastic smile. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I heard you crying,” Bon Bon said, drawing ever closer to her. “Lyra, if something’s wrong, I need to know.”

“No. Nothing’s wrong. I’m okay, Bon Bon. I’m fine.”

But as Lyra looked up, she saw Bon Bon’s face cutting through the waters above her, like a bright beam of hope reaching out to her. Her light began to warm her, opening her eyes and clearing her minds, fighting back the oppressive darkness and burning the water away.

She began to tread to the surface.

“No, Lyra, your eyes are red.” Bon Bon stroked Lyra’s cheek gingerly. “Please, let me help you. What happened?”

“Nothing happened, I’m fine, Bon Bon. I’m…”

And Lyra broke through the surface, taking a massive gasp and coughing up water as air finally reached her lungs. Her mask exploded, fracturing into a million little pieces.

“I’m not okay, Bon. I’m really not.” Lyra closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I think that everyone thinks too much of me. They think I’m somebody that I’m not. And that terrifies me.”

And Lyra looked up at Bon Bon, letting her finally see her for who she was. She held her breath, half-expecting to drown again.

Bon Bon pulled her into a hug. “Oh, Lyra.”

Lyra was shaking as she returned the embrace, finally able to breathe again.

“Lyra, I love you for who you are. You’re not someone you’re not, okay? You’re just Lyra, and I love you,” Bon Bon whispered.

“But I’m not, I’m an imposter,” Lyra murmured into Bon Bon’s shoulder.

Bon Bon pulled back and looked at Lyra carefully. “Lyra..”

And as Lyra stared back, she realized that Bon Bon too was wearing a mask.

“You’re not alone in feeling like that,” Bon Bon said, pulling off her own mask and smiling at her genuinely. “I know you, Lyra. And I love you. Nothing’s going to change that. We're friends, Lyra, and that's enough.”

Lyra hugged her again, finally able to breathe again. And for the first time in a long time, she was able to smile.

“Thank you.”

May the wind blow by and bless our hearts
And may the world find a way
To move on without us
And when I’m far away from home,
I hope you'll know
That while I hoped to learn to fly,
Instead I learned to drown.

« Prev   1   Next »
#1 ·
· · >>WritingSpirit
A somber one, to say the least. It picks a topic that is heavy and describes it rather effectively.

I’m still learning to review, so take this with a grain of salt.

I'm sorry if this comes off too terse, but the idea seems a lot of cut-and-paste. Sure, it delivers, but the metaphor of masks seems overseasoned near the end. I get the idea that real Lyra is drowning metaphorically, but it is distracting me a tad from the points at hand (hard to describe, but halted my immersion for a second). I don’t know. I could just be me. I’ve read a handful of somber fics a little while back, so the recurring themes could be tainting my viewpoint.

I guess my point is that it needs a little refinement in the fact that with the little snippets, I felt detached on some, but I could feel Lyra’s plight on others. Give us a little bit more to chew on in between the breaks of poetry. More of it helps the reader anchor into the story more instead of drifting from place to place.

But, kudos to you! To me, the poetry is a nice and effective touch. If I might distract from the point a bit, the poetry rounds probably can use a great writer like you. (Or, I may be talking to a veteran. If so, just ignore this).

Again though, take this with a grain of salt. I feel bad for laying it all out and being brutally honest, but my excuse is that I’m learning to speak my mind.

Still though! This is a good piece! Thanks for writing!
#2 · 1
You thought it was sleep paralysis, but it was really me, existential terror!

Quickie up front:
farmer’s market unfolded in front of[/center] her
Random text alignment fragment hanging out.

I joked in that first line, but my perception really did shift rapidly in the opening paragraphs from sleep paralysis to changeling to chronic depression before the imposter syndrome idea really cemented. Which is totally fine, it was a quick adjustment and they all sort of lead into each other easily enough in my head space.

I dig the poetry interjections! I'm not a poetologist so I don't know if that's original work or from a more well known piece, but either way it's thematically appropriate, and they make for a convenient scene change. Sort of reminds me of the Donnie Darko director's cut, but good instead of abject poison to the atmosphere of the piece.

Special shout out to Mask Lyra speaking in bolded text. I'm a big fan of using unconventional means to emphasize speech. You also put her internal monologue into quotes too, which I'd normally write off as just ignoring the usual convention of italicizing thoughts, but since we sort of have a dual-Lyra thing going it feels like she's talking to her self rather than thinking, so I'm going to call it a second win in the Unconventional Speech box.

My only whiff is that the ending lines seem to drag a bit? Introducing the idea of other ponies wearing "masks" fits the story well, but only doing it so close to the end feels a bit rushed, and there's not much time for Lyra to really learn from it. We go from Deep Ocean to relatively hunky dorey in the space of a few lines.

As FATE would have it, I my page originally stopped at this line:
Lyra was shaking as she returned the embrace, finally able to breathe again.
I thought that was a great ending spot, then it kept rolling a bit longer. Still, a solid entry over all and I'm happier for having it in my life.
#3 · 1
First thing. I really do like the poetry.

Second thing. I kind of understand Lyra's issues yet at the same time I don't understand them at all. I know what its like to try and appear fun and witty around acquaintances only to say something awkward. And have that moment linger with me for days. But I have never suffered impostor syndrome and honestly I wish I knew why you went with that. At first I figured it was some kind of meta about how the fandom depicts Lyra as a fun goofy mare who is fun to be around, but her "canon" self is rather plain and boring while BonBon is the whacky one. But I could be overthinking it.

Third thing. How well does this story go with the prompt? Fairly well I think. If the impostor syndrome is a mental health issue then BonBon is a really good friend for sticking by Lyra's side but the prompt "will friendship be enough" seems almost a second thought in this story as BonBon's declaration to stand by Lyra despite her issues comes at the very end, and no friendship was really challenged or tested. BonBon is resolute the entire time.

But to refute myself, looking at this from Lyra's perspective I suppose its BonBon's friendship that keeps her from falling all the way into despair. In which case that is a good use of the prompt.
#4 · 1
I'm a genuine sucker for introspective character pieces, so I was immediately drawn in with what this story had to offer. The concept may not exactly be novel, but there's no harm in sticking to what works for you, Author, which it definitely does. I think you did just enough of an exploration into Lyra's psyche to allow us to sympathize, especially with how it slowly escalates until she reaches that breaking point towards the climax.

I do agree with >>PinoyPony that at times, the scenes do come across as vignettes instead of them being a part of a larger narrative progression. Maybe having a scene or two that further showcases these clashing emotions in the company of other faces within her everyday life aside from her friends would help develop these ideas. Or perhaps showcase some sense of gradual change in her character as the story goes along. Either way, having a bit more would certainly help and is a sign that you're on the right track with this entry.

The only major gripe I have is really the ending, in which it feels just a little bit rushed for my sake. I think pacing out the scene and letting the dialogue between Lyra and Bon Bon breathe would do wonders for this entry, especially when Bon Bon tells her she's not alone with that dilemma. I'd recommend drawing out Lyra's realization of that fact as well as set aside some space for Bon Bon to pour out her own insecurities onto the table. It would really bring out that moment of catharsis that I think such a story definitely needs.

As for the poetry sections, I'm going to deviate from my fellow reviewers and say that I'm generally indifferent towards them. The poems themselves aren't bad; I can certainly see myself enjoying them on their own. I just don't think that they really introduce anything new to the table or reinforce any of the ideas that the narrative sections had already cemented in place. The storytelling itself is doing a good job already at letting us know Lyra's struggles and circumstances, so as much as I like the prose and the imagery the poetry conveyed, it does come across as a bit redundant to me, unfortunately.

Overall, it's a pretty solid entry. Apart from some grammatical and formatting hiccups, I enjoyed reading this, even if it does tread a bit of familiar territory for me. If this is your first time writing a story of this nature, then kudos to you for hitting on the head. If not, then I think what I would like to see further explored in the story is how this experience is unique to Lyra herself, especially since Bon Bon does state explicitly at the end that it happens to everyone. Either way, you have a good first draft here, dear Author. It'll be interesting to see how you develop this.

Thanks for writing, and good luck.