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Counterfeit · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Zero-Sum Game
It’s move-in day, and I’d be lying to myself if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit anxious. I’ll have a few days to settle myself in, and then it’s the first day of freshman year at Canterlot High (on the far side of a public transit commute the envy of no one). For the first time, a real place to call my very own. An apartment, with a bed, with a kitchen, with a bathroom I won’t have to share with anyone if I don’t feel like it. It’s a tiny place that’s drafty and dingy and cramped and it is going to be absolute heaven. Of course my neck is tingling from the excitement.

I exit into the narrow hallway on the fourth floor, my trunk – suitcase, really – rolling along behind me. Three sets of hand-me-downs, one pair each of shoes and flip-flops, toiletries, and a single, trashy, “kid-friendly” vampire-themed romance novel take up maybe half its volume but all of my personal possessions. The rumble of the wheels fades to echo as I stop in front of the door (my door!), and I hear voices on the other side.

“—if you have any questions. Good luck!”

It’s as though my placement advisor is wrapping up bringing someone in. I double-check the number: 418. This was supposed to be my room… did something change and they didn’t tell me?

I raise my hand to knock just as the door clicks and swings inward to reveal Sister Willful, as I had expected. She seems mildly taken aback at seeing me, but in an instant her face adopts that reassuring smile mask of hers.

“Sunset,” she says, as though refocusing from a passing thought, “good, you’re right on time.” She steps aside and gestures as if sweeping me in. “Welcome home.”

If she isn’t going to bring it up, then I won’t either. I flash a smile – admittedly a nervous one – and step across the threshold. Inside is the den and loft I’d seen a few days ago: canted ceiling, threadbare carpet, cramped desk and old loveseat-cum-couch tucked in the corner. My eyes trace the steep staircase to the sleeping space above. I turn back to Sister Willful, now fully beaming, and say, “I’m home.”

“You’ve already been shown around, and all the paperwork is either taken care of or in process. If there are any problems, you know how to reach the landlord. We’ll check in once a week, to make sure that there aren’t any surprises. A stipend will be made available to the debit card you were given earlier. Aside from that, you’re more or less on your own for the time being.”

“Thanks, Sister. It’s… It’s really great to feel like I’m actually moving forward towards something.”

“The rest of your life, Sunset. I know Principal Celestia is very excited to have such a bright, eager student coming to her school this year.” She reaches into her pocket and produces a small business card. “It’s already programmed into your burner, but keep this on you at all times. If someone else needs to reach me, my information is on there, and you or they can reach me at any time if there are any questions.”

—if there are any questions. Next she’s going to say—

“Good luck!”

I keep my face frozen in that smile as she shows herself out with a kind wave.

The door clicks shut behind her, and I hear her steps carry farther and farther off.

I’m now on my own in my apartment, but I’m also completely certain that I’m not. The back of my neck tingles again, for a very different reason.

I stand stalk-still, breathing as quietly as possible, listening as hard as I can. There is someone else in my place. There is someone else here. I can feel myself sweating and even the thought of turning around fills me with dread.

I breathe in sharply, form the words on my tongue, and then… force the air out between my lips, to make a birthday candle flicker but not go out. Even speaking feels impossible. I try again, and a second time I force the air out without a word.

This is ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. I’m imagining things. Just turn around. Just ask if anyone is there. Just ask. Say something. If someone is there, they’ll answer, right?

I take another breath.

“Hello? Is… Is someone there?”

I listen with all my might, but I hear nothing but the sounds of the building and my own pulse hammering in my skull.

You’re imagining things. No one is there. Turn around, you’ll see.

Hand clenched on the handle of my trunk, I pivot around.

Behind the tiny particle-board desk in the corner, crumpled on the chair, is a marionette of myself.

Her hair, her clothes, her shoes, her nails, her skin are all a perfect likeness of me.

But her face.

Her face is vapid, drawn. Her eyes are dull and unfocused. They look towards me, but not at me.

She is the most repulsive and pitiable thing I have ever encountered, and again I feel the sweat and the tingle in my neck and my hammering pulse.

“Hello?” I ask.

Her head bobbles slightly, but there is no other reaction. I can scarcely tell whether she’s breathing. But she did move… I force myself to let go of my trunk and approach her, cautiously, gently kneeling down next to this ghastly facsimile of myself.

Gingerly, I reach out and grasp her wrist. Her skin is cold, but also electric. Touching her almost feels like burning.

At the touch, her eyes snap into focus, latching onto me with clear intent.

I gasp and pull away. Her eyes dart around my face, as I’m sure mine are to hers, but neither of us moves.

Say something!

I take another of my bracing breaths. “I’m Sunset Shimmer.”

Her mouth opens, and my voice comes out. “I’m Sunset Shimmer.” Her words are empty, exhausted. The echo of my own words should terrify me, but it doesn’t. Her eyes are begging me to help – help how, I have no idea.

I reach out again, and once more I feel that cold, scintillating abyss under my skin, thrilling and frightening.

I squeeze tenderly. “It’s going to be okay,” I say.

For the first time, her face shows a flicker of emotion. It’s so faint I can scarcely identify it, but if I had to guess it would be an expression of pleasure. “It is now.”

I left my trunk packed (I was oddly wary about letting this other-me see what few, mundane items I possess), so instead of settling in like I’d planned, we set off to procure groceries.

A million questions buzz, but something about her keeps me from asking. It were as though she were waking from a fugue, dazed and lost, but with each experience bringing reality more into focus. Her eyes are sharp, locking onto anything of interest, calculating and analyzing. As if her life depend on seeing and understanding everything. Yet despite that, her movements are wary and timid, unsure of her place.

I'm feeling rather unsure of my own place, actually.

I text the bus stop code on my burner, and a moment later an updated ETA comes back. A couple minutes. I think more than a little about contacting Sister Willful about this… other person, but decide to push through it for now. Maybe it’s some kind of test. At least it was a nice day out. Neither of us has said a word since we left our (my?) apartment.

“So…” I venture, “You’re Sunset Shimmer?”

Her eyes latch onto me for a moment with their penetrating gaze. “Yes.” Eyes dart to follow a passing car, and she shuffles to stand just inside my comfort zone.

“So what are we going to call each other,” I ask.


“I mean, we can’t just call each other 'Sunset Shimmer'.”

“Oh.” She says it with only a slight tinge of surprise, as if she hadn’t considered that at all. Her eyes follow the flight of a bird, squinting into the sun.

“How about we share?”


“Like, you can be Sunset, and I’ll be Shimmer.”


“Okay.” I was not at all okay sharing my name like this with… whoever this actually was, but it was a little late to renege. “I’ll call you Sunny. As a nickname, y’know?”


It’s all I can do not to dig my nails into my palm. She’s too close, she’s too aware of everything yet nothing, and she’s me but not me!

I jerk as her hand finds mine, reflexively twitching away in surprise. It was just a brush, as if she were seeking something she wasn’t sure she would find. I’m about to say ‘sorry’ when I notice she is fixated on me, eyes frighteningly playful. “Shimmy,” she says.


“As a nickname, y’know?”

Not sure if playful or sinister.

“Y-yeah, sure,” I stammer out, unsure how to respond to that. I guess she wasn’t sure, either, a moment ago.

“Can I hold on to you?” she asks.


“I’d really, really like to just hold your hand or something.”

Unconsciously, I look down at my hand. It still tingles where she’d brushed it, the surprise lingering there. I’d never been big on being touched. Never had anyone to touch you.

“Uh, sure,” I finally manage.

She reaches out, and folds her hand over mine. It isn’t as cold as in the room – the outside air must really be helping – but the electric tremor in her touch is still there, hallucinatory vibrations traveling up my skin.

With a surprising burst of snark, I say, “You’re welcome.”

She looks into me. “Hm?”

I shake my head. “Nevermind, I’m sorry.”

Her eyes bore into me for several increasingly-awkward seconds until the rumble of another vehicle draws her attention.

The bus, thank the Scribe.

I wave, as you’re supposed to, and he growls to a stop. Her hand is still firmly gripping mine as we board. The bus driver gives me a curious look when I run the card twice, but I smile it off.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen identical twins in person either… let alone had one before.

“You want the window seat?”


“You seem to really like looking around at stuff. Do you want to sit by the window?”


We settle onto the not-quite-bench of our own, her by the window, swapping attached hands in the process. Where her hand had been, the air feels bracing and cool in the air conditioning. Meanwhile the other hand is now captive, as is the elbow.

The prickling warmth is nice.


The other-me looks up from deep contemplation over the two apples in her hands. “Shimmy?”

“I was thinking we could just get a bunch of several varieties, and you can decide which you like. Probably the same as me, but you never know.”

It takes a moment for that to process. “Sure.” She moves purposefully to the end of the shelf and unspools several thin plastic bags like I showed her.

“I’ll help,” I say, and hold out my hand to take a couple.

It’s not particularly busy in the supermarket today. Several other people mill around the produce aisles beneath the fluorescent lights and pop music. Yet, I still feel a twinge of anxiety, as if there are too many people surrounding me. Watching me.

I jerk as the cart shifts, Sunny depositing small bags of three varieties of apples. Why am I so jumpy? I grin sheepishly as Sunny holds out her hand to take back one of the still-empty bags I’m holding.

“Sorry,” we both say at the same time.

At the checkout, Sunny presses up against me, as if frightened by the shoppers around us. I’m not sure if it’s her fear that’s putting me on edge, or something I’m imagining for myself, but I'm much more aware of their presence, their attention, than usual. A woman pushes her cart in front of us on her way to a lane further down, giving a curt ‘excuse me’, and as her eyes meet me I feel a spike on adrenaline I’d associated with expecting punishment from a foster parent. I still manage to smile back, understanding, and shake my head and focus on the lane ahead of me.

I look down into our own cart and concentrate on the items there, and the vouchers to cover most of them in my wallet. I am acutely aware of Sunny’s upper arm against my back, and she itches through my shirt.

“You doing okay back there?”

She shifts against me. “It’s a lot.”

You’ve never had a twin sister before.

That thought reverberates through my skull, never quite abating. I know that whatever Sunny is she is not my twin sister, but that idea simply refuses to die. I had my trunk (suitcase) fully unzipped and cracked open before that twinge of privacy reasserted itself.

Privacy. Something I’d known so little of, something I’d yearned for for so long. Had I forgotten it mattered? Had I forgotten Sunny was sitting right behind me?

I want to turn around, and I wonder if that desire originated within me or form somewhere else. To turn around and see myself sitting there, sharp eyes latched onto me.

If she’s going to comment on my freezing up, she keeps it to herself.

“Who are you, really?” I finally say. “Where did you come from?”

“Where did any of us come from?”

I do turn around at that, an unexpected anger welling up inside my chest.

“That’s bullshit, and you know it. Where did you come from?”

She winces, playfulness gone. Or hidden. “I don’t know. I’m sorry, but honest I don’t. The first thing I remember is you holding my hand, looking at me with concern.”

I scoff. “You can’t be serious.”

“I am.”

“Who showed you into this apartment?”

“Sister Willful.”

“What city is this?”

“Canterlot City.”

“How old are you?”


“How long have you been in the system?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did you get put into my apartment?”

“I don’t know.”

“How do you feel?”

“Cold and alone.”

“Where did you… Did you just say, ‘cold and alone’?”

“I’m sorry, Shimmy.”

I catch myself towering over Sunny, panting, fist planted on the back of the loveseat.

“No,” I say, voice shaking. I back up cautiously. “No, I’m sorry. This has got to be just as confusing for you as it is for me.”

I reach into my pocket and finger the burner phone. I could call Sister Willful. I could get out. I could get her out. And yet…

I turn back towards my trunk. She’s a me without a past. Maybe with as much future as I have – at least we have that in common.

I make a quick decision. I flash her a grin, then tear into my trunk and pull out the trashy vampire novel, holding it like a trophy. “Scooch, Sunny.”

She looks at me, very confused. “Hm?”

I march forward and crash butt-first into the space just clears in time. “We’re going to find out just how far Zella will go for Eraterus. Spoilers, it’s tragically far.”

“That sounds fun,” she ventures.

The fun is immediately more confusing as she presses close and her arm wraps around my waist. Where her fingers trace beneath my ribs my skin is aflame with ecstasy and I inhale with surprise which only makes her fingers press even harder for an instant and my spine is suddenly ramrod-straight and her hand is still pressing as she so slowly disengages but it’s only slow in the infinity-spanning instant and she’s no longer touching me, deep, calculating eyes probing my every expression.

“‘Sfine!” I snap, the yelp clearly contravening my words.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”

“‘Sfine,” I say again, this time with a bit more control. “Just… Okay, that actually felt really good I’m not gonna lie, but by the Scribe’s pen, warn me next time.”


I rub where she touched me, remembering the sensation. My own hand feels numb in contrast.

“I’m not sure we’ll get through much of Zella’s fiascos, but it was definitely okay.” I start to reposition myself on the loveseat. “Here…”

I need to pee.

That single thought floats like the great plastic dead zone on the ocean of my thoughts.

Sunny is half-draped across me, leg and arm thrown across my thigh and chest as she snores softly into my hair. As we slept, the sheets had wormed their way to around our ankles. She had refused my pajamas, so when I look over I get a very emotionally-conflicted view of her (myself!) in bra and panties.

We didn’t do anything intrudes, the first of several.

You’d kissed your hand before, practicing you told yourself. Kissing your own lips on another person is no different. But she isn’t me, she’s someone else who looks like me. It felt good. Of course it felt good. I need to pee.

What is going to happen with her? What is going to happen between us? No, what’s going to happen with her? Who is she, anyway? Where did she come from? Could we ask Sister Willful? We should ask Sister Willful. Who is this we, now? I need to pee.

You need to take care of her. She’s more important than you. That’s what love is, isn’t it – to care for an other's needs above your own? What happened a few hours ago wasn’t that kind of love. I need to pee.

You’re extremely lucky to get this apartment, you know that, don’t you? How many people could use this space, and it went to an orphan kid who can’t land a foster family? How long do you think you’ll actually last on your own like this? I’m not alone anymore. Not alone with a nobody who just so happens to be yourself. Not myself, just someone who looks like me and shares my name and came out of nowhere. You came out of nowhere to everyone else, too. I need to pee.

If you or Sunny went to see Sister Willful, who do you think she’d recognize as the true Sunset Shimmer? Be honest. I need to pee.

You could just disappear and no one would notice. Sunny’s here now. You could commit murder, and Sunny could take the blame. You could commit murder, and you could be alone again. You could just disappear. I need to pee.

Global warming could kill every human on the planet in two centuries. Your fragile little bubble of civilization could pop in ten years. You could accomplish so many things that will have no effect on the well-being of anyone, because the world is just that awful. Everything you could possibly do will amount to nothing in the end. I need to pee.

You’re a sex addict. Wasn’t sex. You need touch to feel alive. I feel alive. You’re nothing without other people – other people who will ignore and betray you. I need to pee.

You should just disappear. No one would notice. Go away before the others can betray you. I need to pee.

You don’t deserve anything. No one would care or notice if you were gone. I need to pee.

I squirm to disentangle myself (hard, cruel hard, her electrifying touch burning against the bare skin across my abdomen!), and Sunny stirs.


My heart hammers in my chest and my ears ring and my movements reinforce a very urgent sensation. “S-sorry, Sunny. I really need to pee.”

I’m standing at the door, backpack over my shoulders, finger on the locked bolt, Sunny’s eyes on the back of my head. My hand is trembling, and it is spreading rapidly.

“What if I say the wrong thing? What if I go to the wrong classroom. What if they call on me and ask ‘what’s your family like’ and I have to tell them I came through the system and they hate me or pity me? What if the bus collides with a garbage truck and we all die? What if—”

“Hey, shhh.” Sunny is immediately at my side, fingers scratching the back of my head.

I breathe in deeply, and out to flicker a birthday candle.

“How did you become the calm one? I guess you’re not the one going to school, you can afford to take it easy.”

Sunny cocks her head. “I could go.”


“We’re both Sunset Shimmer, right?”

The very idea fills me with exhilaration and dread. Just days ago she didn’t exist (probably), and now she’s confident in going to the most intense, no-holds-barred social cage match known to humankind, called ‘high school’. She could take my place and I wouldn’t have to be so afraid. She could take my place, and I could disappear.

I want so badly to say, ‘No, I’ll go. I can do this.’

But I can’t. All I can do is heave shuddering breaths into the door, my fingers pinched white against the bolt on the door, my ribs clenched so tight I can barely breathe.

I want to go to school. I want to live my life. I want… I want… The ringing in my ears won’t let up, and the only pressure valve comes from five fingers on the back of my scalp.

“I can’t do this today. We’ll… we’ll take turns, okay?”

I manage to turn my head, and my eyes are greeted by her reassuring smile. “That sounds great, Shimmy.”

Sunny lets me cling to her on the bus on our way to the supermarket. The bus driver is too close. The other passengers are too close. Everything is loud. The explosive hiss of the air brakes makes me jolt. I try so hard to focus through everything.

Columba livia, rock dove. Corvus brachyrhynchos, crow.

The only thing that feels real is Sunny’s arm.

“I want to go to Pferde,” I whine.


We’d been studying foreign cultures in school. Well, she had. I tried to follow along with the homework.

“I want to go to Pferde,” I repeat, a little louder, as if convincing myself that it wasn’t a thought arising from fugue.

“You can scarcely psych yourself up to go to the grocery store,” she points out not unkindly, “and you're saying you want to travel overseas?” She rubs my hand curled around her bicep.

My eyes hurt. I press them closed and lean against her and let my cheek rest on her shoulder. She’s so warm.

I turn my world into the two bags of granola I’m holding. I have to do something. I have to… that’s it, compare the ingredients. As little added sugar as we can get.

Sunny brushes my shoulders, returning from somewhere else in the aisle. “Got this under control?”

I nod, trying to remain focused. My shoulders itch, suddenly reminded of coolness.

“Sunset,” I hear. Some woman’s voice I vaguely recognize but cannot place. “It’s nice to see you. How are things?” She sounds kind enough. The thought of attention directed at me is terrifying.

My pulse hammers and my neck tingles and my ribs are quivering and I’m sweating and I have to concentrate.

Please go away. I have to concentrate. Let Sunny take care of it. Something about sugar. It’s important. Just leave me alone. Let me disappear.

I’m a tangled ball of nerves sitting at the small desk, the sharp, faint, staccato clacking of keyboard strokes from the loveseat rattles in my ears, each tak! sending a jolt down my spine and into my limbs. My eyelids burn as I try to re-read the same paragraph of Pferdisch history and I absorb nothing but tak! tak! tak! I let the book slide out of my fingers and I hug myself. Everything is a fog, and I’m so very cold. I want to sleep forever, but there’s too much to do and sleep never comes. I try breathing in and out to flicker a birthday candle, and I can’t even manage that without convulsing.

She notices, and the typing stops. “Shimmy?” She almost sounds concerned. Almost. I hear her get up, the swish of fabric as she strides confidently forward.

Where’s my burner phone? It’s not in your pocket — hasn’t been for days.

Her hand cups my chin and I relish her warmth her caress her—

I’m too weak to twist away, but I force myself and look at her. She’s gorgeous. Self-sure, capable… everything I wish I could be. Everything I wanted.

You should disappear.

Everything she stole from me.

I hate everything about myself. For being so weak, for trusting – no, loving this other me. Love had nothing to do with it. For not realizing before it was too late.

“It’s going to be okay.” I say it to reassure myself, even though I can’t possibly believe it any longer.

Her hand reaches around and fingers twine the hair at the back of my skull, and it’s the only thing I’m sure about me is alive anymore.

“It is now.”

I can feel her breath on my face. She’s inches away from me, lips about to brush my own. She scratches my scalp and I ache.

“I’m Sunset Shimmer,” I protest.

She chuckles, amused. It’s a cold, callous, uncaring sound. “I’m Sunset Shimmer.”

She gives me one last kiss, deep and forceful, hot and wet, burning with life, and it’s the only thing I could possibly
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#1 ·
Almost perfect; my gripe with this one is the title. Because of the title, I saw where this was going immediately and any suspense felt deflated.

Other than that, the prose and the interaction between the characters are all excellent.
#2 ·
Is this horror? I think this is horror.

Great use of bookends; I think I can see how the story arc as a whole mirrors itself. Sunset’s anxieties and general erosion could be better articulated, I think… the latter scenes feel like they’re glossing over what she’s really focusing on or what’s pulling her apart (unless it’s meant to be an irrational, very internal erosion, in which case more of her internal monologue may help, rather than focusing so much on her physical expressions). Similarly, sinister Sunny at the end lands in the uncanny valley of being not clearly set up and maybe not communicated strongly enough? The ending really needs to stick the landing, and it may have wobbled a bit.

Digging into the negative implications about { puberty, sexual freedom/deviancy, self-actualization, independence, touch addiction(?) } being bad things is not something I have time to get into, and those negative associations are probably unintentional anyway (you tell me, writer).
#3 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
My take on this story is that it is a sort-of allegory for overcoming anxiety; distantly, there is also something to do with the difficulties a young person faces in the foster care system, but I will not presume anything on the part of the writer.

The tingling of the back of the neck; the warmth of touch; erotic sensation in the abdomen, all suggest the assertion of the body, which bears on what one ineluctably is, as against our mental repertoire of attitudes and hoped-for states. Note that "Shimmy" never calls Sister Willful, though she is able (through a "burner" telephone), and that we never see an interaction between the two Shimmers with a third party.

The tone of this is very much like "The Metamorphosis", tragi-comic, or perhaps comic-comic (depending on what part of the old Czechoslovakia you are in, I've been told). It has a confident style, and suffers just slightly (in my opinion) from the need to "bookend"--that is, to have the story itself be the "fugue" which is alluded to at various places in the text.
#4 ·
· · >>Heavy_Mole
You gave me some perspectives I hadn't considered before. How it could be interpreted as a story about overcoming anxiety (the scared-me goes away, a stronger me takes her place) I can see, but with 'Shimmy' being so cold, it's debatable who was healthier. Contrasting what the body wants to be and what it is also really surprised me, but I can follow that reasoning as well.

I'm afraid you'll have to explain the tragic-comic/comic-comic description to me, that I don't follow. I felt the bookending served the story as I saw it, with the 'strength' of the two characters always summing to exactly one (or, zero?); as one waxes, the other wanes, and this bookending - actually, mirroring - works to communicate that structurally.

Thanks for your thoughts!
#5 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
I meant that there is a certain contrast between the tone of the "incident" of the story and the underlying interpretation we are lead to make of it: what happens is sad or dark, but what really happens is a positive transformation. In "The Metamorphosis" a salesman inexplicably is changed into a giant bug, and his family comes to hate and resent him, except for his sister. The thematic elements of the story revolve around their relationship; eventually she rejects him as well, and emerges a healthy young woman. The story is "tragic" because it appears to be told from the point of view or Gregor.

To be frank, if you're considering a revision of this, I would do away with the "Zero-Sum Game" gimmick altogether. It is a "set-up" for my attention but it does not hold experience for me the way the actual content of the story does. As a reader, it feels like striking a conversation with someone at a party, only to learn later that the other person was just looking for plants for their night club gig. Let the story speak for itself. Maybe come back to it in a few weeks, read it again, and see what it says to you.
#6 ·
· · >>KwirkyJ
The major problem:

I had with the story is that I can't see any connection between the characters here and the character I know as Sunset Shimmer. You have the perfect opportunity, too, since Equestria Girls has forever left unanswered the question of what happened to the human version of Sunset Shimmer. Maybe she's just gotten her apartment as described at the beginning of the story, then, unable to sleep that night, she walks over to check out the Canterlot High campus only to witness her doppelganger falling out of the Wondercolt statue. She takes this shaky, uncertain version of herself home, and the rest of the story progresses as we see it here, the still-villainous Sunset literally taking over the human Sunset's life.

#7 ·
>>Baal Bunny
This reaction is completely justified -- the pony serial numbers are extremely forged. My goal with this was to explore writing psychological horror. Neither of these characters are meant to be the pony-Sunset, and indeed I was purposefully ambiguous even about exactly how many people are actually present.

I shoehorned EQG elements into an effectively original story so I could double-enter it into a Sunset x Sunset competition (with Horror and AU tags affixed, salvaging elements from dead-end attempts) and to ensure (trick) a ready audience.

It so happens that the winner of the SxS event does exactly what you propose, has a strong romantic dynamic between them (as lovers, exs, and together again), and not a lick of horror to be found.

The Sunset we see at the beginning (Shimmy) is happy, confident, self-assured, eager; despite her less-than-ideal circumstances. The neuroses she develops are exactly correllated with Sunny becoming more and more complex and realized. Further, the 'dark side' of Sunny isn't revealed until Shimmy is completely powerless. (at least, that's what I meant to write). From that perspective I can't say I find your interpretation particulary valid specifically to this story as written. Still interesting to consider, so thanks for following up.