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

Returned From Sabbatical · FiM Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
Paid Time Off
“So,” said Tempest Shadow, squinting her eyes in thought, “You’re suspending me?”

“No. It’s called a sabbatical leave, Fizzlepop,” said Starlight Glimmer. “Everypony needs time off from work to… um… decompress.”

Tempest felt herself frown in confusion. Starlight was smiling gently and tilting her head the same way she would while calming down a student stressing out over midterms.

Sometimes Tempest thought that ponies walked on eggshells around her. Like now.

“But… can't I just refuse again?” asked Tempest. A empty pit began forming in her stomach.

“Not anymore!” said Starlight, with a note of triumph in her voice.

Her horn lit up, and from an open drawer she lifted out a heavy-looking stack of parchments. The sheer weight of the pile being dropped onto Starlight’s desk was enough to shake the little potted plant on the desktop—the one Starlight liked to talk to when she thought no one was nearby.

“Here are your timecards for the past three years, ever since you started here,” she said. “On top of running double-duty as a PE instructor and soccer club coach, you haven’t taken a single sick leave, holiday, personal vacation, or emergency leave ever since you started. And by Equestrian law, it is illegal for you to work a single more day without spending at least ninety days of your accumulated vacation time.”

Tempest frowned.

“I don’t like this law.”

“And I didn’t like submitting all that vacation deferment documentation!” piped Starlight, cheerfully. “It was like three forms a week, and you know how Twilight can be about paperwork. But luckily, the full force of the law is on my side now.”

“But…” Tempest searched desperately for the words she needed to express the gnawing feeling in her chest. “What should I… do?”

Starlight seemed to be taken aback. She was looking at Tempest with confusion, as one of her hooves absent-mindedly stroked her potted plant.

Tempest knew that she wasn’t good with words. She swallowed and tried again.

“What… do you want me to do while I’m on leave?” said Tempest. Her words felt clumsy in her own mouth. “If I don’t have work to do… I’ll be… useless. Worthless.”

Starlight’s smile grew consoling, and she looked Tempest in the eye.

“You are not just your job, Fizzlepop,” she said. “You are a pony whom many of us have grown to cherish and appreciate. And you deserve time to yourself.”

Tempest wasn’t sure if she believed Starlight, but she nodded along.

“Go, take some time to say goodbye to your students today,” said Starlight. “You’ll see.”

“I’ll see… what?”

“You’ll see,” said Starlight, smiling.

“Form ranks! I’ve got an announcement.” Tempest barked.

To her own surprise, her voice had the slightest waver. She hoped the students didn’t notice.

Her tenth-grade class sorted themselves into a neat file, alphabetically by last name. There were enough non-ponies in the mix to make the line uneven, but it was an allowance Tempest had learned to live with.

“I will be taking a sabbatical. Today is my last day with you all until at earliest the date of February the 17th, 1012 AC. Until then, you will have a substitute Physical Educator. I expect you to treat them with the respect that you afford me.”

The words were planned beforehand, and she said them quickly and efficiently.

When she was done speaking, there was a pregnant pause. She had no idea how they would react, right up until—

“We’ll miss you, Miss Berrytwist!”

This first outburst was like a crack that broke the dam. As if guided by herd instinct, her students, as one, broke ranks and crowded to surround her.

“Have a good vacation, Miss Berrytwist!”

“Come back soon!”

“You’re the best, Miss Berrytwist!”

Tempest felt her eyes grow hot and stinging. When she tried to speak, the only mucous-y sounds came out that were all easily drowned out by the avalanches of well-wishes smothering her.

At that moment, Tempest decided if she ever needed to storm Canterlot Castle again, she’d rather bring this class of silly, untrained students with her instead of a thousand of the Storm King’s battalions.

“Dodgeball,” she said, when her voice was back and the students had quieted. “Full-contact, and don’t bother to make teams. It’s all of you against me.”

There were whoops and hollers of excitement. The thrill of anticipation of battle.

For just a minute, Tempest thought that they might actually stand a chance against her.

She was wrong. She wrecked them all.
« Prev   6   Next »
#1 · 2
“Everypony needs time off from work to… um… decompress.”

What sort of unAmerican idea is this? And Paid time off, to boot? Blasphemy.

I kid, of course.

Super cute. As a little bit of a workaholic myself, I double appreciate Starlight's insistence that Tempest take a break. Her "well now what" reaction is 100% on point. Summer break comes around and I turn into a sludge monster. The student reactions are great, too. Some genuine connection and emotion to nail home that Tempest is pretty a-okay after all. ;-)

Tempest knew that she wasn’t good with words. She swallowed and tried again.

If believably still a little unsure of herself.

I'm keeping a more keen eye out for little movement/action; little frowns, smiles, head nods, stroking of potted plants. Keeps the dialogue fresh and far away from ye olden talking heads. Good work. Makes me wish more of my students weren't absolute jerks.
#2 · 2
I really like this. Especially the ending. And I haven't even seen the movie!

But I think this piece has two issues, one having to do with the plot, and one having to do with the prose.

First, the plot. Tempest's emotional conflict in this piece is that she feels the constant need to prove her worth. She needs to keep working, or else she's got no reason to exist. Starlight's answer to this -- and the thing that clears up the conflict -- is Tempest's students saying how much they love her... for the work she does. Do you see how the resolution doesn't really match with the conflict?

Tempest needs a reason to live outside of work. I'm not sure this story gives her one.

Secondly, the prose issue. Specifically, this line doesn't work for me:

“What… do you want me to do while I’m on leave?” said Tempest. Her words felt clumsy in her own mouth. “If I don’t have work to do… I’ll be… useless. Worthless.”

A lot of the story hinges on this line, since it's where you lay bare Tempest's emotional conflict. But all the ellipses make it super overdramatic. Get rid of the visual stutters and trust us to hear the emotion in your words.
#3 · 2
· · >>Dubs_Rewatcher
It’s a nice piece, but you could’ve easily substituted Rainbow Dash for your instructor. She’s really the same pony, just that for some reason you decided to translate the scene in another context. That reminds me of a former story, about which a lot ‘ink’ had flown, about Rainbow Dash as an instructor telling kids they would end up in the Wonderbolts whereas they had no chance to. Of course, this is different, but it illustrates that you had no need to look for an OC in this case: RD would've made a great candidate.

Or Cherilee, on a more mellow tone.

Otherwise, it’s a cute story, quite well written. Contrarily to Dubs, I don’t mind the overly dramatic dialogue. But… you took the prompt and twisted it. It’s ‘return from sabbatical’ not ‘depart for sabbatical’ :p
#4 · 2
Tempest isn't an OC — she's the villain of the My Little Pony Movie, who in the end gets redeemed and becomes a good guy
#5 · 2
Those poor kids!
#6 · 1
You know me, I like my Tempest stories. She's the best thing to come out of the movie by far, so you get all of my love for writing about her.

Now that being said, I think that while your dialogue does an admirable on a line-by-line level, things start to get a little fuzzy in the big-picture view. Gonna second Dubs' comment that your themes were kinda weak, especially given the fact that this is supposed to be a thoughtful and introspective piece. Motifs are kinda important in stories like this.

I also can see what you're going for in the last scene, but it did end up feeling a bit cheesy to me. I can't help but feel like there could be a less overt hammer-to-the-face way to teach Tempest this lesson.

But I liked the last line. :P

Thank you for entering!