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The Spring in Her Step · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
The Most Important Beverage
The ringing of the alarm clock woke Rainbow Dash up as it did most mornings. On the days, it didn’t manage to rouse her in time the panic alone was enough to get her out of the house. The property damage thus far had been relatively minor thus far.

With a snort and a yawn the blue pegasus stretched, extending her forehooves and wings to the roof. Rainbow Dash’s bleary eyes caught the sight of a long crack along the ceiling, a reminder of the last time she had overslept. She’d have to get her roommate to fix it never having cared for sealing wax; its smell when heated made her dizzy.

With a few flaps of her wings, Rainbow Dash slowly lifted herself out of bed and down the hall. Any thoughts of repairs, chores or even work could wait. At that moment there was only one thing on her mind and it was the dark beverage that made waking up worthwhile, coffee.

When she was younger and busy saving the world Rainbow Dash had possessed plenty of energy. Some mornings she would greet the day with a sonic rainboom that would echo through the clouds and cause the security systems, typically geese, to go off with its thunderous clap. These days however, she was more likely to at the very best fly up to the sound barrier, give it a crisp high hoof and be on her way again. For Rainbow Dash to even able to do that feat required the energy that coffee provided along perhaps a few little chocolate donuts for good measure.

Rainbow Dash entered the kitchen, quickly grabbed her “World’s Best Flyer” mug from its place in the cupboard, and instinctively flapped over to the percolator, her goal in sight. Yet, as she approached the device, certain realities began to dawn on her. First, the bitterly inviting scent of freshly brewed beans was absent. She inhaled deeply in the foolish hope that maybe her nose hadn’t awoken but any scent other than the faint odor of the previous night’s expiring quesadilla remains from the was absent.

In an almost involuntary fashion, her head snapped toward the icebox on it was a note. Rainbow Dash gulped her lower lip trembled in fear at first then disappointment as she read what it said:

Out of coffee. Will pick some up after work.

Rainbow Dash slumped against the counter, her mug as empty as her heart as she looked at those nine little words. “Applejack,” she whispered as she let the mug slip from her hoof to the floor, “How could you?”

She wanted to curl up into a ball and die, yet something within her wouldn’t let that happen. Deep within she knew it was just a mistake. After all Applejack would never intentionally let the coffee supply run out. She woke up entirely too early to let that happen. She probably just had to drink the last of it because she needed to help at Sweet Apple Acres. It was spring harvest time and she had been assisting her family there before and her job at the school. Rainbow Dash nodded her head as her multi-colored main flopped about, “That’s gotta be it,” she said to herself.

With some resignation, Rainbow Dash began to weigh her options. She could always go to one of those new cafes she’d heard about. Then again, they were often overpriced, occasionally burned the beans and for the life of her she couldn’t figure out what each size was.

Rainbow Dash recalled the last time she’d been to one with Rarity. All Dash wanted was a large cup of black coffee and the server vente, grande or some other word that she’d never heard of in her life. After going round and round with the staff and shooing off Rarity, a chair had somehow made its way into her hooves and disappeared through a window. Therefore, that was out.

She could always go to one of the Pony Joe’s Donut locations, but at this time of day, they would be swamped and then she would have to get leftover donuts with it. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t have the ones she really liked by now, only plain and crullers, a fate that was cruel indeed. Then there was the school.

At Twilight’s School of Friendship, they had a coffee maker. It wasn’t great and it typically took quite awhile to brew a pot but it was reliable. With a sigh, Rainbow Dash rose from the floor, straightened herself up and nodded, “To the school.”

It was still a couple of hours before the first students would arrive when Rainbow Dash lethargically made her way to the break room. Much to her surprise a few of her friends were already there. At a far table Pinkie Pie had her face buried in what she presumed was one of her student’s pies from her home economics class. A straw poking out of the side of her mouth indicated and a faint snore emanating from it indicated that she’d fallen asleep before she could give it a grade. Next to the pie sat a half cup of coffee.

To her right sat Fluttershy with Rarity both of who looked like they hadn’t slept well at all the previous night. In front of them were there cups. Rainbow Dash nodded to them and poured the remains of the pot into a cup. She then got some water from the sink and refilled the coffee maker. Once it began to do what its name said it did, she took a seat with Rarity and Fluttershy. “Early morning?”

Fluttershy yawned, “You’re the one who's here early.”

“No coffee at the house. Applejack said she’d pick up some but I might just do it. Can’t be too careful.”

The yellow pegasus nodded, “We’re here early so that we can maybe finish grading these tests.”

“Honestly, it’s ridiculous how many students I have to teach and test. There are only six of us here and far too many students and classes,” declared Rarity who then sipped her coffee. Fluttershy reluctantly nodded in agreement.

Rainbow Dash gulped some of her lukewarm but better than nothing coffee. “I thought you only drank tea.”

“Darling,” replied the white unicorn, “To be up this early and deal with this mountain of paperwork … well … tea much like a set of unsharpened safety scissors against a thick woolen sweater just won’t cut it.”

They talked, drank and on another occasion made more coffee. Eventually Starlight Glimmer even joined them in the conversation and yet for all of the chatting and coffee Rainbow Dash did not feel the slightest bit more energetic. In fact, the contrary was true and from what she could see, it was true for the others as well.

“Maybe we should do some exercises,” offered Starlight as she slumped in her chair.

“I can’t even lift my wings,” answered Rainbow Dash.

“If a stallion came in why I don’t even know if I could flirt,” murmured Rarity.

The trio gasped at the revelation and even Pinkie Pie’s snoring froze for just a moment as she lifted her head out of the sticky mess, a look of exhausted shock plastered on her face. Soon after her eyes closed as she leaned back in her chair and began to snore anew.

Fluttershy stood up from the table, a slightly peeved expression slowly settling in, “Maybe if we try rubbing some ice on our faces. Maybe that could help.” Yet after only three steps toward the icebox, she curled up on the floor and joined Pinkie Pie in her snoring.

Rainbow Dash directed Starlight to rouse Pinkie Pie while she and Rarity tried to wake up Fluttershy. After several minutes of shaking both ponies were awake but with all of the energy of a slug in a freezer. “What’s wrong with me,” asked Fluttershy as she gazed pleadingly into Rainbow Dash’s eyes.

Slowly, as if in a zombie like trance Pinkie Pie began to approach the coffee maker, “Coffee … I need more coffee,” she repeated.

“But it hasn’t worked at all,” said Starlight as she leaned on Rainbow Dash, “We’re all still tired.”

“Need more…”

Silence. The moment that Pinkie Pie had reached the coffee maker and the trash can next to it her robotic demand for coffee had ceased. From where Rainbow Dash stood, she couldn’t tell what had caused her to stop but something had caught her pink friend’s attention. Then, almost timidly, Pinkie Pie reached into the trash. The sounds of napkins and used cups rustled around in the receptacle’s depths.
From deep within Pinkie Pie the low rumble of something wicked emanated. As she turned to the group her face drawn back in complete and universal terror as she gazed at what she held. From her out stretched hoof she held the can and from her throat came a scream like a freight train whose brakes were attempting to stop the massive locomotive from careening off of the top of Twilight’s castle and utterly failing to do so.

At first, the others could not see what it was that made Pinkie scream as she did. They simply recoiled to the far end of the room. However, after a minute of cowering, Dash being possibly the bravest of the group slowly approached the shrieking pink pony and confiscated the can. She read its label and understood then showed the others. They had not been drinking some overly bitter tea, nor had they been drinking real coffee. They had been drinking decaf. Once the realization set in, it was their turn to scream.

“Good mor- my Celestia what’s going on,” asked Twilight as she rounded the corner a book that she was reading was quickly stowed in her bag.

“Decaf,” blurted Rainbow Dash as she held out the can, “We- we’ve been drinking decaf!”

Twilight Sparkle blinked as she stood in front of her faculty and friends. She was much taller than they were these days what with ruling all of Equestria. While she’d technically handed over control of the school to Starlight she did enjoy the smell of chalk and opening young minds to the possibilities that friendship and harmony could bestow upon others of their vast world. “Well of course you have, I switched it.”

Rainbow Dash’s mouth hung open and her eyes wide with betrayal. She attempted to speak but the only sound that came out was a wheeze. From her outstretched hooves the can fell to the floor with a loud clang.

“But Twilight … this isn’t funny you know we … really need our coffee. We need our REAL coffee,” said Starlight in an attempt to be diplomatic.

Twilight’s eyes narrowed and as they did her, once flowing mane and tail plopped over her shoulders and on to the ground. Her horn glowed as she lifted the coffee pot and poured herself a cup of decaf. Without a word she lifted the cup to her lips and slowly began to drink the piping hot liquid as if it a cool lemonade. “I’ve been drinking it for a month and it makes sense to do so from a health perspective. However, that is not the only reason. Starlight if you must know things at this school have not been up to task since I Ieft you in charge. I have sadly received many letters of complaint. First off, there is the matter of the students’ tests not being graded in a timely fashion, never mind term papers. Secondly, I’ve heard that there’s been some gossip that…”

“Bitch have you lost your freaking mind!”

Quickly every pony in the room turned and looked at Fluttershy who went from fierce to embarrassed in a matter of seconds. For what felt like hours she stammered and tried to find her voice again yet it would not come.

Twilight’s predatory gaze fell on the yellow pegasus, “Oh my mind is sound and clear. In fact, it is so clear that I am going to relieve you of your duties. You no longer work here!”

Fluttershy’s eyes began to well up as she ran for the door. Pinkie Pie intercepted her and placed her forelegs around her as she attempted to console her friend.

“Darling that was a little harsh,” offered Rarity, “Perhaps we need to take a breather? I know that when Princess Celestia had a disagreement she would …”

“Rarity, I like you. You’re a good friend, fashionista and business mare.”

“Just good?”

“But you can be replaced.”

Rarity blinked, “Well, if that’s how you feel you can accept my resignation as well. I have just enough time to attend the fashion show in Manehattan, and by the way I expect to be compensated appropriately.”

Starlight looked at the others and shrugged, “I’ll just go back to conquering villages. It should be easier now that there isn’t any real competition for power anymore.”

“Fine! Go! See if I care! You’re all fired!”

“Good I can work on my sic moves!”

Twilight’s eye twitched, “Good!”

“Good,” growled Twilight angrily but no sooner had the word escaped her mouth that clarity washed over her. Her eyes began to well up and she began to weep, “What am I doing? I’ve just lost all of my friends and faculty all at once over … oh sweet Celestia what’s wrong with me!”

Rainbow Dash scooped up the discarded can and gently placed it in front of Twilight. “This. You were seduced by the ‘health benefits’ of decaf and not just decaf,” she tapped the can, “Look at the name!”

“F-fogler’s Chrysalis?”

“Only villains drink that.”

“Oh I… I’m so sorry I didn’t…”

“We forgive you Twilight,” said Fluttershy who hugged her friend. The others soon joined in and in response; Twilight wrapped her wings around them.

“Maybe I can make it up to all of you somehow,” said Twilight thoughtfully, “How about quintuple shots of espresso to get the day back on the right hoof!”

“Now you’re talking!” shouted Rainbow Dash.

“Great! Hey Starlight can you get those drinks for us?”


For Rainbow Dash the rest of the day was amazing. She zipped taught her students, zipped through the clouds and when it mattered she set every goose alarm system in Cloudsdale with a rainboom to rival all that had come before. While it could only last for so long, Rainbow Dash was back to her old self, even if it meant having to purchase a lot more ceiling wax.
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#1 · 2
There is not a single 9-to-5 worker who cannot relate exquisitely with the pain of needing coffee. Loving the choice of subject matter. :D

Let me start this off by just making a note that I think comedies are one of the most subjective genres to write, and folks' tastes on them vary wildly. I also think that my own preferences for comedy are a bit weird, so take everything with grains of salt.

First off, I had a great time with your dialogue, especially when it was snappy/punchy. Fluttershy's "Bitch have you lost your freaking mind" was great, and not just because it'll always be funny when she cusses. Similarly, I liked the "Only villains drink that" explanation for why Twilight's acting the way she is.

Inversely, I think the jokes in your non-dialogue prose were a bit more hit-or-miss for me. I'm not sure why that's the case, but it might be because the general tone of the text feels like it has a degree of separation from the events it describes. What I mean by that is, despite this being told in Rainbow Dash's perspective, most of the action statements are pretty omniscient and high-level.

This is definitely not objectively wrong to do; many stories and comedies have a distant narrator. I think the area that caused friction for me was how this high-level detached approach tended to interact with the comedic stakes.

The perfect example for me is when Twilight fires Fluttershy. We get two lines of dialogue that escalate the ridiculousness of the scenario: Fluttershy's "bitch" line, and the actual firing itself. But right after that scene, we get a very matter-of-fact-ly description of Fluttershy bursting into tears and needing to becomforted by PInkie Pie. This strikes me a little oddly: instead of making the situation feel ridiculous and comedic, now I'm almost left wondering if I should be feeling sorry for Fluttershy. On my first read-through, I genuinely thought this might be a point where the story was shifting gears and turning into a serious drama.

Honestly though, I recognize that this is a really, really subjective and personal take on reading comedies, so I'm interested in seeing if any other reviewers have something to say. And regardless of my own quibbles and nitpicks, I really think this has a solid backbone of dialogue here.

Thank you for writing!
#2 · 2
It's interesting that we got two stories that both start with characters waking up this round. If we’d gotten more submissions maybe we could’ve seen a pattern.

This was quirky. I like a good comedy as much as everyone else, and this one definitely had it’s moments. I can definitely see Rainbow's (and the others') penchant for coffee.

Though I wonder what brave fool was the one to introduce it to Pinkie of all ponies.

While I did enjoy the humour, the characters may have been a little too over-the-top for my tastes (more so Twilight than others). Getting the characters right is a problem I myself struggle with a lot, so take this with a grain of salt, but I recommend maybe toning down their eccentricity a notch. Or alternatively going full crackfic and turning it up to eleven.

Those are my personal tastes, though. YMMV.

I would recommend another round of proofreading, though. There were a few typos, but nothing too major. Easily fixed.

Not much else to say. I had fun reading this. Thank you for writing.
#3 · 2
“Bitch have you lost your freaking mind!” in Fluttershy's voice got a laugh out of me. Everything else? It's there and what not. Meaning I get that this is a crack fic and all. I don't care about coffee (don't drink it and never did). The meta question about how the school is run entertained me. Rainbow Dash? Makes an okay bookend, but I think she could have do something more "springy" to find her coffee.