Sometimes I re-read things I wrote 20 years ago to get some inspiration, as in, “how could I take this concept and make it NOT suck?” Today I’m looking at a particularly meandering story-within-a-story, told at Tabby and Thomas’ wedding reception. It is baffling, serves no purpose, illustrates no point, and involves ponies who were never mentioned before and never mentioned since. (Original text in italics; today’s commentary in bold.)
“I spend most of my time with animals,” Thomas disclosed. “But I also like to get outside for hikes and such. There’s lots of great scenery in the Dark Forest.”
Incidentally, this is a character trait that was never mentioned before or after and serves solely as a clumsy set-up for this story.
Pearl giggled. “Us girls were always so scared to go in there back in our schooldays– remember?”
Damask nodded knowledgeably. “But then one evening Pearl’s brother dared her to spend an hour in the forest or he’d tell everyone that Pearl had a crush on that one guy– who was that, again?”
Wow, an hour, what a dare–don’t these kids know about overnight challenges?
“It was completely untrue, whoever it was,” Pearl said, shaking her head violently.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about, but it wasn’t true!”
“So Damask and I went along with her to provide moral support,” Tabby supplied.
Was that in the rules of the dare? That sounds kind of like cheating.
“There we were, traipsing through the Dark Forest,” Damask said, her eyes gleaming at the memory. “And it was very dark. We thought we were staying on the path, but somewhere along the way we had wandered off. We were lost.”
“And then,” Pearl said dramatically, “just as we were all about to freak out–“
“You were the one freaking out, Pearl,” Damask pointed out. “You were whimpering and crying and all that.”
And Tabby’s like, “Wait, why am I hanging out with these morons? What am I doing with my life?”
“–anyway, suddenly we saw this light coming towards us. We of course started screaming but before we could run, the light caught up to us. We thought it was a horrible monster,” Pearl said with a flourish.
Monsters are known for their ability to generate light.
“As it turned out, though,” Tabby continued, “it was a pony who had been on a walk through the woods and had heard us stumbling around, and he came to investigate with a lantern. And get this– it was the very same guy that Pearl here supposedly had a crush on! Wasn’t it Dynasty or something?”
I imagine that they were two feet from the path and just flailing around frantically in a circle for an hour.
“We told him we were lost,” Damask said, “and he offered to lead us back to Pearl’s place, which he did.”
Was he also out there on a dare to wander around the forest aimlessly or his crush would be made public? I don’t know, is this a thing teens do? I wasn’t a normal teen. I was making this stuff up–I don’t know if you could tell.
“It was so embarrassing getting back home following after Dynasty, and my brother was watching to see it,” Pearl moaned.
Ugh, how embarrassing, to be seen with the guy I have a crush on. Is that how crushes work? I really don’t know.
“Fortunately, he was nice enough to realize that we had spent an hour out in the woods, and so he didn’t spread any rumors,” Damask finished. “But it didn’t really matter, because right then and there in Pearl’s yard, Dynasty asked her out anyway!”
Wow! Incredible story! The twists, the turns, the unexpected ending!
“Well… yeah,” Pearl said, inspecting her hooves. “I went with him a few times, but it didn’t amount to anything.”
Hey, Pearl, I hear Dynasty is still in town; you should probably go wander around the forest and see how he’s doing.
“After that night, Damask thought it might be a good way to meet cute guys if we wandered around in the forest, but Pearl and I were against it,” Tabby commented. “It was scary out there in the dark!”
Weren’t there any other teen hangout spots? Was wandering the forest seriously the best way to find male specimens? Were they all hiding there to avoid their crazy female classmates?
Anyway, moments later, Tabby is distracted by a Furby (conversations with Furbys make up a good ninety percent of the story); and Pearl, Damask, and Dynasty are never heard of again.