be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Monday, June 18, 2012

Return to Equestria: Ponies in a Human World

“So what’s up with you and Tia lately?” Luna asks Twilight one day after the latter’s work ends but before the former begins her nightly duties.

“Nothing,” Twi immediately answers, although the tone in her voice belies her dread of this confrontation.

The Dark Princess stops walking. “Nothing, huh?” she snorts in derision as she dismisses this possibility. “What are you keeping from me?”

Twi gestures after she also pauses . “Sweetie, you’re putting me in a very awkward position,” she demurs in a barely audible voice. “I promised your sister I wouldn’t breathe a word.”

“But we share everything,” Luna responds in kind. “Well we used to anyway; ever since we got back on the air, I feel like you’ve been more and more distant.”

Twi sees the look in her paramour’s eyes and realizes if she doesn’t come clean, it’s all over for them. “We’ve been going back in time as humans, as people,” she softly admits.

“What?” Luna interjects, not comprehending. “You mean like Doctor Hooves and his telephone booth thing?”

“No, I’m not talking about local time travel,” Twi explains while waving this away. “It’s a special magic spell, that takes all our power.” When she sees Luna still not tracking, she pulls on the other, urging, “Come on; Tia will show you.”

But when Twilight and Luna arrive at the Canterlot castle, Princess Celestia doesn’t take this very well. “What are you two doing here?” she immediately inquires of both of them, then she addresses her sibling in particular. “Why aren’t you out raising the moon?”

“I had to tell her,” Twilight Sparkle softly explains with great effort before Princess Luna answers.

“Tell her what, Twilight?” Celestia carefully inquires while glancing very quickly back and forth between her sister and her student.

“About what me and you have been doing,” T.S. cautiously elaborates while raising her hoof to her head, anticipating the explosion. “The time travel business.”

“Oh, so you had to tell her,” the Princess of the Light lashes back at the other. “Well what about Shining Armor? After all, he’s your brother; and Princess Cadence–she’s your sister-in-law; pretty soon all of Equestria will know. Who haven't you told?”

Luna takes this. “She hasn’t told any other pony and she only told me because I forced her to–O.K.?–so stop yelling at her.”

Celestia swings her glare from Twilight to her younger sister. “Everything I ever have, you have to try to take it from me,” the older Princess accuses the younger one.

“O.K., let’s not get back to that again,” Twi hastily intercedes. “Remember, she’s your equal and co-ruler, by your own insistence. Just–show her the portal, all right? She has to know, in case something happens to you. To both of us.”

Princess Celestia’s smoldering glare remains on Luna a beat or two longer than actually necessary but she does activate the portal viewer as requested while mumbling to herself, “Logic; the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

“This is the first time we did it–the time travel, that is,” Twilight narrates when Celestia is slow to explain, the latter still apparently giving her sister the silent treatment while Luna in turn blanches at T.S. over the unintended double entendre. “We’ve done the battle of Gettysburg, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the library at Alexandria–”

“She’s doesn’t know what any of those things are,” Celestia interrupts Twi as the portal’s image shifts. “This is how we began.”

“You mean,” Luna gasps in horror and stunned incredulity after she watches the portal for some time, “we started out as a cartoon for human children?”

“Initially, yeah,” Twilight confirms when the other Princess is slow to answer. “See, this wealthy human philanthropist had a granddaughter who was mildly autistic; her vocabulary wasn’t accumulating and she wouldn’t play with kids her own age, until one day she happened to see this on their television and she really responded to it. So the grandmother arranged for ponies of the day to be genetically altered into unicorns, pegasi and alicorns, and–”

“And the rest is history,” Tia finishes for the other. “Now you understand why this has to kept secret, why I had to tell her,” she continues to her younger sister, referring to Twi.

“Yes Tia,” the Dark Princess responds as she nods. “Now I get it. Twilight, I’m sorry I put you in the middle.”

“No problem sweetness,” Twilight immediately and brightly responds. “New pony’s choice; where would you like to visit first?”

Princess Luna, followed by her sister and T.S. all enter the Manhattan high-rise wearing their new 5th Avenue clothes after an eventful morning of shopping. “Hello,” the Dark Princess first addresses the doorman who has motioned for their collective attention. “We’re here to see Beatrice–”

“Saltzmann,” Twilight supplies after Luna gestures that her memory has temporarily failed her. “Beatrice Saltzmann and her granddaughter Gretchen.”

“Missus Saltzmann and her granddaughter,” the doorman repeats as he is dialing a telephone that he has picked up. “And is Missus Saltzmann expecting you?”

“No,” Princess Celestia simply answers, speaking up from behind the other two. “This is a surprise visit.”

“Missus Saltzmann? I’m sorry to disturb you, but there are three young ladies down here asking for you and your granddaughter,” the doorman explains into the receiver as he looks back up at Luna. “May I have your names please?”

“I’m Twilight Sparkle,” Twi introduces herself while gesturing towards the others. “And these are Princesses Celestia and Luna. We’re from Equestria.”

“I got two Princesses and a Twilight something or other,” the doorman mangles in his peevish Brooklynese. “From Equestryland–”

“Equestria,” Tia impatiently corrects. “And her name is Twilight Sparkle.”

“Uh-huh,” the doorman dejectedly replies into the telephone while eyeing Celestia. “Certainly ma’am.” He hangs up and taps on the log book that’s open in front of them. “Sign in please; all three of you.”

Once done, the doorman gestures to the elevator. “Suite eleven, floor twenty-eight,” he comments in parting.

A few minutes later, Twilight Sparkle knocks on the door to Suite Eleven on the twenty-eighth level. Almost immediately the entranceway opens to reveal an older well-dressed woman in an excited state. “My goodness,” she interjects in surprise, her hand to her heaving throat. “I thought you were schoolmates of my granddaughter, playing a trick on us.”

“Missus Saltzmann,” Celestia begins when the other two are slow to explain themselves. “Thank you for seeing us with no notice. This is my student Twilight Sparkle and my sister, Princess Luna. We’re here to visit you and your granddaughter Gretchen. Is she about?”

For an answer, Mrs. Saltzmann gestures down the hallway and calls out, “Gretchen, you have some visitors to see you. Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna are here. Come say hello. Gretchen?”

All four adults wait in silence while the ten-year-old girl shyly makes her way down the hallway. When she makes eye contact, Twi breaks into a wide smile and crouches low in her dark skirt and matching high heels while holding out an encouraging hand to the young lady. “Hi Gretchen–I’m Twilight Sparkle. Come and say hi to Princess Luna; we’ve come a long way to see you.”

“You’re–Twilight?” the little girl tentatively inquires. “From My Little Pony?”

Twi nods while gesturing again with her hand. “Yes honey; I am. And this is Princess Luna and Princess Celestia.”

“Princess Celestia?” Gretchen repeats while venturing forward in wide-eyed awe while gazing up. “Wow.”

“Hello Gretchen,” Tia kindly but regally responds from behind her sister. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Luna turns to Twi with an expression that conveys to the former, What am I, chopped liver? But before she can say anything, Gretchen’s grandmother throws out, “So what brings you three to our neighborhood?”

“Oh, we’re just here to shop and visit our fans,” Twilight explains from waist level after she finishes hugging the little girl. “And word is, nobody’s a bigger fan than you are, Gretchen. Am I right?”

“Right,” Gretchen confirms with enthusiasm, eliciting smiles all around.

A little while later, while Tia is enchanting Gretchen with tales of Canterlot, Luna and Twi hang back to speak with the grandmother. “Before My Little Pony, I didn’t know what we were honestly going to do with her,” Mrs. Saltzmann recalls, her eyes glistening in the remembered pain. “We had taken her to so many specialists, so many doctors, and she just wasn’t getting any better. My daughter was at her wits’ end; she wasn’t sleeping and her practice was suffering. I didn’t want to institutionalize her, but what was the alternative? Finally, one day she turns on your show and boom! Her change has just been incredible.”

“Autism can be so sad,” Twi agrees after exchanging glances with Luna. “Maybe she’d like to meet the rest of the gang.”

“We can’t bring them here,” the Dark Princess instantly informs the older woman as the former recognized the latter was about to protest. “But–we might be able to take her back with us. For a short time.”

“You mean to BroNYcon?” Mrs. Saltzmann skeptically inquires. “Isn’t that where all of you are from?”

“No,” Twilight disagrees. “To Equestria.”

“Aren’t you cosplayers?” is the next incredulous interrogative.

“No,” Luna evenly repeats. “We’re the real thing.”

“Luna,” Celestia speaks up from the couch where she’s sitting with the little girl. “Gretchen has a question for you.”

After the Light Princess prompts her again, Gretchen manages to ask, “What was it like–on the moon?”

“Cold,” Luna sadly admits. “And lonely. I wouldn’t want to go back.”

In the pause that follows, Mrs. Saltzmann inquires of her granddaughter if she’d like to visit Ponyville. “Can I?” the wide-eyed innocent gushes to Celestia.

All the pony girls defer to the grandmother on this point. “As long as you can have us back by dinnertime,” is the sole still-skeptical condition.

“No problem,” Twilight Sparkle assures the older woman while motioning for her co-conspirators to prepare for their individual contributions to the spell.

Once back in Ponyville, Gretchen’s grandmother decides to leave the tyke with Rarity while she receives the nickel tour. At one point, Gretchen inquires of the marshmallow-white unicorn, “Is this what you do all day long?”

Rarity glances up from her clipboard, over her glasses, at the young foal. “Well, not always,” she begins. “It depends how busy I am with customers and special orders and such, but inventory has to get done, one way or another.”

“Don’t you ever get bored?” is the follow-up.

“Sometimes,” the older pony admits. “Every pony does, at some point. But then I try to find ways of amusing myself.”

“Like how?”

As a response, Rarity picks up her phone and dials a familiar number. “Pinkie Pie,” she barks into it after the intended answers. “Where in the wide wide world of Equestria are you?”

“I see,” Rarity follows up with at her leisure after listening to enough of Pinkie’s random nonsense. “Well how about bouncing over to the boutique? I need some help with inventory; also, I have a special visitor here who’d love to meet you.” After another pause, Rarity hands the phone to Gretchen, prefacing by commenting, “Here; you’re on.”

The ten-year-old girl fumbles with the receiver until she has it up against her face. “Hello, Pinkie Pie?” she breathlessly and incredulously inquires.

At the castle in Canterlot, Shining Armor is showing Gretchen’s grandmother around. “So Twilie, Luna and Celestia all went back to visit you?”

Mrs. Saltzmann demurs, waving him off. “You’re not supposed to know about that, but yes off the record, that’s the gist of it.”

S.A. nods as comprehension washes over his visage. “Might have known my little sister would be up to something like this,” he allows as they pause at a castle balcony. “I always suspected what we’ve been told wasn’t all of it. Every pony’s keeping secrets; seems like, anyway, especially since we got back on the air. Worlds within worlds.”

“Well, the truth is a valuable commodity,” Gretchen’s grandmother agrees while taking in the panoramic view as a light summer breeze gently wafts up to them. “Wherever you’re from, I suppose. Whatever you do.” She pauses before she ventures, “So Twilight tells me you’re married to Princess Cadence.”

“Yup,” Twi’s brother confirms without making eye contact. “Signed, sealed and delivered.”

“Any young foals on the horizon?”

Shining Armor smiles before he answers. “Maybe. Don’t say anything to Twilie; it’s not for sure yet.”

“Oh, I can keep a secret,” Mrs. Saltzmann confirms with a twinkle in her eye. “If you can.”

As the afternoon winds down, Gretchen’s grandmother catches up with her young charge at the boutique. “Grandmom, look! I’m helping with inventory!”

“She certainly is,” Rarity gallantly confirms, glancing up over her glasses from her clipboard. “Anytime this youngster needs a job, just send her my way.”

A little while later, while Gretchen is busy wrapping things up with Pinkie, Mrs. Saltzmann approaches Rarity. “I can’t thank you enough for indulging my granddaughter as you have. This is exactly what she doesn’t get at school–individual attention. And it’s made such a difference in her.”

“Well, I was serious about the job,” Rarity offers while taking off her glasses and closing a drawer at the desk where the cash register resides. “If she has school during the week, she always work weekends; that’s when I’m busiest anyway.”

“I will talk to my daughter about that,” Gretchen’s grandmother emphasizes in response. “And I will let you know.”


Of course, once back home and in school, Gretchen can’t stop talking about her visit to Equestria to anyone and everyone who will listen, much less keep it a secret. But while most dismiss such enthusiastic tales as fantasy, a few people, her age and older, have enough imagination to believe that maybe, just maybe, places such as Ponyville, Canterlot and the surrounding locales can and do exist and are rewarded with journeys that the others could not even dream about.

Dear Princess Celestia

Gretchen's grandmother just wanted to thank you once again for your hospitality during her and her granddaughter's visit plus she's asking for DNA samples from all of usI think she wants to clone us! Anyway, I told her it was up to you, but can you imagine ponies in a human world? Almost as fantastic as humans in a pony world. Stranger things have happened I guess.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

Mrs. Saltzmann hangs up the telephone after she says goodbye. “Gretchen,” she calls out from her kitchen. “I have some news for you.”

After the little girl appears as bidden and inquires as to specifics, her grandmother announces, “That was the farm. You’re not going in to Rarity’s boutique tomorrow morning; at least, not right away. The first Pegasus is scheduled to be delivered early tomorrow morning and I want you there for that.” She shows the faxed copy of the ultrasound to her granddaughter, which clearly shows the stubby outline of rudimentary wings along the back of the foal.

“You mean,” Gretchen ventures after she realizes what her grandmother’s done. “This pony can fly?"

“Someday,” Mrs. Saltzmann solemnly confirms as she nods. “Someday, she will.”

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