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Does It Ever End?
The familiar voice raised me from my stupor. Looking up wearily, I was greeted with the sight of my faithful assistant. As always, her mane was kept in pristine order with that stupid magenta maneband I got her for her birthday, the one that clashes horribly with her dark orange hair. Her gray eyes were furrowed in concern, as they always are when she senses I’m not quite all right. When I noticed her equally gray unicorn magic levitating a plate of pale green stalks, my face broke out into a brilliant grin.
“Katie, you’re a lifesaver!” I cried gratefully, so desperate am I. I seized the plate with my own silver magic, eagerly yanking the plate towards my face. Kate wasn’t fazed by my uncouthness, but all the same she sighed a little as if I were a misbehaving foal that could never be tamed. As I pick up a stalk with my teeth and begin to munch it, she started up conversation in her usual businesslike way.
“My name is Katheryn, not Katie, Princess.” she corrected, miffed by my goofy-sounding nickname.
“And my name is Nexione, not Princess, Katie!” I retorted through a mouthful of broccoli stalk. Swallowing my unsightly cud, I continued. “I’ll promise not to call you my silly nickname if you don’t call me your normal one. Deal?”
“Deal,” she responded, her neutral tone calming me. To a degree. I think she has a lawful aura that would be able to deflate Pinkie Pie’s mane just by being within a two-meter radius. “But you seem to be a little...uncreative with your sentence structure. Is something wrong?”
“Clever girl!” I applauded, despite her correct identification of my own weakness. I took a few steps down the catwalk, gazing up at my room. Well, globe. Well, really big globe with an infinite amount of lines and dots crisscrossing the walls. I stared up at the large, golden circle at the very top of my room, impaled by thousands of multicolored threads that began below me at the opposite pole. The rainbow found in the various lines is beyond the spectrum of a normal pony’s eyesight--that much I have learned. Why I see so many colors, I don’t know. But it helps, in a way. I can distinguish from one pony to the next, even from the most mundane and similar of lives. Everypony has their own individual color, sometimes one that they could never imagine themselves. Thing is, I never see these wondrous hues outside of my plot globe, as I call it. Its formal name is the Room of Eternal Paths, but that’s too many syllables for me. Despite my massive undertaking, I’m chronically lazy. Despite? Maybe ‘because of’ would fit better.
“When do you think my line will reach it, Katheryn?” I wondered, partially to myself.
“Reach what, Nexione?” she asked, raising an eyebrow and stepping up beside me. Being an alicorn, I’m twice her height, not counting my huge horn and equally proportionate wings. But I rarely use either of them for anything past daily life. Again, my purpose in life is so much more than magic and flight. Some ponies would have a hard time believing that. Not Katheryn, which is why she’s the best temp in the world.
“Finis, Ending,” I clarified, still looking up at the golden circle of destiny. “When is my time? How will I know?”
“I don’t know if you will, Nexione,” replied Katheryn. Inwardly, I cringed at that for a reason I couldn’t quite place. “Being an alicorn, your life will continue indefinitely.”
“Indefinitely,” I worded, looking down and narrowing my eyes. “I don’t like that word much, indefinitely. There’s too much gray area, too much unknown potential. It’s too much of a loose end. My job in life is to tie up loose ends, make sure they don’t exist. I’d be the first to know that there’s no such thing as random, just insufficient knowledge of the universal plot.”
“But isn’t that a good thing?” queried Katie. “Eternal life is quite the blessing.”
“Is it?” I hissed to myself, shutting my eyes. I instantly regretted that. Without the distraction of visual input, a thousand new possibilities, horrible and terrific, flashed before my eyes. Such knowledge, flooding into my poor brain, undermining my grasp of sanity and reality. I winced and opened them again, reassured by solid, monotonous sight. I realized I was panting slightly, and Katheryn was concerned.
“Princess?” she asked again, slipping up on her promise to call me by my name. I didn’t mind, though. I just stared into nothing for the longest time, before I continued my rave about my own lunacy.
“I’m fine,” I lied. I quickly corrected myself. “No, I’m not. I never have been. What does fine even mean? I don’t know, but it never described me. Not even when I was a little filly. I cried all the time, screaming ‘It hurts! It burns!’, and nopony knew why. Not even me. I didn’t know why all this knowledge hurt so much--it just did, and I didn’t let anypony know what was wrong with me, because I assumed that was normal. Listen to that, me assuming I was normal. But when I grew up a little more, I would say things that made no sense. I didn’t have a concept of myself, so lost was I in the storm of information. Nopony knew what was wrong with me, or why I had wings and a horn. Celestia herself came to see me, and I completely baffled her. I still baffle her. I baffle myself. What’s real? What isn’t? Past, present, future--what’s the difference?”
“Why, order of events, of course,” stated Katie, as if everything had such a simple answer. I sighed a little--leave it to Katie to keep a hoof firmly on the ground. But what if I wasn’t on the ground in the first place? What if it was more like sinking in a turbulent ocean and not knowing how to swim?
“But that’s the thing, Katie,” I moaned, resting my forehead on the guardrail. “There’s no distinction like that for me. Because I’m locked up in this globe every day, because if I were to ever get out there’s no telling what would happen. I just write it down, the stuff that the universe spits into my head. But what does it mean, Kate? What does it mean? Will I ever know?”
“I...I thought you knew everything,” said Katie dumbly. She walked up to me and put a hoof on my shoulder. I looked down at her sorrowfully.
“I wish,” I lamented bitterly. “I wish I didn’t. I wish I only knew as much as everypony else. This knowledge burns, and my sanity is the kindling.”
“I never knew, Princess Nexione,” gasped Katie at my pain. “Don’t you need help?” I smiled weakly at her, despite my all-time low.
“I don’t think anybody can give it to me,” I pointed out. “I mean, as far as we know, I’m the highest pony being in history...or am I?” I questioned, looking to my globe of crisscrossing lines.
“You are, aren’t you?” questioned Katie. Sometimes it was reassuring to see that there were sane, silly, uncreative ponies in the world.
“I don’t think I am,” I mused. I traced the surface of the globe for that one line--yes, there it is! The one that burned with all the colors of the vortex in my head. “You see that line there, Kate? The multicolored one that’s like looking into an exploding star?”
“What line?” demanded Katie, brow furrowing. I remember that Kate can’t see all the colors. She can only see a few separate shades. Rolling my eyes in mild exasperation, I leap up over the guardrail and fly over to the edge, putting my hoof on the line. The effort of looking at it this close made me squint. Katie nodded.
“What’s so special about it?” asked Kate.
“If you could see its color, you’d know,” I informed. I took off, following its zig-zagging trail that soared all across the globe. “But follow it with your eyes. It goes everywhere, all over the globe--even backwards. The closer the astrum, or event star, to the End Pole, the farther in the future it is. This line doesn’t care. It’s been everywhere and back again, and once in a blue moon--”
I came to an abrupt halt, as the line did.
“It just stops and reappears again a little ways away,” I remarked, seeing the line start up again a few inches away in a completely different direction. “As if there was an event that should’ve happened, or happened to it, but technically never did. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Does it ever end?” asked Katie. Steeling myself for the impossible, I soared up to Finis. I pointed out the line for her.
“There it is.”
Then I pointed to a line precisely across from it on the other side of the circle.
“There it is again.”
“But that can’t be the same line!” gasped Katie incredulously. “That’s impossible!”
“Well, it’s happened twelve times, so I don’t know what to tell you,” I said grimly, diving down to touch down on the catwalk again behind Katie. I looked back at her. “And every time, it continues on its merry way, going everywhere and doing everything. But the color, Kate, the color! It’s heartbreaking and breathtaking, beautiful and terrifying--beloved by all but hated by itself.”
“You can tell all that from the color of the line?” asked Katie skeptically, yet in awe. I pondered how to answer her for a moment. Not just from the color of the line, no. Every line has its own certain feel, its own special tragedy or comedy. I don’t know how I sense it, any more than I know how I manage to see colors that don’t exist in the spectrum of visible light.
“Yes,” I lied, still gazing up at the globe. “Thanks for the stalks, Kate. Could you go tell Luna that--”
I was interrupted when a furious, towering alicorn busted open the doors on the other end of the catwalk. Dropping my commonplace smile, I evenly gazed over at Princess Celestia as she stood furiously in the doorway. Meeting her burning gaze, I knew this was intended to be a private conversation--Celestia didn’t like to chew people out in front of others.
“Go make some phone calls, Katheryn.” I ordered quietly.
“I don’t have any to make, Princess,” she responded awkwardly.
“Yes, you do.” I contradicted, still holding Celestia’s gaze. Doing so was like staring into the sun, but Celestia had yet to learn that she really couldn’t faze me. Occasionally that was a subject of pride for me, but in reality it was just a sick reminder of my alien affliction. Katheryn obediently scampered off, Celestia moving out of her way. Kate’s gray unicorn magic shut the plain silver doors behind her. Then the bullets began to fly.
“Do you have any idea what just happened?” hissed Celestia, forging right up to my face and trying to be taller. She managed in getting an inch taller than me, but we’re actually the same height. Again, didn’t intimidate me.
“No,” I replied truthfully. While I transcended time and space in my own globe, I had little knowledge of current events outside of it. I didn’t care much for the present, it was too fleeting. You blinked, and it turned into the past. I scanned the constellations of lifelines, searching for and eventually locating Twilight Sparkle’s line. I traced it all the way up to a hoof-sized austrum, its name appearing unbidden in my head.
Star Swirl’s Spell Remedied
“Cadence’s wedding? The changelings!?”
No, not yet.
“Ah, yes, that!” I responded concisely, smiling a little as I turned back to look at Celestia. “Nice adventure, eh?”
“We could’ve been overrun by them!” burst Celestia indignantly at my apparent nonchalance. My face hardened again. Fine then, your majesty, if you don’t want to play nice, I won’t. But this version of the game isn’t nearly as fun. “What is the point of having you, Oracle, if you will not tell us about these things beforehand? How could you shrug off such a massive--”
“--event?” I finished for her, my horn shimmering. The catwalk lurched from under us, rotating on the invisible axis of the globe’s centerpoint. When it stopped again, there was another large austrum at the end of the walk, the end that used to lead to the doorway. Celestia had fallen flat on her face, though I stifled a giggle. Judging by the position of the doors, gravity should have been pulling us down the catwalk, away from the star. But this walk was enchanted with its own sense of gravity, if you hadn’t already noticed that. I walked up to the star, though the width of the globe made it a slightly lengthy walk.
“Because I don’t see things the way you do, Princess,” I drawled, pointing out the obvious that Celestia had so blatantly overlooked in her rage. “There was no mystery for me, like there was for you and everypony else. I knew all along that the Elements would prevail. I never stress or worry about tomorrow, because I don’t even know where the outside world is in relation to the universal timestream.”
“Ponies could’ve died!” she blurted desperately.
“No, there was absolutely no chance of anything happening that didn’t,” I corrected harshly, whirling unexpectedly on the princess. She startled backwards a little. “If you want to worry over little things like that, be my guest, but everything is so much less random than you think it is.”
“Little?” snarled the Princess, her moxie returning. “How is that little!?”
“Things are to come that will greatly overshadow the Changeling attack,” I prophesied ominously, losing my anger to nostalgic sorrow. “Emotionally and otherwise. This is nothing, just a small detour. A pony beloved by all will rise so high, and fall so much farther. The choice will be impossible. Whatever she chooses, you must live with it.”
“Is it...me?” queried Celestia, her eyes wide. She seemed so much smaller, now. Much more like Twilight. I sighed, shaking my head.
“I can’t tell you that, Princess,” I lamented sadly. “You know that. You wanted prophecy, and I gave it to you. Now do you see why my life is a nightmare?”
Celestia nodded simply. I began to move the catwalk again, though not as abruptly as I had the first time. The doors stood open, waiting for Celestia.
“Thank you for your time, Nexione,” she said courteously, bowing her head and turning to quickly trot out the door.