Formally Edited by: Clavier, Mr. Minimii and Apple Cinnamon
Edited by: Unnamed Pawn and First_Down
Thanks to Catnipfairy for her artwork!
... and then she and her new friends—who are calling themselves the Cutie Mark Crusaders now because they’re all blank flanks—had the nerve to take over MY party! It was my special day! My cutesnera! Everypony was supposed to focus on me!
And you know the worst of it? My Dad didn’t even show up. “Sorry, Diamond Tiara, I was busy with a conference in Manehatten. I’ll make it up to you.”
Like I haven’t heard that too many times. Ugh, this day has just been horrible. Those two other ponies, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, are now on the top of my list next to Apple Bloom. If they think I’m going to let them get away with what they did to me, they have another thing coming!
Apple Bloom sighed as she paused in her reading to drink a glass of apple juice her sister brought up earlier. Reading how she had turned her former best friend into a bully had all but ruined her appetite, so she settled for just staying in her room all day. Her siblings asked if she was okay, but didn’t pressure her too much, which she was thankful for. Sneaking the diary in without being caught was enough pressure already.
Upon arriving at her room, she had spent the next few hours reading page after page dealing Diamond Tiara’s descent into bullying. It was small at first: name calling, showing off her wealth, and an early one talked about how Silver Spoon tried to talk her out of it. However, Diamond convinced her that if everypony only saw them as rich brats then they had to be rich brats to protect themselves. That was all Silver needed to join in too.
Apple Bloom winced, growled, and even sniffed a bit as she read all the things that Diamond Tiara had done to her. Her bullying caused all her old friends to leave her one by one except Twist, either because they wanted to be friendly with Diamond Tiara or to save their own skins. It almost made her forget the earlier, more innocent diary entries.
Applejack told her a long time ago that some ponies were just nasty because of something happening to them long ago, and Apple Bloom wondered if this was such a case. She was torn between hating Diamond Tiara for taking actual glee in making her life miserable and pitying her struggles. It was clear that after all the horseapples she went through something snapped.
How long would she have done this though? Forever? ‘Till we were adults? Or until she just had enough herself? thought Apple Bloom, flipping the pages.
She didn't know what to think. Tiara’s funeral was in three days according to Big Macintosh. If Apple Bloom was going to say her final words to the deceased filly she wanted to go knowing the right words to say. And the only way she could do that was by reading the remaining entries until she had her answer.
Most of the remaining pages she focused on happened after she and her friends formed the Crusaders. Usually, it talked about Tiara insulting them or planning ways to make their lives miserable. Other times it was about the growing separation between herself and her father. The only times she ever really seemed to be truly happy was with Silver Spoon, who Apple Bloom had to admit was very loyal to Tiara and a good friend, and babysitting a few foals in secret. Apple Bloom and her friends had always assumed that most of the time Silver Spoon followed Tiara like a lackey and was only friends with her because she was richer than her.
But the two had a good and strong friendship. They had play dates, sleepovers, talked about the cutest boys in their class and other girl things. It was... normal.
Apple Bloom wondered if things had been different then maybe it would have been her and Tiara doing that. If I remembered...
And the fact that Tiara was taking care of babies? Didn't see that coming.
She continued looking through the pages for a more interesting entry until she finally found one:
Today has been... really depressing. Yesterday, Granny Smith came over for her talk during Family Appreciation Day. Everypony knows Granny Smith's been getting senile as she's gotten older. At first I thought about using her as a way to embarrass Apple Bloom. Nothing too big, and nothing personal against Granny Smith. I still remember when she used to bake cookies for me…
But then she gave her presentation. Turns out she was around when Ponyville was founded! I knew she was old but not that old! She even brought some zap apple jam with her, and dear Celestia was it good.
So, ok, that should have been it. My plan didn't work, not like I cared. Because Dad and I were going to spend time together today. After his performance at school he promised me. And then this morning he came and told me we were spending it at Sweet Apple Acres.
Ugh, I couldn't believe it! The one day I get to have with my dad and we spend it at the last place in Equestria I wanted to be! And of course everypony from school was already there, dressed in stupid bunny suits, bouncing around the stupid water cans. Maybe it looked like fun but it was still stupid. Dad just spent the entire time with Big Macintosh, forgetting all about me. But Macintosh didn't forget about Apple Bloom. Applejack didn't forget about her either.
The worst part though, the absolute worst, was when Apple Bloom saw me and asked me to join. Like it was nothing. Like I didn't hate her. I almost said yes. I think I should have said yes. It would have been so easy to do. Sitting here tonight I regret that I turned her down. Because seeing Apple Bloom and everypony else jump around like a bunch of silly ponies, it reminded me of how we all used to do this. I used to love zap apple season. I wanted to be four years-old again and hop around. I wanted to blow bubbles and catch fireflies and eat jam.
Isn't that what I wished for so long ago when I came back? It was like, for a brief moment nothing had changed. And then I saw that stupid grin on Apple Bloom's face and I rejected her. I couldn't stand that grin and I know why.
I'm jealous of her.
Apple Bloom spat out her apple juice and nearly choked before she reread what she had seen.
I'm jealous of her.
I shouldn't be but I am. Here I am, the best pony in school, with the money to buy anything I want. Except, I can't buy an afternoon with just me and my dad. I can't buy a hug from him.
Apple Bloom lost her parents but she still has her brother, her sister, and her granny. I have my dad who spends more time with his work than with me.
She has real respect in our class. I had to buy mine with money or fear.
But the thing I hate most... it's that she's a blank flank. Because I hate my cutie mark.
Apple Bloom never felt her jaw lower itself more than it did now.
My cutie mark is supposed to show that I'm good at modeling. Just like my mother was. Now, whenever I look at that mark, all I see is a reminder that she's dead. I'd give anything to be a blank flank again.
I'm going to bed.
Apple Bloom sat there in the dark for a long time, focusing on that one page that had blown her mind. Of all the things she thought Diamond Tiara felt, jealousy was the furthest thing from her mind. If anything, Apple Bloom was always a bit envious of how much wealth Diamond Tiara had; even just a small fraction could have helped out her family. Yet, she had to agree with one thing. If she could choose between all the money in the world, or her family, she would choose the latter every time. Family was everything to an Apple no matter who or what you were, and it was the same thing with her friends.
She briefly wondered how Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo were doing. It was obvious the two had some issues going between them but she wasn’t worried. They were good friends and cared about each other. Sooner or later they would make up. Although she had difficulty wondering what they would think if they saw what was in this diary as well. Sweetie Belle would want to know about Diamond Tiara’s past while Scootaloo would want to know what her thoughts were during all the times that they were bullied.
Apple Bloom blinked and then started flipping through the pages one by one. She wanted to find a specific incident that to this day still made her cringe: Gabby Gums. She closed her eyes in shame, thinking about how much hurt and anger she'd caused her siblings once they learned she'd helped make up those lies. They never spoke to her during that horrible time, except one time when Big Macintosh told her she should be ashamed. After the apology and reveal they had been blackmailed, the two instantly forgave her and apologized for their behavior as well. Nowadays, it was all water under the bridge, but it was still something that bothered her when she thought about it. Not because she had almost everypony in town hating her, but because she felt bad for hurting so many ponies.
So what was Diamond Tiara thinking during all this?
It’s been a single day since I’ve became editor-in-chief of the Foal Free Press. And I found my big hit that will make this paper the most popular newspaper in Ponyville. And believe it or not, it’s from those Cutie Mark Losers! They came up with this column called Gabby Gums and it’s a big hit. All the adults and foals are laughing and enjoying the juicy news.
Daddy says he saw the fruits of my success and says that I must have learned his management skills from him. Sebastian called me a chip off the old block. I’ve never seen my dad so proud of me before. I have to make sure this paper becomes the best thing since Daring Do.
Those three blank flanks better have good stories by tomorrow.
-Editor-in-Chief Diamond Tiara
Apple Bloom shook her head, questioning why Diamond Tiara was put in charge when it was known that half the students in their class had issues with her. Those that tolerated her or respected her said she was a strong leader, evidenced by her straight A's in group projects and heavy participation in school team sports. Diamond Tiara was always the leader in whatever group she was part of and they always achieved their success. Yet Twilight once told her that there was a difference between a “strong” leader and a “good” leader. It was clear by the next entry, two days later, that Diamond Tiara didn't know the difference.
Apple Bloom and her friends want to stop Gabby Gums. They claim the column is causing ponies too much grief. Well, so what? When has the news ever been kindhearted? Besides, those ponies didn't have any problems laughing at others, so long as it wasn't them being featured in the articles. Isn't that hypocritical?
I'm not going to end this column. It's the biggest success I've had in my life and my dad is finally paying attention to me. He actually said he was proud of me today. I'm not going to let him down.
Good thing Featherweight took those photos of the Crusaders as insurance, just in case. I admit he's kinda cute and has a complete crush on me. But I can do better. I'm not gonna date somepony who obviously just wants me for my wealth.
If the Gabby Gums thing really is going too far... I'll figure something out. Maybe I'll end it. Maybe. But what's the worst that can happen? It's not like anypony is actually getting hurt by it.
-Editor-in-Chief Diamond Tiara
Tiara would soon eat those words if the next entry had anything to say about it:
Curse them! Curse them all! Those stupid blank flanks revealed everything, even my insurance on them. I've never seen Ms. Cheerilee so angry before. She took my position away and gave it to Featherweight. Well, so much for that crush.
There was backlash once it was revealed I blackmailed the three to keep going, even after they wanted to stop. Ms. Cheerilee was gonna give me three months detention, but she cut it to one after I agreed to work at the lowest job for the Foal Free Press and apologize to those blank flanks. But that wasn't the worst part. So many ponies were glaring at me all day once word got out.
Ok, I told a couple lies. Who got seriously hurt? Besides, some of it turned out to be true, like the mayor dyeing her mane and Berry's drinking problem. Manehattan and Canterlot's newspapers do stuff like this all the time and they get loads of viewers without any problems. So what did I do wrong?
Ugh, this better blow over soon. Dad's coming home tomorrow so maybe we can talk then.
-Former Editor-in-Chief Diamond Tiara
Apple Bloom remembered the following two weeks as well. Diamond Tiara was pretty much ostracized by the entire town for her actions, seeing how all of it was her fault and hers alone. Nopony spoke to her in class or in the streets until she made a public apology and asked for their forgiveness, almost similar in the manner Apple Bloom and her friends did. It took some time, but soon everypony that wasn't a Cutie Mark Crusader eventually forgave her and things went back to normal. Scootaloo said seeing Diamond Tiara suffer during those two weeks was the best time of her life, and Apple Bloom even admitted she found some satisfaction seeing her arch-enemy endure the consequences of her actions.
She turned to the next page to read the aftermath.
Diary I... I think I made a mistake. I think maybe I went too far. Today... has clearly shown that.
My Dad, I've never seen him so disappointed. Almost like he despised me. He said it was despicable the way I forced Apple Bloom and the others to write lies about all our fellow townsfolk. He called it low, underhanded, mean and... other things. He even said... Mommy would be disappointed in me. When I try to defend myself he only said that just because others are doing mean things doesn’t make it right to follow them.
He says the reason he hates Canterlot is because most of the rich ponies there cheat or use underhanded tactics to earn their fortune. We’re not like that, he said, we earn our wealth fairly.
Ponies are still ignoring me and glaring at me like some monster. Even Silver Spoon, back from her aunt’s, has been cautious when talking to me. She said I might have gone too far. But come on! Everypony was reading it! Everypony was laughing at each other! Nopony cared until theywere the ones who were being talked about!
If I am to blame then they are too for being part of it!
...But maybe I did go too far. I... I learned I made some ponies cry. Like serious tears. Berry Punch was humiliated when it became known she was a drunk. Rumor has it social services are checking up on her and her daughter. Miss Rarity refused me as a customer, saying I was banished from her store until she said otherwise because of how I allowed rumors of her to spread and how I blackmailed her sister into making them.
Mr. and Mrs. Joyous were also angry at me when I attempted to babysit their son like I always did. They refuse to let me even look at their foal because they didn’t want him being involved with a manipulative liar. I stood on their stoop for an hour, crying and begging forgiveness until they told me to get off their property and never speak to them, or come near their son, again.
Everypony hates me. And... maybe I do deserve it. It wasn’t until I tried getting an apple from Big Macintosh that I realized it. He sold me an apple in silence until he said something that made me run away.
“What happened to ya?”
What happened to me? I don’t know... all I know I need to make this up. I’ll stop bullying others for now. It’s clear that it’s not gonna help anything anymore or keep me and Silver safe.
I have to apologize, maybe a public speech or something.
I wish.... I wish I never did this. I wish I never became what I am. But I can’t go back to what I was. I can’t go back to that crying, weak, nopony. This is who I am and who I have to be until I don't need it anymore.
I just wish I knew when that was.
“Apple Bloom! It’s time for bed!” shouted Applejack from behind her door, which made Apple Bloom nearly fall out of her seat in surprise. She quickly grabbed the diary and hid it in one of her draws just as Applejack came in. She raised her eyebrow upon seeing Apple Bloom trying her best to smile like nothing was wrong. “Y’all ok?”
“Y-yeah, just fine. Was about to head to bed. Night!” Apple Bloom leaped onto her bed and placed herself under the covers before shutting the lights off. She laid her head down on her pillow and started givin’ out snores while keeping one eye barely peeped open on her confused sister.
“Well, alright then. Sleep tight,” said Applejack before closing the door.
Apple Bloom sighed in relief as she opened her eyes and glanced up at the ceiling. That was too close.
She knew she couldn’t keep the diary here anymore. It was becoming too much of a risk. Plus, she still felt guilty knowing that she had pretty much stolen something from a filly who died recently and whose father would want to have in memory of her. Especially since.. it’s all my fault. Everything is my fault.
A few tears dripped down from her eyes as she brought her pillow close to her and hugged it. Diamond Tiara was her friend. A friend she had forgotten, abandoned, whose heart she had broken. She felt sorry for Diamond Tiara, and that was the honest truth. No filly deserved to lose their mother and little brother. No filly deserved to be bullied, even if they became one as well. No filly deserved to lose their once innocent self and become obsessed with hurting others to hide her own pain.
But most importantly, Diamond Tiara didn’t deserve to die. By me of all ponies... bitterly thought Apple Bloom as she glared outside her window. The stars were out tonight, mocking her as they shined in the darkness. Apple Bloom crawled over to her window and wished every single one of them would disappear. She wished they'd go away and never come back.
Ah’ll never wish on any of ya ever again! Even for a cutie mark! cursed Apple Bloom in her head as she went back to her bed and pulled the covers over her head, blocking her sight from all the stars in the sky.
But even as she kept her head hidden from them, her tears did not stop. Nor did her thoughts of Diamond Tiara.
The next morning, Apple Bloom made herself a simple breakfast of cereal before grabbing the diary and heading back to the tree house. She decided to take a look at a few more entries before taking it back to Rich Mansion.
She thought about what she had learned yesterday as she looked at the diary. It revealed so much of a pony she once thought of as a brat, bully, and horrible pony overall. It had revealed a side of her that Apple Bloom never knew existed. Somewhere inside that bully was a kind, lonely, and hurt filly who had been through so much. And the only way she had found to deal with that pain and protect herself was to lash out against others.
Apple Bloom would not deny Tiara's actions were contemptible. Diamond Tiara hurt her and her friends multiple times, all so she could feel good about herself. It was low, petty, and terrible.
Yet why am Ah sympathizing with her so much? asked Apple Bloom to herself. Was it because they were once close friends? Because she had suffered so much in life? Because she was loyal to Silver Spoon and loved foals? Or was it because it was clear all Diamond wanted was a loving family again, just like Apple Bloom’s? Maybe it was all that and more.
Either way, she needed to see more, something that would help her understand what ultimately Diamond Tiara was.
She flipped through the pages, finding nothing serious or important. Apple Bloom began to notice that less and less the crusaders were being mentioned except for a few small moments where she taunted them.
I saw Dinky Doo over by the swings this morning. It was too perfect at first: the nerd filly hanging out at school by herself on a weekend. I couldn't just leave that alone. I wasn't planning on taunting her too much, nothing more than what I usually do. Dinky's not somepony that ever really earned my reputation. Actually, she's very smart, maybe the smartest in class. It's weird to think about because her mom's a total klutz and always has that stupid wall-eyed look on her face.
Anyway, when I got to the swings Dinky was already crying. I thought about just leaving right there. It's no fun to tease ponies if they're already beaten before you start. And then I definitely thought about it after I asked what was wrong and she told me to go away. I still don't know why I stayed... but I'm glad I did. When I kept pressing she told me her dad died. He was a guard stationed near the edge of the Badlands, and he got killed fighting some bandits that were trying to sneak into Equestria.
Then she started crying again. She wouldn't tell me anymore. And I just stood there stunned, watching these big round tears slide off her face and add to the growing puddle beneath her hooves. I felt, I don't know, pity? No, it was more of an understanding. Like a kinship. I knew what all those tears meant. I mean, it wasn't just because she was sad that her dad died, that's only part of it. It's the realization that comes after, knowing that you still have keep going only you'll never get to spend another moment with that pony again. For the rest of Dinky's life, her dad won't be there to celebrate with her when something good happens. He won't be there to comfort her when something bad happens. It's just a part of you that feels empty, like a hole, a hole so big you could fall into it and become lost. I know what that feels like.
I did the only thing I could think of. I hugged her. I wrapped my hooves around Dinky and hugged as tight as I could. I was risking my entire reputation right there, but I couldn't help myself. All I could think about was how she had become like me. She cried harder for a bit and I tried to comfort her. Then we talked... just talked.
She kept looking at me with such confusion. I couldn't blame her though. Most of my classmates probably think I can't feel emotion. Snips and Snails even think I'm really some kind of robot. Weirdos.
But I get it, I do. That's not who I am to them. I'm not suppose to comfort blank flanks who have a freaky, klutzy mother. Dinky was expecting me to make fun of her, make her feel worse. I guess they really think I am capable of anything. But there's nothing funny when a child loses a mother or father or both. I may say a lot of mean things, I may do a lot of mean things, but there are lines you don't cross. ...Ever, you don't ever cross those lines.
If I really was that cruel, I would have made fun of Apple Bloom's parents a long time ago.
Apple Bloom's eyes widened as she tried to recall a time Diamond Tiara ever made fun of her parents. She came up with nothing.
I tried to give Dinky some advice, and then as I was leaving she asked why I don't show this side more often. She said I'd be more likeable if I did. I wonder about that. I've been the way I am for so long I sometimes forget why I do it.
It's pointless anyway. I've already created my reputation. I'm Diamond Tiara, the rich, bratty bully of Ponyville. It was going to be that way no matter how I acted, so I might as well enjoy it until I can finally leave this town. Me and Silver Spoon already have plans to attend an all-fillies school in Manehattan. We're gonna dorm there and find some way to stay in between school years, and then I can see this stupid town less and less. It'll be a place to start fresh and become the pony I want to be. Any pony I want to be. No more Apple Bloom. No more dad. No more bad memories. Everypony can forget me again, but this time I won't care.
I'm leaving this town one day and never looking back.
Apple Bloom remembered learning about Mr. Doo's death over spring break from Applejack. Dinky and her family had become reclusive during that time, and the funeral was private. There was no deathly pall hanging over the whole town like it was now with Diamond Tiara. There was no pervasive feeling of loss. Ponies talked about it for a day and then stopped. Apple Bloom remembered telling Dinky in school that she was sorry to hear her dad died. She remembered Dinky mumbling a half-hearted thank you, and that was the end of it. She didn't know Diamond Tiara offered her condolences as well and was far more charitable and understanding.
Although it really makes sense, thought Apple Bloom. She lost her mother as well. And if anypony knows that pain it’s her.
While Apple Bloom knew the pain of not having a mother and father, it was the actual loss that was alien to her. She barely had any memories, that was what made her sad more than the loss of them at a time when she was still in diapers. Diamond Tiara, however, easily remembered hers.
She really did have a good heart, buried in all that pain, thought Apple Bloom, who couldn’t understand why Diamond Tiara never showed it. If she had been this nice all the time like she was with Dinky then would there be any hatred between them?
Was she really that unhappy here? Apple Bloom asked herself. But why didn’t she try to change it? Or seek new friends? Ah would have been her friend!
Would ya? Or would ya think of her like a rich brat that y’all often call them nobles up in Canterlot? a voice asked Apple Bloom.
That’s different, replied Apple Bloom, biting her lip. Ah wasn’t like that!
Really? Remember the entry of yer fateful reunion? How ya ignored everythin’ she said because of what ya assumed?
My friends at the time lied to me! They were mah friends, how was Ah not supposed to defend them?
Didn’t Applejack always teach ya there are two sides to every story?
Apple Bloom shook her head and forced her inner conscious to leave her. Never had she felt more torn with herself than she did now. She quickly dived back into the diary, searching for another entry that would keep her head clear.
She read the first few lines of one entry and saw the word “changeling” on it. Apple Bloom’s spine shivered as the horrible memories from the invasion that fateful day echoed in her mind. She had been asked to be a flower girl for the Royal Wedding on short notice along with her friends thanks to her sister and friends. It was gonna be an awesome event until those horrible changelings appeared. They swarmed the skies, capturing everypony they could. Then they changed into other ponies to trick the real ones into trusting them until it was too late. She and her fellow Crusaders hid in her sister’s guest room throughout the whole thing, but they could see the invasion from the window and the chaos it brought.
Thankfully, they were all banished from Equestria and back into the Badlands, where nopony had heard from them since. No lives were lost and the wedding went off without a hitch. So why is this here? Diamond Tiara wasn’t at the wedding.
She read to find out:
He's alive! Oh thank the goddess he's alive!
Yesterday, Canterlot was invaded by a race of these bug things called changelings. I'd heard at the time they'd attacked during the wedding and almost took control of the city. But I didn't care about any of that. My dad had gone to Canterlot that day for business. All I could think about was him in that city during an invasion and nopony knew what had happened to him!
I ordered everyone to find out as much as they could about Dad. There were already too many rumors out there, too many scary scenarios. I think I'm still a little shocked even after...
I cried as I waited. I prayed too. I haven't prayed since Mommy and Golden Pockets died. I prayed for the goddess to let Daddy live. He's all I have left and I don't want to lose him. I don't care anymore if we argue! I don't care if he never spends time with me again! He's my dad! I love him!
When we learned he was hurt but alive, Sebastian and I rushed for the first available train. I didn't care that they'd temporarily suspended services and I would be arriving late. I didn't care about how much money it took to get to the front of the line. I didn't even care that I was riding second class. My dad's more important than any appearance. Sebastian tried to reassure me, but I couldn't stop worrying until we reached the hospital and then I saw him and I wrapped myself in his hooves and cried and I didn't want to ever let go.
We're home now but I'm still shaking. I can't believe I almost lost him. I can't believe that almost happened to me again. I don't know what I would have done if... I don't want to think about it really. When we were leaving the hospital I clung to him. I held on during the entire train ride too. It was only after dinner was served did I finally let go, but then I started crying again.
Daddy hugged me and told me he wasn't going anywhere, that he's always going to be there no matter what. I know that isn't true. He'll keep putting his work first, but I know, deep down, it's all for me. I don't care how little time we spend anymore. The fact that I still have him, and that he loves me, is enough.
I love my dad, no matter what. I'll always love him. Tomorrow he told me we're gonna spend the day together, just the two of us. I don't care what we do or where we go, just as long as I still have my daddy.
A knock on the crusader door startled Apple Bloom and she quickly closed the diary. “W-who is it?!”
“It’s Dinky! Can I come in?” shouted a voice from outside.
Apple Bloom went over to let the fellow blank flank, wearing saddlebags, into the clubhouse. Although she was not an official Crusader, she was still friendly and fun to hang out with. Dinky reached into one saddlebag and pulled out a large, rolled up poster with a rubber band around the middle. “I came to see you for something. Your sister said you were in your clubhouse.” She removed the rubber band and revealed a large crayon-colored poster showing Diamond Tiara, with wings and a halo, as she flew in the blue sky. It had the names of various students along the bottom that said “Rest in Peace, Diamond Tiara.”
“Some of us got together and made this poster for Diamond Tiara’s funeral. We’ve got half the class so far and we wanted to know if you wanted to write your name on it,” said Dinky.
“O-oh, sure,” said Apple Bloom as she walked over to get a marker. She carefully put her name down and nodded.
Dinky was halfway towards the door until Apple Bloom stopped her after she remembered that one entry. “Wait, Dinky! Did... did Diamond Tiara ever comfort ya after yer pa died?”
Dinky stopped and turned around, shocked. “H-how did you know about that?”
“Ah...” Apple Bloom hesitated. “Ah just learned about it is all.”
Dinky raised an eyebrow but sighed. “Yeah, that was the day after I learned my daddy died. I still couldn’t believe it, and I was so angry and sad that it happened. I was just... “ A small tear dripped down her cheek. “I didn’t want to be around anypony and just wanted to be left alone. But Diamond Tiara, she stayed with me for a long time, especially when she told me how she lost her mom. We talked about what it was like to lose a parent, and she told me that I should be with my family.” Smiling, Dinky turned to Apple Bloom. “Can you believe that? The same pony that made fun of my mom’s eyes because they were weird was the one who make me feel better. Weird, huh?”
"Yeah," said Apple Bloom, lowering her head. "Ah'm sorry Ah didn't do enough for ya back then. I know what it's like, ya know, not havin' a father." She winced after she said the words. It was a weak attempt then, and it felt that way again now. Apple Bloom wouldn't be surprised if Dinky took offense.
Amazingly, not only was Dinky unoffended, she reached out and touched her shoulder. "It's ok, Apple Bloom. Mom wanted it to be private. So did the military. There were a lot of ponies here that didn't find out until after."
"Is that why Ah only remember it bein' talked about for a day?" Apple Bloom asked.
Dinky nodded, "That and we didn't have it in Ponyville. Dad was on active duty in the service. They gave him a military funeral and burial back in his hometown. My uncle has owns a plot of land, so..." She trailed off, still uncomfortable about the topic.
"Yeah," was all Apple Bloom could muster up. Her head lowered more despite Dinky's comforting touch.
"I remember for days after, Diamond Tiara would come up to me and ask if I was ok," Dinky went on. "She called me a blank flank too. She still teased my mom's eyes, but she always asked. She was there if I needed to talk."
That got Apple Bloom to finally look up. "Ah don't get it. Ah'm learnin' about all these nice things she used to do, but then she still made fun of ya. How come she wasn't just nice to begin with?"
“I don’t know. I said a lot more of our classmates would be friends with her if she showed the same kindness she showed me.” Dinky huffed. “The first time, all she said was she was too far down the road and just walked away.” Holding a hoof close to her heart, Dinky closed her eyes and smiled. “So I want to thank her by showing her just how many of us could have been her friends. That’s why I made this poster for the funeral.”
Apple Bloom couldn't help but feel a bit of jealousness towards Dinky and anger towards herself. Dinky barely knew Diamond Tiara and was only close to her because of one incident. Yet she was making something for the funeral and doing something for Diamond Tiara. And what about me? Ah was her best friend once. What have Ah done? Apple Bloom then bit her lip. Then again, all of this is mah fault... with that wish...
“Hey, your family is friends with the Rich’s, right?” asked Dinky. “How is Mr. Rich doing?”
“He’s...” Apple Bloom felt her throat dry up, trying to come up with words that could explain the state that she last saw the poor father in. “...not doin’ well.”
Dinky frowned and shook her head. “I can’t imagine. To lose his only child like that? He must feel like everything in his world has just been shattered into pieces.” Apple Bloom did her best to hold back her tears and screams by biting her lip and closing her eyes. She tried not to think about the fact that his world had shattered because of her, that she had made one wish that changed all their lives in a single moment. As if sensing Apple Bloom's growing discomfort, Dinky walked over and put her hoof on the filly's shoulder, only to have it roughly shrugged away. “Hey? Are you okay?”
“No, Ah’m not okay!” screamed Apple Bloom as Dinky backed up in shock. Letting herself fall to the floor, she asked, “Please... leave me alone...”
Dinky didn’t say anything. She slowly made her way back to the clubhouse door and left without a sound.
Apple Bloom had faced a lot of scary things before. After all, this was a town where monsters sometimes attacked, where Nightmare Moon was revived years ago. It was next to the scariest forest in the world—a place she visited more often than she liked—and recently an ex-evil spirit of chaos visited the town.
And yet now, the most terrifying moment in her life was knocking on a door. The diary was in the pie bag she brought, but she didn’t bother hiding it anymore now that she was intent on giving it back and telling Mr. Rich everything. Including the wish.
She wondered how he would take it, knowing that she was responsible for his daughter's death. Would he lash out against her? Hit her? Have her arrested? Each thought made Apple Bloom shiver more and more, but she still refused to run away. Applejack told her that if you made a mistake you had to pony up and face the consequences of that mistake. Apple Bloom was determined to face whatever punishment was deemed necessary. Anything so she could finally sleep in peace again.
After what seemed like half an hour, she finally managed to knock on the door. A minute later a butler opened the door and tilted his head. “Can I help you, young miss?”
“Um, mah name’s Apple Bloom and Ah was wonderin’ if Ah could speak to Mr. Rich? It’s about... Diamond Tiara...”
The butler’s eyes widened a bit before lowering into a sorrowful gaze. “Yes, I see. Please come inside. I shall fetch Master Rich.”
Apple Bloom bowed in thanks before entering the household a second time. She looked around and saw that it was still the same as before: clean, sparkling, and filled with fancy decorations and objects. Yet the house still held a cloud of grief hanging overhead, like all the treasures in the world were now as meaningless as the rocks in the earth.
Apple Bloom set the basket on the floor while she waited at the front of the door. The butler excused himself to find his employer. She decided to take a closer look at the paintings and photos that were hung up on the wall of the grand hall. Each one was a masterpiece, created by artists of the highest caliber from all over the world. Some of the names she even recognized from her trip to the Canterlot Museum this fall. Next to those were portraits of the family, ranging from its ancestors to its more recent members.
There were also smaller framed photos of events in the Rich's lives, from birthdays to holidays and other special memories. Apple Bloom didn't recognize many of the ponies in them, but she knew they were all related to Diamond Tiara in some way. She continued scanning the row until she came upon one of the smallest ones, nestled between two larger photos. When Apple Bloom focused on it, her eyes did a double take.
It was her and Diamond Tiara, much younger, covered in mud while smiling for the photo. She stared at it for a long time... and suddenly it came back to her...
“Rawwr! Ah am the great and mighty Apple Mud! All shall tremble before me as Ah take over the world!” cried out little Apple Bloom as she stomped around the mud hole the family pigs usually played around in. “Who can stop me?”
“Roar! Not so fast!”
Apple Bloom gasped and turned around as her best friend and fellow mud monster stomped towards her and reared back, lifting her forelegs over her head. “You think the dirty and terrible Diamond Dirt was going to let you rule the world before she could?! Fool! I shall beat you.”
“Over mah dead body!” cried out Apple Bloom, grinning. “Ah ain’t gonna lose to a rich pony who still sleeps with a night light!”
“At least I was potty trained faster, little baby!” shot back Diamond Tiara.
“That’s it!” cried Apple Bloom, and she quickly went back to growling. Their roars quickly became laughter as both fillies ran around the pigpen throwing mud at each other. Soon they were covered in enough mud to make any clean freak have a heart attack.
Both foals grabbed a large pile of mud and smiled. “Next one to get hit loses?” asked Diamond Tiara.
“Deal! Nowthinkfast!” cried out Apple Bloom, throwing her mud ball. Diamond Tiara gasped and threw hers just as fast, resulting in them both getting hit in the chest.
“Ha! I won!” shouted the other before narrowing their eyes. “No! I did!”
“Ah think what ya both won is a bath.”
Both fillies turned around and saw Applejack walking towards them with a chuckle. “Now, about ya dirty little foals head on up towards the back of the house so we can hose ya down before ya take a proper washin’?”
“Awwww, can’t we play in the mud a bit more, Big Sis?” asked asked Apple Bloom, pouting.
Applejack rubbed her chin a bit before smiling. “Okay, ten more minutes. But ya gotta let me take a photo of ya two rascals.”
“Yay!” cried both foals when they saw Applejack head back towards the barn.
Diamond Tiara turned to her friend and said, “Thanks for letting me stay over at your place! It’s so much fun!”
“Anythin’ for mah best friend!” said Apple Bloom cheerfully.
Tiara blushed. “I’m... your best friend?”
“Of course!” said Apple Bloom before she was given a mud hug by Diamond Tiara.
The two foals laughed as they soon wrestled each other to the ground and continued to enjoy themselves.
The memory came to her like a bolt of lightning, striking her brain mercilessly. She remembered this moment as well as others. Like seeing a familiar face after a long absence, she began to remember the times she'd shared with Diamond Tiara: the joy and laughter; the adventure and fun. It was all coming back to her now.
Diamond Tiara... her best friend. And she had abandoned her. She murdered her. She forgot her.
The last of her resistance crumbled and Apple Bloom fell to her knees and wailed.Her cries of loss echoed throughout the mansion, scaring the servants who could not help but feel their hearts tear upon hearing such mournful sounds. Rivers of water fell down from her eyes, never stopping, with each drop of water born from a precious memory now found. Apple Bloom pounded the ground over and over again, screaming out loud in grief and anger.
She screamed her name. Diamond Tiara. Diamond Tiara. Diamond Tiara. Her first and oldest friend in the world.
When Mr. Rich heard Apple Bloom's cries he raced over to the grand hall as fast as he could. Rather than balk at the sight, he gathered her into his hooves and embraced her tight. The servants watched from a distance while he did his best to comfort the distraught filly, gently shushing her and stroking the back of her mane in a fatherly display.
“I’m here, Apple Bloom,” whispered Rich as a tear dripped from his eye. “It’s okay... let it go.”
And her cries continued...
Apple Bloom felt both wet and sick when she woke up. Groaning, she raised herself off the couch and wiped the tears that were still fresh in her eyes. Did Ah... cry myself to sleep? she asked herself, sitting straight.
She felt both embarrassed and ashamed of her breakdown, yet she knew it could happen again just as easily. Ah remember... Ah remember everythin’... thought Apple Bloom. Or at least she remembered enough to know just how close she and Diamond were. It only further hammered the guilt that she had forgotten after all these years. Ah called her mah best friend. Ah cried when she moved away... and Ah forgot her and spit in her face when she came back...
Apple Bloom wanted nothing more than to crawl into a rock and hide, but at the same time she wanted to throw up. Maybe she would do both.
“I see you're awake.”
Apple Bloom turned to her left and saw Mr. Rich walking towards her from the dining room. He looked much better since the last time she saw him. He was still appeared tired and his eyes were bloodshot, but at least he had made an effort to wash and groom himself. He sat down next to her on the couch and sighed before glancing to the glass table in front of them. Apple Bloom saw the diary right there in the middle and gulped.
She lowered her head in shame before whispering. “Ah’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” said Mr. Rich, rubbing her back. “I take it you read it?”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Ah was... comin’ to give it back and to... to... apologize...”
“For taking the diary? Apple Bloom...”
“No... for killin’ Diamond Tiara.”
A deadly calm settled in the room. In that moment, nopony dared to breathe. Finally, she whispered. “That night... Ah made a wish for somethin’ bad to happen to Diamond Tiara... and it came true.” She closed her eyes as she poured every every ounce of regret she had into her voice. “Ah didn’t want her to die. Ah’m so sorry, Mr. Rich. Ah’m so sorry!”
It was over. She had done it. She told the stallion whose daughter was dead the truth. Relief finally entered her heart as the guilt began to fade. Whatever happened next, she would live with it. Jail. Exile. It was all finally over.
She tensed when Mr. Rich took her gently by the shoulders and forced her to look at him. She slowly opened her eyes and saw neither anger nor tears. But sympathy. “Apple Bloom... you didn’t kill Diamond Tiara.” Apple Bloom’s eyes widened as he continued. “Diamond Tiara was hurt by an accident. She died in surgery just as the sun was setting, long before any stars could be seen. My daughter died in surgery at 5:13PM. It's a time that will stay with me forever.”
5:13PM. She made the wish at 6PM.
“That means...” Apple Bloom whispered.
“You’ve done nothing wrong,” whispered Mr. Rich as he hugged her. “Don’t blame yourself...”
Never before had Apple Bloom been so happy to hear such words. A few tears came down, but no more. She hugged Mr. Rich as she whispered, “But Ah still hurt her. We were friends. Ah hurt her by forgettin’ her... she became a bully because of me.”
“No, Apple Bloom. That fault is mine,” said Rich, breaking the hug. She looked into his eyes and saw shame and age in them. “My daughter’s attitude was all my fault. I neglected her, I didn’t spend enough time with her or show my love...”
“Not since yer wife and baby boy died?” asked Apple Bloom.
A sad smile spread across Rich’s face. “Yes. When they died... I felt so... lost. So hurt. I missed my wife so much. It was all I could think about. I ignored my own daughter because I was in too much grief even though she was suffering just as much. I should have been there but...” Rich closed his eyes and shivered. “May I confess something I never told anypony before?”
Apple Bloom nodded.
“...I was afraid of my daughter,” said Rich, taking a deep breath as tears leaked down. "She looked so much like Crystal that I couldn't stand it. Just seeing a glimpse of her face and I would start to think of my wife. I kept my distance from my own daughter, because I couldn’t stop crying every time I saw her. It was like a ghost was in my life and I couldn’t get rid of it.” He wiped his eyes. “I loved Diamond Tiara. Goddess as my witness from here to the end of time, I loved her. But I couldn’t stand looking at her. What kind of father am I to do such a thing?”
“Is that why ya sent her to that there camp?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Yes,” answered Rich, nodding his head. “I thought with some time alone I could fix myself. I stopped drinking at least and saw somepony to talk to. And I was able to bring justice for my daughter and Silver Spoon when I learned what had been happening to them; another mistake I had to live with.” He sighed, “But even then I couldn’t always be around her. I focused on working. Working was what kept me sane. I tried to spend as much time with my daughter as possible, but even then I was still too afraid.”
He raised his eyes above, as if he was imagining some deity looking down at him. “And so this is my punishment. My daughter died because and I was a terrible father.”
“That’s not true!” cried out Apple Bloom sitting up on the seat. “If Ah’m blameless for her death then so are you! Ya didn’t hate your daughter! Ya loved yer daughter, and she loved ya back!”
Mr. Rich snorted. “I doubt it.”
Apple Bloom narrowed her eyes and got the diary. She flipped over to the entry about Diamond’s worry for her father and shoved it in his face. Rich was surprised at first but soon read it. His eyes widened as far as they could go. When he finished he placed a hoof over his mouth and closed his eyes. “Oh, Diamond... my sweet little Diamond Tiara.”
Apple Bloom reached out and held his hoof. “Mr. Rich... Ah think... Ah think neither of us are to blame. Ah don’t think it was the will of a god or goddess or whatever runs this universe. It just... happened.” Apple Bloom sighed. “Ah don’t know, maybe Ah’m wrong.”
“No,” answered Mr. Rich, closing the book. “You’re right. This isn’t our fault. It just was Diamond’s... time. At least she is at peace.” A sigh escaped his lips. “I just... don’t know what to do with myself now. I have nothing left. Nopony understands what I’m going through.”
“Ah do,” said Apple Bloom, getting him to face her. “It’s different. Diamond Tiara was mah friend, not mah daughter. But Ah’m still sad she’s gone. Ah’m gonna miss her despite our problems. Ah... Ah forgive her, Mr. Rich.” She hugged him back. “Isn’t it better to cry with friends then to cry alone?”
Mr. Rich hesitated but hugged back. “Yeah... it is...”
The two hugged as Apple Bloom felt a kind of serenity grow in the place where she'd hid her guilt over the past few days. Nothing she could do now could change what has happened. Diamond Tiara and their friendship had ended on a sour note. But she could fix it by honoring her and remembering her as a friend now and forever.
“Apple Bloom,” said Mr. Rich with a true smile. “Thank you. You’re right. I’m not alone. If anything, seeing you and everypony else mourning my daughter makes me realize that.”
“We’re gonna help ya, Mr. Rich. Yer like a brother to mah brother, so that makes ya family in mah eyes,” said Apple Bloom, smiling back. “And ya don’t ever abandon family.”
“Yeah... I’d like that...”
By the time Apple Bloom arrived home it was already late afternoon. She and Mr. Rich had talked some more, about Tiara and each other, with promises that they would be each other’s rock. He also promised to talk to ponies more. It was clear he had a long road ahead of him, but Apple Bloom was sure that she, her family, and all of Ponyvlle could help him. Ah guess if Ah’m callin’ him family, Ah should call Diamond Tiara mah sister.
And she had no problems with that.
Diamond Tiara was her bully, but also her friend. An old friend. And while they would never apologize, never make up, and never be friends again, in this world at least Apple Bloom could make things right by forgiving Diamond Tiara. And maybe herself as well.
She entered the living room and saw her brother reading, Granny napping, and sister making some knots with her rope. “Ah’m home.”
They each gave her a greeting before she started making her way to the kitchen for some water. She stopped as a thought came to her, and her face slowly turned to one of determination. She turned around and marched back into the living room.
“How did Ma and Pa die?”
At once all three of them were staring at her, eyes wide open.
“Apple Bloom, ya don’t need to—”
Apple Bloom stomped her hoof and glared at her sister. “Yes, Ah do need to know. Y’all told me everythin’ about them except how they died, and Ah want to know. Ah know it’s sad, Ah know it’s painful, but Ah just lost mah oldest friend this week. Ah’m pretty sure Ah can handle it.”
“No! We never talk about it! And every time we get close y’all either ignore it or push the talk in another direction. Ah don’t want no lies or secrets or anythin’! Ah’m their youngest daughter and Ah want to know how mah parents died.”
Big Macintosh got up and made an effort to leave, but Apple Bloom blocked him. “No, we’re gonna do this as a family.”
Big Macintosh tried to say something, but Granny spoke first. “Macintosh... sit down. She’s right.”
“But Granny!” shouted both elder siblings with looks of fear and sorrow.
Granny Smith raised her hoof and looked at Apple Bloom with both wisdom and pride. “As of this moment, yer youngest sibling has become a real mare. And she is right. It’s time we finally talk about that day. All of it. Together. And we’re gonna move on from it. Together.”
Both Big Macintosh and Applejack looked ready to argue, but quickly sighed in defeat. They knew when Granny Smith spoke in that tone, her words were to be obeyed or else.
And so they sat down and talked...