Today’s story is a look at love and loss, teetering on the brink between eternity and oblivion.
Where Have The Stars Gone?
[Drama] • 2,871 words
What does it mean to be immortal? Celestia has lived for too long. Her memories are old. She has seen many ponies, and many places, and many times, and many stars, and many dreams. She wakes one night to find she does not know the ponies and the stars of today from the ponies and the stars of any other day she has lived. She no longer knows what was real and what was only dreamed.
She desperately searches for the one pony she knows could not have been a dream.
FROM THE CURATORS: This story starts with a compelling premise — “expanding on Celestia’s emotional depth is such fertile ground for storytelling,” as Bradel put it — and then went on to impress us on two different levels.
The first was the skill of its craft of the emotional tone. “This is a really intense, tightly-worded look at immortality and the relationship between Celestia and Luna,” Present Perfect said. Chris “found the story moving on its own merits … it’s an intelligent look at the pain of forgetting.” And Bradel found its depth inspirational: “There was a moment in this story that made me want to write some non-pony stuff pretty desperately … that alone is enough for a feature.”
Horizon, while dissenting, found another reason to appreciate it. “You guys are sitting here chatting about the story like it’s some character piece, when it’s really one of the freakiest existential horror pieces I’ve read in the fandom,” he said. “You know everything you appreciated about Alabaster? This is a piece on that forgetting, from the inside, exponentiated by happening to an immortal aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”
Read on for our author interview, in which HoofBitingActionOverload discusses eggs in the rock basket, and the benefit of picking grey as a favorite color.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m just a sexy guy writing sexy stories about (sexy?) ponies. When I go to bars, I order the cheapest, grossest, wateriest beer they have. I lie when it’s more convenient or more fun than telling the truth. I once [REDACTED] in a public restroom. A lot of times I wonder why other people don’t realize how utterly beautiful the world is and how remarkable it is to be alive.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
It’s the very first thing Pinkie Pie says in “Griffon the Brush Off.”
Hey, we can’t all be original.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I don’t understand picking favorites. It doesn’t really answer the question, but Rarity and Rainbow Dash are the best characters on the show. They have the most going on under the hood. They have the clearest, most well defined goals. And more often than any of the others, their goals bring them into conflict with their relationships with their friends. That makes them feel the most real, and it makes them the most interesting to play with.
They’re the most enjoyable to watch, too. Rainbow Dash because she’s a self centered jerk who’s actually a selfless sweetheart. Rarity because she’s ridiculous and theatrical and campy, but still completely genuine all of the time.
I like the rest of them, too. Pinkie Pie because she’s alive. Applejack because she’s good. Fluttershy because she’s scared. Twilight…
Well, I don’t care much about Twilight, anymore.
She’s good at magic, I guess?
What’s your favorite episode?
I really don’t understand picking favorites. On a conceptual level, it’s just bizarre. For every category of thing in the world, we pick just one thing in that category to enjoy more than every other thing in that category, regardless of their differences. It gets especially weird when people start trying to pick favorite colors and favorite animals.
But I also knew a guy once whose favorite colors were grey and brown, and that was even weirder. He wasn’t much fun to be around. He lost his virginity before I did, though. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.
“May the Best Pet Win.” Not for any particular reason. It’s a fun episode to watch. Lots of silliness. Lots of Rainbow Dash being a stupid jerk. And I can’t think of anything bad to say about it, which is downright amazing.
What do you get from the show?
Enjoyment and fun. Some sweet bits, some funny bits, occasionally some sad bits, but then happy bits soon afterwards.
It gave me characters to write about and a world to write them in, and it gave me an audience that actually reads what I write. That’s the incredible part. People are actually reading what I write. How amazing is that?
Most importantly, though, it’s given me stories about ponies having sex with each other. And I honestly don’t know what kind of life I would be living if I didn’t have those. A hollow, unhappy kind of life, most likely.
What do you want from life?
Living, the simple act of being alive, is all that matters. Eat, drink, shit, piss, sleep, fuck, cry, laugh. Life is fascinating and extraordinary because it can be hateful, angry, ignorant, prejudiced, and stupid like nothing else in existence. Nothing else out there cares enough to actually jump through all the bioelectric hurdles necessary to actually hate other things. Being aware and conscious is an incredibly rare and wonderful gift. Most of those particles out in the universe never get the opportunity. I just want to realize it, to know what a special walking, talking, thinking clump of dust and gas we all are, and to preserve it. To hold it close for a long time.
I’m also a little hungry. I guess I’d like a sandwich. Just a little one, though, because I’m just a little hungry.
Why do you write?
Oh, the same reason as everyone else, I suppose. It’s fun. I want attention. I have stories I want to tell. I think it might make other people happy. I think it might make me happy. I want to be good at something. I want to be remembered. I want to be thought of. Other people seem to enjoy what I write. I seem to enjoy writing what I write. I want followers. I want to be published. I want to write a classic. I want to write a Great American Novel. I have things I want to tell people. I know things I want other people to know. I want to be smart. I want to be praised. I needed a hobby. I was having an existential crisis. I want to win. I want to win contests. I want to win awards. I want to be better at writing than I am now. I want to be a better writer than my peers. I want to be a better writer than everyone. I want to be a better writer than my brother. I want to be a better person than who I am. I want to be better. There are things about my life I want to figure out. I want to live through the characters I write. I want to do things in writing I can’t do in real life. I want people to tell me I’m good at it. I want to see a book I’ve written sit on a library shelf. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people feel. I want to make people think. I want to enjoy writing. I can’t stop. I don’t know what my goals really are. I don’t understand myself sometimes. Other times I wonder if anything could ever be worth the amount of disappointment and frustration writing makes me feel. I want to create something beautiful. I want to add to the world’s beauty. I want to show people how beautiful they are. I want to be alive. I want to leave something behind when I’m not. I want to please my followers. I want to please myself. I want to be satisfied. I want others to be proud of me. I want to be proud of myself. And because writing is fun.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Ask someone else for advice.
I guess I should probably try to think of something useful to say…
Realize that you suck. It’s the first step. You can’t improve at something if you don’t know how much you need to improve by. It’s hard to realize how bad we are at writing. We created something. We’re proud of it. We don’t want to accept that it’s terrible. It is, though, but it can become better. But it can only become better if we know that it needs to be better.
Pick out your favorite book, open it up, and compare your writing to its, side by side. See what the difference is between the two. Think how you can make your writing look more like that writing.
Emulate your idols. Read your favorite stories. Ask yourself, why do I like this? What makes this good? How did they do that? Write your answers down (write it down!). Try to do what they did, try to do it how they did it. When you’re finished, compare your writing to theirs again, side by side. Then do it all over again. Remember that there’ll be plenty of time to figure out how to do your own thing later.
A number of readers felt this story could use a Sad tag. Why did you make it Dark?
No tags fit this story very well. Personally, I thought it should have been Slice of Life, because this is a slice of Celestia’s life. But this is a lot heavier than what I think most people expect from a Slice of Life tag. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they’d been mislead.
I didn’t tag it Sad because making readers sad was never a goal I had while writing it. I didn’t write it to be sad, I didn’t think it was sad, and I didn’t think that was a feeling it could ever provoke in anyone who read it. I’m genuinely very confused as to why some people actually did find it sad. I’m genuinely very confused by most people’s responses to this story.
I tagged it Dark because it’s… not happy…
It’s a bit of a somber look at what immortality will inevitably do to a person’s mind, and what our own aging will likely do to us. Dark made sense.
Are Celestia’s confused memories a symptom of her longevity, or do they indicate some underlying mental affliction?
I don’t think there’s anything in the story to suggest that it’s a result of mental illness. Celestia’s far too cognizant for it to be anything like dementia. The most accurate description of her condition would be like that guy in Slaughterhouse-Five, she’s “come unstuck in time.” Except in Celestia’s case, she isn’t literally traveling in time. She’s just not sure where in time she is.
If Luna has the same problems, how long can they go on supporting one another?
Are they supporting each other?
If you’re lost in a storm at sea, and you grab onto a rock because it’s the only stable surface you can find, can that rock really be considered to be supporting you? It didn’t have any say in the matter. If there’s a person clinging to it for safety, it won’t even notice. Rocks are dumb that way.
But I guess if that rock started breaking apart in the storm, too, you’d be pretty screwed. There’s always the possibility of a wave cracking your skull against the rock, too. Putting all of your eggs into the rock basket is probably inevitably going to result in yolk spilling down your corduroy pants. Which is probably for the best, because corduroy pants are gross.
Are we sure it wasn’t all a dream?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you replace Applejack’s I’s with Ah’s, I will kill you. I will rip your face off of your face and strangle you with it.
This guy who goes by the name of Silvernis has willingly suffered through every single one of my keyboard pony farts for the past year, and I am immensely grateful to him. Every one of those keyboard farts has been made better through his influence. He’s a great writer, too. Look him up.
Grenader has suffered through a lot worse than just pony farts, and has been a constant support in my writing and through my many manic episodes. I am extremely grateful to him as well.
I’d also like to thank Titanium Dragon for hating this story, even if it wasn’t for the reasons I wanted him to. Someone had to hate it, and that someone shouldn’t be me.
You can read Where Have The Stars Gone? at FIMFiction.net.