Today’s story takes us on a journey beyond Sombra’s door to remind us that the scariest villains are often the ones inside our heads.
[Sad] [Dark] [Slice of Life] • 10,788 words
What Spike saw in the doorway of King Sombra’s crystal palace hasn’t left his mind. The fear of Twilight abandoning him haunts him through recurrent nightmares. Anxiety taunts him when he’s at his most vulnerable, reminding him of all his failures, all his inadequacies, all his wounds.
One night, this fear and anxiety manifests itself in a full-blown nightmare, dragging Spike face-to-face with his greatest fear: What if Twilight never needed Spike in the first place?
FROM THE CURATORS: One of the core strengths of Friendship Is Magic is its unapologetic sincerity — taking a premise designed to pitch moral lessons (and sell toys) to young girls, and imbuing it with a depth and richness that holds adults’ attention too, without ever forgetting its roots. The notion that friendship literally is magic, and that it holds a power relevant to our own lives, is fundamental both to the show and the fandom surrounding it.
Anxiety examines that core premise through the lens of its adult audience — Spike is suffering from problems that will be all too familiar to some of us. “It’s a great look at anxiety attacks, low self-esteem, and the mental blocks that can come with those to keep sufferers from seeking help,” Present Perfect said, and Bradel agreed: “This tallies really well with my experience of depression.” The beauty of the story is that it still holds true to FiM’s core message in a relevant and honest way: Spike is in over his head, as it can often seem to those who live with mental illness, and it’s togetherness and understanding that will save both him and us.
What impressed us was not only the authenticity of the topics and emotions, but also of Anxiety’s characterization. Chris found Spike well-done: “Too many authors turn Spike into a grown up. … Spike’s reactions feel real precisely because he acts like a frightened kid.” Bradel agreed, also pointing out that “Spike characterization is always hard, since he resides in this weird, nebulous middle ground between child and adult.”
Finally, the strength of Anxiety’s closing message was singled out for praise. “The talk by Twilight at the end of the piece just knocks it out of the park for me,” Bradel said. “It really sticks the landing.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Bad_Seed_72 discusses forgetting, Best Pony surprises, not being alone, and forgetting.