Today’s story looks at some big problems.
Each Small Step
[Equestria Girls] [Romance] [Drama] [Slice of Life] • 13,137 words
[Note: This story contains themes of sexuality and self-harm.]
It’s been a long time since the Battle of the Bands, and a lot has changed for Aria. One of the bigger changes has been Sunset Shimmer. The two of them were never supposed to happen, but they somehow still did.
Not that it matters. Nothing good ever lasts, not for Aria Blaze.
FROM THE CURATORS: While stories like last week’s feature draw emotions from MLP by playing the show’s themes straight, there’s also a great deal of power in going the other direction — colliding the show with real life to show characters with all-too-familiar struggles. And this Honorable Mention in the recent Sunset shipping contest left us all feeling a little punched, in the best way. “This hit close to home, and it was really a tense marvel to sit through,” Present Perfect said in his nomination, while Soge was likewise drawn in: “Even when going through slice of life scenes, there is this undercurrent of tension to the prose, as if everything could break apart at any moment. It is this well-constructed web of people doing the precise wrong thing at the wrong time, because that is just how they operate.”
Most of our discussion became praise for the way this illustrated its protagonist’s problems. “The moment we see Aria’s state of affairs in this story, it’s obvious she’s suffering from depression,” Present Perfect said. “It also quickly becomes obvious she has no idea what that really means; ergo, the word is never once used. Instead, we’re shown a long, painful snapshot of a woman self-destructing.” AugieDog agreed that was exemplary: “As someone who’s never experienced anything close to this level of depression, I find myself so glad that fiction just plain exists,” he said. “This story does such a fine job of showing rather than telling, too, not trying to explain Aria’s situation to me but just plain putting me inside her head to let me see the world as she sees it.” And while the story goes to some dark places, it never abandoned pony’s sense of hope and friendship. “It was a great choice to never come right out and say ‘Aria is depressed,’ and I did like the message — you don’t have to go it alone,” RBDash47 said.
Moreover, digging into the meat of the fic revealed depth beyond that solid portrayal. “There’s some clever prose which brings the full weight of the emotions to bear,” Horizon said. “Although Chapter 1 is arguably the biggest train wreck, the callback at the end of Chapter 2 is exquisitely painful.” That plus exemplary character work rounded out the experience. “I think this might’ve been the best Sonata I’ve ever read in a fic,” AugieDog said. “In just one conversation on the telephone, the author brings her completely to life — I mean, I totally want to read about her and Trixie’s adventures now.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Krickis discusses open worlds, messy ships, and misspelled rabbits.