When two very different cultures collide, it can feel like an unstoppable force hitting an immovable object. Today’s story brings us a glimpse at one of the ponies caught in the middle.
A Faded Touch Of Blue
[Romance] [Sad] [Slice-of-Life] • 13,990 words
[NOTE: This story contains sexual themes.]
Moxie gazed over the stallion in front of her, as the crowd stared at them in turn. Fellow nobles, dignitaries, and her parents had all gathered here, in the balmy mansion of her birth, to witness this occasion. The final words had been said, and they were now officially husband and wife. But she was not happy; this was not her wish.
She ran her hoof down the lock of blue hair entwined in her mane. Her whole life had been decided for her, everything coordinated to the tiniest detail. What she had learnt, how she spent her leisure, who she knew, whose company she enjoyed, whom she had pledged herself to, everything… except the one trip she had taken to Canterlot without the permission of her parents, that is. The glimmering blue strands linger as a testament to her last free action…
FROM THE CURATORS: This is a story about consequences. Most stories create a series of circumstances that force the protagonist to make choices; this is one of the rare inversions where the main character’s major choice already occurred, and the tension is in seeing the ways that choice spreads out to impact everyone in the rigid, hierarchical culture around her.
One of the story’s strongest features is its nuanced portrayal of that supporting cast. “I was consistently impressed by how the author neither took the easy way out and made Saddle Arabia the ‘bad guy’ of the story, nor simply played the cultural relativism card and wrote off serious issues as ‘just the way they do things there,'” Chris said. Horizon agreed: “For all that her culture has hurt her, it’s still a culture full of ponies who want to do the right thing in the only way they know how.”
Most of us felt that the central moral question of the story was presented with similar finesse. “The fact that the reader is left to decide if the hope at the end is real or just another name for resignation (or both) really made this one stick with me,” Chris said. While our voting for this story was the most polarized we’ve seen out of any of our features, what tipped the balance was Tofazz’s willingness to tackle those questions without flinching: “This is one of those rare stories that feels important,” Present Perfect said. “It feels bigger than me.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Tofazz discusses the speed of names, the theft of dreams, and the evolution of cultures.