Rainbow Dash took a deep, refreshing breath of air as she stood at the edge of her home in the clouds. She'd taken extra care to ensure the weather was set just perfectly and now she had the rest of the day to herself. She slung her saddle bags across her back and fished out two small pieces of paper from inside. They were tickets to the Wonderbolts exhibition that was set to take place at the Cloudiseum in Cloudsdale that afternoon. She tucked the tickets back into the bag and quickly checked the rest of what she'd packed, which included some refreshments to enjoy during the show and a pair of sunglasses just in case the sun was a bit too bright where her seat was located. Satisfied that she had everything in order, she took flight and began heading for Fluttershy's cottage with the intent to invite her timid friend to join her for the show.
Dash was roughly halfway to Fluttershy's home when she heard what sounded like sobbing coming from behind a nearby cloud. There was plenty of time before the show would begin, so she changed course to see what was going on. She was surprised to find Ditzy Doo, one of Ponyville's mail mares, hiding behind the cloud and looking terribly dejected. Dash knew Ditzy well enough, though she wasn't part of the usual circle of friends she hung out with. Still, she hated to see ponies she knew upset for any reason. She approached the blonde-maned, gray mare carefully so as not to surprise her.
"Hey Ditzy," Dash said cheerily to announce her arrival. Ditzy looked around and, after spotting Dash as she landed on her cloud, she scrambled to her hooves and rubbed her eyes fiercely to try and get rid of her tears.
"Oh, hello Rainbow Dash," Ditzy replied, sounding far more glum than Dash ever remembered her being. "If you're looking for any mail you're missing then you'll need to ask somepony else. Today's my day off."
"I'm not worried about any mail, Ditzy," Dash assured her. Ditzy had a reputation for being a bit unreliable when it came to her mail deliveries, but it was nothing that had ever bugged Dash before. "I am worried about you, though. Why're you up here crying?"
"Oh…you heard that," Ditzy said, now seeming even more upset that she'd attracted such attention. "It's no big deal. Nothing I've never dealt with before."
"If you're trying to get rid of me you could do better than that, Ditzy," Dash told her.
"It's nothing somepony like you should worry yourself about, Rainbow Dash," Ditzy said, turning away from her. "And I don't want you wasting time on somepony like me. I'll be fine, really."
Dash pursed her lips and approached Ditzy again, looking her squarely in her reddened eyes.
"Okay, enough," Dash said gruffly. "What's this all about? Ponies like me? Like you? I'm used to hearing you talk about weird stuff, Ditzy, but this is just nonsense. What's gotten into you?"
Ditzy tried to avoid Dash's gaze, but the rainbow-maned Pegasus was nothing if not persistent. Ditzy finally sat back down and sighed heavily, realizing she wasn't going to be given a choice here.
"I was heading to Sugar Cube Corner to pick up some muffins for me and Dinky to have for breakfast for the next few days," Ditzy told Dash, studying the fluffiness of the cloud she sat on while she spoke. "I had just set out from home when a couple of other Pegasus ponies stopped me. They were a couple of ponies I know from my mail route, and they weren't happy about how I do my job. They…they said some pretty mean things to me."
"Like what?" Dash asked as she sat across from Ditzy.
"They called me things like…dumb. And useless. And…well, a lot of other things I'd rather not repeat."
"It's okay, I can probably guess," Dash said, inwardly feeling her anger rise.
"But the worst part was…then they said the same stuff probably was true about Dinky," Ditzy said with a few sobs interrupting her as she forced the words out.
"They did not!" Dash said in shock. Dinky Doo was a unicorn filly. More importantly, she was Ditzy's daughter, and Dash knew the mail pony cared for her more than anything in the world. Ditzy just nodded to Dash to affirm that it was indeed true.
"I'm used to ponies saying this kind of stuff about me," Ditzy told her, "but Dinky's nothing like me. She's smart and pretty and she's gonna grow up to be a great pony someday. I know I mess up a lot of stuff, but I try my hardest to do right by her. Hearing other ponies talk down about her…I just can't take that."
Dash was of half a mind to ask Ditzy who the ponies were who'd upset her so much so she could track them down and give them a piece of her mind, but remembered Twilight telling her once that revenge is never a good idea. She took a moment to calm her anger while Ditzy tried to get control over her emotions again.
"I'm sorry, Rainbow Dash," Ditzy said, still sobbing a bit. "I didn't mean to upset you too. I flew up here thinking nopony would see or hear me like this. I'll be okay, really I will. Just forget about all this and go enjoy your day."
"No way!" Dash said resolutely as she stood back up. "Nopony deserves to be treated like that, especially you Ditzy!"
"I'm nothing special, though," Ditzy said, still intently examining the cloud beneath her. "Not like you."
"Are you kidding?" Dash asked her. "Ditzy, you're just as special and important as I am, or anypony else for that matter."
"But Rainbow Dash, you're an amazing flyer," Ditzy said, finally looking up at her. "You won the Best Young Flyer competition. You're in charge of Ponyville's weather. You really are an amazing and important pony. I'm just a mail mare. There's nothing special about me."
"Hey, I admit I've done a lot of cool stuff, but there's something you do every day that's way more amazing than anything I've ever done," Dash told her.
"What's that?" Ditzy asked, truly curious about what Dash meant.
"You're somepony's mother," Dash said, smiling at her. "And you give it your all to make sure Dinky grows up right. No number of Sonic Rainbooms could ever compare to that in terms of awesomeness."
"You…really think so?" Ditzy asked, unsure of how serious Dash was being.
"Absolutely," Dash told her emphatically. "And what's more, you really shouldn't let other ponies make you feel like this just because you mess up from time to time."
"I know I shouldn't, but it's not easy when I'm so different from everypony else," Ditzy said as her eyes slowly drifted to their usual wall-eyed position.
"Tell me about it," Dash said, immediately identifying with Ditzy's sentiment.
"But Rainbow Dash, you're cool, not different."
"Heh, you kiddin'?" Dash asked as a half-smile creeped onto her face. "When I was a filly I got talked down to all the time."
"Really?" Ditzy said in disbelief.
"Oh yeah," Dash said, rolling her eyes. "For one thing, I used to be a major klutz. Well…I still kinda am for that matter. I may be good at flying, but landing still isn't my strong suit. It earned me the nickname 'Rainbow Crash'. I only ditched that after winning the Best Young Flyer Competition.
"And then there's this," Dash added, brushing her forelock with one hoof. "You have no idea how much I've been hassled over the years for the color of my mane and tail."
"No way!" Ditzy said in amazement. "Your mane is beautiful!"
"Thanks, but a lot of ponies out there think it's really weird," Dash told her. "It's part of who I am, though, and I'm proud of it. Ponies who'd judge me without knowing me aren't worth my time. The same goes for you. I mean, you don't really know these two ponies who insulted you, right?"
"I'm familiar with them, but I wouldn't call them friends," Ditzy admitted.
"And do they know anything about Dinky?"
"You know…as a matter of fact, they've never met her."
"Then why should you care what they think of you?" Dash asked rhetorically. "They're just a couple of jerks who want to make themselves feel better by picking on somepony who's different. Different isn't bad, Ditzy. It's not necessarily good either, but it's who you are. You should be proud of who and what you are, and remember that only the ponies who really know you are the ones whose opinions should matter to you."
"I…I never thought about it like that," Ditzy said, nodding in agreement. "Thank you, Rainbow Dash. I really feel a whole lot better now."
"I'm glad to hear it," Dash said as she trotted to the edge of the cloud. She stopped for a moment and looked back at Ditzy. "Hey, you said today's your day off right?" she asked.
"Well, yeah," Ditzy said. "Why?"
"I happen to have two tickets to see the Wonderbolts in Cloudsdale today," Dash told her. "You wanna come with me?"
"Me?" Ditzy said in surprise. "But…wouldn't you want to go with one of your friends, like Fluttershy?"
"If you came with me, I'd still be going with a friend, right?" Dash asked, smiling warmly at her.
"Rainbow Dash, I…I'd like to, but I can't just leave Dinky alone all day," Ditzy said, a hint of regret in her voice.
"I'm pretty sure kids get into the show for free," Dash told her with a wink. "We can swing by Twilight's house and get her to use her cloudwalking spell on Dinky so she can come along. I might even be able to sneak her in to meet the Wonderbolts face-to-face."
"You'd do all that for me?" Ditzy asked in surprise.
"Of course I would," Dash told her. "I may not know you all that well Ditzy, but I do know you're a good pony and I think I'd like to get to know you and Dinky a little better. Besides, something tells me you'd enjoy the Wonderbolts more than Fluttershy would anyway."
"Well, if you're sure, then…I'd love to go!" Ditzy said excitedly.
"What're we waiting for, then?" Dash said, spreading her wings. "Let's stop at Sugar Cube Corner to get those muffins first. Then we'll head to your place and pick up Dinky, get her all ready to visit Cloudsdale, and have one totally awesome day!"
Ditzy smiled and took off flying, only to feel a tug on her tail moments after she took off. She looked back down and saw Dash had grabbed her tail in her mouth. Dash quickly let go of her tail once she had her attention.
"Uh, Ditzy?" Dash told her as she pointed in another direction. "Sugar Cube Corner is this way."
"Oh, heh, I knew that," Ditzy said with a laugh as she changed directions in mid-air.
"Yeah, uh, you're still going the wrong way."
Dash shook her head and flew up alongside her. "Just stick close to me, 'kay?"
"Okie dokie!" Ditzy said cheerily. "Hey, Rainbow Dash…can I consider you a friend now too?"
"Absolutely, Ditzy," Dash told her with a smile. "I'd like nothing better."
That day would go down as one of the best days Ditzy could ever remember. She got to see the Wonderbolts with her daughter Dinky, and Dinky even got to meet Spitfire and Soarin' and get their autographs. But more than anything else, it was a great day because she had gained both a new sense of confidence in herself and a fantastic new friend who would always be there for her.
Every once in a while a story idea comes along that while it's perhaps not the most original or significant, it's something you simply have to write anyway. This is the case with this short story, and if it perhaps seems a bit tame it's because my original intended audience for this story is not the brony fanbase. Rather, it's my own daughter.
Yes, believe it or not, I really am a parent. My profile bio here says as much. My oldest is my daughter, and it is through her that I was introduced to the show since I make a point of watching everything my kids watch. My daughter is also a high-functioning autistic child. Despite her social awkwardness she is a bright and beautiful young girl who I love immensely. Yesterday (at least it was yesterday as of the day I originally wrote this) she had a fairly rough day after being insulted to her face by one kid at her summer day camp, being punched in the leg by another, and having three of her five pet fish die.
The concept for this story came to me as I drove to work, and I burned through the writing pretty quickly. I printed it out and it was my daughter's bedtime story tonight. She enjoyed it quite well, and that was enough for me to know that I'd done a good job here. So now I'm sharing this story with everyone else. I'm not expecting rave reviews, but I do hope you find it enjoyable. Thank you for your time and consideration.