[Note: This was written last night for FIMFiction, the repository for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic, to which I have contributed one story and several pertinent bloggy posts. For some reason, it fits into the general pattern of recent Vents, so it's here.]

The subject here, at least at one level, is a story called Grief by LunaUsesCaps. If you haven't read it, please do. I can wait.

I left a comment to this effect: "At some level I wasn't sure I had, this scares me. If your next question is 'Was this story effective?' the answer is 'More than you probably imagined'."

And then I went back and read it a second time, thinking I might have overreacted earlier.

I hadn't. I think it's Dash's flat monotone, which Twilight didn't read as a signal of Something Terribly Wrong and which I don't think I would have read either, were I confronted with a similar situation. And then I berated myself for my blindness and insensitivity.

You should know that it's been nearly a quarter of a century since I stood on the sort of precipice from which Dash took her own life. In the end, a shock to the system and one cosmic joke I don't even tell anymore, because nopony ever believes it brought me out of despair and into simple despondency, which allegedly is easier to manage. It would be fifteen years before I saw enough of an upturn to pronounce myself more or less out of it. And I wonder: did I give off any signals? Could somepony have read the symptoms beforehand? And if so, would it have made a difference? I am no closer to answering those questions today than I was back then.

Smokey Robinson once began a song "I don't like you / But I love you." On one level, I hate this story and wish I'd never seen it. Deeper down, I know it will stay with me, no matter what the future may bring. Few stories not just fanfic, but any stories in any genre in any tradition you might care to name have this much effect on me.

She wanted to die. For the first time in her life, Twilight wanted to die. She was too overwhelmed to maintain any form of stability, and that scared her. When she tried to imagine her future, she saw nothing. She couldn't picture it. It was black and empty...

The copy editor in me wants to complain about the structure of this paragraph. But that's just a diversion he's throwing up to keep me from crying.

The Vent

  19 August 2012

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 Copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Hill