“Fluttershy!” A gruff voice shouted.
Her ears perked. Her head looked up from her book as she looked at the door. Fluttershy sighed and closed the book, then walked quickly towards the sound of the voice.
“Fluttershy!” The voice grew louder, more agitated.
“C-coming!” Fluttershy said.
Fluttershy dashed down the stairs, forcefully making her steps noisy. She stopped in front of a large door. The door was opened slightly. Fluttershy knocked at the door, but the last knock pushed the door, revealing the bookcases and messy study desk. Fluttershy received no permission to enter, but steeled her hooves and walked into the room with a tall posture. It was her study room as well.
The room was messy. Stacks of hardcover books littered the floor rather than the bookcases. Statuettes and models in the shape of birds and winged animals occupied the shelves. Perpetual motion trinkets and various papers covered the only desk. The chair was unoccupied.
Fluttershy’s eyes trailed to a parrot in its cage frantically flapping its wings. Its talons clawed and squawked cage handle in vain.
“Dad?” Fluttershy said, “did you want to see me?”
A figure moved behind the piles of bookcases.
“Come in,” her father said sternly, “have a seat.”
Fluttershy remained at the doorway. Any closer and her father’s parrot would have a fit.
Fluttershy heard the thud of tomes and her father’s whispered curses at the cramped space of the study. The parrot spoke the same pleas and used the same tactics to try and pry the door open. In all of her years, Fluttershy could not recall the parrot escaping. Even in old age, the parrot still yearned for freedom.
“Stop.” Fluttershy’s father said harshly. The parrot stood still and closed its wings.
“Now then, what’s this about nearly failing Basic Aerobatics? I thought you were getting better, not worse.” Her father asked. He didn’t bother to look up; he was too occupied looking for a book than he was looking at his daughter.
Fluttershy looked at the floor and took a step back. She was hoping for praise instead of criticism. Nearly failing was better than failing, Fluttershy thought. But her father always thought otherwise.
They were silent for a moment. Until her father dismissed her, she could not leave. Watching her father rummage through the same pile of books instead of talking to her became routine. Conversing over her failure at school became their greetings. She let her mind wander during the silence, which often meant looking at the framed pictures on the bookshelves.
“Mom told me you made a friend.” her father noted. He sighed as he pushed a stack of books aside. “It’s not in that section, then.”
Fluttershy shrugged. Her eyes were focused on a simple portrait of her family. She stood in the center of two willowy pegusai. Her mother was seated on an ornate chair while her father stood tall. Fluttershy sat in her mother’s lap as her mother’s hooves embraced her. Her father’s hoof rested on Fluttershy’s shoulder.
“She just stood up for me yesterday. She’s not my friend.” Fluttershy dismissed. She was too distracted to continue.
Fluttershy was young in the picture. She could barely remember that day, but she could still remember how genuine the smiles were.
“She’s loyal enough to be a friend. Loyalty is a sign that somepony cares for you.” her father said, “take a look at Drab: she’ll live longer than me, and when I’m gone, she’ll remember every single word I say. Drab will even listen to the commands when she says them.”
Fluttershy couldn’t help but smile.
A glint of light caught Fluttershy’s attention. She saw the reflection of the study. From the mirror, she saw nothing but an empty, organized room.
“Maybe we can talk another time,” her father said, “go back and study. You have a test tomorrow, don’t you?”
Fluttershy nodded at the stack of books through the mirror. She eyed Drab, the parrot. Drab was quiet for their entire conversation. Once Fluttershy had left the room, she would probably go into another frenzy.
The parrot’s beak moved.
“And Fluttershy?” Drab said in her father’s voice.
Fluttershy looked at Drab, and then back at the old photo. She wiped a layer of dust off with her hooves.
“Yes dad?” Fluttershy asked.
“You’re going to be a fine pegasus one day. Just keep trying, alright?.”
Fluttershy nodded. She placed the photo back on the bookshelf.
“I will.” Fluttershy said solemnly.
This is very interesting - I didn’t see the twist coming ‘til quite late, and it hit me hard. I like all the implications here about the relationship Fluttershy had with her father, and the foreshadowing throughout is well done. I think my favourite thing about this, though, is that it maintains a tense, solemn tone right up until the end - even when the scene playing out is revealed to be entirely different to what we thought.
It’s a powerful, well written piece - well done. :)