FimFiction Link - Short ID: 509804/pedestal-of-stone
Published: Jan '22
'Pedestal of Stone' is a five thousand and five hundred-word oneshot. In the near future the CMC is teaching at the Friendship School. The idyllic everydays, however, are suddenly broken by an unexpected event that throws a wrench into the three friends' dynamics.
While the story does feature some events from the late-seasons, it's first and foremost still a character-drama about three ponies we're familiar with. I find the story's base conflict engaging: Friends becoming separated, not due to some villain or anything even overly extraordinary, but rather to - at the end of the day - fairly mundane events is a theme I think many readers can potentially empathize with. Sweetie is probably the best choice of the trio for depicting an event like this, as her emotional personality both allows her to express herself in varied ways, but also gives the author an excuse to turn her into something of an unreliable narrator. Not that this fic would likely "fool" anyone, while it does spell things out fairly directly in the end, even in the beginning it's already fairly clear that it's not the world that's in the wrong here, but SB. I'm also glad that while the CMC falls apart, ultimately the story's moral is that you can climb out of even the deepest holes. A bittersweet ending like this plays far more into the themes of growing up by neither deluding itself by claiming that everything will always work out fine, nor wallowing in claiming that everything in life inevitably turns to shit.
However, as much as I'm able to praise the concept and much of the execution, the fic for me felt a bit rushed. I think this is due to the author skipping long stretches of time between Sweetie's recollections, which sadly have the side effect of making it seem and feel like their friendship went sour overnight, which is exactly the opposite of what the story tries to tell us. Also, while obviously everyone reacts differently to events, it felt a bit bizarre to me that instead of AB (or anyone else from the Apple-family) properly telling Sweetie that her presence is not needed, they just slam the door in her face figuratively and literally. Perhaps this is part of the unreliable narration and the reader is supposed to interpret this as SB overreacting, but I personally didn't really feel this way.
Overall: 6/10 There is much to like about this fic, including its concept and the mostly-realistic approach it takes to a fairly painful part of life. However, I feel like its impact could've been made even stronger by dragging things out just a little bit more. Still, if you like sadder fics and S8-S9 content isn't an immediate dealbreaker for you, I can recommend it.