Twilight sparkle walked through the shopping district of Ponyville, humming. She was enjoying her time here, despite her initial misgivings. She had the day to herself, Spike was busy cataloging books in the library, and she had no prior engagements. So she just walked around town, looking in all of the colorful shop windows, and watching various ponies walk by.
She passed Rarity’s shop when she suddenly heard a noise.
“1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.” the sound bounced out from behind the doors.
Twilight stopped, listening to the numbers.
She poked her head through the doors.
“Rarity?” She called.
“Rarity!” Called Twilight, louder.
The counting continued. Twilight ventured further into the shop, looking at all the designs and patterns her friend had layed out. The sound grew louder as she neared the shop’s rear. A small door leading to Rarity’s creation studio.
“Rarity! Do you hear me?” Asked Twilight again, getting slightly annoyed.
She peeked her head through the door.
The white and purple unicorn dashed around a beautiful ornate dress in the center of the studio in a blur of fabric, stitching and lace.
Every few seconds she’d mumble to herself.
“65,66,67,68,69.” Rarity kept counting, oblivious to Twilight’s presence. “71,72,73,74,75,76,77,78.”
Rarity paused and looked a around wildly at the now completed dress.
“79!? What kind of a number is that to have!” She screamed to herself. “It’s so, untidy!”
She ripped the dress from it’s mannequin.
“No, no, no, no no! It won’t work!”
Rarity dragged it to a large metal machine in the corner of the studio. All too late did Twilight realized it was a furnace. She reached out with a forehoof.
Rarity tossed the dress sending it sailing into the fire. There was a distinct smell of burning fabric as the once lovely piece of clothing burned.
Rarity turned around, looking distraught.
“Oh, hello Twilight.” She said realizing she was there. She tried to primp a little with her hooves. Attempting to make herself presentable. “What brings you here?”
Twilight stood in the doorway with her mouth agape. She shook herself out of her stupor.
“Rarity, why did you destroy your beautiful dress? It looked like you put so much work into it...”
“Oh that thing?” Rarity looked around. “Um..well it was nothing, you see I’m making a gown for Princess Celestia, and it has to be perfect!”
Twilight looked the unicorn up and down. “But I’m sure the Princess would have loved that dress, even if not, you certainly didn’t have to destroy it. Are you okay?”
“Okay?” Rarity put a hoof to her chest. “Why, Twilight, I’ve simply never felt better. That dress was just, um, a warm up! Yes, it didn’t really take me all that long to make. Only around fifteen hours is all.” She waved a hoof in the general direction of the furnace. “Not worth your time to worry yourself over.”
None the less, Twilight was worried.
“Why were you counting earlier?”
“Me, counting? Oh, it was nothing much, dear, just counting the sequins along the dress. The number has to be perfect.”
“Seventy-nine isn’t perfect?” Said Twilight.
Rarity winced visibly “No, not at all, it’s all wrong, all wrong, it isn’t even, it isn’t symmetrical, it’s just a simply hideous lump of a number.” she rambled. “Let’s not speak of it again.
“Ooohkay.” said Twilight uneasily. “Look Rarity, you look tired, how about we go for lunch?”
“Oh, a simply marvelous idea!” Rarity replied, her eyes’ lighting up the way only her’s could. “I know a lovely place down by the fountain.”
And at that, Twilight found herself being dragged out of the shop and down the street.
“Ah, hello my good colt.” Rarity said, fluttering her eyelashes at the waiter. “We’re ready to order, what would you like, Twilight?”
Twilight was sitting at the opposite end of the table gasping for air from the run down here.
“I’ll take *Gasp* a daisy salad *Gasp* with hay.”
“Very good, madam.” Said the waiter. He turned to Rarity “And you?”
“I’ll take the Dandelion Cul’du’mar with grape leaves thank you.” She replied.
“Very good mada-”
“Oh, but make sure the dandelion has only 44 seeds and that the grape leaves still have at least one-third the stem left, cut in half the long way.” Rarity interrupted.
The waiter floundered a bit. “But madam w-”
“Please?” she implored, fluttering her eyelashes again.
The waiter looked more flustered than ever. “But of course madam.”
He stalked back to the kitchen, a bit faster than necessary.
“Rarity, are you sure you’re alright?” Twilight tilted her head to the side, sizing up the white unicorn.
“Oh, Twilight, as I told you, I’m fine, stop your worrying.” She had begun to fiddle with the flowers in the centerpiece. “I’m really feeling quite well.”
She shifted the flowers.
Two to the left, one to the right.
One to the right, two to the left.
Two on either side, one in the middle.
The one in the middle kept falling to one side, and she constantly tried to correct it.
“Rarity?” Twilight asked.
Rarity continued fiddling.
Two to the right, one to the left.
Rarity was deep in concentration, becoming flustered as the flowers would not be organized. Suddenly, a forth flower came down and shifted itself to the left.
Two to the right, two to the left.
She looked up at Twilight, who held several flowers in her mouth.
“Our food is here.”
Rarity looked and found her food sitting in front of her, the waiter looking mildly proud of himself.
“Oh,” she giggled uneasily. “Thank you, Twilight”
The purple unicorn watched Rarity as she ate. She worked from the left side of the plate, towards the right. Not leaving a scrap of food.
“Ah!” Rarity sighed. “See, Twilight? Did I not tell you this was a great place?”
“Yes, yes you did.” Twilight looked oddly at her friend. “Look Rarity, is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Why, whatever do you mean?” Rarity asked, staring at her from across the table.
“Well, I, it’s just, oh never mind.” Twilight said, resigned.
“Good.” Rarity said nodding. “Check please!”
The waiter walked up, “Your check madam.”
“Thank you waiter.” said Twilight, reaching for her saddlebag.
“Oh no darling!” Rarity yelled. “Please, let me pay!”
Twilight looked up. “But Rarity, I’m the one who invited you, it wouldn’t be right.”
“Oh never you mind dear.” Rarity’s horn glowed as a wallet floated from her saddlebag. “I’ve got it covered I’m sure.”
Various gold and silver pieces floated from the wallet, arranging, and rearranging themselves into various groups.
“Let’s see, I’m sure I had a copper piece somewhere...” Rarity mumbled.
“It is quite alright madam, I have change.” Said the waiter, tapping a hoof.
“No, no, no, I’ve got it, just wait sir.”
The coins arranged, and arranged themselves again and again.
“But, Rarity,” Twilight pointed out. “you’ve got two silver pieces right there, that should be more than enough for lunch.”
“No, no, no!!”” Screamed Rarity. “It’s not right!!”
The waiter and Twilight took a shocked step back. Rarity noticed saw their reaction, the money fell to the floor.
“I’m sorry.....it’s just...I have to go!”
She turned and ran out the door a sob echoed back.
“Madam!” The waiter called. “Come ba-!”
He was cut off as two silver pieces shoved themselves into his mouth. Twilight collected the fallen money, and dashed out the door after Rarity.
Twilight heard sobbing as she entered Rarity’s shop for the second time that day. She followed the sound as she slowly walked back into the studio.
She found the white unicorn sobbing next to the furnace, mannequins knocked over at all angles.
Rarity looked up, but upon seeing twilight, she buried her head again, and resumed sobbing.
Twilight wrapped a forehoof around the sobbing pony.
“It’s alright Rarity. It’s alright.”
“No, no it isn’t, it’s all wrong, it’s all wrong!” Said Rarity through the wracking sobs.
“Yes, yes it is, I think I know what the matter is.” Twilight said softly.
“Y-you do?” Rarity risked an upwards glace at her friend.
“You have a disorder, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Rarity’s eyes welled again, and she buried her face in Twilight's side.
“How long?” Twilight asked.
Rarity held her sobs back as she tried to explain.
“A long time.”
“It was spring, and I was little. Playing with some Friends near the Everfree Forest. It was lovely there. We were playing catch, and one of them threw the ball my way. It bounced into the forest, and being so little, we were afraid. But I thought myself a big pony, and I said I’d go get it.” She paused, sobbing again. “I went in looking for it, and in no time, I was all turned around. All the Forrest looked the same, so dirty, dense and unruly. I was lost for a day and a half. No one came for that long.”
“Oh, Rarity.” Said Twilight.
The Unicorn broke into a new bout of sobbing. “Everything was so dark, I couldn’t see, there were branches everywhere. In my mane, in my tail. Like they were trying to pull me in. There was no place I could rest, no place for me, no bed, no food, no friend. Nothing was right, everything was out of order.” She sniffed. “I just wanted things to be in order, to make sense. A road, a light, anything, that made sense. I just want things to make sense.”
Rarity couldn't finish as the crying over took her. Twilight sat with her for along time as she cried herself out.She slowly rose to her hooves drying her eyes.
A small bag floated towards her.
“Here” said Twilight. “I picked up your money.”
Rarity sniffed. “Thank you, Twilight.”
“You’re welcome. Now, why don’t I help you with that dress?”
Rarity managed to chuckle. “They way I’ve seen you make things? Not a chance.”
Twilight’s face fell.
“But I suppose you can hand me the sequins.” Rarity smiled.
“That I can do!” said Twilight nodding. “I’m very good at keeping count!”
They both laughed and went to work.