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by A_Cloud

In the late morning, Applejack was leading her friends down the main street of Ponyville. “What’s this big surprise you’ve got on the farm?” Twilight asked.
“If I told ya, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise now, would it?” Applejack answered.
“Oh, I hope it isn’t something scary,” Fluttershy whimpered.
“You know I’d never do that to ya,” Applejack said.
When they reached the entrance to Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack stopped. “Alright, here’s where it gets fun. Look over there at the corn field.”
The ponies looked for a few moments. “I got nothing,” Rainbow Dash remarked.
“Yes, dear, I’m flummoxed,” Rarity admitted.
Applejack huffed, “Oh, c’mon, don’t ya see it?”
“I’ll just take a closer look,” Twilight said. She trotted toward the golden corn field. “Oh, I see it, it’s impressive! It’s hidden so well.”
The rest of the ponies followed. They gave gasps of wonder.
“A maze, in your field? How marvelous,” Rarity exclaimed.
Fluttershy cowered behind Rainbow Dash. “You said it wouldn’t be scary,” she moaned. “The last maze we were in was scary.”
Applejack walked to her friend and put a hoof over her shoulder. “I’m not making anypony do anything, but I’d appreciate it if you’d try. You don’t have to do it alone.”
Rainbow Dash spoke up, “Stick with me. We can figure this out together.”
Applejack returned to the entrance. “The first pony out gets a free mug of apple cider!”
“Alright!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.
Before Fluttershy could think, Rainbow Dash grabbed her and flew with a fury through the opening of the maze. “Wait! Slow down!” she pleaded.
Rainbow Dash halted. “Sorry, I just got excited.” She set Fluttershy down and they pondered where to go.
Fluttershy stared at the walls of stalks around her. There were lattices with roses, orchids, and fruits hanging from them. Lawn gnomes and reflective balls lined the path.
“Wow,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.
They walked with caution through the maze, peering through every path to verify whether it was a dead end. Each new path brought something different. Some of them had newly planted saplings. Others had sunflowers along the way.
Rainbow Dash broke the silence. “You know Fluttershy, this isn’t like Discord’s maze. We have our wings this time. We could, you know…”
Fluttershy cut her off. “No, I’m not cheating, not on my friend.”
“I really want that cider,” Rainbow Dash replied.
“And we’ll get it the right way. I thought you were better than this.”
“I know, I know. I’m just excited. I know we’re gonna win.”
They started walking again. After a few minutes, Fluttershy noted something. “I think I’ve seen this part before. We’re going in circles. Oh no!” She cowered by a wall of stalks, eyes closed. “We’re lost!”
“We’ll get out of here,” Rainbow Dash comforted her, “We just have to backtrack. Stand up.” She attempted to lift her friend, but Fluttershy wouldn’t budge.
“Look, I know this is scary. If you want to give up and fly out of here, I’ll go with you,” Rainbow Dash continued.
Fluttershy opened her eyes. “No, Applejack would so disappointed if we quit now.” She stood up. “I can do this.” Fluttershy took a few deep breaths. “It’s just a maze. It’s just a maze.”
“That’s the spirit!” Rainbow Dash said, sweeping her hoof through the air.
After several minutes of walking back their path, Rainbow Dash recognized a part of it. “Hey, we’re back on track. Now let’s go through this one,” she pointed at a different way than they had taken before.
“Rainbow Dash, how are you never scared of being lost?”
“It’s not that I’m not scared. I don’t like being lost, but there’s nothing here that can hurt me. Besides, it’s fun.”
“But how are you always confident?”
“I’m not always, though. To compete like I do, especially as a Wonderbolt, I have to believe that my practice, training, and skill will lead me to victory. The truth is I’m always doubting myself.”
“I don’t know if I could do that.”
“Oh, sure you can. Look at how you handle animals. Your experience gives you the confidence that you know how to treat them.”
“I guess. I’m still scared, but I’m glad you’re here.”
They wandered in silence, staring in awe every different decoration that Applejack had set up. They arrived at a fork. “Do we go left, or right?” Rainbow Dash asked.
Fluttershy was silent. “Okay, I say left,” Rainbow Dash trotted away.
“Wait!” Fluttershy exclaimed
Rainbow Dash stopped and turned around. “What is it?”
Fluttershy pointed behind Rainbow Dash. Rising out of the wall was the head of a scarecrow, the rest of the body hidden within.
“You’re afraid of this?” Rainbow Dash flew to it and smacked it with her hoof. It flopped over. “Applejack’s just trying to scare us.”
Fluttershy sighed. “It worked.” She started forward, staring at the ground as she passed the scarecrow.
After a few moments, still staring at the ground, she spoke up “Have we passed it yet, Rainbow Dash?” She was met with silence, only the breeze rustled through the leaves of the stalks. She raised her head and looked around. She was alone.
Fluttershy dropped to her haunches and cowered under her wings, sobbing. “Where did she go? How could I have done this?” The answer was the wind.
Several minutes passed as she felt hopeless and frightened. She remembered What Rainbow Dash had said about the maze. Nothing could hurt her here. She also recalled what Rainbow Dash had said about being confident in what she knew. “I know plants and animals. I can do this. I have to do this. I’m not going to get anywhere by hiding.” She arose and studied her surroundings. The path turned to the right. She followed it.
“I wonder why I haven’t seen anypony else. This must be a big maze.” She turned another corner to a dead end. “Oh, this is so frustrating!”
A voice called from the other side of the wall. “Fluttershy, is that you?” She recognized Twilight’s voice.
“Yes! Help me. I got separated from Rainbow Dash. I’m lost. I don’t know what to do!”
Twilight replied, “Here’s a trick I learned as a filly: place a hoof or a wing against the wall and walk. You’ll eventually leave. This is because a maze is always split in two parts, divided by the entrance and exit.”
“But that could take hours!”
“Think of it as a chance to explore.”
“Okay, I’ll do it.” She extended a wing, brushed it against the wall, and started forward in the same direction she had been going. Even if she was unsure of this, she trusted that Twilight would lead her astray.
As she did the trick that Twilight suggested, she was able to look at her surroundings. The decorations were elaborate. Each new path showed something different. Applejack had even been able to put up some of Zecora’s masks. Birds flew in and out of the stalks, insects buzzed, clouds passed, and the sun moved, elongating the shadows. “Have I really been here all day?”
With every turn she made, Fluttershy realized she was less afraid. “This is quite peaceful. The silence, the smells, the colors. It reminds me of my own garden, just not as big.”
The sun lowered enough that she was enveloped in shadows. “Oh no, I have to be close. I don’t want to be here in the dark.” The sky began to darken, twilight arising in the sky.
Just as Fluttershy was feeling afraid again, muffled voices came through the walls. As she kept going, they grew louder. She recognized her friends. She turned one more corner, and around it through a hole she could see the Sweet Apple Acres homestead. “The exit! I made it!” She galloped out, and just to the left of it were her friends. Fluttershy hugged Twilight. “Thank you. I’d have never made it out!”
“Sure you would have,” Twilight responded, “but you’d have flown out.”
“I didn’t want to let Applejack down.”
“Did ya like it, darling?” Applejack asked.
“I was frightened at first, but Rainbow Dash helped me. When I got lost, I just focused and decided not to let my fear control me.”
Applejack handed Fluttershy a mug of Cider. “It don’t seem fair not to let you have one. You may not have come out first, but I’d say you won in a different way.”
Rainbow Dash piped up. “Wanna do it again tomorrow?”
“No!” Fluttershy said.
Everyone laughed.