May writes him constantly, a steady stream of letters from all over the region making their way into the mailbox of his aunt and uncle's Verdanturf home. From his room on the second floor, sitting in bed near the window, he can always see the postman arriving a few minutes before everyone else does. Sometimes, it's a false alarm - nothing but bills or homework from the correspondence school - but more often than not, he'll look and find his ralts holding out a brightly colored envelope or two, May's handwriting dashed across the front: To Wally. From your best friend :)

There are several months' worth of mail stacked in columns on his nightstand, crowding his lamp for space. Some letters are plain, eggshell white and crinkled from where he's gripped them too tightly, messages jotted down in graphite or charcoal. Others have clearly been bought with May's taste in mind - Lilycove stationery from the eponymous department store spritzed with floral perfume, stationery from Mossdeep Space Center with a background of lunatone and solrock drifting through the stars, pebble-surfaced paper made in Fortree City and lightly brushed with scented oils. Souvenirs - a pretty feather, a dried leaf, the desiccated remains of a blue flower, a curved tooth - are occasionally enclosed. He collects her words like he would badges, rereads May's lively accounts of her journey late into night, gathering enough material to build a patchwork idea of a region he has never experienced.

He's stopped opening them as quickly as he used to. Lately, it's become difficult to lift the letters to face height so that he can read them at all. It brings a certain amount of shock to know that his body is failing bit by bit each day, that soon he won't even be able to sit up without assistance; beyond the barest of facts, however, there's nothing much that can surprise him anymore.

On several occasions, he's tried to write her a reply. May has never expected anything more than he's able to give, but he feels obligated to do it anyway for his sake, if not for hers. He sets a spiral-bound notebook on his lap and wonders what to say.

Dear May,

Thank you for everything that you've done for me.


That doesn't look right, so he discards it and starts on another draft.

Dear May,

Please visit me sometime when you get the chance and have got done with the Gyms. I miss you very much.


His hand is trembling as he erases what he's written, knuckles clenched white.

Dear May,

I don't want to die alone.

In the end, he sets the pencil down and takes a shaky breath, holding back a cough. His cousin's gone out on a date with her boyfriend, his uncle is reading downstairs, and his aunt is preparing lunch. Everyone says that it will get better someday, that it has to - "Oh Wally, you're such a sweet boy. So brave." - because what what have been the point of all this if it didn't? Maybe May could tell him the answer, when she comes back to see him next time.

Sliding his legs from under the covers, he takes a few trembling steps to the window, pulling down the latch to open it the whole way. A breeze rushes into the room, warm and heady, scattering the letters he's saved up all over the floor. His ralts hurries to his side, squeaking in alarm. Propping his head up by the sill, he looks out over the valley, the hills and meadows the most beautiful green, feeling the warmth of the sun on his skin for the first time in weeks.

Wally pictures May coming up on that dusty road, beaming and waving to him, shouting his name enthusiastically. He tries to smile but he can't.