THE SENSATIONAL SAGA MISTY

~*~

On her thirteenth birthday, Kasumi got a sea-green cashmere sweater that matched her eyes, a WaterStone to evolve one of her two Staryu, the new album by her favourite group, and a strange wistful longing that made her want to cry. Everything but the longing had come wrapped in bright paper and tied with ribbons. The yearning had come out of nowhere to settle in on her life like the recent summer twilights that grew steadily deeper, signalling to any Gym family that the new Trainers would soon receive their licences and be at the Gym doors.

Maybe it was natural to have strange feelings, once your age held "teen" at the end - the difference between twelve and thirteen was a lot more than a pink candle on a birthday cake…

The night of her birthday, Kasumi tried on her new sweater in her room. The change obviously wasn't something you could see, as the girl in the mirror looked the same as usual - slightly scrawny with a head of bright orange hair that would forever fall over her eyes no matter what she tried to do to it.

Yanking the sweater over her head and throwing it on her bed, Kasumi left the silent Gym and wandered aimlessly around Hanada Town Centre. The weather was warm; it was still only early July, and Kasumi was comfortable in shorts and a tank top.

Hanada was beautiful in the twilight, the stars seeming so tiny and far away in the darkening sky. Her father had always pretended that the stars were the lanterns of travelling souls, as they came back to watch over the loved ones they left behind, using the balls of light to see by. Logic made Kasumi know otherwise, but she also loved the poetic nonsense her father had always spouted.

Are you up there daddy? Please tell me what to do.

She felt so tied down with the Gym, and so fed up with her sisters. Once the Gym had been one of the best; the CascadeBadge very rare among competitors in the Indigo League - but since daddy died…

Now her sisters refused to battle half the time, and used the spacious water arena for synchronised swimming and aqua shows. And they never had time for their runt of a little sister.

So Kasumi slid further and further away from them, and adopted a no-care tomboy image. The entire city saw the sisters as one large group, and all she wanted was for once, to be treated as the individual she was. It had never bothered her so much before - she had just made herself everything her sisters weren't - but now it plagued her.

I hate being alone. Do you remember when I used to wake up from a nightmare daddy? You'd sit with me and hug me till I fell asleep. Mama said you spoilt me daddy, and she was right, 'cos now when I have a nightmare I can't get back to sleep and I have to lie alone in the dark.

Kasumi sat on a bench in Hanada Park, watching the spouts of the fountain jump up and drop down. She desperately wanted wings, so she could rise up and fly away from everything. Yeah sure she could leave the Gym, she was 13, and that was a legal age for a Pokémon journey…but Kasumi didn't want to be a Pokémon Master - didn't want to compete in the Leagues - didn't want to collect Badges. She just wanted out. Out of the Gym, out of her sisters' way, out of her life completely.

But daddy - I don't want to be alone…

But the next day, Kasumi packed her clothes, Pokéballs, fishing rod and knick-knacks in her red bag and set off on her bike after a hurried argument with her sisters. She'd never come back until she was a great Pokémon Trainer - until everyone knew who she was - until she really knew who she was.

Sakura watched her sister pedalling furiously away from the Dewgong decorated Gym. Botan laughed.

"Huh Kasumi, a Pokémon Trainer? I give her like, a week!" Ayamé smiled and fiddled with her hair beads.

"She's so like daddy it's like, creepy." Sakura nodded, not moving her eyes from the rapidly diminishing figure of her baby sister. "Are you really sure we should have let her go Sakura?" Ayamé asked concerned. Sakura shrugged.

"Yeah I guess so. It's what daddy would have wanted."