Butterfly Lungs
where a girl is lost and unfound for weeks in a day.

x

It is 7:20. That is the time according to the new watch my mother gave me before she passed away. It is waterproof, glow in the dark, sleek in design and the prettiest shade of black. It fits snugly on my wrist, and I'll make sure to check the time whenever I can, because I can't be late. My father is expecting me to be at Saffron by six in the afternoon. I stuff only the necessities into my bag: a few select clothes that I like, a pack of solid fuels, matchsticks, a mat and an armful of canned food. It's going to be the bravest trip of my life; travelling from this home to the new one, I can feel the future tingling in my hands and beneath my green hat.

x

It is 9:30. I finish cutting my nails, now short and rounded at the end of my fingers, and I brush my short hair once, twice. I lift my bag onto my shoulders, kiss the photo frame of my mother goodbye and charge out of the bedroom. In the living room, I grab the pokéball resting on the coffee table, smile, and make my way to the door. I only take one pokémon, my mother's, with me. The others have been stored into the box for me to withdraw when I get to Kanto. My father says that it is a safe trip, I won't need to battle anyone or anything; that he will be waiting for me at the station at six o' clock.

x

It is 12:00. I am on the noon train, thrumming my fingers against the windowsill and watching the landscape chase the tracks. It is my first time alone, my first time out on my own with only Boris to take care of me. I turn to him and pat his head as he peeks at me through his crinkled eyes. He might look old and tired with wrinkles ironed on his pale yellow skin – but he has always been a reliable partner of my mother. Battles and contests, he can't do those anymore – but he still has the energy left in him to fight off a few assailants, at least until I get to my dad's house. I suppose I can't call Boris my partner; because he's only ever dogged my mother's footsteps, taking care of her faithfully until she died. She gave him to me in her will.

He's dependable, and probably still lingering with sadness and depression; I can tell by the emotionless gaze reflected in his narrowed eyes. He's even older than me, and I'm practically thirteen.

X

It is 18:02. I don't know where I am. The train has disappeared from under my prune-like fingers, and the air is incredibly cold, and the sun has escaped to the other side of the world. My body is freezing because I am somehow drenched from head to toe, clinging onto the edge of a lake I do not recognise. Boris is on the bank, claws wrapped tightly on my wrists and trying his hardest to pull me up to safety. With a few more struggles, I manage to lift my knee and hoist myself onto the grass, sputtering and coughing cold water out from my heaving lungs.

x

It is 18:01. I am off the train, my father is nowhere in compels me to walk to his home myself, for this is hardly the first time I've travelled to his house. My legs seem to move on their own accord.

His apartment is near Saffron station, behind the dojo. I skip towards it happily, humming a tune as I tug Boris along.

Then something happens, and I know it is a dream, for the city bleeds away in monochrome and the sidewalk vanishes – the only thing left is his hand in mine.

x

It is 18:30 when I awake with a start; throwing up a puddle of water that surges from my stomach. I realise that I passed out after Boris pulled me up from the lake. The dream had been ideal – but it certainly wasn't the current reality. I have no clue how I managed to wind up in the wilderness. Beside me, Boris looks exhausted as he clutches his head and crouches on the ground, like he has done something his old body can no longer accommodate.

When I ask him if he is alright, he nods hastily.

I grab my pokégear out of the pocket of my shorts, not sure who to call, but the urge to dial a number for help overpowering the rest of my priorities. My fingers tap the phone viciously as I scroll down the list of contacts, all trainers in Johto – none in Kanto, I'm sure I'm already in the Kanto region. The air smells different and the grass is a different texture under my shivering knees. Before I can pick who to call, I realise that there is no reception here in the middle of nowhere, a wilderness cut off from the rest of the outside world.

I get onto my feet and survey the surroundings – trees, shrubs, no flowers or meadows – thick oaks that block me from seeing further. In the far distance, I see the peak of a mountain. And it takes me a moment to figure it out; but that is Mount Silver standing in front of me.

My heart is throttling in my chest, and I swallow with a dry throat – refusing to cry over such a small circumstance. I was trained for this.

This isn't a dream, I have to survive.

I can survive.

I carry my soggy bag pack and make extra sure that Boris is following, before walking towards the path with less overgrowth, trying to remember all that my troop leader taught me.

x

It is 23:40. I check my watch and realise that I have to stop, if I go on forever without resting I might collapse from exhaustion. I'm amazed Boris has managed to keep up with my pace thus far, and I smile a little at him. He looks up at me and nods his head again, though there is no smile in return.

x

It is 2:30. The fire is burning now, and it eases the chills that glide over my skin. The night is an extreme solitude, the trees standing guard and the sky clear of clouds. There are no stars tonight, and the moon is a skinny crescent dangling in the expanse overhead. The coldness is choking and the thought of wild pokémon attacking me in my sleep is not helping the pummel of my sits next to me, fixated on the fire.

I throw the pokégear onto the floor out of impulse – just to see what happens – and as it smashes into the hard ground, its breaks into two. Boris tilts his head, looks at me and smiles, before returning his attention to the fire.

x

It is 1:00, I am eating a can of baked beans. I offer some to Boris with a warm smile, but he refuses politely, shaking his head and simply staring at me in recluse.

x

It is 2:25. The fire is out when I rise up and out of my sleeping bag, teeth chattering and my head hurting immensely from the cold. Boris is sitting quietly at my side with alert eyes, protecting me. I rummage through my bag for the solid fuel, and pull out a pack of three. Odd, I know that I only used one to start the fire, so there should four pieces left. Maybe a wild pokémon ransacked us when I was fast asleep – and Boris couldn't chase them away because he had to watch over me. I am being irresponsible, and my stomach twists in agreement. However, upon closer inspection, the contents of my bag are packed neatly together, just like how I would have kept my belongings.

When I look hard, I see the broken pokégear inside the bag; accept it is no longer broken. There is a can of baked beans, unopened and untouched. My stomach is empty and my head is light – no, strike that, my head is dizzy and distracting, the hunger is quick to flee.

I crawl back into my sleeping bag and set my eyes against the scenery of the night sky. The moon shows only a quarter of itself to accompany me for the rest of the night. Boris has already dozed off, entwining his paws over his stomach and leaning against a nearby rock. He doesn't snore, the forest doesn't, I don't – it is only peace and quiet.

x

It is 5:00. Dirt is crusted under my long fingernails, numerous strands of my long hair stick together with the aid of sweat. When have they grown out, why did they grow so fast overnight. I turn to look at Boris, who is awake and energetic enough to gather up stray twigs and fallen branches for firewood.

x

It is 7:20. I eat a happy meal of berries in the morning. It makes me feel just a little bit more relieved for now. Like there is still hope left for me to find civilisation, to survive this reality.

x

It is 7:18. My eyes snap open; my stomach is empty. My watch seems to be lying, because I'm sure I woke up ages ago. The berries I picked from bushes and trees scattered around the forest are gone, the scent of their juice on my hands weirdly absent. I wonder if Boris ate them when I was dreaming – but I remember my mother told me that he didn't eat food. He ate something else.

x

It is 00:01. I don't know where the day has gone; maybe I spent the whole time looking at stars and trying to work my way through the forest. The compass slung over my neck is broken. I'm almost out of determination and energy. My legs hurt and I briefly wonder if I will die here, never even able to fulfil my oath with my dad – what kind of camper am I?

I ask myself, but I don't know the exact answer.

I don't know many things now, it seems. I don't know if I even care anymore.

My mother. She died differently, she died peacefully in the bosom of her bed with Boris gripping desperately onto her limp hand, a look of resignation on his aged face. There had been sadness and longing etched in the lines of his expression, it made him look like a pokémon who honestly cared and loved my mother. I can recall clearly, how our family spent days trapped in the repetitive cycle trying to keep up with her crying and her yelling.

I remember she died because she couldn't remember what she was doing; saying that she did things when she hadn't – claiming that she had already cooked lunch when it was only breakfast time and I was waiting patiently for a plate of scrambled eggs. She decided to stay in bed and not do anything after awhile; just breathe and breathe and perhaps exhale a habitual sigh sometimes; wait for time to catch up to her. Boris followed her, followed her and never objected to her lifestyle; he waited patiently like the loyal pokémon he was.

And he would wait for me too.

x

The numbers of time blink on and off, illuminating faintly in the darkness that starts to swallow both of us. After a few more steps, the watch stops glowing and I can barely make out the numbers in my hand. I think it has stopped working, the batteries have run dry and I didn't think to bring any spares. Or perhaps – the thought flickers for a moment in my mind – I have already used them.

And I can't help but feel scared because now there will be no light to guide us, for the moon is nowhere to be seen; and I drop the watch on the forest floor because I don't want to be reminded about the intimidating fact. I hold firmly onto Boris' hand and feel his claws dig into my palm.

The pain shoots through from my drying skin; it reminds me of all the other sensations I am experiencing – disorientation, light-headedness, a groaning stomach, feet that burn and thighs that ache with every step I take – it can't be just two days. It can't. I'm built stronger than this, my rations were supposed to last me for two weeks – now they are all gone because of the wild pokémon who I never see.

I kneel down on a leafy path to catch my breath. I tell Boris that we will rest again, even though we stopped about half an hour ago, because I cannot travel any further. Why does it feel like I have walked for miles when it has only been two days?

I see the outline of Mount Silver when I turn around to face Boris. I tell him to use Hypnosis on me to help me catch a better sleep tonight so that I will be in better shape tomorrow -

And tomorrow we will walk away, hopefully to a new place with a town or a city's lights to save us. Somewhere with reception so that I can call my dad, somewhere with a PC so I can withdraw my pidgey and my jigglypuff.

The psychic-type growls softly as he raises one hand and the pendulum he has always carried falls out in front of my eyes – illuminating under the pitying light of the moon. My breathing slows, and the pain subsides, I lean into the embrace of a bed of leaves. This feels scarcely familiar – but Boris just reassures me with his glowing eyes and gripping hand, a silent smile curling on his lips. I nod vaguely and start to drift away into happier dreams, and he regards me with his sharp teeth. He watches me with a happy, contented expression on that old, old face of his.

x

The time is 00:00.