I remember when I was a little girl and my mother would wake up early in the morning, right when the sun rose over the towers. She would rub the drowsiness from her blue eyes and slip out of the bed, her long brown and blonde hair tumbling down her back in a waterfall of waves and curls. I would try to imitate her and hop up from my bed, maybe a little too eagerly, and pretend that I wasn't still tired. As she went around the room to pull open all of the curtains, I would skitter behind her and watch curiously, as if there was a secret ingredient to her gracefulness and lightness. We would eat breakfast at our little table by the window and I would chew my bread as the muscular gondola man and his team of Machop untied their boats and hopped deftly from one side of the canal to the other.
I couldn't have any Pokemon of my own because our little apartment could barely hold the two of us, but I had a friend, a tiny Dratini who would find me soon after I stepped out onto the cobblestones behind my mother. He would bounce along cheerily at my side, through the sidestreets and over the bridges that connected all of the little islands and through the bumpy canals, although when we came to the large squares that held most of the markets, he would shrink towards me for fear of becoming lost.
My father died when I was five. It never bothered me because the whole population of Altomare stepped up to fill the hole. My mother knew everyone from the accordion man who wandered the alleys and refused to accept change, playing only for his own soul to the multitude of vendors in the squares who tossed little candies to me as I would hop past with my Dratini to the burly guards who clinked and shuffled through the street, the spears they carried glinting and waving.
My mother loved my father very much, and he loved her just the same. He had been a painter, and the walls of our tiny apartment were covered with his work. In the corner where my bed was, he had painted a whole scene on the wall of the boats and old, creaking ships that sailed in and out of the city. Every day when I woke up, I would open my eyes to my own world in Altomare, the one that my father had created for me, the one that lived on even when he didn't. The day he died, my mother did not speak. She sat by the big window near the breakfast table and looked up at the sky all day long, the tears streaming down her face and dripping onto her clenched hands. I went and sat at her feet and looked up as well, resting my head on her knee. We both stared at the sky which swirled with clouds just like any other day and with a sun that shone as if to beckon my father home.
I looked up and said good-bye to my Papa. He would sit with the guardians now, I thought, and he would guard us.
One day, after our breakfast, I caught my mother staring across the table at me with her twinkling eyes. "Come," she said, "Today you will meet the city."
Perplexed, I scrambled to my feet and leaped down the steps behind her, my feet hitting the cobblestones hard. I tried my absolute best to walk like my mother, back straight and arms swaying naturally at her sides, the determined look in her eyes and the soft wind shuffling her hair behind her. Instead, I managed to trip myself up every couple of steps and get my hair tangled up in my face.
She kept walking until we got to the markings of the end of the city, the two huge white pillars that opened up onto the ocean. On the top of the pillars were golden stands, upon which stood the statues that protected our city from the menaces that could roam the seas. Latios and Latias stood guard upon their pillars, their slanted and alert eyes constantly watching the seas. My mother marched right in between the pillars and descended the two or three steps that led right down to the ocean, soft waves lapping up where the last step ended. She motioned for me to sit down on the steps, and so I did.
Then she looked up at the pillars. "Don't be rude, Sera. Say hello to the guardians."
I looked up and squeaked out a mumbled hello, having to squint my eyes against the fierce sunlight. She knelt down by the edge of the water and stuck a slim hand in. "Do you hear the city, Sera?"
All I could hear was the soft swishing of the water hitting the steps and the distant sound of a motorboat buzzing around the city. I stared blankly back at my mother and she smiled sadly, then nodded and looked out at the ocean. "That's alright, my little angel," she said, "you'll hear it eventually." She looked up at the two statues, forever standing watch over Altomare. "One day you'll even hear the guardians. Will you help them?"
I nodded quickly, some of my curly hair flopping down into my face. My mother laughed and brushed the hair away, catching my chin in her hand. "Very good."
Then she rose up and began to walk away, humming softly. I hopped after her and in the back of my mind, I wondered how I would ever find the grace and courage to hear the city as my mother did.