What Bobby Told Susie
By Spiral Breeze
He woke up at the crack of dawn and began his day just like any other. He showered, shaved, and dressed. He drank his cappuccino and ate his toasted croissant. He stepped outside once the dishes had been cleared and washed and breathed in the fresh morning air. The faint morning light of dawn barely skimmed the horizon, it was a beautiful morning as many had been before. The day care provider pushed the breakfast cart laden with metal canisters of Poké Food at an even pace and began to make his rounds. It was then that he saw Excadrill.
Strong and fierce though it had been, the ground and steel type Pokémon now lay motionless, it's eyes glazed over in death. How long had it been since it had taken it's last breath? The morning dew clung to it's body as if he was a rock, just part of the landscape.
Bobby stopped pushing the cart and exhaled, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. This was not the first time he had lost a Pokémon and it would not be the last. That's Day Care... he reminded himself. He hurried back to the house to retrieve a plastic tarp, the least he could do was cover the body before the flies came. He covered Excadrill carefully, tucking the blue tarp under it's arms, legs and head. When he finished, Bobby resumed his distribution of breakfast, already late to his start of the day.
As he fed the other Pocket Monsters in his care, Bobby thought of Susie, the little preschooler who had dropped Excadrill off for a few days. The Pokémon had obviously been past it's prime, hence why it had been so easy for a five year old little girl to capture with absolutely no Pokémon to battle it. Susie had been so proud of herself, as any five year old would have been. The little girl explained that she had to visit her father this weekend, who was terribly allergic to ground types, so she couldn't bring Drilly (as she had affectionately nicknamed him) with her. Bobby had agreed, even going so far as to take the ten pennies and over ripe Pecha Berry from her as payment. Perhaps some tender loving care and a few square meals was all the Pokémon needed.
In the end, when it's your time, there is nothing to be done... Bobby's grandmama had once told him, she too was no longer among the living.
When Bobby was finished with the breakfast rounds, he went back to Excadrill and lifted the Pokémon onto a wheel barrel. He brought him back to his lab, where he could properly prepare the body. He washed Drilly, and oiled his steel, he closed his eyes and used some plywood to build a box just the right size to hold him. On the outskirts of Bobby's property there was a small Pokémon Cemetery, if one of his clients could not make it to Celestial Tower, then he offered a spot out in the wilderness. He thanked whoever was listening that this did not happen often.
Drilly was laying peacefully in his box, just as if he were sleeping, it was already lunch time. Bobby's stomach was slightly unsettled so he skipped the arugula and grilled chicken salad he had waiting for his own lunch and went straight to work feeding the Pokémon. He was wheeling the cart back when Susie came skipping through the gate. Bobby's heart sank, but he mustered what strength he could. Bobby, be strong!
"Hi Bobby!" Susie called happily, still skipping before she hugged his legs tightly. "I'm back early, Daddy said he was tired of me."
"That's ok Susie, it's good to see you." He kneeled down to her lever and embraced the little girl. "Susie, there's something Bobby needs to tell you."
"What?" She asked curiously, her head tilted to the side, but Bobby had a sneaking suspicion that despite her young age, she already knew what was wrong. "It's about Drilly isn't it?"
"Yes, Bobby's afraid it is."
"He's old." She stated simply.
"Yes, he was." He waited to see if the little girl would catch the word in past tense.
"Gram says that she's gonna die soon too."
Bobby was a bit startled, and expected her to continue, instead she sighed, and the Day Care provider led her to sit on the front steps.
"Susie, Drilly died last night." There was just no way to sugar coat it.
Her baby blue eyes blinked several times in succession as she stared at him, and after a moment she spoke:
"Bobby, where do Pokémon go when they die?"
Her inquiry was barely above a whisper, and in fact sounded more like a plea. Bobby thought for a minute, it should be her parents explaining this to her, but from what little she had told him, he knew they more than likely didn't possess the patience. He hugged the girl again, and this time brought her to his lap, sitting her so that one arm continued to hold her, her pigtails brushed his sleeve.
"Susie, when Bobby was a little boy, Bobby had a Sandile, it was the runt of the litter, but Bobby loved that Sandile more than anything. Sandile didn't live for very long after he was born and Bobby's grandmama said he had gone to the Rugged Mountain in the Dream World, so he could dream peacefully."
By this time, Susie's blue eyes were beginning to water and she rubbed her little pink nose with one chubby hand.
"Will Drilly like it there?"
Bobby smiled and gave her a gentle squeeze.
"All ground type Pokémon love the Rugged Mountain, it's perfect for them. There are rocks and bushes, and Drilly will be able to dig tunnels and drill to his heart's content."
That seemed to ease Susie's worries, and after another long hug, Bobby brought Susie to his lab so she could see Excadrill before he closed his box for good. The little girl did not cry, she said good bye and gave his nose a final kiss. Bobby watched with tears in his own eyes as she withdrew yet another Pecha Berry (this one a bit wrinkled) from her Poké Doll backpack and placed it in the box next to Drilly's arm. When at last she stepped back, Bobby put the lid on and together they wheeled Drilly in the wheel barrel to his final resting place on the back of Bobby's property.
Bobby dug the hole by hand, as Susie gathered flowers. He lowered the box in, and together they covered the grave with dirt. The preschooler carefully rested her bouquet of wildflowers on top of the mound, and whispered "I love you Drilly", before she stood and began to walk back toward the Day Care. Bobby followed her to the gate where she stood playing with the straps of her Poké Doll backpack.
"Will you be ok Susie?" He asked with concern.
"Drilly's having a lot of fun on the Rugged Mountain, I know it."
Bobby smiled and gave her a hug, from his pocket he pulled out a Heal Ball and enlarged it, handing it to the surprised little girl.
"Take this Susie. When you're ready, you can catch a new friend, and this Ball with help make that friend better before you bring him to Bobby ok?"
She nodded and minimized the ball and placed it into her bag. With one chubby finger, she motioned for Bobby to bend down to her level, and when he did, she placed a small wet kiss on his cheek.
"Thanks for taking good care of Drilly, he's happy now." With that said, Susie turned and skipped out of the gate and down the road toward her home.
Bobby smiled and looked up at the sky, the sun was beginning to set, it was almost dinner time. That's Day Care... he reminded himself for the second time that day, as he locked the gate and got to work on the dinner rounds, thinking of Drilly playing cheerfully on the Rugged Mountain.