Prompts used (from the PokeWrite forum's drabble tag): reverberate, backpack, and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Unedited. Was supposed to be a drabble, but somehow... morphed into a one-shot.
For reppad98 as "motivation" for her upcoming exams, as well as for being on FFN for two whole years as of yesterday! :D
Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon.
to whom it may concern
Pokémon – Rated: T – English – Romance/Angst – "Drabble" No.: 5 – Words: 2,789 – Misty/Kasumi & Ash K./Satoshi
It all comes to her one cold, stormy September night.
Delia is yabbering away again, the once enchanting lilt of her tone now tinted with the cold anxiety of a typical mother. "That boy," she begins her incensed rant as she always does, "has absolutely no idea of the hell he's putting us through! Here we are, worried sick because he only phones in once every few months – months, I tell you! – while there he is, gallivanting around the globe, casually changing travelling partners at nearly every region like they're clothes! And look at this letter–"
"I'll deal with him, Mrs Ketchum," the redhead sitting opposite murmurs, her voice barely more than an enervated lisp. Swiftly, she makes her exit from the Ketchum home. The vast bungalow, which seemed so lively and bright the last time she saw him, is now an empty husk of a shell.
Thunder throws its vociferous roar across the realm as she stealthily slips back into the Gym. Lightning erupts, hurling its incandescent glow upon her exhausted face. Curled up into a foetal position in a subtle corner no one knows of, she fumbles to unravel the yellowed scroll that she rolled his letter into earlier, and her cerulean rake the paper in an insatiable hunger for information.
It mostly speaks of triumphs far away, in a land known as "Sinnoh", how much of a ditzy lummox his new travelling companion can be and the challenges that await him. She merely stares. Thankfully, it's not as clipped and reclusive as the one he sent the previous month (Delia nearly murdered him over the video call), but this slight improvement only serves to highlight the acerbic change: his boyish scrawl has gradually morphed into a lazy, slanted script that borders on illegible. He's growing up, she thinks with a slight pang in her heart.
She composes a quick, simple and acute reply, her letters cramped and secret, crouched in the middle of the page.
Don't you miss us?
Momentarily hesitating, she bites her lip and scrutinises the four words again. Something feels wrong, but she doesn't know what it is.
Eventually, against her conscience, she crosses out the 'us' and replaces it with 'me'.
She doesn't bother sealing it in an envelope and sending it to him. Why would he even care upon receiving it? He has a new life now, fresh with the glamour of adventure and perpetrated with the addictive high of adrenalin; a life completely separate from her own. No, instead, she gingerly rolls up the 'letter', slots it into a small glass bottle and seals it with wax. She takes a moment to admire her handiwork. There sits the sheet of thin paper, frayed at the edges, her messy scrawl visible through the other side, trapped in a world of fragile glass – exactly what she thinks of him.
Icy sleets of rain pelt down mercilessly on her as she makes her way to the beach few know of, seeking solace in the shroud of darkness provided by the tumultuous dark thunderclouds. But even with her level of tenacity, she has to fight back shivers as the blistering cold streaks of rain continue trickling down her arm. She's almost glad when she finally throws the bottle out as far as her arm will allow, though the rumble of thunder drowns out the satisfying splash. Vaguely aware of the rain plastering her fiery red hair to her scalp, she watches the miniscule object bob once, twice amidst the choppy waves before it's swallowed up by the dark vortex of water.
Maybe it'll take her loneliness and resentment with it, but she isn't hopeful.
When she doesn't receive a reply, she isn't fazed.
It hurts, like an old parasitical wound nibbling at her soul, but she gradually learns to shoulder the pain. She immerses herself in Gym Leader duties, launches into a tyrannical rage on her fashion-conscious sisters, and trains her Pokémon rigorously like never before. The Gym is remodelled and renovated over and over again. The levels of the Gym Trainers' Pokémon skyrocket under the surveillance of a madwoman. Daisy, unable to cope with the pressure, runs off with Tracey. Trainers, prostrate with incessant defeat, soon grow wary of her Gym, even fruitlessly devising schemes to avoid battling her and still clinch the badge anyway.
The new changes hurt even more, but eventually, after a long period of heart-wrenching agony, the pain begins to ebb away.
Years pass in the blink of an eye. All see neither hair nor hide of him, but she puts up an indifferent façade, determined not to let this get to her. It's been twelve years. He's probably moved from region to region, seeking to defeat and conquer. He's probably already taken down the Pokémon League.
All evidence of their friendship is nothing more than a half-faded memory.
Silently reassured of this, she resumes her verisimilar masquerade as a proficient, imperious, hotheaded Gym Leader (and leader of the Gym Leader Association; she mustn't forget that) exuding pulchritude so intimidating that her challengers give in at the mere sight of her.
So when an old friend of hers arrives hand-in-hand with an arrogant chartreuse-haired man, she isn't sure what to think.
"We're getting married," the brunette – May – says hesitantly, glancing at her fiancé, whose brazen smirk seems to be cemented into his skin, "and I know we haven't spoken in years, Misty, but I'd really like you to attend."
She accepts, of course, but spends much time mulling over what to wear. She can never wear white. She loves the purity and innocence of the colour, of course, but something will always ruin it – blood, drink spills, rips, stains, snags, and everything in between.
On a whim, she scribbles on a scrap of paper she ripped off the wedding invitation, seals it up in another bottle, and almost has to turn away to launch it into the ocean. The skin of her face is burning, despite her best efforts to convince herself that it's merely the blazing sun and not the hidden, inextricable meaning. It's not as if he'll ever read it.
Why can't we wear white?
It's their wedding day, and wedding bells reverberate perpetually in her ears.
The only other reason she decided to attend at all – besides the obvious one that May is her friend, and she wants to make sure that she isn't doomed to spend eternity with an imbecilic jerk – is that, deep down, she's hoping to see him there. The raven-haired Trainer used to travel Hoenn and even some areas of Kanto with May, after all. They're so close that it's impossible that she'd overlook inviting him.
Just in case they meet, she's taken extra precautions when assembling her beauty products. Her flaming red hair is swept up into a professional chignon that exposes the smooth, tanned skin of her neck, strategically leaving two locks of hair dangling at each side of her face. Blushing slightly, she reaches down to straighten her dress: an ivory strapless gown tinted a light periwinkle blue, complete with a flattering empire waist and a myriad of glittering sequins scattered randomly across the flowing skirt, causing it to shimmer seductively every time it rustles.
And so, seated in the front pew, taking deep breaths to calm her wildly palpitating heart, she finds herself craning her neck to peer through the throng, scanning for a sign – a trademark red cap, a yellow Pikachu, anything – that he's here.
But in their neatly-pressed suits, upturned noses and self-assured demeanour, the other people settling down into their seats succeeded in daunting her, and she eventually gives up.
The moment the procession is over, she grabs her backpack before rushing over to congratulate the bride and groom, giving them her well wishes and stumbling over her hasty explanation/apology that she has to leave early. They're left in a whirl of confusion as she squeezes between two plump guests and disappears.
Dashing down the slippery, steep slope that leads to the beach with her pretty dress flying out behind her, she has to fight to suppress a fresh stream of hot tears welling up in her eyes. Why is she so emotional over a guy? It's a baffling mystery she's not sure she's able to solve.
In her haste, the flowing skirt gets caught on the sharp, jagged edge of a protruding rock, but with a cry of frustration, she abandons all attempts to free it altogether. A harsh, sickening rip sound is emitted, and she looks away. She continues her lonesome journey toward the water, the remnants of the torn fabric swishing forlornly around her legs.
Her mind takes control of her hand as she writes in a shaking scrawl. The letters run together, way too careless and messy to be recognisable.
Come home, won't you?
It disappears into another bottle, opaque this time, and she watches as it's claimed by the crest of the waves.
It's disappearing slowly, along with the beauty of her dress and the false hope that may or may not have been ignited within her. Isn't everything disappearing, now?
She almost wishes the tumultuous storms will return, because they're all she has left to remind herself of their old friendship.
On her way back to Cerulean City from the beach one day, she notices something out of the corner of her eye: something green, glinting in the sand. Before she can even begin to comprehend what's happening, her legs are flashing with speed, her hair is flying out behind her, and her throat is dry and choked.
She recognises it before she even gets close to the water: a message in a bottle.
With trembling fingers, she unscrews the cork, ignoring the chilly stream of water that shivers across her fingers. She wheedles her target outwards and unfurls it.
Wait for me?
She already knows the message isn't from him – the carefully drawn letters are too impeccable, too meticulous for his cavalier hand.
Standing there in the sweltering heat, toes unconsciously digging into the damp sand, she wonders how many people, like her, have so easily fallen prey to this cruel game of luck and false hope. Messages in a bottle? In this time and age? It's almost unheard of. Technology has long stamped out such old-fashioned behaviour.
The only thing fueling the practice's existence is loyalty and hope, and right now, she could use some of the latter.
Maybe it's hopeless, but it can't hurt to pretend, she reasons.
It does anyway.
It's only now that she starts to chastise herself for not realising it sooner.
Her worst fears have come to life.
It's a quiet affair of midnights occupied with hunching over tables, sipping bitter coffee and listening to the bleak murmuring of specialists, but nothing can hide the dark rings under Delia's eyes. And so the twenty-five-year-old redhead sits, and listens. She never speaks, only listens. Her pessimistic curiosity has been piqued enough to keep her unceasingly silent.
Ash was hospitalised years ago, mere moments after he stepped foot into the Unova region. A monstrous legendary Pokémon, Zekrom, as good as fried him with a powerful electrical attack, rendering him a patient in a persistent vegetative state and effectively putting an end to his journey. Since then, he has been taken care of by the same person who brought him to the hospital, an aspiring Dragon Master named Iris. He has awakened, but unfortunately, he is plagued by amnesia. He has no recollection of his past, and that's why he has never once reached out to her over all those years.
Delia knew. Professor Oak knew. Brock knew. Tracey knew. Daisy, Violet and Lily knew. Gary knew. Ritchie knew. May knew. Drew knew. Dawn knew. Paul knew.
Everyone knew… except for her.
Delia says with glistening tears streaming uncontrollably down her face that it was for the best. That they all knew the blow would've been ten times more impactful on her than anyone else. What they all don't know is that the blow is now a million times more tremendous than it would've been to simply tell her, ten years ago.
Why didn't they tell her?
Stumbling down to the beach, tripping and causing her knees to collide painfully with the ground, feeling the sunbaked sand crusting her skin and the merciless rays of the sun beating down on her, she tosses back her head and screams her innermost resentment at the heavens.
Why did they think they were protecting her?
Her letters speak a message as she slashes the tip of the pen savagely across the back of the letter she found in the bottle a month ago, and has been keeping in her pocket since. She's an infuriated tigress, waiting to unleash her pent-up rage, and the paper has become her victim.
Why… Why did they know she loved him before she did?
She hurls the bottle as far away as she can, unsatisfied by the subsequent splash. She throws too hard. The brittle glass shatters on impact. The scroll rolls out, and as the lapping waves begin to consume it, the words start to bleed right off the page. The black ink has taken to the water, exploding into plumes of pink, orange and powder blue, strangely beautiful and ultimately indecipherable.
Those furiously faithful words are nearly indiscernible now.
It slowly shrivels and sinks into the depths of the ocean, and she watches, mesmerised, wondering if her own heart is doomed to suffer the same fate: break, bleed and die, as beautiful and tragic as fairy tales may make love out to be.
On his way back to the Pokémon Centre from the beach one day, the raven-haired Trainer notices something out of the corner of his eye: something green, glinting in the sand. Before he can even begin to comprehend what's happening, his legs are flashing with speed, his shaggy hair is whipping around his face, and his throat is dry and choked.
He recognises it from Iris's teachings before he even gets close to the water: a message in a bottle.
"Can't hurt to open it, eh, Pikachu?" he mutters to his loyal partner, who leaps off his shoulder to sniff suspiciously at it before indifferently pouncing back to reclaim its prominent seat of leisure.
With fingers slightly quivering in excitement, he unscrews the cork, ignoring the chilly stream of water that shivers across his fingers. He wheedles her target outwards and unfurls it.
Don't you miss me?
The electric mouse yelps out a shrill warning before the bottle slips from his slack grip, sinking back into the soft sand.
He isn't sure how, but he recognises the sleek, delicate curl of the 'y'.
Suddenly, his knees give way and he collapses onto the sand, his heart thumping rapidly against his ribcage as his vision begins to flicker alarmingly. His Pikachu is screeching in alarm, but his head is buzzing harder, his fingers digging deeper into the sand…
He doesn't know exactly how, but the word pops into his head and all he knows is… he was remembering it.
It's a flimsy thread, gossamer-thin, but it leads to a memory, and that's all the prompts he needs. He closes his eyes desperately, chasing it, trying to flag it down… And then, like a flash of light, it's in his head.
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It's something you say when you're not sure what to say. Remember it."
It's a memory of a girl he's positive he's never seen before, with vibrant, flaming red hair framing her face. With him. The two of them, together. A bittersweet, radiant smile flits across her lips and she stands next to a tall boy he recognises as Brock, one hand poised over her bicycle handle, the other holding out a neatly folded handkerchief. The scent of grass, the warmth of sunset… and then it's gone.
He sits ramrod-straight, staring blankly ahead, as though seeing but not seeing. His partner threads cautiously toward him, whispering tentatively, "Pika?"
The girl was next to Brock. That had to mean she has, or had some connection with him. The raven-haired boy himself has lost his memory, so now the Pewter City Gym Leader is the only one who can connect the dots. And Brock is in Kanto…
Suddenly jolted back to reality, Ash quickly regains his composure and gets back on his feet. "C'mon, buddy," he says, grinning for the first time in years. "Let's go home."
-The thing about messages in bottles is that you learn quickly never to expect replies, but what if you receive one?-
Written 11 June 2013
Published 11 June 2013
I will write concise drabbles... I will write concise drabbles...
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