No, I'm not dead. Just very, very busy, thanks to a new job I got hired for, and am working like mad to pay for college. Any comments, critique, etc are greatly appreciated. This is rated PG-13 to be safe, and this is the first of two planned installments.
Ah, and big thanks for Hanako Tabris for betaing. She's a God(ess) who helps us mere mortal people.
[an-am-NEE-sis] (n.): The recollection or remembrance of the past.
Part I: Reminiscence
Do you remember me?
...No, of course you don't. You haven't remembered me in thirty years.
My fault. I'm sorry.
I've been telling you this every day for the past three decades, hoping that one day you might find it within your heart to forgive me.
You haven't yet, and perhaps you never will.
...Who am I?
You ask this of me every waking morning.
Who are you?
Gardevoir, I tell you, and nothing more. That's all that's needed. After all, come the next day, you will remember nothing of it. Nothing of me, you - nothing. Every day, you wake up a blank slate, like a very young human child thrust into a foreign land. You know only the basic things: how to eat, how to sleep, how to write -- and how to talk, if you're in the right mood.
And that's my sin - my fault that you lost the thing most precious: your memories. You can no longer hold any thought for more than a single day because I failed as a pokémon. Your pokémon. I failed to do the one thing that is required of each and every one of us: protect the master, the trainer, you.
After that day, you were kept in the hospital for quite some time. The doctors tried everything they could to salvage what was left of you and repair the damage that had been done. It was all in vain. You could no longer hold the images from your past. Oh, they were still there. Fifteen years worth of memories can never be erased. Lost, yes, but never forgotten. But your brain is like a sieve now, and your memories are water.
They told me that you would never remember anything or anyone ever again.
I still refuse to believe it.
Leave, they told me. You have found out your trainer's fate. You do not belong here. Leave now and never come back.
I would not leave your side, no matter how many times they told me. Perhaps had this happened under different circumstances, I would be gone. But this is my atonement: to stay by your side, even if you still reject the thoughts of me. Your other pokémon would not leave your side either. Not at first. They still believed, just as I, that you would one day revert back to your old self, that this was just a passing nightmare that we all happened to be a part of.
Miracles do happen, correct?
But times change. And as much as we try, we cannot cling to what is past. Slowly but surely, they filtered away, one by one. A few are with your mother, and be assured that they are as happy as circumstances allow. The rest left for good. I don't know quite where they are now, but they are free. I do not think they will take another trainer, if the fates allow them choice. They still care about you, remember that, if nothing else. We are loyal to you, even if we might fade away.
You might never remember us.
But we will always remember you.
Don't blame them though, don't hate them for leaving you. You must understand that it is hard to stay at the side of one who believes you to be a stranger.
You must also understand that it is even more difficult to stand beside a traitor. They hated me. Always will, because of what happened. Some could not bear to be in the same room that I was in. I could feel their hatred, the steel glares, the cutting snarls... the harsh words... where once there was a bond of trust, there is now nothing but a sharp chain of enmity that will never rust.
I do not blame them. Their emotions were -- and still remain -- justified and understandable. I failed to protect you. I will take their hate. I will take yours also, if one day you so choose to hate me.
You must also know that we tried everything we could to bring you back. The medications, the therapies, the herbs... whatever was offered us, or what we could offer you, we tried, even if the hope of you recovering was nothing more than a forlorn percentage.
I myself tried to put your shattered mind back together with my abilities, but the mind is brittle; it is a complex thing, with nerves, crevices, and passageways, but it can be broken so easily. What I found inside your head was a puzzle scattered to the wind. Your memories were still there -- everywhere. Unfortunately, the bonds that once tied them together were broken.
It took me a long time to realize my endeavors were yielding nothing. They stopped me, too -- the ones who watched over you then in the Deseret Institute. They didn't at all appreciate my psychic manipulations. They still did not trust me, and I was causing you stress both physically and mentally; it was painful for you.
They told me that if anyone was to put your memories back together, it would have to be you.
I had to accept that even the greatest Psychic couldn't fix such a tiny thing as a human's mind.
It took a long time for me to accept that. Years to come to terms that I was not as great as I thought I was, and a single thought--a wish--could not solve everything, nor bring to pass near-impossibilities. But as the years slowly went and I watched you interact within a world in which you no longer completely belonged, the more I was convinced that you--the real you, not this fake husk--still existed, and perhaps there was still something I could do to, though ultimately it would all fall on you.
I knew that I could no longer do things openly like I once had. If I did, I would most assuredly be stopped before I could even begin. And perhaps they had been right in a sense what I had been doing was invasive and dangerous. Back then, I believed I could do anything--and trying to thread your memories back together was the only conceivable option I could think of. I know I can’t put them back together now. Time has taught me that. But perhaps, I thought then, I could give you mine.
It wouldn’t harm you, I would make sure of that. And I would only do it in the darkest hours as you drifted into the serene dream world that perhaps was your only peace. You couldn’t hurt yourself dreaming -- they were only dreams, after all. And these were only memories. To interweave them would be a seamless task. It was something I knew I could do, and for the first time in five years, I felt useful again.
That was twenty-five years ago...
The grass quivers.
You pause, careful, cautious, not daring to make a single sound as you step through the forest undergrowth, sky a blazing twilight hue. A small, dark canine pads along at a quiet canter, nose to the ground just in front of you, ears pricked as she trails the scent of the pokČmon you are searching for. But there is no longer any need to track: the target is already in your sights, sleeping against the trunk of an elm tree, under a thick branch jutting out from its center. A Ralts. You don’t think -- well, you hope would be a more accurate word, no need to get cocky -- it can sense you yet. You do know with unwavering certainty that it can’t sense your Poochyena; she’s immune to such detection.
With each careful step towards it, you prepare to order your Poochyena, Mari, to take the offensive. Going this route, you could probably catch it in seconds. An attack, a flick, and a toss--it was a simple procedure, and Ralts weren’t known for their hostility. It would be like catching a Caterpie with a bigger brain.
Then, you see the Ralts begin to stir from its slumber, eyes fluttering open as it blinks away the last residue of sleep that holds it fast. You grit your teeth, feeling your muscles tense until you’re sure you can feel them pull. You no longer have the luxury of waiting.
“Quick!” you yell, a single split-second instant. “Go, now!”
Mari roars, her once near-frozen body now moving in a blurred near-untraceable motion. She crashes through the brush, fangs bared as she lunges towards the psychic-type that’s now surrounded in a fierce violet aura. No doubt it’s preparing to Teleport. They always do.
“Don’t let it get away!” Your voice rises a couple notches as Ralts leaps to its feet, green cap flipping upward as it moves, revealing a pair of deep, garnet eyes. “Bite it!”
Your Poochyena opens her mouth wide, sharp fangs gleaming in the fading light -
A sound. The ear-wrenching cry of splitting wood.
- You look up, just in time to see the thick tree branch above the two break free from of its host, plummeting to the ground.
You grit your teeth. Your Poochyena looks up mid-lunge. The Ralts smirks.
You call her name, but there is no time to run--
The thick branch smashes mercilessly into Mari’s back, eliciting a high-pitched yelp of pain as it knocks the wind out of her and crushes her to the ground. Now successfully pinned beneath the sturdy arm of wood, the young dog winces in pain, furiously digging with her claws in an effort to free herself. It’s futile, you realize, as your eyes detect a pale purple nimbus around the elm branch, weighing it down.
Not two seconds later, the approaching darkness is spurned away by a ring of bright, ghostly light. The Ralts has surrounded herself with a ring of pale-blue will-o-wisps. It looks at you, and your eyes meet in challenge.
Well you’ll be damned.
You bend over to pick up a rock, as big of one as you can fit your fist around. The will-o-wisps and the glow around the branch intensify. A warning. You ignore it.
“Hey!” you yell, trying to draw the Ralts’s full and undivided attention. It turns, giving you one brief second to secure its focus, and you do with the rock in your fist, watching it fly. It was a very well-thrown rock, if you do say so your-
--It stops mid-flight. Then, with double the speed and double the power, it comes streaking back. The few seconds it takes to clear the distance between you and the Ralts barely gives you time to yell and even less time to dodge. It hits you square on the side of the face before clattering into the bushes. You brush the place it hit with your hands, feeling droplets of blood well up from the scrape. You smile despite the stinging pain.
Those few seconds were all you needed.
The Ralts spins around on her feet, face etched with the anger of her realized mistake as Mari flies towards her in whirlwind of midnight paws, free from her confines, as the concentration of the Psychic broke. The Ralts lets the will-o-wisps fly, the majority crashing into Mari’s fur in a terrible blast of blue heat and flame. Patches of fur disintegrate at the blast, but she doesn’t heed the faux-fire or the welling burns; instead, the pain seems to increase her fury tenfold, and she sends the Psychic toppling. A Confusion blast rips through the air along with another surge of ghostly fire. The fur on your Poochyena is tossed and burned, and the air shimmers with the foreign vibrations that make your head spin, but Mari remains unmoved from her quarry, patches of fur from her muzzle gone.
Her savage grin is unamused and her golden eyes show no hint of remorse or sympathy as her fangs sink into the Ralts’s soft mushroom cap and into her skull. Her jaws tighten as the Ralts struggles to break free, limbs flailing, but Mari is not about to let go, and the punches are weak. Still, the Ralts shows no sign of giving up as long as it still has energy to fight.
You suppose you’ll have to do this the hard way.
“Use Poison Fang!”
Her eyes flick toward you in a flash of sadistic glee, her tail thrashing like mad as she allows the poison to seep from her fangs. The Feeling Pokémon's struggles become more pronounced, but it refuses to cry out in pain. You suppose you might have felt bad for it at this point if it hadn’t tried to attack you, but as it did, your pity only stretches so far.
It doesn’t take long for you to know the attack has taken effect. The Ralts begins to sway, movements becoming uncoordinated and less fluid as poison siphons her life away; however, you notice with narrowed eyes that Mari’s movements are becoming unsteady as well, and her jaws loosen their hold.
You reach for an empty pokéball at your belt. You whistle and the Poochyena lets go, tottering on her paws and looking sick. The pokéball flies through the air, hitting the Ralts’s body as it struggles to rise to its feet and fight back, but the whirring air and force of the capture beam pulls it in before it can do so, clamping shut and concealing the light and being within.
The ball quivers. Once, twice, thrice-
The ball ceases to move and the red glow at the ball’s center fades to white.
The Deseret Institute in which you made your place of rest for many, many years was situated in an isolated part of the Verdanturf countryside, the closest place you could get to the true heart of nature for many miles, and highly regarded as a haven for those in ill health in body or mind. Though most of that rumor was made of myth, influenced by its oddly clear skies. The Deseret Institute itself owned a fair amount of land, and had a spacious estate that reminded one of the old, country homes in your species’ old-fashioned movies, but several times bigger.
It prided itself as being a home for the weary and a place of solace for those that had suffered loss, with an air of fragrant professionalism at every door and golden nameplate. In simple terms, it was a place for recuperation for those who had been injured mentally, physically, or both and needed more than a short hospital stay to recover.
You were one of the institute’s permanent residents. You were not much inclined to talk back then, preferring to stare long out the window and wait for something to happen. To the staff, this did not bode well, and they made many attempts to try and bring you out of your own shell, though their efforts were laughably futile.
There was one particular instance I still remember vividly.
It was dark, and the Deseret Institute felt it would be beneficial to bring the patients that were able to attend a party of sorts. They had built up a ravenous bonfire, in hope to make the stay as pleasant as possible for those that attended.
You were one of them, and you did not look excited to attend.
They were passing out a thick, creamy soup, and many of the patrons were talking with their care nurses or remaining comatose as they stared into the fire or the sparse, star-lit sky. Though each person each had a different level of dysfunction or injury, there was one thing you all had in common: all your injuries had been caused by pokémon.
Over to my left, there sat a girl in a wheelchair, Marianne Threatcher. Her legs were gone, and her face, which had once been as beautiful as a doll of the finest porcelain, was now as disfigured as a patchwork quilt. Her family had been mauled by a lone male Ursaring when they had unknowingly camped in his territory during mating season. She was the most fortunate one in her family: she was the only person to get out alive. Marianne was new to the Deseret Institute, and here she was, chatting amiably with the woman beside her--a nurse paid to look over the disfigurements and pretend they were not there. Despite all of this, she was smiling, and she bore no ill will to the monster that had effectively torn her life apart. She would later make a full recovery and become one of the most prolific speakers Hoenn has ever known.
To her immediate left was a man staring into the sky, eyes blank and old beyond his years, contemplating things better left for the dying. He had no name that he wished to tell. He had been stabbed through by his own Nidoking, horrifically poisoned and left for dead. The man remembered every painstaking detail. Unlike the girl, in another three months he was doomed to die in a world that didn’t care.
There was another, among many, that stuck out from the small crowd of patients and nurses that night. This one was a small brown-haired boy who had his throat torn out by a Rattata he had tried to catch with a pokéball. He was seven years old, bright, and obviously trying to smile. He would return to school as soon his throat healed, but he would never quite recover. He would later hang himself in the attic of his family’s quaint country home with a rope wrapped with barbed wire, and all because he had been constantly hazed, teased, and made fun of because of his disability by a group of boys who should have been his friends. He turned fourteen on the day of his funeral.
Even now, it is hard for me to believe that you are still one of the lucky ones.
I looked over in your direction, where you were taking a small helping of soup from a humming Chansey. You didn’t say anything as you took the bowl and played with the contents with your spoon. A few pieces of broccoli floated to the surface against the creamy liquid. You stared at it for a long time before looking up at me and pausing.
“Who are you again?” you asked, frowning.
Your frown turned into a deep grimace. You toyed with your spoon, nearly spilling the bits of egg cupped inside it. You dump the substance back in, before taking another spoonful sans the egg. This time, you do more than stare. You try to form a word with your mouth, but it never comes full circle as you battle for a memory that won’t come.
“Gardevoir”--You pointed to the contents in the spoon, most particularly, to a piece of grayish matter that had bubbled to the surface-- “What’s that?”
I stared at the object in question. “A mushroom.”
Your eyes lit up with a sudden understanding, but within seconds, the glow was almost fully extinguished. “Mushroom?”
Your jaw locked and went taunt. Your eyebrows creased into a wedge-like shape, and horrid lines criss-crossed all over your face like a cancerous disease. You suddenly looked so very old, and less like the human I remembered.
You shoved the spoonful of the soup down your throat, followed by another, and another, and another as your arm trembled. Your eyes hardened, while your grimace became sterner and deeper at each mouthful.
You suddenly stand up, and people turn to look at you, surprised or perhaps curious.
The bowl clattered to the ground, its contents bleeding into the red earth as you marched into the darkness without a single word.
That was twenty years ago...
You stare despairingly into the campfire, before moving your eyes to address the pot whose bubbling innards are to be your meal for tonight. Soup, to be exact. You shift positions on the old log you’re using as your cushion. It’s a rather chunky sort, perhaps more of a stew than a soup, stuffed with an assorted array of vegetables and things... really, anything you could find that looked edible. Although... it currently looks far too green for your liking.
Mari seems a bit more satisfied with her meal, gnawing on a bone she presumably scavenged from somewhere during her habitual scouting expeditions to soothe her curious and wandering nature. It’s been three days since the rather eventful battle with the Ralts, and she seems entirely recovered in spirit. Her outward physical appearance is still rather haggard, covered in faded burn welts, and missing large patches of fur, especially around her muzzle--that has been reduced into a layer of pale pink flesh. The poison via the Ralts’s apparent Synchronize ability had also been flushed out of her body, and she seems as rambunctious as ever.
From the evil glint in her eyes, however, it seems the dog hasn’t quite yet forgotten the pokémon that gave her those injuries. You can see her flit dark, venomous glares towards the female Ralts in question. Sitting against an old tree stump, the Ralts seems to be as listless as they come, staring blankly--though more boredly if you were to describe it--into the distance.
You have no problem with the psychic being outside her pokéball; she can’t go anywhere--not with Mari watching and your high-tech pokéball recall system waiting in the wings if she tried to Teleport or run. She’s done neither.
Finally deciding your insidious blend of edibles is done, you ladle the chunky stew into a large, plastic bowl. On the top floats a few stray leaves from the berries you threw in for good measure, hoping to improve the taste. They look like ash, and no doubt taste just as appetizing.
You’ve never been much of a cook, but you can’t exactly afford any of the expensive stuff that actually tastes decent. All of the money you earn goes towards new pokéballs, antidotes, potions, and burn heals.
When you first started your journey, you lived shamelessly off hot soda pop, bread, and candy. But you soon learned that soda pop tends to explode after frequent walking, candy gets stolen by the friendly neighborhood Zigzagoon, (the next one to come within a ten foot radius of your food supplies is going to get Mari’s teeth sunk into its furry ass), and bread just doesn’t taste or look good after lots of walking in ever-changing weather conditions, especially through (as trainers around Hoenn often joke) Mother Nature’s time of the month--that is, when things turn rainy and miserable.
With that lesson learned, you’ve currently been living off trail mix, H20, and baked Cheetos more or less.
You sigh. Such is the life of a pokémon trainer.
You swirl around your impromptu mixture with your plastic spoon, watching as a few round objects bubble to the surface. You carefully ladle a spoonful of the stew out of the bowl, watching the liquid simmer in the cool evening air. You suddenly regret using your last antidote on the Ralts three days ago. You have the distinct feeling you just might need it.
Mustering up a great deal of courage, you swallow a generous spoonful of the soup, gasping and nearly choking on a piece of potato you liberated from a farm you passed by yesterday. That is soon followed by nearly half the water remaining in your canteen. Your frown turns into a full scale grimace of pure, unadulterated disgust as full flavor of your meal hits you with all the force of a dump truck full of rotten food and maggots.
You spoon up another mouthful and shove it down your throat. It’s either this or starve.
Something tiny, unfamiliar, and brown bobs to the surface. You pause.
You’d rather starve.
But you’re not to not about to let your hard-made meal go to waste. That would just be stupid and wasteful. You don’t even remember how long it took to gather all of those supplies.
“Mari!” Her ears perk up, reminding you of an over-enthusiastic rabbit given a longer tail. “Mari! Mari, here, girl!” You push the red bowl in her direction, knowing your starter pokémon wouldn’t take it even if he was starving. Her tail abruptly stops drumming its bolero on the ground. She lets out a long, drawn-out whine, eyeing the bowl with no secret display of suspicion, her enthusiasm wilting all too quickly.
You eye her. Since childhood, you’ve been under the impression that dogs have nothing less than iron-coated stomachs --“You trust me, don’t you?” -- As well as an unquenchable thirst to please.
“Yin!” Not a moment’s hesitation.
“You know I’d never do anything to hurt you, right?”
“Y...Yin...” Her tone falls a few notches.
“Just try it,” you insist. “Come on.”
She slinks towards the bowl, sniffing it with her keen, red nose. Slowly, her pink tongue begins to lap up the mixture, her face indistinguishable. She makes a noise, before shoving her whole face in like a pig and gulping down a portion that you wouldn’t have deemed possible for such a small animal.
Mari immediately turns a delicate shade of green, and retches, mirroring a cat coughing up a particularly thick, gooey hairball. Somehow, she manages to keep it in, but knocks over the bowl with her paw, leaving no chance for you to rescue your home-made poison. She purses her mouth and gags. Her stare is almost as accusing as it is hurt.
“...Sorry.” You fold your arms across your knees, not really sorry but mildly sympathetic.
The remaining soup still nags on your conscience like a taunt pull-string of a toy a child is trying to gently wrench out of a tight corner. If there’s another thing you’ve learned in your travels, it’s that wasting anything is liable to drive you nuts now that everything you own has suddenly become important. You suppose you could try and feed it to another--...
You mental processes surge to a chugging halt. Very aware of the pair of red eyes that are now trailing you from the corner, you shift positions from your sitting log. The thought suddenly occurs to you that the Ralts probably hasn’t eaten at all today. She’s never psychically voiced anything for days now. She only has once--or, rather, you thought she did, though it could have been a passing thing--otherwise, you would’ve believed she was mute, or was never going to talk to you at all. This was far from the dreams you envisioned when you began your hunt.
“Umm...” you begin. “Want some?”
It doesn’t take a fast-action camera to catch the psychic-type’s baleful glare. Mari growls in disapproval, rising to her haunches, searching for an excuse to attack.
“You sure? It’s really--”
With a loud clang, the red bowl on the ground takes flight, nearly slamming into Mari’s chest as she jumps backwards, fur bristling in anger as her fangs gleam.
You don’t quite know what do say.
“Down, Mari,” you say, trying to soothe down the snarling Poochyena while trying to keep calm yourself.
The Ralts sneers.
“Umm.. I probably have some regular food you could have if you’re hungry... or Mari could probably find some berr--”
“Orrr maybe not.”
Again, the Ralts continues to completely and utterly ignore you. Her look suggests that you’re not worth much more than dirt, with Mari not being worth anything. For the past three days you’ve tried to be courteous, and hoped your personality would rub off on her.
“Listen, I know we got off on the wrong foot...”
The Ralts’s countenance twists into an odd, jaded smile and she laughs. “Let me go.”
If there was any doubt she was female before, there isn’t now. The telepathic voice is deep and commanding, but still feminine, while at the same time, stoic and emotionless.
You don’t allow yourself to be anything but cheerful, hiding your surprise. “Can’t do that.” You smile wryly. You’d be the laughingstock. “Things will get better, I promise. Why don’t we start off with... I dunno... introducing ourselves properly? You know... you do have a name, don’t you? I can’t just keep calling you Ralts for the rest of--”
“I only give my name to those who are worthy.”
You suddenly have the urge to compare her to an old, condemned house given a personality. “You’re probably just hungry...”
“You try and feed me any of that human food, and I’ll shove it down your throat.”
You force yourself to laugh. “It’s not that bad...”
Mari makes a loud retching noise.
“You thought it was disgusting.”
“What?” Your insides jump, wary. “You read my mind?”
“No,” the Ralts responds, with a tone that suggests that she wouldn’t care to. “I could feel it. It’s hard to ignore an emotion as strong as that one was.”
“All right. So it was disgusting. But you might li--”
“I doubt it.”
“Listen, I know you don’t like traveling with me much now, but--”
“I can’t,” you say stiffly, fumbling for an excuse, but finding none to justify your means.
“Selfish. All of you humans are selfish and greedy.” She now reminds you of a kettle about to boil over at any second if you don’t turn the heat down, despite the otherwise cool exterior.
Mari snickers, baring her fangs at the annoying creature. “PINYEN!”
The kettle’s top blows loose and the steam flies with a loud yell from the Ralts in her native tongue. The stainless steel pot blurs through the air, contents flying in a goopy puddles of mess into the berry bushes, dripping off them like slime, while the pan and the remainder of the meal makes contact with Mari’s face, sending the pup careening backwards, now drenched in soup with the large pot for a cap that engulfs her completely.
You quickly grab both Ralts’s and Mari’s pokéballs, preparing to recall them if things get worse.
“What was that for?” you shout, moving quickly to your feet as Mari tosses the gleaming silver pot off of her, soaked to the bone and ready to murder. “Mari! Down! DOWN!”
“She called me a Mushroomhead,” she hisses, spitting out the last word as if it were a vile poison. She then challenges the sopping Mari with a leer that matches the dark-type’s own.
“And what did you call her?” Your patience is wearing thin. You can feel the hot blood rushing to your head, promising a migraine and a nasty bout of acne in the near future if you don’t bottle it with all haste.
The Ralts grins. Barely. “Guess.”
A certain swearword immediately comes to mind. “Well, neither would be far off from the truth, now, would it?”
Two sets of eyes are drilling into you now, with Mari’s golden ones gleaming with hurt, the Ralts’s garnet eyes shining with resentment, but you find that you don’t really care. Whoever said pokémon training was an easy task should be shot, revived, and shot again.
You grimace and back down, taking a seat on your woody cushion. Your stomach rumbles and you halfway wish the soup--as bad tasting as it was--hadn’t been destroyed. Almost. You continue to breathe deep, trying to put a stopper on the tumultuous emotions. It’ll do no one any good if you explode and let Mari have free reign. She’d probably kill the thing.
You inhale, exhale, sigh. “What do you hate so much about being with a trainer?”
“All we are are just glorified slaves,” she replies bitterly, adding “It’s true,” as Mari began to growl again, “You just happen to be tame.”
“Well, I don’t consider being stuck in ball all the time as my definition of freedom.”
“You don’t have to be in the pokéball if it bugs you that much.”
“Really?” she says, looking surprised, but suspicious and disbelieving.
You jerk your head towards Mari, who’s now sat herself besides your legs, trying to dry herself off with her tongue and looking disgusted. “She’s out all the time.”
Mari snarls again, revealing a row of dagger-sharp fangs. “Yeeen, Pinye--”
You glare at the dog. “Mari...”
She quiets immediately. “Che.”
“Besides, you like to fight, don’t you? It’d not like you’re timid-natured, or anything.” --though you wish to Mew she was-- “You sure as hell gave Mari a run for her tail” --you then point to your badly bruised cheek-- “and nearly gave me a broken jaw.”
It takes her awhile to answer, with a drawing murmur of half-hearted agreement on her part, immediately followed by a verbal jab by Mari that you silence with a meaningful thrust of your right foot. You breathe in a lungful of the cool night air. You feel your rapid breathing slow and your blood begin to cool, and hope the Ralts will follow your example.
Suddenly, you get an idea, a tiny flit of one in the back of your head. You clear your throat. “Listen,” you say, sounding perhaps a bit too eager as you muster up the most amusing thoughts you possess. “What if we make a deal?”
“I get you to laugh within ten minutes, and you willingly come with me. I don’t, I’ll release you.”
The Ralts stares at you, taking you in on your offer. She takes a few minutes to respond, finally nodding her head, with a hesitant, though over-condfident “fine.”
You grin, hoping it makes her uneasy as you conjure up your most pleasant family memories, hoping, being the “Emotion Pokemon” she is, that she’ll begin to feel the mood too, and pray that’ll leak in to her current morose disposition, and make her do a 180--even for a single split second. They do say emotions can be infectious and, to a Ralts, perhaps extremely potent.
You observe her with all caution, not wanting to upset the current ambiance in any way, hoping to see her crack a smile as you grin fiendishly, stoked at your sudden flash of near genius. She can’t beat the memories you got, and if those memories can get the most callous of relatives to laugh, they can surely get a saturnine Ralts --no matter how unwilling--to laugh.
It was difficult, allowing the years to fly by, watching you lose a little bit more of your old physical self as you aged. But it was even harder to watch you flounder in a sea of uncertainty - about yourself, present, past, and future.
In hopes to rekindle some form of recognition in you, the psychologists of the Deseret Institute gave you a journal. It was a petty thing, black and unwelcoming, with your name scribbled in bold, white letters on the front. They encouraged you to write in it, because you still knew how to write and talk, though you didn’t know how you knew. It puzzled everyone how you knew words and those types of finer skills, yet couldn’t remember the events in which you learned them, though secretly they were fascinated.
They’d remind you about your journal every day, making sure it was by your bedside when you woke up in the morning, hoping that if you looked back, you’d realize that you indeed had a yesterday, a today, and a page for tomorrow.
You wrote in it. There would be times when you would fill up pages of it with incoherent, rambling nothings, but most days you wrote but two things:
The date, and the lone sentence:
Today, I have finally woken up for the first time.
Each day you would continue to write your mantra, boldly striking out those same words that lay but one line up in thick, black pen. You’d do so until the sharp point of the writing utensil tore the paper, and scoured the white beneath it with thick black lines of rejection. Because how could this be? You couldn’t quite comprehend or realize why this person said they were you when you couldn’t remember writing it.
I could feel your frustration leaking in at a steady rate, heightening at the apex of the day, before decaying at the dusk. Most of the time, you’d remain relatively calm, your brows knitting together in distress; however, sometimes you’d work yourself into a frenzy, because there was writing in your book--writing that was supposedly by you, but you could not remember doing.
There were countless times during the years if I wondered if my attempts were working--if causing you to relive the memories you had forgotten were doing you any good at all. And they were well-founded, as day after day after day you awoke with nothing to your name.
But then again, there were other times when I felt my therapy was working, even if the effect was so minuscule, it was easy to brush off. There were times when you’d wake up from these living dreams, shouting a name you once knew, or sitting up in bed with a strange thought of familiarity as your eyes fell on me by your bedside--a single, tiny spark of comprehension that I could immediately recognize. Your eyes would be unclouded, at you’d be just at the brink of truly discovering a great treasure, when that hint of gold would disappear, and you were silver once again.
“Who are you?” you’d ask upon waking, just like every morning. This one was in the confines of winter, where hints of evergreen dominated an otherwise white landscape through the window.
“Gardevoir,” I’d repeat, as was my mantra each and every day.
“No,” you insisted, brows scrunching up in thought. “No. Who are you?”
Your brows creased. “No... your name.” You paused, shifting uncomfortably, an unvoiced plea for help that would not be answered.
You could not hold eye contact with me any longer, head snapping towards the fogged window as your hands clenched into fists. “That’s not it!” Your voice rose, harsh and cold like the world outside. “I know that’s not it. Your name. Tell me.”
I watched you, refusing to answer as snow began to fall in thick lumps of fleece. Then, I said as silence fell with the snowflakes, “You tell me.”
For the day when you remembered my name would be the day you truly remembered me. No hope came on that day, frozen to its perch like the Taillow found on the pine trees that subzero morning. But it was on days like these that I allowed myself to believe, and found the patience to wait for spring.
That was fifteen years ago...