An everywhere of cold ice lights
Glowing holes in midnight fabric
A scattering of stars and nighttime frights
To play a game and laugh and trick
Beside the warm orange bright
As sly as a little fox, their minds are quick
Whitlea stood on the stool, reading the poem. She didn’t have any idea what it was talking about, but at the end of the poem in a corner of the paper was “Oh dear, Whitlea and Blair have turned up again.”
She tucked the letter into her dress pocket and scampered over to the fireplace where her brother was playing with his Pokémon. He was always playing with his Pokémon. There wasn’t a time when he was away from them, but then again, neither was she. Whitlea playfully pounced on the Darmanitan and rolled him away into the fireplace.
“Hey!” shouted Blair. “I was playing with him! You can’t just randomly push my Pokémon into the fire! That’s rude and I’m telling!”
“Nobody cares,” Whitlea sang. She giggled as the Darmanitan climb out of the flames and shake embers of his red-orange pelt. She added, “And Darmanitan isn’t even yours. It’s daddy’s.”
Whitlea pulled open the drapes and stared out into the summer night as Blair checked to see if Darmanitan was alright. Outside was breezy and the air was thick with the chirps of Tympoles and a million hidden crickets. Daddy and Mom were sitting outside on wickerwork chairs and playing mahjong.
“There’s life in the old dog yet, Luna,” said Daddy.
“Mm-hm,” agreed Mom. She was paying more attention to the mahjong board than the conversation.
“Listen, it all comes back to the legend. The Hero and the Dark and Light dragon. The Yin Lady and the Yang Lord will come and fetch the Hero. Maybe that’s their plan all along.”
“Oh, I don’t think so, Rolf. Their minds work in strange ways, but come on; it can’t be far-fetched as that. And oh, look. I win this round.” Mom clicked together five matching tiles.
It must be one of those conversations that went in circles and sometimes figure-eights even, but never seemed to come to a conclusion. These conversations were as comfortable as wickerwork chairs, and equally as boring. Beyond Daddy and Mom were the woods, full of tall grass and creatures that hid in trees and under rocks.
Whitlea grinned. It was time for exploration.
“Come on!” she shouted to her brother. “Let’s go play in the woods!”
“The woods? But Mom said no!”
“I guess you’re chicken, then,” said Whitlea, smirking.
Blair looked conflicted. He glanced at the dark trees and thought that playing tag there would be fun, but they’d get in trouble.
“Just for a little while, come on,” wheedled Whitlea. “We can bring Darmanitan along. He can keep us safe.”
Blair gave in. He got up and motioned for Darmanitan to follow him. Whitlea grinned and skipped past her parents.
“Where are you going?” asked Mom. “You know you’re not allowed in the woods.”
“Just for a little while, please, please! Blair and me won’t go far. We also have Darmanitan with us. Please can we go?” Whitlea whined and made puppy eyes for good measure.
Daddy looked down at his watch and said, “Twenty minutes and we’ll come to get you.”
“Twenty minutes, and they could be anywhere,” said Mom.
“Promise me you won’t go far,” said Daddy.
“We promise!” chorused the twins.
Daddy nodded and Whitlea whooped with glee, darting through the grass and into among the trees, her brother following closely behind. The forest was lit with slivers of silver, and through the gaps in the canopy a sickle moon hung in they night, yellow as old men’s teeth.
Darmanitan held a fistful of fire in front of him, making the shadows shiver and dance. Whitlea punched Blair in the stomach and yelled, “You’re it!” before streaking away, leaping over the gnarled knobby roots like a Deerling.
Blair massaged his stomach, cursing his sister in his head before giving chase. Darmanitan followed behind, running on his left hand and feet.
“I’m coming to get you!” Blair yelled.
“You’ll never catch me!” cried Whitlea’s voice. It seemed faraway and muffled, as if she was hiding behind something.
“Throw fire into the air or something,” he said to Darmanitan, “Y’know, to see where she is.”
Darmanitan flung the fire up where it flared in midair, casting its warm orange light over the leaves and ferns. Blair spotted something flee from behind a tree and quickly followed, laughing and shouting. The light made his shadow look like a tall, slightly shapeless man, as if he was wearing robes.
Finally Whitlea stopped, panting and gasping. Blair pushed her to the floor, crowing with triumph. “Gotcha! Ha ha!”
But when Darmanitan brought the light over, Blair found that he hadn’t caught his sister, but another boy that’s slightly older than him with long hair. The other boy looked stunned.
“Oh, um, sorry ‘bout that,” said Blair, helping him up. “What’s your name?”
“You caught the wrong person, stupid head!” said Whitlea. She emerged from a nearby fern, laughing.
“What’s your name?” asked Blair again, ignoring his sister.
“N,” said the other boy.
“N? What kind of a name is that?” asked Whitlea. Then her eyes lit up with another taunt and she said gleefully, “Oh, I know! N stands for Nobody!”
The boy called N looked a bit hurt and Blair quickly said, “Ignore her, she’s crazy. My name’s Blair, by the way. That’s my sister Whitlea.”
“Maybe N stands for Nothing,” giggled Whitlea, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
“No, it doesn’t,” said N.
“Well, then what does it stand for?”
“It’s just N.”
Whitlea shrugged. “Okay, then. Wow, what a weird name.”
“Stop being so rude to people,” snapped Blair. He shook his head at his sister and offered to N, “Why don’t you come play tag with us?”
“Say, where do you come from N?” asked Whitlea. “I’ve never seen you in White Forest before, and Blair and me know almost everybody. Did you just move here?”
“No, uh, I come from somewhere else,” said N. He spoke in a shy, quiet kind of voice.
That answer seemed to satisfy Whitlea, and she moved onto the next question.
“How old are you? Blair and me are eight. We’re twins, by the way.”
“Ten? That means you can get your trainer’s license and take Pokémon with you on a journey!” said Blair excitedly.
N, however, looked taken aback. “Take Pokémon on a journey? Are you crazy? We should never do that!”
“What the heck do you mean?” asked Whitlea.
“We shouldn’t take Pokémon on journeys and stuff them into Pokéballs! Haven’t you ever though that that’d make them sad? How would you like it if someone stuffed you into a Pokéball and lugged you around, never letting you come out whenever you want?”
“Well, uh, I haven’t thought of that…”
“Nobody ever does. People are stupid, they don’t ever think about anyone other than themselves.” And with that, N turned around and marched off into the woods.
“Weird guy,” said Whitlea. She turned to Blair and said, “We should go back home.”
“Have you guys taken my poetry again?” asked Daddy next morning at breakfast.
The twins snickered and Whitlea pulled the poem from her dress pocket. She asked, “Why do all your poems have ‘Oh dear, Whitlea and Blair have turned up again’ written at the bottom?”
“Take a wild guess,” said Daddy. Mom chuckled into her morning coffee and shook her head. She always did that when she found her children being delightfully immature.
They were finishing their pancakes when Blair elbowed Whitlea and said, “Ask Daddy and Mom about what N said last night.”
“Hm? Oh, okay.” Whitlea asked her parents, “Is it true that people are stupid and selfish and don’t think about Pokémon’s feelings?”
Mom answered, “I think you’re talking about Team Rocket of Kanto, Whitlea. Now there’s a bunch of hateful idiots. Yes, there are some people that can’t see past their own noses because they’re so nearsighted, thinking only about themselves and not bothering to give a thought to anyone else. But there are also those who do have a heart and have the courage not only to stand up and talk, but also to sit down and listen.”
“Can we go play now?” asked Blair.
“After you’ve done all your chores.”
There were two loud groans and the twins ran out the door. They lived in a very old fashioned cottage and had to burn wood to cook and fetch water for baths. Whitlea gathered the logs from the pile in the outside clearing while Blair carried two buckets of water from the well, sloshing the water all over the ground. Mom helped Blair tip the water into the hand pump and Blair pumped it with a symphony of creaks and squeaks.
“Here, Blair,” said Mom, dumping several sheets into the basin. Water forced out of the pump and splashed over the sheets. Mom poured in soap and Blair took off his socks and shoes. Mom instructed him, “Just keep stamping on it, alright? The soap will go in and make the sheets clean.”
“Why can’t we live in a town and have a washing machine?” asked Blair.
“Because your father and I have always wanted to be closer to nature and White Forest is our dream come true,” said Mom, scrubbing hard at the laundry. “Besides, you like it here, don’t you? Don’t you like being with Pokémon and playing in the forest?”
“Yeah, but I don’t like chores,” said Blair.
Meanwhile, Whitlea was gathering more logs when she spotted N again. He was talking to Darmanitan and looked embarrassed when he saw Whitlea staring at him.
“Hey, N!” Whitlea yelled across the clearing. She dropped the logs and ran over to him.
Blair saw where his sister was heading and wanted to follow, but Mom said, “No you don’t Blair. Your sister will have to pick up those logs again, but you finish what you started.”
Blair was furious and stomped harder on the sheets, sending soap and water flying. Whitlea saw her brother not being able to come along and felt pleasantly smug. She waved at N and asked, “Whatcha doing?”
“Oh, hi,” said N. He still looked very sheepish. “Uh, nice Darmanitan. I’m glad you let it out to play.”
“Well, we have to, or it’ll burn the house down.”
N smiled, but it was a strange sort of smile, as if he hadn’t smiled in a long time and was out of practice.
“Do you want to come over and play for a bit?” Whitlea offered, but when she saw N’s face turn five shades of red, she asked, “What on earth is wrong with you? You look like you’re talking to the League Champion, the way your face is all red like that.”
“Whitlea!” said Mom. “Come here and pick up those logs! You have a chore to finish!”
“Okay!” Whitlea shouted back. She ran back to scoop up the logs and to her satisfaction, N was following behind hesitantly.
“Hullo,” said Daddy. “Who’s your friend?”
“His name’s N,” said Whitlea.
Daddy arched an eyebrow with amusement and said, “Just N? That’s a cool name.”
“Er, no. My last name’s Harmonia.”
“Harmonia? I’ve heard that name before, I think…”
“If you did, it’s probably because my father makes speeches all the time,” said N. Then he looked nervous and said, “Yeah, I think I better go. My father won’t like me being gone so long. He worries.”
“Can’t you stay for a little while?” said Whitlea.
“Yeah, stay for a while,” Blair chimed in, walking barefoot across the grassy clearing away from the water pump and the wet laundry.
“Um.” N looked all around, and finally nodded.
“Great!” Whitlea said with glee. She led the way into the small cottage.
The cottage had the living room and dining room together in the same space, the kitchen and bedrooms separate. The dining table was littered with newspapers and books, the rug was strewn with various toys, and the squashy yellow sofa was covered in a fine layer of red Darmanitan fur.
“Sorry,” said Blair. “It’s no castle, and nothing matches, but make yourself at home.”
Whitlea set the logs in the scullery and went to join her brother in the living room before something caught her eye. It was another poem.
“Hey, look! It’s one of Daddy’s weirdo poems!”
Candles glowing gently in the dark
Somewhere in the night a clock ticks
The most silent of footsteps walk
With a curiosity burning bright
A forbidden world’s on the other side
A fluttering of a heart, a flickering of light
Candles glowing gently in the dark
With a curiosity burning bright
Out of the window hangs a yellow sickle
A forbidden world’s on the other side
And a scattering of stars
“It’s a Litwick poem,” said N.
“How do you know?” asked Blair.
“From candles, you see. Litwicks are nocturnal, so I guess that’s why it’s at night. They’re also curious Pokémon. But why does it say ‘Oh dear, Whitlea and Blair have turned up again’ at the bottom of the page?”
“It’s ‘cause we always read his poems and take ‘em.” Whitlea snatched up the Litwick poem, gave it to N, and put the one from last night back.
The green-haired boy in his way too big beige T-shirt stared at the poem in is hand as if it was something alien from outer space. Mom poked her head through the window and asked them, “Hullo. Has Daddy gone to the farm yet? And who’s the green kid?”
“His name’s N,” said Whitlea.
Mom nodded and left. Blair explained, “Daddy’s an organic farmer. Y’know, he and Mom used to be super-strong Pokémon trainers. They were rivals and tried to see who could get all eight badges first. Mom got ‘em all before Daddy did, but don’t tell Daddy I told you that.”
N simply smiled his awkward smile and nodded. Whitlea and Blair wondered if the strange new boy was becoming mute. Plus, he was looking all around the cottage and scanning outside carefully as well.
“What are you expecting?” asked Blair.
“Yeah, do you think that aliens from outer space with ray guns and things are going to drop down and take you away or something?” said Whitlea.
“Something,” muttered N. He glanced behind him one last time and said, “Can I see the farm?”
The farm was a five minute walk from the cottage. The twins decided to walk in complete synchrony, talking, laughing, and blinking at the same time.
“Will you guys cut that out? It’s a bit freaky,” said N.
He was finally beginning to talk more. He spoke about how he was going to become king of something called Team Plasma and lived with seven sages.
Whitlea immediately asked him if he was religious.
“Once when Daddy and Mom were out, this religious dude came over to our house and was like, ‘Bless all in this house.’ I told him to scram or I’ll call the cops. Then he told me that I will feel ‘repentance for my deed’ and I should apologize. I picked up the telephone and pretended to call. He went away after that. It was funny.”
“I’m not religious. Plus, if someone’s blessing your house, it’s a good thing.”
N continued and told the twins about Pokémon.
“I play with them at home everyday. And…and they’re great friends, but…they’re all the same. They’ve all been mistreated by their Trainers. Once, there was this Deino that got dumped in a trash can because his Trainer was too impatient to level him up and evolve him into a Hydreigon. It was a terrible story. I wish…” N sighed and stared at the sky. “I wish all humans and Pokémon could be separate. Then no more Pokémon would be hurt.”
“Well…Mom said that yeah, there are bad people in the world who do bad things. But there are also good people who have a heart and have the courage not only to stand up and talk, but to also sit down and listen,” said Whitlea.
“I haven’t met any,” muttered N.
“You should probably go on a Pokémon journey then,” said Blair. “You’re old enough, and you get to meet tons of new people. Wouldn’t that be great? Traveling all over Unova and earning gym badges, making friends with lots of Pokémon, climb mountains, explore forests, cross seas, fly through the sky, and even get homesick…it’s so cool!”
N looked thoughtful for a moment. “Yeah, I guess that’d be pretty nice.” Then he smiled a real smile that wasn’t hesitant or awkward. “Yeah, that’s a great idea! I’ll go home and ask my dad if I could go! I want to know more people, and I want to make new friends. I want to be the League Champion…”
“Go for it, then!” said Whitlea.
Blair saw the farm ahead and tried to tell them that it wasn’t far now, but a shadow streaked across the road. N and Whitlea saw it too, and they looked for it. There were two more shadows, leaping among the trees with quick whoosh noises.
And then the shadows leaped down beside the trio. They were three men with white hair and clad in black with masks.
N’s smile vanished from his face at once. “Oh, it’s the Shadow Triad,” he said with disappointment.
Whitlea and Blair watched them with amazement. They had never seen anything like them before. Finally, Blair croaked, “A-are you ninjas?”
The Shadow Triad paid Blair no attention at all. They were still as wax statues and one of them said to N, “Come.”
N shook his head. “I made new friends, and they were going to show me their organic farm!”
“Ghetsis is waiting,” the Shadow Triad said. “Come.”
The twins stared. When they were told to do something they didn’t want to do at all, they usually screamed “NO!!!” as loud as they could. N’s soft “no” could’ve stopped a stampede of Tauros in their tracks.
At last Whitlea fidgeted and offered, “N, since you won’t tell us where you live, I’ll give you our address. Does anybody have a pencil?”
Blair luckily did. Whitlea took it and scribbled Number 8 Forest Lane, White Forest Village 94116 on the back of the Litwick poem. She handed it back to N and said, “You have to write. Tell me when you become king of whatever, okay?”
N stared at the address and nodded.
“Goodbye,” said the twins. “I hope we see you again.”
N waved silently farewell, and the Shadow Triad held his hand. The air twisted for a moment and they were…gone. Just like that.
For the rest of the summer, and all the summers that followed, Whitlea and Blair would grow to forget N. He never wrote and never came back, and gradually his face vanished from their memories.
They did remember playing tag in the woods though, with their parent sitting in wickerwork chairs and talking over a game of mahjong. They remembered shouting and laughing and chasing one another in a magnificent romp beneath a sickle moon as yellow as old men’s teeth. They remembered the poems, and the candles glowing gently in the night. The remembered the summer night, and a scattering of stars, each so faraway and so near at once. And they were all so evanescent, hanging on to them would be very hard.
But still, it was worth a try.
Wow, I haven't posted a fanfic in a LONG time. So here's something I wrote after watching the film My Neighbor Totoro for the billionth gazillionth time. It's a slice of life one-shot starring Whitlea and Blair, Unova protagonists. IMO, the ending and poetry sucks. Comments, questions, and criticisms are all accepted. I feel that I made some sort of mistake in this story, but I can't seem to pinpoint it. If you spot it, please tell me.