A little harsh language (like two words) and some minor violence.
Anyway, I feel like I say this with every one-shot I write, but I wanted to try something new when I started writing this. Honestly, I'm worried that due to my inexperience with the subject matter, things may have come off
as painfully hamfisted a tad too cheesy. But despite that, I'm very happy with the message, no matter how generic it might be.
Also a little canon expansion going on, which is always nice. :) I hope you like it.
Why did you die?
She left the Pokémon Tower late in the evening, trudging home beneath the swirls of bright, fluorescent colors brought to life by the pollution in the air. She knew her mother would be suspicious of where she had been for the past few hours but the girl couldn’t quite bring herself let go of her past. It was too soon for that.
Once she entered the door of her home, engulfed in a wet warmness carrying the powerful scent of alcohol, she saw to her dismay that Rick was there, sitting on the torn, brown couch with her mother draped over him.
“Hi, Mom, sorry I’m late,” she said quickly, avoiding a couple strewn-about bottles as she quickly tried to get to her room.
“What, ain’t got no ‘hi’ for me?” Rick asked, revealing his spotted yellow teeth with a mean-spirited grin. The mother giggled and buried her face in his neck, her stringy black hair swaying about as she explored the area with her tongue yet again.
“Hi…” she mumbled, trying to avoid getting a good look as her mother rubbed his bare, sunken-in chest while working her way up to nibbling on his ear.
“Angela,” the woman said suddenly, releasing her boyfriend. “Did you go to school today?”
“… yeah…” She was right at her door. Her nose was almost touching the fake wood. If she would’ve gone just a little faster she could have avoided the conversation she knew to be coming.
“You little fuckin’ liar.” Rick took a small swig from his foggy brown bottle, a drop escaping through his sloppy handling and running down his unshaven cheek, and stood. Angela turned around and saw him staring at her. Or rather, staring in her direction while struggling to maintain his balance. “The school called. They said you wasn’t there today. So…” He dropped his drink and she watched the glistening brown liquid spill onto the already-stained carpet. He then took a step towards her, bare foot landing directly in the fresh puddle. “Where were ya?”
“I was just at the, uh… the Tower.” She put her hand behind her back and grabbed the doorknob tightly.
“Oh my God, Angela!” The mother stood now, slightly more steady than Rick. “The dog died two days ago. I thought we were done with all that! Lord knows you cried enough for all three of us.”
Rick approached the girl. “You’re goin’ to school tomorrow,” he muttered, inches from her face. She couldn’t stand to breathe the air surrounding him. “Got that?” She merely stared, focusing on anything but the scraggly little man in front of her. After a couple seconds, he grabbed her shoulder and shoved her against the door while her mother screamed at him not to touch her. “Got that!?” She nodded and backed quickly into her room, slamming the door and locking it behind her while the two adults began yelling at each other with increasing volume.
She sat on the floor at the edge of her bed. She then reached to her side to grab the familiar ball of fur but her fingers simply grabbed the air. He was really gone. She pictured him crawling onto her lap like he had always done, leaning up against her shoulders and licking her face relentlessly. She laughed. However, he soon faded away and she was left alone again.
She wasn’t going to cry again. She had promised herself that. But with her Pokémon gone, she didn’t know what she had to hold on to. She had grown up thinking that because her mother had never paid much attention to her, she was completely independent. But she wasn’t. She saw that now.
Doing what she always did when she needed to tune out the yelling, as well as the loudness of her own thoughts, she turned on her small television. The news anchor narrated a story of a Marowak being killed by criminals at the top of the Pokémon Tower while trying to protect its baby. It made her feel sick.
Deciding she could give in for just one more night, she fell asleep with tears on her face. Things had to look better in the morning.
The wet stains had become dry ones, the screaming had changed into the snoring of two passed out adults, and the comforting finality of the night was now the uneasy beginning of a long day. It was different but decidedly worse now that daylight left no ambiguity.
She didn’t dare stay home, though. She wasn’t afraid of Rick’s threat; it had stopped being fear years ago. She simply had the instinct to obey. She didn’t even think about the consequences anymore. Going to school was now what she must do and there would be no questions. So she left, stepping over any messes that had been made during the night, and exited the home.
The walk was much longer than she had ever remembered it being. There was no one for her to talk to now and nothing to distract her from the fact that each and every day from now on would be like this. The only noises were the soft thumping of her worn shoes on the pavement and a group of kids her age several yards in front of her laughing and joking.
She missed the sound of his barks and yelps while they marched around town. She wanted to race with him again and just sit outside the school together to make up the time they saved by running. With him by her side, she just felt different. She felt proud. Even his smell, something she had never noticed before, appeared to have left a huge mark in her mind. But most of all, she just missed having someone there.
For the first time since day one of kindergarten, she found herself looking forward to school. She had grown accustomed to being alone there since pets weren’t allowed inside. It was normalcy. It was almost shocking when she remembered how bad normalcy tasted. Almost.
It wasn’t the classes that were bad. The teachers had to be nice to her no matter how obvious her poor hygiene was and no one could do anything to her with an authority figure in the room. Lunch was, as always, the trial.
The cafeteria was abuzz with the typical conversations had from each day to the next while she sat alone at one of the large round tables with no food or drink, simply staring as she had for the past one hundred-and-twelve days. She studied those around her, feeling as always that every joke and the following round of laughter were at her expense.
She remembered pet day back in elementary. Every year, for one day, the students were allowed to bring their pet to school and play with them at recess. Those were the best days. It was the only time she joined in any of the playground games. When he was there, she didn’t have to be afraid. She could just have fun.
Her eyes widened as she saw a boy approaching her. She recognized him as Todd Odom. Her first reaction after seeing him, she glanced at his regular table and saw, with no surprise, that his group of beautiful friends were looking at her.
‘What do they want?’ she thought.
“Rhonda… right?” He sat down and looked at her, smiling slightly. His teeth were very white, so she didn’t correct him. She liked his smile and didn’t want him to stop. She only nodded. “I heard your dog died a couple days ago.” She remained silent. “Well my Poochyena died a few weeks ago so I know that it really sucks. If you want, you could come with us to the movies tonight. Y’know, just to get your mind off things.”
Butterflies filled her stomach and she dug her fingernails into the tops of her legs. She had never gone to the movie theater before, let alone with actual friends. There were so many things racing through her mind, but the most prominent was a feeling of joy. Surprising, authentic, fresh joy with no strings attached. Her mistake was taking her eyes off of Todd’s teeth and looking back at his friends.
They were smiling. ‘It’s a set-up,’ Angela thought, suddenly sitting erect and wary.
“Would you… want that…?” he asked after the moment’s silence.
“Leave me alone,” she replied icily. “I’m fine.” The look on Todd’s face as he slowly stood and left made her regret her words instantly. It was convincingly sincere. But there was no undoing it. She had just burned that bridge as she had a dozen others.
That was the last thing she said to anyone at school that day.
As soon as the final bell rang, she went back to the Tower. She didn’t want to, but she felt that if she could just talk to him again, maybe things could look up. He may not reply by softly licking her hand or wagging his tail, but he might still be listening.
She noticed a young boy in red standing next to her, also looking at the tombstone, one amongst thousands of others. His face was grave.
“My Growlithe…” she explained in a murmur. She soon forgot he was there as she searched her brain for the right words, biting her lower lip. “… why did you die?” It was all she could say, though there was so much more that she needed to get out.
She should have seen it coming. He had slowed down so much as the years went on and the look in his eyes had dulled slowly from the glittering blue excitement when she had first met him as a puppy to the listless stare that had appeared within the past few months. Still, knowing the ending didn’t make finding him that morning, curled up at the foot of her bed and not breathing, any less horrifying.
She swallowed and continued staring for a full hour more, picturing how every facet of her life that had been made bearable by his presence would now be nothing but the colors of a bleak, lonely existence smeared together into a single, miserable life. The walks they had taken together to get away from her mother would, if she chose to walk alone, be only extensions of her exile. She could no longer go fishing, lest she allowed herself to be caught by the same group of boys who had pushed her into the water last summer. She would have no protection this time, however. She would never have anyone on her side again.
She walked home. Before she even opened the peeling white door, she could hear the shouting. But that was nothing new. The real surprise was that her mother was packing a suitcase in the middle of her screaming match with Rick. Once the woman spotted her daughter, she informed her that she was leaving.
“I’m goin’ to Saffron,” she said, glaring at her boyfriend. “And you’re coming with me. Go pack.”
“What!?” She thought about the Tower and her Growlithe. “We can’t leave, Mom! My… my friends are here and-”
“Friends?” she asked, shoving a couple more dirty t-shirts amongst the others. “Don’t kid yourself, Angela. Now get in there and pack up your shit!”
“But Mom…” She thought frantically and decided that all she could say was the truth. “I don’t want to leave Growlithe…”
Her mother looked up from packing. Angela looked directly into her eyes. They were red, dull, and clearly exhausted. Then, stretching her thin lips into a scowl, the woman said very loudly: “I don’t care.”
As always, Angela ran to her room. As always, she locked the door. And as always, she turned on the television, catching a glimpse of the reporter speaking as he stood at the base of the Pokémon Tower, announcing the city’s plan to move all of the graves to a different location.
She broke. It wasn’t the first time she had had these thoughts, but it would certainly be the last. Lifting up her mattress, she saw the gun her mother had once kept to herself. The girl had stolen it after the first time she was left alone with a drunken Rick.
“All of the graves will need to be extracted and moved to the new underground cemetery currently under construction.”
She grabbed it and stuck the barrel to her temple, crying in wheezes and staring dead-faced at the television screen.
This was it. She was really doing it. Sixteen nearly unbearable years of only the loosest definition of living and it would all be ending soon.
“Plans for the soon-to-be empty tower? It will become Kanto’s central radio headquarters.”
The metal was cold and the trigger felt loose. She wondered if she would feel it or if she would be gone instantly. The guilt that her mother would feel entered her mind and she couldn’t help but enjoy herself thinking about it. It was the ultimate escape and the ultimate revenge.
It was now or never.
“In other news, the baby Cubone whose mother died to defend yesterday has now found a new home at the Pokémon shelter with Mr. Fuji. The criminals were reportedly defeated by an anonymous trainer while Mr. Fuji kept the infant Pokémon safe for sixteen hours at gunpoint.” Footage of volunteers playing with and taking care of injured Pokémon played.
Angela stared. And she kept staring. At some point, she set the gun down. Then, she packed. The next day, she moved. She decided to try and hold on. She let go of the past. Whatever it was, it was gone and not coming back. She didn’t even attempt to find anything in the present. It wasn’t doing her any favors. She only held onto her future. It was a loose grip and many, many times, she almost let go. Her only source of strength was reminding herself that maybe, if she could just hold on long enough, things would get better.