Warning: This one-shot deals with suicide. If you are uncomfortable with this, thank you for clicking this title, but please do not proceed.
JX Valentine has given me the go-signal to post this.
Spoiler:- Author's Notes:
He remembered the exact manner those two words were said to him: soft, restrained, muffled by the mask on the speaker’s mouth and the hesitation on the speaker’s face; monotone, straightforward, ignoring the stress that was supposed to be applied to the first syllable of the second word; unfeeling, indifferent, as if the enormity and complexity of emotions loaded in those two words can be encapsulated in the sideward nodding of the speaker’s head and in the vacant stare of the addressee’s eyes.
He also remembered what happened after: strained screaming, fierce sobbing, and an indefinite amount of curses spewing out of his mouth directly proportional to the indefinite amount of tears rolling down his cheeks.
He chose not to remember anything else. His mind chose otherwise.
“Table for one, please?”
He was clearing off a table when she entered the café. As she entered, she removed her blue sunglasses and placed it over her pink felt hat. Her head slowly swayed sideward, taking in each sight of one of the many cafés in Lumiose that she has been hearing about ever since she was young. Dusting off her pink-striped tank top and white jean shorts, she took a few steps forward, her aqua blue Mary Janes softly tapping on the black and white tiles.
On top of her shoulders was a small hairy object, and it took him five glances to figure out that it was a Scatterbug. He heard the Pokémon cry enthusiastically at the new sight, and he assumed it was because it had been seeing trees and grass for a hefty amount of time and it welcomed the calmness of the café. The Pokémon mimicked its trainer’s actions, widening its eyes left and right and shaking the dust off its hairy body in perfect harmony with its trainer.
One of his fellow waiters, a Lumiose local named Tristan, welcomed her and led her to a table. She bowed slightly to thank Tristan, took a seat in a manner that could only be described as delicate, and placed her pink ribbon purse on the seat beside her. He watched as she listened to Tristan say the customary greeting. “Welcome to Café Triste. May I offer you our special spicy ice cream? It’s made out of crushed Lava Cookies that come all the way from Hoenn.” He watched her smile slightly in response, saying that she would take a look at the menu first before ordering. He even saw her brown eyes move slightly as she scanned the café menu on the stand in front of her, her lips quivering as a response to the exaggerated descriptions of their average dishes.
“Hello! Earth to Russell!”
He turned around and saw Tristan giving him a frustrated look. “Did you hear any word I just said?”
“Yeah, yeah, of course,” Russell replied in between abrupt and distracted breaks. “Uhm, what were you saying again?”
“Always the daydreamer,” Tristan said with an annoyed sigh. “I was asking if you could take the new customer out of my hands and get her order for me. Boss just asked me to do inventory, and Raven’s on her break, so—”
“Sure, no problem!” Russell interrupted. “I’ll handle it.”
He didn’t even hear Tristan’s “Thanks, dude” as he walked towards her table. He glanced over at the mirrors hanging on the walls of the café, making sure no strands poked out of his combed black hair and no dirt was seen on his uniform. After a breath check and a small adjustment to his tie, he withdrew his notepad and pen and stood in front of her, her head still behind the café menu.
“Good afternoon, ma’am,” he said in the deepest voice a nineteen-year-old like him could muster up. “My name is Russell, and I’ll be your waiter for today. What will you be having?”
They got married four years after. At the start of his best man’s speech, Tristan proudly claimed, “I take full credit in being the reason these two lovebirds met.”
“It’s gonna be okay.”
She wanted two children, a boy and a girl. She wanted to name the boy James and the girl Mira. She wanted James to be the older brother, so he could protect his younger sister from whoever dared to bully her. She wanted Mira to be a professional Pokémon breeder just like her parents, and she wanted to teach her everything she knew about the underappreciated profession. She wanted to see Russell and James take camping trips in Santalune Forest and fishing trips in Azure Bay, and whatever other father-and-son activities they could think of. She wanted a happy family that lived peacefully in Anistar until James and Mira were grown up enough to meet their own handsome waiters or beautiful customers or whatever there was in between.
She did not want the miscarriage. Nor did she want the damaged uterus.
“Thankfully, the surgery took away all the potential risks to your health that the unborn fetus might have given you,” the doctor told her after her first surgery. “Unfortunately, you will be unable to bear any future children because of the complications in your uterus.”
She received the news wordlessly. She had shouted more than enough pleas when she was taken away from Russell and taken into the surgery room, and she had cried more than enough tears when they took the fetus out of her womb. In her mind, she knew at this point that fighting was hopeless, that there was nothing she could do to change her grim future. To her, the life the doctors had saved was not a life she wanted.
Sitting beside her was Russell, his face almost as blank as hers. Though they were mere centimeters apart, she knew what stood between them was more than any of them could fathom: the ever-rising costs inversely proportional to her ever-failing health, the amount of hard work Russell had to do for both of them, the adjustments both of them had to do to support her, the vanishing of James and Mira and any other thoughts of having a family from their minds, and the newfound impossibility of most of their dreams and ambitions.
“It’s gonna be okay, dear,” Russell kept on telling her after the doctor gave her the first of many prescriptions. “It’s gonna be okay.”
“Will that be all, sir?”
The clerk looked at her customer with a certain uneasiness. She noticed how his black hair looked like it hadn’t been washed for weeks, and how his face hadn’t been shaved even longer. His clothes also made her feel uncomfortable, what with his wrongly-buttoned polo, his unzipped pants, and his mismatching socks. But what disturbed her most was the pungent odor she could smell from him, not because of the dreadful scent that came from what seemed like an entire bathless month, but because of the specific smells she could identify: dead flowers, stale medicine, and dried blood.
In between them was a counter that carried only one item—an Escape Rope. She had no idea why he would need it; she didn’t see any Poké Balls on him, and he didn’t look like the type of person who would journey into a deep dungeon. What bothered her even more was the fact that this was the only item that he was buying. She would have understood if it was accompanied by a few Poké Balls and a handful of Potions, but when she asked him if he had anything else to buy, he replied by withdrawing 550 Poké’s worth of coins from his pocket and clumsily placing it beside the Escape Rope.
“All right, sir,” the clerk shrugged as he took his money. After pressing a few buttons on the cash register, she offered the printed receipt of the purchase to him. To her surprise, he refused to take it and instead clutched the Escape Rope with his hands, as if it was valued a hundred times more than what the receipt stated. She offered to give him a plastic bag for his purchase, but the glare she got as a reply told her that the Escape Rope and the man were inseparable.
Not knowing what else to do, she gave him the customary farewell. “Please come again!” she said, trying to mask her confusion and worry with as much liveliness as she could muster up.
Russell left the Poké Mart without another word. She would never understand, he thought.
“Yes! Yes yes yes!”
Russell saw the bride-to-be in front of him kiss her groom-to-be, with short screams of joy and disbelief coming out of her mouth. Behind them, the slowly setting sun framed the newly-engaged couple nicely, transforming the otherwise dull scene into a picturesque portrait, no doubt factoring into the groom-to-be’s decision of picking this particular spot for his proposal.
The familiarity of the sight lost some of its spark for him; in his days as a tourist photographer, he would take the picture of at least five newly-engaged couples each week. He made sure to frame them with either the sunset that spread out from the sea or the sundial that loomed over all of them. Before and after each of those photographs, he would congratulate the couple with the most heartfelt congratulations he could give them, an emotion that diminished as time passed.
He knew that his reaction to the sunset was doomed even before he started being a tourist photographer, for his familiarity with the sight dated back to two years before he started taking pictures of newly-engaged couples. He was twenty-two, and he was sitting at the exact same bench at around the same time. Beside him, she marveled at the scenic view of the setting sun, a sight she had been familiar with ever since she was born. Growing up in Anistar, she knew the park like the back of her hand, and she had experienced many first times within the fences of this park: the first baby tooth that fell out of her mouth, the first time she ever had a crush, the first time she got a bruise that required her to go to the hospital for treatment, the first Pokémon she ever encountered, the first time she watched the sun be engulfed by the sea. To her, this park was the most beautiful place in the whole world, and every time they visited it, she told him that she couldn’t imagine anything that could surpass its beauty.
That day, Russell told her that he would challenge that claim. He succeeded with a ring.
Her ring was made out of a Comet Shard he had picked up from the sands of Azure Bay when he was young. When he found out how valuable it had been, he vowed to himself that he would be saving it for the right moment, for he believed that something that looked so special was meant for something special. He personally asked a jeweler in Lumiose, who was one of Tristan’s friends, to make the Comet Shard the centerpiece of the ring. When he saw the ring for the first time, he knew that it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry that he had ever seen, and he knew that such a fine accessory only belonged to the finest of women.
After the funeral, he threw away his own ring, which was made of a cheaper material that looked exactly like a Comet Shard, and kept his wife’s. At the suggestion of Tristan, he wore it around his neck, though he knew it didn’t make any difference.
Forty years after his proposal, the Escape Rope replaced her as his companion on the two-person bench. The couple-to-be in front of him had exchanged their hundredth kiss as they left the park. He heard the bride-to-be mutter repeatedly, “This is the happiest day of my life! Nothing will ever ruin this moment!”
He wanted to tell her how wrong she was, but he knew that in time, she would find that out for herself.
“How are you?”
Those words started Tristan’s unanswered letter that lay on Russell’s desk. He found out in the wake two weeks ago that unlike him, Tristan had settled down rather nicely. After Russell quit his job in Café Triste to live with her, Tristan got promoted to store manager. His efforts were noticed by other companies, and soon enough he was employed as the restaurant manager of the Sushi High Roller. While working there, he piqued the interest of a wealthy Furisode Girl whose three Audino thought that he was a suitable companion for their trainer. They married a year after they met and had three children, and they settled down in a two-storey house in Cyllage, where he spent most of his days fishing in Muraille Coast.
Seeing the state of his old friend in her wake, Tristan wrote him a letter that offered him to live in Cyllage with Tristan and his wife, since two of their kids had moved out and the third was spending most of his time in the city’s gym as Grant’s apprentice. “You don’t have to worry about living space and being disturbed,” Tristan had wrote in his letter. “I’ve told my wife everything about you, and she would love to have you over for however long you want. I’m really worried about you, Russell, and I hope you’ll do okay after this. If ever you need me for anything, don’t hesitate to contact me, all right?”
When he had seen the first words of Tristan’s offer to live with him and his wife, Russell refolded the letter and placed it on his desk, leaving the rest of its contents unread.
A week later, Tristan’s letter remained unmoved in its spot, though it now had a new companion in the Escape Rope he bought the day before. It was three feet long and eleven inches thick, more durable than the rope he had stolen from the park last week. He had tested it with a bucket of water last night, and the Escape Rope had served its purpose.
“Today’s the day,” he said out loud to no one, though it was heard by everyone who needed to hear it.
He grabbed the Escape Rope from the desk and tied it around one of the blades of the ceiling fan, forming a small noose. He made sure that the knots were tight, tugging the rope lightly and retying the knot several times until he was satisfied with its tightness. The chair he had used to tie the Escape Rope was placed directly below it, being moved a few centimeters left and right until he was sure that it was in the perfect position. Afterwards, he changed his clothes, wearing the same ensemble he wore during his wedding: the slightly creased undershirt, the light blue polo shirt, the matching suit and slacks, the midnight blue necktie, and the polished leather shoes. Apart from the sagginess of the clothes, the only difference was the ring; instead of being placed on his finger, it hung around his neck, and instead of being his, it was hers.
After making sure the entire setup was in place, he stepped on top of the chair. He took one last look of his home, put his head through the noose, and closed his eyes.
“This is perfect!”
She took in the sight of their new home with the same vigor she had in Café Triste six years ago. This time, though, she was looking at her own space, a space she and her husband had been working hard to obtain in the past two years. They both chose Anistar because of its fine balance between urban and rural, its playful shifts between cool and warm weather, and its unique representation of her past and their future.
She had gotten a job almost immediately after they had settled the papers for the loan of their new house. She took on the position of associate head nurse of the city’s Pokémon Center, a job she had obtained easily because of her extensive experience as the daughter of two professional Pokémon breeders. He, on the other hand, balanced several part-time jobs, which ranged from being a hotel concierge to a hotel janitor, from a waiter to a bartender, from a tour guide to a tourist photographer, depending on the time of the day and the day of the week. He had worked out an ideal-enough schedule to have Sundays free, and so that his hour-long breaks every afternoon coincided with hers in the Center.
It was a tedious setup for both of them, but they both knew that it was worth it. While their heads were filled with the several demanding duties of their jobs, their minds were filled with thoughts of raising a family, of supporting their children through school, of opening their own café, and of traveling to Hoenn and riding the Mt. Chimney Cable Car. While their hands were filled with dirt and fatigue, their hearts were filled with the feeling of excitement from living a life they only saw in afternoon TV dramas, of fulfillment in living a life that bore out of their own blood, sweat, and tears, and of contentment from living a life with their true love.
They managed to complete the payment of their house loan thirty-seven years after they had moved in. By then, she would have had seven surgeries.
After the seventh surgery, Russell went into her hospital room wearing the brightest smile he had ever worn since he found out about her pregnancy. “Honey,” he said in an unusually optimistic tone, “I’ve paid the entire loan. The house is officially ours!”
Her reply consisted of rhythmic beeps, growing slower by milliseconds as each minute passed by. Russell got a more concrete reply three days later, though it came from a doctor.
“I’m sorry,” the doctor told him.
“Hello, is anybody home?”
He was interrupted by a suddenly-opened door. Before a pink Mary Jane made contact with the wooden floor, the Escape Rope was already in his hands, a few inches lower than where it should have been. Before the door revealed the intruder’s frame, he had thrown the Escape Rope under his desk and he had sat down on the chair where he stood seconds ago. Before he could curse the intruder out of the house, he saw her.
He saw her white sunglasses perched in front of her aqua blue felt hat that topped her medium-length brown hair. He saw her frame being enveloped by a blue-striped tank top, which was tucked in her pink jean shorts, and he saw an aqua blue ribbon bag hanging from her left shoulder. But what his eyes were almost unconsciously drawn to was her face. Her lips, quivering in both wonder and confusion, were coated by a pale pink lip balm. Her cheeks had a light coating of foundation and blush, bringing out their rosiness. Her dark brown eyes slowly scanned his home and rested at the sight of him, a motion he was all too familiar with.
“Hello? Did I interrupt something?”
Yes, you did, he started to say, but the words never left his mouth.
“I’m sorry if I bothered you,” she said shyly, sensing his mood. “My name is Serena and I come from Vaniville Town. I was just wondering where the entrance to the Anistar Sundial Park was. This city is much bigger than I expected it to be, very much unlike my hometown, and I tend to get lost easily whenever I visit big cities like this.”
Russell tried to mouth out directions, but he was too baffled to speak. Hurriedly, he stood up and got a pencil and Tristan’s letter from the shelf of his desk. He scribbled a map of the northeastern part of Anistar City, his house on the bottom and the sundial at the top. Between the two was a circle with arrows connecting it to his house, signifying the nearest entrance to the park. He drew whatever other landmarks he could remember—the gym, the café, the Pokémon center—and put them in the map as labeled rectangles. After completing the map, he gave the sheet of paper to Serena without a word, shoving it into her hands.
“Uhh, thank you, sir,” Serena said softly. As she studied the map, he studied her with the same fascination his nineteen-year-old self had many years ago in Café Triste. With each blink, the map between him and the intruder transformed into other objects. A blink transformed the map into two cups of coffee resting on a table that overheard their owners’ exchanges of personal details. Another blink transformed the cups of coffee into a bouquet of roses that he was offering to her while she stood in the divide between her apartment and the street. A third blink transformed the bouquet into a ring with a Comet Shard at the center which his shaking hand was struggling to put on hers.
“Oh my gosh. I’m very sorry, sir, very very sorry.”
Her sad tone broke him out of his trance, and he was met by two watery eyes. He looked down and saw that the sheet of paper that he gave the intruder had been turned around, and a few tear drops stained the lower half of Tristan’s letter.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, sir,” Serena said in a somber tone. “It may mean nothing to you at this point, but I offer my deepest condolences.”
Thank you, he started to say, but the two words stuck to his throat and pushed out a low grunt instead.
“Here, you should have this back,” she extended her hand and offered him Tristan’s letter, “I think that you need its contents more than I do.”
He got Tristan’s letter hesitantly and stuffed it in his pockets, the crumpling noise making Serena wince. Knowing that she had overstayed her welcome, she bowed and said her thanks. “It was nice meeting you, sir,” she said out of habit as she turned around to leave the house.
At that very moment, his mind went back to forty-four years ago, to that afternoon in Café Triste. She had finished her snack, a spicy ice cream with an extra Lava Cookie, and when he showed her the bill she had given him a generous tip. By then, their conversation largely consisted of stolen glances and shy smiles, with the only words spoken between them being his prepared introduction and her prepared order. As she stood up from her chair and turned around to leave, he knew that it couldn’t end this way. He knew that she was more than a customer, more than a thirty-minute glance from across the café, more than a cute girl he would be daydreaming about for the next few days.
It had taken all of his self-confidence to call out, “Wait! Uhh, you wanna have coffee sometime?”
She turned around, and he saw what looked like the end of a relieved sigh. “Sure,” she said casually, “I’ll see you tonight.”
He called out to her as half of her body was already out of the door. Serena turned around, and the face he saw wasn’t that of the intruder’s anymore, but of the customer’s forty-four years ago.
He didn’t know what to do. For the first time in a long while, he was talking to a young girl that wasn’t his customer, his superior, or his wife. After getting used to putting others before himself, he didn’t know how to talk to anyone as his equal anymore.
“With my wife gone,” he stuttered out, “my life has become very lonely.”
He saw her wipe away a tear from her eyes and step forward to come closer to him. His brain told him to step back, but his feet remained planted firmly on the floor.
What do I do now? he asked himself. Rummaging through all of his memories with his wife, he then remembered a particular day when he felt the same way as he did this very moment.
Less than a year after their first coffee date, she had taken him to visit her parents in Camphrier Town. It was a trip they had planned months before, and he promised her that he would file his vacation leaves to coincide with the time they would spend there. Unfortunately, at the last minute, his boss required him to be in the café in the same days as his vacation, for his boss had also planned to use his vacation leaves on those days. Trying every excuse he knew, he was eventually defeated by his boss, and he made a truce by asking if he could have at least the first of the three days off, to which his boss reluctantly agreed.
He was received exceedingly well by her parents, due in part to how warmly the baby Pokémon in the breeding center received him when he introduced himself to the family. “He’s a natural with children,” her mother had commented over the dinner table. “I’m sure that will come in handy in the future.” He did everything to suppress a laugh as he saw her cheeks blush a deep red. The rest of the dinner went by in the same manner, but the positive energy came to an abrupt stop the following morning, when she saw him in his waiter uniform leaving their bedroom.
“Hey, where are you going?” she asked, rubbing her eyes to confirm what she saw. He knew that lying would get him nowhere, so he had explained to her his situation with his boss and the abrupt change in his schedule. The argument transformed into a series of unrestrained shouts and concluded with a slammed door, waking up her parents and some of the baby Pokémon that slept in her family’s house.
He could hardly concentrate in the café, for his mind was filled with thoughts of regret and self-loathing. He wanted to make all the customers leave so he could break all the furniture and utensils he saw. He wanted to go wherever his boss was, look him in the eye, and beat him up until he couldn’t stand on his own two feet. He wanted to climb to the topmost floor of Prism Tower, curse his entire situation to the sky, and jump—
“Table for three, please?”
The familiar voice snapped him out of his daydreaming, and he saw her in the door of the café, as beautiful as she had been that morning. His walking almost turned into running as he went to her and hugged her tighter than he had ever hugged her before. His mouth spewed out all of the apologies he could muster up, and her replies were full of acceptances and assurances. Their little display was interrupted by her parents, her mother getting teary-eyed and her father nodding at him with a smile, as if giving him his approval of what he was doing.
“If you don’t mind, Russell,” her mother said as they were seated on the table nearest the counter, “we brought along a few visitors who wanted to see you.”
In that instant, beams of light broke out of their pockets, and he was mauled by a dozen of bright-eyed baby Pokémon. Their playful nibbles and eager licks melted all his anger away, and her soft giggle solidified his decision of marrying her as soon as humanly possible.
“Uhh, excuse me sir?”
His vision of Café Triste slowly faded as it was superimposed by two confused eyes and a raised eyebrow. He hadn’t noticed that Serena was standing uncomfortably close to him now. Without thinking, he blurted out the first words that came to his mouth.
“Would you be so kind as to lend me one of your Pokémon? You know—to keep me company.”
He saw the shock take over Serena’s face. The request was, in more ways than one, nonsensical, even to him. But as he saw the translucent image of the baby Pokémon licking him and their owners’ daughter smiling at him, every word he uttered suddenly made all the sense in the world.
“I hate to be picky,” he said almost automatically, “but I’d love to take care of a Pokémon that’s Lv. 5 or under.”
He could see Serena’s eyes shift slightly, unsure of how she would act in the situation she was in. He couldn’t blame her, for such a request was almost impossible to fulfill, especially since it came from a stranger. He had been hearing reports of Pokémon being forcefully taken from trainers by gang members of other regions, and he knew that a trainer like her wouldn’t risk such a thing. But the uncertainty left her eyes as quickly as it arrived, and the shock on her face melted into a grin.
“Of course, sir,” she replied.
A wave of energy came over him, something he had not experienced for a very long time. He was familiar with how brevity left the strongest impacts in him—“I’ll see you tonight,” “I do,” “I'm pregnant”—but the most recent impacts have all been ones he could do without—“I’m sorry,” “Condolences,” “How are you?”. Those three words, though, he would do anything to replay over and over again so that its characteristics would be ingrained in his mind: optimistic, joyful, each word rising in intonation as they were said one after the other; genuine, sincere, no footnotes or subtexts hidden behind any of its letters; seamless, natural, the sentence itself not knowing the strength of the impact it carried.
“You’ve made an old man smile!” He blurted out with glee. “Which Pokémon will you lend me?”
“Wait right here, I know exactly which Pokémon to lend you,” Serena said in an assuring tone as she ran out of the house. He did not even have the time to gather his thoughts and realize that she might have purposely left him when she came back holding a Poké Ball in her right hand.
“Here,” she said with a smile as she handed him the Poké Ball. He stared at it with an intensity that surprised even him, and his hands fidgeted as he accepted the intruder’s gift.
“Truly?” He said in between breaths. “Will you lend me this Pokémon?”
“It knows a thing or two about making people smile,” Serena replied with a wink. “I hope it gives you the same happiness it did to me when I caught it.”
As she said those words, Russell’s finger subconsciously grazed over the Poké Ball’s center, causing the capsule to break open and release a beam of light. It materialized into a small wriggly creature in the middle of the room, the clumps of hair around its body coming out of the light surrounding it. Once its eyes were formed, it scanned the room with as much curiosity as its owner. When it saw its trainer, it let out a loud cry.
“Hello, Scatterbug,” Serena said to the little Pokémon. “I’ll be leaving you at the care of this old man for a while, okay? Right now, he needs you more than I do.”
“Wow!” Russell exclaimed, prompting both the trainer and her Pokémon to look at him. The Scatterbug was startled at first, but when it saw the wide grin of the old man, it gave its own smile in reply.
“So you’re a Scatterbug, huh?” he said to the Pokémon. “I hope you don’t get too bored keeping company with an old man like me!”
“I’m sure it won’t,” Serena replied, though she saw that her words were unheard, for the man was already holding Scatterbug and gently petting its head. Her heart was moved at the display, reminding her of how she had caught the Scatterbug a few months ago. It was her first successful catch, and while she did not use it in her main team anymore, the Scatterbug held a special place in her heart.
And now it will hold a special place in his, she said to herself as she quietly left the house.
“And here we are live from the grand parade in Lumiose City honoring the heroes of Kalos—”
For the first time since his wife was last admitted into the hospital, Russell was sitting on the couch, eating takeout food, and watching TV with a companion. It might not have been her soft hair that he was caressing or her gentle hands that he was holding, but the wriggly frame of the Scatterbug was more than enough to make him smile.
In the month that had passed, the Scatterbug had energized him to start cleaning up the house again. Mornings were spent sweeping the floor, wiping the furniture, and washing his clothes. Afternoons were spent storing items into three types of boxes: things he will donate, things he still found some use for, and things she will never use again.
The arrival of dusk signaled him to bathe and change into a fresh set of clothes. With the Scatterbug on his shoulder, they went out of the house and took a walk around the park. As if it was routine, he told the Scatterbug of every memory he had of specific spots in the park. He told the Scatterbug about the time they had a picnic under the Leppa Tree during the first dusk they spent as citizens of Anistar, and the time they were staring up at the sundial when she showed him the positive pregnancy test, and the time she had released her Vivillon into the sky with tears on both the trainer’s and the Pokémon’s eyes. When they came to the bench with the best view of the sunset, he told the Scatterbug that few weeks ago, he finally accepted what his wife kept on telling him about this view. “No living thing on this planet could surpass its beauty,” he told the Scatterbug. “Nothing at all.”
They would stare at the sunset until it ended, and only then would they leave the park. Before heading home, he made a quick stop by the marketplace to buy fresh fruits and a couple of berries, serving as his and the Scatterbug’s dinner respectively. They ate their dinners in silence, and their days concluded in front of the TV. As news programs and romance movies flickered in front of him, he pondered at the unmistakable similarity of their days’ routine with his days with her before her seventh surgery.
She, on a wheelchair instead of on his shoulders, energized him to do the same chores every morning, though this energizing came in the form of soft requests instead of shrill cries. Before dusk came, he would help her bathe and change her clothes, answering her every day reminder of “You don’t have to do this” with “I don’t have to, but I want to.” Their sunset walks in the park stopped at the same spots, the areas that struck vivid memories in both of their minds. Tears rolled down her face when they came to the spot where she released her Vivillon, and a disappointed sigh came out of her mouth when they arrived at the spot where she showed him the pregnancy test. He made sure that their walks always ended on the bench with the best view of the sunset, so that the last memory that the park spurred in their minds was a positive one. Their days ended without the visit to the marketplace, and on their bed they both hoped that tomorrow would be kinder.
That day, his pondering was interrupted by the shrill crying of the Scatterbug beside him. When he looked at the TV, he saw the reason why.
Serena stared at him from the screen, donning the same smile that impacted him a month ago. Her hair flowed into helix-like spirals that reached her shoulders, with an aqua blue flower pin topping it. Her tank top and jean shorts were replaced by a pink frilly dress that hugged her frame nicely, with the whole outfit being underlined by white Mary Janes. In addition to its gentleness, her expression exuded a strong wave of confidence he had also felt before, though it seemed to have grown even more from when she was a mere intruder to him.
Beside him, the Scatterbug let out cry after excited cry at the sight of its trainer. It almost fell over from its attempts to get near her, but its hind legs clung onto the edge of the desk just in time. Its cries increased in volume as the camera focused on its trainer’s face, the words coming out of her moving mouth, though unintelligible to it, being music to the Pokémon’s ears. Without knowing it, each screech it made sent a clear message not to the trainer it adored, but to the man who was watching it.
Russell had gotten nothing from the news report, as all of his attention was focused on the display that the Scatterbug was putting on. What started as a series of high-pitched cries increased in volume as each minute passed, which to him translated as its joy and longing for its original trainer. The more he listened to the Scatterbug, the more he could make out a cheer in between its shrill cries: “Serena, Serena, Serena—”
He knew what all of it meant. He knew what he had to do.
The morning after the coverage of the parade, he rummaged through all of things to find a clean piece of stationery. The items that took him a whole week to store properly were littered around the house in seconds. He found an unopened pack of letter paper in the box of his wife’s items, and he remembered that it was bought so that she could send letters to all the people her poor health prevented her from visiting. The writing never happened, and the letters were never sent.
He tore the pack open and laid a sheet of paper on his desk. I’m sorry, his hand started to write, but the minute he saw those two words, he tore the sheet into shreds.
Dear Serena, he wrote again on a second sheet.
Thanks to the kindness you and your Scatterbug showed me,
He had watched a rerun of the parade interview in the middle of the night as he was searching for the stationery. He found out that she was the subject of the parade, and it honored not only her achievement as being one of the youngest inductees to the Hall of Fame in the history of the Kalos Pokémon League, but also her acts of heroism in saving the whole world from the misdeeds of Team Flare.
I was able to keep smiling until the very end.
The footage also included a feature on a man who turned from an uninvited visitor into a heartwarming inspiration. The man was absurdly tall, perhaps even taller than a house, but the footage saw him kneeling on the ground and clutching what looked like a small object in his enormous hands. An interview with Professor Sycamore later in the news report revealed that the object that the man was clutching was a dead Pokémon that the man had successfully resurrected many years ago, but had left its trainer after finding out what the cost of its resurrection was. The professor refused to say anything else about the topic, but Russell heard everything that he had to hear, and he turned the TV off with a smile.
I apologize I can’t look after Scatterbug anymore,
In the morning, he went to the café and bought the most expensive PokéPuff that it was selling. When he got home, the Scatterbug immediately cried screams of joy at the scent. He watched the Scatterbug as it slowly nibbled the PokéPuff on his hand, its tiny feet tickling his palm. As it finished the pastry, he gave it a soft pat on its head and recalled it into its Poké Ball. “Thanks for everything,” he said to the ball, “but I know I have to return you to who you truly belong to.”
but I know you’ll take care of it.
After he had written his letter to Serena, he got a third sheet of letter paper and addressed it to Tristan. This letter did not take him more than five minutes to write, and as soon as the sun cracked the dark sky, he wasted no time in giving the letter to the city post office. When Tristan received the letter a few weeks later, his face hardened at the two sentences that its body contained: “I’m sorry, buddy. I know where I have to go, and it’s not to you.”
Finally, please take this Comet Shard as a token of my thanks.
The Poké Ball containing Serena’s Scatterbug lay motionless on the floor, acting as a paperweight for the envelope that contained the letter addressed to Serena and his wife’s ring. Above the Poké Ball, Russell stood on top of a chair, his wedding ensemble hugging his frame, the Escape Rope around his neck, and a smile on his lips. He closed his eyes and uttered three words he had not uttered to the proper addressee for a month, knowing that would not be the case very soon.
“I love you.”