“Do you want me to tell a story or not?” she pouted.
“Go for it,” I said, smirking. It was always fun, picking on her… and that was why I never learned to expect anything serious from her. Her outburst was unexpected, and then soon I came to realize that her serious stories were unexpected.
She told a story of an old man who burned because he was mourning for his lost wife and child. She had died in a house fire while trying to save their three-year-old son. She had sacrificed everything and still failed, according to the entire town. In the man’s mind, however, she had succeeded. Until a child is old enough to take care of himself, he thought, the mother should always follow and keep watch.
“It simply would have been a sin to the gods had she done anything else but die saving him,” she explained. Atis lay on the top bunk, as usual, saying nothing, perhaps not even listening, just thinking. I lay on the floor, curling my tail around my body, occasionally looking up to watch Sai’s reaction carefully. Yes, he was listening, and he was listening well. The croconaw went on.
Every year, on the anniversary of the day they both died, the widowed man would dance with the air, imagining his wife there instead. Every year, he read a story to himself, imagining that it was his son he was telling it to. Other than this, the town never saw him change his ways; they said he only changed his tires and his dreams.
One day, however, he wanted to face the very thing that had taken his wife and child. Oh, how badly he wanted to face the fire. He lit a candle and mourned for them. He mourned and mourned, planning to burn it and never see it again when he was done—until he heard a cackling sound, an eerie laugh. He opened his eyes, saw that the candle was gone. The candle had really been a rare pokémon shaped like a candle, its purplish glow said to steal the energy of humans and pokémon alike just to be able to burn some more. The man had no energy to stop the fire, or to even notice it was happening. He died in pain, but without even realizing he was in pain.
“The town,” Kuiora finished, “said that he was smoking in bed when he set the house on fire. And then they wondered how the house was set on fire the first time. The end!” she said, bouncing off the bed and scaring me into the corner of the room due to her new larger size and sharper fangs.
The battle took place two days later, after it finally hit me that Kuiora wasn’t just a kid—she was the same as all of us: she came with flaws and things that made her great, both of which she was afraid of showing.