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March 22nd, 2013 (5:11 PM).
you can breathe now. x
chapter 21 ; [ATIS]
If there was anyone in the world I didn’t want to be (next to my hitmontop self, of course), it was Ezrem. Though valiant, he was being incredibly reckless. Running into an attack like that… I could never dream of doing it. And finding out he was a shiny pokémon… Well, it was a shock to me, too. Of course, I knew what shiny pokémon were, thanks to Earl. Their rarity and value were very well known to me; some of the kid’s dreams were to find one for themselves one day. So I knew what kind of trauma it would cause to find out you were one of them—to be wanted by so many pokémon lovers in the world would be unbearable.
While we were waiting in the pokémon center, I thought about what it would be like to not know myself as well as Ezrem. What if I didn’t know whether or not I hated my species? What if I didn’t know how I truly felt about humans? What would I have? Who would I be? In a sense, I didn’t know myself. I didn’t know where I wanted to go with the life that I was given. I didn’t know where I would go once I left Sai.
But Ezrem’s situation had given me some ideas. Maybe I could offer to work in a hospital—one for humans, and maybe pokémon—so that I could help people who truly needed it. Maybe I could volunteer—the term that Earl had pinned down for my job at the pokémon academy—my time to charities and assisting others. I would be around people whose lives didn’t revolve around pokémon, which was what I wanted, and I could explore other options—reading, poetry, games that involved skill and strategy—on the side.
Yes, I had ideas now, which is more than what I had ever had before. It was time to go. It was time to help Sai out, and repay him back for all that he had done for me… And he had done a lot, despite everything. He gave me shelter, and food, and entertainment, and he taught me what it was like to be human… It was tough, being human, there was no doubt. Though he didn’t live up to all of my expectations, it didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy our time together. I only hoped that he thought the same, but I couldn’t be sure. I believed that I was one of his problems. The art of pokémon training put such a great strain on him that I wondered if he thought he could go back and change it all. All those rules, all that pain, all those breakdowns… None of it could have been healthy for him.
If I could rid Sai of one of his problems, I could do that.
“Sai,” I said quietly as we waited, not wanting to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the healing building. When he didn’t answer, I poked him in the shoulder gently. He looked thoughtful and stressed when he looked at me.
“I…” My voice trailed off; I wasn’t sure how to go about this. “Well… Do you remember the time you gave us a choice? You made us say whether or not we wanted to stay or go...”
Sai was quiet and his stare lingered. I swallowed and twiddled my hands around, nervous. Finally, he said, “Yeah, I remember. Why… Why do you bring it up now?”
The pause in his voice—it sent shivers down my spine. When he talked, he was always so brash, so sure in what he was saying, even if he regretted it later. In the moment, he knew what he wanted to say, and he said it with such admirable boldness. But now he was stopping his speech, and it made me wonder—
“I… I think I’ve made my decision,” I said, not daring to look him in those heartbreaking eyes of his.
“You want to leave, don’t you?”
I nodded, still refusing to look his way. The others, however, weren’t afraid to glare or peer at me, depending on their sudden views.
“So, you finally decided something for yourself, huh?” Senori said. He smiled at me, albeit sadly, and I forced myself to smile back.
“Atis,” Kuiora said, “we haven’t settled our competition yet to see who is stronger out of the two of us!”
“I can assure you,” I said, trying to sound as bold as Sai, “that you are stronger than me now.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. I never fight, and I don’t hone my skills. You do—all the time.”
“You’re still going to leave? Don’t you want to get stronger?”
“I want to get stronger,” I admitted, “but not in the physical sense.”
“Atis, I don’t know you enough to say you should stay or leave,” Rennio said, “but I would have liked to learn more about you. I’ll be sad to see you go.”
“Thank you, Rennio,” I said, surprised at his wanting to learn about me. I wondered what he would have thought about me, what with my abnormal view of not wanting to be all that a pokémon can be. In the end, I decided that this, too, was for the best.
Now, all that was left was to wait for Sai’s response. He continued to look at me, and I cast my eyes upward to see him. I knew that I would have to do it sooner or later, and it was as good a time as any. Those dark blue eyes still looked sad, but I was entirely convinced that it was only because Ezrem was in the back of the pokémon center, hurt and probably scared for his life. I didn’t envy him, but I empathized. And I was sympathetic for Sai, thinking that it even though everyone looked forward to being a trainer, it wasn’t a walk in the park when all was said and done.
“When would you like to go?” was all that Sai said.
“Soon,” I replied quickly, believing that his response was his way of telling me that he was glad for my departure, “to get out of your—”
“Atis,” he suddenly interrupted. “Do you know what today is?”
I froze. Today was the day that Ezrem got hurt, and today—hopefully—would be the day that I left this team for good. I couldn’t think of any other possibilities.
“N-No,” I managed to say.
“Earl told me all about you,” Sai said. He paused, seeming lost in thought. He seemed to be doing that a lot today… Eventually, he continued, “He told me that in the middle of June was the time that you came to him at the pokémon academy as a... tyrogue, I think it was. He said that you were with him for three years. If you were still with him today, this would mark the beginning of the fourth year.”
I stared at him, dumbfounded. Even I hadn’t remembered this. Did Earl really care about me so much that he remembered the exact day that I came to him? And he cared enough that he told my future trainer all about me! I mean, I never doubted that he was a caring man, but it still came as an eye opener to me. The beauty of loving pokémon seemed to shine through at times like this…
“It’s the middle of June, isn’t it?” I said, finishing his thoughts for him.
“Yeah,” Sai said. “It’s not the exact day, but it’s close.”
“Why,” I couldn’t help but say, “does it matter?”
“Atis,” Kuiora immediately scolded, “don’t you know what that means? It’s your birthday!”
My birthday? I knew what a birthday was, and it certainly wasn’t this. Nevertheless, I didn’t protest, and let her believe what she wanted.
“Professor Elm always celebrated the day that me and the other pokémon at the lab joined him. He said that the year was full of good memories of us growing up,” Kuiora went on. “This means that we should celebrate before you go! It’s a must, and I won’t take no for an answer. If you want,” she added, winking, “we can even celebrate the fact that you admitted I’m stronger than you.”
At this, I had to laugh. Kuiora’s childish self was really shining through, and I admitted to myself that I would miss it. I was sure that I could find a childish character just about anywhere in the world, but no one could be better at it than her.
“I don’t know what a birthday is,” Sai said peculiarly, “but I think she’s right. We should celebrate before you go.” He stopped again, thinking. “Please stay with us long enough to get to Ecruteak City again. This place has brought… interesting memories, but the celebration’s location should bring only good ones. And as you know, we have to tend to Ezrem, too.”
“O-Okay,” I said, knowing I could manage just a few more days with them. It would give them time to accept my leaving and adjust to the idea without facing the pain that I was already gone, anyway.
It was the least that I could do, I thought, considering the bad news that soon followed.
The next two days went by slowly and quickly at the same time. It was slow in my mind, because I was still befuddling myself over the fact that I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what my next actions would be. Clearly, I would be starting in Ecruteak City, but I didn’t know what the renowned city had to offer besides burned towers that once housed the legendary pokémon that created Johto. As fascinating as that was, the stories weren’t going to get me anywhere. They would be good for Kuiora, at least, though she had probably already heard the stories a thousand times before, knowing her.
The trip was quick—literally. With Sai carrying Ezrem in his arms and with his swift pace, we were making great time. We had reached the same clearing where the incident took place by the middle of the first day. We took a break, however, to temporarily tend to Ezrem’s wounds. Why Sai had waited until we reached the clearing again was beyond me; if it were up to me, the wounds would have been taken care of in the pokémon center. But I was in no position to judge Sai, no matter how odd he seemed.
As we went on, there then was the point where Ezrem was having his so called identity crisis, and he went off on Kuiora and—to a much lesser extent—me. Sai had to interrupt, and his sudden fury made me cower, as always, and it only made me glad that I was leaving. I would only partly miss his rollercoaster emotions. The situation did serve, however, to prove to me what happens when someone doesn’t know themselves—they go crazy, and can only be tamed by the goals they have set for their future. I continued to sympathize with the bird, even though he had caused many problems for me in the past. He did help me to know, after all, that I didn’t want to be someone like him.
Everything after that was quiet. I saw Ezrem and Rennio talking, but I couldn’t hear them. And Kuiora seemed both furious and pleased at the same time, but I didn’t question her. Senori passed me his famous all knowing smiles at me from time to time, as there were no more words to pass between us. All that needed to be said was said during the mock battle at the pokémon fan club. That was fine with me.
The night before we reached Ecruteak City, I woke up just in time to see Sai sneak off. I was too dazed and tired to follow him, but I still took great note of it. His walk was slow, too, making me believe that he was just… thinking. Yeah, he was just thinking. I convinced myself of this and went back to sleep. He would be there in the morning.
And he was there in the morning. This brought about a great sense of relief to me. To have him disappear on me again would have put a big dent in our plans and an even bigger dent in our broken team. No one asked where Sai had gone the previous night—it would only be until much later that I would find out.
“So,” Sai said as we walked past the front gates that indicated we were now entering the city, “what are you supposed to do on a birthday, anyway?”
“Have lots of cake,” I said before Kuiora could butt in and say something completely out of line.
“Don’t forget presents,” she said, getting her own word in, anyway.
“Okay. Cake and presents. Uh,” Sai said, stopping to rest for once. He peered around, taking in his surroundings. There were plenty of tall, well made oriental buildings around, and they looked like they were recently—and frequently—cleaned, to keep away graffiti and the harshness of nature. They were also thoroughly taken care of in the sense that, up close, I couldn’t see a single hole in any of the walls. The pavement below our feet was set up with a grid-like pattern, and along the roads were high, triumphal arches—I had learned that structures like this were meant to honor the rulers who had built the city in the past. The towers in the back of the city, of course, stuck out among anything, as they were among the tallest. One of them was noticeably burned and broken, while the other’s embattlements at the top still looked strong and loved.
This was obviously a city that took care of its buildings, and therefore its people. It looked like a very efficient and suitable place for me.
“Okay,” Sai said again, breaking my focus of the city. As he said this, someone approached the gate, motioning us to move out of the way so he could get past. We took a few steps forward, with Sai mumbling in discontent over the idea that someone had pushed him around yet again. Afterward, however, he was thrilled and inspired.
“Good thing we have money again, or this would be impossible,” Sai went on happily. “Clearly, the first place we should go is to the shopping center.”
And so that was where we went. We had to peer inside several buildings that were open to the public, seeing a restaurant and a dance hall in the process, but we eventually found it and ventured inside. The shopping center wasn’t nearly as huge as the mall in Goldenrod City, but it still brought back memories, and I vaguely wondered what Sai had done—or would eventually do—with the pocket knife he had bought. And I hoped that he wouldn’t think such a thing was a perfect gift for me.
Luckily for me, he didn’t think so. He went up and down the aisles, picking up peculiar items, just as he had done before, but he always put them back where they belonged. Soon he reached the electronics section, and he picked up a small, cheap camera.
“Atis,” he said, “do you like taking pictures?”
I was nervous so I nodded but then said, “I’ve never taken any before, so I don’t know…”
“Is it something you’d like to do? Won’t you remember us with it? Pictures can show you just about anything, right?”
“I could. Right. I could do it,” I said, now smiling. Sai was being thoughtful and considerate toward me, and only me, when often he put himself at the center of his world. I was grateful for that, even if I couldn’t show it. It only made me wonder further, though, about what kind of person he associated himself with back at home.
“It’s settled, then,” Sai said, handing it to me. “This will be your present from all of us.”
Kuiora cheered, Rennio was explaining to Ezrem what the situation was, and Senori was quiet. Would I like to capture this moment forever? I took the camera from Sai, and we went to the counter to purchase it.
“Next,” Sai said as we walked out of the store, “we’ll need a cake. That’s a food, right? So we’ll go back to that restaurant we passed by.”
Inside, chandeliers hung from the ceiling—the lighting was dim, giving off a relaxed atmosphere. I soon noticed that this was a pokémon themed restaurant, however, when the frames on the walls were full of pictures depicting pokémon from different regions, and, when we were seated (which Sai was confused about, since we had never been to a formal restaurant before), the table’s design was embellished with etchings of small, quick pokémon related facts. The theme served to remind me of why I was leaving, and, even if I wasn’t fond of it, the idea was appropriate.
Overall, though, the restaurant was a nice one, but I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be so specialized to the point where it would serve cake to anyone who asked. And I was right. Looking at the menu now, there was no cake listed anywhere. I had to laugh, though, when Kuiora was looking at it upside down, asking what all of the funny shapes on the paper was.
“Kuiora doesn’t know how to read,” Ezrem said in a teasing manner.
“Neither do you,” Rennio retorted. It helped that he knew things about Ezrem that no one else knew, and he gave Kuiora a high five for it. The difference in size between the two pokémon’s hands made it difficult, so it was amusing.
“Well, Atis,” Senori said in the middle of a chuckle, “what are you going to get? I can’t read, either, so I don’t know what’s there.”
“How nice of you to admit that you can’t read,” I said. “Aren’t you… confused as to why I can?”
“Nah,” Senori said, smiling that all knowing smile of it. He was probably remembering that I came from a school. It had seemed like such a long time ago that the three of them—Sai, Kuiora, and Senori—had come to whisk me away from the school just to fight Falkner at the Violet City gym, and then consequently take me on an entire journey.
“I see,” I said. “Well, they have cupcakes. I guess that works…”
At the right moment, the person who was waiting on us came to our table, asking us what we wanted. Sai immediately said that everyone just wanted a cupcake.
“Just cupcakes. One for Atis, of course”—he pointed to me, and then the others—“and one for Kuiora, Senori, Rennio, me, and I suppose Ezrem can have one too. Cupcakes.”
“Atis is the only one who should get a cupcake, Sai!” Kuiora said, rising from her seat. “It’s his birthday!”
Sai ignored her, and nodded to the waiter, who looked confused. Since this was a restaurant that specialized in hamburgers (since that was what the menu mostly consisted of), I assumed that he didn’t get many orders like this. Not to mention the quick, informal tone and words that Sai used to order. His odd self was continuing to show, and I wondered how it was possible that he had never been to a restaurant before, not only with us, but in his past.
When the waiter left, we all sat there, talking about random things. Rennio was the first to bring up the pokémon facts on the table, asking if there were any about his species. I looked over the table, seeing that apparently, the legendary ho-oh could revive dead people and pokémon, while the rare bird called skarmory could replenish its steel feathers by itself. There were other etchings, but these particularly stood out to me, showing that there was always a second chance in life. I didn’t see anything about the electric-type, and I told him that. He looked disappointed.
“Hey, now,” Ezrem said. Though he was burned by the neck, his voice sounded normal, and I was sure everyone was thankful for that. “Let’s all think about the cupcakes. I want to order so many cupcakes so that I can eat until my internal organs start a revolution and leave.”
“Haven’t they already done that? Kind of, anyway,” Kuiora said, though she covered her mouth as soon as she said it. “Sorry,” she said, her voice muffled.
Ezrem blanched. “Yes, I suppose they have. Darn it,” he said, quickly returning to his cheery self. “I guess I’ll have to settle for one cupcake.”
“Cupcakes aren’t healthy for you, anyway,” Sai said.
“So? Cake isn’t any better. I say we still should have gotten a cake somehow. We could have split it into parts, and then—”
“And then you could have conned everyone into give you their parts?” Senori said, interrupting him with a grin.
“Yes. You get me, Senori. I am so lucky to have someone who knows me as fantastically as you do,” Ezrem said sarcastically.
“You could just... uh… divide the cake by zero, and then keep it forever for yourself,” I said. Stupidly. I knew that you couldn’t divide by zero, but I wanted to keep the two from fighting, knowing that they weren’t particularly fond of each other. Apparently, Ezrem knew this, too.
“How is it logically impossible to divide by zero, anyway?” he said. “Let’s say this cake really exists, but no one owns this cake. It just exists. If I divide it by six, so there’s one piece for everyone, then there are six pieces. If I divide it by zero, then the cake still exists. It may be mathematically impossible, given that limits exist. But who is to tell me that I cannot divide a cake by zero?”
I blushed at his response. I didn’t know how to answer, and I didn’t even know if the question was directly aimed at me! Luckily, Kuiora answered for me.
“You, Ezrem,” she said, shaking her head, “are a smart pokémon.”
“I would hardly say so,” Senori said, folding his small arms.
“Annie used to tell you about all that math stuff, didn’t she?” Rennio chimed in, winking at Senori to keep the sentret—no, furret—calm.
“Do you want to hear another math joke, then? I know you do. Let’s say that my long lost brother”—I cringed at his reference to him being a shiny pokémon—“collects ghouls in his home. Yeah, you heard me, Senori. Don’t you look at me like that. He collects ghouls. Now, let’s say that two thirds of these ghouls are—”
Ezrem was, thankfully, interrupted by the waiter who had returned with all of the cupcakes. He set one down in front of each of us. I thanked him for it, even if he couldn’t understand me. Sai said nothing, and I silently scolded him for his lack of manners, not having the courage to say it out loud.
I looked down, nervous. Noticing the camera at my side, I decided that now was a good a time as any to start using it. I wouldn’t be able to look at the pictures right away, but with time, I would know that I was taking good ones without having to even see them before judging.
I picked it up in my hands again, enjoying the welcoming feeling of cool plastic on my hands. Twisting it around in my hand, I wondered if it would be misleading for me to take pictures of them. If I took pictures of them, it meant that I wanted to remember them forever, and maybe they would think that I wanted to stay, after all. I didn’t want to give them that impression, but I did want to remember them at the same time. I supposed that even if they thought I would want to stay, there would be undeniable proof at the end of the day: my departure, and, unlike Sai’s return… Well, there would be no return for me.
So I took my pictures, one by one. In his picture, Sai was looking at the cupcake as if it was an alien creature that he was studying. Highly appropriate, I thought. I caught Kuiora in the middle of her first bite; her jaws were hanging open and the cupcake lay unassuming on the table in front of her. Also appropriate—I would remember her power this way. Senori actually took the first bite, though, and it reminded me of his leadership. Ezrem was messy in his picture, as he had white icing all over his beak by the time his cupcake was gone. And Rennio, I could tell that his hands would look delicate as they held the food in his picture, as if he were trying very hard not to hurt it in the process of eating it. Impossible, but an admirable struggle.
And that was it—I had a picture of everyone. I could have asked for everyone to gather next to each other so we could all be in a single picture, but I was too nervous to ask. I didn’t want to disrupt the peaceful, hunger satisfied atmosphere that we had at the moment. Besides, I didn’t want to eventually develop these pictures and see me. I was afraid of seeing that I had made the wrong decision.
“Ah,” Ezrem said when he was finished, patting his stomach with his functioning but battered wing. “That was good. It’s been a while since I’ve had any sweets.”
“It’s definitely different from berries,” Rennio agreed.
“Berries aren’t so bad!” Kuiora said, folding her arms. “Cheri berries are good, anyway.”
“Whatever you say, whatever you say,” Ezrem said, waving her off. “Well, Atis, there were your presents. I sincerely hope you enjoyed them. And I wonder if there are any more for you.”
“There’s… more?” I said, thinking that it was unlikely—and particularly unfavorable—for there to be more.
“Who knows? If there’s more, then I’d like to warn you that some gifts are better left unopened, anyway. I’m mostly referring to the kind of gifts that explode in your face upon opening.”
“That’s…” I started, swallowing, “well, nice. Thanks for the warning…”
“Anytime,” Ezrem said, and I saw Senori glare at him from across the table.
“Don’t listen to him, Atis,” Senori said. “There’s nothing more.”
“Actually,” Sai interrupted, “there is.” His voice was quiet, perhaps the quietest that I had ever heard it.
“Oh? Please, Sai, enlighten us,” Senori said, looking at him suspiciously.
“It’s for Atis only to know. For now, the day is over. Let’s go to the pokémon center.”
Sai still didn’t have enough money to buy everyone their own room, and he apologized for that. I didn’t mind—in the end, it wouldn’t matter to me. It was odd, though, that it was the last time that I would see everyone together in a pokémon center room. I looked up at the top bunk, wondering if I would be sleeping there tonight, listening to the breathing of those calm heartbeats below me…
Sai was regarding me dubiously. He peered over at me every few moments, as if savoring his time with me, all the while knowing that there was more to come. I shuddered. It was an awkward stare he gave me, and those eyes that gave me mixed emotions would probably give me those same feelings every time I remembered them. I was sure that I would never see the dark glow of his eyes in anybody ever again, that was how unique they were to me.
When everyone was settling into their sleeping positions, muttering to themselves in tired discontent, Sai announced, “I’m going out with Atis for one last time. Say your good-byes… as I will be letting him go.”
Everyone stopped what they were doing just to come up to me. Senori simply nodded to me and went back to his position on the bed, with me thinking that it was rather cute to see the two of them so close together.
Since he couldn’t use his wings well enough, Ezrem stood up on his clawed feet to peck my on the head. He whispered in my ear, “Don’t forget about those exploding gifts.” I let out a stifled, forced laugh.
Rennio pushed Ezrem out of the way, and as a reward I smiled at him, telling him that I wished I could have gotten to know him, too. He didn’t have anything else to say. I knew what he was thinking, anyway, despite our lack of connection.
And Kuiora, with her enormous size and weight, just had to hug me. I thought she was going to crush my frail, skinny body in the process. Thankfully, she let go soon enough, and said good-bye in the least confident voice I had ever heard from her.
Sai didn’t say anything. Due to our past experiences together, I was wholly expecting him to say something later—in private. My gaze lingered on him, the sensation of us knowing something that no one else knew taking over. I got the vague feeling that he knew something that I didn’t, but I ignored it. After a few moments, he went to the door and held it open, motioning for me to step outside. I did so, looking back at the others one last time before watching the door close shut, which started this first new chapter of my life.
The walk to… wherever was silent. I wasn’t even sure where we were going, and supposedly, neither did Sai, as he was always peering this way and that every few seconds. We were seemingly making our way back to the entrance of the city. The night sky and lit moon loomed above us. There were very few people out at this time, which made me and Sai feel like the only ones in the world, with us being of the light and the city being of the dark. Nevertheless, we continued on, and we passed the front gates, just as we had done early this morning. I was already backtracking through my journey, and I speculated about how far I would go until I was satisfied.
Eventually, Sai stopped. We had reached an area that appeared familiar to me, though Sai had taken a turn that led us into a more forested section. Trees lined the peripheral parts of my view, while a small clearing lay ahead of us, with bushes marking a dead end.
“Atis,” Sai said. “Yesterday… Senori had told me that you didn’t quite know what you were going to do with your life after this. So I thought about it for you. I… remembered… someone that can help you. She will take you to a place where she thinks she can help you. I, ah, already told her that you would be coming with her, so it’s a little too late to say no right now. You can always say no later, I suppose, if you want to…”
I stood there, finding his voice even more unnatural than it had been earlier. I couldn’t quite place it—such was often the case with this boy—but the pauses in his words were finally starting to make sense. This was different from when he was giving me answers in other situations. When he talked about himself or his past life, he was at least being honest with us, though he kept his answers discreet for protection’s sake. But this… He was lying to me.
He was lying to me, and I didn’t know why.
Suddenly, anxiety welled up within me. Shifting around uncomfortably, I remembered when he had temporarily deserted us. Had he gone to this lady he kept speaking about? It seemed that he didn’t particularly enjoy her company, either, so perhaps he felt the need to lie about her. Not that this made me feel any better. In fact, it only made me automatically despise whatever disaster was waiting for me.
My concentration was broken when a strong gust of wind blew in my direction and knocked the camera out of my hand. It clattered to the ground, and I chased after it quickly, afraid of it being unusable and unable to be developed. When I retrieved it, I looked up, still feeling the wind blow against my skin. I noticed, however, that Sai seemed unaffected. His hair remained in one spot, and his body didn’t threaten to blow over with the force of nature.
And soon, I started to feel lightheaded, ill, tired.
Sai frowned as he noticed my abrupt distress.
“Earl told me all about you,” Sai went on, just like he had said at the pokémon center. This time, he didn’t pause; he let it all out, word by word.
I listened, wondering if his voice would be louder than the beating of my heart.
“He told me,” Sai started, “that you were an obedient pokémon that always acted with a clear head and a clear conscience. He said that you were smarter than he could ever be. Though you were shy, he always took it as a sign that you were simply breathing in the air and thanking life for every chance you could do that. As time went on in our journey, I could see that he was right, and I could see that I was proud to have you on my team. He also said that someday, you would want to accomplish great things. I suppose that now is the time…” I flinched at his pause yet again. “I know you’ve always been outcast from the rest of us by your own wishes, and I respected that, but I wished that we could have spent more time together. I will wish that always. You can say that you won’t miss me, but I’ll think about you every day.”
As he spoke, I began sobbing, not only because of his obviously heartfelt words and my consequent confusion, but because something was happening inside of me and it felt terrible. I was sick to my stomach, as if I would start retching at any moment. My head was about to split open. I wanted to believe that Sai would help me, but he did nothing. He knew this was going to happen. He knew it. I wanted to believe that this was really my trainer, the one I had trusted all this time…
My head kept spinning, spinning. Spinning.
Whatever was happening to me was happening fast. Soon, I was falling backward, hearing that Sai was sobbing, too. Before I could even question his enigmatic betrayal, everything went black.
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