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Pokémon Flying in the Dark Page 2

Started by diamondpearl876 May 27th, 2015 10:39 PM
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diamondpearl876

you can breathe now. x

Age 26
Illinois, USA.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,580 posts
12.3 Years
FLYING IN THE DARK

[letter twenty-three]

*

September 26

Haley,

You’ll have to forgive me for taking delight in your nervousness, which assures me that mine is not unfounded. I can overlook your fear of the risks involved because you are the inconvenienced party here. Assuming that Route 14 is how I remember it, it is no walk in the park, although you’ll pass a literal one before the marshy humidity assaults your sinuses and the lopsided reeds tickle your skin as you walk. I’m sure the money you earned from your gym battle victory will cover any and all supplies necessary. If not, be cautious. Hoard even what you only might need, and I will see to it that I cover your extra expenses somehow. Should you sustain any injuries on your hike up to me… I am not a superstitious man, but I cannot tempt fate by transferring the rest of that sentence through ink.

And please, should Kenneth threaten to part ways with you after all, choose your physical traveling companion over me. It is clear to me that your appreciation of him has soared. I can relax in spite of my initial doubts about him. Someday you can backtrack to Laverre, when your journey concludes and you return to Anistar. Understandably, you may avoid Anistar for years to come, but there are flights, railways, pokémon-powered transports…

It escapes me, whether or not Laverre was on your original itinerary. I would’ve—should’ve—commented on such an idea, back when it was especially ill-advised. My primary concern now is not exposing to you my embarrassing self, my shameful world, but that you reach me safely, and absorb the bare facts of my reality.

If I could, I’d conspire with Kenneth to use his League associations and convince developers that trainer routes should be acceptably tended to, and monitored, in all regions. (Then foreigners could not claim that the Hoennese handle their land recklessly.) It helps that conservation efforts can go a long way in strengthening the bond between pokémon and humans, a goal that few resist. Also, children, the target population for training advertisements, are the most prone to danger due to their lack of foresight and experience in the wilderness.

That is no slight against you, Haley, just a piece of an old man’s worries. Besides, plenty of younger trainers are traveling alongside you—not physically, but in Kalos, other regions, parallel trails… I say again that Valerie’s intentions are misplaced, particularly as a gym leader. She should hand out gym badges and promises of safety to trainers. What is her interest in inmates? But perhaps my bias is too forced. For me, the world has failed to feel safe from birth.

On the topic of tricks doubled with illusions, and the struggle of separating them… It is obvious that all of us, all of us will hurt someone during the course of our lifetimes. This is impossible to avoid. What may be less obvious is that we will hurt several someones, maybe several times over each—and in several locations, thereby reducing the number of havens the world has to offer for these someones. We don’t think of it this way because then we’d develop the habit of wallowing in fear, guilt, self-pity, and other counterintuitive emotions. Constantly anticipating a phrase we utter thoughtlessly, or an action of ours unearthing a sensitivity they will dwell on for hours, days, weeks… Frankly, it’d cripple us. The knowledge resides in our unconscious regardless. So we hide ourselves, just in case, to shift the blame onto our faux roles when they cause hurt.

The flip side of this is that you waste other people’s kindnesses when you don a mask. What should be a positive encounter becomes affiliated with a veiled darkness. Say someone does a double take on the streets of Lumiose, unbelieving at first that they’re seeing you smile the most beautiful smile. They compliment you on it. But you only smiled because social conventions required you to. You say thank you, again out of obligation. But. “That smile wasn’t me. I’m sorry you thought it was, sorry you saw what wasn’t there to begin with, sorry you saw what could never be.” How do you discard such guilt—for deceiving someone, for deceiving yourself, for not embodying what others want to see in you? How do you skillfully peel all the layers of each conversation, each expression of body language, to perceive the authenticity of what takes place? Where does the real you go when it’s stifled so adamantly?

To answer you, illusion encapsulates the self as a longstanding disguise which fears the light and relishes the night. What we create with ourselves, what we put into the world, those are the tricks. We secretly delight in them. We’re proud of winning our game of hide-and-seek over and over. Sometimes we grapple with loneliness, but our self-hatred is stronger, as is our belief that we cannot be loved as we are lest we are abandoned. To want connections with others but ultimately resort to the destruction of others to protect our private selves, all the while self-destructing anyway—that’s the dance between illusions and tricks.

It’s time to digress toward your first and foremost question: when we should meet. You’re right in that my schedule is predictable, up to a point. I am not warned beforehand, for example, when Rowe will make his appearance. I prefer that he not hover over us. His role in rehabilitation may be a noble one, but his overall character has a habit of dampening the atmosphere.

I suppose that’s irrelevant, still. There’s no chance we’ll be needing a restaurant’s reservation, or to buy tickets to a festival or concert before they’re sold out. Visitation hours were specified to me my first week here but ceased to be enforced once the statistics revealed how seldom they were used. As long as you arrive before lights out, the guards will lead you straight to me. And you must depart before lights out.

This is a most unsatisfactory answer so far, I know. Shall we meet in mid-October, then? When the leaves will begin to decide on a new look, it’s a tad cooler, and no tourists should remain. It’ll be when one season ends and another begins, when fall hints at wanting to visit and play once more.

Why wait so long, when I’ve already prolonged your journey an improper amount? But you said you don’t mind, so I request this of you: I want you to see Laverre in its natural state. The common expressions on the faces of those who reside here, year round, pretending not to notice the prison; the pokémon fan club, where you may meet bird enthusiasts like yourself; the rumors of Dana, thought to have collected every gym badge across every region and now lives in Laverre among the marsh’s treetops; the stump stools all around and remnants of old bonfires; the wind curling around the trees and the smell of perfume wafting to cover the pungent marsh stench. Won’t you see it all and report back to me? There’s only so much I can spot from my window. The bars obscure a full picture, anyway.

What I am most nervous about is… not talking. Not having much to talk about. A silly notion, that, when my letters indicate the necessity of nonstop speech. Sound must make up for the deprivation of other senses available to us. Indeed, there’s the courtyard we may explore with precautions in place, but otherwise, what you will experience is exactly my inability to see the full picture because of the cell bars between us. Should we be bold enough to pass objects through—our letters, perhaps, for tangible proof of our closeness—the guards will scrutinize us and eavesdrop with the intensity of an exploud. Let’s avoid this.

All right, here’s a date picked at random for us to meet: October 15. To eliminate any hardship a grumpy guard might inflict upon you, I will notify them in advance of your arrival. Your last name is Zamor, I believe… I’ll double check. Knowing that will simplify matters.

I ask as politely as possible that you do not reply to me until our meeting. Until then, I want to focus, and practice focusing, rather than fretting over returning your letters in short bursts of time. Physical preparations are futile; shaving days are random, supervised, and my wardrobe blends in with the rest of the inmates. But mentally, I can prepare. As I said, I want to know what to say to you, how to react to you. It has been so long since anyone fond of me looked me in the eye, and I cannot allow myself to falter and watch you turn away from me by reflex. Nor can I allow the following scenario: you seeing too much of me and changing your mind about me, after all these months of building the impossible between us. And it is ironic, now that I think about it, how my cell bars have been what’s perpetually closed the gap between us…

The final, most prominent reason I ask that we not correspond until October—unless it is of dire necessity—is because I want us to be absolutely sure of this. I hope I am inventing my worries, fabricating them with imagined evidence that a judge at trial would overturn. I hope before me is a fog which, once dissipated, will reveal to me with clarity the ideals I expected were there all along. Ideals that will stay rooted in our very beings, unable to be pried away by outside forces.

If I come across as clingy here, forgive me. Holding on to long-term prospects is a unique experience for me. My skills must be dug up from their graves, their corpses brushed off. I hope you understand.

I may or may not speak to you again before October 15. I hope not. I hope I’ve made all my intentions and thoughts clear. Do not hesitate to write if things go awry. I will keep an eye out for a letter from you and question the guards about my mail, to be sure.

Sincerely,
Markus

diamondpearl876

you can breathe now. x

Age 26
Illinois, USA.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,580 posts
12.3 Years
FLYING IN THE DARK

[letter twenty-four]

*

October 10

Haley,

Here’s to hoping that this letter reaches you before you reach Laverre. The labyrinth of trees, meadows, and dry lakes may make it a difficult endeavor for the prison flying-type to find you. But no doubt you are close, perhaps past the heart of Route 14 at this point. Are your pokémon sifting through the mud tracks left behind by the local quagsire and stunfisk to scavenge for worms, bugs? I chuckle when I think of Seybs flying to your shoulder, dirtying your clothes, then you rushing to ensure there’s nothing crawling on you.

Now, trust me, I write to you for a reason unrelated to sheer old man loneliness or boredom. Yes, I know how my mind rejects all except the subjective whenever possible. It claims that time has slowed considerably, stretching each second and prolonging the arrival of October 15, while the calendar clearly informs me of the microscopic nature of the last two weeks. If only the world would slow and enable us to savor our togetherness. That was another fear of mine, you coming and going in the blink of an eye.

But… I cannot reject an objective truth I’ve come to know. As a result of it, all of my fears have been rendered irrelevant, replaced entirely by one matter.

Recently, activity for Valerie’s rehabilitation program has dwindled. Rowe’s number of visits was reduced without warning, and the guards weren’t aware of when, or if, things would resume as planned. “Great news!” you might say, given my past abhorrence toward this whole charade, and I’d have agreed with you up until Valerie and the prison warden made a pressing announcement.

As it turns out, the charade is taking on a new form. It is their wish to relocate some prisoners to another city in Kalos. Which prisoners exactly were randomly selected to ensure an unbiased transference of the research data being collected from this program. I hate this, Haley, I hate this, but I was chosen.

Rowe will not follow me, unsurprisingly. A new partner, since I must have one against my will, is for the best. Your fate is your own, however. I cannot expect you to follow me in his stead, not after all you’ve done for me as is, not after you’ve come so far, figuratively and literally, only to meet disappointment instead of a friend. I foretold too much when I depicted myself as a concept to you, it seems.

Why? Why, why, why, though I know why, I know it’s not an impulsive whim which Valerie controlled from behind the scenes, and I’ve known for a while that we’re short on guards. Job postings for the Brun Way Correctional Center have gone unnoticed. The prison warden has fruitlessly pleaded for the guards work longer hours but with no pay raise. And so, because leaving us deviant creatures unguarded is an inconceivable notion, even though we have no energy to so much as lift a finger most days, something had to be decided. Nothing was decided, as usual, about preventing citizens from devolving into prisoners to begin with. No, just that the guard to prisoner ratio must be rebalanced.

I do not know where I will be yet, or when I shall move to this unknown location. It was my right to know that the move is happening, that’s all. An inmate I’ve scarcely interacted with, Simon, is the only inmate who knows more. He volunteered to organize the switch, with technology being a forte of his. He can ensure proper scheduling and organization about who goes where, and he can gather the contact information of our new homes for Valerie to send our personal data there. This way, he gets points with the prison warden should there be a possibility of parole.

Understandably, he wished to savor this advantage. All he was willing to leak to those of us left out of the loop was that this process will happen quickly. “Quickly,” yes, to prevent deterioration of the progress us inmates might have made thus far and to resume the program with less difficulty. “Quickly,” likely meaning before October 15. So please, turn away from Laverre and continue your journey the way you would otherwise. Or explore the city to your heart’s content while forgoing expectations of a meeting.

This does not—I repeat, this does not signal the death of our friendship. At worst, I have wasted further weeks of your journey. And I can count on a few months of adapting to a new prison’s schedule, its surroundings, its cafeteria food and cooks, a new cellmate and new neighbors… None of it will be insurmountable, a promise I can already attest to thanks to you. I must not regress toward naiveté, however. Prepare for slower response times on my part once more, because these changes will drain me.

While I am eager to finish this letter and demand for an expedited sendoff, I wanted to thank you for your lucky coin. I received it after all. Belatedly was better than never, I must admit, mainly because you went through the trouble of sharing a nightmare with me and it deserved to be heard. I’ll add that I’ve read about it not once, but twice, to fully absorb the nightmare’s implications. In a sense, I tried to experience it for myself, awake, in an attempt to understand it (and you, by extension).

Your stress seems to have abated since your victory against Clemont, thankfully. In the event that this letter whorls you in that direction again, I am sorry. Throw your grief my way, and I will add it to my repertoire of memories about you, and we can lament together, side by side, spiritually rather than physically. It’s the best we can do.

I have been turning your lucky coin in my hand over and over since it arrived here. I inspected both sides, first the dratini/dragon side, then the clefairy/fairy one. Incidentally, Rowe was nearby, ignoring his duties by refusing to communicate with me as long as no guard looked our way. I must have whispered the word fairy, because his ears perked up. He flattened them out of embarrassment. Ashamed of showing interest in me, of what I possessed. Could we not find a common ground and make our assignment work? It is too late to ponder this question. I’ve lost my chance at having him as a constant once I transfer prisons. Alas, I couldn’t have guessed being transferred, uprooted once more, but I feel regret regardless.

Mostly I have been fingering your coin out of a growing, growing, growing sense of dread. My eyes. My ears. My chest. Everywhere it’s there, all the different reasons for it colliding and fighting to dominate, resulting in a melodramatic caricature of anxiety that I’d laugh at if it wasn’t inside of me.

Before I was arrested, I would react to distress like this by sleeping until nighttime and then prodding the local dealers to sell me whatever they had on hand. Your coin is no replacement for drugs, but it may curb my cravings as I travel. Whether we go by truck or airplane, there will be opportunities to seek reprieve, just as there has been opportunities within these prisons walls. I must avoid relapse as I have been. Depending on where I end up, too, I may know exactly where to look. Exactly who to talk to. I have not taken a single step out of my cell since I heard the news, yet I shudder at the belief that I am not being shipped to a new life but a past one full of sensational highs and lows…

Valerie’s program aims to teach me how to look inward and trust myself to make appreciable decisions in life. Others can help me but not all the way, barely even halfway, rehab tells me. You taught me that I can mostly rely on others and to expect great things from others. Who am I supposed to believe? Hallucinogens, depressants, dissociatives… I cannot blame drugs for my differing perceptions of reality when such differences are ingrained in all creatures. I am not alone and never have been.

Take care, Haley. Tell Kenneth I said hello and thank him on my behalf, for taking care of you where and when I cannot. Which is everywhere and always, or close enough to it. I am sorry I can no longer change that, if just for a day. This is a constant I can anticipate, I suppose, though it is an unwanted one. What I want is for you to write back to me, as always. Which I know you will.

Thoughtfully yours,
Markus

diamondpearl876

you can breathe now. x

Age 26
Illinois, USA.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,580 posts
12.3 Years
FLYING IN THE DARK

[letter twenty-five]

*

October 12

Markus…

Ugh. Okay, so Kenneth’s been all about the non-Lumiose scenery, but I’ve convinced him that we’ve got to hurry, we can come back later if he wants to that bad! He wants to take pictures and search for items that travelers dropped, then sell them. Goomy slime, he says, is in high demand because it’s a core ingredient in glue, and artists combine it with minerals to make clay. Even if we could stay, his hands are getting full, literally…

I did tell him you said thank you. He was speechless. I went right on to explain why you’d finally conceded to our friendship, and, true to character, he promptly informed me that maybe it wasn’t wise to have planned our trip so that we’d arrive at last possible moment. Yeah, I know. I know. Whenever I see a flying-type overhead, I stare at it until it’s out of sight, wondering if it’s looking for me, if you’re looking for me to say it’s too late. I don’t want it to be too late. So I feel stupid, but it’s not too late until you’re officially gone. And as far as know, you’re still at Brun Way, waiting for me or waiting to be corralled to your new home, whichever comes first.

Why am I writing, you ask, when I could be closing in on Laverre, step by step by step? Well, everyone wanted to stop to eat. I’m not hungry. I feel sick, because you were right, the stench here is awful. How their appetites are intact here is strange to me!

Anyway, I have to do something, and writing to you in the interim feels as productive as anything else. I think I’ll feed my pokémon by hand next time and promise Kenneth that I’ll buy him gift or something if he agrees to walk and eat at the same time.

Kenneth’s packing up his goodies now. What he’s found is valuable, right? Maybe I could convince him to donate it all to the prison. Then your warden could sell it all and use that money to advertise better, or temporarily increase the current guards’ paycheck. Would that be enough? Brun Way must already have the funds to shift prisoners from one city to another, so who knows what they could do with just a bit more money? Or what about Valerie’s gym? If she really wants to help her program stay on track, she could use the popularity of gym leaders to raise awareness and money!

I’ll talk to the Brun Way warden and Valerie myself. Hopefully you, too. I know you can’t control what happens from here, but… please don’t go. I’ll respect your wish for me not to respond for now. No point risking this letter getting lost in the mail, too. Oh, but I’m grateful that my coin made its way to you. I figured you’d simply forgotten to say that you received it a while back. Hold on tight to it. It’s a lucky coin, you know, and luck is what we need right now!

October 15

Never mind, we don’t need luck. We need the truth, all of it, unraveled and flattened out with not a kink to be seen.

…What can I write here? What role can words serve anymore? I guess I’m going to attach the first part of this letter, because I mean, I don’t want you to think I abandoned you, or considered it, like you predicted. Look, I don’t blame you for your anxiety, your weak memory, your self-loathing. What do they all have in common? They’re irrational. You insisted that was the case, over and over, like an unwanted encore from your performing days. I believed you the first time, Markus! Now it’s crushing me, how you characterized me as a friend who could write you off after all.

Kenneth’s torn on whether he wants to lecture or pity me. But you knew, too, how I stopped needing his approval about you forever ago. Our writing back and forth was enough. You chose to share yourself bit by bit with me, and that was okay. More than that, I appreciated it. I knew how difficult your own journey was. The images and words that slowly compiled in my brain and made you, you… were enough. I feel guilty, like I failed to make that clear. Did I need to be louder? YOU WERE ENOUGH!

I hope this reaches you, wherever you are. Yeah, read that again: wherever you are. Because guess what? Me and Kenneth clocked in at the Laverre Pokémon Center this morning, then rushed to Brun Way. And you were not there.

Oh, you warned me that you might be relocated by October 15. But that’s the thing. You located, just of your own volition.

The prison’s gates, and the fence extending from it to form a huge rectangle, were taller than I’d expected. Five of me could’ve created a ladder that still wouldn’t permit anyone to look or jump inside. The surrounding branchless trees, I thought, must be that way because the space they needed to grow was snatched away.

I felt warned, and no longer confident in my plan of marching through the courtyard and straight to the guards. I rang the gate’s bell and moved forward anyway, with your very first letter folded and tucked it into my pants pocket. I found myself gripping it with my hand, unconsciously. Your last name, I was scared to forget it, shy as I am and prone to choking up in confrontations with strangers.

Inside, I could see what you meant about visitors. The waiting/visitor room was fit for, like, two people at most, and the chair seats, cheap but plush, weren’t broken in but layered with dust despite the disinfectant smell in the air.

I stared too long. The guard on duty at the desk asked what a young girl like me could possibly need, which made me red in the face. I rehearsed your last name in my head and, confident that I wasn’t at risk for stuttering because I remembered, I told him the reason for my visit. The guard didn’t hesitate, either, in widening his eyes and coughing. He had a birthmark on his neck—it reminded me of the shape of a foreign country—that darkened to purple as he sputtered gibberish. He fled through the office’s back door for a minute to compose himself, only to return and admit that you weren’t there.

I didn’t have to put on a surprise act. Without his genuine uneasiness, I would’ve suspected that me and Kenneth were too late, and I’d have reacted appropriately. With disappointment, and with questions about your whereabouts. But the guard was too nervous, his movements too theatrical. Something was wrong. So I told him your story about a guard shortage, relocating a list of prisoners, and all that. His face looked rumpled as he explained that none of that was even close to true.

I briefly wondered, hoped, that he was forbidden to admit private information like that, or that he was deceiving me because of my age and situation. If that were the case, though, finding your information wouldn’t have been so easy, Markus…

I was on the right track, I knew, when Kenneth nodded to me, his mouth set in the deepest frown I’d ever seen from him.

I pressed the guard. Was I at the right address? Yes, I was. And you weren’t. Still, the man knew your name, your cell number, Eyeball and Bouncer’s nicknames, and other basic trivia I threw at him. Silence hung over us afterward until he offered to show me your cell, which was the invitation I wanted but didn’t have the courage to demand.

The prisoners, slouched and withdrawn, perked up as we passed by. The lights were on, but the black tiled walls offset the brightness and enhanced the whiteness of each cell’s bare bed, toilet, and tiny desk. I couldn’t tear my gaze away, not until I found Eyeball and Bouncer. Two halls later, I recognized them based off of your descriptions. So there are at least two stories you told me that were honest.

When the guard opened your cell, I kept my eyes on your side, your belongings. Kenneth stood behind me, blocking the invasive stares that urged me to bolt and purge the memory of coming here. I focused on finding my lucky coin to see if you’d taken it with you. There was nothing, though. Just cleanliness, bareness, as if you wanted to convince everyone you were an imaginary person.

Who leaves letters and personal items out in the open, though? I wasn’t allowed to open your desk drawers to see. I choose to believe that there are signs of you and me in there. Or would you take my letters with you, too?

On the way out, I lowered my head, unsure and ashamed. I spotted a granbull in the visitor’s room, mumbling about how he’d been dropped off for his shift and could do nothing but wait, and he’d always sensed a dark type of energy from “that pointless man,” so Rowe is true, too. I didn’t dare approach him. My skills communicating with pokémon could use some work, for one thing, and I didn’t want more reasons to be angry with you.

Kenneth said he’d head back to the Pokémon Center. Would I join him? No, I wanted to be alone. I couldn’t say so, I was that pathetically close to tears, but he understood.

Wandering the quiet streets of Laverre, I stumbled onto a road undergoing construction. The workers were resurfacing it. I had to turn around. What I wanted was to disturb the workers, have them yell at me because I deserved it. I did not deserve to be lied to and abandoned, but I would deserve to be yelled at for preventing people from improving the city.

When Kenneth and me parted ways, I overlooked the fact that my pokémon were with me. One of the pokéballs in my backpack’s outer pocket vibrated, advising me to quit standing there, gawking and awkward. A few blocks later, the vibrating hadn’t stopped. Had it always felt that violent? “Okay, okay, I’ll let you out,” I said, not sure which of my birds I was referring to yet. Then out popped Ribbons, on his own. It was just like him to wait for my permission when he felt like exploding inside. I stroked the feathers protruding from the back of his head and assured him I was fine.

This didn’t calm him down. He pointed his wing in the direction of Brun Way, exclaiming something about it being too close… can we leave… wrongness everywhere… I sensed that he’d been calling for my attention ever since we arrived in Laverre, and I’d neglected him in my excitement to meet you, then again in my stupor upon realizing you’d escaped from prison.

Did he sense a kind of darkness, like Rowe did? Even from all the way inside his pokéball? His disadvantage to dark-types couldn’t possibly extend to human immorality, could it? One thing’s for sure: I missed your memo. “Danger, danger, DANGER!” you said, and like the stupid kid I am, I ignored you and plowed ahead anyway.

There's posters everywhere, you know, with your picture and status as an escaped convict plastered underneath in bold, capital letters. It's a drawing of you, more accurately. The sketch artist portrayed you as a fierce looking man. To him you are sullen and bitter and liable to act on it. Well, you've acted on something, just on more tender emotions. Fear. Guilt. Attachment to me.

But you've overcome all of that plenty of times. Why not this time? Why would you avoid me at the last minute? You could've written me, called off the meeting. You know I'd have respected that. Since when was there something we could never, never tell each other? Sure, we couldn't predict when we'd be ready, but...

Whatever. You probably won't even see this letter. I don't know where to send it. Brun Way is a moot destination now. Still, I have so many other questions. How did you escape? Please don't tell me you pulled a stunt from your Enmity and Markus stage days. The other inmates had no part in it, I think. They looked too bewildered, not mischievous at all. And if you come back, won't your sentence be extended? Is solitary confinement a punishment at Brun Way? If so, I doubt you're allowed to receive letters in there, hold a pencil, anything.

And... why fabricate such a longwinded story about relocating and stuff? You sounded so real and convincing. Now I wonder what else you've lied about. Was it to have something to say, to hide just how bad your memory is? Or something else?

I don't know what else to say, myself. It's a good thing the guard who showed me to your cell didn't hear my name. He didn't get to recognize me as the girl writing to you and feel sorry for me, or ask questions. I feel horrible for writing that, even thinking it. But I'm sorry, I can't hide my shame this time.

Wherever you are, I hope you’re okay, Markus. My worry is stronger than my anger. Please understand that I can't help either of those things. But more importantly, please, please be okay. And of course, I hope to hear from you… although I don’t know what hearing from you means anymore. Please don't retreat into total silence. You didn't like when Enmity did that, did you? You don't have to do this. You don't have to run away. We can work it out, and you can be who you want to be still!

Always,
Haley

diamondpearl876

you can breathe now. x

Age 26
Illinois, USA.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,580 posts
12.3 Years
* Warning for a vague mention of suicide in this letter.
* I had to change the dates of the letters so that the date of their meeting was scheduled to be October 15, not August 15. I got mixed up with old drafts and new ones, accidentally going from September back to August, derp.

FLYING IN THE DARK

[letter twenty-six]

*

November 23

Markus?

Where are you? What are you doing? Are you okay?

...Markus?

I’m still waiting for a letter from you, over a month later. I look for you everywhere I go, using the escaped convict posters as a guide so I’ll recognize you.

Kenneth was kind, agreeing to forgo a Pokémon Center room and alternating campsites each night in case you ran into us or vice versa. For a couple weeks we hung around the south part of Laverre, near Brun Way. Then the police thought that using their energy to send us to a designated camping spot for trainers was more important than finding you. We settled north, a mile or so from a pokéball factory.

The close placement between the two was no coincidence, Kenneth said. It was an advertising ploy. Under normal circumstances we’d have fallen for it, especially him. But we couldn’t bring ourselves to care or renew our interests in pure sightseeing.

Kenneth didn’t mutter a word about you. His silence might’ve meant that he’d given up on you but felt obligated to indulge in my foolish assumption about you loitering in Laverre. I was afraid to ask. Maybe he was afraid of what I intended to do next. It’s not like I even knew! And I still don’t know! Do I want to find you, meet you face-to-face after all, without glass or bars getting in the way?

To be clear, the idea of meeting you outside of Brun Way doesn’t scare me. I’m scared for you, your future. I’m confused, too, and writing to you nobody to deal with it.

Why not continue using Kenneth as a crutch? If only I could. You see, I rambled to Kenneth, on and on, so much that he got sick of me, I think. He ditched me like he should’ve after that mamoswine ride and now there’s no one to process my thoughts with. ...Okay, logically I’m aware of the real reason why we finally had to part ways. The timing was extra unfavorable, that’s all, which keeps exaggerating my reactions.

Do you remember his purpose in coming to Kalos? He’s searching for his father, right, and his mom back in Aquacorde got a promising lead he has to follow up on. Only he’s gotta physically be there in Aquacorde to do that.

My legs threatened to buckle immediately after he told me. The stress had gotten to be too overwhelming. I forced myself to stand strong anyway, because when had I ever offered or made an effort to keep an eye out for clues on his behalf? How had I contributed to the case of his long lost father? All I’d accomplished there was the pretense of being a companion. In reality I held him back from his main goals. Ugh, Markus, I couldn’t even tell you what the lead was that he left me for, that’s how preoccupied I was about myself…

Sweet as ever, more considerate than anyone I’ve known—not counting my grandmother, of course—Kenneth offered me his volbeat again before he set off. Oh, technically the volbeat’s registered in his mom’s name, she’s just been aiming to rehome it and figured Kenneth had a likely shot of finding someone qualified during his travels. See, I paid attention to some of his problems! Anyway, the point is, I’m flattered Kenneth thinks of me as a good enough trainer, but again I refused to take the volbeat.

Sure, it would’ve been like getting to keep a part of him for myself, but it seemed to me that Kenneth was just trying to avoid inflicting on his mom the relationship he has with Donmel: avoiding eye contact with each other, becoming accustomed to silence, tension thicker than dust hanging in the air… Well, all of them together remind me of you and Enmity. I sincerely hope they reconcile while they still have the chance. Accepting the volbeat would’ve meant depriving them of that chance.

All I could gift to him on his way out was my thanks, said in a thousand different ways but all equal in sincerity. He waved me off, unaware of the specifics he’d done. I recited them for him, as many as I could remember: reassuring me that Ribbons would be okay from overexertion, listening without judgment, listening while judging me but kind enough to be honest about it and willing to change his opinion if he had a reason to, the soft look in his eyes whenever he worried about me, which was often, and so much more!

When I was done with my speech, I was thoroughly out of breath. His first response was to whistle, then he shook his head and frowned. I added that I learned a thing or two about being ambivalent and accepting it, whereas most people cling to one side of themselves and repress the other.

“I didn’t know you were that observant, or I’d have felt more self-conscious all this time,” he said, laughing. “I’m kidding, really. I’m grateful to have someone who cares so much. Let’s meet up again soon, yeah? Write me in the meantime. I’ll write you back, I swear it.”

I couldn’t help but want to hug him after he opened up another avenue of communication between us, so I did. I admit I cried a little, too. He didn’t comment on the wet marks on his clothes.

He went on, “Whatever you do from here, I support it.” A pause. “And, to be honest, I would’ve written Markus a letter myself, thanking him for being a rock in your life. Now he’s lost the opportunity for a privilege like that.”

Still, not once did Kenneth contemplate abandoning the lead on his father to stay with me. I admired his confidence and felt my own strengthened, because that’s what’s gotten me this far. It’s what got me out of Anistar in the first place, even!

So I’ve been alone now for two weeks. I’m lonely, but not completely lonely. My pokémon have been coddling me and ecstatic about having less competition over me. And it makes no sense that I still feel you’re near somehow, too, but I do.

I’d make bets on what you’re thinking these days. You’re thinking I should follow Kenneth’s method and give up on you for sure. You’re thinking I should get back to my journey, leave Laverre and push you out of my mind forever. Oh, and that I should focus on my friendship with Kenneth… you know, because you haven’t a clue about his leaving me yet.

It hurts, Markus. I don’t have to blame you and demand that you come to your senses for all this to hurt. I understand yet want to cry at the same time because reason isn’t helping and my mind keeps pulling tricks to make sure I stay sad.

We’ve conquered a lot of tricks and illusions together, you know! Past ones like the hypno and the claydol in Frost Cavern and anticipated ones like Ribbons’s supposed power. Do you think you can conquer another and write to me...?

I should’ve grasped how seriously you felt about the “dance” between tricks and illusions. No way could you have described it so elegantly and deeply without personal experience attached. I’m sorry. Maybe I could’ve prevented this, convinced you that meeting me would’ve benefited you more than escaping...

You planned on escaping long before October 15, didn’t you? Why else would you analyze Ribbons’s mythical power and ponder its existence when you hate psychic-types? Because Ribbons would’ve warned me if he foresaw you wreck our chance of meeting that day. And it’s curious that Olympia never mentioned this power when she was dead set on teaching me a lesson or two before I left Anistar. Ribbons was just a natu then, but evolutions are common during journeys.

Mostly I’m avoiding the main thing on my mind, that is, where could you have gone after escaping? To Professor Sycamore’s lab, a punishment and a reminder of how much you loved your starters? To your old move tutor, if he’s still around, for a score? Or would you stomp up to him and yell over what he did to you?

There’s a possibility you went to search for Enmity. You know how I wanted you to meet my pokémon, too? Maybe you wanted the same, and the thought of it not happening drove you crazy. Your mourning over Enmity’s grown a lot lately, and I don’t think that because you’ve grown comfortable in sharing secrets with me. Your pain’s seemed starker somehow, really pronounced. Like you saw Enmity physically next to you but knew he was an apparition and you hurt tenfold over it.

I wish this were a trick of yours, I do. Or an illusion, whatever. I don’t know what to do with the knowledge that this happened, and worse, that it happened to me and you. Kenneth doesn’t count.

Every burnt leaf that crunches under my feet, I’m reminded of where I am. In Laverre. Supposed to meet the friend I’ve adamantly defended from everyone. Maybe… I’m ready to admit this is precisely why writing a prisoner appealed to me. Short of dying, how could you leave and abandon me? Why would you? I’m so sorry, I took advantage of that. I deserved showing up to no one.

For the first time ever, I’m jealous of my mom. She handles drugs all day, safe drugs and addictive drugs both. In her shoes I’d stare at the bottles and vials, empathetic for the people who say they don’t want to be here anymore, don’t want their pain to go on. I want to be here in Laverre and yet I don’t. So where do I want to be instead? Nowhere, absolutely nowhere. (I don’t have the resoluteness needed to do anything about it, don’t worry.)

For how long, I don’t know, but I’ll stay here. There’s no deadline for my trainer journey, no pressure to return home and make pretend peace with everyone. My pokémon, especially Ribbons, are tuning in to their wild selves to act as lookouts. They take turns napping throughout the day because their fear of danger skyrockets at night, naturally.

I haven’t the energy to find even short-term housing for us in a safe building, but once in a while I’ve bought a Center room to shower and do laundry and whatnot. My pokémons' schedules stay the same even then. I hear Ribbons mumbling the word “dark” a lot for some reason, but when I tell him that there’s no need to worry too much just because Kenneth’s not here, he shakes his head. It’d be the same with Kenneth, he says. He can’t find the words to explain otherwise. Or is there something he won’t say, as a way of protecting me?

Their paranoia’s got me on edge, I think. Half the time it feels like I’m being watched and followed. When I round a block, sometimes I sense someone right behind me, someone not bothering to put any distance between us to hide their presence better. They feel so close that they could be riding on my shoulders, like Seybs would.

I turn and hope it’s you, always. And always it’s nothing. I’d wing it once I found you, I decided, because what’s most important is knowing you’re okay.

It bears repeating. Please be okay, Markus.

Please.

diamondpearl876

you can breathe now. x

Age 26
Illinois, USA.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,580 posts
12.3 Years
FLYING IN THE DARK

[letter twenty-seven]

*

November 29

Haley,

I leave this letter in your bag, mixed with all the others. How long will it take you to notice? Two, three days at most, I suspect. You’ve been rereading our correspondence an unreasonable amount these days. Ignoring the winter weather creeping up on you.

I’d hoped to sustain a normal letter exchange with you. I hadn’t counted on you arriving at the prison regardless. The posters across Laverre were an oversight on my part. It can’t be helped. Neither can we.

I write this last letter to you solely because I have but one request. Yes, after all this. After all of everything. I must abandon my dignity and take the risk. Anything is of value to me at this point. Anything to differentiate me from the illusions I forged and festered until they colored my entire world. Then a part of yours.

My request? Never call me human again. Mark is dead.

I’m sorry to tattle on myself like this, but it’s the truth, exactly what you have been itching for. Mark arguably wasn’t human, either. I know for sure that I’m not. Whatever I am, I need to find out. I am going to find out. That is why I escaped. An easy feat, that. The details are irrelevant. Only the why matters, and now you know. Why.

That courtesy should still be part of my repertoire is shameful. For you it must be torture in disguise. Rest assured that I deliberated for many hours in my mind whether to write and say goodbye to you. I turned the idea over like eggs on a spatula, into a sizzling frying pan. Like the ones at Brun Way’s cafeteria. I did not like those eggs. Consuming them, I mean. I never grew accustomed to such foods. But I liked the sound, its familiarity. The sound of things changing. Forever. Until it is just gone. Something in me is just gone. Has been gone a long, long time.

Like I said, I must find it, what’s gone. I must find me alone. When I find me I will be alone, with only my mistakes trailing behind me, literal skeletons.

Do not write to me again. Do not try to follow me, find me, convince me, change me. Yes, leave Laverre, do that, please! You’re concerning yourself over nobody. I know, that’s what you do, concern yourself over others. Over me. Over Kenneth. Over your pokémon, like that goddamn xatu. Won’t you take care of yourself for once, please?

Especially don’t concern yourself over someone you barely know. Case in point: Is it Markus or Mark? Do you remember his real name, not what you call him on a whim? What you read goes in your brain and out again an hour later. It happens for every human. Biases seep into your collective image of another person. Then social interactions become controlled by expectations of who you and the other person should be. If a human changes… actualizes themself into someone praise-worthy... it is done quietly, over years and years and years. Because humans don’t evolve the way pokémon do, quick and striking. How are humans the superior beings?

I’m not subject to such nonsense. Because I’m not human, and I’m not sure I ever was. Not in the sense you think I am or want me to be, anyway. But how I dreamed… To be what you needed, so that you would be what I needed, it was a dream. Unfortunately, I’ve awakened. Iit no longer feels as if I’m walking in my sleep.

Don’t argue me on this point, Haley. I know you want to. Your voice rings in my ears now, replacing the curves and ink of handwriting. I hear your argument, the futility of it. Don’t you see? The multiplicity of my illusions, terrible, cascading and taunting and sitting right outside my cell door?

Well, not anymore, re: the cell door part. Now they can touch my skin. The dark fails to serve as a cloak. The moon rises right where I left her the previous night, staring. Unperturbed. Her concern is for the sun, to count the minutes until it is time to trade places in the sky and watch over us puzzle pieces. They have what we wanted. The perfect mutual relationship. The ability to read each other’s thoughts and provide what the other needs, nonverbally.

If I were a flying-type, I think I’d go on up to the moon. Or the sun, if fire energy lay within me as well. A talonflame, like Joey’s… It’s not impossible.

Alas, I’d humbly sacrifice anything to switch places with the moon or the sun. Preferably the moon. I could stare down and bask in silence, my home. Without words we would all understand that this is a time for humans to sleep and a time for wild pokémon to hunt. Complement and carry the other forever as a comrade.

It’s not impossible. Well, some of it is. I cannot replace the moon. But a talonflame, hmm... I must die again anyway. Not permanently, just enough to live a different life...

Do you see yet, Haley? Do you? At the very least, Ribbons has.

I’ve spun and spewed so many lies. Truly, though, I am grateful for all you’ve done for me… for Mark… for both of us. Out of all the prisoners Joey could’ve identified to inspire you to action, it had to be the one trapped by choice. Mark himself is at no fault for this choice, that is, how I stole his personality, identity, appearing, speaking style. Warped it all to my liking and for convenience’s sake. Easy, when your only conversations are with strangers who have, at most, read about you in bullet list form.

You know what? There’s little to lose, so I can be more specific now. Thank you for the opportunity to use my voice. My voice, that forgotten thing which wilted from disuse over the years. How could I not take someone else’s when the chance emerged?

But no longer, not with this guilt ripping at me. You know me—no, Mark—who now?—so well that I couldn’t stand the thought of you arriving at the correctional center, watching me, sensing something wrong. There was no need to additionally measure my physical movements until that meeting arrangement, and, trying, memories of me and him flooded back. I was unprepared. Too much, too much!

Even if you hadn’t noticed something amiss, Ribbons would have. He’s right: I mean danger to him. To anyone. Me, a dark-type cowering from a psychic, flipping the advantage around to avoid being exposed… In that respect my disappearing act was, in fact, a performance designed for a target audience. As you feared.

You asked once about who flies your letters to you. A bird belonging to the warden, perhaps? An inmate’s flying-type, designated to serving Brun Way until his incarceration ends? No. It’s been me, disguised as different species. This way, you’d not feel compelled to grow attached to any one bird.

Before departing, I’d create an illusion of my Mark form and send him into bed for a nap. Careful not to overlap with parts of his schedule which required him to change locations. And when no one was looking, off I’d go, slipping through the bars to freedom. To a brief moment with you, over and over. When you mentioned meeting in person, I thought, We already have, what could you mean? Like a fool.

By the way, Haley, following the rules was rough. Your lucky coin, your letters, none of it should’ve been in danger of inspection by the guards. All of it should’ve been all mine to sneak in and hoard. A treasure chest of goods in plain sight, and no one would suspect a thing. But I could not predict when Ribbons would arrive, where I’d be… I have limits to my illusions, you know. Luckily, the guards’ baseline is the belief that all inmates are ungrateful. Markus Samaras, he receives a lot of mail, but he never sends anything back! Typical inmate behavior, that.

So on that level I was safe. Sure, it would’ve been safe to have Brun Way send my letters to you their way, but I wanted so little in life that when I wanted to mingle with you and your team and Kenneth, if just for a moment, I made it happen. Those moments accumulated and suddenly I was asking for the world when I deserved none of it.

You might not believe me. But you missed my slip up a few letters back! How I mentioned your hair’s blondness. How else could I have known? And ask Ribbons, ask him! Ribbons, noble Ribbons, has continually sacrificed himself to fly your letters to me. The sickness he suffered as a natu was not due to a lack of physical prowess, Haley, but of extensive anxiety. Knowing he was headed to a place with a dark-type in the vicinity, unable to retreat to the safety of his trainer, his team, his pokéball if attacked… But he was unable to refuse you such an important favor.

Oh, I can’t blame him for loving you so much.

More confessions. The real Markus Samaras, born on July 10 during a year where the drug use statistics skyrocketed, probably. Quadruplets: Delphox, Greninja, Chesnaught, and him, all faking aliveness in their respective ways. They wore death on their bodies at all hours of the day. Still, because Mark spoke highly of the others, I wish I could have met them. I wondered if he’d talk highly of me if I were gone, too. I dreamed often about going anywhere else.

Honestly, Mark came from an okay home. Sad, but not unbearable. He was left to fend for himself, in locating, identifying, describing his emotions. They were tumultuous. His parents could glance at him as a tornado ripped through his insides, his brain circuits. And they did not notice. Perhaps this knack led him down the acting route? There remain big gaps like this that I will never be able to fill for you, let me say now. It’s abhorrent as it is, the way I twisted the truths I did know into something unrecognizable to me but recognizable for you.

Cue again winded descriptions of Mark at high school, then breeder school, then training and the move tutor, buying my egg and trying to “start over”… Or not. What you’re dying to know, assuming you’ve processed who I really am by this point, is how the switch happened. So I shall jump to that and

Wait. No, allow me this last indulgence, will you? Allow me to tell you about my time together with Mark, from my point of view. My early days with him were unremarkable, thus eschewed from my memory once we established a routine and revealed deeper aspects of ourselves. Cue a skip to your commonly asked questions, then.

I didn’t exaggerate his worries about my muteness. Under the influence, he thought demons possessed my vocal cords. He loathed psychic-types, yes, but for my sake was willing to collaborate with psychic-types to communicate with the demons and exorcise them.

There was no need. Mark made silence comfortable. He fostered an environment for silence to be used the way it should be. Silence allows you to give others the precious gift of time, and attention. Mark spun tales all the time. I listened. He wasn’t deliberately trying to entertain me. Just enjoyed the sound of his own voice, and the sight of eyes on him rather than past him. The latter reminded him bitterly of his parents.

Why not use my voice once, once, to convince him I was okay? Not sick? Mark himself was sick, as you know. His starters became sick. Died by his hands, in a way. His parents were sick, deprived of the ability to provide emotional support for their only son. Died of old age, unaware of the damage they’d wrought. To reveal I was a normal zorua, free of the concerns that plagued all areas of his life, was to wholly desert him and shatter the worldview he’d built for decades. I was afraid that I’d be the one to send him over the edge, closer to drugs, those inanimate destructive things, into full death.

What else was true? Hmm… We did perform a lot of shows. In Lumiose, to earn money. The streets there were overcrowded always. So much so that one week I didn’t spot someone lurking nearby to steal our tip bucket, also overcrowded as a strategic way to get people to watch us. Unable to score, Mark suffered from withdrawal symptoms. Worse than he ever had before. He hallucinated voices, sights, smells, even tastes… Unable to undo the illusions bombarding him, I could only empathize in horror and suffer, too. And not once did he ask me to create new illusions for his sake, break the existing ones. Was it polite consideration for my sake or a way of avoiding my assumed nature, my deviousness? The evidence supported either conclusion: his treating me like a fragile object and the frequent training sessions he held in the hopes of me evolving.

That is not to say that I was not true to my devious zorua nature, ever. My favorite stage performance involved a daring illusion I concocted alone. Obviously, Mark was unaware beforehand. How would he react? I had to know. I had to break the predictability of his life once. To catch a glimpse of himself should he tried to fix his life. He’d forgive me by the end of it, he who accepted the majority of my shortcomings simply because I was not a stranger to him.

Mark claimed to the crowd before us—bustling, chafing each other’s shoulders, taunting anyone who could hear with the belief that we’d flop—that I’d breathe fire hotter and brighter than any real fire-type. Part of the trick was the assumption that our audience possessed little to no experience with fire-types. In overcrowded Lumiose, after all, residents cannot own fire-types. Trainers must contain theirs, even the dual types, in a pokéball. Wild ones that stray within the city limits are chased away.

I’d been practicing my flamethrower, right, so I was ready. I inhaled greatly. Felt the smoke fill up my lungs and surely cut five years off my lifespan. And when I exhaled, the flames blanketed the stage. Faltering, a few sparks licked and melted the wood beneath our feet a tad. Not that anyone could see. The audience was blinded, shielding their eyes. Which stirred the slumbering adrenaline in them. I had until the brightness dissipated to prepare to strike.

I couldn’t cry out. So I faked several alarming facial expressions to convey to those who opened their eyes that, ah, I couldn’t control the fire after all. I jerked the flames this way and that, a feat I had fled from Mark in the night to perfect. I could control the shape of the flames as well now. I made them flicker and hiss and bounce up and down. Threatening to scatter anywhere, on anyone.

The charade had to end, of course. All charades do. I summoned my rain dance technique, which we’d also practiced for emergencies. The fire, doused, made swirling smoke patterns. Like translucent fireworks. Then people knew this was indeed the performance, everything up till the blackened sky lit up again with its various shades of blue.

Mark was stressed. He held a forced smile while half the crowd stomped away in dismay, the other half congratulating us with cash. Afterward he coddled me, dubbed me a genius, the best and most ruthless partner he’d been dreaming of...

And now Mark is dead. Dead dead dead.

Balancing the facts and fictions of his life, my life, heavied my mind greatly. Some missteps were purposeful, to see if you’d catch on. I brought myself up in conversation so many times. Grieving for myself. But from the point of view of Mark, how he’d grieve for me, if he would. Emotionally distant sums him up well. And for a friendship which relies on a pure emotional connection, I had to improvise and improvise and improvise…

Cognitive overload. I’d felt it a long while, my body wanting to evolve. The daringness of the performance I described above was the first sign to tell me I was nearing the inevitable. Mark hoped for it, longed for it, but missed it. I only let myself change when I received your first letter. Before then I’d just grit my teeth past the physical pain.

Logic. I was never in danger of losing you, of you leaving. No matter how this played out. I am like you. My parent, Mark, told me that flaws were abundant in everyone but they could improve. And he wouldn’t go as long as I was actively working on the ones that affected my performances. But he has gone.

When your letter arrived, I’d hoped that it was him. My trainer, my friend, my Mark, had he come to say hello to me again? From the dead! How? Would he outline this trick of his for me, please?

But the real trick lies with me. He died when I was breathing through a body just like his own. Down to the tiniest group of molecules in his body. I thought that I must help him live on literally. No one else would remember him. His parents, his starters? Impossible. Other friends, other family? None.

Therefore, I was Mark, I had to be be Mark. Enmity, he was the dead one, I thought. By convincing you that he’d be gone for good, I’d hoped to convince myself.

To no avail now. You see, we did not have enough resources to expand our names outside of Lumiose. No known connections to drugs except in Laverre, and not enough time to get there before withdrawal would set in. Our performances grew stale in Lumiose’s eyes. Famous, international actors started traveling through and were the priority of people’s time and attention. Mark would promise dealers he’d pay them back eventually, but for now, desperation had a hold on him, wouldn’t they spare him a night of the desire to die? Those who said no, he stole from.

Someone, unknown, caught on and reported him. The cops stalked after him. Also disguised and at night, to blend in with our natural habitat. Mark was sleeping blissfully between two empty garbage bins in the alleyway separating the local press and a battle restaurant. I sensed an off presence and woke him up, signaled for him to run. In his drugged state, running was a colossal struggle. The police would’ve caught up to him in no time, and that’d be it for him, for us! He always told me the city would separate us if given the chance…

He did not look back to see where I was. So I did not get his permission or see the disapproval creep on his face, whichever would’ve happened. I stayed behind, transformed into him, summoning the zoroark energy I felt lurking in me to ensure the police would be fooled. Yes, they arrested me instead, unaware of the truth. I thought only about how a human’s skin is cold, and the handcuffs on my wrists, Mark’s wrists, was even colder, and how I’d saved him from that.

Mark adopted a pseudonym, for a while. He wrote to me. Much like you. Too afraid to approach anywhere near Lumiose, then Laverre once I transferred there. And I? I was incapable of leaving the prison freely like I can now, thanks to my unevolved form. So I waited for Mark to bail me out, because he promised he would. He’d devised a plan to save money, he wrote. The right way this time, a surefire way. I had hope until my competency hearing came and weight (I was struggling to act human and aroused suspicion), then my trial came and went, then sentencing, then several quiet months...

I assume that he overdosed in hiding, no one to search for him or identify him. I’d have heard about it if anyone stumbled into his corpse and reported it. My illusion would’ve been shattered by his fingerprints, by science.

So no, to be clear, I don’t know his fate for sure. But if he’s not dead, why hasn’t he come for me or written to me? Why has he abandoned me to live out the full extent of my sacrifice? I could leave and search for him, yes, I’m aware. My assumption is safer. Keeps my heart intact, cracked as it’s gotten.

My life was predictable until you wrote to me. No hello from Mark, but hello from a stranger instead? When my schedule, my decisions, my clothes, everything was decided for me, and I could say what I’d be doing years from today’s date and time? I could’ve ignored you. Indeed I’d forgotten how to read and write by that point. They were skills I developed solely to communicate with Mark until...

So I tried to learn how again, and it was taking too long, too long, because my body ached and all my energy was sunk into maintaining Mark’s appearance. The more I tried, the more I was suddenly desperate to have you as a companion, however distant, so I evolved in the night. My capacities expanded, I wrote to you successfully and apologized for my apparent rudeness. You know the rest.

Now officially, our letters end here. It’s nothing personal. My life supposedly ended when Mark disappeared/died. Yet my heart keeps beating, and my mind sharpens with each word of yours I read. The whole of me wants more life. Which I will find, as I said, alone. I do not deserve your supposedly unconditional company, least of all yours. Too kind, too genuine, too trusting.

I thank you for leading me as far as you have. For inspiring me to seek sights and sounds, tastes and smells that otherwise would pass me by. That was a goal you succeeded in tenfold. And thank you for being my first experience back into the life of Enmity, albeit through Mark’s name and signature. It only happened because I initially failed at scaring you off. Were you sure? Were you sure? You were sure about a criminal, about Mark. Not me, right? So we should have a chance, you think? Yet I am a criminal in my own right. Not a drug addict, but filled with pathological deceptions and tales long enough to write a dedicated law book about.

I’d say sorry for leaving you alone, but you’re not. You have your flying-types. As for Kenneth, I’m curious to know if he suspected, well, this. How could he have? He was full of surprises, though. Perhaps he would not have wanted to accept the truth, even if he’d put the pieces together. A pokémon, capable of so much language and intelligence he could thoroughly fool numerous humans? Prison workers who reduce a human’s status to that of a monster is not the best example, actually. Still, it would mean that Donmel is capable of the same, and that he’s failed to help his pokémon reach that potential in favor of neglect.

We talked about this plenty, Haley. You will be amazed as you learn how complex your pokémon truly are, now that the language barrier is diminishing. Ribbons will confirm my story. That my letters, for the first time, consist of no illusions or tricks.

In the end I have confessed to you after my request. Why? Out of guilt, no other reason. Use my story as you will. Sell it to the prison, or some tabloid looking for a great headline. You could earn money for handing over my letters and taking part in such an unbelievable experience. Who knows, Mark may come out of hiding then, like I’ve dreamed. Either way, I give you permission to take advantage of me in this way. The downsides and their accompanying burdens are mine to bear.

Thank you again, Haley. I’ll miss you, but this—is—the—space—between—us. No, not wide enough. Let me try again. Drive the point home, wherever that is.



This



is



the



space



between



us.


Goodbye,
En
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