Writing this almost literally made my head spin. :p I felt all the emotions present, and in such a rollercoaster fashion. How about you?
chapter 6 ; [ATIS]
I lost track of days not long after I left Violet City with Sai.
Saying good-bye to Earl had been an easier feat than I had expected—he was happy for me, and seemed all too eager to give me away to a boy who was leaving his school much earlier than the rest of his students. That was his personality, I knew. He was caring and trusting and he always had everyone’s best intentions in mind. I wondered if he would miss me or if he really didn’t want to let me go, but I tried not to dwell on it. I wouldn’t have been able to stand knowing that he would be thinking of me in such a negative way whenever he encountered something that reminded him of me.
Even if he hadn’t wanted me to leave, I would have done so anyway. Leaving meant a better chance of finding joy. And although Sai was rather odd, it was this lack of normalcy that attracted me to him. Maybe, just maybe, I could change him. I could deter him from pokémon training. I could be… something. The path to Azalea Town made me think of this even more, especially when the sentret—or Senori, as I eventually learned—almost got hurt, but was saved by another trainer. Possible danger and discouragement from others could be ideas used against him during my efforts. The situation even made me second guess my decision, though I was prone to such swaying.
Yes, I lost track of days so that I could focus on using my time wisely rather than watching it simply pass by.
Still, Sai made it difficult to lose track of time. It took a little over three weeks to get out of the cave, he said. During those last few days, I was forced to keep up with him because he was walking so fast. If I tried to get lost in my thoughts and ignore the rest of the world like I usually did, I fell behind and panicked. So I tried to keep myself focused. I could hear him mumbling numbers over and over as he swiftly made his way through the rest of the cave while simply assuming that we were close behind. Time seemed important to this boy all of a sudden. Before, he was content to come to the school day after day, and he allowed me an entire week to prepare for my departure. Now, he seemed obsessed with numbers and speed, as if his life depended on it. Kuiora seemed to notice, but didn’t care much—she only tried to get his attention by beating the occasional wild pokémon that dared to fight. And Senori often looked at him with concern, but was too paralyzed to say anything.
When we got to Azalea Town, his suddenly obsessive self scattered and escalated to a pace that no one else could keep up with.
The first night was normal enough. He wanted to sleep in the pokémon center, as expected. No trainer could resist the luxury of pokémon centers, though he didn’t try to hide the glares he gave the nurses who looked at us. Despite his unnecessary anger, they gave us a room with two beds and other standard human things. I watched from the doorway as Sai paced around the room anxiously, and as Kuiora and Senori stared at objects that perhaps only I had seen before—lamps, carpet, indoor plants. They treaded lightly and refused to touch anything, as if it all was sacred and fragile. At one point, a worker from the center knocked on our door and offered us some pokémon food, which they also took as if they were being presented with the greatest gift in the world.
Though curiosity was present, tiredness was overpowering, and the night soon ended. Kuiora and Senori slept together on the bottom bunk since they were closer friends, while I took the top so that no one could see me. Sai didn’t sleep at all—he just kept pacing, back and forth, back and forth, mumbling incomprehensibly. I thought I could feel him watching me, but I was too exhausted to care. Anxiety had a limit when you were constantly exposed to the idea of being crushed by a bunch of rocks, I supposed…
Sai woke us up at sunrise. I thought that I was starting to have a nightmare about earthquakes, but it was just Sai shaking the bed in order to get my attention from the top bunk. I immediately sat up and tried to control my uneven breathing so that I could tell him to stop, but by the time I prepared myself, he had already yelled up to me about going to get breakfast and was out the door.
I climbed down from the bed and saw the other two pokémon staring at me, slightly confused. I almost fell as I tried to steady myself on the floor, and thought to make a break for it like Sai had before they could ask me anything.
“I like Sai's style today,” Kuiora said, not bothering to let the boy get to her. She bounced off of the bed and headed for the door herself, smiling. “I’m going to get some food.”
Senori soon followed her, though he didn’t say anything. I just stood in place for a few moments, wondering whether or not to go with them. Staying and enjoying the peace and quiet was an option, but I knew that if I really wanted to start getting involved with Sai’s life before he decided his fate on his own, I couldn’t just hide forever. I made my way out of the room, finding small amounts of comfort in the soft floor below me.
I followed Senori around the corner, noting how quiet it still was. Everyone else still must have been sleeping. The center surely couldn’t have just been empty—there had been too many trainers around when we arrived last night. It was impossible for me not to notice. While I was wondering why the place was so quiet, I didn’t notice that Senori had stopped moving, and I accidentally bumped into him.
“I-I’m sorry,” I said, looking down to the floor bashfully and running my foot along the carpet, seeking more comfort.
“It’s fine. I’m not sure where Sai went,” Senori said simply.
“Oh. Well… we could try to find a nurse and see if they can tell us where to go…”
“Good idea,” Senori said, nodding. And with that, he took the lead again and kept moving forward. I followed and vowed to pay more attention this time. I considered my endeavor rather successful when I saw a pink-haired nurse first and pointed it out to Senori. He nodded again, went up to the nurse, and tugged at the bottom of her white skirt. She had been talking to another trainer, but immediately took notice of Senori and smiled, asking if the poor pokémon was lost. Again, Senori nodded, and I wished I could have taken the useful role—especially since I would have been allowed to remain silent.
“What are you looking for, dear?” she asked.
“…Food. My trainer went to get food,” Senori said hesitantly, gesturing toward his mouth with his paws.
“Don’t worry, silly. I can understand pokémon,” the nurse said, chuckling slightly. “I spend enough time with them to know what they’re trying to say, no matter what species. Now, the breakfast room is through that door on the other side of the building. Enjoy!” She pointed behind Senori, and then turned away to continue talking to the trainer, a boy who looked vaguely familiar. I didn’t stick around to see him, though, as I followed Senori in the direction that the nurse sent us in. Luckily, the lobby was empty save for a couple people, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost this time around.
When we got there, however, Sai was gone. Kuiora was obliviously eating nearly everything in sight, especially the berries. She didn’t see us come in, and we had to ask her quite a few times where Sai was before she acknowledged us.
“He came in here and then left this place. Didn’t even eat,” she explained in between bites of food.
“You didn’t follow him to see where he was going?” Senori asked, tilting his head to the side.
“Nope. I was hungry… and he’s the trainer, not me.”
“Huh…” Senori turned to look at me. “He seems, um, rather upbeat today. I’m not really sure if we should go after him and risk ruining it,” he added, smiling awkwardly.
“You can eat,” I offered. I was hungry, but staying meant that I would have to be alone with Senori, since Kuiora clearly wasn’t interested in speaking to us. One-on-one interaction wasn’t exactly my favorite situation to be in, so I just offered to go look for Sai instead. After receiving a skeptical look from the sentret, I quickly said that I’d be careful. He agreed and scrambled over to the table next to the totodile. I was free to leave.
The sky was half bright, half dark when I walked out of the pokémon center. The city itself was the same, as the forest towered over the part of the city that we hadn’t come in through. There were some hints of light on the other side where we arrived, and I looked at those areas first, noting how the pavement was uncomfortable beneath my feet. I was used to darkness—I craved it, even—but I couldn’t help hopefully looking toward the lighter side of things. With so little people out this early in the morning and with the illuminated part of the city demanding my attention, finding Sai was an easy task, though deciding whether or not to chase after him was another story.
I had to decide whether or not to chase him because I saw him entering a random house.
It occurred to me that I had no idea where my trainer lived. Wherever it was, it couldn’t have been in Azalea Town… right? Why sleep in the pokémon center, then? He wasn’t the kind that seemed to like much interaction, however. I understood this, but I also understood that there were more efficient ways of going about avoiding those you lived with…
I decided to chase after him. I ran through the small town, trying to focus on the house so that I wouldn’t arrive there only to forget which one he had entered. They all looked the same, just as all trainers were the same. When I got to the house, the door was still propped open, so I reluctantly stepped inside. My heart was beginning to race, and I tried to calm myself down with the idea that this was no different than entering the school. Everyone was allowed there, even if it belonged to Earl. I could only hope that the owner here was as nice as he was.
My heart stopped when Sai tried to walk out just as soon as I entered, and ended up colliding with me unexpectedly. I stumbled backward, falling and landed on my back. I stayed on the ground, making no attempt to stand back up. Surely, things could have been worse, but the idea of being caught unwanted in someone else’s home was enough to send me panicking. And hadn’t I left the other pokémon to avoid this kind of reaction? I couldn’t win.
“Atis!” Sai said excitedly. He reached down and lifted me to put me back on my feet. I looked up at him and there was something odd about his eyes. I knew they were a dark blue, but now they seemed… glazed over. Deadened and desperate, somehow, though his demeanor said otherwise.
“Um, hi,” I started lamely. I couldn’t stop looking at his eyes.
“I’m sorry I skipped breakfast, Atis,” he said quickly. “I wanted to go out and, you know, um, meet people. The door here was unlocked, but I went in the first room and no one was there. And the place was so big and cozy, you know, I couldn’t take it, I’m not used to it, but I’m going to try again, okay?”
“Uh…” He was speaking too fast for me to fully understand. Something about seeing people and not being used to it. I simply nodded—words were useless here.
“Okay, let’s go find the next house then,” Sai said, holding on to my arm and pulling me to the next house over. Why did these things have to almost be right next to each other? I didn’t have much time to process what was going on, but I immediately made a whining noise when Sai went to try opening that door, too.
“What’s wrong, Atis?” Sai asked, though he still went to turn the knob. It was locked.
“I, uh, these houses… They aren’t yours. You can’t just go in them,” I mumbled. His eyes widened in response.
“Why not? Senori always says things like that.”
“They’re private. You have to ask to go in,” I said, a bit more confidently this time.
“Oh. I guess they’re too good and cozy for everyone to have,” Sai said, though his voice was still upbeat, as Senori would have put it.
“Okay, then! Well, we now have a goal for today.”
“Yep. We’re going to get invited to everyone’s houses. We’ll get to everyone in town,” Sai declared, grinning ecstatically.
“Oh…?” I started, but Sai had already started wandering off to find the few people who were already wandering about. I made my way over to him as fast as I could, but I was a bit late. He was talking to a girl who didn’t look quite as confused as I was, but pretty close. Her hands grabbed on to the straps of the bag that rested at her side, and her lips were parted slightly, as if she were going to speak, but was unsure of what to say. There was more sunlight now that dawn had passed—was Sai looking for brightness, too? I couldn’t tell what he wanted. I felt more and more disconnected with this boy with every passing minute, but it seemed to be the opposite for him. He was feeling more, connecting more—at the expense of his dignity, no doubt, but he nonetheless seemed to be making an attempt at being… human.
“So, yeah…” I heard Sai say. “I’d really, really like to come by and see everything and, uh, talk.”
“Um...” the girl said, looking around nervously. And then she spotted me. I was standing behind Sai’s legs, trying to stay hidden yet present so that I could stop him should he do anything too stupid. “Are you a trainer?”
“Yes,” Sai said proudly. “This is Atis, my hitmontop. He’s a little shy, but that’s okay.”
“My brother’s a trainer, too,” she said proudly, thankfully ignoring me from then on. “He just got back to town after getting his first pokémon. He says being around non-trainers is already a bit weird, so maybe he’d like you to come over.”
“That’d be nice. Let’s go, then,” Sai said, taking a step toward her.
“Oh, it’s a bit early right now... Why don’t you come back later? For dinner or something,” the girl said. “Just remember which house I live in, okay? They all look the same.”
Sai’s face fell a little, but he didn’t lose his spirit. He said good-bye to her and told me he was going to go find someone who would talk to him now, and he was off again. What luck he had, after all, getting one step closer to reaching his goal not even five minutes into his adventure! And what terrible encouragement, I thought bitterly.
The next few people he talked to, though, were trainers who didn’t live in Azalea Town. They offered, however, to give away their phone numbers, just in case he ever wanted to talk or if he needed something. When he explained he didn’t have a phone, he was advised to get one, and to hand out his number whenever he was given the chance. It was extremely helpful among trainers, apparently, to have some kind of back-up help if necessary. I wondered where they had learned that. While I didn’t approve of the training thing, I did approve of the tactic…
And while I was lost in my thoughts, Sai had left again. He was off to the pokémart.
At least I knew where the pokémart was. They were always easy to point out because of their blue roofs and a sign that blatantly said what the building was used for. I went inside and spotted Sai talking to the sales clerk, presumably asking for a phone.
We were there for quite a few hours, which was the longest amount of time I had seen Sai sit still for thus far, if you didn’t count the adventure in the cave. There was just so much to choose from, Sai pointed out. Some phones had special features. All of them came in different shapes and sizes, too!
After a while, I no longer bothered to stick around and listen to his ramblings. Following him around everywhere had already been tiring. Instead, I wandered around, seeing what other things that humans were allowed to buy. I ended up in the clothes section, since it was the only part of the store that didn’t scream out to trainers. Yes, people needed clothes for everyday use—and who made these clothes, anyway? Were there really enough people in the world to make enough clothes for everyone, when most people insisted on raising useless pokémon like me? The clothes aisle really wasn’t cutting it, either. Luckily, or unluckily, Sai eventually ran over to me and presented three phones that he had just bought. They all had the same essential feature that he was looking for, though if I remembered right, some of them had games available, along with maps and information about pokémon.
“Don’t you only need… one?” was all I could ask.
“I couldn’t decide which one, so I just bought them all,” Sai said, going to put them in his backpack. He stopped in the middle of this, however, to look at the same clothes that I had just been staring at. “Good idea, Atis. We need some clothes, too.”
And thus began my adventure of watching him pick out clothes. He never looked at more than one article of clothing for more than a few moments, nor did he take the time to put them back. He simply threw them on the ground and kept on looking. He kept a few things, such as a dark green pullover sweater, pants, and some shoes that he’d probably just get annoyed with since he would have to carry them around all the time. He really confused me when he even chose some baby clothes.
“You’re not a baby, Sai,” I pointed out numbly.
“I feel like buying them anyway. I like them,” he said simply. “I don’t know, maybe you or Senori or Kuiora could wear them. You guys are small enough.”
I blanched and wondered why I had to say such things when extremely nervous.