War IX, Week 2
Forget Me Not
Snowflakes were falling heavily amongst gusts of wind that threatened to over-balance a bundled figure walking up the mountain. After trudging in the falling snow for almost an hour, her thick wool coat had begun to allow the sharp wind through. Shivering, the young woman pulled her scarf up over her nose and huddled further into the coat thinking, It has to be here somewhere. I know it’s close.
Joy had asked her to wait until the next day, but the weather had been so nice that afternoon, she left the Center anyway.
After coming here to visit her aunt so often, the Snowpoint City Nurse had become a good friend. They were close in age and spent a lot of time chatting, shopping, and learning whatever they could about Pokemon. Joy had grown up in Snowpoint and had a knack for knowing when bad weather was approaching, even if no one else did. It was a gift that Tessa had been thankful for more than once while out on the mountain with her friend. After taking over the Pokemon Center from her sister, Joy would warn trainers to stay inside when she knew a storm was coming in. She often worried when Tessa made the trip to her family’s mountain cabin alone, and this afternoon had been no different.
Tessa had spoken with her before leaving. “Joy, you don’t need to worry. The cabin isn’t that far. I’m sure I can make it long before sunset. And if anything happens, I have my Pokemon.”
At this moment she was wishing she had listened to the warning. Time was nearing sunset, in reality though, the clouds and blowing snow reduced visibility to the point that the sun might as well have set already. Mount Noble was not very tall, but as part of the icy Snowpoint area, it was very cold and known for sudden storms such as this one. Not minding the cold so much, the cone-shaped form of a Snorunt grumbled behind her as it had to follow in her footsteps. The snow had begun to pile up, still powdery and difficult for his small limbs to walk through. Tessa was ready to give up hope, when she looked up. In the failing light that managed to make it through the thick clouds and snow she could see the familiar outline of a cabin ahead. The young woman attempted to pick up her pace with little success.
“Oh, enough of this,” she said, reaching under the edge of her coat for a pokeball. From the glow created by the small object, emerged a small, tan creature with a rusty-orange fan of six-tails. The Vulpix’s deep amber eyes looked up at the trainer. “Alright, Burst, can you make us a path?”
Turning to face the cabin with her ears pinned back against the wind, Burst let out a small stream of flame, melting a clear walkway. Able to move more easily, Tessa hurried to the front entry of the now, very welcoming cabin. After unlocking the door, the two Pokemon at her heels bustled in ahead of her. Closing out the winter storm, she pulled the hood from her head revealing a twenty-three year old with a blue knit cap over a shock of fiery, red hair that would fall in waves past her shoulder had it not been pulled back. Her cheeks stood out as red as her hair against normally pale skin after being out in the cold wind. Tessa’s bright blue eyes scanned the cabin. Things looked as if they had been left pretty neat. The furniture covers had been removed, and there was a good stack of fresh firewood near the hearth.
“I guess Aunt Polly must have been up here recently.” She went over to put a couple of logs on for Burst to start the fire and get the cabin warmed. Once it was started, she straightened up, looking at the mantle with a frown. Right in the center was a picture from two years before. In the image she had her arm around the neck of a young man, leaning over his shoulder as they both smiled happily. Next to the frame was a small vase filled with the dried stems of tiny blue flowers, forget-me-nots. For a moment, a mixture of feelings whipped through her like a small tornado, leaving a wake of loss and pain. She shook her head, trying to shake the feeling away as she reached up to slam the photo face-down on the mantle. “Nice try, Aunt Polly. But, you should just give up. I...have.” She turned, but her hand lingered on the over-turned picture before she could walk away.
A few hours later the cabin was much more comfortable, warmed by the fireplace and a large wood stove in the next room which also carried heat to the one-room second floor. Tessa had a blanket on the sofa sitting next to the fireplace. The Pokemon she was able to release inside were settled in various spots around the cabin. Her Snorunt was snuggled up to a pillow on the sofa beside the trainer reading a book. Burst was curled on the carpet in front of the hearth with a Luxray, both enjoying the warm air. A bench under the window was occupied by a dozing Lucario. Inside, the fire and lamps cast a glow that complemented the warmth of the cabin which shut out the cold storm outside.
The redhead however, found herself unable to enjoy the warmth. Every so often Tessa’s gaze would flicker up to the small blue flowers on the mantle which reflected her eyes so well. She had actually been told that her eyes were very much like the forget-me-nots, so hard to forget. Told that...by the man in the over-turned photo. But now, she had given up hope of ever hearing that ever again....hadn’t she? With a small sigh, she put down the book she was not really reading and rubbed her forehead. It had been over two years, twenty-seven months almost, since he had been gone. Everyone told her she would have to start moving on. She could not hold on forever. Still, her heart would not let her forget, no matter how much her head told her to. It may have been over two years since he was gone, but it was six years before that they had spent growing up and growing close together. She could not forget the way he used to tease her, made her feel like she had something to look forward to, or how much she had loved him. How could she give up? Tessa picked up the pillow next to her, burying her face in it. The four Pokemon looked up from where they were resting as she screamed her frustration, muffled by the cushion. When she finally pulled it away Burst and Roxy, her Luxray, were standing in front of the sofa, watching her with worried expressions. The Vulpix jumped up in her lap while Frost, her Snorunt, waddled over from where he had been sitting.
The girl gave a half-hearted smile as she stroked Burst’s ears. “I’m alright. I will be.” But, it was easy to see the sadness in her eyes.
The Lucario was about to walk over as well when something made her ear twitch. She turned back to look out the window, eyes narrowed, but could not see anything through the still falling snow. Closing her eyes for just a moment, she suddenly leapt up from the bench without a sound and opened the door.
Tessa yelped as she shrank away from the sudden blast of cold air. “Ginger!” she yelled, but the Lucario was already out the door. The redhead started towards the open entry wondering what would make the Pokemon dash out into a snowstorm.
She received her answer fairly quickly as the Lucario came trotting back in the door and went straight to the fireplace with something in her arms. After closing the door, Tessa followed Ginger and saw that she was holding another Pokemon. With a green cap over its head and small red horns she was able to identify it as a Ralts. What it could be doing out on the mountain, she had no clue. Ginger gave a shudder, even though the cold had never really bothered her. Something about this Ralts was unusual to her.
“Did you sense him out there?” Tessa asked as she took the shivering bundle from the Lucario and sat down in front of the hearth. Ginger only gave a small nod in reply and the woman looked back down at the small Pokemon. “Maybe he’s lost from his trainer.”
She sat with him, wrapped up in a blanket for what felt like hours. It seemed as if he would never stop shivering, even with Burst huddled down next to him. Tessa found herself so warm that she had to shed her sweater. Eventually though, the Ralts did start to warm up, but he was terribly exhausted and would still shiver every now and then. Tessa left him wrapped up in a blanket on the hearth rug between Roxy and Burst, while she laid down on the sofa. She wanted to stay close by in case something happened with the Ralts. It was well past midnight by the time everyone fell asleep in the cabin.
Some hours later, Ginger was wakened by something tingling at the corner of her senses. Opening her eyes, she glanced around to make sure nothing was out of place. Tessa was restless in her sleep on the sofa, but safe. Frost was rocking softly where he slept by the door, as he always did. Roxy and Burst were still in front of the fire, but something caught her attention there. The little Ralts, still letting loose a shudder every so often, was giving off a very soft blue glow. Ginger almost did not see it in the light from the fire. She felt nothing that could be considered dangerous and settled to go back to sleep on her bench. Again, she found herself wondering about the Ralts.
The next morning, the storm had ended leaving a clear blue sky that reflected the bright snowdrifts outside. Burst was the first to wake, as she always was, and set to stoking the fires in the hearth and stove to get the cabin warmed back up. When Tessa woke, she quickly checked on the little Pokemon who at least seemed to have wakened as well, before putting fresh logs into the fire and starting breakfast. She cast worried glances at the Ralts. He had not moved from that spot where she sat him the night before. While the other Pokemon ate, she tried to offer some to him, but he just looked at her somberly. Crestfallen, she left the food there and went to eat. She could not remember having met such a melancholy Pokemon. If he did not improve soon, she would have to take him down the mountain to see Joy.
After breakfast was finished, Tessa was putting things away when she saw the Ralts suddenly sit up and look at the door expectantly. She was about to ask if something was wrong when there was a knock. With a small smile, she put away the plate in her hand and started towards the door.
Tessa cast a glance at the Ralts as she walked by. “Is that your trainer come looking?” She received no sign that he heard her question as he continued to stare at the door. With a look of confusion, Tessa opened the door. “Yes, can I he...”
Had she not been holding the door, her knees would have given out from under her at the sight of the man outside. He was bundled up against the cold, and his brown hair was longer as it stuck out from underneath his cap, but she could never forget that face. It was the man from the picture on the mantle. Tessa found that she could not form any words after everything that she had thought about saying. Standing outside the door he was looking at her oddly, as if he recognized her, but did not. Why was he looking at her like that?
He finally seemed to find his voice, although hesitantly. “Yeah, I was...looking for a Ralts. I uh...had this feeling he might have come this way.”
Tessa could feel her heart sinking. He obviously did not know who she was. Did he forget about me? Is that why he’s been gone all this time? Is this really him? Did I make a mistake? Am I missing him that terribly?
A hundred questions began pouring through her head as she tried to find her voice. She was starting to feel numb, but not from the cold air coming in the door. Unable to say anything, she opened the door wider so that the man could see the Ralts sitting in front of the fire, still watching expectantly.
“There you are. I started to worry when you weren’t around this morning.” He glanced at Tessa but looked away again, shifting uncomfortably under her stare. “I’m renting a small cabin nearby. He’s not really mine. I’m just used to him following everywhere I go.”
Tessa finally found her voice, soft and cracking. “Don’t you...know me?”
He looked like he was about to answer then stopped himself, eyebrows knit together as he thought about it. Finally he sighed, giving an apologetic smile. “I’m very sorry if I should, but no.” He saw much more than disappointment on the young woman’s face and his smile faded as he tried to explain. “I just woke from a coma a year ago with amnesia. I can’t remember anything from before then, not even my name. Everyone calls me John.”
He did not remember anything from all that time, and she never even knew what had happened. At that, her heart broke. Her grip on the door tightened to keep herself from falling and she could not stop the few tears that fell. The man stepped inside, but did not know what he could say to comfort her. After thinking for a moment, he finally spoke up again, staring at the door frame like it was written with inspiration.
“This may sound crazy, but I’ve had these strange dreams ever since I woke up. Sometimes they’re the same, or really odd. Some feel so real I’m disappointed when I wake up. I’ve never really understood them. When you opened the door here, I almost wondered if I was dreaming again. I...” He paused, unsure how to put what he was trying to say. He finally sighed and looked up at Tessa. “I don’t know who you are, but I’ve seen you in my dreams...”
Tessa did not know what to do. She was frozen in place, unable to manage the thousand and one questions that collided with all her emotions. No one saw the quick blue flash around the Ralts. What they did notice was when Frost started to run back and forth, making a fuss. Ginger was about to stop him when he froze. A soft groan came up through the floor then it was silent. The Snorunt squealed and got next to the sofa, huddling down. Tessa, unable to stop herself from crying, was about to go over to him when a low growl started to grow from up the mountain.
Eyes wide, she looked at the man. “Avanlanche!” she cried. Without another thought, she pulled him inside and slammed the door shut.
cont'd next post...