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Thread: {carrying what the sea said 2 u} {art & story}

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    Default {carrying what the sea said 2 u} {art & story}

    Ely and I teaming up here for our metaphorical child Lapras <333

    Recommended MCR: 30 - 40k
    MCR: ~36k

    a spoiler-like note for a word in here:

    Natsukashii is a word meaning "nostalgia for the past that never was"

    Vim sprinted across the Golden Gate Bridge.

    The dense fog submerged the pillars in thick cloud from the side of the sky. Familiarity only guided Vim across the bridge as she kicked off each powerful step with her Mizuno wave riders, feather steps whispering off the slicked concrete. The chilled air clung to her skin as she glided past, huffing without breathing, sprinting without moving for all her focus. At six A.M, the city of San Francisco was alive only to her and the faceless people whizzing by. All their reflections glowed deep in the water unseeing, expressions sinking further into its depths.

    At 6:45 A.M., Vim rounded the corner for Fisherman’s Wharf. The scent of the sea swirled along with the scents brought in from the bay. The market men and women began their set ups, the soft clanking of jars and goods coating the air like soft breaths. Vim came off her eleven mile run slowly, strands of black hair sticking to her face as she smiled at the women and men she loved. They waved at her, this lithe young woman who strode forward with her hands outstretched to them in greeting. Reusable shopping bags swung off her arms, singing for their goods, praising their hard work in the ecosystem of fair trade they all cherished. She turned along her heels, her body bouncing with the beams of morning light that began to stream towards her from above.

    With her reusable shopping bags stuffed to the brim with fresh produce, Vim began the journey back above the Wharf to reach her apartment. Like all things in life, this apartment too stood gleefully at the top of a hill. Sounds of greetings ricocheted from Vim to her nearby neighbors as she wove her way back into her building. Finally, she unwound the lanyard that wrapped her hand into a bun, silently giving thanks for the rush of cool hair that caressed her hair. With an easy click, apartment #7 clicked open. From the gentle pitter patter of paws coming her way to the notifications humming from her phone, Vim easily ignored the inscrutable sound resonating within her.

    Lex, the Doberman who captured everyone’s hearts with his soft nuzzles, embraced Vim with his whole body. Vim fell to her floor in a fit of laughing, black hair spraying about her as the dog rolled its body over her. After firmly pressing her palm to the brown patch on the center of his forehead, Vim gathered the items that had spun out of her bags and made her way to the kitchen. The vapid routine of preparing the dog’s food and her own self for work vanished within the span of fifteen minutes, leaving Vim standing once again at the door of her apartment. With sunglasses perching on her hair and sunscreen kissing her skin, she grabbed the handlebars of her commuter bike and made her way to work.

    At 8:00 A.M,, Vim lost herself in the coding company’s latest conquest. Her slender fingers flew across the keyboards, delicate eyebrows pushed upwards, thunderclouds betraying the storm of emotion within her. With silence she worked, hacking into the enemy database and cracking the heart of corruption. Strands of hair dripped down her long neck and casual volleyball jersey, ending at the small of her back. Internally, she felt herself sprinting again, opening up her body to a nothingness which recklessness intimately knows. Outside, she merely tapped the toe of her Vans Classics against the edge of her desk. She breathed, the soothing effects of the company shower evaporated. Emotion incinerated her skin to a crisp.

    Three hours later, Vim did what would have taken others weeks to accomplish. Finally defeating the hacker from the other side, Vim waded through the waves of applause that came her way, accepting the passionate hugs and praises that were thrown at her as a result of her hard work. When she left early that day, a sizeable bonus and an employee of the month title in tow, she bent down and scooped away the gnarled fingernails scattered underneath her desk. Bitten down to the root.

    After a scenic stroll through Ghirardelli Square, friends flitting around her like fireflies for all their light, Vim found herself at a variety of nightclubs. The memories of the day, including watching Lex harass the local squirrels, blurred into the bubbles gently rising from her tonic drinks. Her manager as well as various coworkers surrounded her, lavishing upon her a love that blended into the perfect balance between work and life style. Vim sang her gratitude to the sky, the high notes of hope curling gently along the waves of black skylight and city life. Sometime further into the night-day, at a time when neither woman nor man lives so silence may reset the world, Vim stumbled back into her apartment.

    Lex sat up eagerly, a guard dog that stood at the post from this world to the next, the points of his ears stabbing the darkness of Vim’s apartment. The twisted neck of her kitchen faucet hung low, not willing to look up to her. Shades of darkness reflected from the window like glass shards vaulted into her, stilting every step along what should have been home. With unsteady hands, she moved herself to her shower. Shimmying herself out of the cocktail dress she wore, she felt the hot steam of the shower soak her skin the next second. Her body bent forward against her will, forehead sliding along the granite walls of her shower.

    “How easy it would be to fall,” she thought, each word louder against the arching walls of her skull. “How simple it would be to collapse here and stay until all the water flows over me.” How much time, how difficult her breathing would become, she added in half-thoughts that swam across her consciousness without any feet or hands to paddle with.

    Wrinkles ran rivulets across her skin, wilting away the full bloom of her beauty. Vim snorted at the thought, her body a tiny waterworld from which nothing grew and nothing flourished. These organs dried long ago, the synapses of her brain scrunched and snapped for all dryness and dearth within her. A thick chuckle left her whole body, the last part of her left she thought hollowly, as her joints buckled the water slapping her skin. Slowly she slid down, her knees clutched to her chest, bangs disguising her forehead as she shook.

    At some point, warm hands grabbed her upwards and scooped her close to a body before laying her across her bed. Vim’s eyes fluttered open, brown eyes darting through the shadows. Still she shook, her vision bleary as she fought to understand what had happened from the moment of her shower until now. She invited only alcohol as a guest to her heart. So as her eyes scanned the room again again, she knew what to call the warm indentations pressed onto her hips. Her hands fought against her muddled brain for a second as she pulled the cover up to herself. The warm duvet tickled her nose and she sneezed, the sound crashing into the silence that surrounded her.

    “Vim, are you okay?” she asked to herself. Desperately, she wished for a relative to call her, to tell her about a horrible terminal illness that struck deep in the sinew of a loved one. She wished for someone to call and peel away the rusted layers of her being with their bare hands, scraping their palms all the way down to her bone. She wished for one who was no more.

    Woman warrior, child of Japanese immigrants, twenty-seven and successful in the city of San Francisco, Vim wept softly in her bed. Lex leaped onto her the next moment, licking away her tears with a warm tongue and sloppy kisses. The dawn descended under the iron sea of her turmoil, the sun flung far down into the end of its depths, igniting the whole world on fire today and forever more.

    “It’s coming for all of us,” she mused to herself. “It came here for you my love in 1996 and turned tail to chase me ever since.” Lex tucked his paw into the sprawled fingers of his master as she nodded off into a heavy, disturbing slumber.

    Today began as yesterday, tomorrow as today.

    Vim stood on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Sadness sung her to its edge, summoning steps that ghosted along. Vim would not argue with the low notes of despair, finding solidarity in the silence that swept within and without her, nothing amiss to others who ran this route with her every morning, every day for the past six years of her existence. With enough intent, anything is normal. So the tips of her toes edged closer without a care in the world.

    For a time span just shy of five years, Vim volunteered on a coalition to stop people from considering that which her feet walked towards to. The swirling, arching line of her ancestors wrapped a line around her ankles, willing her to stop. Her great-grandfather had been interned during World War II and fought for every inch of his life and rights, giving birth to her grandparents with a will that burned eternally, inexhaustible. Her parents paid for her college education at an Ivy League Institution, all threads of the rope unfurling upon themselves, sacrifices that snipped their lives shorter and shorter, all so she could end up here. The end of the line. The flame finally waned before the waves below.

    People failed to think hard enough about how much it would hurt. She had been the one to design the infographics, which surfaced far and wide on the Internet, on the walls of theaters and bars, on the railing her hand idly seized. Gravity flung hearts into throats, crushed ribcages way before the water would have any impact upon the corpse. For those unlucky enough not to be knocked unconscious before drowning, frigid water swept into fractured lungs. She recited this somewhere distant in the back of her head. What changed, what ended her volunteering work two years ago, was the faint resonance of familiarity she felt with the souls who elected to end things this way.

    International Orange was the color choice of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a testimony to the American dream, where all nationalities meet, pasts, presents, and futures in one colorwave.

    Vim took off her sneakers, placed the pack with her high heels and address on the concrete.

    She fell.

    A child arose.

    Call the sea a series of undulating mountains, clouds that carry a message for you in their shimmering depths. A small one bows her head, the smell of saltwater reeling her back upwards. Young eyes widen to the world around her with the blessing of vision that sees all for the first time. Those ears harken to the message of the sea, letting it sink deep into her heart.

    “Little one,” a voice calls to her. Bob-cut black hair washes against big cheeks. Pulling her head forward, she spots walnut-shaped eyes split across a wide forehead like two halves of a heart. A horn sprouts from the center, drawing her attention further to the ears curled as blue blossoms upon her. Her hands grip down upon rigid gray shell, shaking in her excitement.

    “Natsukashii!” she cries with uncontained joy. Six-year-old arms fling upwards to the sea creature’s neck, gracefully hugging the long curve of it to her tiny body. In her joy, face pressed to rubbery, soft skin, she does not think about from where she knows that name.

    “Yes, little one,” the peaceful creature replies. “I, Natsukashii, shall carry you home. Would you like that?”

    Above and all around them spans a crystalline sea. Triangular fins spear through the water with the force of the world’s most ancient propellers. The small child glows as she scans the sky, which blurs from the translucent one she knew of to the outpouring of golden and orange, colors she feels nostalgic for though she cannot ascertain why.

    But what she does know, however, is that home means one person, the one she loves above all others.

    “Yes, take me home, Natsukashii!” she exclaims, settling into the nook of the creature’s shell as if it was made just for her. She snuggles into the warmth emanating upwards from the creature, little limbs shaking for all her excitement. She knows not many things in this state, but she remembers him, tastes his name on her tongue, can smell the scent of coconut wafting upwards from dark skin.

    She forgets Natsukashii for a moment’s breath as time rolls on within and without her.

    A large island spans upwards from the back of an ancient sea turtle. The creature swims closer to them with the weight of a thousand one-hundred year old oaks sprouting upwards from its back, homes of millions of souls housed upon it. The child breathes in big when she see spiny roots revolving in the water, a land mass alive as the enormous creature approaches.

    Another creature waits upon the enormous Torterra, waving tiny, chubby hands towards the girl.

    “Vigor!” Vim screams with all the air in her lungs. Eyes sparkle with ecstasy as she leaves Natsukashii behind with a quick “thank you,” diving into the cool depths of water without another moment’s notice. Limbs swim with all the knowledge of muscle memory, moved by a heart filled to the brim with her momentum of love for her dearly beloved.

    “Vim!” Vigor exclaims back, throwing his arms upwards as he scrambles down the roots of the creature to meet the girl. He sprints towards her in a shirt and shorts, torn at the hems with all the scars of a child’s most wondrous adventure. Boxy cheeks glow, bright smile beaming down upon her with all the strength of the sun.

    The two meet in the middle, long lost siblings’ whose hearts have been healed with a hug.

    But time has not passed for them. No, because as Vigor sweeps away the hair from his sister’s cheek, laughs as he says she smells like an old clam, nobody yet has realized that time has not been lost at all. They’ve always had each other and always will.

    “Well, c’mon!” the boy says, yanking his sister forwards. Vim giggles as her boots dig into the thick marsh of fermented root, intermixed with young saplings of new life. Mud splatters onto those knee high-boots, her Godzilla tee and princess pajama bottoms safe from the thick of it.

    “I’ve been waiting for ya, Vim! We gotta save the island from Darkness, remember?!”

    Vim heaves as she finally makes it up the muddy mound, finally taking in the full view of Torterra’s mighty back. Trees span farther than the eye can see, accompanied in the sky by steel spikes that shoot upwards from gnarled, twisted root. Together, they make a collaboration of colors that catch the dying rays of the sunset, twisting them and flinging them farther beyond the color spectrum the human eye can comprehend.

    Hordes of Pokemon celebrate the light, singing to one another with the steady chorus of the jungle that crawls along the children’s skin, ensuring them of safety and adventure. Vim takes one step forward, feels warmth and life sprouting from underneath her boot. She squints down before bending down, placing her ear against the mossy ground and hearing the creature’s heartbeat reverberate back through her. Vigor grins, pulling his sister back up and placing his hands upon her shoulders. She smiles.

    A thought pulls her away from him, snapping her spine, stopping her from moving forwards.

    “Vim?” Vigor calls concernedly, his dusty, messy hair awash over his forehead. Hands move cautiously away from her, ready to catch her as she looks like she’ll fall. She’s always been coated in that ghostly pallor, her whole body hauntingly beautiful as she contemplates that which is beyond him.

    “Natsukashii,” she whispers out, barely audible among the birds of paradise squawking and the waves swirling beneath them. “Natsukashii! Natsukashii!” she yells in panic, whipping her head back and forth, can’t even concentrate on the space between where the waves pace endlessly and break upon the Torterra’s body. “Where has she gone?”

    “She said she’d carry you Home to Me.” Vigor’s reply is light, easy, his eyes finally expanding in understanding. He tucks her hand in his, leads her away easily from the edge of Toreterra’s back. “Let’s go, Vim.”

    “Save the island… from Darkness,” she repeats quietly, words of home and Vigor and life crashing against her small skull. Her grip tightens upon Vigor’s hand. She can’t seem to remember when Natsukashii and herself became old friends, and can’t seem to remember either why that was so important to her. Because the one who’s truly important to her here is…

    “Vigor, look out!” Tiny hands reach out to her brother, throwing him to the ground as the forest brush before them clears out to reveal a huge, hulking monster. Its skin, dipped in midnight, forms a blackhole against the dying daylight that sucks them in with nowhere to look and nowhere to run. On all fours, the creature crouches forward, its mighty head the size of Vim and Vigor’s combined. Huge ears sprout upwards from either head as the Cerberus creature closes in on the fallen Vim and Vigor, snarling while globs of spittle that fall in pools upon the forest floor.

    “Vigor, no! I swear I was going to protect you!” Vim chokes out in a cry, spreading her arms before her brother’s chest. His forearm landed upon his eyes, shielding him from the sight of red eyes that burned with a fire which resonated within the creature for eons. Vim closed her eyes as a gush of hot air blew across her back, nearly knocking her over.

    “V-Vim,” his cracked voice began, barely audible, “Y-you know that’s not true. I’m the older of us twins. I’m y-your sworn protector and I…”

    Vim’s eyes watered. Her neck craned further in, black hair dripping against her brother’s face to hear his last words. A stark familiarity speared straight through her heart, though she could not quite remember where this scene played out before her and why it was so soul-crushing.

    “And you?” she prompted, voice cracking between the words.

    “And I…”

    The words were never finished, for the Cerberus creature scooped them up by their shirts and placed them upon its back. Vim shrieked and shrieked, her voice alien to her as the ground traded places with the sky, the world blurring to black.

    “And I tricked you!” Vigor exclaimed, shooting upwards on the creature’s back, his arms flailed above his head. “Ha! Vim, you’re so gullible - hey wait, Vim, don’t cry! Why are you crying?!”

    He shook his baby sister, her whole body a watery mess of salt-licked tears and trembles. Vigor hugged her close, pushing her head into his chest. “Hey, wait now Vim, I’m sorry! Get it! It was a total joke!”

    The beast below them howled with a sound that sounded more like laughter. It turned its head towards the duo upon its neck, eyes glinting with mischief. Pants left the creature before it licked Vigor full on, coating his whole back in saliva!

    “Aw, c’mon Lex! You were in on it too! You know that was funny!” He shot his head back towards Vim. “Right, lil sis? This is Lex! Our dog!”

    Vim cried softly into his chest before banging the space above his heart with her fist.

    “Don’t ever do that,” she said, her heaving coming slower now, softer. “I thought that something really bad was about to happen… that you would leave me forever.”

    Vigor’s eyebrows perched upwards. “Geez, Mom always said not to rough-house with you.”

    A memory hit her head that she had desperately tried to forget simultaneously as another thought dove into his own.

    “Hey wait, what do you mean by leaving?” He pushed backwards from her, holding her at arm’s length, looking into the hazel depths of her eyes.

    “That’s crazy talk, Vim! Ya know I’m always going to be there for you and that nothing could separate us!”

    Vim nodded slowly, cloudy eyes clarified before her brother nuzzled her head.

    “Geez, ya always act like you’re sixty and not six!” She smacked him on that head for his comment, earning them both a laugh that released all the darkness in them. “Lex!” Vigor commanded to the Cerberus, the overgrown Doberman whose heads were often confused with which side of their shared body they controlled. “Alright, let’s head towards the heart of darkness!”

    The Cerberus sent a howl rocketing through the air that split the sky in two. On mighty paws it lurched forth, struggling to get its direction right, often twisting and turning as its nails left meter-long indentations upon the forest floor. Vim screamed with delight, her brother doing the same, holding her close as he latched onto the fur of the creature.

    Family dog… mother… these words drifted into the dazed consciousness of the girl, hinting at memories which were too high for her to grasp. But as she twisted her head back and forth, familiarity shook her. She knew this island, knew the steady breaths of Torterra bombinating upwards from an ancient ribcage. Even as they turned corner, Lex sprinting through a marshland of iron spikes, Vim swayed her body back and forth, instantly predicting the pathway with no memory to base her knowledge upon.

    “Vigor!” she called out and then hesitated. Stringing words into coherent sentences was not her strong suit. To explain the powerful currents of emotions swelling within her, with no stop in sight, she breathed in and out.

    “What’s up, squirt?” he called affectionately, squeezing her hair and instantly stilling the roaring waves beneath her.

    “Th-the heart of darkness! I know that we’re going to get it this time!” The words just felt right leaving her mouth. A thought grasped at her again, anchoring her back into the storming mental vortex. “But… wouldn’t it be better if Natsukashii came with us? She has an excellent sense of direction and is very strong, and would never let us take down the Darkness alone - “

    A thick chuckle cut her off. Hazel eyes darted upwards to Vigor, who idly laid his palm across his sister’s back. His gaze was far gone, vision directed outwards to the lawless wildlife immersing them.

    “See, lil sis,” he said softly, “that’s always where we went wrong. You have the true sense of direction that guides Lex. But every time we got to this point or much before it, you started talking about Natsukashii again.”

    He finally let his empty eyes land back upon his sister. “What’s with that, Vim? What does Natsukashii have that I don’t?” His next words stabbed straight through her spine, cracking open tender ribcage, flinging her organs far and wide.

    “Why do you keep leaving me for the past?”

    Vim shook.


    The young lady shot up from the silken duvet. Morning sunshine streamed through the blinds of her apartment, coating everything in a reflective chrome shine. Nausea hung low in her belly, accompanied by heavy limbs and eyes that refused to open further.

    “Ah, thank God you’re finally waking up,” a high voice chirped, tone anxious with worry. She chuckled with her relief, re-arranging the blankets to cover the other girl more fully. “You got so drunk last night, Vim. I went home with you to make sure you were okay. You nearly drowned in your shower!”

    Vim fought with her eyelids, finally forcing her eyes open. A young woman sat by her bedside, laying out a tray stacked with a bagel, coffee, and water. Concern came alive in green eyes framed by smooth dark skin, her heart-shaped face framed by thick black curls.

    “Oh,” was all Vim could say. The entirety of the English language was steadily being re-arranged and re-programmed before her, the words and rules of language not sticking to her head. What was it that she was looking for, again? The hangover clouded over every lever she needed to push to reach what she wanted to say - and when she finally caught onto it, she pulled down hard.

    “Thank you! For being with me, Maddie,” she said exasperatedly. Vocal chords strained against her throat and she drunkenly thought it was all a trap, that humans didn’t really speak, only manifested language directly in people's heads with the illusion of speech.

    “Geez, you’re still kinda a mess,” the other girl said. Her expression softened. “But of course. You know I would do anything for you. Right now, I’m just glad you’re okay.”

    Vim felt a thump upon her bed and turned head lazily, her eyes lighting up at Lex. Those precocious, big black eyes swallowed her whole, reminding her of two small planets nestled in either iris.

    “Vim,” Maddie called softly. “You were muttering some strange things before you passed out. And you sounded… really sad. I’m worried. Are you okay?”

    “Do I have work today?” the girl instantly replied back.

    “Vim! It’s 12:30! I called into work to tell them you couldn’t make it, and hey don’t dodge my question!”

    Vim grinned with the strength of all the sun. “Good!”

    “Good?” the other girl repeated dubiously. Vim hadn’t missed a day of work for the past seven years that she had known her, hadn’t skipped a morning run in literally forever.

    “Yeah, you heard me!” she replied with energy from she knew not where. She attempted to get out of bed, merely kicking her knee on the nightstand, sulking as the world swirled and swam when she tried to get up.

    “Yeah, I heard you,” Maddie deadpanned, a smile lighting up her cheekbones. “Alright, lady. You sound like you have a plan. And I promise to help you out if you answer my question.”

    Lex barked happily, licking away at Vim’s face. Her head lolled to the side, the function to control it still firing away at all the wrong synapses. A hand reached out over his long snout, pulling his head towards her chest.

    “No, no I’m not okay.” Voice hesitated and snapped at every syllable, the sentences spilling out with agony. “I’ve been not okay for a long time, Maddie, and I tried to push you away every time you helped. I’m not okay, and I won’t be okay until I remember, until I know… what happened to him. My love. My brother.”

    She peered into Maddie’s eyes with swollen steel and puffy cheeks. The other girl sat there speechless, hands trembling in her lap, unsure of what to say or do to move from here.

    “My mother’s house in Japan… I need to get there, we need to go on the very next flight. There’s something I need to know. And that’s the entirety of my plan.” She cracked a crooked grin towards Maddie, delighting in the way the girl’s eyes widened.

    “But first, gotta get sober.”

    When the plane’s wings dipped through enormous clouds, thoughts about the sea whispered into Vim’s mind. She swam through the thick of it all, tossing about the scenes splayed before her memory: of her brother and her perched atop the Cerberus, of the drive to stop the Darkness that threatened the light of the island, of Home. The plane coasted through cloud as Vim imagined herself on another planet, one where her mind hadn’t started obsessing over the Bridge, one where she hadn’t imagined pushing all her things to the side and diving in, her soul empty and bared for the cold clutch of searing water to erase.

    How does one defeat Darkness? She knew intimately that this was an adventure her brother and her had kept coming back to; and no amount of their shared resolve or creativity could peel away the sad layers encroaching upon their sanctuary.

    How did Darkness manifest in the first place?

    The plane landed gently, opening its cradle to the arms of great Japan. Vim hadn’t been to this side of home since she attended an international school in the United States and immediately moved onto university there. The branches she stopped upon, once she and Maddie had hailed a cab and drove to her past home, seemed to sigh when her boot broke upon them. Cool air cloaked her lungs, free of humidity, cleansing with the soft light of lanterns overhead. Yes, this had been the release she had waited for ever since she left home.

    “Mom!” she cried out immediately upon sliding upon a door.

    Darkness greeted her in return.

    Head pulsated; memories sneaked back into her consciousness, of what sacrifice meant, of how difficult it had been to live in the United States after the repercussions of her father and grandfather's interment. Torture took a tole on the whole ancestral line. And it meant that her mother, like her father, died young with the memory of Vim’s admission into university on the other side of the world.

    “We’re gonna get through this, together!” Maddie swore, her hand clutching Vim’s. The girl heard her mother’s voice echoed in the silken tone, as if speaking directly to her soul.

    With that, she pushed on, light emanating from the flashlight she held close to her. This home was now a house for a few of her distant cousins, who often were on business trips of their own. Yet they would never dare touch a single thing left of the shattered family, a million screams unopened in sealed boxes.

    Vim strode through barren hallways. In her mind, she instantly thought of all the family photos that had once been, scrolls and heirlooms proudly displayed for all to see. When Vim started the huge mental project of Forgetting, all those heirlooms had been the first thing to go.

    The next thing had been her father’s tea-set, handcrafted and painted with material so strong a little spit would make it shine again. Vim swept past it as they made their way through the kitchen. Yet she returned to it, appreciating it, allowing waves of pain to steadily crash over her.

    Vim walked slowly. Each step carefully surveyed the floorboards, as if avoiding mines buried deep. She knew by muscle memory which ones creaked and avoided them, as if this old house was crying out at her, willing for her to finally come home. When her hand finally landed on the rusted doorknob signaling the storage room, she shook, feeling the shouts of a hundred secrets back at her.

    “It’s locked,” Maddie gently supplied. “Vim, would you happen to know if your cousins have the key?” She pulled at the door, grunting as the knob rattled. A tiny light shone through from the other side.

    Vim stared at her for a split second. A memory she had buried away came swimming back to the surface and she touched her temples with both hands. She was upset for how much she had forgotten. She was upset for leaving so soon and never returning. Worst of all, she was upset for letting her family die in her heart.

    Maddie stared in shock as the girl took her left sneaker off. With trembling hands, she peeled away the green sole, revealing the silver key that sat in the middle. All of this time, she had the answer. All of this time, she sprinted with the pushback of pain locked away in her.

    The door came unlocked the next second.

    Light poured in from bay windows, smiling upon all the boxes that spanned her full vision. Vim strode straight to the center of the room, slowly at first before she broke into a full on sprint, lurching onto the box with the key akin to a knife.

    Maddie held the other side of the box, silent as the sounds of torn tape and cardboard filled the room. Vim breathed in heavy breaths, peeling away the random papers until she dug further into the box. Maddie’s eyes flew over documents: travel logistics dating back to the 1970s, Vim and Vigor’s birth certificates, a family album…

    “This,” Vim began, shaking, “is where my brother’s been. Is when he left me.”

    She clutched a plain album against her chest, the plastic covering yellowed. Maddie crouched by her side, covering the shoulders of the other girl as she flipped the album open. Instead of photos and vibrant words, she found… diagnosis after diagnosis, hospital bills and surgery dates.

    Vim shook, the book splayed upon her lap with the crisp pages detailing Vigor’s final days.

    “Brain tumors. Started when he was four years old, and they did everything they could, tried all the newest procedures but one thing just went after another and I’ve wanted to follow him every since.”

    Face contorted and shattered, falling to the floor in a million tear-drop shaped pieces. “I’m looking for Natsukashii… I’m looking for Natsukashii because the truth is that I barely knew my brother. He was sick ever since our memories formed.” She sniffled, heart unfurling with aches sunk into the sinew, morphed into her blood.

    “I’m looking for the time he was whole, healthy, by my side.”

    “He loved you, still does,” Maddie cooed to her, pulling the girl closer. Sobs shook Vim’s whole frame, running across the aged papers, mixing ink with water until a messy illustration of sadness was splayed onto the page.

    “I love him. If I destroy the darkness, what if I never see him again? What if I can’t? When I reach the edge of this lifetime, I can go to that other world, I can be with him-!”

    “That’s not true!” Maddie shot out. She felt blessed, at that moment, that Vim had let her in so intimately she taught her about these visions. What was once a dreamscape fantasy evolved into a desperate escape from reality that the younger girl took seriously. “What did he tell you?”

    She closed the album.

    In her haste, an aged picture drifted loose from the spine. She picked it up, careful of the bent edges, the photo material frail as fabric against her fingers.

    Vim and Vigor slept next to each other, legs lost in the other’s own, peace so sincere upon their faces as babies even her heart calmed.

    “He said… he would always be there for me.”

    Her eyes steeled.

    “And now I have to reply.”

    A shikibuton lied in the corner of the room, the very same one the babies slept on in the picture. Vim unrolled it, hit with nostalgia that she could actually comprehend, wrap her heart around this time. She drifted off to sleep then and there, reliving a hundred pains and laughs that defined human life.

    When the child bobbed its head back up, saltwater lapped at her cheeks.

    “Welcome back, Vim,” a kind voice sung to her. Realization sunk into six-year-old Vim.

    “Thanks, Mom,” she greeted softly. A boy sat in the cradle of spikes across from her, looking cool as can be as he stared at his sister.

    “Heya, Vi-!”

    He was cut off by his twin embracing him so fully the day could have begun anew. Like that they sat while the Lapras creature powered forward, striving towards this island of their imaginary childhood. Only when Torterra’s mighty treetop came into view did Vim split away from her brother, noting how her childhood hair had grown past her shoulders. It swished about in two pigtails, and yes, now Vim remembered that she kept her hair like that on her brother’s final days. The end to all of their sorrow drew near.

    “Mom, or uhm, Natsukashii, with the voice of my mom,” she called out. The Lapras turned its head towards her, smooth smile inviting her to speak once more. Vim curled her hands in her lap, eyes darting across the Pokemon’s gray shell.

    “This… this will be my last trip here.”

    Silence dropped like an anchor into her heart.

    “So don’t feel compelled to ever come back for me when I get sad, I’m a big girl now, and I-I have to learn how to deal with bad things on my own.”

    But before she could continue, Vigor’s arms wrapped around her shoulder. He buried a kiss in her hair before shouting with excitement!

    “Finally! We’re gonna defeat the Darkness! Woohoo! The danger twins will come back on top!”

    Then they reached Torterra, Lex eagerly awaiting them at the top of a mountain. Vim tore her watery eyes from him to Natsukashii, watching the creature glow with effervescent turquoise. As the children took off from its back, almond-shaped eyes stared lovingly back up at them.

    “You can do it, Vim and Vigor,” the creature said before white covered its eye whole. “Carry the memory of family forward to victory; never forget what love feels like.”

    The creature ducked mighty neck and head into water as the shell transformed. All the grey spikes were pulled into two crystal slabs sharpened into swords. When Vim and Vigor each pulled upon one, feeling electricity course through their wrists and down their spines, the shell began fading away forever. Vim cried, the sword heavy yet light in her hands, a contradiction of family and love and hurt hitting her head and heart.

    “Alright! This will defeat the Darkness!”

    He turned to Vim, one big fat grin on his face. He handed her his free hand just like she always dreamed he would.

    Together, they reclaimed their Childhood.


    Reality moved along at a healthy pace. Sunset hit the hood of Maddie’s car as she picked Vim up from therapy. With a pint of ice cream in the back, she smiled, ready to hear about Vim’s insights and new adventures. Ever since she started seeing a professional for mental health a few months ago, she began talking more, glowed with genuine curiosity and interest for life.

    But what changed the most was the speed at which she sprinted, no longer running away but now running closer Home.

    “How do I make it on without him?” she had once said when she came back after they won. Maddie had looked at her, unable to entirely comprehend everything she had been through, but swearing to be by her side for at least this life time. Some friendships are so golden.

    “You already have,” she said softly. “When you miss him, call to him, and he’ll carry what the sea said back to you.”


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  3. #2
    URPG Staff VeloJello's Avatar
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    Aaand I'm gonna grade this thing! Claiming.

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  5. #3
    URPG Staff VeloJello's Avatar
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    Grade deleted in accordance with collab rules! PM coming atcha soon, Smiles!

  6. #4
    URPG Staff VeloJello's Avatar
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    @Smiles I'm afraid to say that your collab partner's piece hasn't passed, but because your story passed, you may now claim your Lapras! Alternately, you may wait for Elysia to resubmit their art piece, and for the verdict to come in on that.

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