Denial of a Mother
She’s knocking on my door again. I wish she’d stop.
“Tess, open the door. Let’s talk about this.” I wonder how long I’ll have to put up with this until she gives up.
“Tess…Arceus. Roger, can you try talking to her?” She’s talking to my father now, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. I’m pretty sure I get the jist of it, though. My father has accepted what I’m doing, he knows that it’s already official. He’s proud of me. I’m my daddy’s girl. My mother is the one who doesn’t get it.
“Tess!” She’s back to my door. I can faintly hear my father as well, talking my mother, trying to get her to stop. I tone her out, staring at the far wall of my room. I’m laying on my side, curled into a ball. My hands are grasped together tightly, sweatily. I want to leave my room, go outside to the water, get my Pokemon, and either mill around the boat landing until the boat comes or hide at the Pokemon center.
My mother has stopped knocking now, and is arguing loudly with my father.
“Trainers start out younger than that, you know that. I was only thirteen when I got my first Pokemon…”
“I don’t care! It’s way too dangerous out there! She thinks she’s just going to waltz out there and have adventures, but it’s going to be so much more dangerous!”
“That’s not how it is, Martha. You can’t compromise with her. She made up her mind a month ago, and it’s official. You’ve had time to accept that she’s leaving…”
“SHE IS NOT LEAVING!”
I wince at the last sentence. I admire my father for still putting up with this and trying to get my mother to understand. I gave up on that a long time ago, before the mainland even became inhabitable again. She’s still convincing herself that it’s just some phase I’m going through, that she can just talk me out. She’s blocking out the truth, which is that not only have I already made myself clear that she can’t keep me from doing this now, but that me leaving is something that would have eventually happened anyway. I’ve been training for years, ever since…
My train of thought is sucked into a black hole as I hear another knock on my door. It’s firmer this time, but gentler. My father’s fist.
“Tess, it’s just me. Can I come in?”
I lay there for a moment. I’m not sure what he wants, but it can’t be worse than letting my mother in. I stand up, shuffle over the door, and open it to find my father standing there. He’s tall and well-muscled, but has scruffy brown hair, a baby face, and glasses, which keep him from looking intimidating. My mother is there too, but leaning against the opposite wall, arms crossed and eyes fixed on the floor. I move to the side, letting my father in, and then close the door quickly.
He walks over to my bed and sits down, looking up at me. He’s smiling, but his eyes are sad. I pull up my desk chair and sit down.
“I’m proud of you, you know.” He says. I smile.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Your mother’s just protective.”
“I know. I get that. I’m just tired of it. I know she doesn’t get this, she doesn’t understand how much this means to me. She still thinks its something she can prevent.”
“It’s not her fault. We were very lucky to make it out of Slateport when we did, especially when…” He trails off, his eyes fixated on the floor. I grimace. We’ve moved into territory I don’t want to think about right now.
“Hey,” he says, breaking the silence. “That’s not important. I know you feel ready, so let’s get you ready to get out there.” He stands up, looking at the list of things to bring pinned to my wall, the list he helped me make a few days ago. “Is there anything you still need to pack?”
I stand up, walking to the far corner of my room. I pick up a large duffel bag, and hold it up for him to see. “I think I’m all set.” I say. “I’ve got clothes, potions and pokeballs, a first aid kit, and some emergency food. Anything else I should be taking?”
“I looked into it, they supply us with camping equipment when we arrive. Anything else?”
He nods, and thinks for a moment, and then snaps his finger, a habit of his whenever he thinks of anything important. “Something recreational. I like that you’re thinking practically here, but you’ll have extra time to kill. Back when I was a trainer, I spent a fair amount of time waiting out rainstorms under a tent, reading or writing.”
“So books?” I ask, looking at my shamefully small bookshelf, which contains mostly textbooks and other nonfiction books.
“Not necessarily, just whatever you’d like that can keep you busy when you have nothing to do. Having something interesting to do can help you make some friends while you’re out there. Besides that, sounds like you’re golden.” He walks back to my door, opening it. “Come out whenever you’re ready, I’ll make sure to tie your mother down.” I laugh, and smile as he walks out.
What to bring…
I don’t want to bring anything too large. My bag is pretty full as it is, and already holds my Pokemon trainer field guide. My bookshelf doesn’t hold much I care about taking with me. I scrunch up my lips as I peruse my measly collection of classics and nonfiction.
Two things catch my eye; One is an old, battered book of folktales, from Hoenn and the surrounding regions. I bought it at a flea market in Mosdeep when my family and I went there on vacation a couple years ago. I love the old thing, but haven’t read more than half of the stories in it. I like myths, but can only take them in small doses.
The second thing I notice is a pocket sketchbook. Drawing has always been a passive hobby of mine, and I like to keep small books like this around. I take the book off the shelf and leaf through it, realizing the book is still mostly unused. Why not, I decide. I’ll probably find some cool stuff to draw along the way.
I take the folktale book off the shelf as well, and stuff the two into my bag, along with a couple mostly unused pens from my desk. I survey my room one last time. I guess I’m ready. I grab my faded red hoodie off of my bed and put it on, zipping it up halfway, snatch my hat, a faded ball cap I’ve had since I was too young to remember, off my desk, put it on backwards, and open the door.
Time to face her one last time.
She’s sitting on the couch when I walk into the living room. When she looks up, she has a few tears in her eyes. Great. Here comes the guilt trip.
She stands up.
“Tess…” I really don’t want to talk to her. I’m afraid she’ll start screaming. She hasn’t yet, but now is when she would. I respond carefully, not really sure how to tread.
“I’m going, mom.” Crap, that sounded too defensive.
“Honey, please think about this-”
“I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT IT, MOTHER!” Suddenly, I’m the one raising my voice. All bets are off. Whatever happens here will be my last memory of my mother for a long time. I didn’t exactly expect it to be a good one. I continue.
“YOU KNOW I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS FOR A MONTH! EVEN BEFORE THAT, YOU’VE SEEN ME WITH MY DAMN POKEMON! YOU KNEW I’D LEAVE EVENTUALLY!”
“YOU’RE SIXTEEN!” Now she’s shouting, too. I hear my father’s footsteps coming quickly from down the hall.
“SO WAS MICHAEL!”
My mother goes silent. My words cut her like glass. Her hands start shaking, and it’s almost as if I can see blood dripping from her mouth.
“That…” Her voice is very quiet. Very controlled. “…is what I’m afraid of. I already lost him, I won’t lose you too…”
That’s it. I have a definite breaking point, and after five years she has just managed to finally touch it. I break.
I clench my fist, and step forward. “MICHAEL DIED GETTING US OFF THE MAINLAND! HE DIED WITH HONOR! NONE OF US WOULD EVEN BE ALIVE RIGHT NOW IF IT WASN’T BECAUSE OF HIM, YOU UNGRATEFUL BITCH!” She recoils at my words, sitting back down. Is this really me? Everything I’m saying right now has been a long time coming, but for some reason I never foresaw myself acting like this.
I feel my father’s hand on my shoulder. I turn to see him. He looks solemn, but understanding. He probably knew this was how things would go. There were a lot of unsaid things that would be unloaded today. My mother is silent for a minute, and then begins to cry. I can’t look at her. “Can we go?” I whisper to my father. He nods. “Go ahead and get Char and Rosa, I’ll be there soon.” I give him a quick hug in thanks and walk out the door.
I close the door behind me and breathe the sea breeze. I lean against the door for a minute, and on comes the guilt. I can’t believe what I just said to my mother. I doubt things will ever be the same between us again. I look out at the stone platforms and corsola-held rafts that make up the surface of my town.
This town is so strange. I honestly never liked it. When we came here, I just didn’t understand the place. I love swimming, both of my Pokemon were caught here in the sea, but this town just feels wrong. Illogical. I hate it.
My mother. Pacifidlog town. Two things it would probably be best if I never see again.
I walk to the water’s edge, slip my sandals off, and sit, dipping my feet into the cold water. After a minute, two familiar faces swim up to me. My Pokemon. I pick up Rosa, my Corsola, who makes a small cry of surprise. I set her down on the raft beside me and pick up the other Pokemon, Charybdis. He’s a Horsea, with fan-shaped horns that curve towards each other at the back of his head.
“You guys ready? It’s time to go!” Charybdis responds by spraying water in my face. I drop him back into the water, wipe water out of my eyes, and laugh.
I turn around, seeing my father walk up to me. I’m very glad it’s just him and not my mother. I stand up.
“I’m really sorry about what I said back there…”
“Don’t worry. She’s proud of you, Tess. She really is. She’s just afraid that what happened to Michael could happen to you.”
“…Do you think it could?”
“Tess,” he puts his hands on my shoulders. “I’d be lying if I said I’m not going to be worried about you. I’m your father. But finally speaking your mind to your mom took some nerve, and I’m glad I got to see that side of you. Your brother didn’t really have that, and yet he still did great things.”
“I miss him, dad.”
“I know, Tess. I do too.”
We hug, and I can feel myself start to cry. Damn it, I can’t help but criticize myself. I’m such a wuss.
A boat sounds its whistle in the near distance. The small rocky bluffs at the north edge of town are a boat landing now, and that’s where the boat is coming to take me away. I let go of my father, and smile at him.
“There’s your ride.” He says. “Are you ready?”
“More than I’ve ever been for anything.” It’s kind of a corny line, but I really mean it. I got out what I needed too, and now its behind me. I’m ready to start a new chapter of my life.
He grins at me, grabbing me in a swift, strong hug. He kisses me on the forehead, and lets go of me. “Go get ‘em, kiddo.”
I bring out my Poke balls, return my Pokemon, and slip them into my hoodie pocket. I look him in the eyes, half-distracted by the morning sunlight glaring off his glasses.
“Tell mom I’m really sorry.” He nods, the smile fading from his lips. I turn towards the road towards the pier, where I can see the ship. “Love you, Dad.”
“Love you too.”
I start walking. As I leave our property, I hear the door of our house slam open, and my mothers voice screaming.
“TESS! OH GOD, TESS, DON’T GO!”
I can’t look back. I know that if I do, I won’t be able to leave her like this. I have to go. I can hear her screaming, calling for me to come back, and my father’s voice telling her to stop. I break into a jog, then a run, getting away as fast as I can.
It takes all the strength I have to keep myself from looking back.
Shattered Gemstones is (c) Jay Petrequin, 2011