Feathers for Falkner
Sweat dripped down the back of my neck as I approached the one person in this world that scared me most. Respectfully of course, I was terrified, almost to the point of turning away. And while I swept in I found myself twitching in anticipation, my fingers daring to reach out in front of me and touch the cold stone of my father. He was flat and scuffed up, rough around the edges, and yet somehow still elegant. My hands found their way over the tiny pinholes in the rock where water and weather alone had decayed it. I took a deep breath, looking down at my father.
Six feet in the ground lay a man who gave his life to his gym here in Violet City. He was a man of willpower, devotion, and mostly pride. He was once the solemn leader of this gym in which I loved, and I knew that he loved it as well. I grew in this gym, flocked by magnificent birds of our world, and under the watchful eye of my father. This was the gym I was destined to lead one day, motherless and determined with little more than expectation.
My father, though deceased, taught me every day what it meant to be a gym leader. He taught me to always be proud of who you are. He taught me in silence under the grace of a tombstone in which held a soft misery. No doubt people suffered when my father left this world, but that didn't mean he hadn't left something behind. I was taught by the flickering shadow of a man so brilliant, like a bird himself. And I learned in knowing that one day I would also soar with the magnificent creatures.
Sitting in front of my father's grave made me feel stronger, more like the man himself rather than his lanky, flightless son. I was no stranger to the way wind felt in my hair, but it had been a very long time since I actually felt like I was flying. The freedom, the thrill, the way feathers felt against your skin
The last time I felt that was before my father died. And however much I told myself not to dwell, not to feel lonely; it still showed every now and again. Moments like this made it hard to believe I would ever truly fly again; but if I was anything, I was hopeful.
"One day." I nodded to the gravestone just outside of our perfect gem of a town. He was planted here because this used to be his training grounds and because this was apparently the place he met my mother so long ago, when the violet trees bloomed every spring. I never met the women that gave me her brilliant sky colored eyes, but from what I heard she was beautiful.
My father used to tell my stories about how she would wear white sun dresses and purposefully get them dirty to upset her mother. Apparently she had a wild rebellious streak, and that inclined her to train electric type pokemon in her youth. I couldn't imagine how a flying trainer and an electric trainer got along on a sensual level, but I knew my father loved the woman very much. He talked about her all the time, so much that I never actually missed having a mother, because I felt like I knew her.
And not to mention I could see her in me every time I looked in a mirror. Pictures had revealed that we had the same gentle sloped nose and soft brow line. I was much more attractive than my father because of this, luckily without his rough skin and coarse hair either. However the color stuck, and I was cursed with dark navy blue locks. It was really the only part of my father I had in me.
Other than my personality that is. The two of us were stubborn, critical in training, and loved significance like a bird loved to fly. We were solemn, but not unkind. People used to look at my father in a strange way, as if he was up to something or always thinking about things their grounded minds couldn't grasp. I remembered the way he used to analyze people, and then refuse to say anything about them. He silently judged the world around him, and that often put a bad taste in people's mouth.
It was not long ago that I realized I knew the look that he used to get very well. It was a look that said "He's going to be someone
but I don't know who." And I appreciated it because suddenly I was receiving it. If anyone could appreciate silence praise anyways, it was always going to be me. Even if this meant seeming different or unusual. Like my father, I wasn't fazed.
"I wish you could see how things were going
" I laughed sadly to the tomb of the legend gym leader. I wasn't typically an emotional person, but it was hard not to be at times like this. "I wish you could make fun of the way I was running things around here, or the way I dress sometimes, oror the horrible paint job I did on the fence out back."
There was no response, just a lonely wind that swished the pale grass across my hands and made me smile. I was always afraid of my father growing up, he had been strict and we often didn't get along, but he had shaped me into the person I was today, which was something to be proud of. I missed him more than anything in the world.
"I'm going to be official today." I talked simply, remembering the way his rough voice would have cut me off. "I'm getting my gym leader license at the Indigo Plataea. It's the monthly meeting between leaders too, which means I will get to meet everyone personally."
Despite my father being a gym leader his whole life he had never introduced me to the other leaders, claiming that they were always changing and that when the time came I would meet them on my own. He said it would mean more to do it that way too, which I realized now was his motive. As a child I thought he just didn't want to take a nuisance like me along for the ride, but now I realized he had been setting me up for this day for as long as I could remember. My father knew me better than I thought, and I was thankful for that.
I've talked to her on the phone once before, but she just yelled at me claiming that I was too young to be a leader. And Pryce, he was actually really genuine and understanding when I met him a month ago, but I felt like he pitied me. And I know, I know." I shook my head at the grave, wishing he could hear me. Wishing he could be here to scold me. "I'm not supposed to take people's pity; don't worry, I didn't."
The cold stone stared back at me, unblinking.
I sighed. "Right
" What was I doing? Talking to a rock
"I love you Dad
II hope your proud of me."
I pushed myself up from my knees and turned to leave the forgotten battlefield as it was. I did not look back as I went, but mentally prepared myself for the initiation I would have to face tonight. My father would want me to stand tall and be pompous around the older, more experienced leaders. He would tell me to learn from them and hold my tongue, but show no sign of weakness. I would have said that was irrational and being a shadow of him wasn't going to get me anywhere, however later I knew I would take his advice gratefully. Indeed I was a shadow of my father, whether I liked it or not.
Tonight was the night that I became my father's prodigy. Second next to my father himself; and I was nervous as all hell. Tomorrow I would open the doors of the fixed up gym that he once loved so much, and I would accept challengers from all over the world. Hopefully I would defeat them easily, but there was no guarantee I could keep all those badges to myself.
With a strangled whistle I looked to the sky, awaiting my best friend to find me so I could ruffle his feathers. The docile Pidgeyappropriately named Zephyr-- was never too far away, and always eager to please in situations like this. He would be accompanying me to the meeting tonight, since I could bring a single pokemon with me, andlike myself he needed a good scrub down first.
I whistled again, leaving the thoughts about my father behind at his grave and heading home towards the Gym. Moments later the bird found me and landed on my shoulder, looking as though he had gotten into some honey of some sort. His wings were sticky and his face was plastered with pollen.
"What did you do Buddy?" I pulled my hand up for him to step onto it before making him face me. He merely butted my chin with his tiny head in response, apologizing before I even scolded him. I smiled lightly as he chirped, fluffing his feathers up against my face lovingly.
"We've got a lot to do today; you can't go getting into trouble." I eyed him carefully, teasing. "Today I become an official Gym leader
Zephyr this is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me."
He pecked me in the cheek and then turned his head away stiffly, as if to defy me of talking about that meeting any more. It had been on my mind for the past month, and Zephyr had not been lucky enough to miss out on my chatter. I was excited, he knew that, but he didn't want to hear about it twenty-four-seven.
"A little support would be nice." I muttered. If only my father was here
he had a way with making even the most absent minded birds listen to him. He used to lay me down in a nest with them when I was very young, and tell me stories about challengers he had. The birds and I would listen with wide eyes, wondering when our chance to shine would come. It was a shame I hadn't picked up on that particular trait from my father; it would surely come in handy.
I rolled my eyes as the tiny Pidgey launched himself from my hand and over the roof of the gym. I knew he was heading for the sanctuary in the back, where his mothermy father's Pidgeotwould coddle him and pluck out loose feathers from where they did not belong.
I pushed open the tall glass door of my father's gym with ease, wiping my feet before entering as he always told me to, and looking around to face the high beams above me. Ladders upon ladder lead up to my particular room in this placewhich was renovated from the tobacco smelling cave that my father once inhabited. It was my own sanctuary up there now.
I approached the first ladder easily, set to climb while wishing I had wings like those of a Staraptor. I had to mentally correct myself as I went. This was no longer my father's gym with my single room in it. No. This was my gym. Every single nook and cranny of it belonged to me now.
And as of tonight I would be its official leader.