Author's Note: This is a story about will vs creativity. What does it take to take down the most powerful being on earth? This story is based on a thought experiment my brother and I had when we were watching Pokemon 3.
The city of Greenfield had had its share of ups and downs: lackluster school attendance, uneven wealth, and an invisible presence on most Johto maps. The only thing going for it, a few enormous mansions set atop sunflora-covered hilltops, was the very thing that scared most of its citizens.
Most people, especially the adults, had complained nearly every week in town meetings that the city council should be doing more than just accepting the status quo -- it should focus on the beauty of the environment so tourism could increase and so could revenue.
However, the Crystal Incident changed all that. The citizens still tossed and turned at their nightmares of encroaching crystal formations that seemed to envelope everything it touched. Many buildings had been badly damaged, even after the crystal receded back to The House. The House had become parodied in numerous made-for-TV movies about the disaster, small attempts by the public to cope with a life-threatening apocalypse. Counselors had to be flown in specifically to help people deal with the immeasurable trauma that accompanied what turned out to be a selfish toddler's whim. Many citizens wanted to move to get away, but their hearts were paralyzed. This had been their home for generations and now it felt like the crystal was still there, imprisoning them.
Marie sat in her faux-leather chair, rocking back and forth slightly, adjusting her glasses atop her nose. It was the second time today the girl in front of her in the small blue plastic chair had been sent to her office, a makeshift room just outside the schoolyard. Marie had been one of the most celebrated counselors on Goldenrod Radio and the public practically expected her to show up to Greenfield to help with its recovery. The case she was most interested in, however, was the young girl who was on the verge of suicide.
The girl, about ten, wore wavy brown locks tied by a bow-shaped barrette in the back. She wore a long black coat over her blue uniform. Her eyes were sunken, her face pallid, and her arms scuffed and bruised from numerous fights with her classmates. She rocked gently, echoing the counselor, but more frighteningly as she seemed to be devoid of emotion. From what she knew, the girl had a past of abandonment issues stemming from a father who was always away at work and leaving her at home with the hired help. Most of the time she played alone in her room with her many dolls, dreaming up stories for them where the little baby doll was endlessly trying to find its parents. The baby would come home and want to tell about her first day of school, but it was met by an empty room. Marie had had a conference with her father, explaining the delicate situation.
The father sighed. "I know I've been away. I didn't realize how much it hurt her. I have a job," he pleaded, looking up hopefully at the counselor. "I can't just NOT go to work. Besides," he added uncomfortably, "I thought she'd be happy I was trying to find her mother."
The counselor leaned forward in interest. "Did you tell her that was the reason you were leaving?"
The father shook his head. "I didn't believe I should burden her with such traumatic news."
"And yet you expected a five-year-old girl to understand your sudden disappearance, even after her mother abandoned her?" Marie asked, slightly put off but trying to remain polite.
He pounded his fist on the table. "I MADE A MISTAKE!" he boomed, his deep voice rattling a glass of water on her desk. He shook his head and sighed heavily, his long graying hair swaying mournfully around his face. He managed to lower his voice. "I have tried to make amends. I have included her in some of my assignments. I stay home more often -- not only to spend time with her but to spend time with my wife. I realize I was headed for the same thing that happened last time --" he caught himself, sighing, and changed the subject back to his daughter. "She has been seeing you for two years now. I've been seeing you. You've noted that I'VE improved, but what about Molly? She still hangs my past over my head like a sword."
Marie smiled confidently and leaned back. "I'm certain she'll bounce back in time. Most children adapt well to stressful situations. All it takes is a little patience and she'll blossom in your hands."
Marie spoke first, brushing long black hair out of her eyes. Her voice was calm and quiet, respectful of the child in front of her. "You can tell me what happened."
"They're not going to stop," the girl whispered like a zombie. "You're powerless to stop them." She quickly glanced up at the counselor. "I'm powerless to stop them."
"The other kids?" Marie asked, although she knew the answer was far more depressing.
"All of them," the girl replied. "Even you. I'm not human anymore. I'm just a worn statue getting eaten by acid rain."
Marie sighed. "It will take time for the citizens of Greenfield to come to grips with what happened at your house, Molly. Please give them time."
Molly's expression didn't change. "Five years ..."
"Disasters can take what seems like forever to forgive," Marie added. "Isn't there anyone who'll be your friend this year? Perhaps you need to find another quote-unquote "unpopular" kid. You both would know something of rejection and can learn from each other."
"I had friends. They left."
"Although your friends are on pokemon journeys, you're still in their hearts and minds. They still love you very much."
Molly looked up at the counselor. Why did these mandatory sessions go nowhere? Why couldn't the counselor just admit that she couldn't change other people's minds? Why did everyone have to pretend that the damage was reversible? "That's why they left," she said finally. "They wanted to be famous, not infamous as the friends of the psycho kid."
"No one thinks that, Molly."
Molly stood and began to walk to the door. Without looking back, she asked, "May I go? We're powerless to stop them. There's no point in continuing."
Marie stood, compassion written deep within the small crow's feet on her face. "I'd like to help you, Molly. You have to let me."
Molly shrugged. "Can you make them stop? Can you make them forget? Do you know what it's like to be hunted for five years for a selfish mistake? Even if you grow older, even if you mature, even if you try to be better -- no one cares about that. They never see you. They see the 'you' on the news. Your image immortalized in their brains." Without even getting permission to leave, Molly exited the small room with the walls plastered with traumatized kid's drawings -- most of them portraying the crystal and an evil Molly terrorizing the city, an unconscious shrine to the very problem Marie could not see. Slowly, as she stared at the posters, she realized that Molly was being tormented by the endless accusations that she was a Destroyer of Peace. She got up, walked over to the posters and studied them for a few moments. Finally, she came to a decision: Molly's problem was that she couldn't empathize with how the other kids felt.
Having weathered another long day at her school prison, Molly rushed for the relative sanctity of her father's butler's car. Sometimes, the Hale family butler embarrassed Molly. She already was different and her family wealth just exacerbated it. However, he was a godsend when school was over and she had to return to her luxurious multi-storied home. It would be a three-hour walk, so the butler had to drive her home to ensure her safety from bullies of all ages.
During the ride home, she looked at the sprawling green landscape scrolling past her window. She avoided looking at the sky, for she was terrified he'd be there, taunting her. Her mother, when she had returned, having heard of her family's plight on the news, told her that her imaginary friends were evil spirits bent on taking her away from her real family. She told her young daughter that she had to stop fearing the fantasy creature would return, or he would do exactly that to destroy her soul. Far into the distance, near some wooded areas, she saw a tall hooded figure in brown sackcloth robes, nearly camouflaged against the tree trunks. The figure kept its head down, two strange lumps on the sides of the top of its head protruding, the robes flowing abnormally behind it as though something else was behind the figure, waving in the wind. In the back of her mind, she saw her friend Ash Ketchum, throwing himself into opposing beams of red and blue light, his mouth and eyes pleading desperately, the light of his own soul vanishing in turn. She smirked, relieved that Ash was no longer suffering, like she did every single day. And yet, she noticed the younger version of herself staring at her in the window, a reflection of impossibility. She didn't notice the half-inch crystalline border around the window. Finally, she moved back into her seat and held herself, staring at the floorboard. She remembered the confident ten-year-old 'gym leader' version of herself she had become when she fought Misty, but it was fascinating and depressing to realize that the real ten-year-old looked nothing like that.
As she closed her eyes, she felt the bright sun warm her skin and the breeze swim past her body in undulating invisible motions. She could feel herself flying through the air, eventually against the backdrop of a cream-colored moon that dwarfed her tiny body, but as she felt her eyes open to survey the surroundings, the scenery turned to darkness before she could recognize the places beneath her. Soon the sensation of flight turned to that of falling for what seemed like forever. As soon as she felt as though she was certain to hit the ground and splatter like thrown spaghetti, she gasped and opened her eyes for real. She glanced again at the trees in the distance, but there was no hooded figure.
A large crater replaced several trees in that spot, a peculiar area of devastation among a thriving green forest.