The Golden Skin
** Dedicated to my fiancée **
** Happy 11 Months **
The late-fall rain pelted my face as I ran through the streets. The buildings were copies upon copies of a predesigned drawing made by some uncreative architect.
Claude, stop commenting on the architecture and find her.
I looked back down at the napkin clenched underneath my body. As I was debating whether or not 607 Painted Moon Road was ironic or just coincidental, my front paw slipped. I fell flat on my stomach, my jaw scraping against the asphalt.
That’s what I get for running three-legged.
I pushed myself up against the black pavement. I looked up to see a street sign; I was already on the correct street. 6-0-7, 6-0-7, 6-0-7. The napkin was soaked, so I quickly repeated the numbers in my head.
I had sprained my front paw, so I had to run on my hind legs. The rain wasn’t letting up, but it was a good thing that the top part of my head was shaped to act like a beret and shielded my eyes.
I found the house, a dark grey version of the two-story apartments that littered the streets of this town, though this one was much farther apart from the rest and had an even worse layout. I mean it didn’t even have a nice patio or a garden or a…
Just ring the doorbell…
I walked up the stairs to the entrance, but before I could reach the door, it opened, revealing a white Pokémon floating mid-air.
“You must be Claude. I’m Kara. I’m Aurelia’s cousin.”
The first thing I noticed was large black bags under her eyes. The second thing I noticed is that she looked nothing like Aurelia.
She must have seen my confusion, so she added, “I’m her third cousin.” She took a look behind me. “Please pick your tail up. I don’t want wet, gold paint all over my new floor.”
I turned around and saw the large paint trail leading all the way down the street. I lifted my tail upright, squeezing out as much water as I could with my paws.
“I thought that Smeargle could control when their tail secreted paint,” she said as she looked intently at my paint-dry hands.
“Well, we can kind of toggle it on and off, yes, but I guess that I wasn’t really paying attention as I have been running nonstop from the bus station.”
“It is lucky for you that the rain will wash it away. Come in.” Kara floated back into her house.
The vestibule held a few chairs and book shelves, but there were no materials for guests to read. I noticed a few oil paintings of Pokémon battling and pointillism pictures of scenery. Kara phased through the door which led to the rest of the house. I tried the doorknob but it was locked.
“Hey, not all of us are part ghost!” I yelled through the door, feeling the cuts on my lower jaw from when I fell.
The door opened, revealing the small floating melted-wax face of Kara.
“Sorry, I forget sometimes.”
I could see the slight smirk as she led me to the living room. There was a three-seat cushioned couch, small recliner, fireplace and flower-decorated mantle.
“Where is she?” I asked, not wanting to spend what moments I could on eyeing the scenery.
“She’s upstairs, but she wants you to wait down here.”
“Are you mad? I don’t see her for two months, and you expect me to just wait down here?” I clenched my fists in anger. I was this close to seeing my love; a little white candle wasn’t going to stop me.
“Honestly, no, but she’s not in the best condition.” Her face became somber and the flame atop her head became weaker. “She’s dying.”
“She’s only been gone for two months. What’s wrong with her?”
“I can’t tell you. She wants to tell you herself.”
“Then let me come up!”
“Not yet, but here,” she handed me an envelope that was addressed to me. It was in Aurelia’s claw-writing. “She wants you to read her letter before you see her.”
“Fine,” I said dejectedly. I couldn’t refuse my Aurelia’s request. I plumped myself down on the couch and opened the envelope.
I pulled out the vanilla paper and unfolded it, tossing the envelope to my right. Aurelia’s claw-writing was usually atrocious, but I could tell that she spent the extra effort to make this letter legible.
My Dearest Claude,
This letter is difficult to write, not because my hand is quivering from the disease, but because I have to explain myself to the person I love. I have to explain why I couldn’t say goodbye to you properly. I have to explain why the house was torn up and the shed reduced to ash the night I left. I have to explain why I left you a week before the wedding.
So, here it goes. I want to let you know first that I love you. I’ve always loved you. And for you to understand my story, I need to tell you it from the beginning.
I was born to two Charizard in the Charicific Valley. I was the youngest of the bunch, but I was special. As you know, I was born with golden skin. You always hated it when I called them scales.
“Always had a negative connotation,” you said.
While my mother and father said that they loved me, my brothers and sisters and the rest of the families saw me as an abomination. The last Charmander to share my skin was my great granduncle, who was exiled from the Valley for falling in love with an outsider. They said that there was something impure about a golden Charmander, but they didn’t explain more than that. So I was feared because of something I couldn’t control.
This led to me learning how to defend myself at any time, which explains our first encounter. Every day when my parents were not around, one of the Charmander or Charmeleon from one of the families attacked me. I’ve been gassed, set ablazed by Fire attacks, bitten, slashed, chopped, tombed and the list goes on. The parents brushed it off as normal behavior for children, but I knew they coaxed their kids into doing it.
I fought back against every prejudiced Pokémon in the valley, including my own brothers and sisters. But I still wished, oh how I wished, that my skin wasn’t golden. Eventually I left the Charicific Valley. I was tired of fighting all the time.
But what was an outcast supposed to do in the vast world outside?
At first, I just wandered. I met many strange but friendly Pokémon along the way. They all commented on my skin, some good, some bad. The world was free to explore, but it wasn’t the safest place. Not until I met you.
When I first got to the
I turned the paper over, but there was nothing on the back.
“Looking for something?” Kara startled me. I thought she’d left. In her hand was another page.
“Well, give it here!” I started to walk towards her, but she flicked the paper away. “What’s the problem?”
“Aurelia might be willing to take you back, but I’m not convinced.” Kara floated to the recliner and sat right down in it.
“So you’re going to dangle the rest of the letter until I can prove myself to you?” I slouched down in the couch. I looked over Aurelia’s note. I couldn’t just take the letter by force that wouldn’t be right. But I had to know what the rest of the letter said. I couldn’t see Aurelia until I did. “So what do I need to do?”
“I knew you would see things my way.” She leaned over into a drawer and pulled out a little wooden box. She opened it up and pulled out a small ring. It had a dark stone in the middle of its fixture, surrounded by a metallic ornament that resembles a Kirlia, holding the stone like an egg. “You must wear this.”
“What is it?” I asked examining the ring closely.
“It was my great grandfather’s. He wore it until he died, clenching the hand of my great grandmothers. They say that the ring has special properties. It can tell me or anyone in my family whether or not someone is truly in love.”
“So you want me put it on, and it’ll tell you if I truly love Aurelia?” I slipped it on right away. If this is what I had to do to see her, so be it. When I put on the ring, nothing happened.
“Well, no, I just wanted to see if you would. That’s proof enough for me.” She smirked. It was tiring. She handed me the rest of the note, though.
I snatched it from her hand and began reading the rest of Aurelia’ letter.
city, I was impressed. There were fancy lights, flashy Pokémon and money. You laughed when I told you that I thought it was a strange concept. We didn’t have such a thing in the valley. As I wandered around I learned that I couldn’t just sleep wherever I wanted and needed a flat. But before I began my search, a man named Eddy took me in.
I thought that he was a nice man at first; he complimented me, let me stay at his house and took care of me. He always found me nice clothing, plenty of food and books to read. At first I didn’t notice the dead bolt on my door, and I chalked up the bars on the window for him just being safe. I asked him about it, but he just said he was being precautious.
A week went by before I grew tired of being cooped up. When I tried to leave, he attacked me. His long green blade-like forearms swiped at me.
He yelled, “You will never leave!”
It was a good thing that I had so much experience battling. A normal Pokémon in my situation would probably been hit by such a swift attack. I dodged easily and after a few exchange of blows, I lit him on fire and rammed my hard head through the front door. I ran to the police, and they arrested him.
Later I found out that he was a serial killer that skinned his victims alive. Now you know why I hated Silence of the Mareep.
It was a while before I met trustworthy people at the local YPCA, a safe place for all young Pokémon. My friends set me up with a job at the local pub. They said that my skin would attract customers. Something about shiny objects and drunken people I guess. But that was another life… Before I met you.
You remember how I met you, right,
The page ended there.
“Where’s the next page?” I yelled at Kara.
“You didn’t think it would have been that easy?” Again with her wicked smile.
This was getting ridiculous. I already put the ring on. Its stupid black sheen reflected the light from Kara’s candle, appearing to look a bit greyer than before. I glared at her, serious wrinkles appearing above my nose.
“Don’t tell me that I have to put on a maid costume that your great aunt wore during her honeymoon?”
A fireball came towards my head, but I instinctively raised my tail. Deep inside my body welled up the mysterious force that all Smeargle had inside of them. We didn’t have any of the organs that other Pokémon drew their energy from, such as fire- or electricity-sacs. When we copied a new move, we were just able to replicate the move on command.
My tail started to glow a bright whitish color and the stream of water spiraled all around it. When the flame hit it, the fire was nullified.
“I’ve learned to deal with Fire-type moves, Kara. You know Aurelia.” I dissipated the water, which splashed against the carpet. “I am sorry about the mess.”
“Do not make fun of my family.” She reached behind her and pulled out two sheets of paper. “These are not the last ones.”
in the alleyway behind your studio? I remember it perfectly.
Sandy, the Vulpix that I had introduced you to a few weeks later, was having a birthday celebration (no one said party at our age). I wanted to go home early, but they convinced me to stay. That’s why I was walking home so late at night. The rain wasn’t so bad; my tail’s flame was strong enough from all the battling to resist a little drizzle.
A few Poochyena and Rattata were drunkenly following me. I knew they were there, but I thought I could have turned the corner into your alleyway before they could see. I was wrong. They snapped and barked at me. They were coming at me. But that’s what Eddy taught me I suppose, even in the city be ready for anything.
That’s when you said you saw me out your window. You were up all night trying to paint a new masterpiece when you heard the commotion. You rushed out of your flat onto the fire escape and hung onto the edge of the railing as you gazed upon me.
But I wasn’t paying any attention to you. I was busy roasting the thugs with a nice hot Flamethrower. Later you told me that pose with a trail of serpent-shaped fire that scorched the fur right off of those assholes is what inspired you.
After the half-burnt half-naked men scampered away with their tails between their legs, you jumped down. I heard something behind me and swiped my tail at your feet, causing you to fall. It was only after I followed up with a Mega Punch to your stomach that I realized that you didn’t want to harm me.
You looked at me with your brown eyes and said, “You’re beautiful.” And then you passed out.
With that I instantly felt a connection to you. I heard the sincerity in your voice and found the wallet in your pockets. I took you back to your apartment and waited for you to wake up. When you did, you were afraid and jumped. The words you said made me laugh.
“What beauty is this? You must be a siren,” I read aloud. “I wasn’t delirious when I said it.” I looked up at Kara.
She didn’t notice me at first, staring at the ring, but she motioned me to continue.
“Hurry up. You’re not going to get the rest until I’m satisfied.”
“What beauty is this? You must be a siren.”
I apologized profusely for mistaking you for one of them. But, once you calmed down you told me that I couldn’t have been the one who hurt you.
“You are so beautiful, and so how could something of such great beauty cause anyone pain?”
If I could blush, I would probably have done so at that moment. You fell back onto the couch. You were soaked head to tail. I thought you might have come down with a cold, so I warmed you up with my flame. When you were dry, I covered you with a blanket and raided your kitchen.
Remember when your kitchen was so disgusting that I had thought a Trubbish and Grimer were having a fight in there? It took me a long time to find a clean pot and some soup, but when I returned, you were up by your wall, sketching away.
Buckets of paint lay behind you. Red, Black, White, Orange, Purple. But there was no Gold. That’s what made me know that you were special. Your tail naturally secreted the color that had plagued me for all my life.
You looked so dashing, swiping your tail back and forth across the wall. You held your tail like a brush, moving your head closer when you wanted finer details like the cusp of my cheeks or the odd smile that you portray on my face. I just stared as you spent hours upon hours working on the painting. And when you were finished, you fell back on the floor and slept for two days.
Your painting… It was so beautiful. And you know me not to be a smug Pokémon, but the way you portrayed me, centered with a wall of flames erupting from my mouth, which burned the surrounding Rattata and Poochyena at the corners of the wall, that made me feel beautiful, truly beautiful for the first time in my life. It made me feel like you could sense my pain, my struggle. When I asked you why you painted me this way later, you confirmed my suspicions. You saw the fire, not just on my tail, but in my soul.
That is why I could trust you. That is why I stayed with you those two days, checking your temperature, cleaning your apartment studio, getting your mail. I did it because you made me feel special.
After you woke up, you asked me to be your muse, which I instantly agreed to. You didn’t keep me caged in. You simply asked that I’d visit at least once a week, so that you could be inspired. I kept my job at the pub for a while, but then your work started to take notice.
Your wall was on the news; I saw it once in McSlakoth’s Pub. The next time I came over, you handed me a large check, telling me that it was compensation. When I asked how a simple muse could have made so much, you told me that the normal compensation wasn’t enough, so you gave me everything.
Sorry that I slapped you, but I didn’t know how else to react. Never before had someone been so sincere, so I just thought you were making fun of me.
You were so talented. I wanted to give you back all the money, but you wouldn’t hear any of it. It wasn’t until I threatened to stop being your muse unless you gave me regular compensation.
So I decided to quit my job at the pub and become your full-time muse. Since you had the museum that bought the piece remove the wall instead of just recreating the piece, I would come every day to your new studio. At first you just had me relax and sit in different poses. But then we started to talk. We talked about you. We talked about me, though I didn’t tell you about everything, as you could probably tell. We stayed up so late to talk that sometimes you would just pass out.
We went out for food, watched the moving picture shows, went shopping, had picnic and shared our first kiss after the second painting sold. People thought it was just because I was your muse, but they didn’t see the connection we had outside the studio.
In those two years of dating and working together, you were able to sell four more paintings that are still displayed in galleries across the world. Right after that, you asked me to move in. I was so happy to be with you every day and every night. Everything looked like it would be perfect forever. But then, my past came to haunt me a year later.
“So what do I have to do for the next part?”
Kara went to the fireplace and turned up the flames. The shadow on her face loomed over her face, highlighting her empty eyes.
“I want to know what happened,” she demanded.
“Didn’t you read it?”
“She didn’t write what happened, but I want to know. The long version.” She angrily closed her fist as if to say she’ll attack me if she didn’t. Even if they were empty, I could still tell from her eyes that she was passionate about this.
“Before I start, I just want to reassure you that it wasn’t this Eddy guy. No Scythers involved. ” I sat up and placed hands on my lap. “It was a couple of weeks after her 19th birthday. She received a letter from the Pidgey Express. When she read it, she just excused herself and ran out the door. Of course I decided to follow close behind her. She ran far outside the city limits into an abandoned gorge and met two Charmeleon.
“I overheard the conversation, and they turned out to be her two older brothers. They were out getting medical supplies for the Valley when they saw a picture of us on a newspaper. The article said that we were dating, and you remember her great granduncle right? Well, even though she left the Valley on her own, she was still technically still a part of the family. So, they were there to exile her.”
“Why couldn’t they just tell her to stay away via the letter?” Kara interrupted. Her eyes were intently watching me. I forgot how animated I got when I told a story.
“Well, it’s because there needed to by some sort of… ‘Display of Removal,’ as they called it. Suddenly, a few Charizard flew into the open field. Aurelia referred to two of them as her parents, but they did not acknowledge her. The eldest looking Charizard stated that it was ok to leave the valley, but not to choose an outsider has a partner.”
Kara winced when I said this. That’s when I realized that her great grandfather was the Charizard that was exiled, a black Charizard.
“Go on,” she said.
“Well… she didn’t care. She declared her love for me in front of everyone. I wanted to do something, so I ran into the fray, right up to her side and said, ‘I love Aurelia. If you want someone to punish, punish me.’”
“And I’m guessing they didn’t just let you go…” Kara added.
“No, Aurelia’s brothers held her down as two Charizard started to pummel me. I didn’t fight back, because it was what was needed to keep her safe. But Aurelia couldn’t resist the urge to go against her elders to help me. She broke free of her brothers’ grasp using Swords Dance to spin out of their claws. She then chopped at both their necks, which cracked like twigs under her power. My mind was slipping away, but I was able to see her gather what seemed to be a haze of navy blue gas in her mouth before she released a column of wispy black energy mixed with an aura of erratic light blue which crashed into one of the Charizard knocking him into the second Charizard atop me. I saw her defend me until a white brilliant light blinded me, and then I was unconscious.”
“What was it?” Kara asked leaning ever so closely to me as the story progressed.
“Well, when I woke up, I was greeted by the face of a Charmeleon, but I instantly knew that it was Aurelia. And it wasn’t her lovely golden skin that made me realize it. It was her smile that told me everything was alright.”
I heard Kara start to bawl. “That’s… so… beautiful. Here!” she said handing me two more pages before going to side table to get some tissues.
Though, you stuck with me through it all, and I can’t thank you enough for being so patient and kind to me, even when I wasn’t always to you.
Even after I had evolved into a Chameleon and was afraid that you wouldn’t like my new gruffer body, you assured me that I looked even better. My skin shined an even brighter brilliance of gold. You developed a new set of paintings inspired by my new look, which sold even faster. Though the critics said that your work had changed, you reassured me that it was because of my new look and only that.
You always seemed to pay extra attention to me after I evolved, not in a creepy way, but a loving way. And of course, I loved you. I didn’t care if you loved me for who I was or for my golden skin. I just knew that I wanted to be with you forever.
I didn’t think anything of it when you had a press release saying that you decided to take time away from painting and concentrate on our relationship. You continue to paint in your free time, but never finished anything.
And then three years later you proposed to me. I remembered that day well. I remember every day and every night that we spent together, but this one especially.
You took me out on a picnic to a park a little outside the city limits. You prepared some pickle and cheese sandwiches, boiled potatoes and mac and cheese, the only things you could make.
As we sat on our velvet-colored blanket, just finishing our meal, you told me to look at one of the houses the surrounded the park. I saw it in the distance, a two story Victorian-style house. It had a beautiful open front yard, a verandah stretching more than half of the perimeter and a little tower in the corner. You told me that you bought that house for us. I was so excited that I rushed towards it, pulling you with me. I was always a bit stronger than you were, though you never minded.
I got to the house and opened the door, and there was a band of musicians playing with a banner overhead them saying, “Aurelia, please wait for me to get up.” I love the way you could predict me like that.
I picked you up, as you looked exhausted from trying to keep up with my speed. You brushed yourself off and reached into the picnic basket, which you managed to hold onto the entire time.
You got down on one knee and said,
“Aurelia, from the moment I met you, I knew that my life had purpose. I was a half-beaten man before you came into my life.” My eyes started to swell up as I continued to recite what I had said eight months ago. “We only just met, but that night you inspired me. Not just creatively, but you inspired me to be a better person. I know that you know that I love you, and I always will. No matter what happens. We’ve been together for almost four years now, but I knew long before then that I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life. I love you, Aurelia. Will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me.” I was crying. I don’t know why Aurelia ran away.
Kara was crying too, but I noticed that again that she was looking at the ring she had given me. I looked at it, but it was just grey, and now getting wet from my tears.
“Kara, why are you doing this to me?” I protested. “Why can’t I just see her?”
She handed me a couple of tissues. “Because this is her wish. I can’t just go against it. And you can’t go against it.”
I wiped away the tears and calmed myself down. As I went to start reading again, another paper was pushed into my hands.
“This is the last page. I can see now that you still love her. I’ll go upstairs and prepare her for you. Just holler when you’re done.”
I wanted to say, “Thank you,” but she turned her back to me and floated up through the first floor ceiling.
Of course I accepted, and for a while, I didn’t think that thing could ever be bad again.
But the, I began to notice you pulling away from me. You started to paint again. You turned the shed in the yard into a studio and began to spend more free time there.
You didn’t know this, but I went against your wishes and entered it. I saw your sketches. You started using odd colorings and uneven strokes. The golden paint from your tail was placed randomly, wildly.
Sometimes, I watched you through the window. I saw that you started to get headaches. You started ripping up half-finished paintings. You started to punch dents into the side of the shed. You even started to throw your tools onto the ground in anger. You never knew that I saw you. You tried to hide your frustration every time you came back into the house.
For some reason you weren’t inspired anymore. I didn’t inspire you anymore. I thought at first that you were just getting sick, but you were fine, as long as you weren’t in that shed of yours. No, I knew it had something to do with me. It was the first time that I thought that you didn’t love me for me.
That brings me to the night I left. You had gone to the city to pick up your parents from the airport, but you know how I feel about your mom, who was mad that you chose me, since we couldn’t give her grandchildren, since our species were incompatible.
I was just cleaning up, when there was a knock at the door. When I answered it, a Mightyena was growling at me. I didn’t know it until I read the reports, and at first, I thought that it was the Poochyena from the night we first met. But despite the obvious connection, it was just a random burglary.
It had been a while since I had battled, and it always had been my fault, never yours, and I thank you for that.
I feel that I must explain to you, since I didn’t stick around to explain it to the cops that I had called afterwards.
The claw marks at the front door were from when Mightyena struck his black paws trying to push against the door when I tried to shut in on him. The ripped up rug was from my claws as a Raticate, who managed to sneak in through the back window, tried to choke me with a piece of rope. The vase in the vestibule was shattered when I pushed Raticate into it, trying to loosen his grip.
The round singed mark on the stairs was from the Shadow Ball Mightyena fired. But the scorch marks in the first floor hallway were my fault as I released a Flamethrower behind me while I was running to the back door, which was busted because I chose to ram through it in panic.
You can pretty much guess at what happened in the yard, which was set ablaze by a mixture of all our attacks. Eventually I was able to knock them out; you know me too well. Don’t tell me you thought I couldn’t take them.
But, I’m most sorry for ruining your studio. You see, after that battle, I was so tired that I couldn’t resist it. The glowing light filled my body, and I could feel my limbs expanding, my horn splitting and new bones breaking through my skin on my back. The bones grew tissue and then formed into wings. When it was over, I knew that I had evolved again.
I walked over to your shed to look at my new body, and I wept from the reflection in the window. I couldn’t believe that after so long, I got my half-forgotten wish. For no longer did my skin shine with the gold that you create from your tail, but now it was the color of the night sky. I was furious. If you weren’t inspired before, you couldn’t possibly have been inspired if you saw me now. I couldn’t take it anymore, and when my rage subsided, your studio was just a pile of ash.
I had to get away now. Don’t you see? I couldn’t possibly be your muse any longer. I was hideous, a freak. I used my newly blackened and crimsoned wings to fly away from our home, from you.
I spend the first month looking for a new place to start anew. I tried four different cities; each feared me for my black skin. Eventually I made my way here, and I found Kara. She didn’t have any prejudice against me. At first, I thought that she just really liked Charizard. But then I found out that we shared a last name. Turns out that she’s my third cousin! Remember my great granduncle that was exiled from the Valley for following in love with an outsider? Well, it turns out that she was a Lapras, Kara’s great grandmother.
Kara was also considered an outsider by most of the people in the city for being a Litwick. “Harbinger of Death” people would call her, which is kind of ironic now that she is taking care of me in my final days. So she took me in and looked after me. But that’s when she told me about the disease.
Her grandmother, a Gastrodon, said that her father only lived for a few months after he had evolved into a black Charizard. At first it just seemed like a normal flu. But then, he started losing his appetite, he had a shortness of breath, and even the smallest of hits made him bleed profusely.
The biopsy revealed that when he evolved, there was a rapid increase in the number of immature blood cells in his system, causing the bone marrow to be unable to produce healthy blood cells. It was a very rare condition that was usually found in only one percent of the population, but given that our coloring was also a very small percent, it wasn’t such a leap to make the connection.
I didn’t want to believe it, but then I started feeling sick. I thought it coincidence at first, but Kara could feel my life force leaving my body. We tried looking for an Audino or a Chansey to help, but they told us since the condition was very rare, and they hadn’t seen a case since my great granduncle, no one had looked into finding a cure. All they could say is that they would be able to make me feel comfortable.
This brings me to why I decided to contact you once again. If I was going to die, I want to be able to face you one last time. I wanted to explain, so hopefully you wouldn’t be so mad when you saw me. I love you, and I want you to know that I always will.
Your soon to be ex-fiance, but eternal lover
“It can’t end like this,” I whispered to myself. “Not after all… after all the misunderstanding.” I saw splashes of tear drops form on her letter. There was a page for each year we were together. Except, now we might not make it to the end of our seventh… No! She couldn’t just die after everything that had happened.
“I’m done. I’m done! I’m coming up.” I ran up the stairs. I reached the second floor and saw Kara closing a door behind her.
“You just need to know one more thing. She hasn’t been able to talk easily these past few days, which is why she wrote you the letter.”
She motioned me to go passed her.
I turned the doorknob, and what I saw didn’t surprise me. It looked like a white hospital room; there was an IV drip, a monitor watching her vitals and a white railing bed. But my eyes gazed upon my love.
Aurelia’s body was unhealthily thin; her wings were shriveled up, only poking out from under her a bit; the flame on her tail small and dim; she had on a breathing mask. But then, when she saw me, her eyes lit up not in surprise or shock but in excitement. She started coughing as she weakly tried to sit up.
I rushed to the stool by her side and softly said, “I love you. Don’t speak.” I took her hand, but it was soft and wrinkly, not tough like I knew it to be. I thought that I was hurting her, but she grabbed my hand with both of hers.
She smiled and pointed at the ring.
“You know it’s not just a regular ring, right?” Kara was at the door.
“What are you talking about?” I asked staring at both of them in confusion. I looked down at the ring, Kirlia’s stone shining an off-white.
“It’s glowing red-violet,” Kara said.
“How long have you known? Does she know?” I asked, realizing what kind of ring it was.
“No, I had my suspicions when I read her letter.”
Aurelia had a confused look on her face.
“Let me explain. Remember when the Charizard were pummeling me before you evolved into a Charmeleon? Well, soon after I started getting these headaches. They weren’t severe at first, but I started to notice the world around me changing. Slowly but surely my vision started to warp. I started to go colorblind.”
Aurelia gasped underneath her breath mask.
“Yes, first the reds and blues started to fade away, then the greens, the purples and the oranges. Finally, I couldn’t see gold. That’s why I really stopped painting. At first I was sad, that I couldn’t see the brilliance of your skin, but then I realized, that that wasn’t the reason I loved you. Yes, your skin inspired me to paint, but it was your heart that made me fall in love with you, your golden heart that I can still see now, as you lie on this bed.”
“Then why did you start painting again?” Kara asked knowing what Aurelia had wanted to say.
“It was because my investors were commissioning a painting from me. At first I refused, but I knew that we were running low on money, and I wanted the wedding to be perfect. So I began to paint, but after so many years of being colorblind, I couldn’t concentrate. I tried to keep track of which colors I was using, but it was too much of a stretch for my mind. But I had to do it. For us… I didn’t want you to have to worry about me, Aurelia.”
“But she did worry, you should have…”
“Shut up, Kara!” I yelled. I was tired of her butting into our moment. “Aurelia, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you, but I guess that… I guess that I was embarrassed. I felt like I wasn’t the man you fell in love with anymore.”
“I…” Aurelia started to sound out the words. “I... love you, Claude.” She smiled.
“I love you, Aurelia.” I took both of her hand in mine and kissed them.
She drifted away and closed her eyes. Her heart monitor started to die down.
“No! You can’t leave me. You can’t!” I pleaded. We were together again, but I couldn’t do a thing to stop her from leaving me this time. My eyes started to well up again.
“Please… don’t cry,” Aurelia said softly. “You shouldn’t cry… for we will see each other again. I… just know it.”
“I love you!” I yelled, wishing that just my love would be enough to save her. “I love you, and I always will!”
“I… love….” And then she flat-lined, her tail dying out.
No… “No! You can’t go!” I lifted her mask and started to breathe into her mouth. One breath, two breaths, three breaths. I started to pump her chest, like I saw in the movies. She wasn’t going to die. I love her too much for it to end like this.
Kara put her hand on my shoulder. “She’s gone. I can’t feel her life force anymore.”
“NO!” I screamed, trying to push the Ghost Pokémon away. “She’s alive. She’s just resting!”
“Stop! You don’t know me. You don’t know her. She’s a fighter. She has to survive. She just has to make it.” The tears wouldn’t stop flowing. My chest started to tremble. My lower lip quivered. My tail started to drip.
She was gone.
Kara removed the heart monitor from the body. I stood up, reaching over the shell of my beloved, and pulled the blanket over her.
“Can I ask you a favor?” I asked through the tears.
“What is it, Claude?”
“Can you kill me?”
“What? Are you insane?” She backed away from me slowly.
“No, I’m going to follow my love!”
“I’m not going to help you kill yourself.”
“It’s the least you can do! Please, if I do it, I might not go to the same place that she did.”
“And what makes you think…”
“Because Litiwck lead people to the ghost world. You suck the life force away from Pokémon until they die. Now I’m offering you a free meal here!”
She slapped me. “You think I wanted to be born this way? Born so that every time someone sees me, they turn away from fear of some preconceived notion about me? No, and that is exactly the way Aurelia was feeling these past few months. I already can’t be around others normally without having to concentrate on not sucking the life out of them. I could have just let go and let Aurelia die quickly and painlessly, but I didn’t, because she wanted to see you. She wanted the last thing she saw to be the one she loved.”
I… I didn’t know what to say.
“Now, I’m sorry for your loss, but you need to know that life will go on. It is harsh, but you can’t just give up on life. She wouldn’t want that.”
I’m sorry, Aurelia.
My fist radiated with a purple glowing energy of darkness and selfishness. I struck Kara in the back of the head, knocking her out. I started to feel the effects of Kara’s natural powers. I was right; she couldn’t control it when she wasn’t conscious, which is why she always looked so tired and why the house was farther apart from the rest.
I crawled up next to Aurelia on the bed and just lay there. I could feel the life drain away from me. Kara was right, I didn’t feel any pain. It was unfair. My vision soon started to fade entirely, so I closed my eyes.
When my eyes opened again, I was back in the bed at our house. I looked around, but Kara was nowhere to be seen. I heard some noise downstairs, and I rushed to see what it was. The house was clean, not like the last time I was there, the night Aurelia went missing.
I ran to the kitchen, and standing there was Aurelia. She was preparing a nice pot of her special chili; ingredients sprawled all around the tabletops. She turned around, and I could see her golden skin.
“What are you staring at, Claude?” she asked lovingly.
“I’m looking at the most beautiful Pokémon in the world. But how…?”
“Shhh…” she said as she brought a spoonful of chili towards my mouth. “We have forever to discuss that.”
My life now, isn’t really life as you might see it. I live in the plane of existence where time doesn’t have any control over us. It is a place where anything is possible. I can see colors again, and I have started to paint. Of course, my lovely wife is my muse. She still berates me on my choice to follow her passed the divide that separates the living and the dead, but she doesn’t hate the fact that we get to spend eternity together.
Aurelia, the Charizard with a golden heart and golden skin.
Story Notes - Please do not read until after story.