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Counting Mareep

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When I was little, my parents told me to count Mareep if I was having trouble falling asleep.

"One Mareep, two Mareep, thre-" The third Mareep was chased off by a snarling Lycanroc that was preparing to bite me. "That's the twentieth time!" I hissed, sitting up as soon as the memory re-crossed my mind. I glanced over to Oshawott and Sawk. Good, still asleep. Well, sitting here isn't going to do me any good! I shimmied out of my sleeping bag and crawled out of the tent.

I sat down in the grass just outside the tent, drawing my legs in a criss-cross position. The gentle, cool breeze played with my hair as I looked up at the stars. Stargazing has never been a hobby of mine, but it was at least something to look at that wasn't my attempt at fighting that Lycanroc my brain was putting on loop.

But even the change in scenery and ambient noise could not push out the memory of the Lycanroc snapping that staff in half and growling at me.

Why did I rush in like that?

You should've waited for your Pokemon to arrive!

But it would've been too late! That Wooloo would've been hurt if I didn't!

You knew your phobia would kick in as soon as it decided to fight back!

"SHUT UP!"

"Reep?"

My head jerked in the direction of the voice that wasn't me. "I woke you up, didn't I," I asked in a hushed tone. I didn't need any more team members waking up because of me.

My newest Pokemon did not respond, instead just walking over to sit next to me.
I looked down at a random cluster of grass. "Sorry about that. I can't sleep...all I can think about is that Lycanroc from earlier," I said as my face relaxed into a frown.

"Mareep!" A quick but soft nudge hit my side.

That's right, I was so focused on the failure part of the memory that I forgot! This Mareep chased off that Lycanroc before I could get hurt by the Bite attack. The memory that was constantly playing in my head was incomplete. "Sorry, I know you saved me. I can never thank you enough for that."

I turned my head to look at Mareep and noticed a satisfied grin on her face. "I guess I should focus on the good parts of that situation instead. Alright, so first of all...you joined the team! Second, you protected your friends back at the ranch from the Lycanroc! Third…wait, is there a third thing?"

Mareep gave me a look that seemed to encourage me to go on. What else is there to add? Mareep was definitely the star of the show! Even Oshawott and Sawk contributed more to helping the farmer with his Lycanroc problem than I did!

"Reep!" Another nudge. This time it hit my arm, since I repositioned myself earlier to look at Mareep.

"Alright, alright! I get it!" I whined. "Third...I guess I did save that one Wooloo. Are you satisfied?"

Mareep looked ready to nudge me again.

"Come on!" I groaned. Why is she forcing me through this? Suddenly, the mental argument from earlier resurfaced. I closed my eyes. "My phobia…hold on, don't attack me again. I've almost got it."

I could hear a reluctant sigh.

"That's it! Fourth," and hopefully last, "in saving that Wooloo the way I did, I directly faced my phobia for the first time!" I always dreaded going to a new friend's house, agonizing over which Pokemon they had there. I always crossed the street whenever I saw people approaching me on the sidewalk with their Lillipup, Herdier, and Stoutland. I even skipped out on asking the winner of the Unova League about his experience battling in the League when I saw that all members of Team Eevee were out! But now, it was my second day out of Accumula Town and I already tried to fight one of the scariest Pokemon I've met!

My eyes were still closed when I was toppled over like a bowling pin. "Hey! Now you just wanted an excuse to hit me!" I swear Mareep was snickering as I pushed myself back up. "But really, thank you for listening, Ma-" A yawn replaced the last syllable. "Hey, how about we go into the tent and get some sleep?"

She nods.

I get up and walk up to the entrance, holding the flap open for Mareep before entering myself. I wriggle back into my sleeping bag, while she lays down next to my head. I closed my eyes. "My parents told me to count Mareep if I couldn't fall asleep. Did you know that?" I mumbled, pausing for an answer that wasn't given before continuing. "I bet there's so many Mareep at that ranch that someone could fall asleep without even getting through half of them! Wait, if a Mareep is having trouble falling asleep, what does it do to help itself?" I cut myself off from trying to come up with an answer to that. Right, the plan was to fall asleep! "Goodnight, Mareep."

No answer. She probably fell asleep already.

"One Mareep, two Mareep, thre…" The third Mareep faded along with my other thoughts as I drifted off to sleep.