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A Route Too Far

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Somewhere along route 209 a young man lost his way. Standing by an old pile of rocks, what appeared to be the remnants of an old structure, he looked east out over a river flowing down towards the great ocean, as a midsummer breeze rolled by. He pondered, not sure of himself and so full of self-doubt. He thought he had made it this far on his own, but now he knew this not to be the truth. He was relying so much on the aid of others that he hadn’t realized just how little he truly knew. Not only how little he knew about the world around him and the people in it, but how little he knew about himself.

He had lost his way in more than one respect.

Now all alone he stood in the shadow of the great mountain and stared out over the rolling expansive landscape, taking in the scenery. A dark forest loomed in the near distance, across the river on the opposite bank. He had passed by docks earlier that jutted out and over the river, with the purpose of better fishing opportunity. The air was cleaner here than back in the city he had left earlier, the city where he had parted ways with his childhood friend.

His friend was the same age as him but as opposed to having brown hair, brown eyes and smaller frame, the young man’s friend was a sandy blonde, with blue eyes and was tall and lanky. They grew up in the same small town in the Sinnoh region, attending the same school and living in houses directly next to one another. The two of them were best friends and had done everything together growing up. From exploring the tall grass to skipping stones down by the beach. He thought back for a moment and smiled at the memory of the rocks shimmering like gems as they bounced off the water just past the sand covered beach. His memories so fond that he could even feel the warmth of the sun’s gaze on his body as the two laughed and played.

Their constant companionship led to them gaining the attention of the town’s professor and soon the boys were always spending vast amounts of time inside the laboratory, helping the professor with menial tasks. The professor hadn’t had much help from anyone in quite a long time and needed the extra hands around the lab. As time wore on, the professor trusted the two with bigger chores. This included gathering small census information locally or just picking up items from the town mart. This continued for some time until one day the professor gave them a much larger assignment.

They were both given the task of picking up a parcel from the furthest city north of their hometown, in order to help the professor continue his research in the field. The contents of the parcel were unknown to the boys but those details were irrelevant to them, they were given this task and were told it was of the utmost importance that they retrieved the package and returned it in a timely fashion. So the two set off on the route leading out of the small town, waving goodbye to their mothers and townsfolk.

It wasn’t long before they had reached their first major city. It was a massive city bustling with life and jubilant energy. They couldn’t afford to waste time here so they made their way through the city as quickly as possible and headed east towards the mountain in order to pass through the caves to reach the next town. Before entering the caves they set up a tent, it was nearing the end of the day and would continue their adventure in the morning. That night the two made a fire and sat next to it, sharing campfire stories they’d heard about the old cemetery, trying to get a rise from one another. They ate and star gazed before calling it a night. The day ahead of them was going to be a long one so they both agreed that it would be best to get some sleep at least.

The two were awoken the next morning to the sound of chirping and rays of the sun casting itself onto the roof of the small tent. The air surrounding the mountain was so refreshing and invigorating that it woke them up quickly and got them back on their way in no time at all, after they’d packed the tent and their bags. The two found the entrance to the cave before noon and stopped momentarily in front of the mouth of it. They turned and faced one another, both taking in a large breath of air, they nodded understanding each other that this was the furthest the two of them have ever been outside of the small town they grew up in. They exhaled and entered the cave, side by side.

Inside the cave it was extremely dark and the air was musky. Water dripped from above them and the flittering of wings could be heard in the distance. It was a little bit frightening to say the least, but together they were strong. They always looked out for each other and making to the other end of this cave would be no exception. The two slowly but surely made it to the opposite entrance of the cave and exited together, in one piece. They breathed a sigh of relief and kept pushing forward through a forest shrouded route. The next city could be heard in the distance and as they continued onward they could make out the tops of large buildings above the tree line.

Arriving at the city before the six o’clock hour, they decided not to make any unnecessary stops, much like at the previous city. But walking through the streets they saw everyone here working in unison, everyone seemed joyous and happy as though this city was where their hearts were at home. No one seemed malcontent or agitated. It seemed like the perfect place to stay the night but they knew they had to continue on through the night in order to meet their deadline.

Exiting the city the boys were greeted by a large rapid river and a big sign exclaiming in large numbers that they had reached the next route. Route 209. They walked gleefully up to the bank of the river to get a closer look. Both of them crouched over and stared into the rushing water, watching large orange fish swim upstream, against the current, probably from the ocean. The two were awestruck by the beauty of nature, so captivated by the scenery that they got lost in it.

It all happened so fast, before either of them could react and in an instant the young man’s friend was gone. Swept away by the current. Both boy’s arms outstretched reaching for one another, tears running down the young man’s face. Nothing could be done. The current too strong and fast for anyone to intervene in time. The memory was so clear yet so hazy. Stuck in his mind all those years. It’s both interesting and troubling how that works.

The service was held in the large church located in that same city they had exited. This was where he would last see his friend. This was where they parted ways forever.

Now standing alone on the route where they shared their final moments of happiness, he looked out into the river. Reflecting on memories he shed a tear and proceeded to approach the river bank. Kneeling in from of the river he set down a bouquet of flowers and stood back up, backing away from the river. He knew what route he was on, he just wished his friend was on it too. His friend was walking a route too far to reach on foot.

Without him he had lost his way on Route 209.