A Realistic Pokemon RP
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To hear his old man tell it, the Harper Way was the only way to find a clean and honest living. It meant Sid didn't have to go to school with the other kids, especially if he really wanted to be at school, and it meant that Sid would have to learn how to spool a fishing line before he learned all of his letters. Sometimes, in the hazy images that Sid would come to call memories, he would imagine that he learned what a fish was before he knew what a parent was, which, in his defense, could be easily forgiven because he only had half what most everyone else got.
While the other kids went to school, Sid was educated in the Harper Way while he worked at Bert's Tackle Shop (yer one-stop shop fer all yer fishing needs and then some!), though it had been a long while since Bert himself had tended the shop. Sometimes, he would look at Bert's faded old portrait that hung prominently against the wall behind the counter, and though the artist and the subject were long dead, the image was of a young man who seemed larger-than-life, his smile reaching out across the centuries to proclaim all the good works that he was doing, and Sid would wonder if Bert had really fathered the Harper Way, if Bert had created the Harpers in his image, and why, if Bert knew so many things, he couldn't lay out a way for them to have that clean and honest living as well as some money, please and thank you, because maybe if they had all that his pa wouldn't come home every week from fishing with his bones shaking and complaining about both knees and how old and tired he felt.
After school, some of the other kids his age would come around and keep him company, but in that unintentionally cruel way that kids sometimes projected themselves (and boy was Sid convinced that it had to be unintentional), he learned about his mama, how it wasn't normal to have two birthdays, how she was starting her own family somewhere in the mainland and he wasn't invited. That was, perhaps, the first time that Sid began to doubt the Harper Way, because it implied that his mama had chosen to forgo a clean and honest living, and no kid wants to believe that about their mama, even if she did visit less and less frequently so that she could be a good mama to her other family.
There was one other kid (Sid supposed she was his friend until she wasn't) who wasn't cruel about it, but then she left in much the same way his mama did, and it was around that time that Sid would have the most painful arguments with Bert on the wall about the merits of the Harper Way.
One time, when his mama couldn't make it to his birthday (Sid really should have been paying attention, because people would start excusing themselves from his life more and more as the years went by), his pa had gotten him a wailmer. Some folks might have thought he was too young to have his own Pokemon, but this was the Harper Way, indeed, and the Harper Way meant that Sid was going to go out in the boat instead of his pa and learn to listen to the ocean and where it was sending its fish. But, the ocean didn't share its secrets freely and, on top of all that, the Pokemon didn't want him knowing them either. However, for reasons Sid couldn't yet explain, Sid didn't want the wailmer, and he released her the first chance he could get. His pa sure was furious when he found out, but Sid had managed to go out in the boat for several months without incident, so Sid didn't really see what was the matter and, in the end, his pa literally didn't have the energy to argue with him.
Afterward, it was Sid who would be out in the boat every week, charting out the aquatic movements and drawing maps and pictures to tell the folks back home about the Pokemon that hoarded the fish. Eventually, Sid found Pokemon of his own to help him, and he became real good at it, good enough to start noticing that the fish were unseasonably scarce and the Pokemon were either really small and pitiful or really big and frightening. While he wanted to investigate it, his pa didn't think it was a problem until the business started suffering, and by that point, Sid had to be gone for almost a whole moon to get a good haul.
It took a year of searching after that to figure out what was making the Pokemon so ornery as to drive out all the fish and some of the smaller Pokemon: a real big and nasty sharpedo (whom Sid called Big Blue) had taken up in a cove on the other side of the island, and it had its family with it, and Sid couldn't help but think that it was one clever bastard for the way it managed to remain undetected all this time.
Even though Big Blue had managed to almost destroy the biodiversity in their corner of the ocean, Sid couldn't help but feel a little bit sad when the Pokemon League sent its trainers to take care of Big Blue and his brood. The ocean was a large enough place, and if Big Blue had found a bigger piece of it, maybe he'd still be with his family and he could've gone on eating as much as he wanted. What was that saying about big fish and small ponds? Well, Sid couldn't remember, but exploring the island was a lot less fun after Big Blue was gone, especially after the fish started coming back.
For a while, people would come by to take a look at the cove where Big Blue was found, and that's how Bert's Tackle Shop started offering a new (and pricey) expeditionary service: Sid would take tourists out to the cove (or wherever else they wanted), and some of them would try and capture Pokemon, while others were simply content to fish. Sometimes, when customers were real friendly, he'd take them out to where the bigger Pokemon really were, because even the smartest Pokemon knew not to go to the cove.
That's how Sid met the science folks from the fancy institute on the mainland, but they weren't like the other customers. They went to the cove, sure, but then they started taking a real interest in the maps that Sid had been drawing over the years, and they liked what he had to say about where the Pokemon were going and how that related to the fish. They tried giving him more money than Bert's Tackle Shop was already charging, but Sid was happy to talk to them all the same, mostly because they weren't the type to joke about Sid finally growing into his ears.
When the scientists left, Sid didn't realize at the time that he wished that he got to go with them. Business at Bert's Tackle Shop was booming, what with the tourists and the returning fish, and Sid had to train a new employee to keep up with all the work, yet Sid found himself taking the boat unecessarily further and further out from the coast. He didn't like how miserable he felt when he was back on the island, and sometimes he felt like that misery would spread. He reckoned that that was why his pa one day decided to send Sid to the mainland, saying that Sid needed to teach the city folks how to really read the ocean because they were, like as not, lost without one of the Harper boys doing the reading for them. Sid thought that that was an awful thing to think of the city folks, but he wasn't about to argue with the man.
So as not to appear too eager to leave, he lingered awhile, making sure the new employees (that's right, employees plural!) would take good care of Bert's while he was gone, and at the new moon, he packed up his bag and took the ferry to the mainland.
And that was how Sid finally learned what Bert was smiling about in his portrait.