14. Cities and Seeing: Lilycove
Don’t underestimate seeds.
14. Cities and Seeing: Lilycove
You never see fat trainers on billboards or magazine ads. LeyLine is just as interested, if not more, in selling to fashionistas and to the young hopefuls who quit after a few weeks, the ones who are more dedicated to dressing like a trainer than to doing the work. Those kinds of girls don’t aspire to be fat. By the time you earn your third badge, after all the hiking, you should be in the best shape of your life — you’ve never actually heard anyone say it in so many words, but everyone knows it. That’s how it works.
And yet here you are.
Sometimes people don’t believe you’re a trainer. They certainly don’t assume it. “You in town for work or for fun?” the clerk asked when you checked into the hostel. “Most of the folks who pass through here are doing the gym challenge.”
“Yeah. I’m a trainer,” you answered, pointing towards your belt.
The clerk politely tried to hide her surprise. “Sorry, I didn’t notice! Silly of me.”
“Mm. So, which room did you say I’m in?”
You used to work hard to disappear. Now you’re on display, online and in the flesh.
Today the contest hall is packed with trainers, pokemon, and spectators alike. All down the long hallway to your left and to your right other trainers stand at attention beside their pokemon, smaller ones placed atop a pedestal draped in a tablecloth in the color of their contest category. A few water-types occupy enormous tanks instead. Behind you is a second row of trainers and pokemon. The trainer behind you keeps bumping into you as he animatedly answer passing spectators’ questions about his loudred. You’re wearing shorts because the city is hot and humid this time of year and a halter top with horizontal stripes because it’s your favorite shirt. You don’t care if people look at your thighs or your jiggly arms. You care that they look at Squish, playing with her own tail on her pink-draped pedestal, and vote for her to win.
Joining the contest circuit wasn’t part of the original plan. The first time you registered for one had been because of Frankie, your high school friend and traveling partner. She had been curious — mostly interested in hearing praise for her spinda, you observed but didn’t say — but too nervous to go it alone. And you thought, Why not. You thought your azumarill was pretty cute. Frankie quickly decided she hated the scene: the waking up early, the paperwork, the constant repeat questions from spectators, the standing and waiting for things to start. She never signed up again. You, however, thrive in it.
You still battle sometimes, mostly to earn quick cash to pay for Squish’s special skin oils and other accessories. Never with Squish anymore, though — you can’t risk her scarring or bruising. She wasn’t a bad battler, especially in gym battles where the hard floors let her roll around and pick up speed, but it delights you to pamper her instead. She’s silky soft and fat and happy.
It’s not that contests are easier, just a different kind of work. Different drills, different supplements. More time on social media. Fewer rolled ankles, more carpal tunnel.
“Oh my gosh,” you hear through the crowd. “Aren’t you MissSquish on the Trainer Network?”
You flash her your brightest smile and stand straighter. “Yeah, that’s us. Did you want to meet Squish?”
“Yes! I love your feed so much. I was actually hoping we could take a selfie? For my blog?”
“Oh, sure. Just make sure to tag us.” You sidle out of the way and gesture towards the azumarill as if to say, all yours!
“You should be in it too!” She steps close and digs into her purse for her phone, which you notice has a case shaped like an azumarill, ears and all. “I love that top.”
“Oh! Okay.” And you smile for real, because this is the first time this has happened, but the way things are going… you’re not afraid to hope that this won’t be the last.