xxxxxFrom the chorus of the rain, the old man did not notice the girl pulling his sleeve. xxxxxHey, mister, mister, she cried, holding her umbrella tight as her boots splashed muddy water around the other graves. xxxxxMister, mister. Tinged with chords of innocence and warmth. But her voice fell on deaf ears, for the old man was too fixated on the one stone monolith that stood in front of him. And from the chorus of the rain, even this grave seemed precarious enough to topple at any moment; if he were to take his eyes off for a split second. xxxxxHey mister, mister. xxxxxThe man did not budge, and dug his face, wisened with the cracks of melancholy, deeper into his red scarf. His body was rigid, cold, and unfeeling. A statue that felt just as home in this cemetery as the other monuments to those that passed on. But this girl, she wouldn't stop. She wouldn't let up, and even if her voice was drowned out by the rain she would keep going and going. Hey mister, mister. xxxxxMister, she would ask. Mister, why do you look at that one grave all day? She would ask this, because every day she would see the old man in his familiar red scarf and black coat, clutching something in his shaking hand; she couldn't see it, she couldn't ever see it, but the fact that he struggled in simply holding it meant she knew it existed even if she couldn't see it. And this old man, all he would do is stand by the graves. He would stand by the one decaying grave; a piece forgotten by time, where the malicious winds washed away the inscription that proved a life had once existed, and the earth commanded its armies of moss to return the stone back to its home. The cracks on the stone were as numerous as the contours of his languid face. Where the old man was fixated on the grave, she was all-too fixated on the old man, in the sense of child-like inquisitiveness that dominated one's youngest years. xxxxxBut the rain, it was heavy today. She wouldn't let her chance so quickly get away, and today the child came prepared. She tugged and tugged on the old man's sleeve, and as he stood still as a statue, she scrunched up her face in dismay. Right. She turned away from the man, allowing the rain to hit her curly hair for just a moment. She reached inside her pocket with her small hand and brought out a red-and-white metal sphere. The rain hit the sphere with a noiseless intensity. The girl looked around just briefly, and brought the sphere to her forehead. It was the same, every day; the old man was the only one here. xxxxxShe turned back to the old man and yet again tried to pull on her sleeve. No, no dice, no change. So she went with her second plan, and moved closer to the old man. Her clear plastic umbrella touched the old man's old red canopy, sheltering them both from the rain just briefly. And with a wry smirk, she held out the red-and-white sphere. xxxxxTo her surprise, the old man moved. He turned his head just an inch, to gaze at the sphere. The rain was relentless against their umbrellas now, and the pitter-patter surrounded them as if a battle raged around them, but hidden from them; in the bushes, in the clouds, but never directly around them, an infinite distance away. xxxxxThe girl looked into his eyes. They were strained, as if working out the details of the sphere. Even in the rain, they shone brightly with flecks of dazzling light, and the old man's age gave them a telltale fade. Yet, this fade was strung together with a shadow of sadness and overarching regret that sat upon his shoulders with the weight of the Earth. But even in this, he continued to stare, and the girl watched with curiosity as these pensive eyes of his grew wide. His mouth tried to form words, and he spoke to himself in his mind, as his lips made slight movements and minute twitches that said nothing but explained enough. xxxxxSo she asked a question, but did not tug at his sleeve. xxxxxMister, she began. Mister. Do you remember? xxxxxThe old man snapped his gaze to meet her own with a lightning-bolt intensity. For that brief, fleeting moment in time, the girl felt the richness that once made this man whole. The experience, the challenges, and the feelings of success. The emotions, the despair, the sorrow, the heroism. The fickle nature of loss, and the deep roots of love. But the chorus of rain overtook it, and it too began to slowly fade from existence. The old man's mouth was frozen in time, slightly open and ajar, but it slowly began to descend into the subtle arch of a frown. It was not the frown of anger, that masked hate and fear, or the frown of depression, that masked the loneliness, but it was the frown of realization. The chorus of rain grew loud in his ears, and the wind blew coldly on his back. There was not another voice to be heard in the vast miles of this cemetery. xxxxxExcept the young girl's. xxxxxHe began to move his hand, the one he hid so well; the one that shook as it grasped something tightly. He brought it in front of him, close towards the girl and her sphere, and the girl's heart raced with a giddy jump of surprise and excitement. His movements were robotic and hollow, and what he held in his hand had seen better days. xxxxxThe old man's bony hand held a faded, red-and-white cap, patched in places, burnt in others. The girl felt the old man's wisdom engraved on the hat; it wasn't simply an accessory, but a part of the life that he once loved. And in the hat sat a small red-and-white sphere, almost identical to her own. The only difference was the small lightning bolt engraved above the sphere's white button. His hand shook, but it could have just been from the rain. xxxxxThe girl turned her gaze back to the old man, and noticed that his gaze broke off from hers. He seemed distracted, as if looking at something that lay beyond his simple reality, forgotten in time. xxxxxI remember. xxxxxThe girl was taken aback. xxxxxThe old man did not say anything else, but he continued to look through the ground, then turned his head to look straight through her. It was as if she didn't seem to exist to him. But this was her chance. The girl gripped her umbrella more tightly, and repeated the question that eluded her ever so much. xxxxxMister, why do you look at that grave all day? xxxxxHer question pierced the chorus of rain, and to the old man, it was as if the chorus grew silent. xxxxxHe turned away from the girl, and back to the grave, tightly gripping his hat and the sphere that lay dormant within it. The girl stepped back, giving the old man some space. He knelt down close to the unmarked grave, and laid his hat – and the sphere within it – by the base of the stone, allowing the hat to shelter the cold little sphere from the merciless rain. And his hand shook little, for the spell that gripped his soul had released itself to the winds. xxxxxI look at graves all day, he said. xxxxxI look at graves all day, he said, because if I were to take my eyes off for one second, xxxxxTime would forget you, xxxxxPikachu.