Airbending emblem
A Beautiful Name
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Release date

February 16th, 2016

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Why? There must have been a reason for this. She sat there staring into the pages of a book, the title of which she had not made a point to notice. Purporting to read was simply the best way to lose herself in her thoughts while avoiding being questioned if there was something wrong. Of course there was something wrong, but they could never know. Why bother lying to them when she could just avoid the question and affix the fraudulent smile to her face that everyone so desperately wanted to see? She resumed contemplating the consequent adjustments she would have to make. Yes, she understood that this was a monumental change; "a wonderful miracle" her mother had told her.

"But that doesn't change who I am." She thought distinctly.

Useless. Unwanted. Disappointing. Words that had resonated in her mind since she was a little girl. She recalled spending years of her childhood trying to find a way to make her parents proud. To try to genuinely be the ray of sunshine her mother repeatedly told her she was. No matter, she could continue 'shining' on the outside for them while the storm clouds within her never ceased rolling in - thicker, darker, more perpetual. They would likely never see her any differently than how they envisioned she should be ... so that is what she would be for them. But she would never be like the others, regardless of how hard she tried.

She had studied harder; she had meditated deeper; she had practiced longer. Her grip on the book tightened with each subsequent thought that entered her mind as the sweat from her palms adhered slightly to the pages. She would never succeed like they had. She would only ever be a failure. She would only ever be ... her, and she would never be enough. It was a sadness so immense that she could hardly feel anything at all; a shroud of darkness that covered any other emotion that attempted to manifest inside of her. She was nothing, and she felt nothing.

And now this happened.

"What am I supposed to do? I wasn't even able to answer their first question, and now I'm expected to just embrace this change as if it is some great gift from the spirits!"

As quickly as the frustration had flared up, seething within her, it had dissipated into despair and hopelessness, her anger dissolving in the tears that now filled her eyes.

"Why couldn't I have just been a metalbender?" This hypothetical scenario had frequently become a subject of her thoughts, for she had been well acquainted with the substance. She knew its sting. She longed for its bite.

Her right hand now rested upon the metal bracelet she donned on her left forearm. Ever so slowly, she moved her hand toward her fingertips; slipping the band off her arm. She winced slightly from the pain, but at the first glimpse she turned her head away, closing her eyes and conceding to the emotion that now overwhelmed her. A tear broke free and glided down her soft, smooth cheek, halting at the bottom of her chin until it trickled onto the page of the book. She proceeded to completely remove the bracelet, now fully exposing the scars on her wrist.

The external air witnessed the cuts more entirely than her own gaze had at this point, the feeling analogous to having stepped out of a bath just in time to be confronted by a bitterly cold breeze, but it carried a more intense shame than mere nakedness. She looked upon her handiwork, never saddened by the sight, but by the fact that the tremendous depression that resided within her made this an option preferred to keeping it suppressed inside. The lacerations ran almost perfectly parallel to one another, though ranged broadly in definition depending on their temporal occurrence; some were several months old, others she had just inflicted yesterday, and the rest had happened sometime in between. She had barely thought anything of it anymore; it had become a part of who she was. She could hardly imagine herself without her scars - hardly recall a time when her wrists lay virgin to the blade. Still, the others could never know.

She sat there for what seemed like hours as the tears continually swelled in her eyes, though it must have been only a few minutes, as the sun had not yet begun to set. She slipped the cold bracelet back over her hand and gently inched the band upward on her arm. A preemptive cringe was followed by the metal gripping against her skin, a feeling as though having to return to the same tub, now filled with the contents of an ice bath. But that was beside the point, now there was an additional issue she had to overcome.

"How did you discover this amazing change?" Her mother's voice rang in her ears so clearly that for a moment she believed the kind woman's previously-asked question had actually been spoken from behind. The indifferent "I don't know" she had given her family as a response, shrugging off the inquiry, was far from the truth. It wasn't like she could actually tell them what happened though. How would she even start? Explaining the inescapable sadness she always felt, the hopelessness of knowing there was no way out, the submission to mortality, the decision to embrace it. As her eyelids sealed out reality, her imagination filled the visual void, taking her back to the edge of that cliff she had approached one week prior. The same sensations fell over her, as though it were happening once again. A gentle breeze moved through the trees below, then ascended the cliffside, grazing across her skin and inducing a slight chill down her spine. As a cloud moved past, the warmth from the shimmering sun quickly dispelled her goosebumps as she basked in its light for what she believed to be the last time. Her heart had not been heavy-laden, but lightened from the relief of soon being rid of feeling the way she always had. A peace had filled her as she took that final step - a step of freedom.

But there must have been a divine disagreement to her action that day, as her eyes had not remained closed. No, she opened them to find herself suspended in midair, mere inches from the ground, much to her surprise, and only to become more astounded to realize it had been she that was manipulating the air current that supported her. Airbending. As her recollective vision concluded, she heard faint footsteps approaching from the distance. She frantically wiped the tears from her eyes and threw on the smile she felt expected to display, suppressing her feelings almost subconsciously. She heard her mother's distinct voice introducing her by name to a group of people. She ensured that she was fully composed to guarantee nothing appeared wrong before turning toward the advancing party. She made a giddy remark to the visitors, now fully convincing herself that no one would suspect anything to be awry. But what followed left her perplexed.

His words were so kind, so caring. So sentimental and heartfelt. It brought up something inside that felt familiar, but she knew not what. The forged grin she had exhibited for so long now fell from her face; the expression that resided in its place was not fabricated, but a genuine smile. She felt, and it was not sadness. She felt, and it was not despair. She felt. She felt happy. She felt ... loved. Innumerable thoughts rushed through her mind before he had even finished his sentence.

"Opal. That's a beautiful name."

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