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Midnight in Ba Sing Se
Awake

Pure truth is found in the wandering mind.

Chapter information
Series

Understandings

Chapter

One-shot

Written by

ByBray

Editor(s)

ByBray

Release date

July 4, 2013

Chronology
Last chapter

Reflections of the Sun

Next chapter

The Cycle

This is an entry to Fruipit's writing contest, which is why it is a Taang scene, but I wanted to do something like this anyways, so here it is! My prompt was "Lies". This is noted in the physical motion of lying down, rather than making up false information.

Awake.

Her fist clenched tighter as she sat on her bed, surrounded by scattered pillows and old photos strewn about the floor. The room was painted a pale tan, with only one photo pinned to the vacant walls that surrounded her. Not that she could see it. But she knew who it was. She would always remember who it was. A sudden blast from a radio buried under a week's worth of clothes caused her to jump ever so slightly.

"Toph Beifong... the chief of... metal... police has officially... resigned as of today. More is coming in... from our inside source... but it seems tha-" The weak signal sputtered, as the woman sent a shattering pellet of earth through the radio, breaking it into multiple pieces as if it were a puzzle, as the shards of wood and metal fragments ricocheted off the cracked walls with a multitude of clicks and clangs.

"I never like the media anyway," she hoarsely mumbled, relaxing back onto her bed, lying motionless as she stared indefinitely at the faint outline of the room around her. As the small clock on her makeshift bed stand ticked, it let off faint vibrations that only she could notice. Slowly, she averted her focus to the photo hanging from a small sliver of rock impaled into the plaster. She knew she shouldn't, but she still thought about him. About his pretty face. His muscular arms. Even his deep blue arrows, etched in on his body.

But that was all in the past now.

"It's so hard- to think," she started, whispering under her breath as she trailed off. "I just can't believe you're..." she broke once more, slowly rising and walking over to the faded portrait, staring into the wall aimlessly as she ran her fingertips over the photo.

"Gone."

Her mind played through that night, as a vivid recollection appeared in her head. She only remembers what she felt and what she heard, but that was just enough.

Just enough to make her remember.

Just enough to make her wonder.

Just enough to break her down.

And every night, she'd lie awake, listening to the pain in his voice.

"You have to... leave," a deep voice echoed in her mind, as the woman's eyes slowly began to tear up. She could feel what had happened, but her mind refused to let her comprehend it. It couldn't comprehend it.

"You have to get out of here..." the man bellowed once more, as she felt him place his hand on her shoulder, as if he were lying next to her. "They're here for me, and they'll do anything to get to me. Anything." She understood what he meant.

"No, Aang. I'm not leaving you." She could hear the footsteps clacking against the tiled floor of their apartment building, growing increasingly closer.

"Listen to me—I promised myself to never let anything hurt you, and dammit, I'm going to keep that promise." A small quake of chills spread throughout her body, as she lied down once again, still playing the voices in her head.

"I- I- can't just-" she could hear her own voice croaking through tears. "I need you to-" she spoke, but was cut off by his hands on her cheeks, wiping away her brimming tears.

"I love you, Toph," he whispered hoarsely, "but I'm not asking you to leave—I'm begging you." His voice picked up as the ever-present footsteps grew nearer to their quaint apartment on the third floor.

After that, the reel in her mind drew a barren, white screen. Maybe it was because she tried to hard to forget. Or maybe that she tried too hard to remember. But in the end, she knew the truth. What happened after that white blank page was set in stone, forever imprinted into the flow of time, molded into the past. There was no way to alter the past; only ways to abolish it.

But she would never forget him.

Every night, the pale, desolate soul lied awake, listening to the wind echo as it passed by her window. Some nights, it would whisper to her—a familiar voice from a faint dream.

"I'm all around you—you're never alone. I'm the air you breathe, the earth you feel, the tears in your eyes, and the blaze in your heart."

He wasn't in her life anymore. But he didn't need to be. He was a part of it. Forever in her core and memoirs scattered everywhere.

The days they had spent together was what she constantly relived to get by: bringing the city up from nothing and protecting their creation from disorder; living in a cramped studio apartment while he put the finishing touches on a grand island their own; when he kissed her goodbye before leaving that fateful day. She never thought that'd be the last kiss they shared.

Her life was full of "what-ifs" instead of "remember-whens", as she blamed herself for what happened.

And every night she'd lie awake, opening her soul to the reminders in the world, dreaming of what could have been but never will be.

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