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June 25, 2014
What? How did I get here? Why am I outside in the gardens of my backyard? Has this journey all been some crazy dream? Maybe it has! Maybe dad is not actually dead and he's coming home! Mom may not be insane! I'm back in my normal, every day lif--
I lose my train of thought to the sight of a little girl making her way outside. Who is she? Why does she look upset? Following her is a man, slender, but also quite muscular. His hair is a dark black, and eyes as emerald green as my own. Wait. Is that who I think it is? IT IS! IT'S DAD! But, if that's father, who's the little girl? It can't be me, can it?
"Naomi, calm down," father says to the little girl.
Yup, it's me. But why am I so tiny here?
"NO! I wanna stay out here for the rest of my life!"
Father kneels down so he's closer to my height. "Sweetheart, we talked about this. You're going to be a big sister very soon. You'll have your own baby brother or sister that will look up to you. Isn't that exciting?"
"NO! I don't wanna have a brother or sister!"
"Cus babies are gross! And that stupid baby mommy is going to have is taking up all her time and making her look fat!"
Jeez, I was quite the fussy one at that age. I wish I could tell little me that her sibling will be like a best friend to her. I'd believe myself, right?
"That's not very nice, Naomi. Your mother is not fat; the baby is just growing inside of her. Also, the baby is not stupid or gross. Just wait until you hold him or her for the first time. You'll love your new sibling immediately."
"NO I WILL NOT!"
I stomp my foot on the ground, causing the earth beneath us to shake. Oh that's right! This is how I discovered that I was able to earthbend! All over an argument with my dad over how I'd handle having Wakato around.
Little me falls flat on her bottom, startled by the earthquake she unknowingly caused. When the earth stops shaking, father picks me up, and twirls me around in his arms.
"Do you know what you just did, little one," father asks me as he stops twirling around. "You just caused the ground to shake. You can earthbend!"
Father holds me close, and hugs me tightly, his embrace squeezing the life out of me, but in a loving way. I remember this moment. The feeling the hug gave me. I was confused at first, not knowing what earthbending was. I'm sure father had done some moves in front of me before, but none that I could remember, or can remember in that case. However, I did know that whatever earthbending was, it was obviously important, which is why I hugged father back.
"Earthbending is a very special ability that not every person is born with. You have no idea how special of a natural gift this is. Luckily, I was gifted with the same abilities as you, so I can teach you everything I know."
Father was right; I didn't have a clue how unique it was to possess the ability to bend an element, but it was always comforting to know that he was able to teach me.
Oh dad, look at us. We were quite the dynamic duo. Before I discovered that I could earthbend, you were just my dad; simple as that. But from this moment on, we were more than just family. We became best friends. You became someone that I could depend on if I had even the smallest struggle. If I was frustrated, you were there to give me a hug. If I was sad, you were there to wipe away my tears. If I fell down and got hurt, you were there to pick me up and kiss my scratches so they would feel better. I'm not sure if that remedy actually works, but it seemed to make me forget that I was hurting.
"Come on, Naomi, you're being way too hard on yourself! You just bend a rock from the ground into the air, and launch it at your target," father instructs.
Hey, I remember this. This is the first earthbending lesson dad ever taught me! This day sure had its ups and downs.
"Daddy, it's no use! I've tried this move a million times, but there's nothing!" I exclaim frustrated as I face my back to him and pitifully sit on the ground in a fetal position. "Maybe the earthquake was caused by someone else."
Father walks over to little me and gently places his hand on my back. "Sweetheart, that earthquake was no coincidence. Whether you like it or not, you created the earth to shake. You're an earthbender, and there is nothing that can change that about you. Come on, giving up is not an option. I believe that you can do it."
I sigh off my frustration and decide to give it another try. Just as father demonstrated, I slam my foot on the ground. This time, something different happens. A rock, about twice the size of my head (at that age) forms in front of my eyes. Watching myself react to the rock is absolutely precious! My little jaw drops and I can feel my heart stop along with myself.
"Good job, Naomi! Now aim the boulder straight ahead! Just kick your leg up and it'll go!"
As father instructs, I kick my leg up and the boulder goes all the way across the yard.
"YOU DID IT, NAOMI!" Father shouts as he runs over to me. He picks me up and spins me around just like he did when we found out that I could earthbend. "You are quite the little earthbender for someone who thought that she couldn't do it."
Dad, I miss you more than you could ever know, but I always hated the way you made me realize that I was wrong to doubt myself. Well, at least at that age. Now, I can't help, but appreciate all you did for me.
Where am I now? Hey there's me again! And I look pretty much the same as I do now! But why am I looking like I'm about to cry?
Father walks into my room, holding something behind his back. Oh my spirits, I remember why I was so sad! This is the day father left for the war!
Dad lets out a long, sorrowful sigh. "Naomi. Saying goodbye to you is not going to be easy. I mean, you are my first born after all. You also inherited my earthbending abilities, and even though you're not quite a master yet, I know that you will soon take the title of being one. I know things aren't going to be the same while I'm gone, but you'll get used to it."
Father takes his arm away from his back, revealing a book in his hand. The book. The most important gift I've ever gotten. My first reaction isn't thrilled, but more confused.
"It's a book with blank pages. I got it for you so you can write about your adventures while I'm away. I'd love to read what you have to say when I get back."
"Thanks, but how am I supposed to write without any--"
Dad reaches behind him and hands me a small bottle of ink with a thin stick inside it.
"You were saying?"
I laugh to myself. Dad always knew when to add in a funny moment even when the mood was filled with utter sadness. Father wraps his arms around me, hugging me as tight as I've ever been hugged. "I'll be back as soon as I can," he says while tears fall from his eyes. "I promise."
I promise. He promised that he'd come back, not knowing that he never would return. Why? Why did father have to die? I wish that I could have warned him. I wish I could go back in time and tell him not to go, explaining that it'll only lead to his death. Then, I could have him back. We could all be a family again. Why is he dead? Why?
I open my eyes to the sight of the ceiling in the Beifongs' home. No. This part of my life wasn't all some crazy dream, the other part was. No. It was more than a dream. I was reliving my best memories with father as if he came back to life. It's like I've lost him all over again. I want to go back. I don't care if I'd be living in the past, or if that's what I might have been doing this entire time; I want my father back! I want to see him and hug him so I could never let go. He understood me, he helped me, he knew how to handle me better than anyone else. And now he's gone. Forever. I think I'd rather relive all our memories for the rest of my life than live in present day. I don't care, I just want dad back.
I hear the sound of feet rushing towards me. I'd react if I didn't feel so weak. Ahhh, man...what is that aching pain in my left temple? I catch the sight of Ryoma, looking down at me to see if I'm awake. "Naomi! Oh thank goodness, I thought you'd never wake up!" He exclaims happily as he gently moves some strands of hair from the front of my face.
"W-what happened?" I ask weakly.
"The intruder knocked you out with his kantana. Not too long after, your brother and I took him down. He's being put behind bars as we speak."
"He's walking down with my parents and the Beifongs' to the prison."
There's a long silence with not even a single sound to be heard. Ryoma helps me sit up as carefully as he can. Then, he looks at me with a huge smile across his face. "You know, you are quite the earthbender," he states.
You are quite the earthbender
You are quite the little earthbender
Tears begin to form in my eyes. No, Naomi. Don't cry. It's no big deal. He doesn't know that father used to call you that. Sadly, I can't hold back my emotions this time, and tears pour down faster than I expected. It gets to the point where I can barely breathe and when I do, it sounds like my throat has a dying frog in it.
"Hey, hey, what's wrong, Naomi?" Ryoma asks in concern as he places his hands on my shoulders. I can't just nod this off and say nothing. This is something that hurts more than the injuries I received today. "Are you hurting anywhere?"
"Yes, but even you couldn't heal a broken heart."
"While I was out cold, I had flashbacks of me and my dad."
That was all I could say before I started to cry again. Ryoma holds the back of my head and places it to his chest. I can hear the sound of his racing heartbeat as he holds me close to himself. For some reason, listening to beat after beat makes me feel a sense of comfort. There is this living person right by my side who makes me feel almost selfish for wanting to live in the past. I'm in the present now. I got to see my dad, even if it wasn't in this current moment.
"When you collapsed on the ground, I was so worried that you weren't ever going to come out of it. I know that your dad not being alive is a burden for you, but I don't think I'd know what to do without you in my life. You're my best friend."
I look up at him. I can't tell if the last of these tears are out of joy or not, but Ryoma wipes them away with his thumb. To his surprise, I embrace him back. His ways of comforting didn't just make me realize that he's also my best friend, but more because I've learned that living in the past is not an option, and neither is giving up. "I feel the same way about you."
Or do I? Yes, he indeed is my best friend and I'd love to keep it that way forever, but there's something about the way he is. The way he shows how much he cares about people itself makes you feel calm about being around him. The feeling as he hugs me back makes me wish that I could hold onto this moment for the rest of our lives. I know that we're best friends, but I think that I want there to be something more between us than that.
I like Ryoma. A lot. But there's no way that we could ever be something more than what we already are. I feel grateful enough to have him in my life the way we are right now as it is. But why? Why did the spirits bless me with a friend that I want to be with in a romantic way? I'm sure it's not meant to be that way. He deserves better. Don't tell him these new-found feelings. Stay friends.
Now I'm left with a confused feeling in the bottom of my heart as Ryoma and I are still locked in an embrace that only scares me of what we could someday become.
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