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May 20, 2014
The cloths are now covered in blood as Ryoma and I try to heal the shocking wounds of his parents. They're still breathing, but when they finish inhaling, it takes them a few seconds to exhale. Wakato's first instinct was to go into his room and get his butterfly sword, searching the house for any traces of a robbery. I continue to lightly blot the bloody, but coldly drenched cloth against a scrape wound on Mrs. Shimabukuro's head as Ryoma works on his father's upper arm. Would could have done this? Why would anyone want to hurt and possibly attempt murder upon the Shimabukuro family? They're the nicest people in town!
Ryoma, still holding back any tears his eyes might be trying to produce, puts the cloth on his father's forehead, holding it firmly into place. Just looking at him, I can tell that Ryoma, who's now looking at his father's closed eyes, is desperately awaiting for the moment when his parents wake up. At least his father has a chance to wake back into reality.
Wakato walks back into our sight, quickly pacing down the hall and towards us, explaining that whoever the robber or robbers were are gone and took all the money that was in Mr. Shimabukuro's box.
"How is that possible?" Ryoma asks keeping the cloth on Mr. Shimabukuro's head in place. "The only way to get into that box is with a key and that's hidden away into a place that even I don't know about."
Wakato looks down to the floor, almost choked up in what he wants to say. He closes his eyes and lets out a long sigh. "They broke the box. It's shattered into a million pieces beside the bed."
Absolute terror shines through Ryoma's eyes. His jaw opens, trembling as he starts to breathe heavily with tears forming in his eyes. "That box of money was my father's savings. He was meant to use that money in case of an emergency."
A moment of silence is held with the exception of Ryoma's tears finally freeing themselves from his eyes. I've never seen Ryoma so broken up, but I can understand why. I'd be crushed too if I returned home only to seeing my mom on the floor beaten up and mugged. What could any person want so bad they'd have to almost kill someone to get it?
I gently place my hand on the side of Ryoma's face and wipe his tears away with my thumb. "Hey, it's going to be alright," I say quietly. "This wasn't your fault."
"YES IT WAS!" Ryoma yells, causing me to almost fall over. Ryoma stands up and starts to pace next to his father. "IF WE DIDN'T GO OUT TONIGHT, I COULD'VE SAVED THEM! I COULD'VE EARTHBENDED THOSE DIRTBAGS OUT OF THE EARTH KINGDOM!"
I raise my eyebrow at that sentence, still shaken from the booming voice of Ryoma's inner anger. "Earthbended? You're an earthbender?" I ask.
Ryoma nods with a serious look on his face. I can't believe it! This is the first time I've ever met another earthbender other than my father. Mother and Wakato weren't gifted, nor Madoka, Eriko, or any of my other friends. Sure there were the other men that went to war from our town, but I didn't know them that well. How could we ignore such an important detail to tell each other? Wakato and I have been here a week already.
"Me too," I say softly. "Besides, how could you have known that this would've happened? Don't blame yourself; blame the cowards that had the urge to do an awful thing."
Ryoma sighs, allowing himself to calm his nerves. He sits back down to his father's side and holds the cloth into place again.
For the next half hour, nothing is said between the three of us. Wakato continues to search for other places where any high theft items are. Every few minutes, I move the cloth from Mrs. Shimabukuro's head, to her leg, to her hand, and so on. Ryoma constantly checks to make sure Mr. Shimabukuro is breathing.
Out of nowhere, Mr. Shimabukuro finally comes to, and opens his eyes, making Ryoma look filled with joy.
"Dad, you're awake!" Ryoma calls out thrilled.
Mr. Shimabukuro, still in pain from the beating, grunts as he lifts his upper body up. "Uhhh....What happened?" he asks in a deep, raspy voice.
"We came home and you and mom were on the floor bleeding. Naomi and I have been trying to heal you with cloths."
"It's good to see you awake, sir," I say.
"How's Ishi doing?" Mr. Shimabukuro asks.
Oh, that's her name. "Not so good. She's breathing, but she hasn't shown any signs of waking up."
"Do you have any memory of what happened before you got knocked out," Ryoma asks.
Mr. Shimabukuro takes a deep breath. He lifts his arm onto the living room table, and lifts himself up, grunting and struggling to stand up. Ryoma helps his father stand up, and positions him onto the nearby couch. Mr. Shimabukuro holds his left side with his right hand, keeping any amount of blood from further spewing out of the huge gash he received, but drops of the dark, red liquid escape from in between his fingers, staining them. Moments go by, before Mr. Shimabukuro opens his tightly closed eyes and takes another deep breath.
"Your mother and I were eating dinner. As she went into the kitchen to serve up seconds, a man barged into the door. I'm surprised it's still in place after that. Anyway, my instincts took over, and I grabbed for my sword, but he got the upper hand of me. Next thing I knew, I got a massive slice to my side and head and fell unconscious. I guess soon after, Ishi got hurt too."
Tears start to form in Ryoma's eyes again. He lips turn into the biggest frown, his lower lip pouting like a child, but in a rather serious manner. Ryoma breathes in and the sound of tears choking up his throat can be heard deep within his esophagus. He looks at his father, letting a single tear drip from his left eye and run down his soft cheek. "I'm so sorry...but...the man broke into your savings box. All of your spare coins are gone," he lets out in between his sobs. Mr. Shimabukuro looks completely devastated at this point. His eyes close tightly again, and he faces his head away from his son and more towards the floor in absolute displeasure. Millions of things could be running through his mind. Sadness over the loss of his money. Anger about the man that broke in. Horror that his family could be ruined. Terror that his caring wife might not wake up. Multiple emotions that are far too deep to fully understand. All we can do is give him support; a shoulder to lean on. This news weakens him to the point where he can't even hold his hand into place anymore. He releases his hand from his side, letting the blood rush out of his slash. I offer him the cloth Ryoma used to heal him with, but he hand motions it away. Ryoma takes it out of my hand and places it against his father's wound anyway.
".....Remember what happened to the Nakabaru family?" Mr. Shimabukuro asks with his eyes just barely becoming open again.
"What?" Ryoma questions.
"The Nakabaru family. Before the war started, a man broke into their home, brutally murdering everyone and taking all their belongings."
Ryoma sits up in shock, still holding the cloth on his father's side. His eyes widen as he sits back. "That's right. Not too long after, the war between us and Chin Village began and they never got a proper funeral. They were buried and all that is left of them is the memories."
"Who were the Nakabaru family?" I ask.
Ryoma's face brightens up a little. "Very kind, and also another wealthy family in Gaoling. They were the nicest people in town, always donating to the bums and what not. Six months ago, there was a break in, killing everyone, even the children."
"But why would the man come after you? And why so far apart from each other?"
"I guess when the war started, things became more noticeable. With the homicide of the Nakabaru family, everyone was on alert. Whoever is committing these crimes is smart enough to wait before striking."
A moaning sound comes from the floor. I motion my head to seeing Mrs. Shimabukuro attempting to sit up, supporting her head with her hand. Mr. Shimabukuro opens his eyes with relief sparkling through his pupils. Ryoma also looks as if he wants to celebrate the awakening of his mother. Even I want to embrace her, although I'm sure that would make her feel light-headed.
"What's going on?" She asks.
"Honey, thank goodness you're alright!" Mr. Shimabukuro says, rushing to her side.
"We were robbed. We think it's the same person who killed the Nakabaru family," Ryoma adds in.
Out of the blue, Mrs. Shimabukuro begins to break down in tears, overwhelmed by all this news. Mr. Shimabukuro decides to take her down to their room and go to bed for the night, leaving us three to do the same. Wakato calls of his search for the night, and found nothing else in the house that was broken. I undress out of Mrs. Shimabukuro's dress and into my regular clothes. As I pull the covers down, there is a knock at my door. When I say come in, Ryoma walks into my room, taking a seat on my bed.
"What's up?" I ask.
"I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier. I was just feeling so upset and scared that my parents weren't ever going to wake up. Thank you for helping me get them back on their feet tonight," he says apologetically.
"It's okay. I felt the same amount of anger when I was told that my father died in the war. I just never expressed it the way my mom did. Or still does."
Ryoma places his hand on my shoulder. The gesture surprises me, but in an endearing way. His eyes meet with mine. What's he going to say? Is he going to say anything? Is he going to hug me? Is he going to...no, he wouldn't kiss me, would he? Why is that thought running through my head? We barely know each other.
"I'm glad you came to Gaoling," he finally lets out.
I try to fight the smile that wants to form across my face, but I can't and my feelings get the better of me. I can also feel my cheeks starting to heat up, grateful that it's too dark to tell its change of color.
"I'm glad I'm here too."
Ryoma takes his hand off my shoulder and wraps his whole arm around my upper body, giving me a side hug. In return, I place my arm on his chest, almost wishing this moment will never end.
Eventually, Ryoma lets go of me, leaving my room with a good night as he shuts my door.
I quietly say a good night back, wanting to fall asleep just to escape reality as long as I possibly can.
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