|By Katherine Rebekah||Genre||Rating||Reviews||Updates|
|More from Katherine Rebekah||Drama||PG||None||None|
|Listen to the Council of the Wise|
Toph, her designated babysitter for the day, while the others were at a meeting with some "expert" about her mental heath, had made her get up at twelve in the afternoon, an ungodly hour if you've been up all night. Not only that, but she made Katara take a shower that morning, because she "looked and smelled like crap." Only problem was it had taken over an hour with her bandaged hands, covered in plastic, to scrape off all the mud and grime from the night before. After the shower she had little energy or patience to dry off, and so she sat there chilled to the bone, dripping hair still clinging to her face, jeans chafing the skin between her thighs, wishing Toph would hurry up with the warm drinks.
Eventually, the blind girl did emerge, a hazy shadow in the thick rain, with the steaming paper cups in her hand. She didn't even stop and listen for cars before walking across the parking lot, and slipped into the car as fast as possible, as though she was handicapped in no way at all. She did a little puppy dog shake to get the water out of her lose black hair, consequently smacking Katara in the face with her mane.
"Watch it," Katara snapped and grabbed the coffee with the tips of her fingers, the only part of her hand that wasn't bandaged. She fumbled then winced as a few drops burned her leg. That's what she got for wishing for heat.
"You know, Toph, you should stop and listen before walking, literally blindly, through a parking lot," she said this, even though she knew the response that was coming her way.
"You don't understand, Katara," she said it with a sarcastic bite to her tone. "The rain gives me super powers. I can 'see' everything in the rain. Just like-"
"Yes, I know!" Katara interrupted. "Just like Dare Devil. When are you going to stop making fun of the piece of cinematic garbage?"
"Hey, don't deny me the simple pleasures," Toph said and took a draught of coffee.
"Hump, you have about as much chance of seeing because of the rain, as you do of seeing through your feet."
Toph gazed into the brown liquid in her cup with a blank stare. Sugar Queen usually loved the Dare Devil joke. Katara just wasn't herself, and Toph could hardly take it. She was supposed to be the troubled one, not Katara. Katara was the glue that held them all together, their strong hold, their leader. How could any of them hold it together without her?
The two wordlessly finished their coffee in the parking lot before they set out.
"Remind me," Katara grumbled to Toph, while trying to make a U-Turn with those clumsy bandaged hands, "why I am driving this huge, bulky piece of earth polluting metal?"
"Because you got blood all over Twinkletoes' hippy car and they had to take it to get cleaned." Toph popped a piece of spearmint gum in her mouth.
Katara gritted her teeth, "Right."
Katara's teeth remained in that position for most of the drive, until she wasn't sure she was going to be able to move her jaw again. One reason for this was her intense concentration as she tried to maneuver the car without hitting anything, the other reason was that their destination was going to be the hospital. Without her permission, Aang had moved up the appointment that Yagonda had set for next week, and it was not something Katara was looking forward to.
They pulled into the damp parking lot and went in to check in at the front desk (thankfully Katara didn't know the receptionist at the outpatient center) and sat in the grungy old chairs in the grungy old waiting room. Katara stifled her gag reflex as she tried to focus on a Readers' Digest; behind the hospital smell, there was the illusive but distinctive musk of fermented urine.
Toph was smacking her gum, which was bad enough, but then she shoved some earbuds in and the smacking grew about ten times louder, and started to synchronize with the beat of whatever she was listening to. Katara sat through this for about thirty minutes until they called her into the back, Toph trailing along without being invited.
Yagonda didn't take long to show up. She came in, same smile, same lopsided bun falling out all over the place, same Yagonda.
"How are you doing this morning, Katara?" Katara searched the doctor's face for the slightest bit of humor or sarcasm, wondering if she was bing mocked, but no trace of anything of the sort could be found.
"I'm as good as I can be, I guess."
Yagonda pressed her lips together. "I'm not so certain about that. I think you could be much better and I want to see you get there. Do you mind if I ask a few questions?"
"That's what I'm here for." Though the answer seemed less than enthusiastic.
After what seemed like five hundred questions Yagonda came to a conclusion.
"Katara," she frowned as she said it, deepening the worry lines etched into her forehead, "I think you're dealing with a little bit of depression. It seems like it was triggered by learning that some of the men who worked for Ozai are being released. Specifically, the man who you allege killed your mother."
"I don't allege," Katara said through gritted teeth, "you sound just like that stupid judge."
"I'm sorry, Katara," Yagonda quickly realized her mistake. "I'm sure you know the man who killed your mother. I believe you. I didn't mean to upset you any further."
A bit of an awkward silence passed before Yagonda heaved a big breath and continued, "Anyways, this depression has not manifested itself until recently but, though I'm no physiologist, I would venture to say that you have been holding onto this anger ever sense the event, and now all those years of pent up rage are being expressed. Not only can this take a toll on your mental health, but on your physical health as well. Normally, in a case like thi, I would prescribe anti depressants. However, your symptoms have not even been occurring for even a week yet, so first I think it would be wise to pursue other methods of treatment."
"Like what?" This time it was Toph who interjected herself, and Katara had the fleeting thought that perhaps the blind girl was worried about her.
"Counseling is a good option." Katara crinkled her nose at that. "Also diet change. You may want to start eating a lot of fruits and red meats; they boost your mood. Lay off on the caffeine." Katara crinkled her nose again. "Exercise is also very important; it releases endorphins. You may also want to take up Tai Chi again."
Yagonda scratched all this down on a note pad as she spoke, then ripped the paper off and handed it to Katara. "That's about all I can prescribe to you as your doctor." Katara nodded, but sensed Yagonda was holding something back, waiting for an invitation to say something more.
"That's all you can say as my doctor, but what about as my friend?"
A small smile graced the doctor's lips, as she saw that Katara had picked up on her hint, but the smile soon vanished and something like a shadow came over her face.
"As your friend, I will tell you that I struggled with depression for a long time. You never knew this, but I was once a mother. I lost my four year old son in a car accident."
Yagonda released a sigh. "Nothing helped me until I forgave the drunk driver who killed him. And I was never able to forgive until I handed my life over to God. That's the best prescription I can give you."
Katara swallowed a ginormous knot that had formed in her throat at those words. Forgive him? That was foolish. Could a Jew forgive Hitler? Could Hiroshima forgive the U.S.? No. Katara was sure of that. Some things were unforgivable.
"I'm so sorry to hear about your son, but with all due respect, Yagonda, I went to service last Sunday because I wanted to please you and Aang. Personally, I just don't believe in a God. I don't believe in a God who would destroy Haiti in an earthquake. I don't believe in a God who would allow bloody crusades in his name. I don't believe in a God who would let your son be killed by a drunk man. I don't believe in a God who would let a little girl witness her mothers murder. And I certainly don't believe in a God who would be cruel enough to let his son be tortured to death for all the idiots on this hell bent rock. That would be idiocy."
A silence passed over the room at the end of her outburst. Katara felt herself growing red in the face out of embarrassment. She looked over at Toph, who was trying (unsuccessfully) to hold back a smile, and then at Yagonda, fearing she had crossed a line. But Yagonda didn't seem shocked or offended. She simply gave a nod of her head.
"Well, you are entitled to your own opinion, Katara. I can not force you to change your mind and I'm sure your opinion is justified given all that you've been thorough. All I can ask you is, if there is no God, where does that leave us? Spiraling down a black hole to death? Everything that we do meaningless?" She said this with a deadly seriousness in her gray-blue eyes. "I'm no good at apologetics and if you ask me I can't prove a thing to you. But even if your right and I'm wrong, the thing I've built my life around a lie and a delusion, at least I have lived my life in an ignorant bliss and will die happy in my foolishness. But, Katara, what if I'm right and you're wrong? You will have squandered your life wallowing in your own anger and hatred, and your after life will be no better."
Katara tried to move her mouth, to form a retort of some kind, but it only gaped open in shock, no words forming to come out. She glanced over at Toph, a self professed, adamant atheist. She had heard Toph counter things like this before. But the blind girl didn't seem to want to contradict the old woman, her arms crossed tight against her green tank top, her dark brows kinit together in concentration.
"Come on, Toph," Katara finally got her lips to do something. "I think it's time to go." Katara turned to Yagonda before leaving, "Thank you for your concern about me. I will try the things you prescribed." Her eyes flitted to the floor. "Most of them, at least."
Toph and Katara stopped for ice cream on the way home. Katara needed something to calm her nerves and Toph wasn't one to turn her nose up at a free rocky road. But as they sat down at the clean white bar and Toph began slurping at her double dip cone, Katara hardly touched her vanilla shake. Instead, she absentmindedly stirred it to a slush with her red straw as she stared into space.
"Seriously, Sugar Queen." Toph finally took a breather from inhaling her ice cream. "The silence is killing me. Are you still thinking about what that old lady said?" Katara sighed. Apparently the answer was yes. "You know, the only reason that something like that would bother you is if you didn't know what you believed."
"You mean that didn't mess with your head?"
"Are you kidding me? I've been hearing crap like that all my life. My parents were Catholic you know. Long ago I accepted this world as it is. Meaningless. That doesn't freak me out anymore. I've learned to live with it, but you don't seem to know what you think, Katara."
Katara let out something between a moan and a sigh. "All I know, Toph, is that the God that Yagonda believes in is not a reality. He's a fairy tale, told to me by my mother and grandmother so I didn't have to know the ugly truth. Well guess what? I watched my mother bleed out in an ally and my grandmother slowly fade into a lifeless husk because of altimeters. How well did the fairy tale protect them then?"
"Not well at all."
"Still, how do you not fell the least bit of fear at the thought that when we die that's it and that all the things we do on this earth are for nothing?"
Toph shook her head. "But I don't think it's for nothing. I think we have a small amount of time here that we can use to either make this a better place to live or a worse one. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I help make it better. That's all the meaningfulness I've ever really needed."
"So you don't fear death?"
Suddenly Toph grew very still, her light green eyes fixed on the cold, spotless tile. When she spoke her tone was hushed. "I never said that. I've faced death more times then I like to think of, but it never got easer or less scary to think that I may not see the next day. Death scares me. It always has and it always will."
"But what Yagonda said-"
"Yagonda spoke the truth. Her beliefs are nothing more than a comforting lie, a delusion to make this cruel life a bit easier. Just because I fear death doesn't mean I'm going to ignore reality in hopes that God is real. I know he's not, and I'm not going to spend what little time I have to live paying homage to a tall tale."
They both sat motionless for a moment, letting the sickening feeling of the moment sink in, but Katara's phone interrupted it by buzzing in her pocket. Grateful for a distraction, she drew it out to read the text. It was from Aang.
"IDK what you guys are doing, but I would like you to come home. You have a visitor."
Katara shoved her phone back into her pocket without replying.
"Who was it?" Toph asked.
Katara rolled her eyes. "Aang. We better get going. It looks like he's setting up an intervention."
The drive back home was mind numbing, with only the gentle hum of the pickup truck and the sound of Toph slurping up the remainder of Katara's, now watery, shake. Neither of them seemed to be able to escape the thoughts that the days events had brought on them. Toph kept glancing sideways at her friend, wondering what was happening to the Sugar Queen she knew, while Katara's mind kept returning to what Yagonda had said.
"Katara, what if I'm right and you're wrong? You will have squandered your life wallowing in your own anger and hatred, and your after life will be no better."
But then there was also Toph.
"Just because I fear death doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the reality in hopes that God is real. I know he's not, and I'm not going to spend what little time I have to live paying homage to a tall tale."
So what was it then? Which side was she on? As much as she wanted to be like Toph, seemingly cold as stone to the fact that life is meaningless, something impeded deep into Katara's identity just wouldn't let go of the hope that it wasn't.
So, it's been a while sense I posted a new chapter. Life is REALLY busy right now. I actually thought about taking a "break" from this for a while, but I couldn't risk never coming back from that "break". The fanon must go on!
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Tell me what you think in the comments below and, if you like, leave suggestions for new chapters. I know where I'm going with this but I am always open to fresh ideas.
Lastly but MOST IMPORTANTLY, if you comment, please share your biggest struggle with Christianity, Christ, or Christians (doesn't matter if you're Christian or not) and/or leave your best argument for or against the faith. Please note however, that I don't want this to become a swamp of people arguing. Let's be respectful of one another. I'm simply looking for a way to address these issues for my readers. I look forward to hearing what you guys will say. (BTW Aang is a Buddhist so if you want to say something about that too go right ahead.)
Song is "Some Nights" by Fun, as covered by Walk off the Earth.
For the collective works of the author, go here.