The Human Spirit Can Endure Sickness
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Ghosts of the Past



Written by

Katherine Rebekah

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But A Crushed Spirit Who Can Bear

As soon as Katara got home she ran to the bathroom and threw the toilet seat up, feeling a swell of vomit coming on.

The remains of Katara's lunch came up in burning wave. She coughed and spit into the toilet, feeling better for a moment, until her stomach lurched again. She was sure that she had caught something now, she only hoped it wasn't the flu, because there were more important things to worry about right now then sickness.

She had so much anger to release. Anger at Yan Ra. Anger at the people who would allow him his freedom. All she wanted to do was hit something, but she felt too weak, and all she could manage to do was lightly pound the toilet seat and let out grunts of frustration. How had she buried this pain so long? Katara didn't know, but it was back. Fresh and hot as ever.

Her grip tightened on the toilet seat as she felt another wave of vomit coming on. The brown liquid burned her throat as it came up, and some got stuck in her nose, causing a stinging sensation that brought tears to her eyes. She uttered a string of curses at the bathroom floor and wiped the corner of her mouth with the sleeve of her scrubs. She felt week and shaky, and she was breaking into chills. So it probably was the flu then. Whatever it was, Katara wasn't sure she could take it, not after what she had just learned. Everything had been going so well. How had that been so easily stripped from her by this one tiny thing?

"It's not a big deal," she whispered to herself "He's so old now. He wouldn't hurt anyone. It's not a big deal." But it was. It was a big deal, because he had killed her. He had stolen her from Katara and that was a big deal.

She sat by the toilet a little longer, until she came to the realization that she wouldn't be throwing up anymore. She brought herself to her feet, turned on the faucet, and took huge gulps, bring the water to her mouth with a her hands and splashing some on her face in the process.

If there was anything Katara should have known it was how to treat a flu, but her mind wasn't functioning in the systematic way that it usually did, and all she could think of was sleep.

Katara walked to her room, striped off her scrubs and threw them haphazardly in the corner, pulled on one of Aang's old T-shirts and crawled beneath the covers. They were cool and felt good against her hot skin. She took a deep breath and caught the scent of incense form Aang's side of the bed, and for a second she was okay. But only for a second. Then thoughts of Yan Ra's release made their way into her mind.

She closed her eyes and told herself to forget about it, but telling herself didn't do any good. She rolled over and tried to go to sleep, but sleep wouldn't come. She tried to rationalize with herself. He wouldn't do anything. He wasn't even really a person the last time she saw him, just a hollow shell, haunted by his own sins. But it didn't matter how she rationalized with herself, she refused to believe it.

Eventually, she was stuck just staring at the white ceiling, and the white ceiling staring back at her, taunting her, if a ceiling could taunt. And Katara's anger and sadness expressed themselves in silent tears that rolled down out of the corners of her eyes and wet her pillow case. It was only a matter of time before the memories surfaced, the bad ones, the good ones, all jumbled up together in an incoherent blur. She did her best to filter out the bad ones, and was finally successful in locking onto one, solid, good memory.

Katara's mother sat on the edge of her bed and kissed her daughter on the forehead.

"Do you want to hear a bed time story?" Katara nodded and looked up into her smiling mothers weary blue eyes, "Well, what do you want to hear?"

"Tell me about little Nini."

Kya sighed. "That one always scares you, Katara. Pick something else."

"It does not scare me." Little Katara's bottom lip protruded in a pout. "I'm not afraid."

Kya raised an eyebrow. "Then how come every time I tell it, I wake up with you in my bed in the middle of the night? Pick something else."

"What about a song? Can you sing me a song?"

"Of course."

"Sing me the one about the solider."

"Leaves From the Vine?"

"Uh huh."

"Okay." Kya cleared her throat and gently stoked Katara's face as she sang.

Leaves from the vine

Falling so slow

Like fragile, tiny shells

Drifting in the foam

Little soldier boy

Come marching home

Brave soldier boy

Comes marching home"

Kya kissed her on the forehead once more. "Okay. It's time for you to go to bed, little girl."

"No, I don't want to. Take me to the beach." Kya let out a sigh at her daughters desperate plea.

"Katara, it's late. I'm exhausted. You have school and I have work in the morning. No beach tonight."

"Please, Mommy? It's a full moon tonight."

"How do you know?"

A smile spread across Katara's face and she hopped out of bed and ran to her window. She drew the curtain to reveal markings of the different phases of the moon on the glass in dry erase marker.

"Ever since you taught me how to chart the moon, I've been watching it every night."

Kya sighed, but it was a sigh with a smile attached, "Well then, my little astronomer, I suppose I have no choice but to take you to the beach. Get your shoes on." Katara hopped up and down in excitement and rushed over to her closet to retrieve her flip flops.

It was a short walk to the beach from their house, and Katara got to spend it riding on Kya's shoulders. She loved the smell of the ocean, the cool night breeze, and the light from the full moon on her face. When they got down to the beach, Kya took Katara off her shoulders and grabbed her tiny hand.

"Tell me a story about the moon, Mommy," Katara said, causing a weary sigh to escape her mother's lips.

"I can't think of one right now, Sweetheart, but I can tell you something true about the moon." She bent down next to her daughter and pointed up at it. "You see how small it looks?"


"You know how far away the moon is?" Katara shook her head.

"Well, me either, but it's a long, long ways away. But do you know what?"

"What?" Katara whispered, staring up at the moon, as if transfixed by its beauty.

"It controls this planet. The moon pulls the tides of the ocean, and the ocean gives us all life. It seems so small from down here, so far away, so insignificant, yet it affects everything. Never underestimate that power, Katara." Katara squinted up at the moon, trying to make sense of her mother's words; eventually, she turned to Kya, releasing an exasperated, whiny sigh.

"Uhh Mommy. I don't understand what that means."

Kya chuckled, "Don't worry about it my little surfer, one day you will."

Katara inhaled sharply, trying to remember any further then that, but her memory wouldn't allow her. Everything was foggy in the memory too, nothing as clear as it should be, especially her mother's smile, it was so hard to remember that for some reason. But she could hear Kya's words ringing in her ear, as soft and clear as the day she had first heard them. That one day she would know. One day she would understand. She shook her head.

"I still don't understand, Mom. I still don't understand."


I apologize if this chapter is not long enough or has errors. I'm not myself today, but I felt I just had to get it out there. I will probably go back and change a few things.

The song is Leaves From the Vine (obviously) covered by Adriana Figueroa.

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