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|The Ice Sculpture|
December 13, 2013
A three year old Katara was playing with the other children. She noticed Hikoda all by himself. Feeling sorry for him, she walked over to him.
"What are you doing?" She asked.
Hikoda looked surprised (and a little suspicious) that someone was talking to him.
"Building a snow man," He told her.
"Can I help?"
Hikoda looked even more shocked, and a little happy as well.
So they started building the snowman together.
"Katara, get away from that boy!"
Katara's father Chief Hakoda was walking up to her.
"But daddy, we were only building a snowman-"
"I said get away from him now!"
"It's okay," Hikoda told her glumly, "I'll go play somewhere else."
And he walked away, out of the village.
"Katara," Hakoda said softly to his daughter, kneeling down so that they were eye level and placing his hands on her shoulders, "I know that you're a kind soul and that you like helping people but please, stay away from that boy. He's dangerous."
Katara went off later to find Hikoda. He was sitting in what looked like a large hole carved into the mountain of snow.
Hikoda noticed her.
"Hi," He greeted back, "I thought your daddy didn't want you to hang around with me?"
"Well he says your dangerous," Katara told him, "But I don't think you are. What is this place?"
"This is my secret place," Hikoda told her, "Do you want to come in?"
Hikoda helped her in.
"Why does everyone hate you?" She asked.
"It's because I'm different. Because I have pale skin and yellow eyes. And I can do things."
Hikoda looked at her uncertainly.
"Do you really want to see?"
"Mhmm!" Katara nodded enthusiastically.
Hikoda still looked unsure.
"Okay. But you have to promise never to tell anyone. Not a soul!"
"I swear on the honour of the Southern Water Tribe!"
"Okay then. Try not to be afraid."
He raised his hand (Which was curled into a fist). When he opened it, he revealed a ball of fire.
"Ah!" Katara screamed, falling out of the hole, hiding behind the mountain.
"It's all right!" Hikoda reassured her, "It won't hurt you. As long as you don't touch it."
Katara peeked from behind the wall. She got closer to look at the flame, mesmerized by it. A little ball of fire, not coming from a pile of wood, but floating above someone's hand.
"Wow," she said, impressed. "Can I touch it?"
"I wouldn't," Hikoda told her. "As it will burn you."
But Katara couldn't help it. Very slowly, she move her finger towards the flame.
"Ouch!" she cried, clutching her finger.
"Told ya," Hikoda laughed.
But Katara wasn't put off. She was still staring at the flame.
"How are you doing that?" she asked.
"Don't know," Hikoda told her, closing his fist. "I just - can."
Katara was now getting really excited.
"I can do things too!" She told him.
Standing up, she raised her hands. Water formed from the ice, rising up to meet her hands. Hikoda gasped.
"You're a waterbender!" he exclaimed.
"Sure am," Katara told him.
They were looking at each other, smiling.
Startled, the two children saw another boy walking up to them.
"Sokka!" Katara cried, "What are you doing here?"
"Protecting you!" He cried back, "I saw what that firebender did! He was threatening you with his fire! I saw what you did to her! You burnt my sister!"
"No," Hikoda tried to reassure him, "I wasn't, I was just showing her-"
"Stay away from my sister, firebender!" Sokka told him, inserting himself between the two benders, "Now come on Katara-"
He grabbed his sister by her wrist, and started to pull her away.
"We're going home!"
"Sokka! Get off!" Katara tried to tell him, struggling to break free of her brother's grasp, "Hikoda! HIKODA!"
Hikoda just stared mournfully after them. Katara waved her free hand over the ground, making some water rise into a whip.
"Sokka, I said GET OFF!"
And she whipped him across the side of his face with the water whip. Sokka yelped as he fell to the ground. His eyes were watery and his lower lip quibbled before he burst into tears.
"MOMMY!" He cried, running off, "KATARA WATERBENDED ME!"
"You didn't need to do that," Hikoda told her, walking towards her.
Katara remained confident.
"Well, I did tell him to get off."
Hikoda was stunned, but couldn't help but smile.
So from that day on, Katara and Hikoda became friends. They laughed as they played games like hide and seek, or slide down the icy slopes using penguin-otters as sleds. They built snowmen and sculptures, Katara using her waterbending and freezing the ice, while Hikoda used his firebending to carve sculptures out of the ice. They would try to guess what laid beyond the snowy wasteland that they called home, and wonder whether the Avatar was still alive, and what he (or she) was like.
"Hikoda," Katara started to ask one day as they were lying in the snow, pointing out what certain clouds looked like. Hikoda lifted his head to look at her.
"We're friends right?" She asked.
"Of course we are!" He told her, "Best friends."
"And, we'll always be friends, right?"
"Yeah, I think so. I hope so."
Katara started to blush.
"And, do you think, that maybe, one day, we'll be more than friends?"
"What do you mean?" He asked her.
Katara started to become more red.
"Do you think that one day, we'll get married?"
"What?" Hikoda instantly sat up at the suggestion. He stared at her. Katara started to laugh.
"I'm only joking, Hikoda! It was enough just to see the look on your face!"
Hikoda looked embarrassed, but also a little relieved.
"Oh. Right. Good."
And he laid back in the snow again. Katara looked away, looking somber.
When they were eight and ten, Katara and Hikoda were busy making an ice sculpture, with Katara gathering the material while Hikoda carved the block with his firebending.
"Just you wait!" said Katara. "This will be our best ice sculpture ever! It will be the prettiest thing in all of the South Pole!"
"Well the second prettiest thing," said Hikoda.
Katara looked at him.
"Um, I mean," Hikoda was blushing. "The ocean is WAY prettier than anything made of ice."
He laughed nervously. Katara laughed too. She looked away blushing, although she glanced back in Hikoda's direction.
"Well, look at what the love birds are doing now?"
Sokka had appeared on the scene.
"Go away, Sokka!" Katara yelled at him.
"Hey, I'm just looking out for my little sister," Sokka shrugged, "Wouldn't want that firebender hurting you again. AH!"
Hikoda had thrown a snowball at his face.
"If I was you," He told him, "I'd be more worried about ME hurting YOU than your sister."
"AH! I'm telling the elders on you!" Sokka threatened, pointing a shaking arm at Hikoda.
"Why it wasn't like it was a fireball."
Katara laughed. Hikoda laughed too. As they laughed, black snow started to rain on the them. The kids were startled. Katara got on the ground.
"I'm going to find my Mom," she said, running off.
Hikoda walked by as he saw everyone running.
"What's going on?" He asked one of the passersby.
"Your people have returned!" Was the answer he got.
Hikoda ran to see what was happening. There, at the shore were strangers dressed in armour that Hikoda could only guess who they were.
The soldiers roared as they charged. They wore red tinted armour, and had come out of iron ships. And they shot out fire, just like he could. Hikoda was torn. These were the people who everyone said were bad, who were monsters, who had terrorized his tribe, his family, for many generations. Then again, his tribe never did exactly act like family towards him. Well, most of them didn't. As soon as the battle had begun, it was over, the Fire Nation soldiers retreating to their ships. For a moment, Hikoda was tempted to run after them, to stow away on the ship, to explain who he was, how he was treated all his life, how he wished to live in a country where he would be accepted. Would he be accepted though, the boy whose mother was from the Water Tribe where he lived all his life? True, he looked Fire Nation though, and he had firebending skill. But did he really want to join a group of people who had caused so much misery?
No. He didn't.
Regardless of how his tribe had treated him, they were still his family, he couldn't just abandon them. Especially his mother, who was despised almost as much as he was.
The ship closed up, and they sailed away. Hikoda though was confident that he had made the right decision.
As he walked back through the village, he saw that the tribe was gathering around somewhere.
"What's going on?" He asked.
No one answered.
Then fear gripped him as he saw where exactly people were gathering.
It was around Katara's igloo.
He fought through the crowd, wanting to know what had happened, fearing the worst.
Eventually he got near the entrance.
"What's happened?" He demanded to know, "Is everyone all right?"
"Stay away from this, child," Someone told him, trying to push him away.
"No, NO!" He shouted, struggling against the people trying to push him away, from finding out what happened, managing to break free, getting into the igloo.
He froze. What he saw would scar him for the rest of his life. Katara was kneeling down, against the crumpled form of her mother.
"Mommy? Mommy, please wake up! Mommy!"
Hikoda was filled with dread. It was as if time was slowing down, as if the fire in him had finally been snuffed out.
Katara's cry filled the sky.
The funeral was full of mourners. Katara's mother was well loved by the tribe, including Hikoda. She was one of the few people in the tribe who was kind to him.
Now, she was gone.
After the elders said the right words, led by Kanna, Kya's wrapped up body was pushed away in a boat towards the sea, where it was eventually set on fire. Katara, filled with grief, could watch no longer, and ran away. Hikoda went after her. He found her standing on top of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. He couldn't see her face.
"Katara?" He said, "I'm sorry about your mom."
For a moment, Katara said nothing.
"Are you?" She asked him.
Hikoda was taken aback.
"Are you sorry? Do you people feel sorry? Do you even care? About the lives you destroy? About the people you hurt?"
Hikoda raised his hand, and placed it on Katara's shoulder.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!"
Katara turned around, her eyes full of tears, knocking away Hikoda's hand.
"DON'T YOU EVER TOUCH ME AGAIN! I don't ever want to see you again, you, or the rest of your kind! I wish a flood would just come and wipe you all off the face of the Earth so that you'll never hurt anyone ever again!"
Hikoda noticed that all of the ice around them was cracking.
"Katara, please!" He pleaded, grabbing her, "You're causing everything to-"
"I SAID DON'T TOUCH ME!" She knocked his hands away from him again. She caused water to rise from the ground and knocked him back with a wave. Hikoda managed to get up.
"PLEASE!" She cried, breaking down, falling to her knees, turning away from him, "Please just leave me alone!"
She had broken down into tears. Hikoda raised his hand.
He wanted to comfort her. He needed to comfort her. His hand shook as he stretched it out in order to do so. In the end, he let his arm fall, and sorrowfully walked away from the only friend he ever had.
The ice sculpture that Katara and Hikoda started was never finished. It remained half made from where it stood, and over the years, was nothing but a block of ice.
For the collective works of the author, go here.