SADNESS (August 2004)
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
It's the first thing she hears when she finally comes to, her fragile consciousness on the verge of slipping back into that place of darkness; that place where nothing hurts, where she knows she is loved and protected, where she is finally at peace. But here, in this world of bright lights that make her hiss and wince, everything fucking hurts. Her limbs are too heavy, too weak, and refuse to follow her commands. Her chest is tight and constricts painfully every time she tries to take a breath. Her first thought is that she's drowning, and she nearly panics until she feels someone's hand to come rest against her shoulder, the comforting weight grounding her to this world, keeping her head above the water that threatens to swallow her back up again. Her eyes feel as if they are made of lead, but she forces them open until the blinding white light of the hospital room makes her head spin and she has to shut them with a deep grown. And all of a sudden, it's as if she's being born again.
"Korra? Korra, can you hear me?"
She hears a voice above all the pain and it gives her something to focus on. It's a woman's voice and she sounds worried, almost frantic. Do you know where you are? Hospital. She's at a hospital. She can tell by the acrid, clinical smell that's permeating in the walls around her; by the machines that are beeping with the thump, thump, thump of her heartbeat. Do you remember what happened? No. No, but someone brought her back from the edge of something permanent. She knows that, if nothing else. She opens her mouth to speak, but her vocal cords are raw with disuse and she can't do anything more than cough against the sandpaper feeling at the back of her throat. She needs something to drink, but now it seems like no one is paying attention to her. People are mumbling, whispering in hushed voices and she doesn't have enough strength or energy to even try to listen. She tries and fails to move her arm, the muscles atrophied from lack of use. But she tries again, forcing the limb into action. It shakes with the struggle to remain upright, her head already hurting from the concentration, but a woman grabs her hand and holds it tenderly between both of hers.
"Korra, my name is Linda. I've been your nurse for the past three months..."
What's the last thing you remember? Do you remember the accident? Accident? And it's like the word triggers somthing in her broken mind, and she's taken back to that sunny day in early May when she was getting ready for school, when she was getting in the car with her parents, and when she was screaming for her father to look out before the semi-truck collided with them head on. Her body reacts, jerks in the hospital bed and nurses rush to hold her down before she hurts herself. But she's already hurting, don't they know that? She doesn't need to ask where her parents are, she already knows. She can't get her voice to work anyway, so there's really no point. She hears someone screaming, the sound so primal that it strikes a cord within her so much that she knows whoever else hears it can feel the same pain and sorrow and hurt. It takes her a moment to realize that the sound comes from her own mouth. Her whole world is gone, and she's been thrust into a new one that's harsh and cold and she's not sure she's ready for it. She knows she's not. She's crying steadily, the tears running in tracks down her emaciated cheeks, as she struggles with the nurses. One is already drawing up a clear liquid in a syringe that will send her back to the land of dreams. She wants it. She wants it so bad, because this is a nightmare and she needs to go back to sleep so she can wake up again to the sound of her mother humming and her father laughing. She was supposed to be in heaven, but this... this is hell.
ANGER (August 2015)
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
It's the first thing she hears when she finally wakes up and for a split second, she almost can't remember where she is. Home. She's home, she has to remind herself. It's small and it's not in the nicest part of town, but it's hers and it's the first place in a long time that she's called home. She groans and reaches across her bed to the alarm clock and pushes the snooze button. Her cat, the Siamese evil genius, jumps on the bed and nudges her hand with his cold, little nose. She pets his head and sighs, staring upat the water stain on her ceiling that looks like Africa, and counts to ten. She's made it through another day, and she's going to make it through a whole lot more. But there's something that feels.. off about today and she can't put her finger on it. Shredder nips at her hand and she hisses.
"Jerk. Alright, I'm getting up."
And she's going through the motions of the day. Get out of bed. Brush her teeth. Shower. Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Shredder never fails to remind her to give him his morning bowl of food. Her ankle already bears a few red scratch marks from where he attacked her as she walked by the couch. Grab her work-out bag. Head to the gym. She's already getting out of her car by the time she realizes that she's spaced out the entire way to the gym. She shakes her head slightly, feeling as if she were in a dream. Maybe she is. Maybe she's still asleep in that hospital bed and she's been dreaming this entire time. That's when it hits her like a punch in the gut, and it catches her off guard so much taht she almost drops her gym bag and falls to the floor from the shock. Another year. Another year has gone by since her parents' deaths. Another year in a world without them. Another year in hell.
She makes it inside, numb except for the stinging pain of her fingernails clenching into the sensitive flesh of her palms. She counts to ten again and changes, begins wrapping her hands to start her training. It's all methodical, hardly any emotion, except she can feel the small embers of anger that sizzle underneath her skin, waiting for just the right spark to set her aflame again. She thought she was over this; thought she was past all this anger and resentment and frustration. But it's obvious she's not when she begins hitting the punching bag. Jab, jab, uppercut. The sound of her fists against the bag resonates off the walls, ringing loud and true in her ears. Right cross, left cross, knee. Focus. Training like this has always made her focus, harnessing that anger and emotion into something more productive. With each punch, with each connection her padded fist makes against the punching bag, it's as if she's being born again.
She's turning into a phoenix, burning bright red and hot with anger that's still unresolved; that will maybe never be resolved. Why? Because she'll never know why. She'll never know why that truck driver didn't just pull over to take a nap instead of driving through coffee after coffee and eventually falling asleep at the wheel. She'll never know why her father didn't swerve fast enough to try and avoid the head on collision. She'll never know why she was the only one spared that day. God didn't do her any favors saving her life. She punches hard, jab after jab, as her eyes cloud over with unshed tears. She's already cried enough. She doesn't even pay attention to the lack of noise, the lack of chatter; people watching her as she pummels the punching bag in her rage. It isn't until she feels a stinging in her wrist, a sharp pain that radiates from her hand all the way up her forearm, that she stops and falls against the punching bag, sliding ungracefully to the floor. She cradles her wrist against her chest and tries to focus on it, the pain grounding her to the present.
People say that it takes time to heal. They don't say that you may never heal completely. They don't say that you may be left with jagged scars that ache in the cold and split open under pressure. They don't say that sometimes it feels like there's salt in the wound and sometimes it takes someone else to help stitch you back up. She tilts her head to rest against the punching bag, and someone steps into her field of vision, blocking the bright yellow lights of the gym so that they're cast in shadows. She squints up... and they are offering her their hand. Maybe she's not in heaven, and maybe this isn't hell. Maybe she just needs to figure out how to fit in this new world. And she will, eventually.