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Journey of a Thousand Miles

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She stumbles out of the frigid water and curls up on the pebble-strewn shore, shivering. The boat is useless. Even if she knew how to fix the jagged tear in the old wood hull, she doesn't have the tools.

It doesn't matter. It's not like she knows where she is going.

Fighting exhaustion, she clambers over the rocks, heading south.


The wall towers over her. Supposedly, great wonders lie beyond.

But she recognizes traps when she sees one. She goes around.


Climbing trees is easy when you're used to walls of ice.

A shout from below. "Hey girly, we just want to play." Laughter.

She watches the men pass underneath her. They never look up. She can't tell from their mishmash of stolen clothing what nation they hail from, but does it matter? Is there a difference?


"I'll trade you these boots for that necklace."

She fingers the carved stone. There's no reason to hold on to it and every reason to let it go.

"That's okay," she says. "I'll make do a little longer."


The sandbender puts an arm around her shoulders and they watch the sun paint the dunes deep reds and burnt oranges.

It's too much like fire.

She leaves him at the oasis when his back is turned. She doesn't say goodbye.


Omashu is tans and greens, not grays and blues, but the resemblance to home is a knife in her chest. Though she ditched her blue tunic and trousers for green ones, everything about her gives her away. All the more reason to keep moving.

Sometime after leaving the city she ends up wandering some underground passages. In a huge cavern are two statues about to engage in a kiss. For the first time since that night, she cries.


The cherry blossoms float past her face.

"We'll train you if you want," says the painted warrior.

She takes the fan, pictures herself wielding it. It's a nice image.

Then she hands it back.


She maneuvers the borrowed craft through the southernmost islands of the Earth Kingdom and around the crags of the eerie isle where supposedly Air Nomads once lived. Then she drifts aimless, falling asleep under a moonless sky.

She wakes to frost on her breath and a young woman's face hovering above her. Her eyes are the pale silver of the ice where Pakku proposed. "Falling asleep out on the water at night is a bad idea," she says. "Are you lost?"

"Yes," she says.

"We better get you to where you can warm up. I'm Hama."

"Kanna." She watches Hama motion with her arms, and a wave rises in response to push the boat. "You're a bender."

Hama shrugs. "I'm guessing you're not? It's okay. The Fire Nation's been showing up more and more recently. We need every able-bodied person we can get."

Kanna allows a small smile to appear on her face, and lets the waterbender take her home.