A/N: Okay...sooo this was an experiment I did and I'm not entirely sure if everyone will really get whats going on...Those of you who have things like Muses will probably put it together a lot quicker then your peers who don't. Basically, it's a day in the life of me, with one of many multiple Muses I do have, Toph from Avatar: the Last Airbender. This isn't put specfically into that anime's section because I have a Full Metal Alchemist one going with Ed I may or may not post, depending. In all honesty, the would probably wouldn't have seen this if I didn't have a creative writing class that needed me to "publish" or attempt to publish something just so that we could get our work out into the world. Anyways, since this is kinda one of those "better my skills in writing" works, if anyone has any constructive critisim to say, don't be afriad to say so. And I hope everyone enjoys the story.
Pale blue eyes stare me down behind a silk curtain of raven black hair. In the dim glow of the night light along the wall below my top bunk is hard to see her face with shadows cast over it as the light is shining behind her; but I can envision the expression well, it was blank. There is no smile nor frown upon her thin lips and her eyes never blink. The muscles of her face are not relaxed, nor are they tensed but they remain set in a strict poker face. Despite the lack of life, as though she were a statue squatting on the edge of my bed with arms reaching between folded knees to clutch the sheets at my feet and steady herself, there is much actively going through her mind. Processing, calculating, listening and waiting, deep philosophical thinking and a good deal of charming witty banter are flowing through her mind and keeping her occupied for the moment; hopefully.
My first thought upon seeing her sitting there is to roll over and go back to sleep. She wouldn't have known I was even awake and looking at her behind those milky blue eyes that were cloaked with the dark cloud of blindness. But then I thought it odd she would be up and staring like that. Was it a sign? A wake up call? I had confidence in my alarm clock, the dream shattering ringing of the bells hadn't once failed to rip me from sleep since I got it to replace the previously dying one before it, and even though I was sure I had set it the night before an ounce of panic set in.
"What time is it?" asked her. There was just the slightest tilt of her head, cocking her ear in the general direction of my voice and, even though she really didn't need to, she blinked her eyes just once.
"How should I know?" she said, a small snap in her voice. "I'm blind; I can't see your clock!" I knew I should've rolled over and gone back to sleep.
"Well," I said around a yawn as I rose to check the ticking device myself, "how long have you been sitting there? An hour or two?" Four AM. I still had an hour left of my night. "So what do you want?"
She shrugged one shoulder. "I dunno, I just thought you should get up now, I guess."
"You guess?" I repeated and laid back down. "Toph, I went to bed an hour late last night. By waking me up early you just shaved two hours off my sleep cycle and you know I need at least nine hours to keep me awake during the day."
"That's not my fault," she replied defensively. "You're the one who stays up with Sokka and Zuko and Jet over that dumb story you're writing. And besides, you can sleep in study hall!"
"Study hall is for studying, Toph. And besides that, I don't want to fall deeply asleep and risk being late to my next class."
"Which is such an easy class you could sleep through it and still earn an A anyways!"
"You're not a very good Muse," I tell her. Her eyes narrow and lips are pulled tight in a straight line. If she had access to a rock inside my bedroom I doubt not that wouldn't hesitate to chuck it at my head without a second though. I knew I shouldn't have said that to her. Most Muses were made durable, able to go anywhere and could probably take a lot of wear and tear. There was the occasional few that were a little more sensitive to your words but I was usually stuck with many that could take a beating and throw back a hit of their own with up to ten times the force of anything I dared to use. Toph was no exception, but she was more sensitive then she wanted me to know.
"Fine Snoozles!!" she yelled as she swung her body off the edge of the top bunk. For a moment she disappeared for she was of a more petite size and I though that might be the end of it. But no. Not surprisingly, her head reappeared at the foot of the bed, this time her face was washed with a good coating of anger. "I just figured since you had to take the bus today, you would like to get an early start on getting ready since you're so incredibly slow in the morning! Most mornings you forget stuff anyways but bus mornings are the worst! I was only trying to help out but if you don't want my advice, fine! I'm out!" Dropping to the floor, she fearlessly spun around, ripped open the door and stormed out of the room with a draft of anger slamming the door behind her.
"New rule," came Sokka's sleepy voice from the bottom bunk. "No pissing Toph off before 8 AM please."
"What's that man doing?" asked Toph. Gazing in a different direction entirely, her hand was raised and pointed at another passenger currently trying to find a seat on the bus. "I mean, why is he waving...A stick around like that?"
Just because she couldn't see didn't really mean Toph was completely blind. To me, Toph was like a bat; she could see things through Vibrations from her environment and therefore able to get around fairly well on her own. Most of the vibrations she would claim came from the solid ground, but I'm sure some form of echolocation helped with the rest even if throwing something and hitting her upside the head was an easy task. In fact, if it weren't for the blank staring she did all the time, it was hard to imagine she really was blind some days.
Laying my hand over hers, i pulled her arm back to her lap and patted it gently. "He's blind Toph," I said softly to her. "And it's not polite to point."
"Blind?" Toph repeated. She hadn't been out in the world much. "As is, the same way I am?"
"Not quite," I said. "Well maybe. He sees things differently then you do, with that stick. That's how most all blind people get around in our world."
"Oh." Then silence fell over us as the bus began to move again. "Ask him what it's like."
"To be blind. Ask him what it's like, I want to know."
"Toph, you are blind."
"Yeah but," her face looked almost longingly in the direction of the other passenger. "I've never known anybody else to be blind, like me."
Suddenly a high pitched wailing siren interrupted the silence and Toph jumped to her feet in a panic. "What's that?! What's going on?!"
"Toph, calm down," I said taking a hold of her hands. Shaking with fear and trying not to cry, she allowed me to lead her out of the room with the many other psychology students in my class. "It's only a fire drill," I explained.
"Fire drill?!" Poor choice of words. "You mean the Fire Nation is outside trying to drill into your school now? Were are we going then?"
"No Toph," I explain wondering why in the world she wasn't desperately trying to block out the sounds of the siren. My own ears were pretty sensitive to the high pitched noise so I could only imagine that Toph, with advanced hearing due to her blindness, would want to fall on the floor screaming. Maybe it was adrenaline.
Feeling her way along the wall, Toph walked ahead of me as I guided her through the masses of students and kept her from running into people. Usually my Muses walked behind me, following along like shadows even if they knew exactly where we were going, but I wanted her out of there first. She would be okay once we were out in the open, not confined to the cramped, over packed hallways of the school, and naturally she plopped herself down on a grassy knoll underneath a tree once our class had reached it's designated far-enough-away spot. Instantly she was composed again, no longer the panicked helpless blind girl she was inside. Even so, I assured her that fire alarms were a rare thing in school. Two more fire alarms in 5th hour later convinced her I was a liar but conditioned her to not care that much for the sirens that kept going off.
"By the way," Toph said as she rubbed her toes through the grass. The answer to number seventeen is B; I can hear those boys talking about your psychology test over there."
"You're uneasy," Toph stated bluntly as she stood in front of my desk. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I muttered to her as I flipped through the book looking for answers to the worksheet laid beside it. "I'm fine."
"Liar." Toph slammed her hand down on the book so I couldn't read the words and waited for me to look up at her. There wasn't a chance to scold her for hindering my work however, and she quickly went on, "I can tell that you're upset with something, the way your breathing and fidgeting in your char are dead give aways. So tell me what it is or I'll start singing a really annoying song off key!"
"Fine I'm upset. I'm upset with you right now. Give me my book back."
"No, I can tell your interaction with me is a comfort. Stop lying to me, I can see right through you."
"It's something." She climbed onto the desk and laid both of her hands on top of my head. Closing her eyes and concentrating, Toph bowed her head and was silent a moment while I waited for her to tell me what she was trying to do. "Who's sitting to your right again?"
"The substitute teacher."
"Why is he bothering you?" She lifted her hands, shoved her face into mine and secured a threatening glare unto it's features. "I can tell when your lying so don't even try to sister!"
"Fine!" I say caving into her wishes. "He creeps me out."
"That's it?" Toph asks as she pulled away.
"That's it," I said. Pushing her off the table, I take back my book and went back to work but Toph wasn't finished having this conversation. Slowly, here head creeped back into view from the other side of the desk, the eyes blank and unblinking as usual.
"Tell him you don't like him," she said n monotone. "Ask him to move away from you."
"That's illogical Toph."
"Not if he's bothering you."
"But he isn't bothering me." The LIAR glare returned to the girl's face, but I ignored it as I checked the sheet to make sure everything was answered. After I signed my name at the top I slid it over to the sub and began digging in my backpack for a book to read. The blind girl's eyes followed me as though they really could see and continued their psychological accusation that I was a lair. "I mean, the problem is just within me Toph," I tried to explain. "I'm just uncomfortable with unfamiliar men being within such close range of me. And you know it's really cuz I watch to much Law and Order: SVU; I think it's brainwashing me into subconsciously thinking I'm going to get raped or something. Anyways, the point is that he's not being bothersome to me intentionally, it's just how I feel about strangers. It doesn't warrant me getting up in his face about it and making him move away."
"You shouldn't have to feel uncomfortable around him either," Toph bluntly stated. Even if she couldn't see it, i shot her a Look and opened my book. No sooner had I did the sub inquire as to what I was reading. Toph shot the look right back at me. "Want me to push him out that window?"
A swift smack to the head got my attention and I turned to give Toph a Look. Before I had a chance to yell at her, however, she interjected, "Teacher's coming. Look productive."
"Thank you Toph," I muttered and turned back to the thumbnail sketches I was working on.
"No problem," she replied nonchalantly and hoisted herself onto the desk. Picking up my purse, she started rooting through my personal possessions looking for heaven only knows what. The occasional "opps" would fall out of her mouth as something like a cell phone or pen slip for her grip. At last she settled for the CD player and tuned out the ongoings of the world around her. Meanwhile I was left listening to the art teacher lecture me on how I really needed to begin the final copy of my project soon or risk having my grade blow up in my face.
"I really wish you hadn't taken up that whole seat Toph," I said. Looking either way down the single road we had to cross to get home and determining it was safe, I walked forward and the younger girl took up the rear with her hands laced behind her head and face turned toward the clear blue sky she was unable to see. Sure in step, she walked on with an I-don't-care look on her face.
"Well, I don't want to sit in your lap like some little two-year-old," she replied. "And I can't stand up in contraptions like that; The rattling metal makes it hard for me to keep a balance and it's nauseating to look at with all the vibrations. "
"So miniaturize yourself and stay in my pocket like the boys do!"
Waving one hand dismissively while walking past as I checked the mail, she used her other to snatch the house keys from me and disregarded the profanities I shouted after her. "SOOKKA," her voice called into the mostly empty house imitating the call Ricky Ricardo would make to Lucy when he came home. "I'm Hoome!"
More often then not, my muses were the only companions I had in the evening not counting the three cats that would scamper away and hide, only showing themselves in surprise attacks against my feet when their food bowl was empty. Today was a quieter day. despite it being her favorite pastime, Toph didn't start right in on her antagonizing of Sokka but raided the fridge instead. She chucked a cup of yogurt that hid me upside the head as i was making my way into the living room. "Eat it," she commanded, once more cutting off the nasty response I had for her. "You didn't have a breakfast and you didn't eat a lunch and if I know you as well as I know I do, you're too lazy yo cook yourself any dinner either. Spirits, you carb-counting, lettuce nibbling, weight obsessed girls drive me crazy! I wish Sokka would help me strap the lot of you into some chairs and force feed you all some good old meatloaf!" She threw the spoon next but I caught that.
"I don't eat because we don't have much food," I replied dryly. "And because I'm usually not hungry."
Toph started at me blankly, her favorite expression. "Eat it," she said more forcefully. "Or I'll put you over my knee and paddle your backside."
A pressure on the side of my head, just below the temple, then release. Again, a build up of pressure, hard this time, subsiding shortly thereafter. As it was applied for the third time I sighed and asked, "what is it Toph?"
"There's no music," The girl stated the obvious. "Put on that Good Charlotte; I like their Riot Girl song."
"You would," I replied and looked back at the notebook in my lap. "Not tonight Toph, I'm writing."
"Writing what?" Toph asked, scooting closer. Her hands scampered over the open pages as though looking for the words that were laid down there. "Will you read it to me?"
"It's not really I story, Toph." Uncomfortably I shift the notebook from her grasp but she grabs at it again. "C'mon Toph, let go. It's personal."
"Oh, a diary!" Toph taunted. Before I even had a chance to counter her words she tore the collection of writings and blank pages from my hands then bolted into the next room. "Dear Diary," her mocking voice called as though she really could read the words. "Today I saw a booy and he was sooooo cuute!"
I followed her but didn't chase after her fleeting form as she danced around the dinning room table. "It's not a diary Toph," I told her. "Seriously, give it back.
"I'm soooo jealous of my friend," the blind girl's mocking continued, "because he was completely smitten with her, but wouldn't even look my way!"
"You're making an idiot of yourself and Sokka will laugh at you if you don't chillax."
"Well, tell me what's written here then." The notebook was dangled just out of reach in front of me and no matter how quietly I tried to snatch it back Toph always new just what my movements were and would pull it no further then one inch away. As cruel as it may have been, time like these made me wish she really was just a helpless, blind 12-year-old girl rather then the pestilent blind 12-year-old that she was.
Heaving a sigh, it came to light that the best course of action would be to just tell her what was in the notebook. None of the other Muses had come to my rescue, not that Toph actually listens to anything they say unless it's what she wanted o hear, and if I lied she'd see right through me. again. "It's about you; I'm writing a story about you Toph."
The taunting smirk Toph adapted only during fights where she was clearly playing games of cat-and-mouse with her opponent was wiped clean from her face. Her milky blue eyes would ordinarily be alight with a kind of laughing glisten, saying for her the childish chants of "nanna-nanna-boo-boo" when she herself felt too old to do so, when that smirk was in place. Like a light bulb when the switch is flicked, it too disappeared from her features and for a moment was replaced by that blank, void stare. Although her face had been turned toward me during the teasing, she tilted it away now, perhaps out of fear that I would read her emotions to clearly, as she asked in a meek, soft voice, "why?"
"Why what?" I ask, reaching for the notebook and finally being able to grab it. I didn't take it away from her though, sensing she needed someone to stand by her.
"Why write about me? I mean, it's not like you really have anything nice to say about me, right?"
"I doesn't mean I have bad things to say about you either," I replied.
"You said this morning I wasn't a good Muse. And throughout the day you've done nothing but act annoyed and exasperated by everything I do."
The notebook gets laid on the dinning room table amongst many other objects for projects my mother would have us work on during the weekend. Under normal circumstances Toph would never allow anyone to pick her up much less carry her anywhere like she needed someone's help but there was no resistance as I scoop her up and took her back to the couch where this whole episode began. "Toph," I say settling down like a mother getting ready to talk a to a child perched on their lap about something important. "You don't have to be a good Muse to be my Muse. Jet is as annoying if not more so then you are but he's still dear to me."
You say all the time that you don't want him around," Toph's voice said. She leaned forward and a curtain of that dark black hair shielded her face, shadowing the glisten of moisture gathering on the edges of her lashes.
"I say stuff like that all the time to my own brother, and while it may appear true on the surface, you and I both know that deep down he's family and I could never really live without him. You're family too, maybe not as far as flesh and blood is concerned, but that doesn't mean I can't treat you like a little sister when you can be just as annoying as one. "
Toph rested her head against my chest. "But then why say those mean things at all?"
"You aren't exactly a sugar queen yourself," I say playfully roughing up her hair. "People say a lot of things when their upset, things they regret and don't really mean, especially to those they love and care about most. We say we love people with whom we may not be all that close to all the time, but you can only say you hate someone if you're especially close to that person because you would have to trust them so much. I dunno, it's a kind of funny and different way of looking at things, huh?"
Toph nodded understandingly. "Not so much, I see things in a whole different spectrum of light then you do so it's not so bad...Does this mean you're still going to be mean to me and not read that story to me?"
"Maybe once it's done," I told her, arms wrapping around her torso in a hug.
"Do you know how it's going to end yet?"
I smiled. "That I do. 'They fought happily ever after.' Does that sound good?"
She tilted her head toward me, resting her head lightly on my shoulder. "I like that ending," she said. "I like it a lot."