holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit
What the fuck
holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit
What the fuck
Zuko paused on his way to his office, and peered into his sister’s room. She was sitting in her wheelchair, half facing the window, while Lian, one of the morning aides, chattered amicably from a chair in front of her as she spooned food into Azula’s mouth. A small table at the maids elbow held a tray with a bowl of water and towel on it. Zuko loved this maid, loved watching her care for his sister. He paused on his way to his office, leaned his head against the doorjam.
“The sunlight on the water, that’s what I like most…” she said, and dabbed at his sister’s chin to catch a drip. “The sunlight on the water…” she paused a moment as if Azula were responding, then gave a laugh. “I suppose it is quite common.”
Azula had not spoken a single word, not in the seven months since they retrieved her from the woods, except for the single sentence uttered into space, as he carried her, more bone than anything else, bleeding, bruised from the cave where they had found her; “I killed the monster mommy, do you love me now?”
Zuko closed his eyes at the memory, tried to erase the words from his thoughts.
They had almost lost her, would have lost her if Katara hadn’t nursed her, reluctantly at first, but later with greater devotion, back to health.
Physically health. They had her body, but not her mind. He had begun to think that this was it for her, that there was nothing else to do for her but keep her warm and clean and fed.
Zuko closed his eyes, forcing the thoughts away, and focused his mind on the maids speech, which always comforted him.
“I keep trying to get the effect right…” Lian went on, paused then added with a laugh “I’m not good.”
She was so sweet, gentle, natural with his sister. Not as if his sister was a problem, not as if there was defective about her, as if Azula was there and not locked away somewhere none of them could reach.
“I was thinking it would be nice to walk about the pond today. Or would you prefer the orchard?” Pause. Sometimes Zuko thought he could hear his sister’s replies echo in his head. “The orchard it is then.”
They had tried to get her to talk. Pleaded with her, threatened her, demanded, ignored. Nothing worked.
“Can she hear us?” Zuko had asked. His uncle had shrugged “She’s never been one to do things by halves.”
“The morning is rather hot and the apples are ripe. The scent will be lovely.” Lian smiled and scraped the spoon against the ceramic bowl. “There, that’s the last drop.” She held the bowl up to Azula, then placed the bowl on the tray and took up the towel instead. “Now I’ll just help you with your face and hands…”
“Oh and I bought you something from the antiques shop.” The maid continued as she moved Azula to the vanity, facing her toward the mirror. “It isn’t as expensive as you are accustomed to wear, but it was so unusual. A cornet in the shape of a dragon chewing on its tail.” He almost heard Azula scoff at the description; ‘unusual? I’ve seen many like that…’
“Oh, I know. Dozens like that, but what makes it unusual is the winding of stones around the base, just under the dragon. Stones. All colors. Even grays and browns and colors like that. Even black and white. No two alike.” Lian took up Azula’s brush. “Or we could use the double garnet band. That is nice as well…”
“Reminds me of when Azula was a baby and she wouldn’t talk.” His mother said close to his ear. Zuko frowned and turned about, to find his mother behind him.
“What?” he asked, confused.
“She was about three or four. Your father was furious because she wouldn’t speak. We knew she could read; anytime anyone read to her and made a mistake she’d give them a firepinch! And of course she had begun to write.”
“But she wouldn’t talk,” his mother went on, no matter how we tried to encourage her. “One evening Ozai just slapped her. She fell. It scared you…”
Zuko tried to pull the memory from his mind.
“She ran off and then you ran after her…”
Vague. Something vague itched at him. Something in paper. The scent of the stream.
“About an hour later I found the two of you underneath the willow, the one near the footbridge.”
Yes. Zuko smiled. Sticky little sweets he got from the kitchen. Stole from the kitchen. The maid wouldn’t have willingly given over so many candies, not when they were the Fire Lord Azulon’s favorite treat.
“And Azula had this huge smile on her face but yours was even bigger. “
He remembered! “She said my name mommy! Do it again Azula I’ll give you another candy.”
Then he had pointed at himself “ZU!” Azula had shouted, and he had given her another treat. He remembered how proud he felt, how proud his mother was of him, the hug she had given him.
“Now, you need to learn to say your name…Ah Zu La!
“ZU!!!!!” She had belted out again, nearly jumping in place, then held out her hand for the expected reward.
But he had held the candies away. “No. I’m ZU KO. You are A ZU LA!” But she had persisted, he had insisted. If his mother hadn’t been there it would have meant tears and a fight.
“You had worked so hard, I didn’t want you to lose that…So I made up this song. Zu and Zu….” she wagged her head from side to side, a little smile on her face. “Do you remember?”
“Yes,” he said, because he did. Now he did.
He brushed past his mother into the room.
“Zuko?” Ursa followed in after him.
Lian had turned Azula to face her, and was applying makeup. “Now just…” she said, then yelped as he grabbed the chair and swung it around to face him.
“Firelord I must…”
“Zuzu.” he said, trying to lock eyes with his sister. Nothing. His head dropped.
“Say it again!” Lian commanded. Zuko looked up at her then down at Azula. What did she see?
“Zuzu.” There, he saw it, the tiniest flicker in her eyes, a slight shiver ran up and down her frame.
“The song, you have to do your part.” her mouth twitched, her hands pumped. The maid put a chair behind him and he sat down. “Zuzu…” he said again. Unmistakable this time. She heard.
“Mother you need to help. Do your part now.”
Ursa looked at him blankly.
“The song mother! Now.”
“Who are you?” Ursa intoned.
“Azula…” again Azula’s mouth moved, her lips pulling together than apart No sound, but her eyes had locked with his.
“A team of two…” Zuko sang. “Azu…”
“Zuzu…” almost inaudible…almost. He heard it though.
“Mommy’s crew…” Ursa sang in on cue.
“Zuzu…” a bit louder now.
“Me and you…” He wept, brushed his hand across her face, sweeping away the tears. He was crying as well.
“Zuzu…” Her voice was hoarse, thick, but anyone could have heard her now.
Then he held up his hand, thumb and pinkie extended. His mother did the same, and they touched, pinkie to thumb. “Come on Azula, please!” Slowly, uncertainly, she lifted up her hand, and joined her hand to theirs.
“I love you …” they sang together. He grabbed her up and pulled her into his lap, hugged her tightly, felt her tears seep through the cloth of his robe. “I love you…” he said again, as she sobbed into his chest. “And I’ll never forget who we are again.”
“I’m so proud of you!” his mother and the maid said together. And he knew without looking, that his mother was speaking to him, while Lian was speaking to Azula.
He sat and rocked her for a long time, till a guard came, hesitantly to the door. “I’m sorry Firelord but Admiral Inoue has arrived…”
“Tell him to..”
“No.” Azula pushed herself off his lap and settled back into her wheelchair. “You are the Firelord. Our nation comes first.”
He kissed her, then rose and left the room. Just as he reached the door he turned back. She was looking up at Lian.
“The dragon band. I will see it, then decide. “
“Yes Princess…” the maid bowed.
A 2,000-year-old kitchen, which dates back to the late Roman era, has been discovered in the ancient city of Sagalassos in the southern province of Burdur.
Excavations in the ancient city started in early June, but the discovery of the kitchen was only reported last month.
“The kitchen was completely unearthed. We will learn in great detail about the kitchen culture present in that era. This is a very detailed scientific work. Not only archaeologists, but also anthropologists, zoologists and botanists are working together [on this project],” said Professor Jereon Poblome, head of excavations.
“There are no tiles on the ground, only soil. The understanding of hygiene was different in the late Roman era. Ergonomically, it is a difficult kitchen for us [to use], but they became used to it. They use to put coal in the middle and a pot on it with bulgur and meat inside. Read more.
Saw some very cute baby Kit Foxes (Vulpes macrotis) at work today.
©Zachary A. Cava
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