A sharp wail could be heard echoing through the Beifong Estate.
Toph held the baby close to her, but it did little to calm either of their nerves.
She gently placed her hand on daughter’s cheek, saying, “Lin Beifong, you will not cry. Not today.”
And even though Lin was but three months old, she quieted.
Toph, meanwhile, was trying to glean her own advice. The room suddenly felt very small. Then again, it always did.
The door opened and two people entered. They felt familiar, and yet distant.
In her armes, Lin tensed. Toph swallowed, before saying, “Hello, Mother. Hello, Father.”
“Toph, darling,” Poppy said, but her words fell.
Lao said nothing, instead taking his place at the bench. Poppy hesitated, before joining him.
There were no hugs. There were no tears.
“Mother, Father,” Toph sad, slowly, “Meet your granddaughter.”
“Oh my,” Poppy said, “But where’s the father?”
“Her name is Lin,” Toph said, seethingly, “Lin Beifong.”
“Where is the father?” Poppy repeated.
Toph closed her eyes, exasperated. She knew that it would come to this.
“He’s not in the picture,” she finally said.
“It is unbecoming,” Lao finally spoke up.
Poppy, meanwhile, had become quite tearful, “Where did we go wrong?”
“Mother, this is my life,” Toph said, her voice rising, “I would’ve thought that you would be happy for me.”
“How could you do this to us?” Lao said.
“Think of our family, Toph,” Poppy said, silently crying.
After twenty years, however, Toph had heard enough. She summoned something deep inside her; something that rose up as she said, “Lin is my family. I have never needed your approval, and I do not need it now. You are a bully, Father. You, Mother, are nothing less than an elbow leech.”
She hugged Lin close to her, as she said, “This is not my life. I will not be coming back.”
With that, she turned her back to them.
“You cannot do this!” Lao cried, “You cannot raise that baby alone!”
Toph smiled at this, “What makes you think that I’m alone?”