The air was chilly against my exposed skin. It wrapped its cold strands of silk around my arms trying to nip out all the warmth I had stored. Letting out a deep breath I looked towards the sky as a deep dread filled my soul. The morning sun was yawning ignoring my presence as it spread its golden rays of light for us all to use in order to see. It has been five years since I had returned to the home that birthed me. Five long years since I have been to the hidden leaf village, I remember the day so clear.
It was a warm afternoon when the last day of my training with Tsunade came. I remember the sun most of all, how warm and inviting it was when it wrapped around embracing me. Tsunade was barking out orders with the faint smell of liquor still lingering on her breath. She was carelessly tossing jutsu attacks at me, that was all her training was with me. An hour and a half passed of this repetitive session. I felt hot from the heat, my shirt clung to my skin sticky with my sweat. But I knew I did not have to wait long, once the bottle of rum in her hand was low, she would stop for the day so she could get to the store in time before they closed. I was so close to being let out of my training with Tsunade then I would be able to run off and find my shinobi team who consisted of Naruto, Kakashi and Sai.
It was not until a rogue group of shinobi snuck into the leaf village and tried to strike down my mentor, was the event that ended my training with Tsunade permanently and ended my life inside the leaf village. The shinobi were so strong, too strong for me to handle on my own and with Tsunade drunk from her day drinking we stood no chance for survival. I remember lying on my back, the dirt felt so rough against my skin. I had deep desperate breaths being pulled quickly into my lungs due to the deep gash on my side leaking out blood. All I could do in that moment was watch as they beat Tsunade, she fell from her knees onto the burnt grass unmoving. When I thought back to this moment of my life, I can still feel that pressure swirling inside my chest. It felt so tight, like my rib cage was constantly being pumped with dry air and I was ready to burst open.
Then the heat ignited, God it was so hot. It was like my skin was burning against my own bones, scorching the muscle and organs inside my body. The last thing I remember before blacking out was the sensation that I was raising to my feet. I thought this feeling was just a mixture of dreams and dehydration because I was not that person, I was not the hero that rose against struggle and tipped the scales between good and evil. I am not strong enough to raise after being knocked down. My next memory was of Tsunade, she hovered over my face and she appeared to be screaming at me but her words were like bubbles, floating away from me as I gaze above me at the puffy white clouds in the sky as darkness reached out ripping me back down into its pool of sleep. I remember Tsunade’s facial features from that day so clearly because I had never seen her look scared before then.
When I woke and found Tsunade, she explained to me that I had forced the strength of one hundred seals to appear on my forehead which was how I rose to my feet, it was how I took down those rogue shinobi and saved Tsunade’s life. My mark was different from hers; it was blue while hers was purple. Tsunade’s mark remained on her forehead while mine vanished when not in use. Tsunade said this could be because I forced my seal and did not truly earn it. The next day went as it normally as it could, I did my rounds at the leaf village hospital. I ate lunch alone since my team was too busy and then met up with Tsunade at the training grounds. She had her favorite bottle of rum in her hand, some things never changed. She told me to get ready and then summoned a wave of fire, little to my knowledge I could not control the forced strength of one hundred seals and in return I destroyed the training grounds with one wave of my hand.
I didn’t feel pride like Naruto would have, I foolishly felt fear as I spun around looking for Tsunade. She was staring at me with wide eyes as her half full bottle of rum slid from her fingers and shattered on the ground. That is some cheap glass to shatter on a patch of dirt. As I displayed my newfound strength, it was like I turned on a faucet that I could not shut off. There was a hungry sensation that built up pressure that wanted to explode from inside my rib cage. I felt an urge pounding against my skull, my body wanted to go against my command and involuntary release damage on the nearby surroundings. I explained this to Tsunade, because I was her scared student and she was my sensei, she was supposed to protect me no matter how scary I seemed. Tsunade backed away from me as I approached her, her hands were raised keeping me feet away from her as if I held an infectious disease.
Tsunade said she would go quickly do some research on what to do, and that I was to stay inside the training grounds. I watched her run away from me, leaving me alone with swirling questions scratching inside my skull. I thought she was leaving me alone to protect the other people of the village. I didn’t want to be walking through the village, flick my finger as a wave of damage bloomed in its path. So, I stayed put and leaned against a tree hugging my knees for hours, waiting. As the sun fell asleep and night bloomed across the sky my stomach growled. I picked myself up, believing it would be safe enough for me to enter town because most of the town’s folk should be inside their homes by now. I walked through the streets as that summer night grew stiff and cold. I didn’t feel like this place was my home, I felt like a stranger walking through the sidewalks I grew up on. I spotted Kakashi and Naruto, they were sitting at the bar in Ichiraku Ramen. I felt the last smile I would ever have while inside the leaf village bloom onto my lips as tears flourished in my eyes. I picked up my speed to reach them, as if they were my lantern in this darkness. “Naruto!” I called out,
“Kakashi-Sensei!” The two slightly turned their heads to see who was calling out their names.
“Sakura!” Naruto smiled. “Where have you been all day?” Naruto wondered.
“Well I kind of need to talk to you about-”
“Hey!” Naruto bounced on his stool. “Guess what!?”
“Uh...What?” I smiled,
“Kakashi and I were training, and he said that I-”
“You guys were training without me?” I felt a tingle in my heart.
“Well-Well you were with Tsunade and so...” Naruto babbled on about what he and Kakashi trained on today. They did this a lot, trained without me or ‘forgot’ to invite me to their sessions. Kakashi has never given me a private lesson, it was almost as if he believed I was a waste of his time. Naruto was his golden student and I was just...I looked away from them as Naruto went on talking. What was I to them?
“Listen-” I said, cutting Naruto off. “Yesterday I-”
“Jezz Sakura.” Naruto muttered taking a bite of his ramen.
“Huh?” I asked.
“Just cut me off...I wasn’t done talking.” Naruto explained further. I looked away from Naruto and towards Kakashi, waiting for him to defend the fact Naruto cut me off first.
“Sakura!” I jumped at the angry voice that came from behind us. I slowly turned, praying to not see her image but I knew her voice better than I knew my own. Tsunade stood behind me, her arms on her hips looking displeased.
“Ooo.” Naruto mocked. “Someone is in trouble.” He sang. I shot a glare; you would never know this kid just turned seventeen with how he acted sometimes. “You were supposed to wait for me, Sakura.” Tsunade’s voice was forced, I studied her posture trying to read her, but I couldn’t read people like Kakashi could.
“I-I” I heard my voice and my brain was making words for me to use but nothing came out. It was like the words were getting scrambled together in a jumbled mess inside my throat.
“Come Sakura.” Tsunade said, raising a handout gesturing me to follow her. I looked back at Kakashi, I wanted to talk to him- “Now.” Tsunade added. I swallowed the lump of failed words in my throat and turned, leaving the warmth of Ramen Ichiraku I followed Tsunade without question, like I had been taught to do. I glanced back, seeing Naruto and Kakashi had turned back to their meals and conversations as if I had never interrupted. Was that what I was to them? As I followed Tsunade, I noticed she never made eye contact with me. Her research must not have been good for her to be acting this way, I prepared for longer training hours and maybe not being around other people for a while. I followed Tsunade to the front gates of the leaf village, there I saw my parents standing there.
I turned to Tsunade with my eyebrows pulled together showing my confusion. My father had a bag in his hands and my mother was crying.
“Sakura-” Once again, Tsunade would not look at me. “-You have to leave.”
“What?” I pulled my eyes off my parents and onto Tsunade who still wouldn’t look in my direction. “Leave?”
“Yes.” She confirmed.
“Where? Like on a mission?” I wondered, was this my first solo mission!?
“No, Sakura you are no longer apart of the Leaf Village.” Tsunade corrected my thoughts.
“H-How can you-”
“You are a danger to the Leaf Village!” Tsunade snapped. “You are hereby banished from this village!” Tsunade and I stood at the gates of the leaf village with my parents for an hour fighting, I tried to convince her to let me stay. The leaf village was my home, my family, friends and entire life was rooted here I didn’t want to leave. I lied and told her I didn’t feel that raging power inside me anymore, but I was a terrible liar back then and she saw right through me. To end this, Tsunade threatened to throw my parents in jail if I did not leave, so with that I hugged my parents, took the bag Tsunade forced my father to pack and looked into the dark night outside the gates.
I had nowhere to go, my heart was pounding so hard my chest was starting to hurt. I had no ties with any other village. Tsunade did not set up anything for me, she truly did not want me to stand for the leaf village in any way. She was ready to throw me to the wolves and not look back. Tsunade simply wanted to wash away the problem, even if that meant banishing her sixteen-year-old student. With one last look at my parents, I took my first step out of the village, and onto an unknown path that lacked light to search out a place I could live and not end up hurting people.
My future never looked so dark.