Ugly Duckling

Here is a short story, dedicated to all those who are hurting, have hurt, or will.

Have you ever avoided mirrors? Or scales? Food or clothes? Have you ever tried to hide? Not from others, but from yourself? I used to, all the time. The way I looked seemed wrong. Cameras and Mirrors were my enemies. I always wore baggy clothes, trying to hide.

I weighed myself after every meal, almost obsessively.

There wasn’t anyone for me at school. I didn’t want there to be, not anymore. Waking up was torture, but I couldn’t sleep. The only friends I had were characters in books and shows. If only they’d been real.

My head would pound, my heart would race, I’d be too dizzy too stand, but I refused to eat.

I hurt myself, in many ways.

But it got better.

The first big difference was when I met Duchess. I worked at our local animal shelter Tuesday through Saturday. It was the only place I felt happy. So it was one day, when I was cleaning out a dogs cage, ready for its next occupant.

As I was walking back to get a towel, I saw a woman at the front desk. She had a large crate on the ground next to her. Pitiful whining came from it.

Turned out, she had had an English Bulldog breeding business (just a small one from home) and she was trying to close down. She’d found homes for all of her dogs except for two, a mother and her 8 week old pup.

Once the workers had gotten all the paperwork done and I was done cleaning cages I got to go meet the dogs.


They were the sweetest things. Dame was the mothers name, Dame Olga. her pup was nicknamed Duchess.

I had been looking for a dog to adopt myself for almost a year. You see, I wanted to train it as a therapy dog for Anxiety and Depression, and then bring her to community centers so that the kids there could practice reading or whatever to the dog and feel safe.

A bulldog would be just right for me.

So that night when I was back at my apartment I called my mom and asked if she wanted to come with me to adopt the dog on Monday. She agreed happily and gushed for almost an hour about how happy she was for me.

Next I called the shelter and told them I was going to come and get Duchess in a couple of days. They reminded me of the $125 fee, and hung up.

All of Sunday Duchess was he only thing I could think of. I was so excited I didn’t eat anything all day, I couldn’t seem to sit still long enough to.

Bad idea. I woke up the next morning sick to my stomach. I felt so weak I could barely move. I managed to call my mom, and crying, I begged for her help.

It was the third time that month that she’d driven across half the state to help me. I hated that I was causing her so much trouble. Luckily she’d been planning on coming today anyways.

She stayed on the phone with me for a lot of the drive, telling me it was going to be okay.

When she got to my place she used her extra key to get in and then helped me up and got me to eat. For the rest of the morning and into the afternoon I worked on moving and eating. Finally, I felt well enough that I wanted to go to the shelter.

My mom drove and my coworkers at the shelter happily greeted us.

“Duchess is in the back, can you leash her and bring her to the front please? I’ll help you as soon as we’re done here.” Maya turned back to the little girl wanting a cat who was standing in front of her.

Mom thought Duchess was just the sweetest, and decided to take both of us to Petco to get supplies as soon as the adoption was finalized.


“Mom you don’t have to…” I argued as we walked out to the car, little Duchess squirming in my arms.

“Yes I do.” She said simply. And so to Petco we went, and we found a nice collar, bed, leash, and a couple toys that the puppy liked.

Mom stayed for dinner, and we sat on the floor with Duchess to eat our spaghetti. Mom made me eat two full bowls and made me promise to eat a full breakfast before work the next morning—

Now I have to go, sorry, Duchess is barking at another squirrel. I promise I’ll write more later though!





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