Greetings. How art thou? 😄 I’m participating in Misty’s amazing writing challenge, Aspiring Authors Writing Challenge, or AAWC for short. (Read about it here.) The word prompt for this challenge was “Reflection.” I can collect two extra points for my team if I work my team mascot into the story, so I did! (I’m on Team Swan.)
I wasn’t very pleased with the first draft of this story, so I re-wrote it and like it a lot better. 🙂 I think you will too – I hope, anyway!
Unfortunately, the link for the first picture didn’t work, so I don’t know where it’s from. 😦 But the rest of the pictures have links to the original websites.
Make sure not to forget to remember (XD) to take my survey at the bottom!
The Ugly Duckling Club
The trees stooped and straightened above me. They puffed and groaned after each sit-up, begging the wind to have mercy on them.
I was at my dear little secret pond in the woods. It was a small pool with water so clear that you could see the many colored pebbles gleaming on the bottom, and surrounded by reeds, oaks, and vibrant green puffs of grass.
I sat down on my favorite puff, Verde the Hoglet. If you think it odd that I named a clump of grass Verde the Hoglet, well… you’re entitled to your opinion I suppose. I name everything I see: trees, grass, the mailbox, the mysterious tumble-down barn next door … I even named my secret pond Clandestine. You see, since I have very few friends, I make up my own. This particular grass puff was as spiky green as a sick baby hedgehog, and thus I thought Verde the Hoglet a very appropriate name.
But just now I was too absorbed in my reflection to think about names. I have always been plain – and even that’s an understatement. I have thin, straggly, gray-brown hair; squinty, faded blue eyes; a hefty crop of freckles peppered over my face; and ears that stick out at approximately 90 degree angles from my head. A tear hastily connected the dots on my freckled cheek and splashed onto my reflection’s crumpled face. Still plain ol’ Priscilla, the Ugly Duckling.
Suddenly I was startled out of my reverie by a loud quack and an enormous splash. What was that? No ducks ever came to this pond – it was too small. I lifted my head and then drew back in surprise.
At the other end of the pond was the ugliest, scruffiest, most miserable looking duckling I had ever seen. He was covered in ragged gray down-feathers, and possessed a ginormous orange beak, and long, gangly neck. He kept his head painfully erect and avoided looking at the water. Something in me just knew: he’s ashamed of himself too. Immediately I felt sorry for this poor little Ugly Duckling. We were two of a kind. I felt around in my pocket for a wheat roll left over from dinner and broke it in half. “Some for you, some for me,” I said. I crumbled his half into pieces and threw it lightly on the water.
The duckling started and flapped his gangly wings, but he gingerly approached the crumbs. He snapped one up, tasted it thoughtfully, swallowed, and then proceeded to skim the whole pond at lightning speed, churning up frothy milk-white water in his wake. I could hardly hold back a guffaw, but I didn’t want to scare my new friend with my notoriously loud laughter. When he finished eating, he cocked his head and stared at me with bright, coal-black eyes.
“No, Little Fella, I’ve no more crumbs for you!” I said, allowing myself a laugh. I crouched down on Verde the Hoglet and stared at him seriously. “Say, how ‘bout being friends? I could use a friend like you.” I held out my hand solemnly, as if to shake on the deal. And wonder of wonders – the duckling paddled over to me and laid his scruffy head on my palm! The touch of his fluffy feathers sent delicious tingles through my fingers.
“Ugly Ducklings, friends forever. Okay, Little Fella?” And so the Ugly Duckling Club was born.
One time I brought a picnic lunch to the pond. The Ugly Duckling sat on the pond, watching me carefully. I spread out ham, cheese, and crackers; apples, carrots, and tomatoes; and bread, butter, and strawberry jam. When Little Fella saw me set the bread on the red checked cloth, he could stand it no longer. He flapped furiously over to the edge of the pond, and waddled up to my picnic cloth. He sat down next to the bread and gave me a pleading glance. I chuckled. “All right, Little Fella, you win.” I threw him a piece of bread, then carelessly spread some butter and jam on a slice for me. I lifted it to my mouth, but quick as a flash Little Fella raced over and grabbed it out of my fingers. He gulped it down with relish, and would have licked his lips if that were possible. I frowned and shook my finger at him, but I couldn’t stay angry for long. Little Fella just peered up at me with mischief sparkling in his eyes, and all I could do was dissolve into giggles. Thereafter I always made sure to bring extra bread and jam to my picnics.
All that summer I romped and played with Little Fella at the pond. Gradually his scraggly gray feathers fell out and were replaced with smooth white ones, but I never noticed. I was too busy having fun. One fine autumn day I hurried down the path to the pond. I hadn’t seen Little Fella for nearly two weeks while my family had been to visit the cousins. I had been looking forward to this moment from the day we left. I sprang into the clearing with a grin and a shout, waiting for the Ugly Duckling to waddle up to me. But he didn’t appear. I shouted Little Fella’s name frantically, but to no avail.
Little Fella… gone? A flood of happy memories nearly drowned me as they swept into my mind. I collapsed into a heap and wept my broken heart out for a long, long time.
And then I heard something.
It wasn’t a splash exactly, it was more of a graceful skim. I wiped my tears and turned toward the sound. I gasped in astonishment and wobbled to my feet. There, gliding gracefully on the mirrored waters, was the most beautiful swan I had ever seen. It was whiter than the new-fallen snow, and its strong, slender neck proudly held up a handsome head.
“I-is that you, Little Fella?” I stammered in astonishment. The swan promptly shook his feathers and waddled up to my feet. It cocked its head and looked pleadingly at my pocket.
I was almost giddy with relief. “Oh, Little Fella! How beautiful you are!” I breathed in awe. Then my eyes dropped sadly to the ground. “But you’ve gone and ruined the Ugly Duckling Club. You’re far too beautiful and grown-up to be an Ugly Duckling any longer. I can’t have a club with only me, and I can’t stand to be an Ugly Duckling alone.” But then I looked at my rippling reflection and I knew. I knew I was no longer an Ugly Duckling. I saw more than a plain face stare back at me: I saw a girl no longer lonely, no longer burdened by her appearance, but simply happy to be alive. No matter how much of an Ugly Duckling I was on the outside, I was a beautiful swan on the inside.
“Friends forever?” I held out my hand to shake on the deal, and Little Fella laid his beautiful snow white head in my palm. “Yes, friends forever,” I whispered.
So, how did you like it? I think it turned out pretty well! I liked the Verde the Hoglet part. 😄 Here’s a picture of Verde in real life: ISN’T HE ADORABLE? I love hedgies!
Now… WAIT! STOP! HALT! GO NO FURTHER! Before you leave, would you pretty please take my blog survey? It’s a fairly short little thing, but I would really appreciate the feedback. Thank you ever so much!