By Chanie Hertz
Torah Academy For Girls

Ever since I was little, no matter where I went, people would stare at me. Some would laugh and others would pity me, whispering about how fortunate they were to not be me. Maybe they thought I was deaf, but I could clearly hear what they were saying and every word struck me so hard, it almost made me fall down. Well, it happened again today, and I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I ran to the little alley between my father’s shop and the fire station. It was my safe space and I went there often, to cry. There the darkness would hide me, and I could be away from the cruel world. I sat down and buried my face in my hands.

I heard a whimper and picked up my head. Had someone discovered my hiding place, I wondered? It was dark, but I felt around to see where the noise was coming from. I touched something small and wet. I picked it up and brought it to my father’s store. “What do you have there, Kate?” he asked me.

I didn’t respond, so he said, “Where did you get that puppy and why is it bleeding?”

I told him, “All that matters right now is to get this puppy to a vet.”

There was an ocean of blood sinking onto my shirt as I held the puppy to my chest. Could he survive after losing this much blood?

We ran next door where several of the firefighters were gathered outside of the firehouse. “Buddy,” yelled one of the firefighters, “what happened to him?” Then it dawned on me; Buddy was the firehouse mascot. Why else would he be so close to the station? One of the firefighters led me to their ambulance that was standing by and told my father and me to get in. He jumped behind the wheel and two other firefighters rode in back with us.

As the ambulance went roaring down the street, the Dalmatian started to make a noise. At first I was concerned, but then I realized it wasn’t a cry of pain. I understood that his soft moans were his way of communicating his appreciation to me. We arrived at the vet and pulled into the parking lot. All of us ran into the emergency entrance. As the vet examined Buddy, he whispered something into my dad’s ear. My father nodded and looked at the floor, his eyes not meeting my face. This was how he had looked when the doctors told him Mom was going to die so I knew it wasn’t looking good.

I am usually fearless, but now I started to tremble. Tears were rolling down my face and I found it hard to breathe. I wanted to be strong, but I couldn’t. As I sank into my father’s warm embrace, I wondered why this puppy had made me cry. Before this, I had never cried in front of anybody. What had made me drop my guard? Was it because this puppy reminded me of myself? I was always pretending to be strong, while inside I was nothing more than shattered glass waiting to be put together into something beautiful. I promised myself that if this puppy lived, I wouldn’t hide anymore, or wish that I was like everybody else. Even though I would like to be perfect and beautiful, I knew that true beauty exists when you stop caring about your imperfections.

I was born with a very large growth under my right eye and across my right cheek, down to my chin. It needed surgery that left me scarred. I was always ashamed, but I shouldn’t have been. The people who laughed should have felt ashamed for making me feel pained and unlucky to be myself. Yes, I was a little torn and ripped up, but even the most shredded shirts can be sewn back together.

 

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