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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)

TITLE: Peace Reigns
By Teri Wilson


“They only come to see you because you’re a freak.”

At the sound of the whisper, Peace’s ears swiveled back and forth. She must be hearing things.

“You’re a freak. They come to laugh at you.”

Peace turned her head and found herself looking into the eyes of a zebra standing at the fence around her enclosure. She recognized him as the one called Streak, the leader of the herd at Safari Park. “What are you talking about?”

“You think you’re so perfect in your private pasture with your fancy white fence. But you’re just a freak.”

Peace was shocked to be treated so cruelly her own kind. “I beg your pardon. I’m a zebra just like you.”

Her statement was met with guffaws of laughter from the young herd. “Who told you that?”

“My mother. She’s a zebra, too.”

“What about your dad?”

“He’s a horse. A white stallion, just like in fairy tales.” Peace’s eyes twinkled with pride.

“So your mom is a zebra and your dad is a horse.” Streak’s lips twisted into a cruel smirk. “I guess that makes you… nothing.”

The herd reared up in a cloud of dust, snorting and hooting with laughter. Their hoofbeats echoed in Peace’s ears long after they retreated to their own pasture.

Alone in her pen, she looked at the reflection staring back at her in the watering hole. She saw her striped zebra face and the mane on her snow-white neck standing in a stiff row. She couldn’t see her rump in the reflection, but in her mind she saw where her white body met with a striped hind end. What she always thought of as unique now looked like a messy patchwork of different animal parts thrown together haphazardly.

Could they be right? Did the crowds come just to poke fun and call her names? She didn’t speak the same language as the park visitors. Maybe the words they spoke were nasty words like freak… or nothing.

These thoughts tormented Peace as she tried to sleep. When morning came, she hung her head despondently and hid behind the shade trees in her pen. People gathered at the fence and called her name, but she refused to look up. The herd had wounded her to the very core and all her confidence had completely vanished.

She remained there, her head hanging between her ivory knees, day after day and night after night.

“Why the long face?”

Peace’s ears pricked forward and the sound of the voice. It had been a long time since anyone had spoken to her. Even the park visitors barely took notice of her anymore.

“Go away.”

“And miss my chance with a pretty thing like you?” The voice sounded friendly, but Peace couldn’t bring herself to look at its source.

“I’m not pretty. I’m not anything. I am nothing.” Although she thought she was accustomed to the words, tears slid down her bold striped face as she spoke them aloud.

“Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful in all my life.”

Peace lifted her head ever so slightly at the kind words. She peeked from behind her lashes at the creature standing at her fence. It was a horse. With very large ears. In fact, she’d never seen such large ears before.

“Are you a horse?”

“No, but my dad is.”

“What is your mom?”

“My mom is a gorgeous donkey.”

Peace lifted her head to its full, upright position. “Oh my! Your dad is a horse and your mom is a donkey. That makes you just like me. You’re nothing, too.”

“Actually that makes me a mule, sweetheart.”

Afraid she had insulted her new friend, the white stripes on her face turned crimson with embarrassment. “Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just that my dad is a horse and my mom is a zebra. And I am nothing.”

“I think that makes you a zorse, or maybe a hebra.”

The two stood together under the milky twilight and for the first time in weeks, Peace laughed and felt like something again. The mule continued to visit Peace night after night, and gradually she became a happy animal once more. The mule had given her back her dignity.

The Safari Park staff noticed the special relationship between the two creatures and moved the mule into Peace’s enclosure. Now visitors come to see the park’s newest addition… one they are calling a zorbule. Or maybe it’s a mebrorse.

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This article has been read 1391 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Cartwright07/12/07
This kind of allegory never fails to touch me deeply and your creativity and skill made it more so. I loved the humor you incorporated into a timeless message.
Sara Harricharan 07/12/07
LOL! I love this! It's so funny, the horse/zebra twist. This is cute! I love horses and Zebras, especially because they are so spirited! You captured that very nicely! One thing that was a little sketchy...was the mule a guy or girl? It could just be me, but I'm assuming it was a guy. ^_^ Otherwise, good job!
Sharlyn Guthrie07/12/07
What a fun story, and one that would definitely appeal to children! I especially like the visual images you created throughout. Nice job.
Lynda Schultz 07/12/07
You might have just written about a miracle here: "Mules and hinnies are almost always sterile" according to Wikipedia. But hey, other than that, and one missing word, I loved it — great story.
Lynda Schultz 07/12/07
I just went back to Wikipedia with another doubt: "In its common modern meaning, a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, which is classified as a kind of F1 hybrid. The reverse, the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, is called a hinny. " I'm being picky here, cause I really do love the story.
Jacquelyn Horne07/12/07
Cute story. This should be a good read for "kids". I should help build confidence.
Dee Yoder 07/12/07
Loved the ending! Very appealing and humorous characters through-out.
Mo 07/12/07
Cute story!
Dixie Phillips07/13/07
I love all the lessons in your story. It could really be used to teach children. Also, your title is so witty. Great job!
Dianne Janak07/13/07
Loved this story. Just what I needed to brigten up my day and not give up on writing. I want to learn to do dialogue like this.. Thanks for the lesson... Simple but profound..! and loved the humor..
william price07/15/07
Very creative story, expertly written. I do think, though, the line
"The herd had wounded her to the very core and all her confidence had completely vanished."
could have been left out. You had already communicated that well enough in my opinion.
But, Great, imaginative story. A fun read with a catchy ending. God bless.
Elizabeth Burton07/17/07
Very cute story. Loved the detail! I agree that it makes a lovely kid's story, with a nice lesson. The writing is superb, as usual, :).
Sally Hanan07/17/07
Haha, I should have known this was yours :)Funny story and creative too.
Joanne Sher 07/17/07
Delightful - such a wonderful message - and I LOVE the last line! Fun.
Maxx .07/18/07
This captures some very real emotions, especially in youngsters. Very good.
Kristen Hester07/19/07
Oh, this is so great! It's such a perfect story for children and adults with a great message. I can think of few kids that I would like to share this with. I love the ending with the "zorbule" or "mebrorse". How funny.
Sara Harricharan 07/19/07
***Congrats Teri!*** Way to write! ^_^
Rita Garcia07/19/07
CONGRATS! Wonderful and delightful story, love the message!
Sheri Gordon07/19/07
Congratulations on the EC. I love the messsage in this. And your animal names at the end are priceless. Good job.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/19/07