“I hate you!” That’s all I heard as I ran away from the house and into the woods. Dark grey clouds circled above my head  as I dashed into the wall of trees, and the lonely, solemn building I used to call home seemed to be miles upon miles away from my grasp. Rain began to fall from the sky, mixing with my salty tears. How’d my life end up this way?

I think it all began with him. My father was a kindred spirit; he never hurt a fly. He believed that anyone could be a hero, that anyone could rise up and help. Then he was killed. It was raining that day, too. My mother, a police officer with a hunger for justice and gingerbread, was devastated. She threw herself into her work, trying to figure out who caused the death of her husband. She tore herself away from me and my sister.

My sister was always hateful towards me from the very beginning. I shrugged it off as typical sibling rivalry every time. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was that I was too afraid to stand up. She was berating me for never helping our mother, but our mother never let us help her, never let me help her. Our mother saw us and took my sister’s side. Then I left.

I sighed. “I wish I could be anything but me.” I closed my eyes and sank down to the ground.

“But you can.” My eyes snapped open. In front of me stood a woman, dressed in green, ivy draped across her arms, flowers in her hair. I tilted my head. “If you agree to my terms, I’ll give you the power to turn into anything you want.” I raised an eyebrow. “The only catch, you can never turn into something you’ve been before. So no going back to being a human.”

I processed what she was saying. If I did accept, I could go away from here, and never return. “I accept.”

As a bird, I fly, leaving my marks across the sky. As a wolf, I sing to the moon. As a butterfly, I exit my cocoon. As a fish, I swim along. As a kangaroo, I am strong. I am better than before.

But I miss home. My mother, my sister. I miss my father. But I can’t transform back to a human. I miss walking to the ice cream shop with my friends and laughing as we watch the sunset on the old porch swing in the park. I miss watching cheesy old movies and trying to catch popcorn in my mouth. I miss going to the animal shelter and petting the elderly dogs, because that may have been the most loving they’ve gotten in a while.

As a lemur, I climb up an old oak tree. I sigh and look down on the town I used to call home. I reflect on my past, mistakes and decisions. I sit there on the top of the old oak tree.

“There’s nothing I want more than to just be me.”