They called her the cygnet.
Dawn never really minded: she’d read The Ugly Duckling like all kids her age. And everyone knew the cygnet became a beautiful swan. She also knew it was a reference to her mother, whom everyone called the Dancing Swan, and not only because the role of Odette and Odile had been her path to fame in the dancing world.
Her mother was beautiful, she embodied everything Dawn ever wanted to be: a talented dancer, maybe a famous one. But she wasn’t. From the time she was born, her frailty prevented her from doing what all she wanted. She was sure no other kid had ended up in the emergency room as many times for fractures and other wounds as she. For a time they feared she might have brittle bone disease. Her bones did feel like glass… they broke so easily.
It didn’t lessen her desire to dance though. So she would; when her parents weren’t home – something that happened quite often – she’d go into her mother’s dance studio and dance. She would use some bandage to support her ankles, ensure they wouldn’t break. It didn’t always work. A couple of times, she had to crawl to her phone to call 9-1-1.
Whenever her parents learned – every time she ended at the hospital – she had gone again to the studio, they punished her. They didn’t understand: for them that need to dance despite it all was inexplicable. After her umpteenth incident, one that left her in a wheel chair for a month, they’d locked the door.
It didn’t prevent them from leaving her alone; she was 18 after all. But that didn’t mean she enjoyed being alone. Being so fragile she’d never really made friends: they were too afraid to hurt her. And so while her parents vacationed for a month in the Alps, Dawn found herself adrift. Nobody was there to console her after she roller coasted from laughter to tears. No one ensured that she ate morning, noon and evening; sometimes she did, other times she didn’t.
She was the ugly duckling. Except it was the swans, her parents who didn’t want their grey offspring. Until her bones stopped breaking she would never be a swan: she wanted so much to be one, worthy of her parents’ attention and love.
So she signed. She looked up; he smiled. She shivered. She knew what she’d done. But she’d been left to her own device for so long; it had been so easy to corrupt this young abandoned soul.
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle #124 prompt: 1. Emergency 2. Frailty 3. Adrift 4. Corrupt 5. Lessen 6. Embody 7. Cygnet (a young swan) 8. Inexplicable 9. Vitrify (To convert or be converted into glass.) 10. Bandage 11. Grey 12. Fennel