The Duck Who Was A Girl, But Who Was A Duck

I chose to keep the representation tags of "duck," "girl," and "duck" repetitive, not to imply that a transgender individual is at any point anything other than the gender they identify with, but rather to highlight how our assigned sex can so often be forced to be a part of our experience even when we have been freed from it. 

There once was a duck. This duck had been born on a small farm outside of a big city. Every day the duck would be greeted by its peers and parents as “duck.” For they were all ducks. This particular duck, however, did not feel like a duck. Year after year it was reminded that it was a duck. It walked like a duck. It quacked like a duck. It could not deny that the evidence suggested it was a duck.

“But I am not a duck,” lamented the duck one day. “I am a girl. I only look like a duck, and sound like a duck.” But no matter who the duck told, nobody understood. For they were all ducks. Disheartened that she did not belong, though she had worked so hard to, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, left the farm and headed into the city.

Upon entering the city, its glittering skyline highlighted by a rosy sun, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, encountered a boy. Confused by the appearance of a common duck from the farm, the boy knelt down and inquired with the duck regarding its purpose in the city. “What is your purpose here, Duck? How can I help you find your way back to the farm?” the boy offered.

“I do not wish to go back to the farm. I do not belong there,” the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, informed the boy. “For they are all ducks. I may look like a duck, and sound like a duck, but I am truly a girl.”

“I see,” said the boy, his eyes saddening with remembrance. “I know what that means.”

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, tilted her head to the side, confusion contorting her beak. “What does it mean, boy?” quacked the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck. 

The boy smiled, knowing the duck would understand what he had struggled with. “I was once a frog. I believed I was a boy, but all of the frogs told me to leap that shame away. For they were all frogs. I came here to the city to become a boy.”

“How do I become a girl?” replied the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, in surprise.

The boy who had been a frog, but was now a boy, laughed a big laugh and said to the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, “You need the wizard. I’ll lead the way. I can point you in the direction of their house, but I cannot show you in. You must make this choice yourself.”

The duck who was a girl, but who was duck, eager to find someone who could fix what was wrong on the outside, followed after the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy, with a hopeful waddle. When the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy, reached the fence of a tall and ancient building, he opened the gate and ushered through the duck who was a girl, but who was duck.

“This is where I leave you,” said the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. “Follow the path to the red wooden door and then knock three times. Once you have finished knocking, spin to your left twice, and then to your right one last time.”

“That sounds awfully silly. I am not sure if I feel comfortable doing that,” the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, resisted. The boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy, urged on the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“It is the first of three tests,” said the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. “Pass this one and you will know you are on the right path.” It was then that the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy, turned to leave, abandoning the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, to be alone with the door, the puzzle, and the clue.

Down the stone walkway the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, waddled. Up the creaky wooden stairs she waddled, and to the door where stood a sign, To Enter Simply Knock. A test, thought the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, would not prove to dissuade her from becoming what she knew she was. She knocked three times. Once she had finished knocking, she spun to her left twice, and then to her right one last time. All at once the door opened wide. Beyond the frame of the big red door stood a dog. The dog wore a shiny pointed blue hat. “You are a duck!” declared the dog. “And I am a wizard, and I am also a dog.”

“You are a wizard, but you are a dog that is also a wizard?” clarified the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“This is true, yes. I am a dog who is a wizard, but who is also a dog,” confirmed the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog. “What can I help you with, you silly little duck?”

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, shyly responded, “I am not a duck, but rather a girl who looks like a duck. I met a boy who had been a frog, but who is now a boy, who told me that you would be able to help me.”

The dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, ushered the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, into the rickety old house.

Inside the house the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, was led by the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, into a cozy sitting room. A fireplace roared on the far wall and plush armchairs welcomed weary visitors.

“Wait here for me, girl, and I will return when I am ready for you to face your next test,” declared the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog.

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, nodded silently and waddled her way over to rest in one of the armchairs. There she sat for many hours while she waited patiently for the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, to return for the next step in her test. She knew deep down that she was a girl, and not a duck, so she focused on doing what was expected of her so she could finally be free of her ducky form.

As the hours labored on, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, began to feel extremely hungry. She looked around the room more closely, having spent all of her energy focusing on the fire before her instead of the space around her, and noticed a delicious pile of cookies resting on a table near the door where she had been led in. She hopped down from the chair and waddled her way over to where the cookies seemed to be waiting for her. When she was nearly there she hesitated.

“What if this is yet another test?”

And she took in the room more closely to see if she could find any clues. It was then that she noticed three golden cages resting on the mantel above where she had stared so transfixed at the fire. In each of the golden cages was a bird. Curious, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, waddled her way back over to the fireplace to inquire of the birds.

“Hello, birds. What are you doing up there?” questioned the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“We are not birds!” called back the bird in the middle cage. “We have been trapped here as birds because we failed to pass our tests.”

“What tests did you fail?” pressed the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“We cannot tell you, for you must pass the tests alone. But be resilient in your mission and you will not fail,” replied the bird in the far left cage.

The birds fell silent then, and the girl who was a duck, but who was a girl, stood for a long time staring silently up at their cages. She wondered what tests these birds had failed and who they must have once been. In the end, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, waddled back to the chair she had been waiting in and determined to refuse the offer of cookies that had been waiting for her.

Just as she was again settled into the armchair overlooking the fire, the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, re-entered the room. Their blue hat glistened in the firelight as they approached the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“Very well done, my dear girl. Very well done indeed. Follow me now for your final test.”

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, was confused as to what she had accomplished that would warrant such accolades, but decided to follow the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, in silence.

The dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, led the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, down a long and dimly lit corridor. At the end of the seemingly endless hallway stood a large, dark wooden door.

“Behind this door you will find the answers you seek. There will be a circle in the middle of the floor that you must step into. Once you have entered the circle your transformation will be complete and you will be the girl you know yourself to be.” The dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, pointed with their fuzzy snout toward the door, winked at the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, and turned to leave.

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, stood silent in front of the door for a long time. She was not sure what the test here was, but fear delayed her entrance into the room with the circle on the floor.

“What if the test is to not enter and in entering I become a bird on the mantel?” whispered the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, to herself.

Finally, and with no one there to give her aid or encourage her forward, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, stepped through the door. Immediately she was paralyzed with fear, for in the middle of the room was the circle that the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, had informed her of. She stared wide-eyed at the circle for a long time before the dog who was a wizard, but who was a dog, returned.

“What is keeping you, girl? Do you not want what is inside that circle on the floor?” inquired the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog. Their eyes carried a look of compassion that weakened the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck. She began to sob into the lush brown coat of the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog.

“I did not expect that the circle would be a ring of fire. I do not know that I can pass through it without harm and I am afraid,” wept the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“I see,” said the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog. “Let me offer you something you have been without for so long.”

And the dog who was a wizard, but who was also a dog, turned to leave. The duck who was a girl, but who was also a duck, was bewildered that they would offer to help and then turn to leave. Fear again began to fill the small duck who was a girl, but who was a duck. She felt so hopeless and alone standing in front of this circle of fire. How could she be who she knew she was if it meant passing through this ring of fire? How would she possibly survive? The worries and the doubts engulfed her and burned away her resolve.

Footsteps echoed down the long corridor and the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, turned to see who was approaching. To her great surprise she saw the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy.

“The wizard said that you might need someone here to help you. I have been through this test before and I know how daunting it can be. May I offer you a hug and some words of encouragement?” said the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy.

“Please. Help,” replied the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck. She was struggling to restrain her grief at this impossible task before her.

The boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy, knelt down on the ground and wrapped his arms around the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck.

“The fear of change is powerful, but on the other side of it is who you always knew you were. I know that nobody who has known you is here with you now, for they are all ducks and they do not understand, but I am here with you now. You are not alone. Your duck family is not here, but I can be your family now. I will never let harm come to you. Do you believe that I would never let you do something that would hurt you?” whispered the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy.

“I believe,” said the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck. “But I am still afraid.”

“It is okay to be afraid,” responded the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. “Fear reminds us of where we have been and of all the hard things we have encountered before now. It is important to hold on to who you once were so you can appreciate who you will become. Your past and your future are equal parts of who you are in your present.”

The duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, pulled away from the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. Without another word, she smiled and turned toward the flames.

Trembling from beak to toe, the duck who was a girl, but who was a duck, opened her eyes wide and stepped through the ring of fire.

She expected to feel the feathers on her skin singe and burn, but she instead felt a numb tingle and a little exhaustion. There was a little pain and discomfort at first, but when she looked down to make sure her feathers had not burned away she was surprised and delighted at what she saw. Instead of feathers she had beautiful skin that covered the body of a girl.

The fire died then, and there was no more sign of it anywhere. The girl who had been a duck, but who was now a girl, turned to the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. Tears filled her eyes as he embraced her.

“This is who I always knew I was,” wept the girl who had been a duck, but who was now a girl.

“And it is who you always will be,” said the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. “Let me take you now to meet a new family.”

“Are they all boys and girls who had once been something else?” questioned the girl who had been a duck, but who was now a girl.

“No,” said the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy. “They are everyone who did not fit where they had come from. It is a community of ducks, and boys, and even a few unicorns. And lots of love. We all know what it means to be born into a family that does not understand. We have all stepped into that ring of fire.”

“And what about the birds on the mantel?” inquired the girl who had been a duck, but who was now a girl.

“Oh, they are just a test. They have always been birds and they are happy to be birds, but they enjoy confusing those who have lost their way,” reassured the boy who had been a frog, but who was now a boy.

The girl who had been a duck, but who was now a girl, smiled up at her new friend. The future was uncertain and her path was unclear, but now she was not so afraid of the fire.

 

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