Walking a Mile in Someone Else’s Paws

3 Jul

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.” This line, from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, is one of the most famous opening lines in literature. The other day, I watched a group of middle school girls find inspiration in the fantastic situation Gregor Samsa finds himself in. They imagined what would happen if they woke up as a cat, a dog, a monkey, or even a giant bee, with clever and funny results.

Writing from a perspective other than your own, as the girls were forced to do in writing about something they’ve never experienced, is an important part of being a writer, but it can also be a challenge. These girls were able to take on that challenge with creativity and sensitivity. They were able to imagine how the world would smell if you had a dog’s nose and envision the problems that would come with having a bee’s stinger. This skill will serve them well as they write other stories and create other characters, not just in situations as absurd as turning into a huge bug.

Sarah Paulos
Badgerdog Summer Intern

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One Morning

Before I opened my eyes, I thought back to the dream I’d just experienced. I had been tailing a squirrel and captured the rodent. The pestering animal vanished, and I was rewarded with a monstrous juicy steak. Odd.

I snapped open my eyes. Bewildered, I blinked repeatedly but my vision did not differ. The walls, my furniture, everything was in dull black and white. When I tried to sit up to alert my parents, I noticed something that made my heart freeze. My arms and legs were brown and furry. Each “limb” had a paw.

Terrified, I leapt off the bed and landed with an echoing thud. What was happening? I stood there on four legs. Suddenly, a wave of scent hit me from every direction, so overwhelming, I nearly sat down. Perfume, laundry, meals from weeks past, everything. Trying to get my bearings, I felt a sort of presence behind me. When I craned my large head to see, I noticed a tail. It was long and thick. It was official – sometime during the long night, I had transformed into a dog.

I tried ambling around my room – clumsily though, since I was on four legs. My brown fur felt very thermal, like wearing a thick, padded jacket. With the smells still coming at me from every which way, I curled up on my center rug, and without thinking, rested my head on my paws, suddenly exhausted. If I was going to fix this, I needed to be well rested. I shut my eyes and settled down, praying this had all  been a very vivid dream. Maybe, when I woke up, I’d be in my bed, a human again.

Here’s to hoping, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep.

Catherine, 7th grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at The Griffin School

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Transformation

My wings were splayed across my bed and tangled within the sheets. Wait, my wings?

I opened one of my large, beaded eyes and peered over my body. Yellow-and-black fuzz stuck to my sides like glue. They shaped stripes around my middle, head, and feet. Then I realized I don’t technically have feet – just scrawny legs resembling twigs placed on my lower half .

I let out a loud, piercing scream, but all that came out was Buzzzzz! I recoiled in horror. Carefully, I maneuvered myself to the edge of the bed and let my legs fall to the floor. I stood and tried to walk, but fell over on all fours. My wings soon followed, cascading down my back and over my head like a pair of curtains.

As I started inching my legs forward, I realized I was stuck to the bed. Exhausted, my legs crumpled to the ground in a heap of my now shredded blankets. Sleep soon followed.

After about an hour of nightmares, I finally woke only to find it was time to get ready for school, which meant my dad would be coming in to shake me awake. Quickly thinking, I buried myself in my comforter, only to find I was still stuck to the bed, so I couldn’t completely fit myself under it. I buried as much of myself as I could.

My dad’s footsteps banged against the hallway floor as I sucked my breath in. The door creaked open, and I could hear my dad calmly breathing. He simply said, “It’s time to get up!” and turned the light on. Then he spun on his heel and walked back to the kitchen. I let out a sigh, which sounded more like a Buzzhguuh! Now I had to get dressed.

To be continued. . .

Emma, 8th grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at The Griffin School

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Monkey

One day, I woke up as a monkey. I was lying in my bed, and my baby brother, Felix, walked in with my mom. Felix burst out laughing, and my mom started screaming for help. I said, “Hey, what’s with you guys?”

My mom says, “You’re a monkey!”

“I know I am, and you’re a human being, Mom,” I replied. Felix still was laughing, but this time slowing down, not as hard.

I got out of bed to go brush my teeth and  shower. My dog started chasing me, and I’m like, “Hey! Leave me alone.” Then I walk to the restroom to take my shower, to brush my teeth. My cat starts hissing at me, and I try to pet her to calm her down and she scratches me.

When I get out of the shower, I am ready to go to school. I ask my mom to take me, and she says, “No! Have a cab come!” So I say, “Okay, I’ll go ahead.”

When I get to school, everybody’s yelling and saying Help! Then the principal walks in and kicks me in the butt. I’m like, “Watch it, bro!”

She says, “Put on some socks!” But my shoes don’t fit. She says, “I wonder why, Bigfoot!”

I say, “I’m not Bigfoot, bigfoot lady!”

Maria, 7th grade, Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at The Griffin School

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