a short story by Relee the Squirrel
Destromath never really fit in in Cutopia. Maybe it was his collosal form, built like a brick house with rippling muscles under coal black skin. Maybe it was the burning pits of cinder and ash he called eyes, glowing red in the dark and the light and sending trails of acrid smoke into the air. Maybe it was his tremendous horns and claws, sharp as needles and dripping with the most toxic of poisons. Or maybe, it was just that he didn't know how to say "Please".
The cuddle bears of Cutopia always tried to make him feel welcome in their community, giving him garlands and teaching him to dance and sing. True that the baleful howling of the abyss was not the most popular song in the land, but the cuddle bears encouraged Destromath to keep trying. They told him that if he would just be himself, everything would be alright.
But not everything was alright with Destromath. Brooding atop the Curly Crew cafe steeple, he gazed upon the land he had come to call home with a heavy heart, for though he had many friends, he still felt alone. Turning his gaze upward into the smiling face of the sun, he pondered why he was so different from those he cared about. All of the other cuddle bears were so small and round. They didn't have huge rippling muscles, or skin the colour of coal. They had only the softest of fur in all the colours of the rainbow.
Destromath looked down to his hands; his huge, powerful hands. They were hands that could crush a skull into dust in an instant, yet all they wished to do was enjoy tea parties with friends, and perhaps to paint pictures, as was Destromath's dream. The others all had such small, gentle hands. Like childrens mitts they were; soft and comforting, always ready to give a hug or a reassuring pat on the back. Leaping off the steeple of the cafe, he quietly snuck home. Destromath did not want the others to see his frown, he was ashamed of his negative attitude and sought only the refuge of his darkened lair.
That night Destromath had a fitful sleep, and awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. He had dreamed of fierce battles, torture, and malice. He had dreampt of his parents, in their faraway home. Destromath pulled himself out of bed and wiped the sweat from his face even as it vaporized on his burning hot skin. He meandered quietly out of his lair to collect his thoughts that night, and chanced to look into the sky. There, shining above him, he saw the great wishing star. With a deep breath, Destromath knelt down on one knee and began to speak a wish on that star...
"Twinkle, Twinkle, oh Great Wishing Star. I see you up there, high and far. May I have a wish tonight? My life is truly a terrible plight. I seek to leave my old life behind, and live a new life being good and kind. But my body is hard and hot to touch, and nobody likes the burning much... I growl and howl, snort and sneer... I think I fill my friends with fear. Won't you grant my wish tonight? Make me soft, and full of light?"
The massive hulk called Destromath waited quietly in the peaceful darkness for a few moments, before retiring to his lair for the night...
As he slept, however, an amazing change was taking place. For you see, the wishing star heard his plea that night, and its magic was working through him, changing him. His skin cooled, and soft fur grew. His muscles faded, giving way to soft pudge. His eyes cooled and were doused, replaced by shining whites with a warm brown colour. His horns retracted leaving his head to be replaced with soft round ears. His claws and fingers faded away, hands softening like the mitts of his friends. Truly, he would be a cuddle bear when he woke! Turning back and forth, he shed the ashen black that stained his fur, revealing the cool dark blue that would cover him in tender coziness. And there he slept, like a little angel, untill the crack of morning...
"I... I'm... Oh happy day, happy day! I look like I had always hoped!" shouted Destromath, his voice softer and more gentle, like his entire countenance and gait. Skipping cheerfully out of his lair, he ran into town shouting "Look at me! Look at me! I feel so wonderful to be who I really am!"
All day long the Cuddle Bears celebrated with Destromath, who was happy to finally fit in with all of his friends. They drank tea and ate cake, and they played at the fairgrounds on all the rides. That evening, Destromath took his easel up to starry hill and painted. He painted a beautiful starscape, as a thank-you to the Great Wishing star.
At last, when his painting was complete, he held it to the sky, and the Great Wishing star looked down with his great smiling face and read where Destromath had signed his work. 'Devon, the Cuddle Bear' it read.
And Destromath, now Devon, lived happily ever after, just like he always wanted.