Who I See in The Mirror

girl in black and white polka dot sleeveless shirt

( Advanced Level )

Naomi was a straight – A student at school, an only child of upper – middle – class parents but when she looked in the mirror she didn’t like what she saw. She saw a girl who was unhappy.

The other girls at her school did not like her. They would tell others she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and never had to go without. They hated her for this.

She asked, several times, “Why hold this against me? I didn’t choose my parents.” The only response was a resounding scoff as they walked away.

Naomi mainly kept to herself only going to school which she dreaded. She never attended any school activities. It was senseless to go anywhere in public where she would be made a laughing stock.

She purposely dressed down to ward off insults but it never worked. Maybe it was her hair or the way she carried herself at school. She didn’t know.

Naomi took down all her social media accounts. She found people commented very ugly things about her. It didn’t stop them, though. They used their own accounts, without naming her, to say awful things about this girl.

She knew exactly who they were talking about. Instead of ignoring all social media, she found herself searching each of the girl’s accounts. Each night ended with her in tears burying her face in her pillow.

Naomi never told her parents about the drama at school. She knew they were very busy with their work and this would be a trivial matter to them.

She could hear her mom now, ” Naomi, just hold your head up high and be yourself. They have to be jealous of you.” This was not what she wanted to hear. It is not as easy as that.

In order to go to a different school, her parents would have to move and her parents definitely would not entertain the thought of her being homeschooled.Children need to have socialization.” She could hear her parents now.

The school year pressed on and Naomi didn’t want to go to school anymore. She dreaded getting up each morning. She knew what each day would bring.

Stares. Laughs. Whispers. Not to forget the “Naomi, are you paying attention?” that came from her teachers. The whole situation was embarrassing for her.

She felt she couldn’t speak to the school authorities either. Her school had over four thousand students with one counselor. He wouldn’t have time for her.

The torment of the school year finally ended. Three whole months off from school. She hoped the new school year would bring a pleasant change.

Until then, she went to her grandparent’s home, in the countryside, for the summer. She went fishing with her grandfather and helped her grandmother bake fresh bread every day.

It was a perfect summer. Her troubles from school vanished from her daily thoughts. It wasn’t until she took the bus ride home and she drew closer to home that those nagging thoughts began to surface once again.

She was going to give the benefit of the doubt that this year would be better. Her mother picked her up from the bus station and on the ride home’ Naomi told her mom how each day was filled with new adventures while she was with her grandparents.

The following week her mom and she had planned to go school shopping. Paper, pencils, binders, backpack along with new clothes. The new school begins in one week.

Mom, the school clothes from last year are just fine. They are all in perfect condition.” She hoped wearing old school clothes would help her blend in better.

“Nonsense Naomi, no daughter of mine will wear last year’s school clothes this year. We will make a day of shopping and grab a bite at the food pavilion inside the mall.”

On that note, Naomi let out a huge sigh. Her mom would never understand. ” Sounds great mom.” One thing she knew about her mom was that she adores shopping and didn’t want to disappoint her.

The girl’s day out on their shopping excursion was exhausting but fun. They went in and out of store after store. They ate a small lunch since it was late in the day by the time they finished.

Naomi’s mom knew her husband would be disappointed if they didn’t sit down at their usual dinner time together. Having family dinners together was what he held dear to his heart.

After dinner, Naomi showed her dad all that they had bought that day and she then hung up all her clothes. Many of which she loved but deep down in her heart she knew something negative would be said to her once school started.

Naomi’s alarm clock started at six in the morning. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. Naomi rubbed her eyes and turned it off. The day finally came. The first day of the new school year.

She hadn’t had a restful night. She tossed and turned for hours. ” Was this year going to be better?” she heard herself whisper more than once.

The first day, she felt, was bearable, or so she thought. Naomi wouldn’t realize until later that these girls hadn’t changed. She decided to avoid them at all costs.

She went to lunch later hoping they would be done eating and left the cafeteria. Unfortunately, some shared the same classes with her. There was no way to get out of seeing them.

The looks and whispers started but she pretended to be listening to what the teacher’s plans for the school year were. Taking imaginary notes but she knew. She knew.

Her mom picked her up from school knowing she would have tons of books for her new classes and school lockers would not be assigned until next week. “How was your first day of school, Sweetie?”

“It was okay. I was too busy getting information from all my teachers and classes to pay much attention to anything else.” It was a white lie. She was actually very busy but she was fully aware of those girls.

Her family ate dinner at the usual time. Dad talked about work and he asked how her first day of school was. Naomi began to tell him but her mom interrupted with something important to tell him so she never finished her conversation.

“Sorry dear, what were you saying?” as her dad looked at Naomi again. “It was great. May I be excused? I have to organize all my class folders.” Her mom nodded a yes and Naomi quietly left the dinner table.

Naomi showered and then gathered up all her school folders and her new binder out of her backpack. It was now time to get things in order.

She finished about an hour and a half later. Everything is put away in their appropriate designated folders. Finally, she neatly packed everything into her backpack, for the next day. She wasn’t quite tired enough to fall asleep so she decided to go on the internet for a while before bed.

When she was away with her grandparents she hadn’t any internet, then once she returned home life was so busy for her that she hadn’t the chance to look at social media or check her emails.

She sat there on her bed scrolling through the local news then navigated her way to all the social media applications she loved to check. Her heart jumped when she read a post regarding her.

There was a picture of her science class and the back of her head. Her name wasn’t used but the post was definitely about her.

“The prima donna is back. She sits here in class looking down at the rest of us. Raising her hand to ask the teacher questions just to draw attention to herself. Like she needs to get over herself.” the posting read.

This was far from the truth. Naomi didn’t want the attention. She wasn’t believing what she had read. Then she continued to read the comments written after this initial post.

“Yeah, I saw her in the hallway strutting around hoping all the boys would pay any mind to her.”

“Me too. I was hoping she wouldn’t return this year. So much for hoping.”

She closed the lid of her laptop and wiped away the tears. She could only imagine what others would comment on in the days to come.

Naomi took a deep breath and headed out to the living room. She was hoping to finally talk to her mom or even dad about everything. Maybe they would listen to her with proof.

She made her way down the hallway to the living room to find the TV on but her dad was sound asleep with a book on his chest. Her mom had already gone to bed. She turned off the TV and headed to her parent’s bedroom.

Mom? Mom, are you awake?” No response. Again, “Mom?” Still nothing. She quietly closed their door and headed back to her own bedroom.

As Naomi sat on her bed, in the dark, she whispered to herself,” I cannot do this again this year. I cannot.”

After ten minutes or so Naomi turned on her bedroom lights and sat at her desk. She began an email to her parents and to the school….

“I have taken a screenshot of what was posted of me on social media. This is not the first thing they’ve posted about me but I know it will be the last. I will not be their target any longer. I will not be here.”

“I do worry about my parents. They do not deserve this. I don’t believe they would truly understand how much this has hurt me.”

“You can do what you want with this information. If I can shed light and possibly help another girl or boy, it will be worth it. I sit here knowing I do not want another year of harassment and whispers.”

“Who I see in the mirror is who I am. A girl who loves her family. A girl who would never hurt another. I was judged by my clothes and my ambitions in life.”

“For those who never knew me really, it is your loss. For those who did, I am sorry. ” She ended her email and hit send.

Tragically, Naomi took her own life that night.

Written by: Angel

Follow me on:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts To Pen

Thoughts From Angel:

Bullying, in any form is wrong. You may think it is harmless but it is not. Words hurt. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel? Things being said about you that were completely false. The whispers….people talking. The stories changing from one person to the next. Stop and think before you say those hateful things to another.

For those on the receiving end of bullying, there are people who will listen. There are laws to protect you. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

If you appreciate what I do and want to support me:

Vocabulary:

silver spoon in (her) mouth – idiom: born into a wealthy family

resounding – adjective: sound loud enough to reverberate

scoff – verb: scornfully or mocking way

dreaded – adjective: apprehension

laughing stock – noun: a person subjected ridicule

dressed down – phrasal verb: dress informally

carried herself– idiom: pertains to grace, etiquette, speech, grooming, body language

ignoring – verb: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge

burying – verb: completely cover

drama – noun: unexpected series of events or set of circumstances

trivial – adjective: of little value or importance

jealous – adjective: envy of someone or their achievements and advantages

homeschooled – verb: educate (one’s child) at home instead of sending them to a school

pressed on – phrasal verb: move forward

authorities – noun : a person who has the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience

torment– noun: mental suffering or unhappiness

pleasant – adjective: giving a sense of satisfaction or enjoyment

vanished – verb: disappear completely

nagging – adjective: worrying

began to surface – verb: become known or obvious after being hidden

benefit of the doubt – idiom: the state of accepting something/someone as honest or deserving of trust even though there are doubts

blend in – phrasal verb: to look like things nearby

pavilion – noun: structured eating area inside a larger building

on that note -metaphor: to transition from that topic; anyway

adored – verb: loves

excursion – noun: a short trip

exhausting – adjective: very tiring

held dear to (his) heart – phrase: cares a lot about it

deep down in (her) heart – idiom: used to mean that something is true or real even if it is not said or shown to other people 

tossed and turned – idiom :to move about and turn over in bed because one is unable to sleep

bearable – adjective: able to be endured or handle

at all costs – idiom: regardless of the price to be paid or the effort needed

cafeteria – noun: a restaurant or dining room in a school

pretended – adjective: not genuine; assumed

imaginary – adjective: unreal, not true , fake

white lie – noun: a harmless lie told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings

interrupted – verb: to stop something from continuing

organize – verb: arrange into an order

designated – verb: assigned

navigated – verb: plan and direct the route or course 

prima donna – noun: a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own importance

initial – adjective: beginning

strutting – adjective: arrogant or conceited walk

pay any mind – idiom: not give attention to or to ignore

shed light – idiom:  help to explain

tragically – adverb: extreme distress or sorrow

Question ( s ):

Do you believe Naomi should of tried to tell her parents earlier?

Do you think words, just words, can be harmful to another person?

How do you define bullying?

Life In Chains

animal eye
brown elephant with chain

( Intermediate Level )

Phoebe always knew, since she was young, that she wanted to become a veterinarian. Once, she saved a small featherless bird which had fallen from its nest. She raised it to the point where it could be set free. Her father had told her it would not survive without its mother but she proved him wrong.

Graduating from the university was a milestone for her. She was the first in her family to do so. Many offers from veterinarian clinics came in but she was unsure which direction to take.

It wasn’t until she read an article regarding the elephants used for tourism that she made her choice. She was going overseas. She wanted to work with exotic animals.

Her mission was to spread the word on the plight of the elephants. People always read about the poaching of these magnificent animals but why aren’t we aware of the use of elephants in tourism? Or entertainment and the conditions they have to endure?

She wanted to set them free. Looking into the eyes of these creatures and seeing their sadness she knew this is what she needed to do.

One particular elephant caught her eye. Her name is Buppha which means a flower. This elephant, now at the age of thirteen was taken from her mother at a tender age. She never wandered free in the jungle, instead she earned her owner thousands of dollars.

Buppha was sold several times until she was in the hands of a local man who ran a tourist trap offering elephant rides. Most of these elephants would work from sun up to sun down giving fifty to sixty rides a day.

When not in use, the elephant’s foot was shackled by one leg with a few feet of chain only allowing them a few steps in either direction. When they misbehaved a hook was used. Startling them to comply with the mahout.

“How could they abuse such a majestic animal.? You can look into their eyes and see they are unhappy.” She said her father when she showed him this article.

“Unfortunately, Phoebe, the people found a way to earn money using animals and this has been this way for years. You won’t change their minds. For most it is their way to provide for their families.”

“Maybe I cannot change their minds but I can try to save a few elephants. ” Phoebe picked up the magazine and showed him Buppha. “This one never ran free,” as she pointed to her. “She needs to know what it feels like to be part of a herd. She needs to know what it feels like to take a mud bath.

She set the magazine down and headed to her room. Her idea to research as much as she could and hopefully find an answer. If she could help just one elephant then maybe it could lead to another then another.

After hours surfing the internet she came to the conclusion that the only thing to do to save Buppha was to purchase her from the owner. How can she raise such funds? Would he be willing to sell her? Or be convinced to just give her up?

She contacted the author, Matthew Greene, of the article via email. He too agreed with her father. His whole idea of writing this piece was to bring awareness and hopefully the elephant rides would become obsolete.

She asked about Buppha. She was told she was in a smaller village and when not used for rides she would haul logs or other heavy materials thus earning money for her owner.

Matthew did state one very important thing to her in their conversation, “Everything has a price. If you give her owner a number, he may just accept it. I do want to warn you, he may simply find a younger elephant to purchase. Until elephants aren’t used in this business, this circle will continue.”

“There are a few so-called sanctuaries or safe places for the old and disabled elephants that can no longer earn their owners money but be very careful. They are still being ridden by their mahouts and are on display earning money for the owners. They are truly not free.”

“If you are able to get Buppha just know where she will live out the rest of her life. I can recommend a few places I have visited. These places care about the elephants one hundred percent.”

She thanked Matthew for his information and immediately started a Go Fund Me page to raise money towards the purchase of Buppha. She wrote about her and the other elephants and linked Matthew’ s article to hers.

Amazingly, within three days the page had raised seventeen thousand dollars. She was pleased that she was not the only one who seemed to care about Buppha and the others.

Within a month, Phoebe was heading to her destination. She hoped she had enough money to persuade Buppha ‘s owner to sell her. She knew she had a difficult battle ahead of her but she was up for the challenge.

Phoebe settled into her hotel room and quickly befriended a local man named Somsak who knew Buppha’ s owner. He offered to take her to meet this gentleman on Friday which she accepted. This would give her ample time to check out the safe havens that Matthew had told her about.

The next morning Phebe set off to investigate the sanctuaries that Matthew spoke so highly about. She was impressed with the second one. She observed the animals playing in the mud, bathing in the river and foraging for food with little interference with their assigned mahout.

This was definitely the place where she could see Buppha living for the rest of her life providing she could convince her current owner to sell her.

She had a wonderful conversation with the owner of Second Chance Haven for Elephants over lunch. Phoebe offered her services to be the project’s veterinarian. Since the haven ran on donations only she wasn’t offered a great salary.

She was offered, though, free room and board along with three meals a day. This suited Phoebe. She accepted the offer. She couldn’t wait to secure Buppha and start her new adventure as the veterinarian to these wonderful creatures.

Somsak was punctual. He arrived just before eight in the morning knowing they had almost a half day journey in front of them. He greeted Phoebe by the jeep and told her they must get started if they were to get to the village where Buppha was and return home before it got too late.

Finally the day came for her to see this elephant that she grew so fond of. Most of the trip was in silence. Phoebe was lost in her thoughts. “What if her owner wasn’t willing to sell when she traveled so far? What if she did not have enough money?

“Ma’am we will be at the village in less than ten minutes. Please let me talk to her owner first. Let me find out what type of mood he was in.”

Phoebe thought for a moment and shook her head to agree. She hadn’t been in the country long enough to know the culture. Maybe they do not like an outspoken person to tell them what is right or wrong. She hadn’t intended to say these things but she knew she would do just about anything to get Buppha.

They pulled up to what looked like a small arena with a small shade attached. There Phoebe sees Buppha. She looked down and saw her left leg in chains. Her head was swaying back and forth.

It took all of Phoebe’s willpower not to get out of the jeep and go to her. Somsak pleaded for her to stay inside the vehicle until the time was right.

Somsak emerged from the house with a taller man about twenty minutes later. As they walked towards the jeep Phoebe’s heart beat faster. She opened the door and stood quietly waiting until it was ok to speak.

Somsak broke the silence and introduced Phoebe to Kittisak. He was considered a wealthy and cunning man in his village. “Miss Phoebe, my friend here tells me you want to purchase my elephant, is this true?”

“Yes Sir. I read an article regarding her and others here but there was something in her eyes that drew me to her specifically.

What will a woman from America want with an elephant?”

I am now the veterinarian for Second Chance Haven for Elephants in the north. I would like to see her live out the rest of her life there. Let her live free without chains and have a family that she never had the chance to experience.”

She wondered if what she said was too abrupt as she watched Kittisak look at his elephant then at Somsak. As he turned to look at Phoebe she could see he had a slight smile on his face.

Well Miss Phoebe, everything has a price. I have not become a rich man by giving things away. I will set a price for her. I will take no less for what I ask. Give me a few moments.”

She knew exactly what he was doing. He was calculating what money he has put into her and what loss he may occur by selling her. She remembered what Mathew told her. He would want to buy another to replace her.

He turned to look at Phoebe and Somsak. “My wife tells me everyday that I am getting too old for this. Taking care of these elephants. It is time for us to enjoy the sunset years of our lives. We will never be able to spend all the money I have earned over the years.”

“Maybe today I am being a bit sentimental or maybe I am finally listening to my wife so I will give you Buppha. I will sign over ownership to you. I can see you genuinely care about her.”

He saw the huge smile on her face. She let out a heavy sigh as she moved closer to shake his hand. She hadn’t expected this outcome. “Thank you sir. Thank you very much. I will take care of her. I promise this to you.”

Now go over to say hello to Buppha. She is yours now.”

As she ran to greet Buppha she thought to herself, “Had Somsak said something to him? Or was he finally listening to his wife’s pleas?” Either way Buppha was going to her forever home free of chains and the money raised for her purchase would be donated to the sanctuary.

Phoebe approached Buppha who stood watching her. Her swaying head had stopped. Her eyes widened as Phoebe reached out her hand to touch her trunk.

“You’re going home girl. You and I will start our new lives together up north.” Buppha touched Phoebe’s face with her trunk as if she knew things would soon be better.

Written By: Angel

Follow Me On:

Instagram: morningangel847

Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Meta Business Suite: Angel’s Thoughts To Pen

Thoughts From Angel:

I had traveled to Thailand in the past and it was amazing to see elephants up close and personal. Unfortunately, those too were used for elephant rides.

I was sadden when I seen a mother elephant in chains with its small baby huddled close to her. The baby would follow her as her mother gave rides to tourist trying desperately to keep up.

Thankfully we have people like @lek_chailert and @elephantnaturepark ( Instagram ) for their amazing commitment to many elephants who were used in tourism or the likes. These elephants come to her with not only physical problems but emotional also.

Elephants have strong bonds with their families, are intelligent and have feelings. It is nice to see them run free within the park being just an elephant . Creating bonds that were stripped from them at some stage of their lives.

Can you imagine having your world change overnight then live a duration of your life in chains?

If you appreciate what I do :

Vocabulary:

veterinarian – noun: a person qualified to treat diseased or injured animals

milestone – noun: an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development

plight – noun: a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation

poaching – verb: stealing animals also or to take game or fish illegally

magnificent – adjective: beautiful, elaborate, or extravagant

tender age – noun: a young age

tourist trap – noun: a place that attracts and exploits tourists

shackled – verb: restrained with chains

mahout – noun: a person who works with, and tends an elephant

majestic – adjective: showing impressive beauty or dignity

research – noun: investigation or study

conclusion – noun: the end or finish of an event or process

awareness – noun: knowledge of a situation or fact

obsolete – adjective: no longer

amazingly – adverb: impressive

destination – noun: the place to which someone is going

persuade – verb: (of a situation or event) provide a sound reason for (someone) to do something

safe havens – noun: a place of refuge

foraging – verb: search widely for food

interference – noun: intervention

secure – adjective : safe

punctual – adjective: doing something at the agreed time

outspoken – adjective: rank in stating one’s opinions

willpower – noun: control

cunning – adjective: showing skill in achieving one’s ends by deceit

specifically – adverb: exact and clear

abrupt – adjective: sudden and unexpected

sentimental

genuinely – adverb: truthful 

Question ( s ):

Where do we draw the line when it comes to the use of animals?

Is service animals included in this category?

Many argue the line is drawn when the animal is asked to perform things that are not natural to them. (like a dolphin playing basketball) Do you agree?