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Once upon a time, in a herd of otters, two new cubs were born. One, the female, was healthy and strong. The other, the male, was born lifeless.
The elderly otter leader declared: “Otters cannot remain alone, they are born destined for their soul mates, with whom they will spend the rest of their lives once they grow up. If, at birth, one of the otters does not survive, the other will have the same fate”.
The healthy cub's parents were desperate. Papa Otter begged the elderly chief to spare the life of his cub. Suddenly, he heard a buzz of voices in the distance. In a park near the riverbank where the otters lived, two couples of humans were chatting animatedly. One of the couples was holding a newborn baby, the other was not.
The otter dad had an idea. There was a waterfall, with powerful and irreversible magical powers, that could come to the rescue of rare cases like that of his cub. It was, in fact, capable of transforming any animal into a human being. The use of these powers, however, could bring unpredictable consequences to the entire herd, unless a sacrifice was made. The mother and father otters said they were willing to sacrifice themselves to save their cub. The leader otter then agreed.
Papa otter took the cub to the waterfall. He began to dip her, holding her by the tufts of fur on her head. Mama Otter arrived transfixed, telling him that the human pairs were leaving. Papa Otter, in his haste, forgot to wet the tufts on the head as well, so they do not undergo the transformation. Having placed the puppy, (now transformed into a baby girl) in a basket of leaves, the two otters hide behind a bush and to observe what happened.
After greeting each other, the pair of humans moved in the otters' direction. They found the little girl, alone and abandoned. They looked around, trying to figure out where she might have come from, but saw no one who could have left her there. Her big brown eyes and the peculiar tuft of white hair on her head completely captured their attention.
"Let's take her home John."
"Are you crazy Amy? We don't know where she came from, what if someone is looking for her?"
"She's clearly been abandoned, you don't want to leave her here, do you? Look how adorable she is!"
After insisting for several minutes, Amy managed to convince John. As she bended down to pick up the little one, John looked up and spotted the two otters hiding behind the bush, who immediately ran away.
Returning to their pack, the two otters were ready for their fate. But, before the elderly chief could make the sacrifice, something incredible happened: the baby otter, born lifeless, opened its eyes. The old chief was astonished: "It's too late, the consequences of the waterfall’s magic have manifested themselves. This pup will grow up without its soulmate and, once an adult, will have to be banished from the herd."
"Aren't we going to sacrifice him like we were going to do with the other cub?" a voice shouted.
"No! His soulmate, albeit in another form, is alive. The consequences, however, will be for both of them: they will grow up missing each other, but they will never be able to be reunited."
Eight years pass. Lottie (that's what she was named), grows up loved by her adoptive parents. They don't let her lack anything and fill her with attention. However, Lottie seems to cannot be completely happy. Every day, looking in the mirror, she sees herself as different from everyone else. The temptation to cut off the lock of white hairs is always very strong. The only thing that stops her is the fear of doing even more damage.
At school, many of her classmates laugh at her and her hair and very often Lottie is ostracized.
It happens one day that the teacher assigns the class a special task: "Okay children, for this project I want you to share in pairs, giving your hand to the classmate with whom you are more friends.
No one extends their hand to Lottie. The little girl comes home crying. "What happened Lottie?" her mother asks her worried. Lottie doesn't answer and locks herself in her little room. She looks at herself in the mirror again, as tears still line her face. After a while she hears her parents' voices getting louder. She leaves the room and hides behind the kitchen door to eavesdrop.
"You see that she's different too, Amy."
"What I see is a beautiful child, just like the others."
"To us she's the most beautiful child in the world, but you can't deny that she's not like everyone else!"
"Just because she has a white tuft in her hair?"
"It's not just that, there's something in her look...sometimes she looks at me like a baby animal would do".
"I don't follow you John"
"I've never dwelled on it too much, but that day we picked her up and brought her home I'm sure I saw two otters watching us from behind a bush"
Listening to these words Lottie, widens her eyes. "Was I adopted?" she whispers under her breath.
"John you're starting to worry me, what do you mean by that?"
"That maybe those two otters might have had some connection with her."
"What kind of connection?"
"I don't know...I don't know Amy...but they were there, they seemed to be watching her"
"And you wait 8 years to tell me this?"
"I told you, I never thought about it again! Until Lottie started growing and her hair started getting longer and longer and..."
"Well you have to admit, they kind of remind me of an otter's coat."
Lottie's eyes grew wide and teary.
"This is too much even for you John, you've always been full of fantasies and bizarre ideas, but with this one you've crossed the line!"
"I'm just trying to find a possible reason for our daughter coming home from school crying because she's not accepted by her classmates!"
"It's not by telling her that she's actually an otter that you're going to help her."
That's enough for Lottie. She doesn't want to hear her parents fight over her anymore. She goes back to her room, puts some clothes and one of her stuffed animals in her backpack, and runs out of the house.
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