Talking with the Elephants

in which the story continues

Sometimes a truth is felt in the body where it takes up residence and establishes itself before the mind can play with it, add things to it, tweak it a bit or change it to a nearby relative of truth known as true for this moment.

This was not that true for the moment thing.

A thing foretold is not a certainty. So said the elephants again. All of them said it in unison and in a harmonic wave tone that reminded me of the sound of solar flares, the words articulated with a syntax and enunciation that vibrated my solar plexus, my heart and my forehead.

The elephants shared with me this truth not framed by a human clock but by the earth and ground and dust and water and sky that they and their ancestors knew and carried forward from the beginning of time.

I said that I couldn’t wait to hear more when in fact I needed to. My entire body was vibrating C on the bass clef — my consciousness needed to wait.

Maddy, the new matriarch, touched my chest over my heart with her trunk, a touch as gentle as any lover’s. Maddy was a recent arrival, transferred from another zoo and in due time she came to be accepted as the matriarch.

“You will be fine,” she said. I knew I would be. And as I sensed that, four other trunks came close to me, those little sensitive fingerlike things touching my chest and head.

Information was coming in too fast for me to make sense of anything and the instant I had awareness of that, two trunks moved away. That helped. I could take it all in.

A thing foretold is not a certainty.

Parker and Blue and Tweety had told me of the uprising that the animals were planning, an uprising to let humans know that they were no longer going to be in charge, that the experiment of human stewardship was not working and was going to be changed.

Details of the uprising were passed down from generation to generation of animals and it seemed that the consensus among the animals is that the time is close. For some reason I could never figure out, I learned the common language of animals in captivity. At first I was happy with this ability. Lately, not so much. Every beast is talking with every other beast. Talk of oil, volcanoes, war, floods, drought: some of which the animals say is nature, some of which,  they say, pointing their tails, snouts, wings, paws, claws or tongues, is not. And never would be but for humans. It was noisy in my world all the time now.

A thing foretold is not a certainty. As the cells of my body absorbed what the elephants were saying to me, I realized I was weeping; warm, quiet tears streaming down my face; not the tears that cause your throat to tighten; quite the opposite: all of me was open. Elephants touching you with their trunks is an emotional experience, under, over and around the radar of logic and reason. It was near the point when they were telling me the plan and what I needed to do, that I stepped back, breaking contact to sit on the ground. I hugged my knees and just sobbed.

Now normally I would not do such a thing in private, let alone public, but my sanity and world view had been stretched beyond anything I could imagine. Whatever uplifting sense I had about how cool it is to hang with the elephants and dogs and birds and cats and snakes and bugs and fish was overshadowed by the knowledge of what we — the homo sapiens — had done and were doing and how it was careening to if not a tipping point, then a showdown.

I wanted my mother. This was RIGHT up her alley.  She’d laugh and think this was as it should be and jump into the adventure with me. I took a deep breath. My mother died six years ago.  I could not count on her assistance except what I channeled of her through my imagination.

What the elephants said made sense. Things needed to be done. Stopped. Gently, rationally. And the animal worlds could come together to do that. Elephants are sensible and sensitive creatures when they aren’t being cheeky and omniscient.

A thing foretold is not a certainty.

So if the uprising is to be averted — and Maddy assured me it could be — there are things that must be done, from what I heard before breaking contact.

My first task was to find and adopt a little dog in need of rescue. I’d find her online: a little terrier going by the name of Annie. Apparently I’d know her when I saw her. A terrier? Me? Was she serious? It was not lost on me that Annie was a diminutive of my mother’s name and the one her second husband used. My mother, the ultimate Englishwoman, was very terrier-like.

Next, I had to continue to tell the story. Even though it will seem mad to most, there will be others who will read it, and know what to do. They will connect.

When all that was in place, I then had to break the law. Or many laws. And not just here. Everywhere. At the same time.

I had assurances that it was only for an hour and then all would slip back into place as it was and no-one of any importance would be wiser.

At the appointed hour, every captive elephant, captive bear, captive lion, tiger, primate, otter, dolphin, whale, eagle, and countless others were to be freed, to do what needed to be done. I was assured that all captive animals would return.

I trusted the elephants when their trunks touched me. Disconnected from them, I was not so certain. I wondered if I wasn’t about to get charged with aiding and abetting a thing I couldn’t even imagine. I worried that I would not survive jail. I worried some more. After a few minutes, sitting there on the ground, my head down on my knees and my arms wrapped around me, I quieted some.

The elephants maintained a respectful distance. I felt them behind me. After a few minutes, I got up and stood before Maddy, extending my open palm so that she could see, then placing it over my heart.

I nodded to her. “I will do this,” I said, ignoring that sinking feeling that was about to swallow me whole.

Maddy raised her trunk and placed it on my hand, her two little fingerlike protuberances stroking my fingers, her large ears flapping slowly. Tears welled in my eyes. I received the remaining details of what I was to do.

“We will do this,” she said. “Now, go find Annie. She needs you and we need her.”

That night I dreamt of Asian elephants, the ones with smaller ears, and a slight variation on the fingerlike thing at the end of their trunk. I dreamt the elephants were milling about in places where elephants of any continent are not typically found. It was a happy, dark dream. The next morning, I started to my search for Annie. Two days later, I found her.

…to be continued.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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