Oh, The Elephants Know

This story was written on April 4th, 2008, as a Ficlet — a work of flash fiction limited to 1024 characters, published at Ficlets.com.

None of the elephants trust me. I don’t know why. I’m a nice enough guy, but they have some sense that goes beyond that. They know where to hide, where to die, and where to go to play the drums or paint their pictures, and all of those places seem to be far away from me.

I volunteered for the elephants. So it hurts to see them steer clear of me. They like Jackie, but when I come in they all drift to the other side of the pen.

Jackie says I’m overreacting, but I swear Howard’s painting is of me — a small, featureless shape on the canvas, a gap in the Pollock-like sprays and smears of color. When I confront Howard and hold the canvas up in front of him, he coils his trunk like a hose and backs away, staring at me out of the corner of his eye.

He and the other elephants stand in a clique, touching their trunks together, part sign language and part braille. They look over at me, past their ears, like they don’t want to get caught.

The old one senses something about me that I can’t. Look at the way he looks at me. He flicks his trunk. The others nod.

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