Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,
Welcome back to Friday and the fiction that happens here each week. I hate this week’s prompts. There. I said it.
I’m feeling really uninspired of late, and I have to keep reminding myself that the the writer writes even when it’s hard. The writer returns to the work, even when it feels like work. And today it feels like hard work.
I’ve been reading more than usual lately too. Tamsyn Muir’s Harrow the Ninth, second in the Locked Tomb Trilogy, Holly Black’s The Modern Fairy Tales compendium, Jordan Peterson’s Beyond Order:Twelve More Rules for Life, not to mention the stack of TBR and the Basque folklore I’ve been reading as research for my current WIP.
I’ve been watching lectures and listening to podcasts on poetry as it is nation poetry month. I have heard really valuable insights and airy fairy fluff in equal measures. I’ve written a smattering of haiku, half a children’s book, and a few hundred words in the WIP. It hasn’t been glorious, but it hasn’t been nothing. I keep trying to tell myself that for now, this spring, this year, this moment that’s okay.
So today, I am just going to riff. No prompts. Nothing but a notion, and we will see how it plays out.
If you have any interest in using the prompts I pulled (I have none) they are: inspector, talking dog, home movie enthusiast. P.S. I guess my prompt to myself ended up being: invisible pet. Feel free to use it instead.
Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed about having some insane kind of pet? You’d see a rhino on Animal Planet and ask if you could get one. Or you’d consider it a reasonable possibility that a crocodile could live in the bathtub. I think we all do it. I think we all get a little awe struck by the idea of confining mega fauna of some sort to our rigid human dwelling spaces.
Well, I ca tell you with no uncertainty that this is a child’s fantasy that is absolute bull. There is nothing delightful about having a massive roommate that could stomp you to powder at a moment’s notice.
I know because I accidentally adopted an elephant.
In North America this not merely a near impossibility, but a crime. At least I’m fairly certain it’s a crime. Elephants are endangered. They don’t just wander around like feral cats and have a litter in your backyard.
But Shelly did.
Shelly wandered up my street, clearly dehydrated and distressed. I pulled up one of those ten gallon planters I had in the back yard, filled it with water and sat there with her while she drank it down six times over. Then she walked through the open gate into the back yard, laid down and went to sleep.
I called animal control. They hung up on me.
I called 911. They reminded me that prank calling emergency services was a crime and then hung up on me.
I decided that a loose elephant was not a thing that would go unnoticed, so I turned on the news hoping some sanctuary or zoo or attraction would be asking for information about their missing elephant.
Nothing. I figured my neighbors would call it in at some point. She wasn’t small or quiet. I mean we had a home owners association that fined for weeds in your yard. An elephant would surely be an issue.
But it never was. No one said a word. The elephant in the room simply wasn’t. So I bought some hay from a local supplier. I sprayed her down twice a day and gave up all hope for my garden boxes. Shelly just became a part of my life, a big part.
Manure disposal, keeping her fed and watered, giving her a sense of security ate up all my time and resources fast.
I sat on my porch watching her munch one day, when a snake went slithering through the far side of the lawn. It was a big one, but not a dangerous one. That didn’t matter to Shelly. She trumpeted, stomped the heck out of the snake, and then the fence next to the snake, and then my neighbor’s raspberry bushes for good measure.
My neighbor came out of their back door screaming at me, asking what had happened. All I said was, “snake.” Then I pointed at Shelly.
My neighbor said I was insane and they were suing for damages.
I said that wasn’t necessary, I’d pay for the fence, though I wasn’t sure how, and that something like a lawsuit would force me to get rid of Shelly.
“Yes, that’s what I call the elephant.”
My neighbor searched my yard, her eyes roving right over where my elephant stood huffing and puffing from the exertion. It became immediately apparent to me that this was the explanation for Shelly’s apparent absence from the news. No one could see her or hear her but me.
Somewhere in my brain six year old me was screaming with glee, “An invisible elephant?! We have the coolest pet ever!”
And then on the other side of my brain rational, grown up me was experiencing a dread so profound I would call it existential. I had in my possession an invisible elephant. I looked around my yard carefully, hoping to see piles of uneaten hay, or a garden box that had not been trampled as I’d imagined. A psychotic break would be much easier to understand and explain than an unprovable pachyderm.
But there was nothing. Nothing but my neighbor’s rampaged fence and the lost dreams of summer ripened raspberries.
I couldn’t deny it, not without sounding just as insane as if I tried to explain its validity.
Anyway, that’s when I rented a trailer, bought a bunch of land in New Mexico, and relocated. Me, Shelly, and the jackalope that showed up when we arrived.
So take my word for it kid. You on’t want a giant pet. Get a gold fish. One your mom can see. You’ll thank me.
All my best, and happy Friday.