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ElephantS

BY WALKER CAPLAN

Lakeside School, '16
2016 Adroit Prize for Prose: Runner-Up

 

            After you left town with the lead singer from Extraversion the zoo got a new elephant. Her name was Chai. Her previous zoo had violated the Animals Welfare Act by letting the elephants get cold in the winter.

            I knew about Chai because my mother sent me an email about her:

            mrsgoldbergsstillgotit@gmail.com
            to me

           Hope --

I HOPE all is well over there in Seattle! (never gets old..) i loved that album review you posted the other week….getting paid to do something you love!! Your moving up in the world! Will I ever get to hear you on 90.3? is that part of your job?

Is your phone working?? I left you a few voicemails on Valentine’s Day but you didn’t pick up. I hope you were out having fun!!

Dad told me about Tom… he wouldn’t recognize perfection if it hit him on the nose. its not your fault – NOBODY can resist a rocker chick! (dyed hair can be sexy! are you using the Moroccan Oil Curl Control Mousse I sent you?) Don’t worry, you’ll always be my Valentine :)

I hope you’re having fun with your friends…get out and see what’s happening, take a day off from work, do something for yourself. Woodland Adventures Zoo is getting a new elephant! <3 its name is Chai…two of your favorite things…you should check it out.

please call me back soon if your phone is working. Dad and I would love to have you home sometime soon…

 Xx Love Mom

P.S. Don’t be surprised if you find a little something in the mail soon (hint: it’s only right for my sweet daughter to have something SWEET!!)

            I went to see the elephant that Saturday. I wore the sundress with the blue flowers and my blue headband, the one you always called a schoolgirl headband. I was the best-looking person there. Mostly there were kids with sticky chins and their khaki moms blocking my view. I didn’t know where all the dads were. Someone had hung a banner on the entrance gate that mistakenly said, “PLEASE WELCOME CHIA THE ELEPHANT TO THE WOODLAND ADVENTURES ZOO!” I hoped they got fired.

            I elbowed two gaping kids to the side and gripped the fence so they couldn’t push me back. At first I couldn’t tell which elephant was Chai. There were five and they all pretty much looked the same, placid and waddling. I looked for a while. One stroked a smaller one’s back with its trunk. Flies buzzed.

            “What’s that one doing?” asked the kid to my right, pointing. I followed his arm. The biggest elephant was rocking back and forth on its heels and swaying its head from side to side. Its ears flapped. It looked drunk and hot.

            “That one’s Chai, the new one,” I said. I told the kid Chai was agitated because she was failing to integrate with the larger herd. I knew that was a scientific term because I used to love elephants; there’s a print of four elephants walking in a line framed above my childhood bed, which you never got to see because you never visited home with me. I told the kid that Chai was probably sad because she had been separated from all her friends and couldn’t make any new ones, so the rocking was just an outward manifestation of grief – which is totally reasonable, I said, as I touched the kid’s arm, and he looked at me in confusion, whereupon I realized that he had been talking to his mom the whole time, who told him that Chai was rocking because she was just so excited.

---

           When I got home there was a package on my doorstep with a note attached.

           For my “sweet” daughter…

Don’t eat too many of these at once – everyone loves healthy girls :) I hope you’re using the NutriBlend Dad and I sent you for Christmas. Remember, kale’s a miracle food!

Dad and I saw these at Whole Foods and thought of you. They look just like the ones in your room.

Much love XOXOXOXOXOX

Mom

            It was a box of dark chocolates molded to look like elephants, but all their trunks were tucked down so really they were just blobby ovals. I sat at my kitchen table and ate every single one. I videoed myself on my phone, uploaded it to Youtube, and sent the link to my mom. That was the first time I filmed myself eating. I never meant anyone to see it except my mother. Certainly not you.

            When I brushed my teeth that night the water ran brown. I watched the video in bed. My blurry cheeks stretched, holding three at a time. I wasn’t full because all the chocolates were hollow.

---

            That night I dreamed that you were in a conference room and all these men were asking you to describe me and they wouldn’t let you out until you got me just right. So you said well Hope works at the KEXP radio station and reviews music for their blog, and they all shook their heads, so you said well she has brown curly hair and ignores all her mother’s messages, and they said no no, a little to the left, so you said she used to sing but she doesn’t really anymore because her songs were all too sad, and they said, no no, who is she really, and you were stumped. You rested your head in your palm. Finally you said well I’m just spitballing here but Hope hates spicy food, she always hated going out for food, but when we went out and something was too spicy she’d never send it back, and actually she’d order spicy shit to be polite, and here you looked like you were going to say something more but you were interrupted by all the men leaping up and embracing each other. They said, yes, yes, you’ve nailed it entirely! And I thought, this is what I am? I’m defined by my dislike of spicy food? And I wanted to say something to you but I couldn’t, I wasn’t even in the room, and as all the men started kissing each other on the conference table and their suits rumpled beneath them I started to scream, and I did scream, and I woke up, and I was cold and moist, and my heart was beating so fast, and I was scared because I didn’t know what it was made of.

---

            I didn’t go to work the next day. I sat in bed and listened to Extraversion. You know their song Galactic Babe:

            Galactic babe
            Galactic babe
            She is floating
            Up in space

            Galactic babe
            Galactic babe
            Everyone wants
            To kiss her face

            I am a
            Galactic babe
            Come kiss my
            Galactic face

            I am a
            Galactic babe
            I will whip you
            Into shape

            I will spray you
            With some mace
            Spray it in your
            Earthling face

            I’m clad in
            Galactic lace
            I am your…

            [screamed] GALACTIC BABE!!!
 

            Then the drum solo happens.

            I watched the live version on Youtube. I couldn’t hear the song very well because whoever was holding the camera was also reassuring her friend that her eyeliner still looked hot, but I could see the singer, Loleeta – at least that’s her stage name, so I don’t know if you call her that. She had this little white mesh shirt on with big running shorts rolled over and the lights hit her blue hair so she looked like a sea creature. She was holding the microphone with one hand and kept walking backwards and floating her other arm around as she sang like she was underwater. She kept bending over and changing direction so she looked a little drunk, but everyone seemed to be buying it. It was a small venue because this was before Extraversion blew up. You know. So the lights kept flickering over the audience, a sea of dyed heads. Lavender, gray, everything.

            Remember, I was going to dye my hair green that one time but you said permanent dye required bleaching and that you were just spitballing here but you thought bleach could cause permanent hair damage and my hair was too luxuriant to destroy like that, you actually said luxuriant, but when you left you took the Moroccan Oil Curl Control Mousse so it’s not as luxuriant anymore, I guess. I might dye my hair or get a tattoo, one with words, not a picture. If I got all the tattoos I wanted I’d be the coolest person you’ve ever seen. If I dyed my hair I’d be so hot, even hotter than I am now, with a rebelliously sexy aura about me, just like Loleeta. I could close my eyes and sing only to myself and everybody’d still like it.

---

            After I watched every live version of Galactic Babe available on Youtube I checked my email. My mother had responded already:

           mrsgoldbergsstillgotit@gmail.com
           to me

           Hope –

I’m glad to see you liked our little gift ….i guess you couldn’t help yourself!! remember, all in moderation J

Dad and I were so happy to see your face finally...we love our beautiful daughter! Are you feeling okay? Drinking water helps with bloating <3 you look a little sad, hopefully it’s the lighting! are you using your glycolic acid skin wash?

Did you go see Chai the elephant? take pictures for us!!

Please call us back…I left you another voicemail on your phone…I’m sending you a charger in the mail in case you can’t find yours…would love to hear your voice!! we miss you. 

LOVE YOU…

Mom

P.S. you might want to make the video private next time…there are all sorts of people in cyberspace xxx

            I think she meant three kisses. I went to Youtube. Youtube said my video had five views. I scrolled down:

            MrAndMrsGoldberg one day ago
            I love my daughter…MISSING YOU

            ryan227 one day ago
            pretty hot

I got up and ate some Cheerios with milk. I looked again:

            ryan227 one day ago
            pretty hot

            I watched my video. My teeth were really white compared to the chocolate. I poured myself another bowl of Cheerios and videoed myself eating it slowly, posted it on the same channel with the title “cereal lover can’t get enough."

---

            Rachel from the station called and I told her I was sick but could try to make it in. She told me to take the whole day off and to drink lots of water so I could be up on my feet as soon as possible. I told her I was sorry and that I had tried to come to work but I had vomited all over the steering wheel and in fact I’d been vomiting practically nonstop the entire morning and I was currently sprawled on the bathroom tile in my own vomit. She said wow. I told her I was a veritable fountain of vomit. She said that was really wild. I said yeah, she was right, it was pretty wild, like if someone ever wanted to make a water fountain but with vomit I’d be their gal, ha ha, just call me up, just feed me and wait two seconds! She said feel better and hung up before I could say anything else.

            I decided to write a song. It was called “I Wish I Were A Mermaid”. After two hours I had a verse and a chorus. Then I stopped because I ripped up the skin on my fingers from playing guitar too hard. I figured what the heck so I posted a recording of the verse and chorus as a demo on Soundcloud under the name “hope less” because I’m actually pretty funny. I put Band-Aids around my fingers and went to see Chai.

 

            Chai wasn’t looking too good. She stood far away from the five other elephants and flapped her ears. She pushed her trunk through the dirt and showered herself with little particles of dust. A kid tugged on my leg. She probably thought I was her mom or something. “Look,” she said, “look.” I didn’t look.

            “Look at the baby,” she said. I didn’t look at the kid but I did look out at the baby elephant. It had fallen down in a patch of mud and kept adorably trying to stand up but failing and falling flat on its stomach, legs splayed. All the elephants except Chai lumbered over to the mud patch. Four big trunks scooped the baby up and out.

            “They all love her,” said the stupid kid. The baby elephant leaned against another’s front leg. A big trunk wrapped around it. Chai watched.

---

            I checked my Soundcloud right when I got home. It told me that only one person had played my song, and nobody had liked it. I took it down. Then I checked my cereal video. It had 22 views and one comment:

            ryan227 two hours ago
            what else can you fit in your mouth

            I made a video of silently drinking a milkshake with “Milkshake” by Kelis playing in the background and posted the link as a reply with a winking face. At the end of the video I smiled and fit my whole fist in my mouth. I hoped ryan227 liked it.

---

            I spent a couple days at home taking time for myself like my mother said I should. I listened to a lot of music. When I say a couple days I mean two weeks, and when I say listen to music I mean listen to Extraversion. My life was soundtracked by Extraversion. When I was falling asleep Loleeta danced behind my eyes. I watched videos of Loleeta tipping her head back, stumbling around to the beat. I pictured you on tour with her, combing her blue hair through your fingers, combing so much that your fingers turned blue. Once I was holding my phone above my head to watch some girl’s acoustic cover of Galactic Babe and I lost my balance and fell off my bed and scraped a flap of skin off of my elbow. It bled through my big shirt. I placed a patch of gauze on it and affixed it with Band-Aids because I’m a can-do gal.

            I checked my email. It said I had (6) New Emails from Mrs Goldbergs Still Got It! I didn’t read them. I watched the video of me eating the box of elephant chocolates. Four hundred and nine people had watched it too. The top comment was from 11_CallMeFishmael_11:           

            11_CallMeFishmael_11 two days ago
            looks like she’s got a “Mammoth” appetite! 

            The milkshake video had really taken off, probably because I put my fist in my mouth at the end, or because I had been only wearing a bra at the time I videoed it. Multiple thousands of people had watched it. I felt improbably famous. Someone must have posted a link on a forum or message board, because most of the comments said something like “like if u got here from Weekly Weird”, and those comments had a lot of likes. Every meal I ate I videoed and posted on my channel. I was always silent. That could be my trademark.

            I went outside sometimes. I wore pajamas because I was just going to see Chai. She was huge and moved slowly, like any other elephant. I loved her. She was miserable. One day I went to the zoo and there were only five elephants in the elephant exhibit. I asked a woman next to me where Chai was. She said Chai had been moved by the zoo to a separate, walled-off enclosure but she wasn’t sure why. I said it was probably because she still wasn’t integrating with the rest of the herd and needed some alone time so she wouldn’t snap one day and bludgeon another elephant with her trunk and have to be moved to a sanctuary across the country. The lady looked at me, adjusted her scrunchie. She told me Chai was probably just tired.

---

            Rachel from the station called again. She asked me where I’d been for the past week. I reminded her that I was a vomit fountain. She said I sounded fine. I told her I’d been feeling significantly better today but I had developed athlete’s foot on my eye and I didn’t want to spread it to anyone. She asked me if I had been rubbing a shoe on my eye. I said no, why would I do that? She said that she had another review for me, that this new-ish band that hadn’t quite hit it big yet but had a lot of potential was coming to Seattle tonight and I needed to review it, she’d put my name on the VIP list already. I told her that was very forward-thinking of her but I didn’t want to give anyone athlete’s foot of the eye. She asked me if I planned on rubbing my eye on any concertgoers. I said no, that sounded unsanitary and purposeless. She told me I’d be sad to miss it, the lead singer was a star in the making – and that hair! I asked what band. She said Extraversion. I said I’d go.           

            I wanted to look good for the concert. I wore the black dress with no back, the one that you said made me look like a high-class hooker. I bought a box of aquamarine dye at the drugstore on the corner and was going to dye my hair when I noticed that there was still a square of gauze on my elbow. I peeled off the Band-Aids and tugged at the gauze. It wouldn’t move. The blood and fluid had dried around it. It was attached to my elbow like a taffeta flower. I soaked it under hot water in the sink but it still didn’t come off. I called Rachel from the station.

            Rachel did not sound pleased to hear my voice. She asked me what had gone wrong this time. I told her I was sorry and I hated to inconvenience her but I had a large bandage that was stuck to my arm with pus that could impair my review-writing abilities. She told me to soak my arm in hot water. I told her I already did, and it still wouldn’t come off, the bandage and my elbow were stuck fast. Rachel sighed and said, “They must be in love with each other.”

            An IM window popped up on my computer.

            ryan227:
            you got big :)

            springseternal:
            ryan227!im not big im only 150

             ryan227:
            whoa that’s not what I mean I mean your videos

            springseternal:
            how did you get my email

            ryan227:
            I have my ways :) :) 
            are you mad?

            springseternal:
            no
            after all you were my first :)

            ryan227:
            you never forget your first haha
            do you have a boyfriend

            springseternal:
            ex-boyfriend  

ryan227:
what was he like?

springseternal:
his curls are very controlled

ryan227:
what
anything else? 

springseternal:
no

ryan227:
oh

springseternal:
oh?

            Waiting for Ryan227 to respond almost made me late, but I got to the concert, hair still brown, bandage scabbed to my arm. I was in the front – reviewer privilege – so I could see Loleeta up close for the first time. She tripped around the stage. She gestured vaguely with her hand. She collapsed into herself and her blue hair swung into her face and shone in the light. Then she stopped and looked at the audience as the chorus hit:

            MERMAID! I wanna be a
            MERMAID! I wanna be a
            MERMAID! I wanna be your…

            [screamed] MERMAID  

            (guitar solo)

            I felt psychic and also robbed. Everyone around me was jumping, their fists trailing in the air. The girl behind me shouted, “Fuck me, Loleeta!” in my ear. I turned around and she said, “Sorry,” rolled her eyes, kept jumping, jostled my backpack. I didn’t blame her. Loleeta looked great. She was wearing a white jumpsuit that sparkled. She was a Galactic Babe.

            It was hot in the crowd. I drank some vodka out of the water bottle in my backpack, the kind that squirts when you squeeze it. I wondered if you were backstage, if you had kissed her before she went on, if you made her gleam like that. I looked around to see if you were in the crowd, but didn’t see you, obviously, just people with fantastically dyed hair, cooler than me. They all looked happy, like something was happening inside them, like they knew it was happening to everyone else too. I wondered if they could just look at each other on the street and know things about each other. A club for the flower heads.

            The song ended. Loleeta said into the microphone, “Let’s take it down a notch.” She was sweating so much but it just made her look clear and pale, like the moon. The gauze was now hanging from my elbow by one end, which probably looked pretty stupid. I wanted to pull it off but it was still attached by a scab. The guys to my left and right somehow knew each other and were gesturing over my head. I was damp and small. Loleeta started a ballad. She put her hand on her heart and swayed around. She was into herself and pulled everyone with her. The girl behind me yelled, “Loleeta, I want you!” The girl behind her muttered, “Shut the fuck up.” The first girl said, “Excuse me?” and shoved the other girl, who dropped her phone and bent down to pick it up, hitting three people around her, causing a wave of irritation and jostling which knocked me down. My elbow stung like a bitch and I clambered to my feet, looked down and the gauze was on the ground, it had been ripped off. I stood up and my eyes were watering and I was wet with other people’s sweat, and I wasn’t thinking straight, and I couldn’t see clearly, and a fistfight had broken out behind me, and I tried to spurt vodka from my water bottle onstage, just to show Loleeta that she wasn’t in space, just to ground her, just to make her sticky like everybody else, but this was unfortunately the moment she chose to crouch at the front of the stage, right in front of me, so the vodka hit her directly in the eye just as she was breathily thanking the crowd for the best day of her life.

---

            I didn’t call in sick. I didn’t call anybody. Rachel from the station called. She asked where the review of the Extraversion show was. I told her it was coming. She said, “This is the big one!” She’d heard Loleeta got blinded in one eye with a squirt gun full of acid. I told her I didn’t think that happened. She said we still needed first-hand coverage, all the music websites were talking about it, said that right when she crouched down she got hit in the eye so it must have been planned. I said I doubted it was planned. She asked me if I was okay. I said I was tired of just listening to everybody else’s art. I told her that I was sick of listening to lyrics that were just two words repeated. I told her I was hurtling toward a life of briefcases and keyboards and flat asses and mediocrity. That my skin looked like a worm under fluorescent light. Rachel said, “You think I’m mediocre?” I told her I wanted to wrap my legs around someone. Or get punched. Crunch teeth under more teeth. I told her if she put me under a microscope I’d glow green but no one ever does. Rachel said, “You think my ass is flat?” I told her I was quitting. She said, “Is your athlete’s foot making you angry?” I told her I’d watched every episode of House and still didn’t know what illness I had. She said, “You have athlete’s foot of the eye. Please come in to work. I’m worried about you.” I hung up.

            That day I went to see the elephants. Chai still wasn’t there. I watched the baby elephant try to balance on a big blue ball. Its foot slipped off but it tried again. Its mother was sleeping.

---

            Extraversion blew up. The acid-eye incident was big news. Photo spreads featuring Loleeta were on the front of every music website. She had a white sparkly eye patch. I couldn’t go into a store without hearing Galactic Babe. I turned on KEXP and Rachel was interviewing Loleeta. Loleeta said yes, the acid had eaten through her cornea, no, she had no idea who would try to hurt her, yes, she’d keep on touring because luckily the acid didn’t go down her throat. Here she laughed charmingly. Yes, she was only 23, yes, she was trying to make raw and simple music, which was really hard to find on the radio these days, yes, she was just so grateful to her fans, yes, Mermaid was written about someone special, no, she wouldn’t tell KEXP listeners his name.

            She debuted a new song, called Acid Eye:

            Acid eye
            Acid eye
            Looking fine with my
            Acid eye

            Acid eye
            Acid eye
            Shooter, you are
            Asinine


            You can try
            To make me blind
            But I’ll keep doing
            Stuff I like

            My videos got big too. Not as big as Extraversion, but people really liked them. I was always silent. That’s probably why. I had a devoted fan base. People would suggest food to eat in the comments. I took videos of me eating entire supermarket cakes. I took videos of me drinking Tabasco sauce in my underwear. My steak-eating video got a mention on Comedy Central. I sold my NutriBlend on Craigslist and used the money to buy a better camera. I used the aquamarine dye I’d bought earlier and commenters said they liked my new look. I started getting offers from brands. Sour Patch Kids actually paid me to eat Sour Patch Kids in one of my videos. I ate a whole bag, the kind with smaller bags inside them, until my throat was puckered sour, coated sour. Then I drank a raw egg in a cup and smiled for the camera. That night I had a dream that I went to the fish store, bought a whole eel, swallowed it: a throat in my throat.

---

            Finally the Woodland Adventures Zoo website said that Chai had been put back in the elephant exhibit. I had been checking it every day, unlike my email, which said I had 57 new messages from my mother. I didn’t read all of them – I just clicked at random:

           mrsgoldbergsstillgotit@gmail.com
           to me 

           Hope ---

           This is another follow-up because we don’t know if your email’s working…

A girl who looked like you was drinking a milkshake on the Daily Show. was it you?? Did you dye your hair blue?? bleach kills…

we haven’t seen a review in so long…are you working in a different section?? Wil we get to hear you on the radio?

Did you get the charger we sent…are you okay…I’m worried about you. You’re always welcome home any time.

Xxxx

Mommy


I clicked on another one. 


mrsgoldbergsstillgotit@gmail.com
to me

Hope --- 

Im very concerned. How do you have time to make all these videos if you’re working. Dad and I just found them the other day.. you look sick.. are you using the smoothie recipes I sent you?

Why don’t you talk in any of them. We want to here your voice …

We miss you.

Mom

P.S. there are freaks out there. Be safe


And another:


mrsgoldbergsstillgotit@gmail.com
to me

Come home


I deleted all the emails and IMed Ryan227.
 

springseternal:
sorry for the radio silence its been a rough few weeks
with the exboyfriend and all, im a scorned woman, haha 

springseternal:
it’s whatever I just feel like im stagnating I guess
when I was twelve I laid out all these things on a blanket outside my room and tried to sell them to my family
like this cactus and these mini statues I’d gotten as souvenirs on like every vacation we’d ever been on and all these dolls and an Ugly Doll with curled spiral ears
Nobody bought anything because they’d bought that stuff for me in the first place
but I was pissed
I told my mom she’d ruined my business and she said she loved me and I kicked her in the stomach
like
I’m constantly regurgitating you know? 

springseternal:
sorry to freak you out haha
that was a lot :)
how’s your day going?

springseternal:
And like I try to write songs about it but what’s the point if nobody hears them

springseternal:
there I go again getting all intense…the curse of the lawyer J
im nice I promise haha
youre nice I want to meet you

springseternal:
im actually surprised you haven’t made a move on me yet
you’ve seen me , ho w about I see you ;)  

springseternal:
im a rebel I know you like that
I blinded a girl once
squirted vodka into her eye
she wears an eye patch now
actually you know the lead singer of extraversion it was her

ryan227:
whoa
let’s meet up
   
l live in seattle too I saw it in your youtube bio

           springseternal:
           today, 3:00? Woodland Adventures zoo, elephant exhibit
            they moved chai back in
            chais the new elephant
            wear a white shirt

            ryan227:
            see you then

            I looked nice. I used a flat-iron on my hair so it hung straight and teal. I put on a little white tank top and cut the legs off a pair of jeans. When I got to the elephant exhibit five elephants were drinking water and Chai was lying in the dust next to the fence with her back to me. Just breathing hide. She looked sicker than before. 

            I asked a girl in a Wildland Adventures polo what happened to Chai. She said she didn’t know. I asked her again. She said she wasn’t supposed to tell me this but she heard that Chai got a disease that made her eat dirt and the dirt made her sicker. She said not to take her word for it because she was just a volunteer. I said okay. She said,  “This might be a little weird but are you the girl who makes the –” I told her I got that a lot.

            I turned away from Chai and leaned against the fence. I waited for a man with a white shirt. This is where you know what happened.

---

            I wanted you to be wearing a different color shirt than the one you were wearing. I asked you what you were doing at the zoo and you said you were here to see me. I said I was meeting someone, a guy, actually. You said you knew. I looked at your torso. I so badly wanted your shirt to be different. I knew I was sweating, and when Loleeta stepped around the corner I was as small and wet as I had been at her concert.

            You said, “I blinded a girl once. Squirted vodka into her eye. She wears an eye patch now.” You said, “Why’d you do it, Hope?”

            I didn’t say anything.

            You said, “Your mother called. She’s worried about you.”

            I picked at my elbow.

            You said, “I brought the Moroccan Oil Curl Control Mousse with me. Is that what you’re mad about?”

            I tugged on my hair. I wished it were anything but blue.

            You said, “You blinded my girlfriend.”

            Loleeta said she wasn’t blind. I said Loleeta would know if she were blind or not. You said she was just being nice, that she was fucking blind. I said she should be thanking me for catapulting her into the public eye. You said I was a psycho. Loleeta told us both to quiet down, we’d spook the elephants. I said you were the one who commented on my video. I said, “What else can you put in your mouth?” Loleeta asked you what I was talking about. I told Loleeta her songs were artless. You moved toward me but Loleeta stopped you.

            Loleeta said, “Look at me, Hope.” I looked and her eyes were huge. She said, “You don’t know me at all.”

            I felt stupid, undressed. I looked like her but smaller and fake. I had gotten it so wrong. I searched for something to raise myself up, to get on her level, and yours, to prove I was real, and so I let out a guttural yell, and the yell was a guitar riff, the yell was the opening strains of “Galactic Babe.”

            People were looking. I couldn’t stop now. I yelled:

            I AM A
            GALACTIC BABE
            COME KISS MY
            GALACTIC FACE

            I AM A
            GALACTIC BABE
            I WILL WHIP YOU
            INTO SHAPE

            And as I roared something behind me roared. I turned around and Chai had raised her head off the ground. She spread her ears and trumpeted to the sky. All this time I had been watching her she had been watching me, I was sure. I have never felt so connected to anyone. I swung my leg over the fence and dropped into the dust right next to Chai. The girl in the Wildwood Adventures polo was frantically pushing buttons on her walkie-talkie. Chai’s trunk curled in the air and she was moaning, and it was the moan that I wanted to moan. She knew who I was. I put my head next to her head and intoned,

            I WILL SPRAY YOU
            WITH SOME MACE
            SPRAY IT IN YOUR
            EARTHLING FACE

            I’M CLAD IN
            GALACTIC LACE
            I AM YOUR…

            And I breathed in, and as I breathed in Chai wrapped her trunk around my shoulder and tightened, and slowly got to her feet. I feel stupid now, now that everyone can see the video the Wildwood Adventures girl posted on Youtube. In the video I’m a small shape curled inside a big fist, and when I’m flung across the sky it’s comical – a small X borne impossibly high, pinwheeling wildly, galactic.

 

"Elephants" is a deeply idiosyncratic story that manages to incorporate modern modes of communication (and song lyrics!) to clarify the narrator’s isolation and loneliness. I was most impressed by the voice—warm, vulnerable, candid, funny without trying too hard.  
-Kevin Moffett, 2016 Adroit Prize for Prose Judge

 

Walker Caplan lives in Seattle. Her writing has previously been recognized by The Adroit Journal (on the Editor's List for the 2015 Adroit Prize for Prose), the National YoungArts Foundation, Blank Theatre, and more, and her original plays have been performed in New York and Seattle. She was named BroadwayWorld Seattle’s 2015 Person To Watch. She currently serves as Prose Editor for Winter Tangerine Review and she is always ready to rouse some rabble.