Friday, 13 November 2015

A #nanowrimo excerpt: Of Elephants and Potatoes

And here it is, an excerpt from the story I started for Nanowrimo, which is probably going to die an ignominious death very soon. Enjoy, or rather, just stab me to death right now.

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The thing with being In a State was that it often tired Cherise out so that she didn’t have any bad dreams. This time though, because she had fallen asleep after less than half an hour of crying, her subconscious was still overly active, resulting in the strangest dream about elephants that she had ever had. Not that she had ever dreamt of elephants before.
She had opened her eyes to see a large, matronly elephant bending over her, nuzzling her neck with its trunk. She had blinked and rubbed her eyes, but the elephant still loomed over her. She could feel the gentle touch of the elephant’s trunk on her neck, unexpectedly feather light, like a warm caress.
“Why do you cry, little one?” the elephant asked.
Cherise’s eyes widened.
“You… you speak. I’m… I’m dreaming, aren’t I?” Cherise pinched herself.
The elephant’s eyes narrowed. “Hmm. Yes, yes you are.”
Cherise nodded. “That’s right.”
“So why don’t you tell me why you’re crying, little one? After all, this is only a dream, so you can say whatever you want.”
“I - I…” Cherise couldn’t figure out what to say. Frankly, she felt a little silly for talking to an elephant, even if it were only an imaginary one.
“You remind me of that cartoon,” she said instead. “The one with the flying elephant.”
“Maybe I am.”
“I haven’t seen that cartoon for ages. I don’t really remember what it was about except that little Dumbo was crying because he had been separated from his mother.”
“So why are you crying? Have you been separated from your mother?”
“I - well, it seems so silly.”
“Nothing can be sillier than you dreaming of talking to a cartoon elephant, so why don’t you try me?” the elephant said. Cherise found herself agreeing.
“Well, you see, Nate got married.”
The elephant waited for her to continue. After a while, it prodded, “and you’re heart-broken because you like him?”
“No, not exactly. I never liked Nate in that way. I mean, he was nice. We’ve been friends for a long time, but I never had romantic feelings for him.” She paused, sitting up. The elephant settled into what passed for a sitting position beside her and they sat companionably in silence. Cherise found herself leaning on it.
“Do you have a name?” she finally asked.
“Hmm. You can call me Iris,” the elephant replied.
“Iris. Like the flower?”
“No. Iris, like your eye.”
Cherise thought about that. “Because you are all-seeing? Or something?”
“Or something.” Iris’ trunk settled about Cherise’s shoulders like a warm hug. “Why don’t you continue telling me your story?”
“Oh. I thought I’d finished. Well, Nate got married. And everyone was so happy and so pretty. And then I felt like a useless fifth wheel which no one noticed or wanted.”
“Fifth wheel?” Iris queried.
“You know, like that spare tire thing that’s in the car that you never remember you have until your get a flat tire?”
“I’m not very familiar with the concept of cars, but I think I get what you mean.”
“Yea, I mean everything is always done in pairs - or in this case, with four wheels on a car - and you never ever need that last person, unless something goes wrong. And I’m always this person - this - useless person until something goes wrong and they say, oh but maybe Cherise knows what to do. And then most times I don’t, but I try. And sometimes I do but it’s all so - ugh.”
“Doesn’t that make you a useful person, though? Because they need you?”
Cherise shook her head. “You don’t understand, Iris. I don’t want to be needed anymore. I want to be wanted.”
Iris flapped her ears thoughtfully.
“And maybe what I really want is a family of my own. Despite the fact that kids are such bothersome things. But… but maybe they won’t be that bad,” Cherise continued in a rush.
“But that sounds like you want to be needed. Children are needy little people after all.”
“I - I…” a small tear leaked out of Cherise’s eye. “I don’t know what I want. I just know that I don’t want to be where I am anymore. The white elephant. The elephant in the room.” She paused. “No offense.”
Iris engulfed her in a warm elephant hug. “Don’t worry little one. Things will get better soon.” Cherise wriggled a little, but Iris’ hug was strong and comforting, and once she was settled in a comfortable position, she closed her eyes and listened to Iris sing a little Elephant Lullaby.

Hush, little one, close your eyes
Iris is here to still your cries
The world so harsh will fade away
As Iris sings her little lay.  

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And my terrible word count so you can laugh at me.

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