Innocence (An Elephant's Story)
Janna ran heavily over the African plain, her huge feet hitting the
dusty earth. Her frenzied cries penetrated the wind as loudly as cannon
fire, though it did not overpower the screams of shotgun blasts. She
feared the reason the men were chasing her. Did they want her prized
tusks? All she was aware of was the immediate danger she was in, having
seen the same men take her son, Foster, away last year.
She pushed hard, dodging the smaller beings with fear of hurting them.
A path lay up ahead...an escape...but it was barricaded by the natives she
saw every day. Yet this day, they also wanted her. The souring taste of
fear trickled down her throat. Is this what Foster went through? She
missed him dearly and halted the chase out of exhaustion and of hope the
men would take her to him.
Dizzying spots danced in front of Janna's eyes as she struggled to her
weary, gray feet. She was unaware of her location, only noticing the
shaking of the ground that caused her to bump painfully into the sides of
the small, dark, enclosure. The frightened howls of the other animals
streamed through the air. Was Foster's cry among the masses? Desperate for
companionship, she summoned him. All was quiet in return, except for a
faint, sickly cry at the opposite end of the train's compartment. A
whisper of hope touched her despairing thoughts, while an ear-piercing
screech jolted the moving ground to a sudden stop.
She struggled to regain her footing and felt the restraint of metal
around her ankles. She did not understand its purpose, since there was
nowhere she could go. The humble sounds of her home no longer sang to her
ears, the love of her family was gone forever, and freedom was only a
minute memory. She experienced the unwanted emotions of dismay, confusion,
and weariness, in defiance of the heartwarming sun that now poured into
her dark box. Its illumination showed her the other elephant sharing her
space...Foster? It was him, though his weakened body did not permit him to
The bustling men from outside entered the train. Janna watched with
unbounded horror as they kicked and scolded Foster to a stand. He looked
into her soul with empty eyes, seeming to somehow know both his fate and
hers. The men came to her next, replacing the metal cuffs with an
abundance of heavier metal. She fought them only for a few moments, tired
to obedience and knowing the battle was an unwinnable one.
The next four years of her life were filled with ceaseless bribes from
her trainer to do things she found painful and uncomfortable to do. She
loathed her new life in the circus, for the only creatures that received
joy from her performance were the people. In fact, joy only entered her
heart when she and Foster spent their nights in the holding tent, chained
to the metal rings in the ground. She was alone with him then, though
through that small joy she saw the depression in young Foster's eyes. They
had broken his spirit with pain and harsh words and she vowed with
vengeance to not let them destroy her.
Oh, how she longed to nuzzle Foster...to stand above him and protect
him from the evils of man. She felt his defeat and prayed for him with
words of encouragement. Unlike her, he had surrendered his soul to the
people who enslaved him. He stopped eating, drinking, and even performing
to their orders. Janna struggled day after day to keep her own soul from
following his. She needed to stay secretly strong to survive.
This strength she hid was tested on a steamy day during a parade. As
she marched down the crowded avenue of laughing and cheering people, she
searched frantically for her youngster. He was nowhere in sight, having
been dismissed from the parade and returned to the holding tent. She
rushed through the parade, eager to get to her ill son.
Her motherhood was gone, echoed through the entire city by her screams
of sorrow. Before her, covered in dirt and hay, was the barbaric sight of
Foster's beaten body. They had taken away her only true token of life.
Revenge, or was it simply fairness, took the place of her usual obedient
ways. She used every ounce of pain they had caused her and her son to
break easily free from the men trying to hold her. With ominous shouts,
she stampeded into the streets of frightened people. Her eyes were blinded
by the cruel vision of her son. Nothing, not even the value of life,
mattered any more. She did not know where she was going, for her
destination was anywhere but back into the hands of humans. Bullets
shattered her majestic body within moments, finally releasing her from the
emotional and physical torture her life had become...
Janna is free now. Blessed by the peacefulness of the heavens...and her
son. Her fate was destined before she fell into the clutches of man, for
it is man who wrongly thinks he is ruler of the world.