Author’s Note: Diana at Mythos of the Mirror has a new photo prompt for this month and it’s a good one. This is my take on it.
Hartruese the elephant stood in the snowstorm. The stiff, sparse hairs on his body did very little to keep him warm.
He glanced around, hoping to see his owners coming back for him. But all he saw was snow and it was falling hard.
His tough skin protected him from many things.
It did nothing to protect him from the cold.
But he waited.
Just in case.
He waited until the pads of his feet became itchy from the cold. By then he realized the truth.
His owners were never coming back for him.
He flattened his small ears against his broad head and bowed his head to the cold wind.
He left to seek shelter.
As he trudged through the snow, he shivered and remembered days of warmth. Sunlight and a heated bedroom. Head scratches and loving words.
But that had been when he was still very small.
Elephants do not stay small.
He blinked his long, stiff eyelashes against the falling snow.
Hartruese tried to remember what he had done so wrong.
Why did they pack him into the back of the truck and leave him behind?
Where was he supposed to go?
What was he supposed to eat? There didn’t seem to be any fresh hay lying about.
What had he done wrong?
He honestly could not remember.
His ears fanned forward.
There was a light up ahead. A small light, to be sure, but it looked warm and lovely.
He stumbled towards it with an elephant’s solid determination.
Until, at last, he reached it.
Disappointment chilled his bones.
It was a dollhouse tucked into the nook of a bare tree. There was no way that he’d ever fit inside.
He raised his trunk and reached for the light’s warmth.
And it was so warm.
He blinked and tears fell. Tears of loneliness and sorrow and disappointment.
His tears trailed down his gray face and fell soft and melting into the snow.
He curled the end of his trunk.
It wasn’t fair.
It wasn’t fair at all.
He raised his trunk with the intent to smash the dollhouse apart.
Then, three white mice skittered out of an open window on the top floor. They looked up at him with bright, black eyes.
He lowered his trunk. It didn’t seem right to destroy someone’s home just because he was upset.
The smallest mouse squeaked a long and complicated sentence.
Hartruese flattened his ears and trumpeted a sad response.
The mouse turned to its two companions. They converged in a huddle and muttered in soft squeaks that were meant only for their own ears.
Hartruese took an uncertain step back. He raised and lowered his feet one at a time, trying to relieve some of the cold.
The smallest mouse skittered out of the huddle and launched into a long and detailed info dump about who they were and how they could help him.
He set his right foot down and bellowed a simple response.
The mouse squeaked in excitement.
He raised his trunk and laid it gently on the roof.
All three mice ran up his trunk, across his broad head, and down his prominent spine. They squeaked the whole way and their squeaks sounded like music.
Hartruese closed his eyes and remembered.
Susie playing the piano.
Her mother singing in the kitchen.
Her father listening to the radio.
The birds singing outside.
And it was spring.
He opened his eyes and let out an undignified squawk.
Either he had shrunk or the mice had grown quite a bit. Because they were all the same size.
The snow billowed high and deep above his head.
The dollhouse was a mile high.
He trumpted a very good question to the mice.
They squeaked and chittered at him to follow them.
They led him to the tree, which worried him. His flat padded feet were not designed for tree climbing.
Then, he noticed the very subtle staircase whittled around the tree’s trunk.
He followed the mice up the winding staircase all the way up to the branch that the dollhouse was settled on.
The dollhouse was so much taller than him. It looked like a real house.
And he remembered.
Curled up on the braided carpet next to Susie’s bed.
Reaching up and quietly snatching good smelling food off the table.
This dollhouse was not that house.
It was not the home of his memories.
But he followed the three mice into their house.
He was willing to create new memories.
He was ready to make this strange new house his home.