Inspiration Monday – Elephant Soup

I’m still getting used to this InMon on Fridays, FF not on Fridays malarkey. Has it effected the stories I write? Only time will tell, I suppose!

Thanks as always to Steph for the prompt this week. It was just the excuse I needed to bring Melanie back out to play, although this one needed her Mom’s help.

Elephant Soup

Mel held my hand as we passed the lions’ enclosure. They looked bored and I was reminded why I hate zoos – especially when I see the big cats. Lions should be roaming miles and miles of territory, chasing wildebeest and antelopes. We saw a large male sitting on a rock, gazing into space. I wondered if he was dreaming about the wild, but I guessed he’d probably never seen it. Was it true that we couldn’t miss what we hadn’t known?

I was pulled from my introspection by an eager tug on my arm.

“Look, Mummy!” She was pointing across the grassy picnic area, at another enclosure. My eyes gradually focussed and I saw two elephants: one large and one smaller one.

“Oh, a baby elephant,” I said. “Let’s take a closer look.”

The elephant enclosure was almost as bleak as the lions’. Most of the ground was hard, baked mud, with a few trees dotted around it, and a bathing pool at one end which didn’t look big enough to hold the mother elephant. But Mel didn’t see any of that. She was looking at the mother elephant, gently nosing its baby towards the water.

Eastern_Serengeti_2012_05_31_2974_(7522617478)

“Bathtime for the elephant,” Mel whispered, her eyes filled with awe. “Can we stay and watch it?”

A cough tickled the back of my throat. “Not now,” I thought, swallowing hard to get rid of it. “Of course,” I croaked.

“Mummy? Are you OK? Should we go and sit down?” Suddenly, Mel’s eyes were fixed on me. She had forgotten the elephants, the zoo, everything but my welfare. I wanted to cry.

“I’m fine,” I said, trying to smile although my eyes were watering from holding in the cough. Then it came. Not one, but wave after wave of scraping lungful. I leaned on the railing that separated us from the elephants. People were probably staring, but I couldn’t see through streaming tears. Mel clung tight to my arm as I bent over, trying to breathe. Someone put a bottle of water in my hand, but I couldn’t work out how to open it and it fell from my grasp.

Out of nowhere, strong hands took hold of me and somehow I walked to a bench and sat down. Another bottle of water, this time already open, was gently held to my lips and I took a sip. Some poured over my t-shirt, but the cough began to subside and eventually I leaned back on the bench, exhausted.

Mel was there, here face between me and a sea of concerned onlookers. She was smiling her “You’re going to be OK,” smile.

“I’d like to go home now, Mummy,” she said. “We’ve seen everything.”

We’d hardly begun, of course, but Mel was used to it by now. Steve had taught her well that Mummy’s health had to come first. It’s a lesson no child should have to learn, but what could we do?

“What shall we have for dinner?” I asked as we walked gingerly to the exit.

“Elephant soup,” said Mel, trying not to let me see her craning her head over her shoulder. I held back my tears for the second time that morning. She meant Alphabet Soup, of course. It’s her favourite meal and she knows how to cook it herself, when I’m not up to it.

 

 

 

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20 Comments

Filed under Inspiration Monday, Writing

20 responses to “Inspiration Monday – Elephant Soup

  1. Jennifer, I’m virtually slapping you around about this Monday-Friday stuff!! Get over it! 🙂 Remember: “A name, a name, what’s in a name? “Twere written on Wednesday, ’tis just as sweet as on Friday.” They’re just random days and don’t have any negative effect on your writing that I can see. You can do this. After all, with a small child, days are all confused anyway!!

    As for this story, very poignant and written lovingly about the kind of love we pray we never have to show.

    janet

    • Don’t hit me, Janet! First, I used to know what day of the week it was by my blog post schedule and secondly, I’ve got friends contacting me going “I just got an email from your blog called “Monday” but it’s Thursday. What’s gone wrong?”.
      The potential effect is in how long the prompts have to brew before I write / post the story. Other than that, as you say, a day’s just a day.

      • I know–just giving you some grief. I’m one of those who would like the prompt out a day or two before the linky thing goes up, so we can all let the stories brew for as long as needed before posting in a timely fashion. It’s one of those things that will never please everyone.

        Hope your Friday/Monday is off to a good start and that you have a great weekend.

        janet

  2. A beautiful story of love and understanding

  3. A lot said in this story, Jennifer… how each line goes with another. “I’d like to go home now, Mummy,” she said. “We’ve seen everything.” …that was good. Mel suggesting something she can fix… perfect ending.

    Now I’ve seen everything… FriFic on Wed. & InspMon on Fri! I don’t need anymore prompts in my life, but I suspect I’ll have to go check out Steph.

    • Thank you, Ted. Melanie’s story always flows for me. I don’t have a long enough plot in mind to make it into a novel, but I’d love to try one day.
      And yes, you should take a look at BeKindRewrite; I enjoy the fact that the prompts are very different from the FF ones.

  4. This brought a tear to my eye, and I’m not the emotional sort: objective achieved I think!

    Only criticism is that I got a little confused and had to reread a bit starting with the “strong hands” para. Those words made me expect an explanation of whose the strong hands were, and for that to be relevant to the plot. A sentence like “Somebody led me to a bench and I managed to sit down.” would have downplayed the importance for me.

    This could well just be me, of course 🙂

    • I see your point, Stuart. I was trying to convey her confusion – water bottles appearing from nowhere, hands that don’t belong to anybody,etc – and the fact that when she recovers, she is completely focused on Melanie and Melanie’s attempts to take care of her. But if it distracted you, then maybe I need to rethink. The reader is always right, after all.

  5. Melanie is such a sweetie. At least she comes across as one so I hope that’s right. This piece is full of emotion – mom’s fear, Mel’s care.
    And Mel’s confusion between elephant and alphabet – such a lovely mistake. Great take on the prompt.

  6. Bee

    So heartbreaking. Nicely done!

  7. So that’s Melanie! I like her.

  8. Pingback: Inspiration Monday: plausible deniability | bekindrewrite

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