Every night around the same time, just as the moon reaches its peak and the stars shine brightest, a strange shuffling sound can be heard at edge of the beach. Most times it can hardly be heard above the rush of the waves. Yet if you care to listen patiently it seems to have its own rhythm distinct but in sync with the ocean, a gust of wind that has its own sound but blows through the trees accompanied with the music of the leaves it moves.
One night Theo the elephant went walking alone. He often left the other guys in the bull pack at night, looking for his own snacks, having his own thoughts. As he strolled through the palms the scent of flowers and salt water and something indefinable stroked his trunk. Breathing deeper he wandered towards the beach. His eyes weren’t quite as reliable since the attack; I mean the one eye he had left.
Roaming alone was less easy now. Theo wandered farther and farther from the pack, losing himself in trees and thoughts until he could recognize anything around him. There was a rushing sound he didn’t recognize and the bushes and trees were too thick. Panicing, Theo stamped the ground and rushed through a tangle of bushes, but it was dark. He didn’t see the tiny thorns and they pricked him.
The spears had cut him too, tearing at his face, taking away his flesh. Cruel joyful shouts erupted as the blood dripped. Theo’s heavy foot pounded sending dirt flying up to gather in the hole where the spear had slipped against his tusk and hit his eye instead. Theo’s trumpeting had echoed through the jungle becoming a barrage of sounds through the tree trunks as he fled. His whole body shook with the terror of the sharp points surrounding him. Backing away, Theo untangled himself from the bushes and the memory. He found he was trumpeting now, but there were no spears only the sounds of his panic dying in underbrush. His head hung down, his trunk swaying side to side. The missing eye that saw only memories twisted him inward.
In the sudden quiet Theo heard the unfamiliar rushing sound again; the sea and its cool breeze.
Branches danced, whipping leaves across the scar on Theo’s face. Blinking, Theo’s good eye could make out the yellow flowers twirling on the (Canafistula/Cassia/lantern) trees by the beach. The petals tickled his face as Theo kept walking. Looking up he saw the moon illuminate a golden mass of flowers brushing across the wind. Soft sea air flowed past and in his nose as he breathed in the ocean for the first time.
Theo closed his eye, relishing the peace under the tree and moon light. That’s when he heard it; soft shuffling rhythms near the rough tide. His eye blinked open to look out past the trees. He could see no one. Yet the sound stayed steady. Softly, softly, smoothly the sound drifted towards the tree line where Theo stood.
Padding quietly, as quietly as an elephant can, Theo moved closer to the ocean and the curious sandy shuffling. As he passed through the edge of the trees something stood swaying beautifully on the edge of his vision. Theo strained and bulged out his good eye, but the vision seemed to flicker with the struggle. Determined to find the source, Theo gazed out in all directions until his one eye became blearily with exhaustion.
Discouraged by his groundless excitement he took one more deep breath of the ocean air, thinking, there’s nothing. But then, for an instant he felt his bad eye blink open. In that moment the figure almost seemed clear. But then the moon went down past the cliff at the end of the bay, darkness fell, and he saw nothing