Lollipop #1 had a writing prompt for school to talk about 1) Why a giraffe has a long neck, 2) Why a sloth is slow, or 3) Why an elephant has a trunk. She decided to write about giraffes. So I decided to pen my attempt at the 2nd grade assignment on folktales. I hope you enjoy!
One might have thought that an elephant has always had such a preposterously long nose. A nose so long and unique that it deserves a name of its own, a trunk. But if that is your thought, you would be mistaken.
Knowing that an elephant’s trunk has not always had the shape and agility of a serpent, one might have then been led to the obvious story of a sneeze that shook the poor creature so dearly that its snout popped straight out of its face, never to recover physically nor genetically. If that is your thought, then I could not fault you for being a reasonable sort of person, but it is with much sorrow that I must inform you once more, that you remain mistaken.
So instead of maintaining this course where I fear my all knowing knowledge of all things tame and wild is being flaunted in an unfashionable sense, please just let me take a few moments to divulge the reality (and magic) of what came to pass.
You see, elephants have always been a very wise and familial sort of creature. Their memory and common sense is near unrivaled across the animal kingdom. And their love and sense of community for those around them should never be tested. But, I’m getting ahead of myself already. Back to the beginning.
In the beginning, there was the majestic elephant. She stood broad and tall, casting shadows so wide that smaller critters would often take leave from the burning sun in the sun’s leeward side of the mammoth. She resembled greatly the image that you and I have in our minds right at this moment. A hulking gray beast of leathery skin and colossal feet imprinting the ground upon which they trounce. The key difference, which I am sure you have surmised at this point, was that the elephant had no trunk. On her face, about the spot that the trunk presently protrudes, only a nub existed with holes for nostrils. By today’s standards it was quite unsightly! But at the time, no animal knew better. That was simply an elephant. Similar to how you and I look at zebras today and think simply, “there stands a zebra”.
One day, a Momma elephant was pacing the grounds near her herd. Her calf was bouncing and bounding about as all children seem to do. Playing with flowers and friends and calling for its Momma so often that Momma began to tune out the tone as all parents seem to do. But the calf was simply a calf and knew not to keep an eye on its Momma and wandered aimlessly off towards the horizon.
It was some time before Momma realized that her calf had deserted and that she was derelict in her duties of overwatch. Panic overwhelmed her as she eyed every moving piece of gray matter within view. But her calf was not to be found.
Her panic became frantic and her pace quickened, expanding the radius of her search further from the herd. Minutes or hours passed, she knew not, but yet her calf remained lost. She came upon a stream and paused to refresh, only now realizing her growing hunger and thirst opposed the shrinking sun.
As she lapped the water, very similarly to a feline, or really any creature that is not endowed with a trunk, sorrow and remorse replaced panic. Weariness overwhelmed her sore feet and tired eyes. She succumbed to the temptation of sleep, right there, on the bank of the stream.
A few hours passed before her slumber was interrupted by the sounds of padded footsteps nearby. Her eyes opened and darted in the direction her giant ears had captured. There, standing, no more than 10 feet upstream, stood a lion. A truly magnificent lion with a glowing mane that lit the ground, stream, and foliage around him. Momma had never seen a lion quite like this and did not know at first how to react. But then the lion spoke. And he spoke in a deep soothing tone that caused no inklings of fear or doubt to creep into Momma’s heart.
He spoke of Momma as a passionate individual with profoundly noble intentions. He spoke of the stream at which they both now stood near. He described the stream as a mystical body of water that offered itself to only those that were deserving.
As Momma stood mesmerized by the timbre and cadence of the lion’s musings, she was told that animals who drink from the stream are nourished in body and in soul. That she would be reunited with her calf and the two would be rejoined with their herd. But the lion continued with a question of desire, what wish could be fulfilled so that Momma need not find herself in similar circumstances again?
Momma thought hard. She imagined herself home with her calf. She imagined the long walks as the herd moved. She loved her calf and craved its familiar touch. She knew precisely what she desired. She told the lion her thoughts and the lion let out an emphatic roar that didn’t startle nor stir a single other sleeping creature.
Momma blinked open her eyes, her eyelashes brushing away the night’s dust. The memory of the night time encounter leapt to her mind’s eye and she started to stand to regain her bearings. But as she did, her face felt heavy and cumbersome. She smelled dirt even as she rose feet off the ground. Her calf wriggled next to her having lost the warmth of its motherly support. It too wobbled to its feet and looked cross-eyed at its newest feature, glancing at its Momma for guidance on whether to be frightened or happy. Momma wrapped her new trunk around the trunk of her calf and they slowly walked around the herd basking in the stares of all around.
Later that day, the calf was playing with friends, wiggling its trunk to and fro, picking up sticks and stones, tossing them in whatever direction it pleased, and relishing in the jealous questions of how this miracle came to pass.
The next day the herd was on the move. In single file, the elephants began their parade. And while other Mommas policed their calves from wandering too far, Momma’s calf trekked in her footsteps holding tight to her tail with its trunk.
From that day on, elephants have always had trunks.