With the Elephants

As my wings stroke through the air, guiding me high, a sense of calm consumes me. I am a bird on the African Savanna, following a pair of elephants on their journey from the mountain valley to the Plains in the West. We are at the beginning of our trek, the mountains still visible and grand in the East.

I fly ahead of my two elephant caretakers, Fleeta and Saraka, and rest on a branch of a small African tree. Dead tree limbs litter the ground, and with his injury Saraka must be careful not to stumble. The clouds cover the sky just barely enough to provide small rest from the hot Serengeti sun.


Tucking my head under my wing, I close my eyes until I feel the tremor of the age old elephants approaching. A breeze picks up and I let it guide me to Saraka’s back. Tenderly I make a nest in the flap behind his ear and sleep, allowing the soothing movement of the great creature swaying back and forth as he walks beneath me.


Upon awakening, I hear the still silence of dusk, a time where the day animals lay down for the night and the nocturnal creatures have not yet awoken and roused from their beds. We appear to have traveled many miles from the mountains, but our plain is not yet in view. Hopping gently off the rough, leathery skin on Saraka’s upper back I guide myself to a tree which appears to bear fruit.

Finding a small fruit, left for the nocturnal scavengers, I take a tentative bite. Finding it sweet and warm, I scarf it down. When I am satisfied I fly back to the elephants who have settled in for the night. I land on Fleeta’s cool ivory tusk and let the deep intake of air sooth me.


Sometime in the night I jolt out of sleep due to sharp pains in my abdominal. Falling off of Fleeta’s tusk, I roll on the ground. I fight the blackness, but after vomiting it takes me. Over the next few days I woke twice. The first time I could sense motion and knew I was still with the elephants. Touched by their kindness, I saw that the mountains were tiny specks in the distance. Too weak to turn myself around, I assumed that we could see the plains.


The second time I woke up, I saw that it was night, and that there was a pile of scavenged nuts in front of me on Saraka’s back. I struggled to rise to eat them, as I found myself ravenous, but succumbed to the blackness yet again.

Finally, I awoke and did not feel ill anymore. I consumed the nuts, and then noticed that I was no longer with Fleeta and Saraka. I found myself in a nest, high in a tree, on the Western plains. We had made it the entire journey, and as I looked around for the elephant couple I saw they were nowhere to be found. After asking around I learned that Saraka had passed soon after arriving, and that Fleeta was in mourning. I searched for her for days, but to no avail. I never had the chance to thank her for her kindness, and to weep with her for her loss.





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