Elephant's Breath

by Shamala Palaniappan
(Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)

There was an elephant breathing in her bedroom.

She could almost feel the warmth, enveloping her bare body on the covers. A fine mist formed on her skin as her heart raced, as the faint vestiges of making sense cascaded through her brain.

She kept very quiet, lest the elephant notice her. Her eyes fought to adjust to the darkness. The night clock beside her bed indicated it was four. She soaked in the sounds, a big whoosh of breathing in, which felt as if all air in the room was sucked in and a whoosh out, an almost hurricane-like gust of wind out.

She turned her head slightly, to catch a glimpse. Majestic was the word that crept into her mind, even as she quivered a little. Another blast of hot breath hit her, causing the edge of the covers that were slipping to the floor to move as if with a slight wave of greeting.

The creature was calm. Even in the dark and in the oddity of the situation, she knew that she would not be harmed. The elephant’s ears twitched a little, as if straining to hear her movements. She tried to hold her breath fearing that the movement of her rib cage would alert the creature of her existence.

She heaved her own breath out. The creature moved, almost swayed. She was oddly reminded of the sway of hips, it was that gentle.

The creature had noticed her. The elephant in the room had noticed her. She drew comfort in the fact. She did exist. The night continued on with a game of simple acknowledgment of each other’s existence.

She awoke to the sound her alarm clock. It was six. The elephant breathing in her room was gone.

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