(See below for links to part one thru five)
Gert, where are your glasses? What the heck is happening with you? But Gert just turned to her with a gentle smile, her eyes bright with the hint of tears and said nothing. What are you talking about, what roamed once? Have you lost your mind? Gert turned and kept walking, leaving Elouise no choice but to follow. Gert began waving her hands in front of her and Elouise noticed the ring was glowing an odd emerald shade, an almost cloudy fog-like haze surrounding it. Gert waved her arms now, back and forth faster, like an orchestra conductor with no wand, Elouise looked beyond Gert and saw them then.
Elephants. There were elephants everywhere. Large and young beasts just walking quietly and majestically in the grass, pulling it up and eating it by the trunk full. A small pond lay a few yards away and a young calf was splashing the water about. Gert was giggling, filling the air with a childlike happy sound and she began walking faster towards them.
Gert, wait, what are you doing? What the heck is happening? Wait! They could be dangerous. You’re gonna get yourself killed, she yelled out to her friend, but Gert just picked up the pace, skipping almost, and then she slowed down and walked up to the closest beast. She reached out her hand and the animal reached its trunk around and touched her shoulder gently.
Elouise stopped in her tracks, not believing what she was seeing. Gert stood there for a minute and Elouise could see the emerald cloud surrounding her friend and the elephant. It swirled for what seemed an eternity, but had really only been a few seconds and then it dissipated. Elouise blinked her eyes, rubbing at them trying to make sense of what she was seeing. Where did they come from? There had been no elephants when they pulled up and now they were everywhere. She walked slowly towards Gert and the giant beasts and then fell hard into the ground.
What the? She turned back and looked at where she had been walking, seeing nothing there though that would have tripped her up. She wiped her mouth and was startled to see blood on her hand. Her lip began throbbing and her ankle seemed to be a bit twisted. She looked up for Gert who stood in the middle of the now empty field with her hands reaching out for the sky, still waving back and forth. Where did they go? Where were the elephants?
Elouise got slowly to her feet, brushing dirt and sand off of her skirt and limped over to Gert. Gert was laughing, her fingers making motions towards the sky. Did you see them Elouise, elephants in the clouds, I’ve always loved cloud animals. Love these afternoon Florida clouds I do, always something amazing to see in ’em. Did you see me pet the cloud elephant, and did you see how it reached out and seemed to touch me back? Elouise, look there, I think that one looks a bit like a giraffe, what do you think?
Gert turned to look at Elouise and seeing the blank look on her face and the blood on her lip, grew concerned. Are you feeling okay Elouise? What happened to your lip? I hope you didn’t get some kind of food poisoning from that fancy chai tea you were drinking. Coulda been spoiled milk in it or something. Come, let’s get you home. We can go cloud gazing some other day, just knew it was the right spot to stop.
Did you know that once they had the circus elephants here in this meadow. The circus elephants, hundreds of them. Many many years ago it was but I remember as if it were yesterday. So many of them, they were in chains and not so wild and free though. Makes me wish I could go back to that time, yep, it does. Back when things were simpler. Come on, let’s get you home Elouise, you don’t look so well.
They turned back toward the road and Elouise limped back to the car holding Gert’s arm, which earlier in the day had been weak and twisted like an old branch, but now seemed slightly tanned, smooth and straighter, like it belonged to a woman years younger than Gert. She suddenly felt old and confused. I must try to get in to see my Doctor tomorrow she mumbled and Gert gently reached out her hand to take Elouise’s, she noticed the ring had turned back to it’s sapphire blue. No Gert, we gotta stop at the Lobby first and get your glue, then we can go home, I’ll be okay, just need to rest my eyes a few minutes and gather my wits. I’ll be okay, lets go.
Now there Elouise, I’ll take care of you. It’s just a touch of the food poisoning or something. Don’t worry, I’ll drive, and no, I won’t kill us both so no fears. I’m gonna make it all better, you’ll see. Not ready to lose you yet my friend. Not so long as I have breath. Gert helped Elouise into the car, strapping her seat belt around her and she shut the door. Gert pulled out effortlessly and then headed West, windows rolled down and the humid breeze drifting through the car. Gert was quietly humming Send in the Clowns as Elouise closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, the specks of blood on her lip crumbling off like dust and blowing away out the window behind them.
to be continued….