Melonie carefully righted the cheerio box. It was half-empty, but to be fair, she had had it for a while. Sticking the cereal back in the cabinet, she tried to process what she’d seen. An elephant. That disappears. In her kitchen.
With a glance about the room, Melonie shook her head. She must be crazy. Maybe it had been mice making the noise. In her tired state, she could have imagined the whole thing.
Then again, mice couldn’t exactly remove cereal boxes from her shelf.
“But where did it go?” Her hushed voice filled the silent room.
She crouched down, slowly opening one of the bottom cabinets and peeking inside. Empty, except for a few pots and pans. She opened the next one. Nothing.
Sliding to the floor, Melonie crossed her legs and scanned the room. The space underneath the kitchen table was clear, as was the living room from what she could see. A soft hum floated from the vents as the air conditioning kicked on.
Melonie’s stomach growled suddenly, interrupting the quiet. With a sigh, she pulled herself to her feet and sifted through her shelves for ramen noodles. After sticking the food in the microwave (and discarding the previously forgotten leftovers), she searched through the other rooms, glancing in every nook that looked large enough to house her visitor. The bedroom was just as she’d left it; the bathroom likewise revealed no sign of the creature. Her clothes hung neatly in the closet, completely undisturbed.
The microwave beeped, calling Melonie back to the kitchen. She ate in silence, sitting on her counter, staring at the spot where she had seen the small elephant and half-expecting him to reappear. He didn’t.
When she finished eating, a moment of inspiration struck.
The dancer pulled the cheerios back out and walked into the living room, shaking the cereal box.
“Here, little guy. You hungry?” The cereal rattled like a rain stick. “Come on, little fella. I know you’re here somewhere.” She didn’t, in fact, have a clue whether he was still in the apartment, but she hoped he was. She felt foolish. At least if the elephant was still around, her antics would have reason.
After fifteen minutes, Melonie’s hope died out. She yawned and sat on the couch, plopping the cheerios on the table next to her. Her eyes were burning, and her brain hurt. Massaging her temples, she considered walking back to the bedroom. Not worth it.
Flicking off the lamp, she pulled the throw blanket from the back of the couch and fell asleep. She dreamed that she was at the ballet auditions with Dumbo and the mice from Cinderella. But no matter how well she and Dumbo danced, the mice were always better.
Melonie woke to the first rays of light pouring from the windows. As she rubbed her eyes, she noticed a rustling noise by her head. She froze. The cheerios. Could it be?
Very slowly, Melonie shifted her head so she could see behind her. She stopped moving as soon as the animal was visible, hoping he wouldn’t notice her watching.
He was munching slowly, pulling just a few cheerios from the box at a time. Melonie analyzed him the best she could without lifting her head from her pillow. The creature was definitely elephant-like but had whiskers where one might expect tusks. Fuzzy hair covered the top of his head as well as his whole fluffy tail. He was about the height of a golden retriever, and his round eyes were a deep, dark brown. His large ears flapped lightly as he ate.
Melonie stifled a chuckle when the elephant got his trunk caught in the box and pulled back in confusion, unsure how to remove it.
He plopped himself down on the floor, his back toward the couch, and shook his head. The trunk remained wedged in the box. Melonie rose carefully, softy sliding her feet onto the floor. Moving closer, she knelt beside him.
The elephant was so intent on his predicament that he didn’t notice her. Her hands reached forward and gently caught the shaking cardboard. The elephant stiffened. His eyes landed on Melonie, and she held his gaze.
“It’s okay, honey.” Her voice was smooth and light. “I’m just going to pull this off you, alright?” The elephant’s eyes widened, and he tugged his head back.
Melonie gripped the box tighter, and it slid off an inch. This seemed to surprise the elephant, and he stilled, allowing Melonie to finish removing the container.
As soon as he was free, the creature rolled back, blinking and shaking his head to get his bearings. His trunk flexed in delight as he stood again, turning in a happy circle. Melonie giggled, and he stopped, staring at her.
“Oh, sorry.” Melonie bit her lip.
The elephant’s eyes were fixed on her own. When Melonie tried to move closer, he immediately shifted his weight, disappearing.
“Wait, come back!” Melonie reached forward in a vain attempt to catch him, but he was gone. With a sigh, she sat on the floor, leaning her back against the couch.
The living room was slowly brightening as sunlight climbed its way into the sky. Glancing out the balcony door, Melonie watched the pale blue stretching above the skyline and the white clouds drifting in the distance. Her foot began to fall asleep, a warm, weighted feeling settling on her ankle. She reached down to rub it, but before she could touch her foot, a gray trunk suddenly appeared propped on her ankle. Melonie jerked her fingers back, but kept her hand suspended, holding her breath as she watched. The trunk was resting on her foot, heavy and soft. Very carefully, Melonie patted the elephant’s nose.
Her eyes widened as the whiskers, then the head, then the rest of the body, reappeared. The elephant watched her closely, ears twitching, body poised to pull away at the slightest scare. His head cocked in curiosity. She rubbed the velvety trunk again. He retracted it, sticking the end of the trunk in his mouth to suck on as a child might suck on his thumb.
But he didn’t leave. Instead, he laid on the ground, his legs tucked awkwardly, his tail wrapped to one side.
“What are you?” Melonie asked. He yawned in response. “Do you have a name?”
He raised his floppy ears, the edges curling over.
“No, huh?” Melonie reached over to the cheerios and grabbed a few, holding them out to her new friend. He raised his head and took the snack quickly, tucking the pieces into his mouth and settling his chin on his feet with a wiggle, swallowing the treat contently.
After a moment’s thought, she asked, “How about the name Olie?”
The elephant nudged her arm with his trunk, looking for more food. Laughing, she fed him a few more pieces of cereal. “Olie it is.”
Melonie stroked his head as he ate. “Where in the world did you come from?”
Before Olie could respond, Melonie’s phone rang, setting off the sound of bells. Olie jumped and was gone in a second.
“Oh, no, don’t leave. It’s okay, hon.” Melonie leapt to her feet as the resounding ring continued. She tripped, caught herself on the couch, and reached for the cell. Pulling herself onto the sofa, she answered. Melonie hung up three seconds later when the recording reassured her that her non-existent credit card had no problems, but she needed to confirm her information.
“See, Olie? Nothing to worry about. Just a telemarketer.”
After a few moments, he reappeared. Melonie blinked. He was laying in the exact spot where she had just tripped. His deep brown eyes met hers.
“Huh,” was all she said.
Olie beat his tail on the floor.
Miss chapter one? Read Dance of the Clumsy, Chapter 1 here.