This piece comes in response to D Wallace Peach’s Speculative Fiction Prompt. If you haven’t popped over to ‘D’s’ website then get over there and have a gander! While there, have a crack at the prompt…
Damaris the Elephant Goddess
Damaris had carried the world on her back since time began.
In the beginning it was a pleasant task. A labor of love. She spent eons meandering through long, yellow grass, strolling slowly to cause as little disruption to the world on her back as possible. She wound past rocks and skirted hillocks, fearing the uneven terrain would disrupt the world. She forewent bathing in the oasis for fear the world might flood. And every once in a while, she’d reach around with her long, gray trunk and gently touch the world. For her care and consideration, the world’s few inhabitants repaid her with serene adoration. They were quiet and civil, appreciative of her gentle kindness and content to let her swaying, broad back hold and shape their lives.
Time rolled on and Damaris wandered the dry, desert. Her steady footfalls took her past yellow grass and through green pastures. Arid, warm winds became temperate as she wandered. The world swayed on her back and from time to time she heard the inhabitants squeaking their pleasant chatter, skittering across the world, and chirping with simple joy. Their happiness and comfort led them to rejoice in one another. Their number doubled. Then trebled.
Damaris walked on. Soft grass crunched beneath her large feet as ice crusted the terrain. Green gave way to majestic white and the land shivered beneath a blanket of frost. A fine cloak of white settled across Damaris and the world, yet still she walked on. Her steps became more tentative as the world on her back rocked from side to side. The inhabitants, now swollen in number, rarely sat still. No longer were they content to be swayed by her gentle girth. Instead they squawked and skittered and fought one another for space, for right, for dominion in their little world. Their shrill squeaks hurt Damaris’s ears and their constant feuding made her gentle spirit weep.
Icy wind lashed the Goddess as she lumbered through thick snow, weighed down by the rollicking world on her back. The menagerie jounced and jostled and dug into her old, leathery skin. The shrieks of the inhabitants pierced her ears as they fought one another.
Damaris hung her head and furrowed onward. When she reached an obstacle in her path, she leaned her head against it and sighed. The black tree groaned beneath her weight but stood upright. Damaris closed her eyes and wondered what it would feel like to be a tree, devoid of all emotion, unburdened by the world and its hurtful inhabitants. Deep weariness weighed her gentle heart as she gazed at the tree. With a soft sigh, she lowered her head, extended her neck and wriggled her shoulders. The world scraped off her back and slid between her massive shoulders. A great clamor arose within the world as its inhabitants dove and squealed in terror. The world slid across her flat skull, tearing great rends in her flesh as it went. Damaris guided the world with her trunk and eased it into the bough. The world shuddered and clunked against the tree trunk, crooked but steady.
Damaris lowered her trunk and rested her head against the tree. Blood welled where the world had scraped her flesh. She felt the accusative eyes and glowering scowls of the world’s inhabitants as they peered at her. They shrieked their displeasure at the disruption of their world and squawked their unhappiness with their world’s new home.
Damaris listened to their skittering anger until they turned back to what they did best; fighting among themselves. The inhabitants scampered and bit, clawed and fought and soon forgot their world had ever been a thing of beauty, floating along serenely, borne by love and compassion. They had once known warm sun and temperate spring, and now had only winter before them. But their internal squabbles meant more to them than all they’d lost, and soon, they forgot they’d ever known anything but cold and hate.
Only Damaris remembered what the world had been as she remained by the tree. Snow piled up around her as she rested her head against the bough. Tears froze on her eyelashes as she wept for what the world had become… and that she too had been forgotten to intolerance and hatred.