Metamorphosis

wilderness 1 pm

It was a myth, of course. But still. When the end came he imagined going out like an elephant, lumbering off into the wild, away from others. Away from family and friends (well-meaning as they were). Dying should be a solitary thing.

Be careful what you wish for, someone pointed out. He might have listened, but he was young.

The change began slow enough, initially. By the time he realized, it was too late. He cursed about the unfairness of it. He drank too much, and smoked excessively. Eventually, he saw that struggle was futile, and he accepted the inevitability.

After that, his spine stiffened and lost flexibility. His neck took on girth. Was his head bigger? It was harder to move it. Even nodding felt awkward and uncomfortable. Surely, his ears had grown — his hearing was so much more acute. It was spring, and a million birds were whistling . . . warbling . . . chirping. Each call clear and distinct from the other. He could hear the hum of bees that swarmed around the lilacs in his neighbor’s yard.

The noise of it made his head hurt.

His skin became grayer and felt thicker. He noticed that he was more sensitive to sunlight. He wanted nothing so much as to wallow in a pool, but there had been no rain for weeks. The sky remained cloudless, the sun unrelenting in its persistence. So, he rolled up his pant legs (this movement, like so many other things, was becoming increasingly difficult to perform). He took his time at the task. Then he dragged a hose into his back yard and filled his unplanted garden with water. He let the cold water from the hose wash over his head and his back while the mud from his garden rose up his ankles. It was a moment sweet with joy.

Take it where it comes, he thought. He knew, above all, that much was true.

When the transformation was nearly complete, he found that his clothes didn’t fit him anymore. His arms and legs were ponderous, hulking appendages that he could no longer articulate without effort. It might have been more bearable if his mind had also been altered, but that was not the case. His was a young man’s brain in a body that didn’t fit.

All he lacked was a trunk.

There was nothing to do but wait for the last, most useful part of his new self. The thing that would make all the other parts work the way they should. At last, his patience was rewarded. He had it all. He raised his trunk and let forth a mighty trumpet blast. As he stood at the precipice of waiting, he saw the place where he would go: A fern-floored forest where sunlight split the top of the trees and shone rose-colored on one massive tree. His tabernacle.

His solitary thing.

n.b. I was intrigued by this week’s DP challenge on Metamorphosis, the purpose of which was to write about a transformation of human to animal form. It made me remember a conversation I had many years ago with someone I loved. It had to do with elephants.

25 thoughts on “Metamorphosis

  1. Beautiful, sad, with a sense of peace in the end. The thought of him being able to roll up his pant legs, without help, seems foriegn, knowing near the end he had to have help putting on his socks and shoes. You’ve captured a metamorphis so big and yet so subtle it would be hard to see.

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  2. Beautifully written, and I love the photo too. It makes me think of the real Elephant Man, who died essentially because he couldn’t lie down and sleep like a normal person. I think about that, and I realize I don’t have any problems to speak of. 🙂

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  3. Mary, this is so beautifully written; poignant and bittersweet. I love the line “…as he stood at the precipice of waiting…” Gorgeous photograph too.

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    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Linda. I’ve been kind of scattered this month – lots of things going on, difficulties connecting to internet on anything bigger than an iPhone or iPad. Just stuff. I felt like I really need to get back to writing *something*, anything.

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  4. “A fern-floored forest where sunlight split the top of the trees and shone rose-colored on one massive tree…” Beautiful, Mary, as was the entire post. I’m sure it was very emotional, cathartic even?, to write. As Kathy, I felt a sense of peace from the ending too.

    I just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, and a line from it comes to mind:
    “The car goes where the eyes go.”
    In essence, individuals create their own destiny.

    I’m so glad you shared this. I’ve missed your posts–I hope things smooth back out for you soon! Love, Christy

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    • Thank you, Christy. I was just recommending The Art of Racing in the Rain to my mother and my sister, though I have yet to read it myself. I keep hearing wonderful things about it. You must be a voracious reader. I was at your blog the other day, marveling at how you find the most amazing quotes! I love them all. As well as your taste in music. I need to go tell you that.

      Then I need to got order The Art of Racing in the Rain. 🙂

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      • Thanks Mary, I do love to read. Art of Racing was a difficult read for me though–the subject matter of cancer was difficult having lost my mom to cancer, but it was certainly a cathartic read. I do recommend it, but it’s not an entirely happy, happy, joy, joy book as one would initially believe.

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    • And you, sir, are so good for my ego. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times over. It’s more heartening than you know that I not only have some readers, but that they also like what I have to say. Kinda makes it all worth while.

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  5. You captured this theme so well. Word by word, the imagery was unveiled; the thoughts and observation of this man shown as he transformed into something new. I love how your also allowed us to see life again through his transformation. I wish you’d write something about this someday. Or perhaps, a book.

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  6. Pingback: Shine a light | A Wilderness of Words

  7. Pingback: It’s the End of the World As We Know It — Vol. 43 | Words for the Weekend

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