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An Elephant in the Room

Teodora is a bilingual writer. She is the author of two books, a poetry volume and a collection of short stories.


A Most Unexpected Guest

‘Rachel! Come here for a second.’

‘What is it, honey?’

You should really see this.

‘I’m a bit busy right now. I have to finish this report by tomorrow.’

‘You won’t believe it!’

The woman got up reluctantly and went to the bedroom. Her husband was staring at something behind the curtains. Rachel stepped closer. She gasped. A little elephant was nestled in the dog’s basket. It seemed to be asleep.

‘What…? How?’

‘I have no idea. Maybe it escaped from the circus…’

‘What circus, Jack? We live at the edge of the forest’.

‘The traveling circus?’

Rachel smirked.

‘You’ve always been a hopeless dreamer’.

‘Is that such a bad thing?’ Jack retorted, keeping his eyes on the little elephant.

‘We should call animal control’.

‘Let’s wait. It’s sleeping. Kind of like a baby…’

‘Jack! It shouldn’t be here. Maybe that cuckoo neighbor of ours stole it and snuck it in our bedroom while we were gone.’

‘I’m sure I locked all the doors. Plus, Mrs. Honeycomb can barely walk. Why would she go to all that trouble to steal a baby elephant?’

‘Fine, we’ll keep it here until it wakes up.’

A Little Too Comfortable

They bought another basket because Missy had become very jealous. She barked and growled in a vain attempt to assert her dominance. The little elephant felt quite at home. On some nights, it slept in their bed, right between them. Rachel fed it grass and berries, but for some reason, the elephants’ favorite food was peanut butter.

Jack had recently lost his job, which made paying the bills quite a daunting task. The spouses argued increasingly often, blaming each other on a regular basis. They tried to keep it quiet, but the little elephant knew. It hid in the closet until one of them (usually Jack) decided to put an end to the squabble.

‘I’m sorry, little buddy! Mommy and daddy are just a bit tired’.

Growing Problems

The elephant was growing bigger at an accelerated rate. Its size had almost doubled ever since Jack had been fired.

‘This is not normal, Rachel! We should take him to the doctor.’

‘And how will we pay for the consultation?’

‘I could borrow some cash from Keith...’

‘Keith is a businessman. He will expect an interest. You know how he is. I don’t see a problem here. He eats healthy, he doesn’t show any signs of sickness.’

‘What if he’s got some weird illness that makes him grow and grow, until...?’

‘Until what, Jack?’


Drifting Apart

‘He can’t sleep with us anymore.

‘I know...’ said Jack in a frail voice then rolled on the other side.

The elephant was now ten times the size of Missy, who had become scared of him. Her basket had been moved back in the bedroom, while the elephant had to spend his nights in the guest room.

Jack found a job at a newly opened factory, but money was still not enough to cover all the expenses, especially since the elephant had reached maturity so unexpectedly. They had to buy more food and take the animal to the vet every two weeks. Rachel was losing her patience.

‘We shouldn’t have let him stay! Elephants are not pets.’

‘Like you shouldn’t have married me?’

‘What does that have to do with..?’

‘Come on, admit it! You’ve been dancing around the idea for months now. You can barely stand being next to me. God forbid you feel me breathing on your neck when you’re cooking... and you haven’t let me touch you...’


Too Big

‘He’s really sick, Rachel. I’m afraid he will...’

‘Don’t say it!’

‘He’s twice the size of a normal elephant. It will soon become impossible for him to stay with us... And the swelling got worse...’

Rachel kissed the elephant’s trunk and wiped away the tears that were trickling down her cheek.

‘You know... I could build a house for him in the forest,’ said Jack. ‘The ranger would be ok with it. I’ve already asked him’.

‘Have you?’

Rachel got up. There was a glimmer of hope in her eyes.

‘You could help me. We can do it, Rachel. Together.’

The woman smiled for the first time in many days.


The wooden house was almost ready. Jack and Rachel had worked incredibly hard and they were happy to see that their efforts had paid off.

‘I’m glad we did this’, said Rachel on the last afternoon.

‘Me too.’

‘Do you remember that day on our honeymoon when you built...’

‘...that nest for the pigeons? How could I forget?’

‘I thought you were so goofy perched on that branch’.

‘Goofy but adorable.’


Jack put his arms around his wife’s waist.

‘Back in those days when you loved me.’

‘I still do...’

‘We should bring him to his new home.’

They went to the old shed where the elephant was now living. There was no trace of the animal.

Rachel panicked.

‘Where is he?’

‘He must have gone out.’

‘No way! The tranquilizer is very strong. Even if he did wake up, he couldn’t have gone far’.

For weeks Jack and Rachel desperately searched for the elephant, but they could not find him. After a while, they started to believe that they had made him up. Slowly, things went back to normal with one exception: they weren’t fighting anymore.



“There’s an elephant in the room” – what an interesting English phrase! I’ve always liked this one. Supposedly, it was inspired by Ivan Andreevich Krylov’s fable entitled “The Inquisitive Man” written in 1814. In this particular fable, a man goes to a museum and spots a wide range of tiny things. Paradoxically, he fails to notice an elephant.

This phrase was the inspiration for my short story in which the elephant becomes of symbol of matrimonial distress, but also a reminder of the love that once brought the two spouses together.

© 2021 Teodora Gheorghe

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