Like you, I don't want to die.
Something has seemed different this morning. My keepers have been quieter than normal, more focused, as if they are trying to hide in their work. They haven't met my eye. One stroked my side for longer than usual before opening the gates. "Come, Marius," he said softly. "Come feller. One last time ..."
There was a group of children beyond the fence. They rippled with excitement to see me. It was like wind through the trees. I love to see this.
Slowly, I lowered my head, gently tilting it to one side to put it through the cables of the fence above the trench.
The children squealed and moved back, then slowly moved forward again. Some of them held those things up in front of them that they prod. They looked like Meerkats - but that is to anthropomorphise, which is silly.
Moving away, I lolloped slowly over to the high branches that had been cut for me. I noticed I had some extra today. That was kind. I pulled and chewed, pulled and chewed. Chewed and stared, chewed and stared. It's what we do.
My eyes contain worlds. Ancestral pools of memory. Now someone was drawing me, trying to make sense of my shape. We are mad parallelograms, angular oddities. Constellations that have fallen to earth.
A slap of rain hit the side of the enclosure and - most strange - there was an otherworldly trumpeting from the elephant house. It was like a warning. Birds squawked and tigers roared. This was not right. We animals know.
I was led inside to find the one they call Sofia crying. I panicked. A desire to have my mother's deep, musky smell, reassurance, warmth swept through me. But something punctured my side ...
Seemingly in the same moment - this: gently, like a thermal-borne vulture, I look down to see myself peeled and cut, chopped and splayed, stretched and sliced. There is a crowd of children. This time there was silent fascination, even fear.
Do I forgive? Let me say this: I wanted to run too. To feel the sun, drink the rain, reach up for the greenest leaf.
To enjoy the tree of life. But hatred only breeds hatred. It is a journey into darkness. So yes, I forgive - if you will forgive this tear that rolls from my eye now as one of the children looks up, squints and waves.
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