“I don’t see what you’re so jacked up about,” Danni said. Evan had paused to catch his breath at the top of the rise. Beyond, the road narrowed and disappeared into the woods. “Keep going,” she said. He gripped the handles of her wheelchair and set off again.
“It must’ve been awful when you lost your mom,” he said. “What if it’d been both your parents?”
“Well, it wasn’t, thank you very much, and I’m not sitting around all stressed that my dad is gonna croak.”
“Sorry. It’s just that my parents are like getting all excited for something horrible to happen. ‘Oh, goody, let’s pick out a new mom and dad for sonny boy after breakfast, just in case we go up in flames after lunch.’”
“Way. Anyway, there’s Joe. He’d be a great guardian. I don’t know what their problem is.”
“Joe, that’s the brother I met?”
“How old are you?” She turned her head and looked up at him. “You don’t drive yet.”
“I’m almost sixteen.”
“Cool. I don’t drive yet, either.”
They were approaching a small clearing beside the road. Evan pushed her along the rocky pavement where few cars ever drove, and took a muddy path off to the left. They could hear rushing water. A few more yards brought them to the creek.
Danni gasped. “Look,” she said.
Evan looked to the far bank of the creek. There, in the forest, some ten miles from downtown Portland, was a green elephant, clothed in moss and lichens and a blanket of ferns.
“Awesome,” he said.
“Bold and brilliant, that’s what. Where’d it come from?”
“I think he wandered away from the main herd.”
Evan peered across the water as if he might detect some gender-specific feature under the moss. “Hard to tell. Got the whole matching outfit thing going on. Could be gay.”
Danni laughed. “Oh, yes, very chic,” she said. Her outfit was anything but matching—boots, tights, short denim skirt, shaggy sweater and silver bangles. Evan took in every fraction of her smile, and he watched her dark eyes focus on the mossy elephant, then back on him.
“You think it’s Indian or Asian?” she asked.
“I think it’s Oregonian,” he said, and suddenly this was the moment. He bent down and kissed Danni quickly, and once more, not so quickly. They agreed it was time to go, which wasn’t so easy because her wheels were stuck in the mud. Freeing them allowed Evan to expend a burst of energy.
On the way home, they decided the pachyderm probably came from southern Oregon, which would make it a Rogue elephant. As to where it might be heading, it was, by their calculation, pointed toward Northwest 23rd Avenue. Danni said that was a great place to shop for new parents.
©2010 Pam Wells