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Emily the Elephant by Kathleen Jacoby

emily_elephant_250pxwEmily the Elephant had been wiggly from the time she was born. She loved to wave her trunk in all sorts of ways…flowing motions, jerky motions, whatever way she felt in the moment. She would hum as she meandered along paths, knocking things off trees, breaking branches, swatting her friends by mistake, and generally causing problems with her uncontrolled behavior.

In music class, Emily was made to sit apart from her classmates, because she would seem unruly with her over-active trunk. The teacher tried to be patient, but sometimes it was hard. Every time Emily was reminded that polite little elephants did not wave their trunks in class, she forgot.

One day, a special guest came to visit. He spoke to the class about the orchestra he conducted, and as he spoke, he noticed Emily in the far corner waving and swinging her trunk. Her trunk would move in ways that seemed to respond to the sound of his voice, picking out the pattern of his speech and shaping the sounds in the air. The guest walked over to the teacher and whispered something in her ear. The class murmured and looked around, as the teacher pointed to Emily.

“Ha.Ha…Emily’s in trouble again!” blurted out Ollie Otter. Titters sounded throughout the room as everyone waited for Emily to be reprimanded for her bad manners. Emily stopped what she was doing, aware that everyone was staring at her, and waited for the scolding she was sure would come.

The teacher called her name and asked her to come to the front of the class. Amidst the jeering of her classmates, Emily slowly made her way to the teacher, head lowered and feeling very sad. Why couldn’t she control her trunk?

“Emily,” said the guest. “Are you aware that you have a very special talent?” Emily looked around to see if he was speaking to someone else. When she realized he wasn’t, she looked at him with surprise.

“Me?” she pointed her trunk to herself.

“Yes!” He said. “You! I watched you from the front of the room, and saw that you are a natural conductor. You respond to sound, and your trunk automatically takes the rhythm of the tones you hear and makes them into shapes.”

The class became very still. Emily was special? She had a gift? How could this be?

The conductor put a baton in Emily’s trunk, then told the class to get ready to sing. He assigned each group a part in a musical score they had already practiced during their music class. He also called in some of the band members to play their instruments. They found seats in the front of the room, and prepared to play with the chorus. Then he called Emily over and told her what to do. “Follow your impulses. Listen to the sounds you hear and direct them with your trunk…make sure that all of them are balanced.”

Emily was a little frightened by this big assignment, but the conductor assured her that she could do it. So Emily raised the baton, tapped on the podium for everyone’s attention, and set the tempo with her trunk. As the instruments played and the chorus sang, Emily felt herself swaying with the music, and the old familiar impulse to let her trunk do what it wanted welled up in her. As she let her trunk direct the musicians, she felt full of happiness, for this was what she was supposed to do. Emily the Elephant was a natural. She was a conductor. From that day forward, she studied her newfound profession. All the other classmates were proud to know Emily, and she made many friends. She no longer knocked things over or pulled branches from the trees, because she knew her purpose, and her trunk was happy to do its job.

Emily the Elephant…extraordinary conductor!

Download a picture of Emily to color.


kathleen_jacoby_thumbKATHLEEN JACOBY is a writer, associate editor of The Inner Voice Magazine, Blogger, and consultant. Her contributions are in the realm of inspiration and she spends her spare time reading, writing, and putting jigsaw puzzles together. You can read her work on the following websites: Seasons of the Soul Newsletter – Numbers by Design:
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