The animal community decided they needed a king and voted to make Elephant, King of the Animals because he was the biggest and strongest, yet very gentle. But after a short time, he changed drastically, and not for the better. When he saw animal mothers carrying food to their children, Elephant grabbed and ate it without listening to their cries. He stopped caring where he walked and trampled on nests without apologizing or repairing the damage.
The animals were upset and terrified. They called a meeting when Elephant was sleeping, but no one knew what to do or how to stop Elephant from his rampaging. When Ant said she had a plan that would not only make Elephant stop behaving badly, he would also apologize for the misery he caused, the animals laughed in spite of their despair. If none of the bigger animals could think of a solution, what could a tiny creature like Ant possibly do to influence an enormous animal like Elephant? Ant persisted, continuing to ask permission to take action, until the community gave in, realizing it had no other ideas to remedy the situation.
Ant observed Elephant’s behavior for a few days, noticing that after lunch he always took a long nap. One afternoon, when Elephant was snoring, she climbed up into his brain and started to dance. Elephant woke up with a terrible headache and roared in pain. Ant told him her dancing might be causing his headache but she would only stop if he promised to behave.
Elephant roared his displeasure. “I am Elephant, King of the animals. I do what I want, when I want, as I want.” Ant said nothing. She just kept dancing. Elephant’s headache grew so unbearable, desperate to stop the pain, he finally agreed to all of Ant’s demands—anything to make her stop dancing. Anything to ease the agony in his head.
Just to make sure Elephant didn’t change his mind once she stopped dancing, Ant reminded him, “I have lots of relatives and we all love to dance.”
Nancy King is a widely published author and a professor emerita at the University of Delaware, where she has taught theater, drama, playwriting, creative writing, and multidisciplinary studies with an emphasis on world literature. She has published seven previous works of nonfiction and five novels. Her new memoir, Breaking the Silence, explores the power of stories in healing from trauma and abuse. Her career has emphasized the use of her own experience in being silenced to encourage students to find their voices and to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with authenticity, as a way to add meaning to their lives.