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I look over my shoulder to see bulging eyes, anticipatory smiles, and Charlie brought a vuvuzela.

“Seriously, Charlie?”

“I’ll only use it once, dude. Promise!”

For a few seconds, the hum of the fridge is the only sound as I sit in my kitchen, pondering where to begin, till a voice from the back speaks up. “Has he started yet?”


“You’ll know.”

I lock onto the edge of the table with a soft focus while the words spin in my head like a game show wheel, landing on “Elephant.” I spin again. “Cabin.” Time to start typing.

The rotted wood gave the rain access inside my stepfather’s cabin to his annoyance and my delight. 

“Nice, man. That’s real evocative.”

While I savored the mountain chilled air and rivulets of water descending the wall like our own private waterfall, he ranted about money, time, tools, and other things that didn’t matter to me.

“Yeah, stick it to the stepfather.”

I knew I only had a short window of opportunity. It takes a lot of effort to swing an ax, and I needed to choose my moment carefully. After he—

No. You’re not going to kill the stepfather, are you?”

I look back at my team. Six pairs of eyes watch my every move and motivation, yet only one of those pairs has a look of worry. I turn back and edit on the go.

I knew I only had a short window of opportunity. It takes a lot of effort to swing an ax, and I needed to prepare replacement boards for my stepfather’s quick repairs.

The excitement leaves their eyes as anticipation becomes disappointed. That won’t work at all.

The cabin serves as my new sanctuary, bolstered by my stepfather’s bones in the walls and his blood mixed into the paint and sealant, protecting me from other dark wizards who seek my head.

My kitchen erupts with uproarious shouts, high fives, and Charlie gets his big blast on the one-note horn. Nate pushes forward and starts laying money down on the table next to me as my fingers continue creating, chanting, “WRITE-ER! WRITE-ER!” with every bill added to the pile.

Five minutes of non-stop story-making come to a pause, and I stop to read back what I wrote. The sudden silence from my keyboard grips them all, halting their gleeful celebrations as they watch and wait to see what’s going on.

Select All > Delete

“Aww, man!”

“What the fuck?”


After I accept defeat with a few head shakes, I look down at the most non-judgmental figure in my kitchen—the blinking cursor on my screen—who waits. Doesn’t hope. Doesn’t cheer. It blinks and waits, until—

The elephant approached me not as a threat but as a friend.

“Oh, I love elephants,” someone says from the back as the others wait to see what will happen next.

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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