By Steve Mayoff
Winter has finally butchered Elephant Rock, the trunk eroded away
entirely. Now it¹s just a thick, reddish formation rising
up from the craggy shoreline of North Cape, with the white salivating
waves of the Northumberland Strait lashing at all sides.
It¹s the first day of spring. Under a pale sky Nancy and
Raj stand firmly behind the flimsy chain-link fence near the edge
of the cliff to look down at the monolithic rock. The flat top,
still covered with snow, is starting to show grassy brown patches.
"I¹ve lived on Prince Edward Island all my life and
this is the first time I¹ve ever been here," says Nancy.
"Elephant Rock is this really famous landmark and I never
saw it before today."
My parents took me here when we first moved from Goa," says
Raj. "I was twelve. The trunk was still attached then. They
saw it as being a good omen, an elephant in our new home."
Raj just turned 18. Nancy is a few months older. They¹ll
both graduate this summer, he from Colonel Gray Senior high and
she from the Rural. They met almost a year ago at the Charlottetown
Farmer¹s Market, where Raj sometimes helps out at his mother¹s
stall serving chapatis and samosas. Nancy works at the juice bar
In the fall Raj plans to go into Business Administration at U.P.E.I.,
but Nancy has been accepted to Concordia University in Montreal
to study languages. They¹ve made the two-hour drive to North
Cape in the used Dodge Neon she got for graduation.
"I really should be home studying," says Nancy. The
wind whips her orange hair into a jittery flame and flaps the
vest of her canvas coat. The chain-link fence rattles like chattering
"You can study tonight."
Raj¹s jean jacket is buttoned right to the top with the collar
flipped up. He warms Nancy¹s slender hands by sandwiching
them between his own.
"I¹m not leaving until August," she says. "We
still have time."
Raj fishes something from the pocket of his jean jacket a ring,
thin and silver, with the fiery eye of a ruby set in the middle
and slips it on Nancy¹s finger.
"My grandmother left it to me after she died. I want you
to have it."
Nancy raises her hand. The ruby seems to glitter with cold anger.
"It¹s beautiful, but your parents..."
"The ring is mine," Raj says impatiently. "I can
do what I want with it."
A sudden gust snaps the chain-link fence in two, leaving nothing
between them and the edge of the cliff. Raj instinctively pulls
Nancy to him. They¹re both mesmerized by the fine line between
solid ground and thin air. Nancy hugs Raj¹s neck, her mouth
close to his ear.
"I¹ve been waiting all my life to get off this island,"
she says under her breath.
"My family has spent the last six years doing our best to
assimilate," he answers, feeling that he has somehow let
Elephant Rock is not what it was. The trunk finally eroded away.
For Nancy and Raj the very air around them seems charged by that
moment of butchery and rebirth, leaving only this incarnation
of solitude that rises from the frenzied dance of the waves below.
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