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Bertram the Cow is an Elephant by Jack T Canis

Mavis was a cow.

No, really, she was a cow; a Friesian and the best in her herd. She had rosettes to prove it. Only last summer she had beaten two Jerseys to place first at the Tri-County fayre for the quality of her milk, much to the annoyance of her long-time Jersey rivals.

Mavis stood at the top of the hill overlooking the Southern pasture. Her best friend, Marigold, stood next to her; both were chewing the cud contemplating the delicate intricacies of creating the perfect milk to be extracted later that afternoon. The morning sun warmed her back. With it came the irritation of flies, which she swatted at ineffectually with her tail.

Finally, after an hour or more of silence, Mavis turned to her friend. ‘Isn’t it about time we talked about the elephant in the room?’

Marigold turned an appraising brown orb on her friend and replied, ‘Don’t you mean the elephant in the field?’

‘Well, yes, but the saying is ‘in the room’, although, obviously, in this case, it would be more appropriate to say, in the field. So?’

Marigold continued to chew methodically. ‘So?’ she responded eventually.

Mavis sighed. ‘So, what are we going to do about the elephant in the field?’

Marigold pondered an answer, but eventually came up with nothing more than, ‘I don’t know.’

She looked expectantly at Mavis. She was, after all, the proverbial head of the herd, so she would come up with something. ‘I mean I like him, but, well, he’s an elephant.’

‘Yes, and therein lies the nubbet of the problem. He’s an elephant and we are cows. Elephants don’t mix with cows and they shouldn’t. There should be a different field for elephants, somewhere far from our field. I mean, I have nothing against Bertram, he’s lovely and so very polite. I love his accent, it’s very soothing, but, at the end of the day, he’s an elephant. And, as I said, we are cows.’

Mavis looked back at Marigold as if to say this should be enough to resolve their dilemma. Of course, it wasn’t.

‘I blame the farmer,’ Marigold said.

Mavis was shocked. It was true the farmer wasn’t as young as he used to be, but to suggest that he was at fault in all this was a terrible accusation. And yet, and yet…

Bertram the cow wasn’t a cow. In no sense of the word could Bertram be described as a cow. If he had been a female, then, perhaps, it could have been accurate to call him a cow, but he wasn’t. Nope, Bertram the cow was very definitely not a cow. Bertram the cow was an elephant. The only problem was, was that Bertram didn’t know this. He thought he was a cow.

Bertram had always lived with cows and for the last six months had lived with Mavis’ herd. He liked Mavis’ herd and he liked their farmer. He wasn’t the first farmer Bertram had ever lived with, but he was definitely the best.

Bertram saw Mavis and Marigold on the hilltop looking down at him. He raised his trunk and waved, his tail flicking the flies from his rump, before returning to his grazing. It never struck him as odd that he had a trunk and everyone else in the herd didn’t.

‘Does it really matter?’ Marigold said after a while.

‘Does what really matter?’ Mavis replied.

‘That Bertram’s an elephant and that he lives with us?’

Mavis considered this for a while. She stuck her tongue contemplatively up first one nostril and then the other.

Eventually, she turned back to Marigold, ‘No, I suppose it doesn’t. It is what it is.’


Jack T Canis lives with his family in South Wales, UK. Career includes being an archaeologist, a self-employed armourer and a qualified person-centred counsellor. He is a carer for his daughter and a part-time writer. Published in: Teleport magazine, Potato Soup journal, Datura, Purple Wall Stories, (Honourable mention) et. al. Twitter @jackcanis

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