The following snippet was written in response to a Who, What, Why, Where When writing exercise. The criteria we came up with for the prompt were:
Who: A giraffe
What: Wants a job
Why: Would like to feel human
Where: New York
The year was 2025, and if there was anything Leef was sure of, it was that he was alive. Standing six meters tall on four legs like twigs, Leef's living was not something that could be easily ignored. It was noted by the keepers at his former prison - err - home (the zoo) when Leef took a running start and, using his captors as a springboard, shot himself over the fence and into his newfound freedom. There he stood, somewhere in the midst of New York City, where his living once again was being noticed by the shoppers lining the street, gawking and awing at the sight of him: Long neck, hoofed feet, spots warm and brown against his yellow mustard skin. "Could it be?" the people asked themselves. Yes, it could be, and yes he was. A giraffe. Leef couldn't know for sure, but he suspected he was one of the last. And the way these people stared and cowered, he thought it must be the case.
Embarrassed, alone, five miles high in the sky, Leef felt like crying. He felt like going back to that place, with its bars and its garbage and those mean-spirited humans, finding his bed, and lying in it forever. "What was I thinking coming out here?" he asked himself, out loud. "This world was built for humans, and that's not something I could ever be. Just look how afraid of me they all are!"
"We're all scared of that which we don't know. Of things that are different," said a tiny voice coming from somewhere down below.
"Not so," Leef hissed, "I want to be different," he said. "Just like everyone else." He looked down at the sidewalk just in time to see a pack of children scatter in all directions. "Who am I speaking to, anyway? Please show yourself." Slow and unsure, someone rustled near his left legs. "Come now, don't be shy. I want to see you."
Out she popped, a small rag doll of a girl, clothes covered in dirt. She shook her hair back and forth letting it settle over her eyes, a smile just shy of genuine rigged upon her face. "Hi, I'm Ella." She stuck out a grubby hand before realizing her mistake and sticking it promptly back into her pocket. "You're a giraffe," she noted nonchalantly.
"Yes, I am. Leef, actually. Pleased to meet you, Ella."
They stood there for a moment, unsure of what to say. People gathered in clusters around them, baffled by the exchange. Leef looked around and felt his freedom being choked by the growing crowd. Nowhere to run to, nowhere for a creature of his stature to hide in this concrete jungle. Even if he did want to return to captivity, he was unsure of how to get back inside.
"You're scared, aren't you?" the girl asked. "I can see it." She touched a miniature hand to his wide thigh giving it a calming rub. "Shhh…"
The girl reached into her pocket and pulled out a length of rope. "Don't be scared, Leef. But when I say go…GO!" The girl yelled out, and the giraffe did go. Eyes barely open, he bolted forward as a sea of people parted on either side. The child, in a daring act, had looped the rope around Leef's long neck and was holding on tight for the ride.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.