(Author’s Note: Another story written by request for a friend. It’s about a monkey, and family. My apologies to snakes for the type casting. – Dean)
Monkey’s New Family
Deep in the jungle, beside a slow moving river, in a small tree, Monkey sat alone. She could see the other monkeys playing in the other trees, hear them hooting and laughing. She would watch as the mother monkeys and father monkeys groomed and watched over their children. Monkey never tried to join the other monkeys and they never seemed to want her to. After awhile, all the other monkeys moved deeper into the jungle and left Monkey to her own silence. Monkey was very sad.
Monkey never had a family she could remember. There was never a mother monkey or father monkey to groom her or watch over her. She tried to groom herself but couldn’t reach everywhere. She couldn’t watch over herself. The other monkeys her age didn’t know what to think of the monkey with no family. They had family and friends to play with. They didn’t know how to approach her and she never approached them. All the monkeys, including the mother monkeys and the father monkeys thought Monkey didn’t care about anything or anyone. They were wrong. Monkey cared about everything and everyone. She cared a lot. It was just that no one seemed to care about Monkey. One morning, Monkey awoke to find all the other monkeys gone. She never tried to find them.
Monkey found herself a small tree beside a slow moving river and made it her home. She would sleep in her tree, bathe in the river, and forage for her food. It wasn’t a terrible life, but Monkey was always alone. Some days, the other monkeys would pass through the trees nearby. Monkey would always watch them but she never greeted them or tried to join them. The other monkeys never greeted her or asked her to join.
One day, while Monkey sat alone in her tree, a man came walking along the river. He stopped under her tree and laid out a blanket. He sat down and took out some fruit. Monkey loved fruit and it never mattered what kind of fruit it was. She was trying to think of a way to get the fruit when the man looked up and saw her.
He held out the fruit to her. He asked, “Would you like this?”
Monkey shrieked and hid among the leaves higher in the tree. The man laughed and placed the fruit on the ground away from him. “It’s yours if you want it.” He said. “I have much more than I need. The man continued to talk to Monkey as he ate and watched the river. Monkey didn’t really listen because she just wanted the fruit and the man wouldn’t leave so she could get it. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the man got up to leave. He packed his things and picked up his blanket but left the fruit.
He looked up at Monkey, still hiding in her tree. “Hope you enjoy the rest of your day, little monkey. I will see you tomorrow.” The man said. Then, he walked away along the river.
As soon as Monkey was sure he was gone, she jumped down from the tree. She grabbed the fruit and started eating it. It was the best fruit she ever had.
True to his word, the man came back the next day and the day after and the day after that. Each time, he would bring Monkey some fruit. Some days, the fruit would be different but Monkey didn’t care. All fruit was the best to her. Each day, Monkey would sit lower and lower in the tree while the man talked to her and watched the river. One day, Monkey was eating the fruit and realized she was sitting on the blanket next to the man. She didn’t know how she had gotten there. She just wanted to eat the fruit. The man was still talking and looking at the river. He was smiling. When she finished her fruit, she continued to sit there, listening to the man talk and watching the river with him. When the man got up to leave, Monkey didn’t know whether to run away or jump into her tree. So, she just sat there. The man smiled at her and said, “Why don’t you keep the blanket? It can keep you warm when it gets cold and dry when it rains.”
The man packed up the rest of his things and left. Monkey grabbed her new blanket, some sticks, and a few of the big fallen leaves and made a little shelter. It was very nice and comfortable but Monkey still felt alone. She wrapped herself in her new blanket and was very sad.
Every day, the man would come sit under Monkey’s tree and bring her fruit. Every day, Monkey would come down from her tree and sit beside him. He would always talk to her while she ate the fruit. Some days, she would talk to him. Often, they would laugh together at silly things. Monkey was less sad when the man was there.
One night, Monkey was sleeping in her blanket when she heard something moving in her tree. She opened her eyes and saw a very big snake about to eat her. She was wrapped in the blanket and couldn’t get away. She closed her eyes. A very loud and very deep growl shook the tree. Monkey opened her eyes and saw the snake slithering away as fast as it could. She looked down. There was a jaguar looking up at her. Monkey was afraid the jaguar would try to eat her but he just nodded his head at her and lay down in the shadow of her tree. He watched the jungle. Monkey watched the jaguar. In the morning, the jaguar stretched, looked up at Monkey, nodded, and went off into the jungle. When it got dark, the jaguar came back and found a spot in the shadow of her tree. He nodded again at Monkey before turning to watch the jungle.
Every day, the man would bring Monkey fruit and they would sit and talk. Every night, the jaguar would sit or lie or prowl under Monkey’s tree, his deep purrs a soothing lullaby and a reminder he was there. Monkey was telling the man again about the jaguar and the snake when a head popped out of the river.
“Hello, Otter.” Said the man. “Otter, meet Monkey. Monkey, this is Otter.”
Otter stepped out of the river and made an awkward curtsy which caused her to fall right back into the river. Otter came back out, sputtering. Monkey laughed, then felt guilty for laughing. Otter started laughing, which started Monkey laughing again. Even the man laughed. Otter started spending lunch with the man and Monkey. When the man left, Monkey and Otter would play and laugh and tell each other the silliest stories. More often than not, Otter would stay with Monkey until Jaguar came. And, that was fine with Monkey. It meant less time for her to be sad. One day, Otter was behind Monkey when she made a surprised sound. “May I?” She asked Monkey. Before Monkey could respond, Otter started grooming Monkey in those places Monkey couldn’t reach. While Otter groomed her, Monkey wept.
Monkey was fixing her shelter when she cut herself with the sharp edge of a leaf.
“Can I have that?” Asked a voice above her.
Monkey looked up and saw a bat hanging from the branch above her. “Hi.” Said the bat. “I’m Bat. But, you can see that. Wait. You can see?”
When Monkey nodded, Bat continued, “Great. Never assume. Never assume. People think bats can’t see. I see great. People are weird. I am missing a tooth. Makes it hard to bite. So, can I have that?”
Bat pointed to Monkey’s blood on the leaf. Monkey just nodded. Bat grabbed the leaf and slurped the blood off. “Ah.” He said, “That hit the spot. I was so hungry. Still am a bit but that helped. Oh, yeah. Vampire bat. Probably, should have mentioned that. You know, I vant to suck your blood. Blah. Well, not your blood. You’re nice. Although, I just did. Anyway, moving on. I’m Bat. I said that. Thought I might be a vampire, not just the bat kind. Tried to turn into a human once. I think I hurt myself. Not how I lost my tooth though. That story is wild. Not a vampire then, just a bat. So, you. You’re a monkey, right?”
Bat stopped talking and looked at Monkey. Monkey looked at Bat looking at her. She didn’t know what to do or say. So, she did the first and only thing she could think of. Monkey laughed. And she couldn’t stop laughing. Bat looked surprised, then started laughing as well. Monkey and Bat started spending their mornings playing and laughing together. He rarely stopped talking and told the wildest stories, most of which couldn’t be true. None of the stories were about how he lost his tooth. Monkey laughed at every story. Bat decided he liked to spend time with Monkey and made a home high up in her small tree.
Monkey no longer spent her days alone. Bat was constant company in the morning. The man would come and they would eat and talk and watch the river. Otter would join them and play with Monkey all afternoon. Jaguar was there every night. Sometimes, the man would bring meat for Jaguar and blood for Bat in times when hunting was more difficult. Sometimes, Jaguar would bring blood for bat. Otter would find shining things along the river and give them to everyone. Monkey thought the clip-on earring looked great on Jaguar. He complained but he always wore it. Everything was great in Monkey’s life, but she still felt there was something missing. Monkey was still sad.
On a day that seemed like any other, Bat had tired of talking and fell asleep and the man hadn’t arrived with the fruit yet, Monkey saw the other monkeys passing through the trees. As they always do, they stopped where Monkey could see them. The monkeys laughed and played and Monkey didn’t feel sad. She saw the mother monkeys and the father monkeys grooming and watching over their children. Monkey felt her heart break because of what was missing in her life. She cried.
Monkey was still crying when the man came. She picked up the fruit but couldn’t eat because she was crying too hard.
“What’s wrong, Monkey?” The man asked.
“I don’t have a family.” Monkey managed between tears.
“What is a family?” Asked the man.
Monkey was so surprised, she stopped crying. “Don’t you know what a family is?”
“I know what a family is to me,” said the man. “What is a family to you?”
Monkey thought a moment. “A family helps with food and shelter?”
The man looked at the fruit in Monkey’s hands, then up at her shelter in her tree.
“Oh.” Said Monkey. “They groom you.”
The man looked at Otter who was trying to pull something from the river. Otter saw them and waved. They waved back.
“They watch over you.” Continued Monkey.
The man looked back to where Jaguar spends his nights.
Monkeys eyes widened. “They are always there for you and want to spend time with you even when you would just like some quiet time.”
The man laughed and looked up the tree where Bat was sleeping.
Monkey tilted her head down, just her eyes looking up at the man. “Family loves you even when you don’t realize you are loved?”
The man nodded. “Seems to me, Monkey, you have a family. One that chose you.”
Monkey cried again, but these were the good kind of tears. She had a family all this time. Monkey hugged the man and, together, they went to help Otter.
Monkey wasn’t sad anymore. She never sat and watched the other monkeys when they passed through the nearby trees. She never thought about the mother monkeys and the father monkeys and how they groomed and watched over her children. She had a family that took care of her and she was going to take care of them. Monkey was happy and spent all her days and nights loving and being loved by her new family.