January 19, 2015 Comments Off on Meat Breath By Star Spider
“You’re ugly,” I said. I was just trying to get a rise out of the monkey, but his eyes remained impassive black voids, his thick fingers wrapped around the bars of his cage. Day twenty-one at the zoo and still nothing. It was an unscientific experiment, but I had a hunch. The thing had winked at me day one, I was positive, like we were both in on some cosmic secret. I was obsessed now. I couldn’t let it go.
“You’re a hairy, meat breath.” Still nothing. His hands. Those bars. Something was off, so I said, “No . . . You’re dumb. You are so, so stupid.”
His eyes went wider, just slightly, and he tilted his head. Leaned forward. I leaned in too. He did, as a matter of fact, suffer from meat breath.
“It’s all about relativity,” he said, and I couldn’t help but hold my breath, half from the stink, half from shock. “To some this is a cage,” he continued, “To others—” He nodded toward the group of transcendental meditators who had taken up residence at the far end of his paddock “—it’s a cathedral.” They bowed and chanted while wearing replica monkey hands purchased for $15.99 per pair at the gift shop. “They’re just like you, trapped behind bars.”
That got my attention. I wasn’t the one who was trapped. I grabbed onto the bars right beside his hands. I was terrified by our proximity, but I had to prove my point. “You’re the one on the inside, dummy.” I’d said it, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure where the vitriol came from, it just bubbled up from my stomach and spewed out my lips, to which he replied, “I’m not the one praying to a hairy meat breath for guidance.”
I wasn’t praying. Was I? I looked over at the transcendental meditators. They were the subjugated. $15.99 per pair for the hope of an out-of-body primate experience. I’d asked for nothing, so I bared my teeth, trying to assert my dominance. He smiled in response, and I removed my hands from the bars. Big yellow monkey teeth.
“Tonight you’ll wonder what you asked for.” He pointed at the bars. “You’ll wonder when you put those on your windows, and you’ll realize we’re all different, but we’re all trapped.” He jumped up and down, his eyes black and solid in the centre of my vision. “See? I can’t leave any more than you can, so who’s the dumb one now?” I didn’t have an answer, for anything, ever. I stomped my foot. Shook the bars. He told me not to bother, said “You’ll never get out.” Then he turned and walked away. Just kept walking. Into the distance. Into forever. Until he was nothing but a black dot, a void on the horizon beyond the bars.
© 2014 Star Spider
Star Spider is a magic realism writer from Toronto, Canada where she lives and works with her awesome husband Ben Badger. Star is currently in the process of seeking publication for her novels while she continues to write, play, and frolic on the beach. Her work can be found in Black Treacle, ExFic, Lantern Magazine and Grim Corps. She was recently long listed for the 2014 CBC Creative Nonfiction prize and she was a 2013 winner of the Fringe Contest at Eden Mills Writer’s Festival as well as winning an honourable mention in the Friends of Merril Short Story Contest 2014.