“Oooh! I’ve returned to the jungle! Yay! Back to the green lush paradise. Mommy! I’m back! That’s my mommy’s tree! I see the big oval hole on it now. And those roots sticking out of the ground! That’s my tree! And look, yellow crescents on another tree over there! I can taste the crunch of the banana seeds now. Delicious! It’s good to be back! Oh, it’s gotten chilly while I’ve been gone! So chilly! And why are there so many big shadows? And what’s that blue stuff over there? I don’t remember that. And those rocks? And that sand? And that patch of grass? Why isn’t it full of those little jumping green bugs that always scare me? The jungle’s changed so much! Wait. What’s this on my neck? Hmm. It’s a string. I remember this string. What’s this string from? It makes my neck all prickly and red. Oh yeah! It’s from above me! It can’t be. Oh no! This isn’t the jungle at all! It’s just another one of that mean pink lady’s tricks. Why does she keep tricking me? I’m sick of eating all these stupid brown bits she gives me. And that see-through water she makes me drink? Blech. I miss murky water. She won’t let me see my family, and makes me sleep on this black, white and gray marked paper, and keeps me in freezing metal and I can’t get out. And then, the pink lady sticks me in this cloth, and it’s so itchy. Then she forces me to see the blue lady or the green lady or the blue and green lady or maybe the brown man who is always with the purple lady. And they all go “ooh, what a cute little monkey.” This place isn’t fun at all. I’m miserable. Sad. Can someone please take me home? I’m freezing! Why am I here? I’m jumping around until you can see me. Mean pink lady? Mean pink lady? Can I go home now, mean pink lady?”
“I’m so proud of you son for making the right decision and joining the service,” the satisfied father beamed as he and his son, both in uniform, strolled down the shore of the bustling lake. The reflections of the two military figures in the water stared directly at each other. (It’s about time you finally did something with your life.)
“Oh father, you and I both knew that there was no other choice for me in life,” the son reassured his father, walking mere inches away from him. He could smell the cigar smoke lingering off of his father’s mouth. (Just because you wasted your entire life, I knew you were going to waste mine you deluded fool.)
“Aren’t you excited to leave this place where you’ve been your entire life and defend your country’s honor abroad? I remember how excited my new buddies and I were to be à l’école militaire,” the father questioned rhetorically as the two family members observed a small monkey, who appeared to be disturbed by the air bubbles rising to the top of the pond. The bubbles were from fish, little secrets ensconcing themselves in the depths of the lake. (Thank G-d you’re leaving those fatuous friends of yours to stop fooling around and learn the meaning of actual work, ungrateful child.)
“Of course. I can hardly wait another day until I see the world, and make you proud after all you’ve done for me,” the son smiled widely as he and his father passed a young couple enjoying their picnic together. The pâté on the lovers’ sandwiches clung to the baguettes excitedly, anticipating its journey to come while tightly clutching its last minutes in daylight. (Are you really that idiotic? Couldn’t you think of any better way to get rid of me other than sending me to shoot innocent men in the most dreadful regions of Britain? I would easily have left you, you old coot, and never come back had you just asked.)
“Well, enjoy your last day here at the park, and before you know it will be tomorrow, and you’ll be off in Lyon. I’ll miss you son,” the father said merrily as the white sails of the boats on the lake were reflected in the water, cast underneath the images of the young man and his father. (Ever since she died, I haven’t been able to look at you in the same way. You remind me too much of her. You must go.)
“Thanks father, it really means a lot,” the boy said sentimentally while the two walked hand in hand as the crystal blue water lapped at their heavy black military boots, their transparent reflections undulating on the gentle waves of the pond.
* * *
۞ ۞ ۞
The wealthy aristocrat looked down and smiled lovingly at her charming primate, each of the noble’s white teeth more welcoming than the previous. “The poor thing must be starving,” the lady gasped enchantedly as she undid the silver buckle of her purse and began to rummage through her bag. The three clasps of the buckle sent sunlight dancing on the ground surrounding her, until she finally exclaimed “I found it!” She tugged gently on the plush string loosely wrapped around the monkey’s neck, and carefully surveyed a little pellet of brown food. It was from a bag marked Mme Aston’s Delights for the Active Primate, the finest pet food available in France. She placed the food in the monkey’s miniscule mouth, and patted him lightly, his adorable hairs springing back into place.
۞ ۞ ۞
* * *
After taking a swig of bourbon, the beggar stared intently at the label on the bottle. The gold text printed on the faded cream-colored ribbon dictated the vagrant’s life to him. The caramel letters became entangled, as they proceeded into a frenzied dance circling the bottle. “What does everyone here have to be so happy about?” the vagabond inquired dizzily as he took another gulp of the liquor. Soon after, he passed out.