• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 09
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Sick Monkey

Mummy—you forgot to change your monkey.

Maggie taped her note to the fridge and fetched the diaper herself. She passed the den, full of grown-ups dancing. She saw her father flipping the tape in the boom box, laughing back over his shoulder at a group of women, reaching out his hand for a drink and then gliding close to the woman who supplied it.
No wonder Mummy wasn’t there—but she ought to change her own lousy monkey.
The animal bit Maggie with its tiny sharp teeth and clung to her hand when she shook it back into its cage. All the guests loved the little rescued monkey.
“Monkeys in Berkeley?” “Look at its bright eyes!” “I bet it’s happier here than at the University.”
“But it belongs at the lab,” Maggie told them.
“But it’s so cute.”
“Its mother wanted to eat it,” Maggie said, looking away. “I wish she had.”
Four months later, she would find herself living in Kenya where she would fit in about as well as a baby monkey in California. She’d see the end of her parents’ marriage as starting with that monkey, and hate the creature no less because she identified with it.
Maggie finished with the monkey and went up to bed, away from the sweet marijuana smell and the thumping music. She hoped Mummy would return before morning, though she wasn’t betting on it. In her pajamas, she padded off to the bathroom—luckily empty—and back again with a glass of water for her droopy coleus. Then she sat on the bed. There was nothing else for her to do.