Monkey Business was the first competition entry I wrote for NYCMidnight. The genre was Rom-Com and admittedly I don’t feel there was enough Comedy to fit the genre criteria. Still, a lovely romance story that garnered several postive reviews on the forums there.
A sparkling treasure leads to an atypical, lighthearted romance inside an animal refuge.
Brown eyes flecked with gold peered around the roots of a walking palm tree. Wide and curious. Studying the goings on near the pond with raw fascination. The enclosure had always belonged to him and him alone. Well, him and the multicolored swimmers in the pond who’s scales could dazzle him for hours when mother sun shone pregnant and full on the rippling water. Silver, gold, white, black, translucent, his koi fish would sail endlessly just beneath the surface, long tail fins gliding smoothly over the pebbled bottom before parting gracefully if he decided to reach in for a splash to either bathe or drink. Sometimes they even surfaced to eat an insect he had pulled from his fur and dropped for them. An offering of friendship accepted gratefully by mouths open wide and a flurry of color and glitter. Momentary awe. He liked the swimmers, content with these brief interactions and solitude.
Now, there was an Other near his swimmers. But Other wasn’t looking at the swimmers…or feeding them…or appreciating them.
Other was intently inspecting the ground near the edge of his pond, gazing at something else entirely unseen by him. While his eyes observed similar brown fur, his nostrils flared allowing Other’s scent to reach him. It was familiar, dusky and of the earth, faintly of fruit long since eaten…and something more. It was a tingling, pleasant smell that made him feel warm and excited his curiosity ever further. Fearful and uncertain of Other, his mind signaled to both investigate and remain in hiding at the same time. After all, the swimmers were safe, and the cloud-cover overhead was allowing sufficient shade to remain camouflaged in the foliage should he choose to remain still and observe for a while longer…but what was Other looking at?
It was in the middle of this tug-of-war that Mother Sun provided further enticement. Breaking through the clouds to emit shafts of golden light illuminating the glittering pond and Other, who had, at that precise moment, plucked something dainty from the enclosure floor.
His heart raced as sunlight saturated Other’s fur, now incandescent with undertones of rich red and warm highlights of deep gold. Dark skinned heavily creased fingers had collected and held up to the light a treasure, glinting in the distance as Other peered at it closely with profound brown eyes. Eyes like his, flecked with gold. Other squinted at the round, tan object, testing it’s feel between analogous lips before spitting it back out and raising it to the light again. A happy sound erupted , like laughter. Other began spinning around in dizzying circles, raising the treasure up before rolling around on the ground in apparent glee while he remained rooted in place, awestruck by the resplendent display.
This was far more exciting than any exchange with the swimmers! He felt himself drawn to Other, the uninhibited demonstration dazzling his thoughts. Then Other was up again peering through four small holes in the center of the treasure at their surroundings. He held his breath when Other spotted him in the tree line and hesitated, slowly lowering the treasure and inhaling deeply. Other took in the sight and smell of him, eyeing him coyly.
Expressive eyes over a trusting smile.. A trusting grow. Other invited him closer, holding out the treasure in their wrinkled palm.
It was really the treasure that had done it, he believed, emerging cautiously from the protection of the trees into the golden light. Not the site of Other awash in Mother Sun’s glow, glittering ten times greater than his swimmers, or the smell of Other, warm and sweet and so like his own, but also so different…
The treasure lured him into the sun, reaching with his own dark fingers to timidly collect the offering. Other pounded their palms on the ground, screeching merrily and splashing him with water before hopping a few feet away. He let himself give chase, catching Other near the far side and pulling them into the clear, shallow pond. Sheepishly, he pointed out the clinquant swimmers now gliding around their intertwined feet.
Other chuffed happily, snatching the treasure back and bounding toward fruit that had been piled near the treeline. Carefully selecting a banana, Other nibbled coquettishly before throwing the remaining bits at him in a flirtatious act. He loped up to the mound of fruit, rumbling affectionately at Other before returning fire with a partially eaten orange. Other tumbled at him playfully before leading another pursuit back to the sparkling water.
It was there at the edge of the water with his swimmers gliding happily around them that he gave a name to Other, deciding that they would be friends after all.
She, he thought, pulling a flea from her face and dropping it down for the koi to eat. She’s pupils widened as she scooted closer to him, fingers massaging his arms and face looking for tasty snacks for their swimmers. He would share them with She and only She. He offered a palm of cold water when the grooming was finished , which was happily accepted. She then carefully deposited the small, tan treasure gently between his closing fingers.
The zookeeper who had introduced Cookie into Charles’ enclosure hardly gave a thought to the button missing from the pocket below the “Monkey Business, Primate Rescue and Refuge” logo on his shirt. He briefly fingered the button hole before shrugging and locking up his office for the night.
Sister Moon now reigned the evening sky, enveloping the enclosure and two content monkeys, sleeping arms entwined near the edge of a koi pond, in sparkling light. Beside them a tan, plastic button floated amid the dazzling scales of swimmers, gleaming in the moonlight.