animal stories

Grey Sweatshirt at the Zoo by Murphi Cook

The chimpanzee holds a sweatshirt and my heart implodes. Her face nuzzles the grey cotton with such care it seems only natural that she should wear clothes, until she sticks her head through the armhole and ruins the illusion. The hood flaps limply on her shoulder; all the visitors clap regardless, loudly applauding her attempts at failed anthropomorphism. She picks a twig out of her armpit and my broken heart suddenly burns with a searing anger. She is not cute. She is a furry imbecile. She is wearing my sweatshirt. 

I dropped the bananas the first time I saw his tight bottom squeezed into those khaki pants. I was the primary operator of the blender at the zoo’s smoothie hut. He was the new zookeeper. I loved him without ever hearing his voice, and when we kissed behind the African Elephants my only thought was forever. I forgot to breathe when he slipped the sweatshirt over my head, his chapped lips making their way down my sternum. Our forever lasted two weeks. He hasn’t called. He gave my sweatshirt to her. 

The chimp swings it over her head in triumph, clearly mocking me. As the crowd chirps with delight, I realize she’s staring at me. I shut my eyes. I am not crazy. When I open them, I see she has lifted her thick finger in the air, pointing it at me. She grunts. Our eyes lock. I grunt back. She beats her hands on her chest, the shirt gyrating with wild energy. I beat my hands on my chest right back, slowly first, then so hard it hurts. I scream. She screams right back. We are free. He didn’t call. I step onto the railing. I close my eyes. She can keep the sweatshirt. I jump into my wilderness.