[A short story] By Sonia Gandiaga
I’m gripping onto mommy’s hair, warm on her chest while diligently sucking her nipple. Her sweet milk tickles my belly with happiness. My eyelids feel heavy, but I fight them long enough to catch the last light of day splashing my hand. Mommy’s hair shines golden specks between my fingers. The chirping of birds outside my window starts to fade away right before I surrender to slumber.
A shrieking noise awakens me. Our house begins to shake. Mommy’s chest is also shaking and her heart pounding hard on my ear. She clutches onto me so deeply that her fingernails break through my skin. Even though she is scared I know I’m safe with her. I have nothing to fear.
And then the sun comes out. But it can’t t be the sun. I still see stars out the window as we fall from our bed into darkness. Our house collapses all around us. It’s now a pile of broken wood. The bright light hurts my eyes, and my mother’s screams make my ears go numb. There are animals around us. Animals I have never seen before. They have rough skin with no hair. And big dark eyes with no eyelids or lashes. I don’t even know if they are animals. My mommy shields me from these monsters. I can only see her hair around me.
Suddenly I feel something warm dripping onto my face. Is that red milk coming from mommy’s neck? She lets go of me and falls to the floor besides me. My shield is gone. I can’t see anything. The strong night sun is blinding me. I poop myself. I’m feeling something new that makes my heart and stomach hurt. I can’t stop shaking and I want it to go away. I crawl and reach my mommy but she is not moving. Her eyes are open but it looks like she is sleeping. I cry for her to wake up but she won’t. Something grabs me. I hold onto mommy as long as I can, try to melt into her skin. But I am too small, and they are too strong. The monsters take me into a box. It’s all black, I feel so cold.
I don’t know where I am. There are heavy grey things around me. They feel cold on my skin and unfamiliar. I can’t see the sky or anything that reminds me of home. I am left there alone for hours with nothing to eat or drink. I miss mommy so much. I close my eyes and search for her. Only when I find her I’m finally able to fall sleep.
Days pass and the monsters come. They bring me something white to eat. Its sour and cold but I’m hungry and there is nothing else. One day a monster hurts me. And then different ones come and hurt me every day. They put things inside me and they make me pour red milk like mommy did. It burns, it stings, but I can’t move. The pain is so overwhelming I go to sleep sometimes and wake up all wet and red.
It’s hard to keep track of time when you can’t see the sun or sky. But a lot of time goes by. My hair starts to grow and the box gets smaller. I can barely fit anymore. A monster comes with a sharp stone and cuts all the hair in my body. It paints my skin, so that I can look more like them, I assume. I don’t like how it feels but they seem to like hurting me even more. After a while pain starts to fade away. I don’t remember my mommy anymore. I can’t find her when I close my eyes. I don’t remember what our house looked like either. I just see these monsters and this box every time I close my eyes and when they’re open.
One day a new monster comes. But it looks different than the others. It has eyes. It has some hair. Its makes friendly sounds. The monster opens the box and gently grabs my arm.
I am fourteen years old.
Its eyes are kind and I understand that I’m going to be OK.
The nice monster takes me into a moving box and we travel for a while.
The sun is peeking when we arrive. This place looks familiar. It looks green and alive. I feel the breeze on my face for the first time in twelve years. I cry.
There are many young children in this place, and babies also. None of them have a mommy. Just like me.
And then I see her.
I see my mommy.
But she is not my mommy.
She looks just like her, with long and soft red hair and kind brown eyes.
The monster that rescued me walks up to her and gently pats her back. Then I realize that monsters and us, tree people don’t look so different after all. When greed and darkness are not present in their eyes, humans and orangutans are in fact very much alike.
~ Based on Pony the Orangutan’s true story.