‘Don’t just sit there, Cindy, talk to me,’ Steve pouted.
‘Don’t you think you are being just a wee bit selfish? I mean this place has a lot of potential. It has everything you need. Look at it. Your old place is gone, Cindy. This is your new home.’
Cindy looked around. Her arms remained folded; her head held aloft. She puckered her lips and blew raspberries at no one in particular.
‘You’re not being polite. A lot of thought went into your new environment.’
‘Please, Cindy. Look at me. Talk to me. I’m supposed to be your best friend. What kind of conversation can we have if you won’t even look at me?’
Cindy turned to face Steve and tapped on his watch with her long fingers.
‘It’s almost noon. Are you hungry?’
Her reply was instant – and loud.
Steve was laughing now. ‘With all the dozens of words you understand, you must know every one relating to food.’ He stood. ‘Why don’t we see what’s to eat?’
They walked hand-in-hand to where Cindy’s siblings sat sniffing and feeling fruit.
‘See, Cindy,’ Steve pointed out. ‘That’s the way I’ve been showing you how to choose the best fruit. Only, I don’t kiss mangos before I eat them,’ he teased.
Steve moved toward Oliver and Tracy but Cindy pulled back.
‘Hi, you two,’ Steve said with a smile. He patted the top of Cindy’s head. ‘It’s okay. I promise.’
The pair didn’t look up from their meal.
With a flick of her free hand Cindy turned and marched away pulling on Steve’s arm to follow. She lowered her head to face the floor. Hands faced up and wiped her eyes and nose on Steve’s trousers.
He crouched down and spoke quietly. ‘Cindy, I know this is all new to you…and you haven’t seen your family for a while, but you will settle in. Things can only improve but this conversation has got to stop being one way. He paused and cupped Cindy’s face in his hand. Look at me and tell me what makes you so sad.
In one huge lunge Cindy wrapped her arms around Steve and kissed his face then danced around on the spot. She stopped suddenly and grabbed Steve’s shirt and tugged hard.
Taking the tiny wrists in his hands, Steve began to whisper. ‘I wish you could talk, Cindy girl. This is no sign I’ve ever taught you. What is it?’
Cindy fell limp in Steve’s arms.
‘Oh, I get it. You don’t want me to leave.’
The reply was the slowest of nods with a bottom lip that would trip up a python.
‘Cindy girl, you have been the best chimpanzee I have ever had the pleasure to work with.’
He gently lifted his little friend’s chin with two fingers. He looked into her misty eyes. ‘But,’ he continued, ‘it’s time to be just that—a chimpanzee. You’re the best. You deserve the best. No more bananas for a trick. No more peeled grapes for signing a new word. You’re free.’ He paused. ‘Well, as free as the government will let you.’ He smiled and kissed his girl.
With that, Cindy strode in her cute swaying way to the table. She grabbed a banana and took it back to Steve, planted a kiss on his cheek and headed back to her family.
Oliver and Tracy looked up at Cindy shaking their heads and puckered their lips. They squealed in unison.
Cindy blew raspberries at her siblings and kissed a mango.
© Chrissy Siggee