When I began studying in a new school in a new city, I made many new friends. However, one thing made me feel left out – all of them had pets. Allie had a frog, Roma had a dog, Charlotte had three cats, and Ruth had a hamster. It was considered odd not to have a pet, and that was how Coco the Macaque was born.
“How did you get him?” many people asked me. I answered, “He jumped into my backpack when I was on my way home from the zoo. I didn’t want to take him back and see him suffer, so I kept him at home with me.”
My mother found it odd that I never asked friends over to my house. I couldn’t risk them coming home and finding out the truth about Coco. It would be too embarrassing.
In school, however when I did not do my homework, Coco was the perfect excuse! “Oh, Mrs. Williams,” I said with my most winning face. “My pet macaque, Coco, chewed it up just before I came here. You see, he is teething right now, and bites anything he can get his hands on.” Mrs. Williams was fooled! “All right Rosalind, but I expect the work to be done and handed in by tomorrow. Is that clear?” she said. “Yes ma’am,” I replied gleefully.
My birthday was arriving in a few weeks, and my mother always threw a lavish party for me. I had to think fast. The next day, I arrived at school with a tear-streaked face. “Coco died,” I sobbed, while many people rushed to comfort me. “Will you get another monkey?” Ruth asked me. “No,” I sniffed. “I can never replace Coco.” It was easy for me to cry because I had gotten so used to Coco that he had become a part of my life.
People soon realized that even a mention of Coco would set me off, and I would start bawling. No one mentioned Coco for a long time. My mother threw that huge party, and invited all my friends. Allie, who wasn’t there when Coco ‘died’ asked me “Hey, Rosalind, where is your monkey?”
My older sister, Caitlin, was listening, and I saw her shocked expression from behind Allie. All my friends ran to whisper to her that Coco was dead, and I ran towards Caitlin and pretended to hug her and sob. “Please, please, please stick with the story Caitlin, I will explain later,” I pleaded.
After the party, I had to explain everything to Caitlin. “You stole a monkey from a zoo?” she hooted. Then she got serious. “You don’t have to tell your friends this, but I insist you tell Mrs. Williams, Rosalind. She should know.”
It was hard, but I told her, and she wasn’t very happy with me. I got double the normal amount of homework everyday for two weeks. But more importantly, she channelized my story-telling skills towards creative writing. And that is how I ended up becoming a writer!