It’s funny to think of all the things we don’t remember. Like, I’ve been here in this world – or variations of it at least – for thousands upon thousands of lifetimes, and I remember only choice segments of the last 21 years. Adrian says I’d remember more if I ever lived through something that made a deeper impression than my acrylic nails, but what does he know?
I do remember the day I met him. I was getting some fresh air in the park near my house, vaguely watching a group of flexible fit freaks doing yoga on the grass. He startled me, because I was scrolling through my news feed looking for a cat meme to share that would earn me enough ‘likes’ to keep me in with my peers. I didn’t even pay attention to the unusual in those days since living was all about conformity, and Adrian was totally peculiar. He slapped my phone right out of my hand and sent it skidding across the path.
“Do you know how much that cost?!” I yelped, diving to pick it up in attempt to minimise damage. Too late – the screen was smashed up and the edges were scuffed. I wanted to cry but my fury wouldn’t let me, so I just resigned to my face growing red and puffed out hot air.
Adrian was laughing, hard. Some of the yoga girls were staring. A memory rose to the forefront of the kids at school who thought they were better than me because they had the latest trainers, and used that as a reason to pull my hair and steal my lunch. I was dreadfully unworthy. Cat memes hadn’t been invented back then so I hadn’t been able to redeem myself, and instead I spiralled into a black hole of fantasy in my mind.
Adrian held out his furry elongated fingers to shake my hand in apology.
“Come on, you can buy me a milkshake,” were his first words to me.
My mouth dropped open. The hairs on my arms (that I didn’t like to admit were there) stood on end. I lost grip on my phone and heard it clatter to the floor once again, because for the first time I saw that Adrian was a spider monkey. He was a huge one at that, looming two feet higher than me when stood completely upright.
“What’s up? You look like you saw a ghost! Come on, I want my milkshake!”
“You’re a… a…”
“Yes yes. Don’t tell me you never noticed before?” I eyed him suspiciously. “Oh come on. I see you literally every morning sitting on that bench gazing into your phone. You say hello to me most days!”
I started to back away, but not being accustomed to moving backwards, or in fact looking where I was going at all, I crashed straight into a rubbish bin. Adrian burst into more fits of laughter.
I was indignant at first, but then I began to laugh too: involuntarily at the absurdity of the situation, and then wholeheartedly at the realisation I hadn’t actually laughed out loud in years, despite me professing to continuously on social media (LOL!).
And then do you know what? I bought the monkey his milkshake. Banana. He slurped it down through a pink straw all in one go, and burped at the end. No one else seemed to notice, and that made me feel special.
We chatted for a good couple of hours that day. He told me tales of what went on with evolution outside of the Internet, and about all the other things I couldn’t remember. He told me I could still be an artist, if that’s what I wanted, but I had to start looking directly at life. I cried, and he hugged me, and we agreed to meet again the next day.
‘Pictures or it didn’t happen’, my peers said. Honestly it hadn’t even occurred to me to capture my new friend on camera. Maybe there was a part of me that feared they were right.