Much like us

The sunlight dances off of the newborn baby’s skull, glistening from the blood sheen of crying life that she held in her arms like it was humanities life-raft, and not some natural birth of an animal. The ape looked at her with softness in its eyes, or maybe it was just the light, then reached out, and plucked the baby from her arms. Her eyes glazed over with rage as he pulled the baby close, and began to offer it a finger. Only when she saw that he was allowing it to suckle on his immense dark fingernail did she back down, her bared teeth retracting behind suddenly calm skin no lips to protect them from the ravages of the wild.

The mountain around them shimmered to another beautiful, serene evening, the reverse-dawn hiding the sky in the cloaking black of night a shade at a time, finally dying to darkest blue at the sun-tinged horizon, before dipping out of sight completely, the darkness of the night only accentuated by the clear crisp moonlight that sheltered the landscape. Moon-shadows danced across treetops as monkeys too-tired to sleep ran amok, the forest alive with the new birth, and no one knowing the true meaning of life but the mother suckling her young in the deep undergrowth, in a nest big enough to park a small vehicle, yet hidden away from the prying eyes of the poachers.

She could not see him, but she could sense him, not smell him, but feel him, his huge hairy, muscular body near him as she breathed in the scent of the dark. He was hunting her, showing her his prowess, his uniqueness as a father to the young dark life she huddled against her flat breast, the skin giving up to nipple in the baby’s mouth as he suckled, totally oblivious to the mammoth monster just lurking at the shadow’s edge. She could feel him moving closer, edging his way back into her, could taste his desire, driven by the sight of so much blood, and the strength of becoming a father to new life, of creating a new being out of seemingly nothing. The primal instinct was his, and the protective instinct was hers. She wanted to shuffle away into the trees, clutching her precious life to her breast. She did not need this large shuffling monster to clumsily step on the baby that she had nursed for so long, all morning since its birth, all her life waiting for this moment, for the last moment, for each step of motherhood, no matter how many times she was a mother.

The ape stopped and snorted softly, as if reading her thoughts of escape, circling quickly left, then right, slowly encircling her with his man-ness, for that is what the fear tasted like, that of being hunted by those strange beasts with the flaming blades of pain, that they pointed at her family so long ago, that had torn her so far from where she had once been raised, so far that she could not remember the way back, only running into the mountains or hills, walking into trees that should not be there, crossing rivers which should not have been running that way, in such a way across her path. She was disorientated, and therefore wanted to run away from this monster that could just as easily leave as turn and charge her, making her stand once more up, bared teeth, and fight, although she is less than a third his size. She would never win, could never win, but may allow the escape of this other life, this other life that depended on her for everything.

It hurt inside to see the small eyes unable to open and see her. She looked down, shifting her weight so that the eyes opened long enough to enunciate a cry, her nipple having been wrested from searching and sucking lips. The cry froze the beast in the jungle, and for a moment the mother and child were frozen too, listening to the deep panting breath of the beast in the forest, mist of steam coming from the breath, as from the forest floor, as if the whole forest were breathing in rhythm. The mother only wanted the light to come, the warmth of the sun to caress her and baby awake in the morning, awaken them in their nest, alone, the large brute that now stalked them, keeping to the shadows of the giant forest trees’ leaves, off somewhere ravaging another animal for dinner, fending off another attempt at a great ape takeover, anything to distract him from this hunting of his own, this desire to take over the space on her breast of this new life. She could feel his desire to take over, the desire to fight the ravages of nature, and win, to be unique in his ability to kill his own, only to be with the one he killed the life of, to be there with her with the dead baby in his mouth, smiling triumphantly at her at breaking the hold she had over him, at the hold that kept him in the shadow, outside of her nest, forever pacing, knowing that his was to be chained to the outside, like a beast at the end of a tether, forever falling short of the desired meal, the feast of freedom, for that was his lot, his life, the way he had to be.

7 thoughts on “Much like us”

  1. Interesting, Sergey. I thought I was writing a piece on a mother gorilla protecting her newborn baby gorilla from the father gorilla, all accompanied by the sounds, smells, tastes, thoughts and fears of a gorilla in the forrest. Yet you saw a racial statement. I appreciate your fresh take on the story. I can promise you it was not intended to be racist in the slightest, that I am not racist, especially against gorillas which I think are majestic creatures. The point was that animals are just like us humans, but I appreciate your take on it. I do believe that the world is what we see it to be – if we believe the world to be racist, we see everything through those rose-tinted glasses. If we believe it to be evil, we see it as evil. I prefer to see the world as a beautiful place full of special people trying their best to live their lives as best they can. But each to their own. Please keep the commentary coming!

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