Bananas, or My First Lesson
Everyday I take the same way home after school; go left out of the main entrance, walk three blocks, turn right, pass the zoo, and my house is four blocks down on the left. Its a simple route that my dad taught me when I was in 3rd grade and I’ve been taking it ever since. I’m nearing the end of 8th grade now and soon I’ll be in a new school, and I’ll have to take a different way home; maybe I’ll have to take the bus, maybe it’ll be miles away and there won’t even be a bus. As I was overthinking every possible danger of my new route I heard the familiar howl of my friend bananas.
“Bananas,” I call back with the name I’d given him the first day I walked home on my own.
“Where are you, I hear you but I can’t see you” I yell to him playfully as he bursts out of the trees and lands on the bars. He howls and screeches at me as if he’s catching me up on the events of his day. I pull out the banana I always bring to give him on my way home. He crawls down the bars to meet me at shoulder level and starts grabbing at the banana.
“No, Bananas, what did I tell you about manners? Now ask politely.” He complies and asks in his native tongue for his banana as I peel it, “here, since you asked so nicely” I hand him his banana then unwrap my own. We sit for a moment enjoying our fruit, usually I run my mouth when I meet up with bananas at the end of the day but today, I guess, I just had too much on my mind, or not enough. He just sits there, though, as unexpectant as ever. I’ve always like that about him, sometimes its nice not having another person around. They always expect you to contribute when sometimes you just want to focus on yourself.
“I’m going to miss you bananas, next year, when I’m off to high school. I really hope I can make time to see you, but my older brother keeps telling me ‘enjoy this time, you’re not going to have time to later.’ He’s an idiot though, he always tries to scare me with that stuff.” I pet bananas as I explain, he lengthens his body to extend the feeling of my hand on his fur each time I stroke it. “I don’t know, maybe he’s right, he always comes home and closes his door and doesn’t come out until dinner. Mom and Dad did just give him a computer though, he’s probably just playing with it the whole time. I can’t wait to get my own though, he says its the best thing ever. Well, he says the internet is the best thing ever, he never says why though, I mean I’ve used it before, it is pretty cool; I can do all my school work on it without having to go the library and carry books, but I’m always locked out of stuff on it.”
I continue absent-mindedly petting him, he purrs and closes his eyes, he still hangs on the bars, lower now as I’d taken a seat against the fence, and enjoys his banana. I take a bite out of mine. We sit again in silence. The only sounds are the common and usually ignored; cars passing on the street behind me, passersby patting the ground with their feet, and sometimes brief confused whispers between pedestrians as they pass by me sitting at the fence of the zoo as I stare glassy-eyed in no particular direction while I stroke my friend.
“You know, Bananas, I think you’re the only one that ever listens to me. Yeah, my parents always say I can tell them anything but its so uncomfortable talking to them about… stuff. Mom always tells me to talk to Dad, Dad always tells me to talk to my brother, and he just tells me to google it and when I do its blocked. I just want to know why Jenny makes me feel weird.” Bananas twitched drowsily while I continued to pet his soft little body. “I just get so… so weird when I talk to her now; like, my body tenses up, I start mumbling and forgetting my words, then, the worst part, my stomach feels like it’s fallen out completely and I feel like I might throw up all over her. I’ve known her all my life, and, I mean, we’ve grown up together. We’ve always been in the same grade. We used to live next door to each other and play everyday. I remember our moms used to wash us in the bathtub together when we came inside covered in dirt.” Bananas wriggled under my hand so I took it off and let him stretch, when he was done he laid on his belly, fully extended now in the dirt on the edge of his habitat. He opens one eye and looks up at me expectantly so I continue to stroke him. “We did everything together; made mudpies, played doctor, climbed trees. She’s my best friend and now I can hardly look her in the eye.”
“Who in the eye?” Bananas and I both jump out of our skin, he curls up and retreats slightly under a bush as I look around to see a familiar face.
“Jenny, hi!” The words stumble out of my mouth as I fall over myself to greet her.
“Hey I thought I’d find you here, I wanted to hang out with you after school but you left in such a hurry.” She says as I hug her. My stomach flips upside down and I can’t find anything to say to her.
After a pause she says, “Who were you talking to?”
“Just bananas, he’s my friend.” I reply, I really hope she didn’t just hear my voice crack.
She giggled even before I finished my thought, and it just made my stomach churn even more. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen him,” she goes over to the edge of the fence and begins calling him out of his hiding place. “Bananas, Bananaaas,” she repeats this a few times until he eventually crawls out from under his bush, “Hi, Bananas, its been a long time huh?” She croons to him.
As she bent over to say, “come here boy, come here,” my eyes, uncontrollably and unnaturally, run the length of her body. When did her skin get so smooth? Had her hair always been so soft looking? Then, when my breathless eyes finally ended on her chest I thought, what are those; had those always been there?
I catch myself before she does and step a little closer to her. She already got bananas to fully come out of his bush and was petting him gently but firmly.
“I think he likes you more than me,” I say as I watch my monkey wriggle and purr more than I’d ever seen him before.
She giggles again, like she wants me to faint, and says, “yeah, I think I have a softer touch because I’m a girl.”
“Yeah,” I say back, forgetting every other word I’d ever heard.
“Hey, Timmy…” She pauses, seemingly entranced by petting Bananas. I noticed he was fully extended on the ground, trying to feel her hand on as much of his body as he could. It looked as if he’d never felt anything so perfect in his life. Just as I began wishing that was me Jenny looks up at me and says, “I came here to find you because today was the last day of school and I just really wanted to tell you, I think I really like you, like, like you, like you.”
I feel my heart fly right out of my chest, my stomach, nowhere to be found. My palms start sweating and my face explodes with fire, I finally manage to say, “uhh… bluh… guh…” She just continues to stare at me while she absent-mindedly pets bananas into an absolute frenzy.
She stops immediately and jumps away in terror, straight into me, knocking us onto the ground. I just lay there dazzled by her sparkling green eyes, “I never really noticed how pretty your eyes were.” She smiles the biggest most heartfelt smile I’d ever seen and wraps her arms around me pulling us up. Her arms still holding me tight. I wrap mine around hers, but now It doesn’t feel so weird, now I just feel perfect; whole.