The old Tree knew. She knew all that happened in the land, and she watched as the Tiny Monkey sat in the arms of her boughs and dreamt of many worlds. The Tree kept silent, though she knew a Secret that would help Tiny Monkey reach those worlds. It was not her place, not the time, not the season, for this Secret to be given away.
Tiny Monkey was the youngest of the Monkey clan, this fact was even more pronounced by their sheer minute size compared to all the other Monkeys – almost unnoticeable like a mustard seed in a basket of large avocado pits. However, Tiny Monkey had stars for eyes and words that tasted like sweet mangoes and their Mother loved them for it.
The other Monkeys paid Tiny Monkey no mind as the little one spent their days in the Tree, dreaming of all the What Ifs in the world. What if the sun was made of mangoes ? It was likely since they were the same colour. What if the Tree grew legs and walked to a land of clouds and birds made of dew ? Tiny Monkey would love to see that.
The longer Tiny Monkey spent in Tree’s arms, the more tangled the What Ifs became. What if Tiny Monkey weren’t so tiny ? Tiny Monkey would be able to help the Monkey clan and build shelters like their siblings. What if Tiny Monkey weren’t a monkey but a squirrel ? Maybe then it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to be tiny since they could run and scurry about the forest. What if Tiny Monkey was never born ? Tiny Monkey pondered over these What Ifs and their chest began to hurt. The vines in the jungle seemed to climb up from inside Tiny Monkey’s stomach and wrap themselves around their throat like a snake. The stars in Tiny Monkey’s eyes grew cloudy and began to rain.
As these raindrops rolled down Tiny Monkey’s face onto Tree’s arms, tiny spores started to form where they fell. These spores grew larger and larger, and the old Tree smiled. The Secret had been revealed. Her branches danced, nudging Tiny Monkey to look through the spores. Tiny Monkey nearly fell through one of the spores as soon as they realised what the Secret was.
The spores had formed openings to the What Ifs Tiny Monkey had dreamed of. A world with a mango sun, another with a cloudy world and dewy birds – all within the portals of the spores. Tiny Monkey roared in delight and jumped through the worlds, inhaling deeply in each one to savour as much of these wonders as they could.
Tiny Monkey climbed back into Tree’s arms, panting and gasping for air. Is there more, Tiny Monkey asked. The old Tree grew solemn, her leaves going very still. There is, Tree muttered as she waved away a branch that covered a part of her trunk with more spores. Without wasting a second, Tiny Monkey leaped through and realised that they were a normal sized Monkey. Tiny Monkey cried warm fat tears, hugging all the other Monkeys with relief. Tiny Monkey lived out the next days in this spore, building homes for the Monkey clan, gathering fruits and leaves for the young ones, and carrying water to and from the river. Tiny Monkey wasn’t so Tiny after all, they were finally just Monkey.
As the sun began to bathe the forest in gold and orange, Monkey realised that they could not find their Mother. Monkey searched high and low through the jungle and finally found her. Mother, it is me, Tiny Monkey ! Look how big I have gotten, you don’t have to worry about me anymore. I am strong and will take care of you from now on, Monkey said, their chest rising higher with each syllable. Mother looked at Monkey and said, My child, who are you ?
Monkey felt the vines around their throat again. Mother does not recognize me ? I am her beloved Tiny Monkey ! She protected me from the Monkey clan’s ridicule, surely she could not have forgotten ? I am your child, Tiny Monkey ! You have loved me the most, from the moment I was born ! All your other children are only called Monkey, but you chose to give me two names because to bless those who call upon me twice, Monkey said with foggy eyes.
You are not my Tiny Monkey, you are only Monkey, Mother replied, do not try to fool me for I miss my little one dearly. Monkey faced the ground, the rain finally thundering and pouring from their eyes. Monkey raced to the spore’s opening and screamed when they finally felt Tree’s bark under their feet. The horrifying and primal sound from the child deepened the ridges in the old Tree’s trunk, causing her to let out a low groan – a foreign sound that sent the birds aflutter.
The once again Tiny Monkey grasped the grooves in Tree’s bark as hard as they could, an attempt at stabilizing themself, and choked out a question to the old conifer. Why doesn’t she remember me, sobbed Tiny Monkey, how could this be ? Tree gently swayed her arms around Tiny Monkey and carried them to the Monkey clan’s home, where the Monkeys were huddled together. Tiny Monkey climbed out with caution, peeking through Tree’s leaves and weaving in between the other Monkeys. Tiny Monkey gasped and let out a soft groan when they saw Mother’s body covered in flowers.
What Ifs are one of the oldest Secrets in the land, they appear when you least expect them and they have old magic in them, Tree whispered, her leaves wiping away Tiny Monkey’s tears one by one. There are beautiful What Ifs, extravagant What Ifs, bold What Ifs. Entertaining them is a magical experience, but that is all they are – entertainment. What Ifs can take you far far away if
you let them, and that is when we lose touch with our true selves, Tree crooned as she gathered Mother and Tiny Monkey in her strong arms, creating a nest for the Mother and child to rest.
Tiny Monkey buried their wet face in Mother’s cold fur, spreading their fingers over her lifeless body to try and gain whatever warmth remained. In that moment, Tiny Monkey praised the heavens for being tiny, as they were small enough to curl up on Mother’s chest, right above her heart, and listen as it said goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.