“Give me my money,” the girl says. She is identical to all the other girls with her green primary school uniform and her close cropped hair. You have probably walked past her dozens of times. On other days she may even have greeted you in the exact same way. On other days you may have even returned the greeting with a smile and shrug.
On other, sunnier days.
“What?” You stop walking and look at her. Her legs are ashy. Her feet are shoeless. A thin crust of dried snot hovers just below her nostrils. On other days you would have kept walking. On other days you would not have said anything.
It is Becky’s special day, so she gets to choose what we do. She could have chosen anything. She chose the zoo. We see the turtles, a giraffe, the elephants (of course), and a mountain lion that probably hasn’t spent a single day of his life anywhere near a mountain. But it isn’t the menagerie of birds or the countless exotic fish she wants to see.
“Monkeys!” she says, her too pale face lighting up as she races to the railing.
“Honey, don’t get too close,” Her mother says trying to keep up.
There are five of them in the grotto. One walks around the perimeter, shaking branches. The others take refuge in a rapidly shrinking area of shade underneath a large climbing rock. It rained earlier but as the afternoon wears on, the temperature soars. The heat threatens to reignite the dying embers of an early morning headache. My shirt is damp from the humidity.