Sunday, 19 June 2022

'Don’t Feed the Animals' by Kate Simblet

She was not one for rules, so got sent to a ‘Home’. Discipline, the answer to all wayward girls. Her spirit came with her, climbed over the walls, sneaked past the guards and the bolts on the door. On cold lonely nights amidst the bleak of the dorm, it was fire in her belly that helped keep her warm.  

Their answer was ‘No’. Her question ‘Why not?’  

She searched through dark corridors for justifications, found reasons more rotten than food from their kitchen. A sick institution, no sign of a cure, long years stretched ahead like the coils of barbed wire, so she revised tactics, switched from defiance. Donned a new uniform: the disguise of compliance.

Good behaviour was eventually rewarded with trust, so she swallowed her pride, proved she could be good. Weeded the garden, nurtured new plants, polished the floors, baked cakes for the staff. Calmer and docile, she rose through the ranks, slept more than argued, a smile on her face. When release day arrived, she knew what she’d do: rewarded her freedom with a trip to the Zoo.

Her pick-pocket fingers nimble though bars, relishing warmth as giraffes nibbled palms, she cavorted with elephants, tossed buns to their trunks, laughed with hyenas, monkeyed with apes. She fed all the animals until nothing was left, got all of them stoned on her cannabis cakes – apart that is from the pandas. She decided they were mellow enough.   

The institution had certainly taught her a lesson: the answer lies inside. When there’s just no escape and the doors are kept locked, the secret’s in freeing your mind.

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