The Blog Propellant · writing

TBP New Prompt #7- Chimes ‘n Shelby

When Chimes came to live at Mercer Park Zoo, she was probably eight years old and weighed exactly 63.5 kgs. She was the only Western Lowlands Gorilla at the park and, as such, commanded her own enclosure.

Coincidentally, on that very same day, Shelby Ellison began her first summer job, also at the zoo. She was sixteen years old and weighed exactly 53.9 kgs. She was the only summer intern at the park that year, and she was assigned to work with the primates. That was how Chimes and Shelby first met.

As time passed and Shelby worked with the primates, she realized that a bond had developed between the adolescent Gorilla and herself. Chimes would greet her when she arrived and would wish her adieu when Shelby went home in the evening. Shelby would sit with Chimes and tell her about her day. She would talk about her friends and things that were going on at home. Stuff that her brother was getting up to and the chores she had to do at home. Chimes seemed empathetic to the stories that Shelby shared. She listened intently. Sometimes Chimes would grow sad. Sometimes she would appear amused.

After a few weeks of visiting together, Shelby realized that Chimes was telling stories as well. She never spoke any words, but Shelby knew what she was saying. She worked out that Chimes was communicating telepathically. Chimes told her jokes. She told stories about Africa and the family and friends that she had left behind.  She spoke of her trip to New York, during most of which she had been sedated and had very little recollection. She told of the overland truck trip from New York to Mercer Park. The truck drivers would play the radio, and she enjoyed that. Of course, Chimes did not know the word “radio.” Maybe she didn’t know words at all. Shelby wasn’t sure, but Chimes was a communicator. She and Shelby could, and would, talk for hours at a time.

Chimes discussed the other Mercer Park Zoo employees and how they could not hear her in the same way that Shelby could. Shelby, in turn, learned about her abilities to communicate with the great ape as they rapidly became fast friends. Most importantly, Shelby learned to take nothing for granted. Chimes knew nothing of Western ways, bathrooms, bicycles, kitchens, cars, or the like; almost everything required explanation. At the end of that first summer, Shelby begged her parents to allow her to continue working after school. She had to promise not to let her grades slip, and eventually, they agreed. Shelby tried to communicate with others the same way that she talked with Chimes, but it was all to no avail. This special bond existed only between these two. She asked Chimes about it and was surprised when Chimes told her that it was the way that she communicated with all the other animals in the park. She did admit that Shelby was the first human who had ever responded in kind.

It was easy to get Mercer Park administrators to let her volunteer during the school year. The zoo loved volunteers and readily agreed to her offer. Shelby only wanted more time with Chimes, and she got it.

The girls grew up together. They’d spend their time talking about their families, Chimes family back in Africa, Shelby’s family, close by – in town. When Shelby brought her family to meet Chimes they only got to see her from the path that went by the enclosure. Shelby showed Chimes who her mother was, her father, her stupid brother, and her little sister. This, allowed Chimes to couple a face with a name when the two friends talked. Eventually, Shelby’s family became a proxy family for her friend.

When Shelby graduated from High School, she took a full-time job with the zoo, solely as a means to stay in contact with Chimes. She never told anyone about their bond. One day, when she was twenty-six and Chimes was 18.

Times up! Step away from your keyboard.

When I read this prompt along with the “special” request, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Oh shit!”

I have to admit that I was stumped. I decided to give myself a time limit, a deadline. I knew that would force me to begin putting words to paper (so to speak). At OLWG I usually give myself a twenty-five to thirty-minute writing time. This was harder, so I doubled my allotted time. Sorry, it did not get finished. I hope you found some redeeming value anyway. As for me? I still don’t know if I got it right…

Written for The New Blog Propellant Prompt #7

This week’s prompt:

Let’s speculate, shall we? Two beings with intersected consciousness.

This prompt has particular request: Because this is a prompt about speculation, try avoiding a story about a married couple, lovers, ex-lovers, friendship, or familial relations, etc. Need some ideas? Explore mythology as a place to start. Ask yourself, are they the same entity, or not? Is this a new discovery, or are they falling apart? Did they come by this state naturally, or was it imposed? Is their connection liked, or disliked? Is it threatening their status quo, or is it a dream beyond their known universe?