My sister and I are close in age—about a year apart—and we often got similar clothes and toys growing up. One might get a red dress, the other the same one in blue. Sometimes the items were identical. (No jealousy then, right? We had the same thing.) This particular monkey was one of those toys that were similar. I had a white one, my sister had a brown one. We called them White Monkey and Black Monkey (I know, real original), and for some reason, they were among our favorite toys. For a while.
Unfortunately, White Monkey had an accident and got torn apart by a dog. So, I graciously decided that we would share Black Monkey from then on (can you tell I'm the oldest?). My sister agreed, since she felt partly responsible for the monkey mangling, but being kids, we often forgot the pact we made. We took turns, until one of us didn't want to give up the monkey. Poor thing got flung across the room in a fit of temper more often than I'd like to remember.
This went on for years, until one day we decided we'd had enough monkey trouble. We were probably around nine and ten, maybe a year older. I can't remember what prompted the decision, or who came up with the idea, but we were both in agreement. The monkey had to go. We got a pair of scissors, took the monkey, and hid under the desk in my bedroom. And we cut off her head.
Or we tried to. The scissors must not have been very sharp, or her neck was too thick, but we gave up halfway and threw her into the garbage. And that was that. We still argued over other things, of course, but never again about the monkey. For years, whenever we passed a garbage dump, we'd make up a story about Black Monkey having a nice house there and living happily-ever-after.
And that could have been the end.
But last month I had a birthday. A box arrived from my sister with a card inside. On the envelope was written, “She should have been yours.” I knew what it was immediately and burst into tears before I even saw the monkey—my sister had found an exact copy on eBay. My boys asked me why I was crying, and I said, “Because I've got the best sister.”
So, thanks, Shannon, for knowing things. Every one of the books I write includes an unspoken dedication to you, because you've inspired some of the best qualities in the twelve sisters I've created.
Sisters are the best!
(And that monkey is a lot smaller than I remember.)