Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hands Free Monkey, the Jungle Monkeys Challenge

This was written for this week's flash fiction challenge, Jungle Monkeys.  I decided to go with an almost true story, written from my crazy son's perspective.  This is the story of my kid (names changed per his direction), and this picture shows the jungle gym where it all went down.  Silly boy antics, away!  

 Hands Free Monkey

Frankie looked around, but nobody was there to see what he was about to do. The other kids were running crazily, and his sister was across the playground, flipping around like she always did. Frankie was always quiet. He'd learned being quiet meant the babysitters only glanced his way occasionally, and he could be sneaky in his early daredevil stunts.
He waited for the moments when nobody was watching, and then he pulled stunts he'd been planning and dreaming up for weeks. He didn't want to reveal his secrets until they were perfected, so he waited, and he practiced, and he smiled at each small success, though nobody else saw them. Yet.
That afternoon he was going to work on something he was calling Hands Free Monkey. He had devised a way for his backpack to hold his body weight up, and he planned to use it on top of the monkey bars: The green set that looked like it was made entirely up of iron ladders, and shaped to be a great big box.
Frankie meandered over to the set and his friend, the babysitters' son, followed him. Frankie was sufficiently boring, though, and the other boy ran off to play a game elsewhere, leaving the little daredevil all alone with his plans. He smiled.
He took great care climbing up to the very very top. The backpack on his back had his homework folder and lunch box in it. He probably still had a bit of sandwich left over that he couldn't finish at the lunch table. He didn't really remember, but if there was a bit of sandwich left, he wanted to eat it for a snack later. So, he had to be careful.
Once he reached the top of the jungle gym, he sat up there, watching the babysitters' eyes carefully, looking around to see if any other kids were watching. The woman called out, “Be careful, Frank, okay?”
“Okay!” he hollered back to her, and she turned to run down her youngest son, who had just made a break for the parking lot.
It was his chance! He pulled one arm out of his backpack carefully, then slipped beneath the bars with his body, leaving the bag on the other side of the bars. He lifted his shoulders and slipped his arm back inside the shoulder strap, leaned forward for a moment to test the holding-up power, and when he didn't slip, he grinned. It was time.
Frankie let go of the green bars first with his hands, and felt instantly like he was flying! He grinned wildly, arms held out stiffly to the sides, and pretended to be an airplane. “VROOOOM! CRASH! BOOM!” He made shooting sounds, diving airplane sounds, bombs dropping sounds. He leaned to one side, then the other, flying through enemy airspace.
And then there came a sound that Frankie didn't make. It was an awful sound, a sound that told him something was terribly wrong. It was a ripping sound. He felt his backpack seam tear above his body, and fear flashed over his face. Before he knew it, he was falling.
He landed, hard, and the air left his body. He felt strong arms lift him, saw fear in the dad babysitter's eyes. He felt a hand press firmly into his head, and the man scooped him up and ran with him. Frankie's eyes were closed, so he didn't see where they ran to, but he heard a familiar voice talking with the babysitter man. The school was still open, and when he could see again, Frankie saw they were sitting in the nurse's office.
The nurse's face was grim, she told the receptionist to call the boy's mother at work, and she dressed his wound. It took a very large bandaid to cover the spot. He heard her say they needed to watch him, and the parents should take him to the hospital as soon as they could. The man thanked them for their help, washed his bloody hands, and walked with the boy back to the playground.
His sister stood there, worry covering her face. He smiled at her concern, because it proved she really did like him. His dad arrived home early from work, took him and his sister back to their house. He sat with them, made dinner, watched Frankie's eyes every so often, and at bedtime, he determined the boy was just fine, and sent him to bed.
The next morning, their mother was home from work, and she changed the wound's dressing. Her husband hadn't looked at it the night before, because Frankie always made such a fuss about changing his bandaids. He whined and cried for ages both before and after, because he didn't like the feeling of the glue being ripped off with his skin. When the dressing came off, Frankie watched her eyes, as his own filled with tears.
His mother's eyes widened in horror. There must be something terribly wrong for her to look that way. Maybe he was going to die. She shook her head, and picked at the wound. It hurt! He wanted her to stop, but she told him she had to get the rocks out. Rocks?! In his head!? No wonder she looked unhappy.
But then, Frankie began to think about it. It was his very first war wound, earned in the heat of battle. The gaping wound should have been stitched, but by the time they discovered that, it was too late. So, sticky sterile strips and a few weeks later, Frankie stood at the mirror, admiring his shiny new scar.
He smiled proudly at his reflection and made himself taller. It was better than he hoped for: He had been a real airplane, in a real war, and he had the proof. He really was going to be a daredevil, and he didn't even have to wait until he grew up.   


  1. Oh jeeze. I don't envy you the daredevil. Favourite line: "He smiled at her concern, because it proved she really did like him." You really have to know children to be able to pull out a phrase like that haha.

  2. Just one point. I was a little confused that there was a pair of babysitters, not just one. Perhaps a little clarity there would help. You have it as plural, but somehow it doesn't come across that there are two of them until you get down to saying "the dad babysitter." Otherwise, great job.

  3. LMAO!!! I am so happy that none of the kids have tried that one again! It was scary!

  4. Good point Laurie! :) I tried to make it clear without too many words, but we know how that can go! :)

  5. I am sorry but it was a little confusing for me.
    I agree with the babysitter thing, very confusing.
    Should it be 'made entirely up of' OR made up entirely of?
    Should there be a comma before the word though in the line, 'sufficiently boring, though,'?
    And should it be 'every so often' or ever so often?

    Just some observations of things that made it confusing for me to read. But otherwise a good story.

  6. The "made entirely up of" vs. "made up entirely of" thing is mostly a matter of opinion. Moving the "up" makes it read a hair smoother, I'll grant you that, and it's something I glanced at and thought about moving.

    The comma before "though" could be removed, but it reads aloud differently if it's gone. It is one of the instances where you can remove the word "though" and the sentence still functions as intended, so I put commas around it. And when I read it aloud, I pause there, so that's another reason I kept it.

    And the lack of y was definitely a typo. Writing with kids around is not my strong suit! LOL :)

    Good eye! It really does help our own editing to read other people's things. The comma thing, for example.

    I abused commas for ages and could never see the problem with it. Then I was asked to edit something and the commas were EVERYWHERE. I looked up the rules so I could point out where to keep them and where to leave them, and now I remember the rules a lot better for myself. :)

  7. Very Scary.

    For clarity sake. We both had to be there because the number of kids totaled at 5 and we didn't have a vehicle that would hold all the kids and there booster/car seats.

    Dad Babysitter.


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