You gaze up at the stars.
They had always been there for you, through your several secret part-time jobs, through your money-collecting craze, through all the sleepless nights you studied, all so
you could get into the school of your dreams. Independently.
For the first time, you noticed how eccentric you must seem to anyone else- a girl who prefers the company of distant shining dots in the patchwork sky to real people.
The girl whose only talent is to climb trees.
The girl who had been taught from birth how to survive by herself in extreme conditions at any place, at any time.
The girl who always has an emergency survival kit of clothes, food, and water with her at all times.
The girl that no one wants to be seen with.
Wow, you sure had an unusual upbringing.
The stars were your only friends. Well, until someone dared to talk to Monkey Girl.
That’s what they all call you behind your back.
It’s the truest truth you’ve ever known, but you don’t care about what they call you.
You are Aubrey Wilson, and you will always be.
And no one can change you.
At least, that’s what you believed, until this night.
You are sitting on the roof of your dorm.
It was an easy climb compared to some of the other things you’ve climbed.
Like that ice cream truck whose owner was fifteen minutes in to the way to New Jersey before he realized that there was a teenager sitting on top of his truck.
Boy, did you get in trouble for that.
You recoil in shock.
Who would talk to a loner like you? You relaxed when you realized it was just Ace.
Ace was the only one who would talk to Monkey Girl. Monkey Girl was the only one who dared to talk to Ace Cerridwen.
Ace had shifted to this school because his father made him.
His father happened to be a millionaire.
He had a twin sister that got to stay at their old school. You had forgotten her name, but you knew it started with an E.
No one would talk to him because of his father.
You felt bad for him because it seems like you were the same.
Ace only had one other friend in his life. Her name was Arabelle, and she was at his old school.
Something you heard quite often from him was about how similar you both were.
Ace shakes you from your thoughts. “What’s up? Something on your mind?”
You manage to smile. Ace always knows when you’re feeling heavy.
“I still don’t get how you do that.”
Ace’s grin turns sad. “You’re a lot like Arabelle. Whenever she was thinking, she’d scrunch her forehead just like you. She even had the same excuse as you! That you got it from your father.”
Your father. Your mother.
Your sister. You have a sister? Where is she? Why did you just remember about her?
What is happening? Your head is hurting terribly.
“Aubrey? Um, I think Monkey Girl is a cute name for you.”
You raise your eyebrows.
“Can I have the privilege of being your Monkey Boy?”
Ace blurs in your vision. You don’t understand what was happening.
He looks worried.
Why? Who was he, anyway?
You see his lips form your name.
What was your name again?
It doesn’t matter anymore.
Ace is gone.
As far as you knew, he never existed.
Pitch black dissolves everything that surrounds you, and it feels like it is all you have ever known.
A doctor takes the goggles off your eyes.
The boy. Where did he go?
Why are you in a hospital room?
“Ah, Aubrey. Ready to go home?”
“Oh, I should fill you in. Your foster parents were worried about you. You wouldn’t eat anything. Anything you saw wasn’t real, because we had to put you in a simulation to test your mental stableness with your depression. Congrats, you’re stable, and free to go home!”
All of it.
You were finally happy, and now that was gone too.
You were never ‘Monkey Girl’.
You were fairly certain you had never been to boarding school.
Memories flood you. Your parents were divorced. You and your father had left your mother after you were born.
Because neither wanted you and in the end your father didn’t want to abandon you.
Your father gave you up for adoption when you were seven.
His reason was- “You look too much like your mother. I don’t want you, understand?”
You were adopted by a great family, but you were already broken.
Shattered to as many pieces and there were stars in your little sky of tears and half-hearted hope.
“Aubrey. Are you feeling quite all right? Does your head hurt?”
Your father had a weak heart from the start and he died from a sudden heart attack after you got adopted. You remember not caring about anything after that.
It was a struggle to do anything with everything you had been through spinning around you 24/7 like a radio.
You sank into depression.
“Aubrey, your parents are waiting. Let’s go!”
You got up without a word. You had been given another chance, so you decided to use it. You were given a window to see happiness.
So you were going to chase that.
Your foster parents were watching anxiously. Let’s start there, you tell yourself.
“Mom and Dad?”
You foster mother starts to cry and you worry that you had offended her.
Your foster parents hug you and you’ve never felt safer.
This is home.
It finally clicks in place, like your life was a giant puzzle. As everything goes along, each piece snaps against your heart and slowly completes you.
The past is the past and you can’t change that. Nothing is permanent, but one thing that would stay with you until you die is this moment. It’s the only thing you have power over, and that’s all.
“Let’s go home, Aubrey.”
“You in the mood to bake?”
“Can we make cupcakes, Mom?”
That night, you try your hand at climbing and clamber to the top of the house. And you stargaze. Just like you did on that night where your fake life all unraveled.
You didn’t mind, because now you were really happy.
Those cupcakes might have been the best thing you had ever eaten, if you might say so yourself.