Published by Dan Mazur at Smashwords
Copyright 2015 Dan Mazur
Isla was one very enthusiastic little girl when she heard that the circus was coming to town. She would get to see all of the animals that she loved so much. There would be elephants, lions, monkeys, and tigers along with clowns, acrobats, and so much more. Isla’s parents bought tickets as soon as they went on sale and after a couple of months, it was show time!
She could barely sit still during the car ride there. The red-haired little pixie kept squirming in her seat. She frequently asked her Dad if they were there yet. “Almost Love”, he would say a few times. Her family lived just outside of London, England and the drive wasn’t very far. But for an eager 8 year-old girl it seemed as though it was taking forever.
“Okay sweetie, we’re here!” her Mum said as Isla quickly unbuckled her seat belt. She tried urgently to open the back door of the car just she wasn’t strong enough. Her parents had a bit of a chuckle as they watched their daughter trying so hard to open the door with both hands. “Take my hand dear. You don’t want to get lost.”
“Yes Mum” Isla said, her eyes open wide with wonder. There it was! The big tent where all of the action would happen. She could smell the popcorn and cotton candy as she walked with her parents to the front of the tent. As they walked closer to the entrance, Isla saw a monkey staring out of a very small cage over to the side. He looked kind of blue sitting there all alone.
She waved and said “Hello” to the monkey. Hearing her voice, the monkey looked up and waved back.
This was upsetting for Isla who started to become very quiet. The big smile that had lit up her face had turned to a frown. Her family made their way to their seats which was a hard wooden bench. The show was just about to start as the tent grew dark. This should have been very exciting for Isla but she didn’t seem to be interested anymore. She was still bothered by the unhappy look on the monkey’s face.
A bright spotlight then shone on a man wearing a big top hat. “Welcome to the London Circus!” he shouted. He wore a sparkly jacket and had a black, curly moustache. The first act was a family of acrobats, “The Flying Iachettas”. Snuggled between her parents, Isla looked way up in the air as they flew around on the trapeze and walked across with the tightrope without a net. It was a lot of fun to watch. Everybody stood up and cheered as the acrobats took a bow.
The lions were up next and they looked so scary and fierce. Isla hid behind her Dad when they came out as they started to roar. She would sometimes sneak a peek at the lions, but didn’t like it when the man with the whip started to yell at them. How very sad they all looked she thought to herself. They were actually more scared than scary. Poor Isla wasn’t enjoying herself at all and started to get bored. She was beginning to think that it was time to go home
Fizz the Clown made his way onto the stage riding inside a very tiny car. When he opened the door, a group of wee poodles jumped out. He danced around with them as did all sorts of tricks. He made the crowd laugh every time one of the dogs knocked him over onto his bottom. Isla started having fun again as the poodles made her giggle. The pups jumped through hoops and wore little bow ties and hats. Isla clapped and cheered loudly when they exited the stage. Finally she was starting to enjoy herself.
Then it was time for the monkeys to perform and that’s when her heart sunk. They were led out by a mean looking man who called them all by name. Isla spotted the sad monkey she saw earlier in the evening. The monkeys didn’t feel like performing and the spectators started to boo. Afraid of all the noise, one of the monkey climbed up into the audience. He found his way to Isla and put his arms around her neck. This startled her but didn’t scare her. She looked deep in his eyes as a tiny tear rolled down his face. Isla wiped it away softly with one of her fingers. The man yelled for the monkey to return to the stage with the others before they all left.
Isla told her Mum and Dad that she wanted to go home. “But you wanted to see this show for so long” her Mum said. She started to throw a fit and was crying and screaming loudly. Embarrassed, her parents got up as they walked past the rest of the crowd. People gave them dirty looks as they stepped on a few toes on their way out. “Excuse me, pardon me, sorry” they repeatedly apologized. Isla wanted to get out of that tent as quickly as possible.
When they finally got to the end of the aisle, Isla suddenly ran off. Panicked her parents went chasing after her but couldn’t find her anywhere. “Isla! Isla! Where are you?” they shouted over and over again. She had run over to see the monkey that she had met that night. “Hello again” she said to the monkey who was resting in his cage. “My name is Isla” she told him before giving him her home address. “Come visit me anytime” she said as the monkey started to reach out his hand. Before their fingers could touch, her parents burst in and dragged her out.
“There you are! Never run away like that again okay?” her father said. Isla didn’t make a peep during the entire ride home. She just stared out the window and sighed a lot. The ride home was so much different from the way the evening had begun. Their friendly, cheerful little girl had become so quiet. Her parents were upset with her at first but now they were worried about Isla.
Isla was so tired that fell asleep before they got home. Her Dad carried her upstairs as her Mum tucked her into bed. The next day she told her Mum that she never wanted to go to the circus again. She just sat there at the kitchen table for a couple of minutes barely touching her porridge. Careful not to talk about the events from last night, her Mum asked “How about we go to the park today? You love the park” “I don’t feel like it Mum” said Isla sadly as she pushed away from the table.
She put her plate in the sink and walked over to the living room. She turned on the telly to watch her morning cartoons. She sat and stared at the screen for a few minutes before she turned it off and went back upstairs to her room. Isla’s Dad took a deep breath as he grew more concerned about his daughter. He wondered if maybe it was time that they talked about what happened last night. Isla was lying on her bed holding her Teddy bear when her parents walked in
Every time she started to talk about all of the animals, she started to cry.
Not sure what to say, her parents told her that she was a sweet and thoughtful little girl. They said that it was very nice that she cared so much about the animals when so many people tend to not care about anything at all. And most of all, they were really proud of her. Isla’s parents suggested that she go outside and get some fresh air, play with the other kids in their neighbourhood and enjoy the day. She hugged her Mum and Dad before getting dressed.
As soon as she went outside she was greeted by all of her friends. “Good Morning Isla!” they screamed as they were all happy to see her. For the rest of the day Isla was able to forget about what she saw last night. She ended up having a fun-filled day skipping, singing nursery rhymes and playing with her best mate Zachary. She stopped briefly to have lunch and some crisps before spending the afternoon playing with her dollies.
Isla was in a much better mood at supper that night. She talked about the good times that she had with her friends. It seemed like she was back to being her happy self again. She even ate up all of her Shepherd’s Pie and asked for more. After supper she helped her Mum wash the dishes while her Dad sat down to watch his sporting events on the telly. She kissed both her parents on the cheek before going upstairs.
After a nice bubble bath, Isla’s Mum came into her room to read her a couple of her favourite bedtime stories. It had been a full day of playtime and laughter for Isla. Something that she really needed. She was drowsy after her bath and fell asleep just a few pages into the first story. Once she fell sleep, her Mum kissed her on the forehead, and pulled up the covers. The lights were turned off and the door was quietly shut. Isla’s parents were feeling much better about their little girl now.
Back at the circus, the monkey paced inside his tiny cage. He was hungry and uncomfortable as he waited to be fed. Finally the man who took care of him came over with some food. He opened up the cage but then started to talk to one of his coworkers. The cage door was left open as the man briefly walked away. Slowly and gently, the monkey sneaked out of the cage and out of the tent. He looked over his shoulder but nobody was around.
His chance to escape had finally arrived as hopped aboard a scooter and drove away to freedom. When the man returned he noticed the empty cage and the missing monkey. “Help! Help! One of the monkeys has escaped!” All of the circus workers began to search for the monkey. They called out his name and promised him some bananas. But it was too late as the monkey was long gone
Free from his miserable life at the circus, the monkey decided to have some fun the following day. He had his picture taken in front of Big Ben with some American tourists. He also visited Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and Piccadilly Circus which thankfully wasn’t actually a real circus. Later he stopped off at a local pub called ‘Grumbleweeds’ where he watched some footy on the telly with the rest of the crowd. He even starting chanting and singing along with some of the fans when the home team scored.
Tired from all of his adventures, the monkey went to Hyde Park to find a place to sleep. It was such a sweet nap, the best one he’d had in years. After his nap, he stretched and yawned before he looked at the clock. He was late for tea with his friend Liz. He hopped onto his scooter and was off to visit his Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
“Hello Nigel dear” said the Queen as she smiled and waved. The two enjoyed a spot of tea along with some crumpets and jam. They talked about their families…and even about Camilla. Elizabeth laughed like never before. Oh how she adored Nigel’s sharp wit. It was starting to get dark and Nigel had somewhere he had to be. He was in such a rush that he had forgotten to bow. The Queen was not amused.
Isla was sound asleep when she heard a bit of a kerfuffle outside. It was a nice evening so her Mum opened her window to let some of the cool night air inside. Isla got up out of bed and put on her slippers. She looked around her room and outside the window but didn’t see anyone or anything. So she crawled back into bed and tried to get back to sleep.
That was until she rolled over and felt furry arm against her face. She slowly reached over to turn on the lamp. Thinking it was a stuffed toy, she turned the light on. “Hello Love!” Nigel said, “I finally made it!” Isla screamed out loud as there was a monkey in her bed. “It’s me, Nigel from the circus” he said trying to calm her down. She didn’t know what to say as she was so surprised by her visitor.
Hearing the noise coming from Isla’s room her parents bolted down the hall and opened the bedroom door. “Isla, are you okay???” they both asked. Nigel slowly pulled the covers over the top of his head and hid. “Just having a bad dream. Everything’s okay” she said. “Do you want us to sit here for a bit with you?” her Mum asked. “No I’m fine. Well, G’nite Mum. G’nite Dad” she said trying to get her parents to leave the room.
She then laid her head down on her pillow and pretended to fall back asleep until her parents left. They looked back one last time at their daughter before closing her bedroom door. “What are you doing here?” Isla quietly asked Nigel. “Remember when you gave me your address and told me to visit? Well, here I am.” “It’s dreadful for all of the animals at the circus. We don’t belong there at all.” Isla could see that sad look on Nigel’s face again as he spoke.
Feeling bad for Nigel, she gave him a great big hug. She tucked him in and made him feel warm and cozy. Then she gently pulled the covers over his head just in case Mum and Dad peeked in on her. Isla watched Nigel sleep for a bit before she closed her eyes and fell asleep herself. The next morning, she woke up still sleepy from last night. She wasn’t sure whether last night was real or a dream.
She lifted up the blanket to find Nigel fast asleep. He looked so peaceful so she let him sleep in. She put on her slippers and went downstairs for breakfast. “Good Morning Honey. Are you feeling better today?” asked her Mum. “Oh yes. Much better” she replied, kissing her Mum on the cheek. She had to act as if everything was normal which was pretty hard to do when there’s a monkey in your bed!
Nigel hid in Isla’s room as the family spent the day visiting relatives. They went to go celebrate Grampa’s birthday. It was always wonderful spending time with Grampa and Gran and she loved them both dearly. But all Isla could think about was Nigel, how sad he was, and how much she wanted to help him. Could she tell her parents about him? Should she? She even wondered if they’d let her keep him or just call the police.
But if they wouldn’t let her have a cat or a dog, then they wouldn’t let her have a pet monkey either. Plus it wouldn’t be fair to Nigel to keep him in the house. He needed to be with other monkeys and to be free. Isla had fallen asleep in the car so her Dad carried her up the stairs and put her to bed. Nigel heard the footstep sod hid under Isla’s bed and stayed there until her parents went back downstairs.
They wanted to relax and watch a little Coronation Street. Just as soon as it began there was a special news alert from the BBC:
“Good evening England. We interrupt your program to bring you a special report. A monkey escaped from the circus yesterday morning and is on the loose in London” said the announcer. “We now go to David Brent for more on our breaking story. David.”
“Thank you Phillip. Panic on the streets of London. A monkey has been having a jolly good time here in London. The monkey, named Nigel, has been seen at various London tourist locations.”
“Earlier today, London Police Chief, Fred Scuttle said that a reward was being offered for the safe capture of the monkey. The monkey is described as a male chimpanzee named Nigel. He enjoys bananas, Earl Grey tea, and footy. I can’t believe I’m actually reporting this…..we now return you to Coronation Street.”
During the report about Nigel, both Isla and her friend secretly watched from the top of the stairs. They saw her Mum heading upstairs so they ran back to the bedroom. The next morning, Isla seemed to be a little distracted. Her parents thought she was still upset about the animals at the circus. So her Mum planned to make her anything she wanted to eat that night.
“What would you like for dinner tonight Isla? You can have anything you want.”
“I think I’d like bananas and mash” she said. “Oops, I mean bangers” she said as giggled. “I sure have one silly little girl” her Mum laughed. It was a typical morning for the family as Dad would read the newspaper while he drank his coffee and ate his breakfast. Mum would make Isla breakfast and help her get ready for school. “Are you done with the sports section mate?” asked an unfamiliar voice. “Yeah, almost and then………..”
Isla’s Dad slowly lowered the paper and looked over at Nigel sitting at the kitchen table wearing one of his bathrobes. Isla’s parents looked at each other in disbelief as their jaws dropped wide open. “Is it me accent?” Nigel politely asked. They stared blankly at their hairy houseguest unable to make a sound. “Me name is Nigel. I’m the chimp from the London Circus.” Her Mum and Dad were frozen, unable to speak or move when Isla said, “So, um, can we keep him?”
He began telling them all about his sad life at the circus and how much Isla’s friendship meant to him. When he met Isla, she gave him hope and showed him the love that he hadn’t known for many years. Most kids just pointed, stared, or poked at him in his cage. But not Isla, she was the only one who seemed to care about him. Soon Isla’s Mum had tears rolling down her face as did her Dad.
Having listened to the unhappy tale of Nigel’s life at the circus. They really wanted to help. But what could they do? They couldn’t have a monkey living with them nor did they want to bring him back to the circus either. Isla’s Dad and Nigel talked long into the night. “Better put on a pot of coffee Love” Nigel said to Isla’s Mum, “It’s going to be a long night.” After a couple of hours, both Isla and her Mum fell asleep on the couch. “Hold on, I think I know of a place where I can go. It’s located in Cornwall” Nigel said. “Yeah, a few of me mates live there and they rescue chimps like me”. Nigel showed Isla’s Dad the website for the monkey rescue on his IPad Mini. It looked like a wonderful place run by some amazing people. Isla’s Dad agreed and two shook hands as they had solved the problem.
“We’ll leave at six o’clock in the morning so nobody will see us” said Nigel. Too tired to go upstairs, everybody ended up sleeping downstairs in the living room. Isla’s Dad had passed out on the couch and began snoring loudly. Isla and her Mum were cuddled on one couch while Nigel fell asleep on top of Isla’s Dad. He woke up to see the chimp lying on his chest. At first he was uncomfortable having a monkey on top of him. But then he thought about everything that Nigel had been through and put his arms around him as they slept.
The alarm went off at 6 o’clock as everyone was tired from such a long, late night and a lack of sleep. “Five more minutes!” Isla said. “No Love, we have to get up now” said Mum. Isla rubbed her eyes, looked at Nigel and smiled. She was going to miss Nigel, as he was more than just a circus animal to her. He was her friend and even though a part of her was sad, she knew that she was doing the right thing.
It was almost time to go and Isla’s Dad had left to get the car started. Isla took Nigel’s hand as she tried not to cry. Their plan was working so far until they noticed the nosy and talkative Pollard girl from next door. What was she doing up so early? They’d never be able to get past her especially, with a monkey. Isla’s Mum had an idea. It was a little crazy, but it just might work.
They went back into the house and dressed Nigel up in some of Isla’s old clothes. He put on a pretty dress decorated with flowers. Isla put on some lipstick for good measure. “You sure aren’t a very pretty girl” Isla laughed. It was time to try again. “Good morning Vicki” Isla’s Mum said as she tried to speak quickly as to not let the girl get a chance to talk. “This is my Aunt Emily. She’s visiting from Bristol. Well we’re off now. Cheers Love!”
Vicki was usually the one who wouldn’t let anyone else talk. But this time she was only able to utter a few words, “Yeah, but, no, but…….” By then, the family was in the car and on their way to the train station. “That was close. Brilliant plan M ’lady” Dad said as he kissed Mum’s cheek. Soon Nigel would be on a train heading to Cornwall’s monkey rescue centre. He’d be seeing some of his old mates and getting the best care in the world. He would never have to perform in the circus again and most of all, he’d be happy.
He held Isla’s hand the entire trip as she was a very brave girl squeezing his hand in support. Her heart started racing as they arrived at the train station and just in the nick of time too. The train to Cornwall was scheduled to leave the station at any moment. Isla’s Dad put out his hand but Nigel ended up hugging him. He embraced her Mum, whose eyes were filling up with tears before kissing her hand. And then it was time to say goodbye to Isla. She was crying and didn’t want Nigel to leave. He wiped the tears away from her cheek much like she did for him back at the circus.
He gave her a big hug as neither one of them wanted to let go. “Thank you so much Isla. You saved me life and I’ll love you forever.” He kissed her and boarded the train, still dressed like a lady. “All Aboard!” shouted the conductor as the train was preparing to depart. Nigel stared out the window as a tiny tear trickled down his face. He waved goodbye as Isla blew him kisses. Her parents held her tight as the train pulled away from the station. They stayed there for a few minutes trying to make sense of everything that had happened the past couple of days. The three of them hugged each other closely before Isla took her parents’ hands and headed to the car.
A few months had passed and Isla still hadn’t heard from Nigel. She hoped he hadn’t forgotten about her and her family. He must be busy playing and enjoying life with his friends she thought. Feeling kind of blue, Isla started to get ready for bed. She slowly walked up the stairs expecting to find Nigel waiting for her. He always shared the most interesting stories with her. But that wasn’t going to happen anymore.
Suddenly she heard a loud banging on the door. Her Mum and Dad came running downstairs. “Who is it?” Dad asked. There was no response. He looked through the peephole but didn’t see anybody there. “Must’ve been some jokers in the neighbourhood.” Then again they heard another loud knocking at the door “It’s probably that annoying Pollard girl. I’ll just tell her to go home.”
“C’mon mate, it’s me Nigel. Open the door already!” a voice said on the other side of the door. “Nigel!” Isla squealed. And to her delight, there was Nigel standing at their front door. “Don’t just stand there, come on in” Mum said. “Follow me blokes!” Nigel said. “Blokes?” wondered Dad out loud. In walked a group of chimps, including his pals from the circus, carrying their suitcases.
“Smashing news! They shut down the circus and so all of the animals are free and are now living in safe, happy places. We were in the neighbourhood so we thought we’d stop by and visit.” Nigel ran over to Isla and the two friends gave each other a huge hug. “We’ll only be here a couple of weeks or so.” Dad looked at Mum, dazed and overwhelmed and said, “Here we go again!”
Bangers and Mash: sausages and mashed potatoes
Bloke: male friend
BBC (British Broadcast Corporation): A British television network
Cheers: farewell or thank you
Coronation Street: a long-running British soap opera
Crisps: potato chips
Crumpets: small round cakes with holes in them
Footy: short for football which the British call soccer
Gran: short for Grandma
Jolly: entertaining or cheerful
Kerfuffle: a problem or a hassle
Mate: male friend
Me: used instead of my
M ‘lady: my lady
Pub: a bar that serves drinks and food
Smashing: excellent or wonderful
Isla is an 8 year old girl living in England. She is very excited when the circus comes to town as she is a big animal lover. On her way to the circus she sees a sad monkey in a cage. She notices how sad the animals seem at the circus and decides that she wants to leave. Before her family leaves the circus, Isla visits the monkey and gives him her address. The monkey escapes from the circus and spends a day in London before heading out to visit to the little girl who showed him love.