by Edward Monkton
“It was once custom that every monkey would carve for himself a wooden heart. And the heart that love monkey carved was the most beautiful of all. Its contours were soft and rounded, like an ancient pebble sculpted by the oceans. Its surface was smooth and shiny like liquid silk, and it shone as bright as a ruby in the desert sun. “Take your hearts with you wherever you go,” said their teacher. “Nurture them as a mother nurtures her new-born baby. For when you want to give of yourself fully, your heart is the only true gift you will have.”
That night, Love Monkey had a dream. He dreamt of a monkey whose smile lit up his soul like sunshine. He held out his heart to her, so radiant, so splendid and so new. She took him in her arms and he felt truly, perfectly, at peace. When Love Monkey awoke he resolved that, from that day forward, he would search for his Dream Monkey until he could stand before her and give to her his perfect heart.
He traveled through deserts, and climbed over mountains. He trekked across forests, and sailed many oceans. Love Monkey looked after his heart as best he could, but the storms that he endured on his travels chipped away at its surface and each new adventure reshaped it. By the time he arrived on the last distant shore, his heart was so changed by the patina of time that it barely resembled his old heart at all.
And then, he saw her. Standing before him, as radiant and as beautiful as the sunshine, was his Dream Monkey. At first he could not speak. But then, from somewhere deep inside himself, he found a voice. “I have traveled the world to find you, and to give you my heart,” he said. “But now that I am finally with you, I see how foolish I have been. You are so beautiful, so perfect. And my heart that was once smooth, so bright and so new is now not something that I could even bring myself to show you,” and he turned to go. “Let me see it,” said Dream Monkey. She took his heart and held it up to the light. “Nothing to me is more beautiful. Every fissure tells a story. Every blemish makes you more real. All my life I have been waiting for a heart like this; a heart that speaks the truth.” “Come here,” she said. “I have something for you too.” In her hand was a tiny golden heart. It was as worn and as scratched as Love Monkey’s own…and it was the most precious thing that he had ever seen.
Love Monkey put his arms around her and they held each other for a long, long time. “I shall treasure this heart for as long as I live,” said Dream Monkey, running her fingers over its ridged and dimpled surface. Then they looked into each other’s eyes and, feeling the joy of truth in their souls for the first time, they began to laugh. And often they sit together still, holding each other’s hearts in their warm hands, lifting them to the light…and laughing. Always laughing.”