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Deserving Freedom This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

They say monkeys are the animal most like humans. I can see why as I stare at him and him at I through the bars separating us. His thin, human-like fingers grip the artificial branch beneath him. Around me are free people watching his friend crawl up the same man-made branch. I look down at myself and notice that I am free as well. My free toes are sticking out of my sandals. My ankles are shackle-less. My legs are bare and I notice a bruise on my shin. The monkey has no injuries. I guess this is one of the prices for being free. Is it worth it? Would he think it's worth it? My arms come out of sleeves loosely set on my shoulders. The shirt itself is a perfect representation of my freedom, for I chose it out of my own closet full with my choice of clothes. My hands are not tied together. Most importantly, the only bars I see are the ones encaging the monkey.
Despite all of the viewers around, he stares exclusively at me. Does he know what I'm thinking? The expression on his face is indescribable, but having seen it before, I know what it means. Was this expression intentional. Did he know what feeling he was sending me?

I put myself in his position.

I'm on the other side of the bar now, clenching the artificial branch underneath me. The people all stare, hoping I'll put on a show. I do no fulfill their expectations. They eventually move along, only to be followed by a new group of humans. I watch each group freely walk away with no bars to stop them. They come to a fork in the wide path. They choose a direction and walk down it with rays of freedom gleaming from their bodies. They don't even notice.
I go back to the free side of the bars. I welcome back my free feet but do not use them. My pain for the monkey provokes a longing to loan him my free body if only for a day. His expression tells me he needs it more than I do.
Oh, free him. I demand that somebody free him. The time ticks by and despite the people around me, I whisper into the cage a promise. I promise him my sympathy and though it's not much, I know it's more than he usually receives. If I'm not mistaken, his expression may have lightened. Just a little.



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