Originally entered in the Real Simple Magazine Contest in September 2016. Judging was announced in January, 2017 – this entry did not win. The Monkey in a Red-Flowered Dress By Susan W. Corbran So I am honored to share part of it with you.
“Ooh-ooh-ooh-eee-eee!” Standing in the middle of the school gym wearing a red-flowered birthday dress, I could hear kids snickering behind me, and I felt the warmth of embarrassment on my face. I was one of the monkeys in the school play, but instead of wearing the brown pants and brown shirts neatly folded at the foot of my bed at home, I was the only monkey in a dress.
My 12th birthday started earlier than usual, but I was excited to wake up and open my gifts. Our family birthday tradition included opening our gifts in the morning and eating birthday cake that evening, events I often wished were reversed. Another tradition was that we would wear our new birthday clothes to school that day.
My brother, sister, and I raced to Mom and Dad’s bed, and I climbed in and settled down between them. Mom uncovered a small pile of neatly wrapped boxes. Holding the last box in my hand, I prayed it wouldn’t be a dress. I slowly untied the red ribbon and peeked into the box with my fingers crossed for good measure. I glanced up at Mom, saw her smiling face and faked a smile back at her as I pulled out a red-flowered dress.
“You’re going to look so pretty today,” my mom said excitedly.
“Um, thanks, Mom,” I replied.
I wanted to tell Mom about the class play, but she was so excited to see me in my new dress that I was sure she would be disappointed that I wanted to dress up like a monkey on my birthday. I quickly gave everyone a big hug and kiss, and then returned to my room, dragging my feet on the floor with my head bowed in regret. When I was sure no one could see me, I tossed the dress on my bed with disgust.
“I hate dresses!” I mumbled under my breath. “Monkeys don’t wear dresses!”
Oh, how I wished I could tell my mom that I didn’t want to wear the dress that day; but I was scared.
I thought to myself that I could promise her I would wear the dress on another day. But I never said a word. Having watched my sister argue for jeans and Dad yelling that young ladies do not wear jeans never looked like much fun, so I learned to keep quiet about things that would make my parents mad. I never spoke up or went against Mom and Dad’s wishes.
I lost my voice that day by choosing to remain silent. And I was the only monkey in a red-flowered dress.
[The rest of the story will be on Kindle shortly, stay tuned…]
My chapter “Finding My Way” in the book Emerge, shares the story of my second husband, dealing with his cancer and death, and then finding my voice through writing.
You can order an autographed copy here.
I believe God has more opportunities to help others during my lifetime.
In the meantime, have you ever felt like you didn’t have a voice? Or how are you expressing your voice? Feel free to share in the comments below.