‘Years came and their mother flooded with tears,’ Edna used to say over her garden fence. ‘It’s a terrible thing for a mother to see.’ And meanwhile the chimp spoon-fed himself deeper into our father’s heart. Zeno went shopping more often, played for longer in the park, got to watch more television.
‘It helps with development,’ Father said. ‘You can’t expect progress without-' and then he'd fade away, lost in Machiestry.
Zeno ate everything with no complaints, talked more, told the best jokes. He wore the best clothes, had an hour longer computer time and found a friend in all the neighbours.
‘That darling chimp,’ Mrs. Burgess from the Post Office said. ‘He dapped his hat at me and gave me the widest smile you’ve ever seen.’ Her friend, Emily, who worked for the Social agreed, ‘I know,’ she said, ‘it’s almost as if he’s human. And such manners! There’s many a kid today who would benefit from whatever the Reeds are giving that chimp.’
In time, I learned to hate that simian smile.