Animal Dilemmas – Oyster Vervet
The Vervet was cursing fate for setting it on this lonely trajectory that could lead to nothing good. The more fermented fruits it ate the more it realized that their sweet juice was a lie, a mirage that came fast and worn off fast leaving it weaker than before it started. It wished for a narrow mind focused and guided by firm rules. That was true life, it thought.
What was the gain from wandering alone hopping from stone to stone on the edge of the salty undrinkable water. The view of the endless sea was suiting at times when the sun rose and set. But these dreamy moments of solace were a weak substitute for a shared life at the heart of the colony among affection and debate, where its decisions would affect others as well. Where responsibility will substitute the fermented fruits.
The Vervet was tired of eating strange things. At times they made it feel good but often they made it sick for days. That was the case with oysters, just about the only decent food it could find on the coast. Fruits were scarce here because the flocks of birds nesting in the trees and consuming everything edible. Sometimes when it felt young for a few hours the Vervet stole half rotten fish from giant’s settlement. But the risk was too great and the fish was often bad. Fish bones lodged in its throat and the monkey’s throat ached every time it swallowed even a sip of water.
The Vervet grew depressed by the day and everything scared it. It gave up battling sea gulls for a piece of fish and ran far when the giants chased it in jest. It often thought of going back to the colony and leaving a life of secure peace. Surrounded by its own kind eating the food it grew up eating.
Eating was one of the few pleasures it had left. It enjoyed splashing in the water waist deep searching for oysters. Searching took time but it was the easy part, refreshing and absorbing. When it found one it had to bang it against a hard rock to open it. At times they cracked on the first bang but sometimes they didn’t crack at all.
That was the case with the Oyster at hand. The Vervet hit it against the sharp edge of a rock many times but the Oyster was unimpressed. The Oyster lead an opposite style of life to the drank monkey. It stood still and it only moved when the waves moved it. It only traveled when the currents dislodged it along with its peers and carried along the coast until it was wedged in sand or between rocks once again.
The Oyster knew its fate well and was determined to excel at it. It’s only tool at hand was to filter the sea water and use the vitamins and minerals in it to fortify its castle of a shell. Oysters performed this take mindlessly for it was vital to their survival. The Oyster had became aware of it. It was mindful and counted its inhales and exhales in an endless meditation.
Its goal was efficiency and improvement. It strived to increase the frequency of inhaling and filtering the salty liquid so it could grow stronger faster. And it had worked, its shell was thicker than any other oyster and had survived many sea storms. Many giants had picked it up and unable to crack it had thrown it back in the water. The Oyster had outlived many generations and its longevity had given it confidence.
Even now when the Vervet was hammering it against the rocks its mind was at peace. It knew it had done everything it could do to protect itself and if its shell eventually gave in was at peace with its end. But its shell didn’t give in and the Vervet grew tired and frustrated.
The monkey halted its assault swung its arm back and catapulted the Oyster into the sea. At the time a fisherman’s boat was passing near the coast and the Oyster landed in it without attracting the attention of the giants that traveled the seas.
The Vervet walked deafened into the woods, dug out a few fermented fruits from the ground and squeezed their juice in its mouth.
next chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Lemur Oyster
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all chapters: Animal Dilemmas
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photograph by Dan Stumpf