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Gorilla

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Mouse lived in the zoo. It was a nice zoo. The zookeeper always made sure Mouse and his friends had plenty of food to eat and water to drink and lots and lots of toys to play with. The zookeeper was very nice.

Mouse lived with Gorilla. He hadn't always lived with Gorilla. Neither had he always lived in the zoo. He used to live on the street and he would have to scrabble around for food and worry about cats and brooms, and worst of all he had no one to talk too. Mouse did not like living alone. Mouse did not like being alone.

One day he wandered into the zoo when out hunting for food. The zoo was bright and cheery and filled with animals he'd never seen before. And everyone looked happy. First he saw Armadillo, lying on her back in her multicolored pen, drinking from a bottle and snuggling with a dolly.

Then he walked past Giraffe in her yellow cage and Hyena in his green one. They did not notice him because they were involved in a very serious discussion about stuffed animals. Hyena believed that all animals should have one stuffed animal. Giraffe, meanwhile, was of the opinion that everyone needed two, so that the stuffed animals wouldn't get lonely if left by themselves. It was a very animated debate and involved much flicking of tails in between fits of laughter.

Lion's cage was blue. Lion was so deeply asleep he was snoring and did not wake as Mouse scampered down the path. Elephant's pink cage was next. She was busily munching on peanuts but waved her trunk at Mouse when he walked past. Mouse waved back. It was only polite to do so and he did try so hard to be polite, and that was when Mouse spotted Gorilla.

Gorilla was swinging on his tire swing, singing a song about bananas. It was a very good song. It went "Tra-la-la-la. Banana, Banana, Banana. I love bananas. Banana, Banana, Banana. Tra-la-la-la." That made Mouse stop. Mouse liked bananas. Mouse liked bananas a lot. An awful lot. He inched closer to Gorilla's orange cage. "Bananas are good. Tra-li-la-li-la-di-da. Bananas are yellow. Tra-li-la-li-la-di-da. Bananas are my favorite and I love them."

Gorilla had just begun another chorus of tra-la-las when Mouse notice a banana on the ground in front of the cage. It was a big banana, much bigger than he was, but with a little effort he managed to lift it up. Such a banana would make a good meal for him, and he was hungry, but Gorilla sang so sadly about bananas he wanted to help Gorilla more than he wanted to eat.

"I just found this banana outside your cage, would you like me to bring it to you?" Mouse offered quietly, hoisting the banana up high so Gorilla could see it. He was very shy and very nervous, but Gorilla seemed very nice.

"Oh, yes!" Gorilla jumped off the swing, grabbing on to the bars of the cage and sliding down to land in front of Mouse. "My banana! The zookeeper brought it by earlier, but I dropped it and it fell and I couldn't reach it. I would love to have it back. Thank you! Thank you so much!"

Mouse carefully scampered up the base of the cage, pulling the banana behind him, and then crawled into the cage and tugged the banana in after him. "Here you go." He held the banana out for Gorilla to take.

"What a yummy looking banana. Thank you, Mouse. Thank you for bringing me my banana." Gorilla gently plucked the banana out of Mouse's hands. "Bananas are delicious but they taste even better if they are shared. Would you like to share my banana with me?"

Mouse smiled. "I would like that very much."

Gorilla peeled the banana and broke off two pieces. He popped one in his mouth and passed the other to Mouse. "Here you go."

"Thank you."

The two of them munched happily for a while. The banana was very tasty.

"I drop my bananas a lot," Gorilla said eventually.

"Really?" Mouse tutted as he licked his fingers clean. "That is a shame."

"And by the time the zookeeper notices and fetches them for me they have usually been bruised." Gorilla sighed. "When bananas are bruised they are not as tasty."

"No, they are not," Mouse agreed.

"You are small and strong," Gorilla said.

"Yes, I suppose I am." Mouse was unsure why Gorilla would mention that.

"You are small enough to fit back and forth through the bars and strong enough to carry things back into my cage." Gorilla broke the remaining piece of banana in half and offered one part to Mouse, who took it gladly. "I have plenty of room in my cage. There are fun toys to play with and plenty to eat, even when I drop food outside my cage. You could stay here and we could sing songs and share the food and play games together. Do you know how to play peek-a-boo?"

"I do."

"That's settled then. Come move in. There's a very nice nest I built in the trees to sleep in or, if you don't like heights, plenty of soft leaves for bedding on the floor."

"I don't mind heights, but... why me?"

Gorilla thought about that for a moment before answering. "You seem very nice."

"So do you," Mouse replied, thinking Gorilla's offer over.

"And you like bananas."

"I really do like bananas," Mouse agreed.

"Do you have somewhere else you'd rather be?" Gorilla asked before adding in a hurry, "Because if you do, that would be all right, but I do hope that even if you decide not to live here you'll stop by once in a while. Not just because you can get the bananas I dropped for me, but because I like you and want you to be my friend."

"I want you to be my friend too." As Mouse said it he realized it was true. If he lived with Gorilla in Gorilla's cage he would no longer be alone, which sounded very, very nice. "And, I think, I would like to stay here with you, at least give it a try anyway."

"Hooray!" Gorilla jumped up and down, cheering. "Would you like to sing with me now or play a game?"

"I think I would like to sing," Mouse said, grinning. "I really liked your song about bananas."

"Come on! Let's swing while we sing." Gorilla tugged Mouse's hand, pulling him to the tire swing. "This is going to be so much fun!"

And you know what? It was.