“Coco” by Jamie Burnett

   Right before I was supposed to start second grade, me, my Mommy, and my Daddy had to move to a new house because of Daddy’s work. I was so nervous because I have never been too good at making new friends. At my old school I didn’t have any friends, except for Coco, of course, and I knew she would be my friend wherever I went. Mommy said that I was too old to think that a stuffed gorilla is my best friend, but Coco was and always had been. Daddy bought her for me before I was even born, and from what he said, I had her by my side ever since. He was surprised when I called her a girl, because most little boys would consider a gorilla to be a boy; they might name him something like George, but not me. Coco is a pretty gorilla; she has big, brown eyes that make her look so sad and she has very shiny fur that is always so soft and fluffy. For some reason, she made me feel safe, which is why I took her to school with me every day and why I had to sleep with her every night.

   On my first day at the new school, I could tell that not much would change. All of the kids in my class looked at me funny. I could hear them snickering to each other as I walked by with Coco clenched tight in my arms. “It’s okay, Coco,” I whispered as I sat down for lunch, “at least we have each other.”

   Henry, a boy that sat across from me at the table, grasped his stomach as he started laughing at me. “He even talks to it!” he said to his friend, loud enough so I could hear him. I just put my head down to finish eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Hey, kid, what’s its name?” Henry asked me.

   “Coco,” I replied.

   “Coco? Like hot chocolate?” he smirked to the boy next to him, “Did your mommy help you pick that name?” I just ignored him until, luckily, it was time to go back to class.

   Henry never really gave up. He seemed to always try to upset me, but I never let him see me sad. I still brought Coco to school with me every day and I did my best to ignore all of Henry’s mean jokes, until one day at recess. I was sitting with Coco in the grass right next to the school’s playground when Henry and a couple of other boys in my class walked up to me. “Aw, look, it’s baby James and his girlfriend,” he laughed with his friends. This time I could feel the anger building up. I tried to just look right past them and pretend I didn’t notice them there. That worked, until Henry got mad at me. He bent down next to me and snatched Coco from my grip. I jumped up from the ground as he started running away with her. I chased him for as long as I could, but before I could catch up, I saw him tugging on Coco’s head. After the struggle, Henry’s friend grabbed Coco’s feet. Together, they pulled in opposite directions until Coco was fully ripped in half. I could not believe what I had just seen! Without thinking, I sprinted toward Henry, screaming the whole way. The other boys ran away as I tackled the jerk to the ground. Punch after punch to his face, I could see the blood start to pour out of his nose. I did not stop until the teacher yanked me off of him.

   I was sent home early from school that day. When I got home, Mommy pulled the pieces of Coco out of my backpack. I begged her to fix Coco, but she was so mad at me that she threw the pieces away. I watched as she tied the trash bag up and walked it outside to the dumpster. I had never felt so alone. My only friend had been destroyed and taken away from me for good. I stayed in my room the rest of the day. When Daddy got home from work, Mommy told him what had happened. I knew that he could not punish me any more than Mommy already had, but I didn’t want Daddy to be mad at me. He was always so nice and comforting, and that was just what I needed after losing my best friend. When he came into my room, he just looked at me for a minute with a sad expression on his face, “I’m sorry about Coco, James. I know how much she meant to you,” he said.

   “Thanks, Daddy, but I don’t think you really get it,” I said.

   His eyebrows raised as he said, “Come with me, Kiddo. I have something I want to show you.”

   I followed Daddy up to the attic. He began digging through a box that looked like a treasure chest. He explained to me that this is where he keeps the things that are the most meaningful to him. Eventually, he pulled out a stuffed animal, and told me that its name was Raffy. He said that when he was three years old, his Mommy bought him this monkey. He had loved Raffy almost as much as I loved Coco. Once he turned ten, his Daddy took Raffy away from him. His Daddy said that a ten year-old boy was too old to be carrying a stuffed animal around with him everywhere he goes. Apparently this made my Daddy very sad. He said that before he left home to go to college, his mom gave Raffy back to him. She knew how much the stuffed animal meant to him so she saved it all those years. Daddy explained to me that he was disappointed that I reacted the way I did at school that day, but he did understand how much I loved Coco and how much she meant to me. This is why Daddy handed Raffy to me and said, “He’s all yours and I know you will take good care of him, just like you did Coco.”

   Although I was still hurt that Coco was gone, Raffy made me happy. Daddy always knew how to save the day. I told Raffy all about myself and especially all about Coco. Mommy wasn’t as happy with Daddy as I was, she told me that I was not allowed to take Raffy to school with me; I didn’t want to anyway because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. However, I still slept with him by my side every night and I took him to the dinner table with me. We watched TV together, and I would read books to him, like I did with Coco.

   During family night, Mommy got out all of the family photo albums. We all sat on the couch; Mommy sat next to Daddy and I sat on his lap, with Raffy on my lap. My parents would tell me stories about each of the photos. We turned to one of me and Daddy at the zoo. We were standing next to a bear’s cage, and Daddy was holding a box of dog biscuits. Mommy said that Daddy always snuck in some treats for that bear, because it was his favorite animal at the zoo. Daddy told me that every time we went to the zoo I would pull him towards the bear’s cage yelling “ROAR!”

   The next picture was one of me sleeping. Mommy said that I was two when the picture was taken, but Daddy swore I was only one. I smiled when I saw Coco wrapped in my arms as I was all tucked in bed. Before I was done looking at the picture, Mommy said that it was time for me to go to bed. I brushed my teeth and changed into my jammies. Once I got in bed, Daddy came in to say goodnight; he kissed me on the forehead before turning off the lights. After he left, I folded my arms around Raffy as the tears came bursting through. With shame, I whispered, “I miss her so much. Sorry, Raff, but you could never be as special as Coco.”

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