Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
24 October 1999

By Donald J. Barnes, [email protected]

My Name Is Minnie.

But I am known as Number 46.

I am 38 years old today, February 10, 1995. I have never received a birthday card.

I am a prisoner in a federal institution and have been for some 30 years. I committed no crime; I hurt no one. I shall never see the forest again. I will die here, behind bars. There will be no funeral; nobody will write an obituary for me. My children have been taken from me. Perhaps it's best; they will not grieve when I die.

Once I had a friend, Gigi, number 155. She was just 2 years younger than me and we used to play together, but now she's nowhere to be found... although sometimes I think I hear her weeping a long way down the corridor.

There are 350 of us in this institution. Some of the others still go outside on nice days. I can hear them calling to one another, "Hooting" we chimpanzees call it.

I think I'm scheduled for more tests, because Tim, my keeper (Tim doesn't have a number), takes some blood from my arm almost every day. The last time that happened, they gave me something that made me feel really sad, and my head hurt from inside. But they didn't know it because I can't tell them. I wonder why they did that to me; I hadn't misbehaved...well, I did threaten that human in the white coat who looked at me like I wasn't even there.

Tim's not like that. Tim calls me by my name, feeds me and talks to me sometimes. He hoses down my little gray room to keep it clean. Besides, I can't threaten Tim. He's the only friend I have. He'd laugh at me anyway, 'cause he knows I'd never hurt him.

I wish someone would give me a few raisins...or an apple...for my birthday.

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