Cannibal Hamster

I can’t really remember too many Christmas gifts received as a kid. I mean, I got gifts, I just can’t remember most of them now that my brain is old. I know, “old” is relative…all depends on who you’re asking.  Anyway, when I think of childhood Christmas gifts, one year always sticks out. I must have been around 8 or so. I can remember waking up, putting on the pink robe my mom made for me, and running out to see the goods. I was full of anticipation without having a clue as to what might be waiting for me. I rounded the corner and saw this contraption on the table. It was plastic and had a round, wheel-type thing in it. I looked at it quizzically, wondering if it even had anything to do with Christmas. It wasn’t wrapped. No bow. Just this weird plastic cage-like thing with wood chips on the bottom…wait a minute, those are hamsters! Oh my God, I got hamsters! I can not BEGIN to accurately convey to you how damn excited I was to get those two rodents! They were both girls, and it only took one look to know exactly what to name them… Cecilia and Candice. Why, you ask? No freaking idea. Where in the hell did I come up with those names? I’m pretty sure if there was a book titled “Perfect Hamster Names”, you would not see those two in there. Maybe in the “Perfect Princess Names” book, but not the hamster one. But hey, don’t judge me. Those were my babies. I was in love. They were mine.

I loved those girls. Even though I found out the hard way that hamsters are nocturnal and like to run on that damn wheel ALL NIGHT LONG. I dealt with it, though. We all know sleepless nights are a big part of having babies. Yes, I was their mom. Just go with it.

I’m not too sure how long I had them for. It’s hard to keep track of time when you’re a kid. Especially when you’re a busy mom like I was. Hamsters are a lot of work…cleaning out the cage, cuddling them, putting in new wood chips, cuddling them, filling the water bottle, cuddling them…you get the picture.  Anyway, one day I went to cuddle them, and shit suddenly got REAL (cue the horror movie music)….Candice was freaking GNAWING Cecilia’s leg off! What the HELL?!! I screamed. My heart went in my throat. I looked at Candice and she stared right into my eyes as she ate her sister’s leg. It was really kind of scary, to tell you the truth. She was looking at me as if to say, “You’re next”. I ran out to my mom, crying hysterically, telling her about the cannibalism going on in my bedroom. She came up with some story about how Cecilia was probably sick and animals can sense when another animal is sick and they eat them. Whaaaat?! Why the hell do they do THAT??!! She said things are different in nature. She was so chill about it, so I figured I’d better calm down. But really, I was NOT calm. We ended up putting a piece of wood in the cage to separate them. I stood vigil at the cage for days. It was so sad to see them apart. I’d never seen them sleep alone. They were always snuggled up together. I wondered what Cecilia was thinking. Did she understand why Candice was eating her? Was she as sad as I was about it? I’d hold her and carefully stroke her without touching her chewed up leg. I stopped touching Candice. She scared the shit out of me.

Cecilia died not too long after. I held a funeral for her in the back yard, in my little unofficial pet cemetery…you know, the one that held dead frogs, caterpillars and the like. I held a memorial service for any creature I’d held that then died. Listen, I did not have many friends back then, so cut me some slack.

The weirdest part of this story is that I can’t remember the rest of it. What happened to Candice once I was scared shitless of her? Did she die? Well, of course she died…it was 37 years ago. I mean, did she die right after? A long time after? Did I just have her for awhile? Did I ever pick her up again? I have no idea. All I can remember is being scared of her, resenting her as I heard that wheel spin during the night.

 

This post was written in response to Linda G Hill’s Stream of Social Consciousness. The prompt was “Ham”. Check out the link below to learn more.

 

 

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 18/17

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Sewing security

 

It’s hard for me to remember my parents being married. My mom left when I was 9. You’d think 9 years would be enough to have lots of memories, but I guess it’s not.

I only have one memory of my parents having fun together. They were getting dressed up for a night out dancing. It was a 50s themed dance…Mom had on a poodle skirt and dad had a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his white T-shirt.  She looked so pretty and he looked so cool. They came home with a trophy. Sometimes, that memory makes me smile.

Oddly enough, even though I only have one fun memory, I also only have one fight memory. My parents were pretty damn good at hiding their arguments from me. So good that I was completely blindsided when they told me of the divorce. I thought parents got divorced when they didn’t get along anymore? My parents never fought. It was so confusing to me. The one time I remember them fighting was after they announced the divorce. Mom stood up and angrily swore at dad during dinner, and he got mad at her for fighting in front of me.  I just sat there quietly staring at my spaghetti, trying to be invisible. She left not too long after that.

Aside from those two polar opposite memories, there is one constant that returns whenever my mind trails back to those first 9 years… my mom’s sewing machine. She had her own upholstery business she ran out of our basement. Each day after school, I’d hop off the bus, run up the walkway and fling open the front door… listening for the hum of her sewing machine. When I heard it, I relaxed. Mom’s home. There was a sense of security in that hum. I’d drop my books and run downstairs to give her a hug and tell her all about my day. It was so normal…I took it for granted.

When she left, so did that sense of security. No longer could I fling open the front door. Dad made me a key. I was coming home alone now. I’d quietly insert the key, slowly opening the door without making a sound. The house was quiet. Mom’s not home anymore.

 

This post was written in response to the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday by Linda G. Hill

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 11/17

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Supermarket nurse

Today, I stopped by a supermarket on the way to see my last patient. It’s her birthday and I wanted to buy her an orchid, because she’s special to me. I’m standing in line at the checkout behind a woman of about 70ish. She compliments the flowers and asks who they are for. I tell her it’s for one of my patients and she says, “Oh, you’re a nurse?” Before I can even answer, she props her elbow on the counter and begins to tell me about the “recent biopsy on my uterus for polyps and I’m going for an ultrasound today and I’m a little concerned because they haven’t gotten the results from the biopsy yet and I’ve been staining every day since the procedure and they keep telling me it’s normal but I’m not sure it’s normal and why do they want the ultrasound if they haven’t gotten the biopsy results yet”…literally going on and on and on, just like that. I couldn’t help but smile, because we’re in the middle of a crowded checkout line and I’m thinking “what other profession gets this kind of response in a supermarket?” as she’s blurting all these personal details out to a complete stranger…and I’m TOTALLY fine with it and SHE’S totally fine with it. People are kind of looking at us with a “T.M.I.” look on their faces. A cashier opens up the next register and motions for me to come over, kind of smirking like she’s thinking, “I’ll save you from this conversation”, but I can’t just leave this anxious woman with that ball of worry consuming her, so I stay and reassure her that light bleeding after a biopsy is common and getting both procedures sounds like protocol. You could see the worry just float away from her face with that one sentence. Why she felt better with it coming from me and not her doctor, I have no idea…but we both just rolled with it. I wonder if I said it in a way that validated her emotions? I think hearing it over the phone and seeing it come from a real person can make a difference. I felt sincere when I spoke to her. I wanted to ease her pain. People were still looking at us…some smiling, others furrowing their brows. What…you’ve never heard the uterus being described as “very vascular” at the market before?  We kept chatting about it for a bit, like old friends. It was a pretty awesome and rewarding experience, considering I wasn’t even at work. I finally go over to the next line and she’s still talking to me, kind of yelling over the magazine racks to ask me questions about where I work, seeming pretty happy now. I don’t know why I find this story so enjoyable, but I’ve been SO happy ever since it happened and it’s still making me smile. I guess I just love random interactions with people that end up being positive experiences. It makes me feel satisfied and connected to the world. I wouldn’t change being a nurse for anything…

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