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.