In fourth grade I got my first pet, a hamster, I named her ginger. She was sleek and really beautiful for a hamster, with this lovely dark red/brown fur. I used to carry her around on my Minnie Mouse pillow, she’d watch TV with me and go play outside. In her cage she had one of those running wheels, and the sound of it drove my father nuts.

Once, in the middle of the night he came into my room and took the wheel out of the cage, he said he couldn’t sleep. Unfortunately, Ginger was still in the wheel. She was missing for two days. We had a cat at the time, my dad was pretty certain that she ate her. On the morning of the third day, I found her in my parents’ bathroom while I was getting ready for Girl Scout Camp. I was so happy to see her I almost stayed home, but my mom said she would be there when I got back.

I got back late Sunday night and fell into bed, exhausted. I got to stay home the next day with my brother Brian, because my mom figured I was too young to stay home alone. In the morning I went to say hello to Ginger and take her out of the cage, and the second I touched her I screamed something awful. She was cold and hard as a brick, dead. Oh, it’s the most awful feeling you can imagine. I’ve been thinking lately that this is where my fear of dead things spawned.

I was devastated. My mom bought me a new hamster, somehow to make me feel better but it was ugly. I named it Fluffy and it was. It peed on me right after we brought it home. I was not as enamored of this animal, and sometimes I’m afraid it died of loneliness. I’m so sorry, Fluffy. You deserved better.


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