It’s 4 a.m. An insomniac night.
Should I stay in bed? I think of all the projects I am working on. Stock options swim around in my mind with the question of whether the thesis director at George Mason will care if I include footnotes on my memoir or not.
I might as well get up.
I get up.
I cross the living room toward my office. Freelance writers work strange hours. It won’t be the first time the light in my office goes on when the rest of the world is black.
Crack. I forgot the hamster cage that was sitting on the floor. We are hamster-sitting for my neighbors and I have knocked off one of the attachments on the side of the cage. Modern hamsters need entertainment. When I knocked off the space-ship-like attachment, I created a hole in the side of the cage.
Sprinkles makes his escape into the dining room.
I sink to my knees in a bundle of pajamas and bathrobe, struggling to get the attachment back on the cage. At least then I’ll only have to buy ONE new hamster for my neighbor’s 9-year-old. I strain to remember what Sprinkles looks like. Sort of … brown … beady-eyed …
PetSmart, here I come. What time do they open? Can I squeeze in a trip to the pet store before I have to send out the Wednesday newsletter … and before the neighbors come back from the ski trip, all cheerful and interested in how their hamsters have done in our house?
Then I see Sprinkles. He stares at me from across the vast openness of the dining room. Our eyes lock.
“Sprinkles,” I say, threateningly, before he darts under the table, where I cut him off under one of the cherry legs, knocking one chair askew as I go. He’s headed for the kitchen. He skitters across the hardwood.
What is wrong with this stupid hamster? Doesn’t he realize all I want to do is stick him back in the cage where he is coddled and fed fresh broccoli?
He stops by the door. Maybe he is not so stupid after all. He has a sense of humor, and now he is laughing at me.
He dashes in the other direction, into the wine rack, where he crouches under a bottle of Pinot.
I swoop with both hands. CAUGHT!! His little face squeezes out from the loose fist my two hands have made. I am waiting to feel his rodent teeth sink into my fingers.
I take the squirming furball back to his cage.
He’s in. The cage is shut.
My heart feels like it’s beating as fast as his had been in my hands.
I sit in my office chair for a little while, thinking about the dark things that happen at 4 a.m., when a freelancer hamster and a freelance writer both get the misguided idea to get out of bed.