He eats straight through to all the important parts, spits out the little pieces of rubber metal debris, as if they were no good, as if he were a robot hamster, back from the dead, living only on wire and useless bits of electronics. But only the ones I’m most connected to.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m so different from him. Sometimes I wonder how to count to three.
Those are the times I cry when I’m swinging the hammer to open up my walls. Those are the times I make a mess of drywall and plaster and my wife talks about leaving. She can’t remember our trip to Germany, but I can. I can see what she can’t, and I can’t forget—eins, zwei, drei—I just don’t always know what it means.
I can’t forget him either. I can’t let him run through my house.
Because it’s only a matter of time before he finds his way out, and what if there’s no wire out there for him to chew?
My son’s second hamster has spit out enough of what runs through my walls that I can no longer watch TV or even turn on the lights.
He disappears under my door with the patter of little feet. “Honey, did you see him? He was right there, in our doorway.”
“No, love, I didn’t. Did you? Did you see him again?”
He leads me around the house, but I have a hammer, and now I have holes.
I don’t want to miss seeing him, even if it is only in my walls. I can’t stand it when I do. Those faint little movements stepping from hole to hole, memory to memory, I don’t want to forget them.
Like in Germany, when my little boy jumped into the picture with his mom. He smiled and the wind blew his curly hair across his eyes. I didn’t need to see them to know they were blue. He thought he was so cute, shouting the little German he knew.
It was. Cute enough to put holes in the wall.
My son’s second hamster leads me to a different room almost every night, but never Sam’s. He won’t go in there and neither will my wife. I want to, but not until I catch his dead hamster. Maybe then I’ll be able to open his door again.
It’s as if the hamster were reliving a memory, running from me like he did when Sam was three and we had returned from our vacation in Europe. But he only escaped once when he was alive, and it makes me wonder whether he really knows where he is or if he’s lost somewhere I’ll never find him.
My son’s second hamster made my wife leave me. She couldn’t stand my inability.
He eats real food and talks in German if you catch him. We’ve only been there once when Sam was three. It’s crazy that he remembers Sam or that trip. It’s crazy that he remembers Sam knowing a little German, cute as can be.
He didn’t even see him there but he knows Sam stood by the Rhine river, his blonde hair against his big toddler cheeks. He was beautiful and sad and missed his second hamster, the one who keeps me up at night. He missed him like I miss my walls, so much he had to see him.
Now that I’ve caught him, I’ve become something of a successful well-traveled businessman, and I’m getting an official divorce. I sell wire to corporate giants who run it around the world, several times, from what I understand.
My son’s second hamster still keeps me up at night, but he’s usually in my pocket where I can keep him safe.
He counts off in three’s, but I have no idea what he’s counting.
I have no idea what I’m counting.
Eins. Zwei. Drei. Ready or not, here I am.
I’ve replastered the walls and have learned to sleep. On the count of three, I can do almost anything.
I only have to pat my pocket to remember him.
I only have to put my hand there to know how to live—to remember how to do the simplest of things—like breathing or eating or remembering what his blonde hair looks like in the wind.
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