Ditching the box, she lifts the ball of fur up, holding him at eye level while tickling his tummy. Chewing on a chocolate drop he’d been meaning to save for later, he responds by kicking those little legs of his causing her to laugh so hard she has to wipe away the tears. You poor thing, she says, while making no attempt to stop. Bringing him close to her face, she kisses his belly then strokes his head. Deciding on a name, she grins as he kicks his feet again before eventually quitting. The hamster looks at her then twitches his nose. Herbie the Hamster, you are! Giggling, she places Herbie in one of the pockets of her dress. Poking his head out, she gives him a few more of his treats which he stuffs in his mouth before disappearing. Happy with her new friend in tow, she stands on the corner of the block watching those around her go about their business. So many lives. So many directions. Tilting her head to one side, she tries to ponder the meaning but finds little of interest. Striding down the sidewalk, she skips around a group of children, unaware the chalk drawing they’re working on is of her. Each footstep jolts her new friend, and from time to time he lets out a squeak, but before long grows accustomed to his new way of life and doesn’t make a further sound. Sniffing her armpit, she makes a face. Need a shower. Or a bath. Maybe both. Definitely both. Deciding it’s too far to walk home, she pops into a convenience store to buy some tobacco then waits at the nearest bus stop. After she rolls her cigarette and lights up, Herbie sticks his head out and looks at her. Glancing down at him while taking a hit on her stick, she blows the smoke into the sky before frowning. Don’t judge me, chubby! And with that, she feeds him another drop, and once more he disappears within her dress. The bus doesn’t take long. When it comes into view, she flicks her cigarette into the road and eyes up the vacant faces standing behind her in the queue. As the rickety vehicle pulls into the layby, she jumps on and makes her way upstairs where she sits at the front. Looking out over the bustling town that shimmers and shines like the surface of a lake, she strokes the lump in her pocket and closes her eyes. Within a minute or so the bus pulls away taking her on an hour-long journey through the snaking streets that will lead her back to the refuge of her apartment, and although those riding with her believe she’s asleep, she’s busy thinking of the bottle of wine she’s got waiting for her in the fridge.