After he died, she told me she never again wanted to own another pet. Said it hurt too much to see them go, and yet I think it had more to do with not wishing to replace this particular hamster. It’s as if she felt it would somehow be too disrespectful considering all they’d been through. I can see the logic, and yet by denying herself the companionship of an animal, her temper has been steadily worsening. Not in noticeable chunks, but over the past two years or so, the steam inside of her has been building, and not even the collision of sex has been enough for her to vent. Holding the picture frame in my hand, I smile at the sight of the furry ball on her shoulder and wonder if he’s now non-existent, or if that perhaps he’s somewhere else. I’ve told Meeko on more than one occasion that if there are no animals in heaven, I don’t want to go there. Not that I think there’s much chance of heaven being real. If there is such a place, I imagine it to be solely populated by animals, with us humans to be born again and again on Earth, which is akin to purgatory, or hell. Yes, we are in hell, and we’ve made it like this ourselves. It’s hell for us all, and yet we each exist in our own private hell, and we’re busy adding links to our chains every day.
Staring at the photo, I think of the hamster’s button nose and how he would often fall asleep in the pockets of my trousers or of those in Meeko’s flowery dresses. Sometimes we would go into town with him sleeping in one, and when we came back hours later, he wouldn’t have even stirred. Now he’ll never stir again, at least not in this life. Overcome with sadness, I place the photo down and lean back in my chair, staring at the blank sheet of digital paper on my laptop with the sun on my face. If only I could write the things I feel. I feel them so easily, and yet when it comes to putting them into words, it’s as if there’s a loose connection in my brain. It’s like the wiring’s faulty, and no amount of anything can correct it. Listening to Meeko’s laughter coming in waves from the bathroom, I close my eyes and imagine myself in a glass box suspended high in the clouds; forever watching the burning planet below as the animals in the heavens above play without fear of falling prey to the killing hands of man.