The male hamsters and the female hamsters were kept apart, separated by a glass partition in the hamster tank in the pet shop. It was still early morning and the young hamster cub scratched on the glass partition to get his father’s attention. The father looked up from his gerbil pellet (the pet shop boy was not as diligent as the pet shop man about reading the feed labels) and waddled over.

“Can I talk to you?” asked the cub.

The hamster father stuffed the rest of the pellet into his cheek and nodded his head.

“I’m having some issues with mom.”

The hamster father thought for a moment and wiped his hands in his bedding flakes. “Are you upset because she’s been eating your brothers?”

“Well, yes,” said the cub, “and my sisters.”

The hamster father nodded and picked a seed out of the flakes and stuffed it in his cheek.

“I was hoping I could come live with you.”

The hamster father wiped his whiskers and rubbed his cheeks to make more room inside them. He was able to fit three fresh seeds alongside the pellet.

“I’d like to hear your thoughts on that,” said the cub.

The hamster father coughed politely. “Let’s adjourn this conversation for now,” he said, “and pick it up tomorrow.”

The cub scratched on the partition to catch his father’s attention again. “That may not work for me,” he said.

“Sorry, kid, gotta run.” The hamster father jumped into his hamster wheel and ran until the wheel sent him for a loop-the-loop. The cub watched his father fly out of the wheel and land in a pile of flakes, and pick himself up, stuff some more seeds in his mouth, and jump back into the wheel.

The cub realized the alternative to being eaten was being a hamster, and that was the end of his childhood.

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