I'm a weirdo. I like petting small rodents in the shade of evergreen trees. I have a brother that started to learn a certain woodwind instrument when he was twelve and then he quit. He knew I wanted to learn it but he quit. I was seven and I tried to learn but he said that I couldn't because I was younger than him. My mother always made me say sorry to him even though he was the shit talker, so now I have an ulcer. Can you tell me what's fair about that?

It's a little fair actually, because my mother was actually a small rodent. She looked like a hamster but preferred to be treated like a common house cat (feared for while and then hated after a period of about three years). She was aloof for most of my childhood years. We would stroke her stomach and say things were going to be okay, when my father said that he was embarrassed to go out to dinner with her. She would sob and it sounded like a cat being drowned under water, or a really weird clarinet. My brother would comfort her more than me because I thought it was weird.

My Dad would smoke at the kitchen table while I would warm milk in a bowl in the microwave for my mother. "Why do you enable her?" he would ask me. I would say, "She's only a hamster Dad, you have to be nice. We all do, we don't have choice." The microwave would beep but only the bowl would be hot, but the milk inside the bowl would still be cold. "Shoot. Another 30 seconds."
"Well, she's not getting any more toys out of me. Money is tight this month." Dad would say.

One time my Mom got hurt when she left her basket. She had been wandering in the woods and came back with blood on her coat. "Is it her blood, or the blood of something else?" we kept asking, because she wouldn't tell us if she was in pain. My Dad got really angry and threw some magazines against a wall; and then he knocked over a chair, but it didn't make a very loud sound.

"I am going to go out and kick down all the beaver dams in all the lakes! I'm going to fill all the groundhog holes with rocks!"
And Mom just sobbed. I left the room because I could feel tears in my nose.

I walked outside towards the woods. I looked back and saw my brother stroking my Mom's back; she looked smaller.
I walked down some dirt pathways and saw animals scurrying back and forth.

"Who hurt my Mom?" I called out.

"She fell." A bear said. "Where did she fall?"
The bear pointed with his paw in the direction of a small clearing. I walked over to it and I saw pieces of cloth material and photographs. I felt so sad.

"I have no idea what she was doing but it was hard for her to drag the cloth and hold the photographs at the same time."
"Don't tell me that." I started to cry.

I ran back to my house. My Dad was on the computer and my Mom was sitting beside him on a tall stool, watching.

"Mom?" she turned around.
"Dad is embarrassed to take you out for dinner, but I don't think it's because you're a hamster." She nodded. I knew I wasn't helping.

"What the hell man?" my brother yelled. "Dad was just online looking for places to have dinner! You ruin everything!"

"Mom was trying to make a fort outside! She doesn't even want to live with us anymore!"

"My foot is asleep." My Mom said. I picked her up and put her on the floor. I watched her scurry off into the room beside the kitchen. I sat beside my Dad on the stool. My brother glared at me. I could hear my mother running around on the plastic wheel in the next room and I felt depressed.

(Rachel Milan Richards is a 21 year old student studying Film and Television at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario.)