I remember my miserable life before I met the ham-ham gang.
My owner, Mae, never paid much attention to me. My cage was rather large, due to the fact that it belonged to Mae's old guinea pig. And when I say old, I mean it kicked the bucket a long time ago.
I'm almost positive her mother just felt sorry for Mae, because she was sad that her guinea pig died, so she bought me as a consolation to her daughter. Mae's reaction wasn't really excited. She barely paid attention to me at all.
I had no toys, because they were all only suitable for guinea pigs. Same thing with the food; disgusting guinea pig pellets. I had to hold my nose with my paws in order to feed myself. And Mae never even gave me a name.
But I wanted to call myself something, and if Mae wasn't going to do it, I was. After a bit of searching, I found a name I liked.
Sure, it was only the name of a brand of lotion advertised on the human TV screen, but it was a name, and a pretty name at that. I was proud of myself for choosing it.
Soon, it got to be soccer season for Mae, so she was out of the house more. At one point, I figured there was more to life than behind the walls of my cage. I pushed open the old door easily and crept out one afternoon.
That's when I met up with them. The ham-hams. They were a large group of hamsters, and I certainly wasn't expecting them to be roaming the streets. Still, I said hello, they said hello back, and soon I was on my way to the clubhouse.
It was a neat little room, and I liked it a lot. But it lacked a certain homey feeling. The kind of feeling you get when there's one book in a large stack that's facing the wrong direction.
Then the one with the yellow hat, I think his name was Boss, suggested that we all went over to see my place. I didn't know what to say, and I certainly wasn't sure it was a good idea, but soon I found myself on the path to my house.
I was weird, and I knew it.
"What will they think of me?" were the words that rumbled into focus in my head as we reached the front door to Mae's house.
We climbed up the table leg, and soon I had opened the door to my cage. Everyone filed in, easily fitting into the humongous cage. A few of them smiled, some just stared in awe. Before I knew it, they were walking single file into my igloo.
Another guinea pig hand-me-down. I really didn't want them going in there, but I sighed and gulped, and walked in.
A flash of bright colors met everyone's eyes. Different hues, shades and blends erupted from all sides. It soon became apparent that it wasn't pain, but pain samples that were causing all the commotion.
Yes, I had decorated all the insides of my igloo with paint samples. I had taken them all from Mae's closet, where she stored them after choosing a color to paint her bedroom. I really had nothing better to do in that time.
The table was made of pure Orange Fire colored samples, while the lamp was made of Sea Green Breeze, under a lampshade of Candlelight Glow. The hamster's eyes scanned the bed of Stony Grey, and the carpet of Purple Pebble. And the ceiling and walls were covered in an assortment of everything from Red Rocket to Violet Vortex.
I could tell a few of them were a bit freaked out, but I didn't really mind. It was my style.
As all the ham-hams set to leave, I walked out with them, stopping to notice a boy still in the igloo. The boy, decorated with gray spots, clutched a sunflower seed tightly, and was standing on the bed, staring at the paint sample on the topmost ceiling. Sunflower Yellow.
I walked closer, and as I did, he lost his footing and crashed down, his head landing in my lap. For a second, his eyes bored into mine. Then I quickly gave an embarrassed squeal, and shuffled to the other side.
We both sat on the floor, too awkward to say anything. I waited for a brief moment for him to get up like a gentleman and offer me his paw. No such thing happened. Sighing, I stood up and put a paw out to him. He took it, stood up, and joined the rest of his gang.
I watched as together they climbed down the leg of the table and started off. Then, the boy with the spots stopped and looked at me from the ground. I could see curiosity in his eyes. I smiled and waved. He froze.
Suddenly, the hamster with the orange and white fur came over to him and hissed, "Come on Oxnard! We're going!" into his ears.
"Oxnard…" I muttered to myself as I watched them disappear. "So that's his name."
I felt a flush of warmth in my face, and I turned to look in Mae's mirror. For some odd reason, my face was bright red.
As the days trickled by, I spent more time with the ham-hams and got to know them better. I learned how to knit a scarf from Pashmina, and Sandy taught me to dance. Bijou gave me some fantastic fashion tips, and the boys played Acorn Volleyball with me whenever I asked.
And Oxnard…I really didn't know how I felt about him. We never really talked. Sometimes, during a game, he'd complement me on my serve, and I say how cute I thought he was when he ate the acorn we were playing with. And sometimes…sometimes I just gazed from afar.
May rolled around. One day as I was leaving the clubhouse, I heard Boss pat Oxnard on the shoulder and say, "So Oxy, whatcha want for your birthday? It's only two days away now, right?"
Two days…? I said to myself on the way home. I thought about it, and decided that I should give him a present. But what would he like? I had no idea.
I didn't go to the clubhouse the next day. I was too busy thinking about a gift for Oxnard. At the end of the day, inspiration struck me. I slept easy that night.
On the morning of May Third, I got up late on purpose so Oxnard wouldn't see me. I grabbed my present, thinking that Oxnard would be at the clubhouse already, and headed down the street towards his house.
I passed the clubhouse, where shouts of Happy Birthday could be heard. I peered inside, to find that Oxnard was indeed there, sitting amongst large piles of sunflower seeds.
"Komachi's not here…" Pashmina pointed out.
"Yeah…" Oxnard agreed, looking a little sad. Secretly, this made me happy.
I held my gift carefully so as not to rip it, and began the walk to Oxnard's house. It was a long way, and by the middle of they day, I was there. I slipped my gift through the bars easily, letting it drift down to the bottom of the cage, landing softly in a pile of shavings.
Smiling to myself, I skipped all the way home. Sleeping was hard that night. Partly, it was because I was excited. But I was also unadjusted to not having the normal amount of yellow on the ceiling of my igloo…
Hoisting the seeds I had received as gifts today, I walked back to my house. Good thing my cage was on the floor, there was no way I could have climbed up a table leg with that load.
Suddenly, the thought of an up-high cage made me think of Komachi. Why hadn't she shown up at the clubhouse for two days?
I didn't worry for long. Once I slipped into my cage, I saw a thin gift lying on the cage floor. I picked it up. I instantly recognized it. Right away I noticed the two words printed in the bottom right corner. Sunflower Yellow.
On the back was a bit of handwriting.
I hugged the paint sample close to my chest. As red creeped into my cheeks, I let out a sigh.
She was weird, and she knew it.
But I don't think I mind that much…