The Hamster Who Wouldn’t
(Because He Wasn’t)
He was furry and fluffy and had little feet and little eyes and he went to Hamster School with the rest of the hamsters, but something just never felt right to him about being a hamster.
He’d never known his real parents. He’d been raised by a Hamster mum, and she was a good Hamster mum, and she loved him, and he loved her. But he always knew his Hamster mum wasn’t his real mum.
He didn’t really look like his Hamster mum. His legs were shorter, and he was tubbier in his tummy than she was. And he had his back markings, which none of the other Hamsters had.
He’d been going to Hamster School for as long as he could remember, and, for as long as he could remember, he’d been learning Hamster Things. But he wasn’t very good at Hamster Things. And the other Hamsters teased him every day.
They teased him about his tubby tummy, and for a while he tried to suck it in every day, but it didn’t feel right and it made his tummy feel funny. They teased him about his back markings, those black and brown splotches no one else had. Every day he wished he could just look like the other Hamsters looked, and at night he looked in the mirror, and the black and brown splotches made him sad.
At Hamster School, they taught the hamsters how to run through tubes, and operate the hamster wheel, and scamper around in the big woodchip pile in the Hamster School courtyard. And they would eat Hamster Food and sing Hamster Songs.
But his legs were shorter and his hips were wider than the other Hamsters, and sometimes, after lunch, he’d get stuck in the tubes, and the other Hamsters would laugh at him. Sometimes in the afternoon he’d be tired from so much running, and he’d fall asleep at the wheel. The teachers would scold him, and the other Hamsters would laugh at him.
He ate the Hamster Food, but he didn’t really like it, and it didn’t fill up his tummy. He was hungry when he went to bed, and wondered if the other Hamsters were hungry too.
He sang the Hamster Songs with the other Hamsters, but he didn’t like them much. They were all about running through tubes, and running through woodchips, and spinning the wheels. He would get sleepy when they sang them, just thinking about all of that running.
He didn’t know what to do, and he was sad, and he didn’t think Hamsters should be sad. None of the other Hamsters ever seemed sad. They were always laughing and playing. Why was he sad? Why couldn’t he just be a Happy Hamster like the rest of the Hamsters?
Then, one day, he was walking home from school, and he saw a Hamster who he’d never seen before. Something about her was different from the other Hamsters. And that something that made her different from them made her more similar to him.
She had shorter legs, and wider hips, and her tummy was a little bit tubby. But it was her back markings that struck him the most. They weren’t quite like his, but they were similar. And he couldn’t stop thinking about how pretty they made her.
He went up to her, a little bashful, and asked her “Um, excuse me…who…who are you?”
She smiled a big smile and said “I’m Miss Guinea Pig! It’s wonderful to meet you.”
“Guinea pig? I…but…” He didn’t know what to say. Everything that had happened to him in his life suddenly made sense, as he realized…“And I’m a Guinea Pig too!!”
She laughed and smiled at him, a big, friendly smile, and she said “Of course you are, silly. Will you walk me home?”
They walked home, side by side, and he thought he’d never been happier than he was right then. His tummy felt a little funny, but in a good way.
His Hamster mum transferred him to the Guinea Pig School, where he got to learn Guinea Pig Things, and eat Guinea Pig Food, and take long naps in the afternoon, and sing the Guinea Pig songs (which were mostly about eating and taking naps).
And every Saturday he would go back and see his Hamster friends. At first they didn’t understand what it was like to be a Guinea Pig, but they listened to his stories, and ate some of the Guinea Pig Food he brought them, and pretty soon he was friends with all of the Hamsters, even the ones who used to make fun of him.
And pretty soon other Guinea Pigs would come over on Saturdays, and the Hamsters learned the Guinea Pig songs, and the Guinea Pigs tried Hamster Things (and took long naps afterwards), and no one felt bad about having a slightly tubby tummy and no one felt sad about having back markings, because no one teased them anymore, and everyone accepted them for who they were, Hamster or Guinea Pig.