This is a short story inspired by real-life events. Names have been changed to protect the young and *ahem* innocent.
I had the same dreams as everyone did when I was younger. I envisioned how I would look as an adult, and while I can’t quite remember my vision, I know it isn’t what I am now. I thought about maybe finding a wife one day and having a family, a couple little fur balls running around. I thought I would do great things. I envisioned myself in my success, sipping a peaty, smoky scotch that tastes like liquid campfire. Yes, I had the same grand and wondrous childhood visions of my future as the next guy.
I gave up on those childish visions long ago. I never thought I’d be here in this cage. I never thought I’d spend my male-hood prime living with another grumpy, dying male. “Oreo” died a few months ago. Now, it’s just me. Now, all I want to do is run around my cozy home, eat these horrible food pellets and drop my crap wherever I please. That’s all. So simple. Most days I am left to do just that. Most days no one bothers me. I see the big Lady walk by, ignoring me. I maintain sanguine anticipation, but she never brings me the libations for which I keep squealing. A guy has to hold on to hope for something though.
Then there are the other days, every once in a while, when hell descends upon me. I hear those frantic footsteps coming up the stairs and the shrill, ominous war cry of “Let’s go play with the guinea pig!!” I run around and try to find a place to hide, looking for a wormhole that is going to magically appear in my 10 square feet of cedar covered space that hasn’t been there before. Alas, a portal to another dimension never opens, and I am caught and squeezed and brushed and all other forms of torture. But I survive, as one often does.
I did have my doubts one day, though. Periodically there are hordes of people who come over. There seem to be various reasons: holidays, birthdays, general drunken regaling in which I long to join. Each brings a variable amount of the small, sticky children. On this particular ill-fated evening, a two year old, the one they call Isabel was over, with her deceivingly cherub face. I heard her in advance, with her side-kick, Henry, plotting against me as they lumbered up the stairs in their heavy and cumbersome man-cub footsteps. And when the two of them rounded the corner and entered the room, I saw their crazy eyes hone in on me. I could tell by their accelerated, snotty breathing that they were ready to have some fun, and that was bad news for me. I ran and shoved as much as I could of myself under the little hut that the Lady had tossed in a couple weeks prior. I spewed curses at these people, too cheap to buy the bigger hut, leaving my rotund rump hanging out and vulnerable. I felt the warm, glutinous fingers latch onto my lower haunches and pull me from my half-shelter. I squawked in protest, knowing it futile, but needing to try. I do not go gentle.
Then in my squirmy struggle, I heard something about “…needs a hair cut.” No. No no no no no. I prayed that there was nothing by means of weaponry that this tyke could use to hack me to bits, because I know that though her cold stare was steady, her hands were not. Put a sharp instrument in those toddler-developed fingers and she would start with a hair cut but promptly segue into bowel surgery. These two found no scissors or piercing accouterment, and so, seemingly, my prayers were answered. Though in hind sight, it may have been better if they were not. Instead of steely slicing, my captor used the tools she had at the ready: her short, pudgy little fingers. Slowly, methodically, and with great satisfaction, she plucked at my mane. I begged all that was good and holy to send someone to my rescue. But she kept relieving me of my silky, auburn coat, gripping each clump and ripping with deftness beyond her years. Why, oh, why does this child hate me so? Trauma may be jading my memory, but I have a recollection that the duo threw their tow little heads back with evil cackling the moment before the Lady entered.
I believe I may have fainted for a brief instant at this point, relief overcoming me. Like a scene from a silent film of yore, the Lady gasped and clutched at her bosom. She rushed into the face of danger and quickly saved my half-slack body from Death’s clutches.
“Isabel! No! Henry! What did you do?” She gently returned me to my cage and continued her interrogation. The two children looked at each other and gave nothing but silence, clumps of my hair falling to the floor.
“How did this happen? How did all of this hair get everywhere?”
Isabel shrugged her young shoulders and in the sweetest little voice said, “I don’t know. It just….(shrug again)….fell out.”
Liar!!!! Liar!!!! She’s lying to you, I say! I tried to tell her, but my earnest calls to my Lady savior went unacknowledged.
“Oh, Isabel, I know that isn’t true. You two get downstairs. Right now.” Thankfully, she was not deceived. On shaky legs, I crawled for safety and again I tried to cram as much of of my quivering body under the inadequate shelter. The two guilty ones shuffled out of the room. The Lady came over to my cage and clucked her sympathy, “You poor little guy.” I was in too much pain to be emasculated by her pity words. If I’m being honest, some pity and sympathy were warranted. I gave her a defeated look and dramatic sigh.
I barely slept for a week, I tell you. I would awaken with my paws sweating and clawing at the ghost of a foe. My bald spot is still a glaring embarrassment, and I have an eye twitch that seems to be pulsing out Morse Code on my face, like something deep inside of me is sending out an S.O.S.
Needless to say, there is no way I can show my face at book club this month. Things are just a bit desolate here. I’m actually becoming somewhat agoraphobic; my appetite for my food pellets has evaporated; and I may have started eating the other, darker, stinkier pellets. It’s normal, look it up. Don’t judge me.
So, like most, I have ended up different than I imagined myself in the daydreams of my youth. I’m a little fatter, a little balder—though mine is not from genetics but ill-fated opportunity. I never found that wife or had those fur balls, and my cage seems smaller than it used to. But I will keep faith that my Lady hero will one day bring me that scotch. And maybe a cigar. Truly, that will be a day in guinea pig heaven.