-------------------------------------HAMSTRING’S FIRST BIRTHDAY--------------------------------------------------
A family of cats lived in the sunroom of a quaint white bungalow on a dry brown road. There was a mother cat, a father cat (who went to work hunting rodent most days), and four cute, friendly kittens, which were curiously not born at the same time. Hamstring was the youngest of the kittens. He was ten inches long and fluffy, and potentially the dearest little thing you’ve ever seen in your life.
He didn’t know that though. In fact, he didn’t even know he was a cat. He just knew he was.
This particular day was Hamstring’s first birthday. He woke up, stretched out, and over-exaggerated a yawn, as usual. All the kittens had their own separate itty-bitty bed, and it took Hamstring a few minutes before he realized all the others were empty.
“Hm,” Hamstring thought, as he padded a pillow. “Wonder where everyone is.” He left the pillow and wandered over to the saucers that were kept in the corner of the sunroom. Nothing was in them. He sighed and lazily plopped his furry bum down on the Astroturf.
After several minutes of self-grooming, and throwing around possible reasons for his family to be gone in his head, Hamstring finally realized it was his birthday. This didn’t make him feel any better about nobody being home. He was only one year old after all. Certainly not old enough to take care of his self.
There were many things that Hamstring didn’t know about his home; things that he had taken for granted up until now. Such as how the saucers get filled up each night, or where daddy goes every day while momma stays at home with us kids.
All of these unanswered questions began to surface in Hamstring’s little brain, and he began to feel helpless. His helplessness grew to outright fear, and he curled up into a ball and began to cry.
“What if they are gone forever?” Hamstring thought. “Maybe they don’t like me much!” This thought was the one that really broke his spirits and consequently the thought that he found himself obsessing over from that point on.
The poor lonely kitten sat in a trembling ball for a few minutes more, dwelling, and planning, and trying to build confidence. His train of thought went something like this:
“Momma and Daddy don’t like me ‘cause I whine too much when I’m hungry.”
“Goldie, Apple Pie, and Tiddlywinks don’t like me ‘cause when I play and lose I don’t want to play anymore.”
“But I’m no worse than they were when they were younger!”
“But I can’t know that for sure, I wasn’t alive yet. Maybe they never whined, and always got along.”
“I’m sure they did.”
Then Hamstring got sort of angry. He wasn’t so much angry with his family for leaving him. He was more so angry with himself for feeling so dependant on a family that expects perfection, and takes off when they don’t get it.
This is a sad and rare position for a young kitten to be in. Hardened by deceit, he decided he had no other choice but to go outside and see what he could see out there. The back of the bungalow had an old deck made of scrap spruce, and many of the grooves were puddled with rain from the night before. Rest assured, it was perfectly safe for a kitten to be walking on.
On the deck Hamstring squinted, and let his eyes adjust to the sunlight. He saw the regular array of birds in the trees and sky, going about their business of who-knows-what. He saw a rather large pink thing, which was very tall. It had blue fur on its legs, and red fur on its body, but its face and arms seemed to be bald. It walked on two legs, which was the strangest thing Hamstring had ever seen. When it saw Hamstring, it removed a set of glassy black eyes to reveal a smaller white pair underneath. These eyes appeared to grow in size slightly as the pink thing let out a terrible wail that Hamstring instinctively took as a hunting cry.
“Awww!” It said and began walking over in Hamstring’s direction.
It didn’t get three steps before Hamstring bolted through the railing, nearly bonking his head as he deftly skirted a large planter on the other side. A split second later Hamstring was under the deck. He sat there wide-eyed, and breathing heavily. All the hair on his back stood at attention as he tensed his muscles.
After a solid minute of high-tension fright and emotional turmoil trickled by, Hamstring finally began to steady his breathing and relax the fur on his spine. There was too much confusion in his head, and he was starting to wonder how everything could have gone so terribly wrong on a day that was supposed to be the very best one of his life thus far.
It was rather unfortunate, but Hamstring’s mental state had put him in the most pessimistic of moods, and that mood greatly effected the conclusions he drew about his current situation. He immediately assumed that his family had built up anticipation for his birthday, simply to make it that much crueler when he woke up and found them gone. It’s a terrible thing to think that about the ones who love you, but when minds are naïve and young, such appealing notions easily persuade them.
Much the same as before, Hamstring found himself angry. He stood up and stretched, then crept out from under the deck. He peeked over the ratty old boards and saw the big pink thing (bird, he supposed) had its back turned. He silently retreated from the deck area, and rounded the corner of the building.
This was an area Hamstring knew well enough. He glanced around and remembered playing games, and chasing butterflies with his brothers and sister. He sat down beside a rock and flicked his tail around as he watched nature, and thought about how hungry he was.
“Hamstring!” A pleasant warble came from above, the kitten looked up as far as he could before the sun blinded him. “Hamstring! I heard it’s your first birthday today! A very happy day to you little buddy!” It was Jay Blue, a friend of Hamstring’s parents.
Jay fluttered down and landed gracefully on the rock beside him. “What’s the matter little guy?”
Hamstring’s voice was toneless, but if it implied anything only anger would have sufficed. “My family is gone Mr. Blue. They took off, and left me to starve on my birthday.”
“Now, Hammy,” Jay chirped curiously. “What would make you say a thing like that?”
“I woke up and nobody was home! It’s my birthday!” Hamstring growled back at Mr. Blue, who jumped into the air, flapped three times and rested lightly, once again, on the rock.
“Your family loves you very much, Hamstring,” Jay cooed, and comforted him by placing a wing on the cuff of his neck. “I’m sure there is a completely reasonable explanation for that.”
In emotionally charged instances, a hug from someone who cares about you, or sometimes even a stranger, can push you over that threshold of composure, and send you plummeting over a waterfall of your own tears. This was the case for young Hamstring.
“Oh Mr. Blue, what am I supposed to do?”
The tears fumbled out of Hamstring’s eyes and beaded off the fur on his face. He looked up to Mr. Blue with a look that implied he needed guidance, and fast.
“Listen to me Hamstring, ok?”
“K.” Hamstring meowed in a small voice which seemed much more suitable for a kitten.
“Now, I don’t know if I should tell you this, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sadder kitten in my entire life. Hamstring, your parents, and even your brothers and sister, have been working very hard all morning to make something for you.”
Hamstring’s eyes lit up. They didn’t light up because Hamstring was greedy, and the very mentioning of a special something coming his way could turn his spirits. They lit up because, for the first time since he woke up this morning, happiness had come flooding back into his brain, and it felt great. “You mean it?” He beamed.
Jay Blue all of a sudden became very serious and looked Hamstring straight in the eyes.
“Now, I think they wanted you to stay at home this morning, but I’m sure you’d be okay to go meet them near the shady bushes at the edge of the yard over there.” Jay motioned with a wing to the yard’s edge opposite the rock they were situated on and near. “Your parents would probably be really proud if you showed up by yourself as well. You know Hamstring, I see a lot of potential in you,” Jay chirped “You’ve got a good head on your neck.”
Hamstring smiled until his whiskers stung, and Mr. Blue gave him one final friendly pat on the head before leaping up and spiraling off into the distance. The world seemed a whole lot brighter now to Hamstring. There was all of a sudden so much potential in this day. He could barely even remember what he was so mad about in the first place. “It was probably stupid anyways.” He thought in retrospect.
Hamstring was a very young kitten, and he was fortunate to learn such a valuable lesson that early in his life. Regardless that he had no idea he had learnt it.
There are always those in your life who will be there for you, no matter what happens. It is important to remember that when it all boils down, you’ve got yourself and them. You aren’t always going to be able to do everything by yourself, so it is vital that you can learn to depend on and trust the ones who love you. It is also important to realize that a balance of independence and co-dependence should be found, so that when the one’s who love you aren’t there (usually, as portrayed above, for reasons beyond your control) you are able to cope and go on alone until you once again have help.
Hamstring ran as fast as he could (possibly faster than when he was almost eaten by the giant pink bird) all the way to the shady bushes. He shimmied on his stomach underneath the thick part of the bush and emerged on the other side into a beautiful scene.
His family was there, and they had prepared a feast of gargantuan proportions, presumably just for Hamstring’s birthday.
“Hamstring, my boy! What a pleasant surprise!” Hamstring’s father turned around from the gift he was wrapping, and failed to hide it slyly behind his back. “Erm, well…See, this was all supposed to be a surprise, but, here you are, and…well…Here you are!”
At this, Hamstring’s dad revealed the thing from behind his back.
It was a lumpy thing wrapped in colored paper, and chip bags, stuck together with band-aids. Hamstring didn’t quite know where to begin with it.
“Open it dear.” Urged his mother.
Hamstring used his fangs and claws to open the package a little less delicately than his parents would have liked. What was inside was supposed to be everything he could have wished for. His fondest and deepest desire. All that and more, even.
Instead, it was a weathered, poorly kept, dark purple wooden box. The box was magnificently inscribed with detailed pictures and hieroglyphs, but Hamstring cared none for any of it.
His mouth fell open as he struggled for words. It closed again, and fell open again. He really had no idea what he was looking at. His ears started to droop, and water began to well up in his tear ducts.
Hamstring’s mother saw this and nudged her mate with her rear end. He nodded, and said, “Ahem. Everybody went in together and got you this too Hammy!” He wasted no time in bringing out a second package.
This package was wrapped with more care, and was decorated with attractive bows and ribbon. Its shape was shallow and cylindrical, and it was quite obvious what it was. Hamstring tore through the wrapping (oblivious to his mother’s cringe) and revealed the object he had waited since daybreak to see, smell, and taste.
“Thank you all so much,” Hamstring began, overwhelmed with joy. “I was so worried waking up this morning to find you all gone. But that seems so long ago already! I really love you guys. I don’t ever want to think you hate me again!” He ran at his parents and hugged them each with one forepaw. His parents exchanged looks of confusion and then embraced their son. Soon Hamstring’s brothers and sister joined in the hug, and when the giant mass of fur separated, they all began to enjoy the feast.
Hamstring dug right into the can of fresh, flaked tuna his family had bought him.
Cats don’t have much more on their minds than eating and sleeping anyways, right?