Tuesday, July 27, 2010
A few years ago, I began writing my first children's book. I have revised it a few times since, and have gotten a lot of good feedback from my family and friends.
I am happy with it as my first endeavor. Here is the first half of the first chapter.
“The humans are not coming back, Macie,” squeaked Donner as he pushed his plastic house up against the wall of their cage, “We might have to--”
“Don’t say it! Don’t say it!” Squealed Macie, “No, no, no, no, no!” Her big black eyes started to tear up and she curled up sadly on the floor of their cage.
Donner and Macie were two glossy, sweet-smelling guinea pigs, or as they thought of themselves, “Cavies.”1 They lived together in a large cage with a spacious purple plastic house and lots of wood shavings. They had been a bonded pair for almost two years.2 Donner and Macie loved each other very much.
The guinea pigs were used to getting everything they needed from their humans, and they were very happy. In fact, they were a little spoiled, particularly Donner. He was a dark brown guinea pig and he loved food, especially apples. He was actually sort of pudgy. He weighed about 4 and a half pounds, which for guinea pigs is definitely on the heavy side. He didn’t like to move very much, and his favorite thing to do was lie around the cage, thinking and daydreaming.
Macie was more active, and much smaller. She loved to run laps around their cage every morning as soon as the sun streamed through the window. She weighed about two and a half pounds, and she was a tri-colored, long-hair guinea pig with white, black, and orange curly hair.
Things had been going great for the cavies since they had been adopted from the Guinea Pig Adoption Agency, but about a week before our story begins, their humans had been acting very strangely. The humans had run around the house, throwing things in boxes and suitcases. The girl human ran up to Donner and Macie’s cage and quickly filled their bottles with water, their food dishes with pellets, lettuce and apples, and their hayrack with as much hay as it would hold. Then she had stared at them and petted them for a very long time. Tears streamed down her face, and after a few minutes, she turned out the lights and closed the door.
The only thing the cavies heard after that was a distant thundering crash of running water somewhere outside. Since then, they had watched water seep in from the door and come up almost to the top of the cabinet their cage sat on. After a few days, the water levels started getting lower and lower and Donner and Macie had started hoping the humans would come back soon.
“It’s been over a week, Macie. The pellets are all gone; we ran out of hay four days ago. I can’t even remember what apples taste like anymore. And the water bottles are almost empty.”
“D-Do you really think that if we leave our cage, we can find food, Donner?”
“Yes. Besides, we don’t have a choice. If we stay here, we starve. And Macie…it’ll be an adventure!”
As he spoke, Donner’s eyes shone in the dim light. He knew Macie was frightened, and he was too, but part of him was happy. Donner had always daydreamed about having adventures, and he knew this might be the start of one. His body shivered a little, half out of fear, and half out of excitement.
“But…but….Donner…” whined Macie, “I’m scared.”
“Don’t worry. I will always take care of you.” Donner said.
Macie did not have the same spirit of adventure that Donner did. She was about three months older than he was, and she had been abandoned at the guinea pig rescue after some very painful experiences with her first family. She had once wanted adventures, when she was very young, but things had been so unpleasant for her, that she now she was just afraid. However, she also knew that without the humans, they had to move on, or they would starve.
“Just remember, Macie,” Donner reassured her, “Last time I got out of my cage, really good things happened. If I had been scared then, you and I would never have been able to bond.”
Macie thought back to the first time she had met Donner. After her first family had abandoned her, the rescue workers had put her in a cage next to him. She was even skinnier then, and her fur was uneven and ragged. They would occasionally squeak at each other through the cage walls. She noticed that he didn’t seem to mind how bad she looked, and he was always kind to her. One day, Donner announced that if she wanted him to, he would be coming to visit. Before Donner, no cavy had ever figured out how to get from one cage to another at the Guinea Pig Rescue, but he knew he was already in love with Macie, and he was determined to be near her. He had spent days figuring out a way, and finally he realized that if he pushed his wooden log over to the edge of his cage, he could climb on it, and jump over the edge into Macie’s cage.3
The term “cavy” comes from the scientific name for guinea pigs: “Cavia Porcellus.”
For Cavies, being bonded means that they want to live together for the rest of their lives; it’s like being married for humans.
Unlike other rodents, such as hamsters, rats, or mice, cavies cannot usually climb very high. That is why many guinea pig cages do not have a roof on top of them. As long as their walls are at least two feet high, very few guinea pigs ever figure out how to get out.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The sunflowers I planted after you left us
are now taller than I am.
Three months have passed.
Yesterday, I thought of the too-long walk
I put you through-
I didn't really understand how close you were
to slipping away-
And for the first time,
I didn't feel quite so much
of that deep, embarassed guilty pain.
It was more like a throb than a stab.
The sunflowers will bloom soon.
Their roots are deep,
their stalks are thick.
They hardly even need the stakes anymore.
You have been gone longer than I realized.