Editor’s note: Snow and DJ are the Nelson family gerbils whom we’ve owned since late last summer. They were named, respectively, by Levi and Asher. This previous Sunday afternoon, the Nelson family did a 10-minute free write about the gerbils. DJ, the smaller, gray gerbil, had me transcribe the following. He briefly describes an incident I shall explain in full: Judah, our four-year-old, likes to reach in and grab the gerbils. He usually gets a hold of them pretty easily. He then turns them onto their backs in his palm and sings “Rock a Bye, Baby” to them. One afternoon, he had some trouble getting a hold of Snow and yanked on his tail hard enough to pull half of it clean off. Snow’s fine. Gerbils recover well from such injuries, but the missing half of his tail will never grow back. We now supervise Judah’s visits to the gerbils. A couple other things bear explanation. He speaks of “black seeds.” The gerbils love sunflower seeds. They’re a special treat we give them. DJ likes to stuff several in his cheeks before he heads off to eat them. I’m assuming he thinks the “black seeds” he manufactures from his “squeakhole” are also a delicacy, somehow. Additionally, we have a very talkative Siamese named Bonnie who has gotten much louder as she’s aged (she was never a quiet one). She’s the “Kat” DJ refers to in the final paragraph. And the gerbils’ cage, which they chew on constantly despite the abundance of chew toys we’ve given them, is green. That’s germane to the story as well. Enjoy.

Every night, the small oomans distappear. They stop making their own loud squeaks, stop chewing each other, stop stuffing their cheeks with these strange orange square seeds. [Editor: Cheez-Its, an obsession of the Nelson boys.] Even the scary ooman, the one who ate Snow’s tail, is gone. We don’t know where they go, but we miss them. These small oomans smell wonderful, like fud and the black seeds we make from our squeakholes.

The big oomans are all right, though. They give us seeds, and the giant male regurgitates fud smells and blows them to us when he passes by our home, then he squeaks at himself. I have tried to stuff the fud smells in my cheeks, but Snow told me it was useless. What does he know? He never stores anything in his cheeks. He always talks like his own squeakhole is made of fud and doesn’t smell like our black seeds.

When big oomans distappear, we pretend to slep. Well, Snow really does slep because he toopid. I stay wake and eat cage bars. I think they have fud in them, but you have to gnaw through the green candy on the outside. I can’t slep anyway because of all the noise from Snow’s sqeakhole when he sleps.

The big oomans think Kat doesn’t know us, but it does. Kat comes and jumps up here after oomans distappear and tries to talk to us. Its squeaks are loud and upsetting, and I can’t make them out. Its breath smells like when fud comes back up. Eventually, Kat leaves, and I keep chewing on cage. If I ever eat cage, I think there will be a hole, and if I get through, I want to go where oomans go and give them my black seeds like they feed me in my cage. Oomans are so nice. Even the scary one. I will make seeds for him first.