Runaway ||| The National Virginity Pledge

THREE WEEKS AGO, the day Willy escaped, we were sitting together on the living room floor, watching Malcolm in the Middle, popping extra buttery popcorn in the microwave. We dumped all the popcorn into a plastic bowl and mixed in two packs of plain M&M’s.

“Come on dad, let Willy have some. He likes popcorn.”

“We ain’t giving that hamster any popcorn, what if he chokes?”

“Let’s get him out of the cage. Let him run around for a little while.”

I reached my hand in and the little son of a bitch bit my finger and I squeezed his head too hard and slung him into the couch. The kids were screaming and my oldest girl got up to catch him and she kicked over the popcorn and dove onto the couch but he got away. He hopped down and scrambled under the loveseat. My youngest girl was laughing and throwing popcorn at Malcolm and picking the M&M’s off the carpet and tossing them into her mouth, brown ones first, then yellow, and nobody has seen Willy since.

I picked up the loveseat, the couch, the recliner, the coffee table, and both ends of the table, but he was gone. I could tell the last few times I cleaned out his cage and gave him fresh food and water that he was waiting for the perfect time, scheming, plotting his escape like the two brothers who drowned in San Francisco Bay trying to flee Alcatraz. We made some more popcorn and I ran down to the corner store for two more bags of M&M’s. After Malcolm, we watched Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends and the youngest fell asleep in front of the TV and I carried her to bed and kissed her on the cheek and told her I love her.

“I love you too, Willy.”


Barry Graham is a writer of many things, including his latest, American Guerrillas Manifesto. Look for him online at

“Runaway” first appeared in The National Virginity Pledge from Another Sky Press.