Ophelia by Lisa Klein

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In the garden the next day, I found the book of sonnets, torn in half, its damp pages scattered among the herb beds.

We have shitty luck with hamsters. About a month ago, the cats attacked poor Heme, who seemed fine at first but then two days later we noticed he was standing as if trying to mentally turn landscape into portrait and then his eye started to bulge and then he was dead. It was devastating for his owner, who is seven, who asked for a new hamster and of course we said yes. Hedgie only lasted four weeks. We’re not sure what happened to Hedgie. He had plenty of food and water and never, ever escaped from his cage. He just curled up in his wee wooden hut and died. I didn’t make the big reveal for two whole days after I found him. Does that make me a terrible person? For one thing, I was reluctant to break the heart of the seven year old in question. For another thing, I was reluctant to do it right before school, or right before his karate belt test, or right before bed. And I have to say, the waiting paid off. I managed to drop the bomb during a heated Xbox game of Spiderman and the tears were brief. But then I wondered, with guilt. Had I stolen my son’s chance to learn about the frailty of life, the gossamer bonds that tether us to the Earth, the flippancy with which fate casts its mortal net? Did I steal crucial experience from my boy in favor of convenience and efficiency? Well. Maybe. But honestly, there are loads of chances to learn about the unfairness of it all, right? RIGHT?!

No one ever tells you that being a parent means not just limiting screen time and sugar and making sure vegetables are always an option, but it’s also acting as scheduler of your kids’ existential crises. Oh, parents, good luck to you.

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