IMOGEN became aware of the noise from the cage on the floor in her sleep.
Valentina, her coffee and white-coloured hamster, regularly made a noise, moving about early in the morning. And Imogen, just as regularly, woke up and checked on her. It always happened an hour or so before dawn and Imogen didn’t know if it was Valentina that had gotten her used to the routine or if she had influenced the hamster in some way. All they knew was that they both woke up early, regular as clockwork.
Imogen dropped her hand to the floor and found the cage. She squeezed her fingers through the bars and felt Valentina sniff them, her nose and fine whiskers tickling as she did so, then rub up against them for a moment before she scampered off to bury herself inside the wadding nest she had made in her small cardboard box house.
Imogen smiled to herself as the memory of her dad came flooding in. When she was a baby in her cot next to her parents’ bed he had often put his hand in just like that when she had woken for some reason. She had snuggled to him and found comfort and safety and, eventually, sleep. The thought made her happy. She could do for her pet hamster what her father had done for her.
She didn’t, however, fall asleep again this time as usual. There seemed to be something different about this morning. She drifted awake and slowly sat up. She tried to think what was bothering her. She still felt fuzzy from being asleep only moments ago.