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Transitive Love

Jason Hess
Andrew Escobar

Fresh Voices On-Air debuts with Andrew Escobar’s Transitive LoveA six-year-old boy manages to satisfy his desire for a mouse, his first pet, only to realize that the true treasure lies beyond his immediate vision.

Andrew Escobar is 16 years old, and is a Junior at Isaac Bear Early College High School.  He enjoys soccer and reading and is active in his church youth group where he plays drums.  He aspires to become an innovative engineer in the near future.

If you would like to become a Fresh Voices On-Air commentator and you’re between the ages of 12 and 17, email us your submission at opservices@WHQR.org.

WHQR Commentaries don't necessarily reflect the views of WHQR Radio, its editorial staff, or its members.

                                                          Transitive Love

                                                       (unedited version)

The rushing sound of cars barely distracted this determined and excited six-year-old. I held my mother’s hand as we walked through the parking lot of the town Petco, straining ever so much closer to victory. I had finally managed to convince my parents to get me a pet, albeit a small one. My mom conceded to what I thought was the product of my sheer determination. Now, it seemed, my mother was stifling my exuberance as she was holding me back from running to the store. Looking back, I realize that she was protecting me in a crowded parking lot, but this was foreign to the thinking of a six-year-old. Forgetting the moment in which I stood, I thought back to my petition around the dinner table: my promise that I understood the two year commitment to a pet that broke through the barrier blockading my success. I snapped out of my daze and realized that we had hardly covered the distance through the parking lot to the store. As we drew closer at an agonizingly slow pace, the sounds of the animals in the store gradually became louder as we approached the entrance. I gaped, amazed at the sheer cacophony of sound: parakeets squawking, dogs barking, and rodents gnawing in some ostensibly coordinated effort to chase customers away. Similarly, the smell of dog food and bedding detracted from any illusion of cleanliness. Of course, the smell could not deter me as I curiously inspected each type of animal despite my awareness of the agreement with my parents to take home only a mouse.  I had lobbied for a slightly more exotic hedgehog. 

After I let go of my mother, she followed incrementally behind me, smiling with her entire countenance. I now realize that she must have been thrilled to see me reveling in my fascination with each type of creature and its behavior. There she stood, directing all of her attention and affection toward me and only continuing to fuel my enthusiasm. It was as if I was some sort of energy that she, the engineer, had calculated how to harness so that each and every bit was utilized to optimize efficiency, powering a multitude of houses and making the world a better place. I made my way over to the east side of the store in the rodent section and once again questioned why I could not have a hedgehog, my original choice. As my mother responded, the radiant countenance disappeared from my vision although I realize now that it was simply the clouding of my eyes rather than the clouding of her outward vigor; it was my simple-minded desire to obtain an expensive and high-maintenance pet. Her words of reply clouded my thoughts in disarray, attacked by blades of misunderstanding and negativity. My mind screamed, “She just doesn’t want you to have a hedgehog!” Logic drowned in that dark abyss of obstinate desire. In reality, she was not only speaking against getting a hedgehog in light of the expense but also in light of my inability to maintain such a pet. A hedgehog requires constant attention, and that is something she was unable to give on my behalf. 

I sulked off to the corner where the mice, rats, and hamsters lived, and I peered into the small cage where twenty some baby mice ran over each other in a dizzied frenzy with no apparent purpose. I regained my enthusiasm as I realized the fascinating nature of each and every tiny creature. Those cute little fur balls intrigued me as they seemed smaller than any other furry animal I had ever seen. I made up my mind that I would stick to the plan and satisfy myself with one of these remarkable creatures. 

My mother called an attendant over to grab a mouse for us and place it in a temporary cardboard holding box. I could see that she was glad not only that I had chosen an easier pet to maintain but also because I was still happy to get an animal. Of course, my mother knew, if I was not happy to get an animal, there would be no reason for her to get me an animal in the first place. I carefully held the box with my new black mouse, affectionately dubbed Mimi. I opened the box slightly to see her grooming herself, looking out at the light provided by the small windows in the box. 

Now with a greater sense of duty, I set off for the isle containing the new cage for my pet. I quickly selected a large cage with great jungle of wires for little creatures to roam only to realize that it could easily hold several hundred pet mice and still have room for a couple of rats. My mother suggested a rectangular cage that was about ten by twelve by eight inches, and I agreed knowing that my mother knows best while also taking into account that my mouse was about four centimeters long (not including tail). My mother got the water feeder and bedding that I neglected while I chose a green running wheel and managed to plead for a clear mouse ball. I inspected each of these things with glee while carefully keeping the hand holding my mouse box steady. I barely noticed as my mother stroked my hair through the checkout, beaming affectionately at me the entire time. I carefully studied the movements of my animal, verifying its safety and noting its curiosity at its temporary, mobile home. 

Soon, we made it back to our house and my mother set up the new cage with bedding and a snack of lettuce and grapes as I kept watch. Days turned into weeks and I became accustomed to having my mother clean the cage, scrub the bathtub, and prepare the bedding and food within the newly cleaned cage. I thought I was performing an important duty because my mom wouldn’t be able to clean the cage if I wasn’t watching Mimi. Following this work, my mother would always continue satisfying my demand for dinner or some other need. Back then, I really didn’t realize that the only reason my mother did all the slave work for my pet was for me and me alone. The pet was a stake in my happiness, and though it was essentially just an animal, she took care of its needs to keep my heart filled with something you might call transitive love: she took care of what I loved because she loved me. She did that for two years until the departure of my beloved Mimi. Now I realize that despite losing a pet, I preserved the most important relationship that was conveniently concealed before my eyes: the connection I had with my mother.