Wordsanctuary Revisited

Musings of a writer-teacher-counselor.

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Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

I am inquisitive and have worked in writing, editing, and teaching. I am a citizen of the USA and also concerned about the world. This is an addendum to my original blog, Wordsanctuary. That's at www.wordsanctuary.blogspot.com Please check out my column at www.insidehighered.com, "A Kinder Campus." Click on Career Advice to find it. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A House Mouse Speaks

She’s boiling mint in the kitchen now. And burning incense! Phew. A paper-towel roll covered with foil is now in the gap between stove and wall. I looked at my own reflection. Or was it someone else’s? A fine specimen.

I admit that I was too bold that morning, enticed by the smell of peanuts left in an open can in the living room. Though I had been scratching for weeks, that nutty scent compelled me to gnaw through an entire wall in one night.

They don’t call me Mus musculus for nothing. My nose guided me. I was in “gnawers’ high” when I stood on the stove and stretched to my full two-and-a-half inches (not including tail). What were the odds that she would walk in at that moment?

I stood still. My white belly bulged. I'm proud of that; it's testimony to my skill at finding snacks. “Eat, drink, and be married” is my motto. My fur is glossy brown, with a sprinkling of sawdust and a few distinguished strands of gray. She looked at me. At first I thought I could make her run. My eyes are quite compelling, I've been told by several ladies. And I can usually get my fellow males to take off with my "look that kills."

But in that split second when I read her mind, I took it as a cue. She thinks I’m disgusting!

Well, I've rarely been so insulted, so I leapt behind the stove and dove down the stairs. One never knows what people might do if they panic. And anyway, my ego was bruised.

Disgusting? Me? Sure, I carry a bit of salmonella. Nobody’s perfect. Some day they will find out that protects me from worse things. I mean no harm at all. And if they don't want me here, will they stop making it so easy for me to get in (assorted gaps in the outside bricks and a virtual crater underneath the porch)? I have to laugh when I hear about those studies of mice running mazes. In this house, there are five ways in and ten ways out. Any mouse who misses this chance is a fool.

She turned off the coffee machine, and I prepared myself for new smells from the Big Box. I can’t pronounce refrigerator, but I know what’s inside. She prepares breakfast daily for her mother. Toast, a donut, yogurt, cereal--once a cheese sandwich! My plan today was to nibble on the table, then proceed to the peanut-room. Or maybe climb to the top shelf; I smell rice and I suspect it's in one of those little boxes with the easy-open lid. You know the kind; humans lift it with their fingernail, and my nose works just fine. Barely lost a whisker doing that in the past.

But she changed her routine. Left without even a handful of cereal strewn about. I suspected she was up to something. An hour later, she came back, wiping the stove with bleach. Phew! That stuff is not at all appetizing. And I heard her talking to her mother about me, and dashing into the other room with a bag of pancakes that she foraged from somewhere else.Her mother is the kind lady in flannel nightgowns who has a sweet voice and sometimes drops special crumbs for me. A real doll. Call me a dreamer; I wondered for a moment if they might be planning to feed my family. Pancakes aren't our favorite and no one needs to make a fuss and clean the stove for us. We prefer it a little gummy and with the delightful bouquet of mixed pastries and soups.

Maybe it was some kind of new holiday: National Feed Your House Mouse Day?

But then I heard words that chilled me to the bone. “Exterminator.” “Trap.” Then I heard: “No poison." Calming myself, I took a few deep breaths and fell into deep slumber.

I dreamt of smells and noises. Nightmares, really. I woke up to the odor of a cat! Where did that come from? Rumor has it that cats wouldn’t have been domesticated, except for the likes of me. And what do they do to show their gratitude? They chase us, toss us, and stink up the basement with their litter box. This particular cat hissed and refused to eat while on watch. Chill out! It paced all night. I am tricky. I've left my scent everywhere...that's part of my allure...but so far, it's just me and Minnie.

Then, I heard more rustling. They blocked the opening between the refrigerator and dishwasher with steel wool. Ouch! And they put out boxes with peanut butter! Don't think I'll fall for that. My cousin Gus went into one of those and was never heard from again.

And now I'm absolutely certain that it's a conspiracy: a high-pitched noise begins to penetrate the walls. It makes my fur stand on end. I get it: No poison means slow torture. I’m so irritable, I start to nibble on the wires. My father taught me this, but warned me that you can’t go too far. Just gently graze the rubber surface with your front teeth…

I won't budge. This is my house. Well, sort of. Come to think of it, not exactly...

My girlfriend wants out now. She wants to settle down, start a family. She says it’s her--or this house. I tell her that we might be here long after humans and cats are gone.

She tells me to stop musing and get moving.

Pictured: Zapus hudsonius preblei (Prebles Meadow Jumping Mouse) is a relative of Mus Musculus (who is also known as Mus domesticus).
Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Image Library.


Blogger scraps said...

Great story! Do you publish these somewhere else?

January 10, 2008 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

Scraps: In the past I did a lot of journalism and promotional writing for publication...but here I experiment with essay forms & opinion & humor. See the other blog for my earlier experiments

Thanks for your comment.

January 10, 2008 at 11:31 PM  

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