Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Mouse

Every house including ours has night sounds. It's been particularly cold on Lotus Island this week and the temperature gradients between the inside and the outside make the beams and studs shift and squeak and crack a little, the wind shakes the house an infinitesimal degree, to which it nevertheless objects , and the boughs of the cedars brush it gently. The sleeper who is hypervigilant also hears his ear and head contact on the pillow, his tinnitus, the bruit of the carotid pulse at times and the crow on the roof. These sounds we have become accustomed to and are singular to our house. Another's house has different singularity of sound. At 4 am this morning I awoke with a new and unaccustomed sound. Was it the ice maker dropping chunked ice, an intruder or something else? As I went down stairs into the kitchen where the sound was coming from, it seemed to be a metallic sound originating from the tile floor. There had been a suggestion that an uninvited visitor had arrived the day before and I had set a mouse trap that night on the floor beside a baseboard with bait of peanut butter. In the trap was a mouse and it was alive and struggling. The metallic sound came from the thrashing around on the tile. The mouse probably ventured further into the trap to gnaw at the bait so his head was not crushed and he was caught in the trap by the body. I have always had a primal fear of vermin, a legacy from my mother and the Middle Ages. I could deal, albeit difficult, with a dead mouse but a living, wiggling, squiggling, leg and tail waving mouse that is in agony is a different matter. I went back to bed to await its death and silence. I couldn't sleep however, assailed with thoughts of the waning life force and with the reminder from the continuing sounds emmenating from the kitchen floor. I took my courage and went back and put the mouse outside on the deck. Silence! This morning at 8 oclock he was dead and had struggled for a further 18 inches, dragging the trap from where I laid him on the deck. I'm sorry! He was probably just seeking the warmth! I must kill! Rest in Peace!

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