Things Look Big in a Small World

I had this mouse in a trap. Not one of those spring traps—a tiny plastic grey box, with a lid that flips up and then flips down when the mouse steps in. I’d put a big blueberry in there, way down at the end (which was, like, an inch and a half in). I’d put it on the stove, where I knew he’d been.

He’d been up in the treehouse for about a week. At first I thought that my house guest had spilled black tea on the counters, and I kept cleaning it up (thinking a little ill of my house guest). But then the tea came back after the house guest left. Shit. That’s when I realized I had a mouse.

And then I went into the kitchen in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and as I flipped on the light, the mouse ran down the broom and in among the plates on the shelves below the counter. I’d imagined he was tiny, but he wasn’t. He was biggish, and brown/gray.

Another thanksgiving at LB's, this one in 2007. Pictured here: LB, Julia, and my mother's Thanksgiving sweet pototoes)

So the next morning I went out and bought a two-pack of these little traps. And I put a blueberry in each. And he fell for it, when I was over at LB’s for Thanksgiving, drinking a bottle of wine, and, as LB put it afterwards, “feasting and facing facts.” There’d been some crying.

Anyway, I put the trap into a pie pan at around 10:30 or 11:00 P.M., and walked down the steep, dark flight of wooden stairs to my car, and drove the mouse 1.2 miles, since I’d read that you had to take them at least a mile away, or they’d find their way home. What if he had a family? A wife and some babies? What if he had friends who loved him, a sweetheart, a really nice home? (Well, he did have a nice home—mine.) What if he got lonely?

I pulled off the side of a side road under a streetlamp, so I could see what I was doing, got out of the car with the pie plate, knelt down in the cold grass, and turned the little trap over.

He came tumbling out, his tiny feet splayed like he was skydiving. He was not big—not when you compared him to the starry universe overhead. He was just a tiny thing. He almost paused, as if he wasn’t scared, and then trundled off in the direction of my place—toward the graham crackers, and the protector’s Newtons—which, if you cut across Sep’s fields, was, I realized, probably only three-quarters of a mile. Chances were he’d beat me home.

But he hasn’t been here, and two days have gone by. I’m feeling myself getting very sad again. The world is a miracle, and at the same time a terrible place. We should all be only kind.


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