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Life lessons from a mouse

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I cannot tell you how it will end. But recently, I heard it.

My room’s closet is connected to the attic, and often someone has to get a chair, climb up there, and clean out the traps. Mouse traps more specifically. Down come the dead bodies, usually every weekend. Most of the time there are none, but once and a while a fellow Hamiltonian is pulled from their home with a broken spine and empty hands from trying to get the peanut butter that the trap beguiled.

This weekend was different. From the attic there lies a little crevice, smaller than a human hand, that forms from a detachment of the house’s frame. On one side, the closet wall. On the other my drywall and house frame. It is smaller than a fist, but large enough for a mouse.

And so this predictable story goes, a mouse fell in. Down it went, an Alice like rabbit hole that ended in likely a few broken bones. No trap, no peanut butter, just squealing. I have never heard an animal cry out in pain, crying to whomever a mouse can when it is injured. This happened at 2 a.m, and confused, I put earplugs in thinking it was my dog.

The next morning I woke to scurrying, it trying to climb up to heaven or at the very least, where mama keeps the peanut butter. I listened, drop-out-of-medical-school-stethoscope in hand, to the scratches at the wall. I heard it scurrying. I heard it panting. I heard it beating. I think. To be honest I could not distinguish its heartbeat from my own. I was amazed – life, there, in my drywall.

And then I realized the mouse was trapped, unable to escape its fate. And this is the story, I suppose, with enough preamble on how a mouse died in my room. It took four days, and over those four days I was unsure what to do. I got angry with myself, unable to rescue the mouse. Afraid of property damage, afraid of my inability more so, I would curse myself for letting the mouse die. I gave it food on the first, pushing bread in the crevice, but realized I was only making its pain perhaps more acute.

I tried playing it music. Classical, and it scurried faster. Rap, and it moved more. It wanted out, and I did not know how to provide that.

Over the course of those four days, the mouse listened to me as I programmed shitty web apps, got frustrated at not understanding math problems, and it listened to my panting as I masturbated. It heard me eating quinoa chips, my laughs, my tears for it.  It heard who I was.

And I kept asking myself, what does it think of me? As it scurries, slower and slower as the days progress, did it know how I fantasized of saving it, how I dreamt of smashing the drywall as if it belonged in Berlin, rescuing it with all the cheese and wine necessary for a union, how I would nurse it back to health with its mouse sized cast and IV, how we would be friends, and I could keep it for a long time, because it knew me.

When I left the house, I texted my brother, “Brother, there is a mouse in my room, behind the drywall. It is dying, and I don’t want it to be alone tonight. If you have time, please stay with it.”

I don’t really know if this is a story worth telling. I don’t even know what kind of opinion I am trying to say. What it is not is an argument for animal’s rights or on the suffering of animals. As far as I can see it, I am just trying to tell you that this mouse, in my drywall, as it scurried its last time, made me cry. It made me realize how pathetic I was, and am, sometimes. And it made me try to be better.

For it only takes an observer, no matter how small their squeal, to make you reevaluate yourself. As soon as someone is listening in on your life, you have to impress them. Or at the very least, make it worth the fall.

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Author: Kacper Niburski

Kacper Niburski is just a twenty-something pretending he's thirty, who writes like he's fifty about things that happened when he was ten. He is sorry for all he will write about, including this. And maybe this too.