Or rather, in my writing Hut.
When I set my first mouse trap in my forest van sanctuary, I felt I was committing an unethical act akin to that of the American military rounding up Natives–if not in magnitude, at least in attitude. After all, this was the traditional territory of mice, woodpeckers, and poison ivy. I was only an intruder. (And the poison ivy soon let me know I was not welcome on her grounds.)
But I pushed aside my guilty feelings at the thought of mice feet scrabbling across my coffee table or mice hineys releasing tear-dropped seeds of excrement on my desk.
I set a trap. Two of them, actually: one in the front of the van near the vent where I had seen a mouse disappear, and one at the rear of the van, directly in front of a loose spot of linoleum I saw that same mouse use as a tunnel for exciting excavations.
The next day, I had the mouse.
A week later another.
I thought my mouse problem was solved until yesterday, when I went to my hut to write. I opened up doors and windows to relieve the musty air, leaned over to light one of the candles sitting on my wheel wells–and scared a mouse up. It went skittering across the floor and behind my desk.
I did not scream.
I am not one of those Women Who Scream.
A mouse, after all, is every bit as cute as a kitten or a bunny or a hamster you buy in a pet store. I am the great-granddaughter of a pioneer, the daughter of a farmer, and much too down-to-earth and dignified to lose my composure at sight of a harmless little animal.
I sat calmly writing, hearing the mouse feet skittering in my walls, thinking we were buddies now, whether I liked it or not.
My two traps were set out in prominent positions, full of fresh peanut butter and sunflower seeds, but the mouse–at least what glimpses I had of him–appeared uninterested. I wondered if he’d seen the fate of his two former friends, and was wisely avoiding the traps. Maybe I was cursed with a smart mouse.
I was deep into my words when I felt a movement against my foot–and I screamed.
And screamed again. Help-me-I’m-being-attacked-by-a-rapist kind of screams.
The mouse disappeared beneath my file cabinet, while I lectured it, hysterically, at the top of my voice.
“What have I done to you, mouse? I don’t scream at you, I don’t bother you. You don’t need to come onto my foot! You stay on your side, and I’ll stay on mine, okay?”
I finally calmed down and resumed my writing, my throat sore. But the mouse must have taken all my screaming to heart because, though I heard his feet skittering in the walls, he didn’t come near me again.
I’ll go up to my hut again today, to write. Maybe I’ll find a mouse in one of my traps, victim of my manifest destiny complex and the enticing aroma of peanut butter and sunflower seeds. Or maybe the trap will be empty.
In that case, wonder if I should propose a treaty?