( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a tiny mouse sitting in a wicker basket. There are a couple of grocery lists and some dry pantry items in the background)
It was going to be another hot day and I was up early, trying to catch up on the editing I was desperately trying to finish.
I worked solidly for an hour and the heat was beginning to build. Instead of the early morning freshness, each breath of air was warm in my throat.
Sitting at my desk, pen in hand trying to pretend I was writing, I stared out the window, wondering how long this hot weather would last.
I hate being hot and sweaty all the time. They had promised a thunderstorm later, so that was something to look forward to.
From my window, I had a good view of the garden hedge and its half-clipped state taunted me. It had been abandoned when the hot weather struck. It looked ridiculous, with one side neatly clipped and the top and other side sprouting long shoots like a mad hairstyle. I itched to finish it, but not until the heat let up a bit.
That was when the tapping began.
It seemed to be coming from next door, something we used to hearing. They have a small boy who delights in banging anything he can find on the walls.
As we patiently waited for the noise to stop, I began to imagine someone in trouble, tapping out a message to summon help. This is an occupational hazard for writers, we use any opportunity to create scenarios.
The tapping sounded like Morse code, but with no recognisable pattern. We discussed different reasons why the person in trouble couldn’t shout and that was when we wondered if there was anyone at home next door. It was a school day, and both parents worked, so the mystery was getting deeper.
Anita decided to check and knocked on their front door. When no one appeared, she looked through the windows just in case there was someone lying on the floor.
By now, the tapping had reached a seriously annoying level and I wanted to scream to make it stop. It was louder in the kitchen, but every time we walked into the room, the tapping stopped. Almost as though the tapper could see us and was patiently waiting for us to leave.
As the time went on, the incessant tapping seemed to be increasing, becoming more urgent.
We went through all the possibilities, like could the fridge be making the noise. It did produce odd clicks now and then when defrosting, but nothing like what we were hearing now.
Was there something in the wall, trying to munch its way out?
We have bats in the roof but have never heard them. Anyway, the bathroom was between the kitchen and the roof, so it wasn’t likely.
The kitchen floor was solid concrete, so the tapping couldn’t be coming from there either.
It was almost lunchtime and the tapping had been constant all morning. Our nerves were frayed, and the rising temperature added to the desperation.
That was when Anita mentioned that the tapping sounded metallic and she remembered the mouse trap.
This was one of those humane traps, where the mice can go in to eat the cheese but cannot get back out again. We bought this a long time ago when Merlin started bringing mice into the house. He never kills them you see, and we were for ever chasing them around the house to put them outside.
Now, normally, when one of his playmates has found the cheese, he lets us know so we can release it. For some reason, this time he hadn’t.
I slid the trap out from under the cupboard and peered inside. I couldn’t see a mouse, but the cheese had been nibbled. I took the trap out into the garden and lifted the lid. Instantly, a tiny but very determined field mouse appeared and leaped to freedom.
Problem solved and peace returned to the household.
Now, where is that thunderstorm?
This post brought to mind when the first of these visitors began to arrive, and the terrible circumstances that ensued.
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