A few nights ago my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and so that last piece of chocolate bark I’d had with my tea ended up staying on the plate. Our house is pretty chilly and, in the almost two years we’ve lived here, I’ve never even seen a bug on the main or second floor.
So I didn’t think much of leaving chocolate on a plate on the kitchen counter.
A little snack to go with my morning tea.
The next morning while prepping breakfast, I noticed the chocolate was gone.
Funny, I thought, my husband doesn’t like dark chocolate. Weird he’d steal it on me.
I almost sent him a text to tease him about it, then got busy with Little Miss and forgot.
Fast forward an hour or two and I notice something behind the spice rack.
You guessed it.
That piece of chocolate bark, about four feet from where I left it, with vermin sized teeth scrapings all around the edges.
I’m not overly squeamish with most things.
But a mouse, or rat, (please, oh, please, I thought, let it not be a rat) on my kitchen counter? I have no words.
With further investigation, droppings confirmed it was a mouse, not rat. (Thank goodness.)
The entire counter got a thorough scrubbing. Everything that wasn’t necessary was removed. My husband got a call.
That night a trap was set.
The next morning all the peanut butter was licked clean.
And the mouse was not caught.
Two different traps were set.
Last night, when I went into the kitchen to clean up before bed, a little black and grey mouse, it’s tail flailing behind it, ran across the counter, over my cutting board, across the stove, and down behind the oven.
I gasped. I shook. I was unreasonably upset.
Not just had a mouse been on my kitchen counter. It had been on it while I was awake, less than ten feet away, with the TV on and living room lights blaring. With my husband and I talking. It cozied up on my counter, presumably there while I had grabbed something from the fridge a few minutes earlier. It stayed a while.
Last night all three traps were set.
This morning all three traps remained empty.
I found droppings on my computer desk upstairs. (What in the world does a mouse want with a computer desk?)
I found a hole chewed in my stored bag of pre-pregnancy clothes.
And, as a final nail in the coffin, when unpacking the dishes in the rack today, dishes I decided to run through a rinse cycle in the dishwasher just in case, I found a plethora of droppings in the sink under the rack. The same sink I’d cleaned earlier that day!
The cleaning of before was nothing. Tonight I hauled out the Pine Sol, something I’ve often wondered why I even keep – as I’m all about organic and vinegar and baking soda style cleaning.
I scrubbed. I boiled. I scrubbed again.
Overkill, perhaps. And you may be rolling your eyes at me.
Or you may be nodding along, if, like me, mice are your kryptonite.
Okay, actually, HERE’S the final nail in the coffin. If the past three nights are any indication, we have a brazen mouse (or more likely, MICE) and a smart mouse. It may be days before we’re vermin free. And my husband is leaving town for a week tomorrow.
So, in addition to the now daily full scale cleaning, the role of trap setting and (when necessary) emptying, will fall on me.
I like to think of myself as a strong, independent woman. I like to think of myself as not needing a man.
But when it comes to a mouse …
My husband, exasperated with what he considered my theatrics over this mouse, obsessive cleaning, and refusal to set or even touch the traps, asked what I would do while he was gone.
I paused for a moment …
He raised an eyebrow, then nodded.
Kali, the leading lady of my novel Behind Our Lives, is a single mom. When the novel starts she’s living in a derelict building with a slum-lord who refuses to do anything about the rats scurrying through her apartment.
So it’s all on her. She sets the traps. She checks them daily. Hoping and not hoping there’ll be a carcass to remove.
Although my husband has, in total, been away from us for almost three of my daughter’s sixteen months, I really know nothing of what it is to be a single mom.
To do it all on your own.
While writing, I had to imagine what it would be like for Kali. I had to imagine the fear and the determination, the knowledge that she would, and could, do whatever needed to be done for her son.
I haven’t even had to handle any traps or dead mice yet, but already I feel like I understand Kali better … I lay awake last night worrying that the mouse who, for no apparent reason, and against all odds, made its way up the smooth, metal legs of my desk could easily make its way into my daughter’s crib.
It makes even more sense to me now, Kali’s fear that she wasn’t protecting her son the way he deserved; her fear, in all areas of her life, of making wrong choices, because of how they could affect her precious baby.
When I wrote Kali’s story I wasn’t a mother myself. I wasn’t sure if I ever would be.
But I am now.
And I’ll set the traps. I’ll check them. I’ll do what needs to be done.
I’ll push past the fear.
I’ll channel Kali.
Though, to be fair … the rats were never on Kali’s kitchen counter.
(Well, not that she knew of anyway!)
If you want to learn more about Kali’s story, Behind Our Lives, click this link to order your copy today.
May mice never steal your chocolate.