WoodMouseI’m back there again, in my childhood home where the backyard’s peach tree is blooming with spring buds and the fruit is turning juicy and ripe. Unlike here, where the springs and summers are sweltering, here it is balmy, soothing. My old swing sways in the light breeze, and green is everywhere.

Dad has done it again, gotten a pet that he cannot take care of it and I am obligated to take care of it. He’s gotten a box of mice this time in all sorts of colors; where he got them I don’t know. I immediately bond with them, and make it my mission to take care of all of them, as impossible as the task is. At first, I’m doing well. It hasn’t even been a day, but the mice are making babies; cute, tiny, defenseless babies. I’m feeling proud and motherly.

But more babies come and the neighborhood cats can smell their vulnerability. The cats are feral and hungry, and they sneak up to the cardbox box that holds the mice. I swat at them with a broom, and break one’s skull. I break its head so hard that it turns to mush and some shy away. But as I’m killing one, two more take its place. They duck and wind through my legs, they are skinny with protruding ribs. They slurp up the mice like noodles, their tails whipping around the cats’ mouths before disappearing completely. My ears fill with the cats’ yowls.

Meanwhile the mice keep pumping out babies until all that are left are babies.

I turn around once the cats have had their fill. I see hairless mice curled up in the box. I take a step and the bones of their mothers, fathers, and other babies are underneath my tennis shoes. The bones crunch like dried leaves and turn into powder. I look into the box, and the ants are eating the bodies of the dead ones, and spiders have made cobwebs on the others.

My attempt to save them all is for naught.

 

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