The day began as any other day. The Gator Girl sat poised on the floor, bedside, waiting for any sign of movement to take as an invitation to jump up on the bed and cuddle between her parents. The Big Brave German Shepherd laid dejected on his bed on the floor, lamenting the hard truth that he was just too damn big to get on the bed without the aid of a crane.
Slowly, The Man got out of bed. The Gator Girl followed him. He walked slowly around the room, dragging his feet in his search for clothing. The Gator Girl did not drag her feet. The Gator Girl has never dragged her feet in all her life. She pranced.
Taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap filled the air. The sound roused the Big Brave German Shepherd who immediately came in search of his mother. The Woman was not amused. The Woman had been up late trying to close out a draft of her synopsis project and had been hoping for a modicum more of sleep and so The Woman laid in bed, her eyes firmly closed, in order to give the illusion of sleep. She had learned long ago to fake it until she could make it.
The man, having finally gathered his clothing, left the bedroom now in search of a shower. With his absence, the Gator Girl sprung back on the bed and nestled close to The Woman. The Big Brave German Shepherd laid back down as well, with a thud that shook the bed. Still, The Woman did not move.
She didn't even move when the bedroom door opened once more and The Man returned.
"Hey," the man said.
The Woman chose to ignore him. The Gator Girl,who has never ignored anything in her whole entire life, leapt off the bed with joy. The Big Brave German Shepherd didn't move.
"Hey," the man said again.
The Woman reluctantly turned her head to look at The Man.
"There's a mouse hanging on the shower curtain," The Man said.
The Woman had to think about this. She understood all the words individually but, placed together in a sentence in the way The Man had done, they seemed lack all comprehension.
"There's a what where?" she asked.
"There's a mouse hanging on the shower curtain," The Man said.
The Woman thought some more. Mouse. Hanging. Shower curtain. Huh.
"The cats are freaking out," The Man continued.
Mouse. Hanging. Shower curtain. Cats.
"You mean a real one?" The Woman asked, slowly coming out of the illusion of sleep.
"Yes, I mean a real one," The Man responded, his tone minutely questioning The Woman's intelligence. "Look, you can see it from here."
And with that, The Man opened wider the bedroom door. Both The Gator Girl and The Big Brave German Shepherd were prancing now, alight with the possibility of breakfast. The Man did not let them pass. The Woman lifted her head from her pillow and squinted into the bathroom.
The Woman was not wearing her glasses and was still slightly groggy from sleep, or the lack thereof, but, after a moment of squinting and focusing, she saw a dark shape at the top of the shower curtain. After a little more squinting and a little more focusing, she could see that it was, indeed, a mouse hanging off her shower curtain.
The Woman said a not nice word. The Woman actually said several not nice words.
The Woman sat up slightly and took in the sight. The mouse was clinging for his dear little life at the top of her shower curtain. The cats were sitting on the floor, tails swishing and eyes riveted to their prey.
The Woman said more not nice words.
"What do we do?" The Man asked.
"What the hell do you mean 'we'?" The Woman said.
The Woman normally liked to think of herself as one of those hairy legged bra burning feminist types who needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle but the truth remained that she shaved her legs year round, never had burned a bra and certainly was not about to deal with a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail.
No, The Woman was going to go find herself a bubble and move into it post hasty.
"How am I going to take a shower?" The Man asked.
"Yeah," The Woman said.
She sat up fully now, accepting the fact that any hope of further sleep had dissipated upon the first uttering of the sentence 'There's a mouse hanging on the shower curtain'.
"If only we had two and a half bathrooms in this house," The Woman continued. "Oh wait. We do."
"Yeah, but," The Man protested. "My shampoo's in there."
"I don't even know why you're worried about that," The Woman said. "You can't leave me with that thing in there."
"I kill the spiders," The Man said. "It's only fair that you kill the mice."
The Woman said several more not nice words.
"What if we got one of the buckets from the basement," The Man said.
"Again with the 'we'," The Woman said.
"And like knocked the mouse into it," The Man said. "Could he climb out?"
The Woman didn't respond. No, The Woman busy imaging the absolute horror of either standing there holding a bucket with which to catch a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail or knocking a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail into a bucket.
"I hate nature," The Woman said.
The Woman actually liked nature. The woman actually loved nature. She enjoyed spending time in The Great Outdoors. She did not, however, enjoy it when The Great Outdoors was hanging from the shower curtain in her bathroom.
"How am I going to get my shampoo?" The Man asked again.
"There's shampoo in the other bathroom," The Woman said. "Just use that."
"Right," The Man said. "Good idea. Hey, are you going out today?"
"How else am I going to buy a bubble in which to live?
"Because I'm thinking we're going to need some mouse traps or poison or something."
"Very astute of you," The Woman said. "Can you, like, close the bathroom door for a moment so I can get the dogs downstairs without their intervening with the standoff?"
"Can you imagine the Gator Girl with a mouse?" The Man asked.
"Yes," The Woman said. "Yes I can. Which is why, in the absence of any mouse removal solutions that don't involve me holding a bucket, I want you to close the bathroom door."
"The mouse can fit under a door."
"What is wrong with you?" The Woman asked. It was possible she had screeched but she would never admit it. "Just close the damn door!"
The Man closed the damn door and The Woman took the dogs downstairs. She prepared their breakfast. While she did so, the Gator Girl promptly puked. Twice. Because the morning hadn't been awesome enough.
Meanwhile, The Man took his shower and was still pondering solutions. They had pretty much decided on letting the cats (one of which was so fat that some time spent chasing a rodent would be beneficial) deal with the mouse but The Man was trying to expedite the process.
"How long do you think he can hold on?" The Man asked.
"Don't know," The Woman said. "Don't know how long he's already been there."
"Well, he's going to get hungry at some point," The Man said.
"Well, I think when faced with hunger or the two cats waiting to satisfy their own, I think the mouse might choose hunger."
"Right," The Man said. "Hey, do you think I should put a ladder in there? Could they climb a ladder?"
The cats, in fact, could climb a ladder. The Woman found that one out one night when The Man had used the ladder to access the attic and while it was set up, one of the cats had used it also to access the attic. The ladder was then taken away, subsequently leaving the poor cat stranded and crying for help. The Woman said as much to The Man but The Man did not appear to be listening.
The Woman took the Gator Girl outside. She then took the Big Brave German Shepherd outside. While she did so, The Man was busy fetching the step ladder and setting up in the bathroom for the cats' use. The Fat Cat didn't seem to get it and the Scaredy Cat just wasn't interested. The Man tried to teach the Fat Cat to use the ladder. The Woman would've sold her soul just then for a video camera.
"Hey," The Man said. "I've got to brush my teeth. Can you watch my back and make sure the mouse doesn't jump on it?"
The Woman, again, didn't respond. Instead, she left the cats to watch The Man's back. She went back outside to clear up after the dogs. She paused when she heard the dogs freaking out and then decided she really didn't want to know. When she returned to the house, The Man was standing at the top of the stairs.
"Did you hear me scream?" The Man asked.
No. The Woman had not heard that. The Woman asked what happened.
"I put Fat Cat on the ladder," The Man said. "On the second step so it wouldn't be as easy to get down, and she realized she was closer to the mouse and then when she was going up to get him, he fell."
"So he ran under the vanity," The Man continued.
"And Fat Cat went after him and was battering him around some and he came out from under the vanity and Fat Cat swatted him around some more and now he's in the heater."
In the heater. Oh joy.
"And now Fat Cat has her head stuck under the heater. You should come see it. It's funny."
The Woman did go to see it. The Fat Cat indeed had her head wedged under the heater, her tail still swishing madly. The Scaredy Cat was no where to be found.
"He's got no where to go now," The Man said.
Satisfied at a job well done, The Man removed the ladder and went to work. The Woman went to check her email and possibly write a blog entry about her morning. In the middle of an email, she head a thud and the pitter patter of mammals on the move. She looked at the ceiling. The noise stopped. The woman finished her email and went to investigate. And by investigate, The Woman meant she was only going to stand at the top of the stairs and peek around the corner.
The bathroom was empty. There was no sign of Fat Cat nor her prey. The standoff had ended, leaving The Woman with an unsettled feeling that the big fat squirmy mouse had somehow managed to slip past Fat Cat and was now running around once again in her walls with his little mouse feet and little wormy tail.
"I hate nature," The Woman said again as she slowly made her way back down.
*The title of this story was borrowed from the title of a short story written by the incomparable Kate Chopin. If you've never read it, you can click here to do so. You can skip the "reading response" question at the end. Unless, of course, you're so inclined.