I like to think of myself as brave.
The day a mouse came unannounced into my house, however, almost did me in. It wasn’t the first time one had taken a liking to my abode. The first incident happened a few years ago while I was entertaining an old friend in my living room. Kristie took a bite from a tasty snack I’d set out for her and sat up suddenly, looking toward the front door. “A mouse just walked in your house,” she explained.
We sat the rest of the time with our feet up, discussing what I should do next as though we were exchanging recipes. She apologized for having to leave me alone with my visitor before heading out (a little too suddenly, in my opinion).
I silently chided myself for not having hired a professional to install my storm door. Instead, another friend had obliged, and now it sat a full inch off the floor, the gleam of light escaping from the bottom enticing all manner of creatures to stop by on their evening strolls through the neighborhood. That day, it was a field mouse. Somehow I was able to coax it back out from the coat closet and into daylight the next morning.
The second mouse entered more stealthily. I saw signs of him in the kitchen, but convincing myself the black pellets scattered intermittently in a drawer were simply burned rice — only I hadn’t cooked any rice — I proceeded on as if I were in some altered state of denial. Then I heard him rustling around one night. It sounded like he was unwrapping tiny Christmas presents in the pantry. I screamed in revulsion, frustration and helplessness. Then I called my sister and told her about it.
What to do? She suggested hiring an exterminator — but that cost money. I wanted to call a husband. Only, there is no husband yet. Sad and resigned, I decided this was going to be between me and the tiny rodent. I hoped he would leave on his own.
For a couple more days, I saw and heard nothing. Then he was at it again. I reached for some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis I had cached away, only to find he had beaten me to them. Indignant, I thought, “Oh-no-he-didn’t!” It was bad enough he thought we had become chummy roommates overnight and wasn’t paying rent. His overall behavior was just beyond disrespectful.
Don’t get me wrong. The mouse and I had some things in common. We both loved hanging out where the food was, and we were especially delighted by peanut butter and chocolate blends. We both liked to travel and explore our surroundings. We both were messy eaters. We were both brownish. The list goes on. But he had crossed the line when he touched my chocolate and, despite our commonalities, I decided this mouse had to be executed.
I set a trap for him, using his weakness against him. I put cheese AND Reese candy inside, then I left the house for a few days. When I returned, lo and behold, he had fallen for it. I had caught my very first mouse. I screamed again with a mixture of trembling and triumph, then I called my sister back to tell her about my victory.
“Yay!” she exclaimed, the pride she felt for me spilling out of her voice. I felt powerful, in control and capable. Strangely, all these emotions arose from defeating a mouse.
I am woman. Hear me scream in terror, then roar.
Tabi Upton is a counselor, writer and speaker. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.