I yelped as I saw a shadow dash across my living room floor. Oh no, I thought. Please, God, no. But then a tiny tail whipped around the other side of the table. When Jena came to see what the fuss was about, she admitted that she’d caught our new roommate scouring the stovetop in the middle of the night. It was dark, and she’d told herself it was just a shadow. But this was evidence we couldn’t deny.
We had a mouse in the house.
I sat at my computer, poring over possible responses to the situation, hating how cruel the whole thing felt. A part of me wanted to name him and make him the official house mascot. A friend to help clean up the food from the floor and sing jolly melodies with. Considering my Disney upbringing, you can’t blame me for being tantalized by the idea of a pet mouse in New York city, collecting breadcrumbs, tugging heartstrings. And I think it’s this same child-like flight of fancy that makes me so upset about what I know the future holds for little Brixby (goddammit, I couldn’t help myself – I named him). But the thing is that, at the end of the day, he can’t stay. It’s either him or me. And it’s going to be me.
And that just breaks my heart.
Apparently, when I was about two or three, I spotted a mouse in our living room. My grandfather assumed my exclamation of “Mouse! Mouse!” referred to a certain character of Disney fame, and perhaps that’s who I thought it was. My mother knew differently when she caught a glimpse of the rodent for herself. When they finally caught it, its screams ringing through our tiny Queens apartment, my mother had to take me downstairs because I was crying too much. The mouse’s suffering was heartbreaking, all the more so for someone who cuddled his stuffed Mickey every night…
I don’t remember it, really. I had to be reminded of this story, but it feels so me that I’ve readopted the memory. Since spotting Brixby the first time, I’ve whispered tiny prayers. I’m not someone who usually does that, but I’m not petitioning a higher power. I am begging Brixby not to get caught. To enjoy the limited success he had here and move on. To just get out and never come back. Please. Please please please. I don’t want to kill you. There has to be another way. Just hear me, get scared by my initial scream at your discovery. Just don’t come back. Don’t let it come down to this…
Days went by. He never left. He would keep himself mostly hidden, but at night, I saw him crawling under the table and back behind the fridge and stove top. We started getting familiar with his patterns and put down glue traps. This went on all week when…
Saturday morning, I awoke to sobs. Jena had checked behind our couch, from which were issuing tiny cries, and found that Brixby had finally fallen victim to one of our traps. Though the vegan of the household had taken a surprisingly stoic position on this until now, she seemed as distraught as the mouse himself, not wanting to hurt him any more. But he couldn’t stay.
So we took the trap, and Brixby, down to the park about half a mile from us, along with a bottle of vegetable oil. We poured some oil over the glue and sure enough, he scampered free.
Some people would call Jena and me foolish. Most people would have chosen differently. It’s certainly not something I would judge anyone for. Rather, you have to decide what you want and are capable of. Jena and I weren’t capable of killing him. His cries were too reminiscent of our own.
I don’t know what our former guest found in the park. It probably wasn’t where he wanted to be. But as James might tell you, sometimes being right where you planned doesn’t turn out so well. Some fates are worse than the ones visited on Brixby.