Of Mouse and Man

There are few things cuter, and sadder, than a mouse’s unaware butt inside a mouse trap that you’ve caught him in.

There are few things cuter, and sadder, than a mouse’s unaware butt inside a mouse trap that you’ve caught him in.

You open the trap in the midmorning winter light and there he is, the mouse’s butt, facing away from you and toward what’s left of the peanut butter that enticed him into the trap. And settled down in the leagues of pee and shit that he’s soiled himself with since becoming stuck in the trap and literally getting scared shitless, of course.

You marvel for a moment at the fact that you’ve really been successful, even in this, the most minute of ways—you’ve caught a mouse!—but then realize that you have to get to class shortly, so you set the trap on the ground with the gate open and wait for the mouse to crawl out.

And wait.

You’re in a park.

You wait some more.

You’ve brought the mouse to the park because you reason it’s far enough away from your house that he won’t just come traipsing right back in. And, it’s a natural setting.

Still very cold.

Frustrated and more aware, now, that you’ll be late for class, you pick up the trap again, angle the gate toward the ground, and shake the trap around so that the mouse comes tumbling out, cute butt first, dazed and still soiled.

He is wet with his last few days’ excitement and oh so bewildered and naked.

At this moment, you realize that he’ll probably die out here, anyway: it is cold, so cold that you can hardly bear to wait around to see what happens, and there are predatory birds out, that can see the mouse, and there isn’t much food here… just some berries that the mouse stops half-interestedly to sniff. But you urge him on, away from the berries, and toward a bush, because you want him to hide himself in the bush and dig a hole for two of the aforementioned reasons: it’s cold, dreadfully cold, and there are birds all around that can see and probably want the mouse.

Why have you killed the mouse?

The mouse was in your house, you remind yourself; he didn’t belong there.

But it was cold. You would have done the same thing as the mouse, if you were him.

Maybe he’ll survive, anyway? Who knows… Mice are resourceful.

At this you do leave, knowing that no matter what, you and the mouse will never meet again, at least not you and this particular mouse. It’s dreadfully sad, somehow… What might have been, had you found a way to live together, or to collaborate, rather than leave him out in the cold.