Amy Tries Again


Of Mice And Me – Part Two
July 2, 2011, 9:11 AM
Filed under: Miscellanea

It has been some time since I first began my mousey tale.  Sadly, I am a less than diligent blogger sometimes (albeit, it must be confessed, a rather excellent gift wrapper.  No, no relevance.  Just saying) and, when faced with the distractions of A Haircut And A Real Job (more on that later, no doubt), became quite lazy in my spare time (and started using too many brackets).

Anyway!  Where were we?  Oh, yes.  A happy mouse mother, a proud mouse father, and several dear little mouse babies.  What could go wrong?

It is at this point that I should point out my clever foreshadowing.  In the last instalment, I mentioned that my mother had a cat.  The cat’s name was Clarissa, and when I descend completely into my genetic destiny I will probably have a blog devoted entirely to pets I had that have since died.  Then, you can read Clarissa’s origin story.  For now, all you need to know is that Clarissa was stupid.  Not mildly daft.  Not charmingly simple.  Stupid.  Couldn’t-survive-on-her-own-stupid.  Really, really stupid.  How stupid?  She would look at walls and drool.  When she got angry, she couldn’t walk on carpet, because she would forget to retract her claws and get stuck.  She didn’t really understand stairs.  We got a new kitten, and thought the two cats were getting on rather well.  This wasn’t so.  Clarissa just hadn’t noticed yet.

In short, Clarissa: arthritic, cross-eyed and adored by my mother (See?  Genetic destiny!) was a cat entirely without any cat-like qualities.

Now!  Back to the mice.  The thing about baby mice is this: they make noises exactly like a squeaky dog toy.  At first, it’s rather charming.  However, when there are seven squeaky toys crying softly ALL THE TIME in your room…well, I started to think perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if their doting mother Petal did decide to eat one or two of her babies.  By night three, I had had enough.  Tossing and turning, I had to get them out of my room.  I was too sleepy to overthink the matter, and given that Clarissa could not even manage a chair, I thought the cage would be quite safe on the top of the bookshelf just outside my bedroom door.

Finally!  Peace!  I could still just hear the mice chirping.  I thought fondly of them as I drifted off to sleep.

Can you imagine what happened next?

Yep.

Opening my bedroom door that morning was a mistake.  Somehow, somewhere in the back of Clarissa’s tiny brain, just enough wild feline remained.  Somehow, she had gotten to the top of the bookcase.  Somehow, probably by accident, she had managed to summon enough force to push the cage off the top and break the delightful mouse piñata upon the floor.  The wreckage was unpleasant.  You haven’t lived until you’ve started your morning by picking up half a baby mouse.  Petal was nowhere to be seen.  I was in agonies of guilt.  This was not how things were supposed to go.  Were there no babies left?  I rummaged through the remains of their shredded mousy bedding stuff, weeping hysterically.

Then I found him.  One tiny mouse – pink and hairless, and far too young to be away from his mother.  He was alive.  Prone to drama, I vowed passionately that this mouse would not perish.  This mouse would thrive.  I would raise him by hand, and he would, in time, forgive me.  I don’t actually know if the mouse was a boy or not, I just sort of decided he was.  I named him Wilbur, called in sick to work and went to the pet shop to get some sort of formula for him.

The pet shop recommended the gentle tactic of smashing Wilbur between two bricks.  They didn’t have any baby mouse formula, surprisingly enough, but did have some lactose free pet milk that would be the next best thing.  Armed with a heat pad, an eyedropper and a little sponge so I could softly rub Wilbur’s tummy in order to facilitate…toileting….I began my vigil.

Having to go to work didn’t help.  Luckily, I guilted my sister into becoming part of the Wilbur roster.  After a few days, I started to believe the little mouse was going to make it!  He would live with his Dad, Lenny (safe and sound in his own cage all along), and, although he would be angry as a teen mouse when he found out exactly why most of his family were dead, he would eventually make his peace with the whole nasty business.

The next morning, Wilbur was dead.  That was it.  I was the very worst mouse owner in all the world.  Poor Wilbur!  I broke the news to Lenny.  Lenny seemed to take it rather well, but I like to think that he was just in shock.  It could not get worse.  Well, until my mother angrily told me how she’d been entertaining a visitor that afternoon – one of the Japanese mothers from the school exchange program we’d been involved with a few years ago – only to have a white mouse drag itself across the hallway floor by its front legs.  It had not gone down well.  Still!  Petal!  Petal lived!

It didn’t take me long to find her.  She could still move surprisingly fast, but wasn’t much of a climber anymore.  The fall from the bookcase had rendered her paraplegic.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I placed her back in her cage.  With the small exception of not being able to move her back legs, she seemed quite perky.  The drive to right the wrongs I had done these mice reared its head again!  I would care for this poor disabled mouse!  She would have the best of everything!  Petal curled up in her favourite spot and went to sleep.  She never woke up.

It was best, I felt, to move on.  I told Lenny his compo had come in and bought him a super awesome new cage with tunnels and modular bits.  He would suffer a lifetime of regret, but he would do it in style.  From now on, Lenny – the original and the best – would be my one and only.

There is more to come.  It is just as heartbreaking.  Stay tuned.

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