Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Me, Mouse-self and I...

It's writing challenge time, brought to you by Indie Ink.

Welcome to Week 21.

Week 21
My Challenger: Gehan
My Challenge: Write a tragic romance short story that somehow incorporates breakfast into it as a central (or semi-central) theme.
Who I am Challenging: Greg Perry
What I Challenged Them With: The type of silence only complete and utter destruction can bring... But in a happy sort of way...

Me, Mouse-self and I...

We can't keep going on like this, you know...

"I have no idea what you're talking about," he replied, crumbs spewing forth from his lips. He barely paused to breathe as he nibbled eagerly, softly, as if big mouthfuls were a taboo in his culture.

Look at us... Please?

He glanced up and looked at his reflection in the glass. "Uh-huh. What am I looking at exactly?" A few more crumbs tumbled from his mouth, and the twitch in his nose betrayed the fact that he knew exactly what it was he was to be looking at. He went back to his cheese and raspberry danish even more vigorously, taking crumb after crumb from it's edge, enjoying the juicy tang of raspberry against the dry, crumbly texture of the flaky dough mixed with the velvety, sweet cheese drizzle as they mingled on his tongue. "Mmmmm..." Nibble nibble nibble...

You're kidding me, right?

He ignored the words, closing his eyes as if they were his ears, and quickly yet softly chewed.

Open your eyes, fat ass.

That got his attention. He moved back from the danish, managing a quizzically hurt look while his tongue darted in and out to catch stray crumbs. "That was a bit uncalled for, you know."

If it's the only way to get your attention, then I have to vehemently disagree.

"You may disagree, but you sincerely hurt my feelings. I may not even save half of this delicious treat for you, if that's the way you're going to be." But he had lost his appetite, albeit briefly. They both knew that. "It's just that... Well, ever since..."

I know, I know. It's been hard. Losing her like that... Sigh. I, too, barely know how to manage waking in the morning. But it wasn't us that died. We are still here, aren't we? We're still alive...

"Ha! If you call this living." He went back toward the danish, gripped it eagerly, and began to nibble once more, and a subconscious smile again graced his lips as crumbs fell between them.


"No." Nibble nibble nibble...


"I..." Nibble nibble nibble... "... refuse..."

A shadow passed overhead, and he paused and glanced up fearfully, pastry, at once, forgotten.

You know what that was.

"Let him come. I have no reason, beyond this danish, to live anymore. She was my life. Our future children were my life. This... This?" He gestured toward the food, toward the glass at his reflection, toward the world. "This is nothing. This is passing the time." He stared at his sticky, gooey, raspberry jelly-covered paws. "This isn't life. This is merely purgatory." He licked halfheartedly at his fingers. "No... Not even." He began to nibble once more.

If you stay here much longer, we're both doomed.

He could hear the fear in the voice, hear the cry of the soul that wanted to find new joys, new reasons for living, new hopes and dreams to achieve. But he ignored them, shoving more and more pastry on top, drowning those feelings once more in a sugar-filled haze, hoping for that sleepy, food-induced coma that so easily drowned out the voice of life...

I want to live. Doesn't that count for anything?

"Not anymore."


"You know, I could have saved her." He stopped nibbling once more. "I... could have..."

No, you couldn't have. Neither of us could. It's a sad fact, but nonetheless true. And as much as you try to drown out the guilt, that guilt isn't even truly yours. It was beyond your power.

"Beyond your power maybe. What the hell are you, anyway? A reflection? A reflection in glass! Why the hell do I even listen to you? Why do I come here, day after day, night after night, just to see you?! No. More."

He tried pulling the danish with him, but his tiny little claws merely made some tears in the dough.

You know you aren't strong enough to carry that back to our hole.

But he had stopped. He was gazing once more at his front paws, at the red, red raspberry. So like the blood when he found her, his precious love, just outside their hole, mangled and tangled in with that--that thing! That man-made machine! That... That... mouse trap!

His tears fell freely now. He raised one of his sticky paws up against the glass of the display window, and his reflection reciprocated.

The humans will know you've been here again. They'll know to set another one of those... death traps... They may even get... You know...

"A feline."

His reflection nodded solemnly.

"I miss her."

As do I.

"It isn't the same now."

No, it isn't. But tempting fate by getting fatter and fatter and eating the human's food right under their noses like this? What would she think of us like this?

"She'd probably have called me a fat ass, too."

Yes, yes, she would have.

Sigh. "I miss her so."

His reflection nodded.

"But... What happens now? Where do we go? What... It's so hard to think about..."

There are other holes, other crumbs, other pastry shops... Other mice...

"I don't want another mouse-wife."

Not now, you don't. It's only been a few weeks. But you'll see. There's a lot of mice in the world, others like you who have lost those near and dear...

He took one more look at the raspberry danish. "I don't want to eat red food anymore."

We don't have to eat anything red if we don't want to.

"Do you really think there are others out there?"

We'll never know unless we leave the bakery...

He took one last look at his reflection, his rounded belly, his long, gray whiskers protruding from his pudgy cheeks, his long naked tail as it curled around his feet. "Do you think she'll understand?"

His reflection said nothing. It just looked at him as he looked at himself, an eternity in the glass. And then his eyes focused beyond the glass.

Into giant, human eyes staring right back at him.

He let out a squeak, and went to race back toward the rear of the pastry display case, down through the hole and under the floor. His feet slipped on the spilled raspberry jelly, he tripped on the edge of the plate. He regained his footing, and he could see the slight crack between the sliding glass doors where he always slipped through and aimed for it, feet racing but his body seemed to be going in slow motion. As his face squeezed between the glass doors, as his hind hips got caught on the edge of the glass, and as his eyes spotted the hole in the floor just five feet down, he felt the giant shadow looming over him, saw the giant hand reaching down, weapon in hand...

Previous Challenges I have answered:


Carrie said...

Oh my...makes you think the next time you see a mouse!

I love this POV, it feels so very real. I could picture the mouse sitting and eating his danish as he talks to himself.

Very interesting take on the tragic love story!

visiting from Indie Ink

Gehan said...

What an interesting take on the subject! Very evocative, and definitely not what I expected. Well done! I'm glad you took my rather random challenge and turned it into this...

Diane said...

Wow. This is good. I actually teared up a bit. (I love mice.) Great job!

Karla said...

You are a masterful storyteller and brilliant plot weaver. I love your ability to take the most seemingly banal creature (ok, maybe there are more banal creatures but still...) and make it interesting, relevant, meaningful. Another, "well done!" :)

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

I have a mouse that I can't kill because it's too smart for the traps. I've therefore developed a grudging respect for it and we now live in harmony. This, of course, is ridiculous, but stories like yours make me want to keep right on living in harmony with my little roommate.

I just wish he'd stop shitting everywhere. I mean, seriously, is that any way to thank someone for not killing them?

Marian said...

OMG "I don't want to eat red food anymore." hah!

Cedar said...

Brilliant! Ironic, emotional, and nicely done.