Guess what month it is…? Yep! It’s May! I’ve had a pretty rocky road since late September, but I’mma try to meet this challenge. Getting up an hour early and pantsing a story often does me good, and I’m hoping it’ll work its magic for me again this year.
I couldn’t find the badge for this year on the Story A Day May site, so I made my own. When I find the new badge, I’ll use that one.
Today’s story — Oh! Before I forget: since this is the first of the month, there’s a new Hot Flash on my Hot Flashes page.
ANYWAY, today’s story turns out to be about LeJune and her mother, June Rose, who inherited their Aunt Mimi’s house and the pet she claimed she had but which nobody has ever seen.
Critter in the House
by Marian Allen
LeJune squeezed through the narrow door of the walk-in pantry, reached for a jar of her late aunt’s family-famous strawberry compote, and made a sound. If she had been a comic book character, her dialog balloon would have said, “Aargh! That doesn’t do justice to the sound, though.
Then she called over her shoulder, “Mama! We got mice!”
Her mother called back, sounding about a kitchen chair’s height taller than she usually did, “You see a mouse? Well, get out of there!”
“I don’t see a mouse, but I see where it took a potty break.”
June Rose — Mama — hopped down from the chair and tried to join LeJune in the pantry. Since there was just barely enough room in there for LeJune and the non-perishables, that didn’t happen.
“Let me see! You sure it wasn’t Precious Irwin?”
Precious Irwin was the putative pet they had inherited along with their aunt’s house, but had never seen. They just put out food and water and wondered what he was.
“You know Precious Irwin never leaves any leavings that we can find. And I guess I know mouse droppings when I see ’em. Here — let me out, and you can see for yourself.”
Mama backed up. LeJune backed up. She didn’t make her usual joke of beeping like a reversing truck, so June Rose knew her daughter was upset.
“Yep,” Mama said, like a surgeon giving a second opinion, “that’s mouse, all right. Is there any more?”
“Well, how do I know? I reached for the strawberry compote and saw that little gift from Mother Nature and told you about it. It’s not like they glow in the dark, or something.”
“Oh,” said June Rose, remembering to pick up the compote before she came out of the pantry. “I thought maybe the ability to detect mouse droppings was your superpower.”
They both giggled, Mama’s high and LeJune’s closer to a chuckle. It wasn’t always easy, two grown women, mother and daughter, sharing a house, but it was easier when they liked each other and shared a sense of humor. Which they did, mostly.
LeJune said, “I don’t think there’s any mousetraps. I could run out and get one after breakfast.”
Mama washed the compote jar in hot soapy water before she opened it. She said, “It might catch Precious Irwin in it.”
“If it did, at least we’d know what he is and what he looks like.”
Mama play-slapped LeJune’s shoulder. “Mean thing! Catch Precious Irwin in a mousetrap!”
“It’s no meaner than catching a mouse. Maybe I can get one of those traps that’s like a box trap, and catch it and take it somewhere else and let it out.”
They both said, “At Packy’s house,” Packy being a cousin they didn’t particularly like.
They thought it over while they ate their toast and compote and drank LeJune’s strong coffee.
Mama dusted the toast crumbs off her fingers onto her plate and said, “Well, nobody ever said this was Buckingham Palace, but I don’t like being over-run with mice. We can’t have it.”
“You’d think Precious Irwin would keep them out,” LeJune said. She cleared the dishes and had them clean and in the drainboard almost before she finished the sentence. “I thought we had a … what do you call it? … I keep thinking Magna Carta, but that’s not right.”
“An unspoken contract,” said June Rose.
“Exactly! Thank you. An unspoken contract. We feed him and keep his water fresh, and he’s the only resident besides us.”
June Rose sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll get the step-stool and some cleaning gear and see if we have any more little surprises in the pantry.”
She found a few on the same shelf, but no more. She still couldn’t find any holes or cracks, so there was still no clue as to how the mouse had gotten in or how — or if — Precious Irwin came and went.
LeJune filled the pantry door and leaned casually against the jamb in that way she had when she had something astonishing to say.
June Rose came down from the ladder and sat on the top step of it. “What?” she said. “Not mice in the rest of the house.”
LeJune shook her head. “I went into my office and the computer was already on. I always turn it off last thing at night. But it was on.”
“So you forgot. It doesn’t eat that much electricity. It’s not anything to get upset about, honey.”
“The browser was up, Mama. It was open to a page about how to keep mice out of your house.”
“I kid you not. It said sprinkle mint around. It said mice don’t like mint.”
“Well, did you ever. That <i>is</i> amazing.”
LeJune opened her mouth to tell her mother she was missing the point, but let it go and said, “There’s that patch of mint out by the back fence.”
June Rose went back up the ladder, saying, “You go pick some, and I’ll finish inspecting.”
The pantry, which had always been a little stuffy, smelled fresh when it was all minted up. There was no sign of mice the next day, or the next, or the next.
When they went to the grocery, LeJune bought a little stuffed mouse from the pet aisle, and Mama didn’t bat an eye. LeJune put it in the cabinet next to Precious Irwin’s food and water dishes. The next day it was gone.
I’m posting today at Fatal Foodies with a picture of the Haitian Chicken I made the other day.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Heck, Strawberry Compote, Magna Carta, and Buckingham Palace