So, picture it: it’s late last night, I’ve just finished up work, and am clearing the day’s debris from my desk before going to bed. This done, I head downstairs to put the aforementioned debris in the bin, which lives under the kitchen sink.
I’m not thinking of anything much as I do this: well, OK, I’m thinking a little bit about those boots I have my eye on in Zara, but other than that, my mind is a glorious blank as I enter the kitchen, open the cupboard door and…
… find myself face to face with a GIANT MOUSE.
I mean, I say “giant”. It was pretty much mouse-sized, and I think it’s only my re-imagining of the event which has blown it up to roughly the size of a small fox. But let’s just say it wasn’t a small mouse. It’s clearly been eating well, put it that way. (WHAT HAS IT BEEN EATING? PEOPLE?)
The mouse was right at the front of the cupboard, poised as if ready to jump out. I’d obviously disturbed it in the act of preparing to leave its cupboard home and join us in the body of the house, and I think – I think – it was every bit as surprised to see me as I was to see it.
Well, actually, no, that’s not right. NOTHING could have been more surprised than I was. And I really don’t know why. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know that the mice overlords had found a way to penetrate the outer walls of our house . True, I thought we’d found all of their means of entrance (and when I say “we” I mean “Terry and the Mouse Man” ) and blocked them up, but as the Mouse Man never tired of telling us during his many visits earlier this year, mice are like little contortionists, and are cunning and tireless in their efforts to breach the fortress, so there were never any guarantees that they wouldn’t return.
That’s not why my reaction to my meeting with The Mouse (I feel his name deserves to be capitalised. I hope Disney don’t try to sue me or something, because let’s face it, it definitely wasn’t Mickey under my sink…) surprised me, though. It surprised me because, if you had asked me how I felt about mice prior to this, I would’ve thought you were a bit odd, really told you that, why, I like the little critters! Mice are cute! They have little wobbly noses! They are the compete opposite of “scary”! I mean, last summer, an ickle baby mouse came to live in Terry’s mum’s garden, and I used to sit and watch it and make cooing noises at it through the window. I named it Jim.
So no, I’m not afraid of mice. Which is why I have no idea why, having taken one look at our furry visitor, I proceeded to freak the hell out, like I have never rarely freaked before. I can’t even blame my innate drama queen tendencies here, because it was a completely instinctive reaction, in which I slammed the cupboard door shut, then turned and stumbled from the room in a panic. (That’s not a figure of speech, by the way: I actually stumbled, in the sense that I almost fell down. Twice. It was like one of those nightmares where you’re trying to run away from some terrifying threat, such as that posed by a small, defenceless mouse, say, but your legs won’t work properly) I was out of the kitchen and halfway across the living room before I realised that I was also screaming at the top of my voice, a shrill but steady, “OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!” What the hell is wrong with me?
As I reached the stairs, I met Terry on his way down, his eyes wide with fear (and actually moving a little slower than I’d have liked, given that he was on his way to rescue his wife from an unspecified, but obviously serious, threat). “Mouse!” I managed to say. “Sink! OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!”
“Oh,” said Terry, straightening up from the crouching position he’d adopted, presumably in order to try to conceal himself from whatever hellish intruder he imagined was down there. “I thought there was something wrong.”
“There IS something wrong!” I spluttered. “There’s a mouse under the sink! It LOOKED AT ME!”
Well, Terry hotfooted it to the kitchen, me close – but not too close – behind him, Rubin dancing at our heels, thinking this was the best! game! ever! Upon arrival, Terry flung open the cupboard door dramatically, and…
The cupboard was bare.
Terry swung round to face me, accusingly. “Oh, great,” his expression seemed to say. “Now we can add ‘seeing imaginary mice’ to the list of Things That Are Wrong With Amber.”
“Are you absolutely SURE you saw a mouse?” he asked me? I assured him that yes, I was 100% sure, although obviously the question itself instantly made me doubt myself. Could I have imagined our furry visitor? Could my brain, en route to the kitchen, have thought, “You know, I’ve not freaked her out for a while now. Let’s have some fun, here!”? Possibly. The fact that we have a history of mice in the house, however, suggests that our visitor was actually real, so Terry blocked up the gap around the pipes, which the mouse had presumably been using as his gateway to our world, and then he instantly forgot all about it.
I, meanwhile, haven’t been able to open any of the kitchen cupboards since.
And I have no idea why.