There was water rising in the basement. Cold, dark, murky, slimy, water. Being a woman alone, a single mother, without a man, she had no idea what to do about it. Calling the landlord hadn’t helped. She left message after message with no response.
Then there were the mice who must have been displaced by the rising water. She saw them running around the edges of the house late that night. She didn’t know what else to do but whack them with a broom. She didn’t want to hurt them or kill them she just wanted to make them go away. She stayed up all night, sitting by the baby’s crib holding on to that broom, smoking cigarettes and batting away mice. By morning there was a grey cloud of smoke hanging in the air and all signs of the mice were gone.
Eventually, the landlord called back. Someone came and pumped the water out of the basement and the mice went back to their hiding places. Years later she stopped smoking cigarettes.
The baby grew up and got a job working at a zoo. There, she had to kill mice and put them in an aviary for the birds of prey. Everyone wondered how someone, who loved animals as much as that young woman did, could so easily smash a mallet down on their little heads and turn them into bird food. For some reason it felt natural to her. One time she asked her mom about it. Her old mother just laughed and said “When I think of you batting those mice around, it makes me want to smoke a cigarette.”
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