‘Karen, don’t move.’
If ever there are words that I do not want to hear at 1am, those rank near the top.
I scream-whisper, so as not to wake Bee, who has climbed in to bed between us at some point. “What is it? What is it?” I mentally scan the room to locate the phone and plan our escape route, which I’m sure we’re gonna need, since I’m sure that we are in the throes of a home invasion or zombies or something rational like that.
‘I think Miko left us another treat.’
Oh, that. My panic sinks, but my stomach rises to my throat. Nooooo, I whine silently, noooo, I don’t want to deal with that. Not now. Groooooooossss.
My eyes zero in on the object on the bed. Wow, it looks bigger than the last one, and holy crap, its tail is sticking straight up. Miko must have struck quickly. My pride in my normally lazy cat’s accomplishment is short-lived, when I realize that, once again, Chris’ involvement is going to go only as far as alerting me to the issue, and perhaps, jumping onto a chair and covering his eyes.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. ‘I’m going to turn on the lights,’ says Chris from his perch, on the other side of the room. ‘No! – you’ll wake Bee.’ Oh yes, Bee, our daughter, nestled cozily, bum up, inches from a large (at least in this light) dead creature that the cat sacrificed. For our love. Sweet, actually, and we really should go praise her since she did this for us and –
Bee shifts and I snap out of my stupor.
‘Chris! Help me!’
‘No way – this is your gig,’ Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Again, I wonder how I got stuck with giving birth and disposing of dead critters. But there is no way that I can manage hauling the big winter duvet downstairs all by myself without, uh, disturbing, the dead thing.
‘Help me!’ I am practically hissing. Chris moves slightly forward as I formulate a plan.
‘Ok, ok, lets fold this side over, ok yep, now lay it down gently…’ We are half expecting the thing to spring back to life as we lower the top third of the quilt over it. Next, we fold the bottom third over the top third, and then work our way in, Chris from the left, me from the right in the same manner, until we have a neat square padded coffin for the beast confined within. Good! We each take a side and begin our journey down the stairs with our package. I am praying that we have the whole mouse in the quilt and will not find any little gifts along the way (I found a headless mouse on the porch last autumn, compliments of a neighbourhood tom, and headless mice, mocking me, have haunted my dreams ever since). We put the death chamber down in the kitchen and ponder the next move.
‘Let’s just put it in the backyard and forget about the whole thing.’ (My suggestion.)
‘Gross, no, let’s put it across the road by the parking lot where we put the other ones.’ (Chris.)
‘Let’s just throw it out and buy a new duvet next year and go back to sleep. (Me.)
‘No! Let’s take it across the road.’ (Chris.)
‘Fine, but I’m just going to leave it by the butterfly garden. It’s March break. There’s no kids, and by time they come back, some other animal will have picked it up. (Me.)
‘Or your daughter will have picked it up. Since she plays there every day.’ (Chris.)
‘Fine. But you have to help me.’
And so we head outside and across the road to the gully between the fence and the parking lot of the school, where no child ever roams. What a sight. I pray that none of my neighbours have insomnia and are looking out the window at this moment, because we look like we are dumping a body. Which, I realize, is accurate. Oh god.
We make it across the road and lay the blanket down. Gingerly, still expecting to see an angry mouse leap out at us from beneath the layers, we start to unfold the blanket.
‘Slowly,’ I coach, ‘Let’s not let it roll out, because I’m not touching it. Slowly!’
We undo the first three folds and take a breath, readying ourselves for the reveal.
We peel back the last layer, and take our first good look at the beast.
I turn abruptly and head to the house. ‘You know I’m blogging this, right?’
Chris nods. My hero.