Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Mouse of Alistair Park.


There once was a very famous mouse. Though it did not have a specific name, everyone referred to it as The Mouse of Alistair Park. For many years, the mouse was seen collecting dropped coins found on the sidewalk in the neighborhood. Pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters, it simply didn't matter; any kind of money would do. On occasion, the mouse was even known to drag away a dollar bill. This mouse was very special. You see, cats simply could not catch it. Pest control agents were no more successful, either. As the years went on and on, the mouse kept making appearances. Every time the mouse was spotted, there would be a bit of money held tightly against its chest. Scurrying away with the claimed treasure, the mouse always seemed to inexplicably come back.

One cold winter evening, a young girl named Freya moved into Alistair Park. Her mother had rented a tiny, run-down one bedroom flat in the poorest part of the neighborhood. Already working two jobs and barely scraping by, it was all she could afford for their small family. Despite her impoverished surroundings, Freya was a delightful child. Full of cheer and merriment, she only saw the positive in the conditions impacting her life. Her mother couldn't have asked for a more helpful daughter; Freya was eternally eager to assist with chores and cleaning. Having settled their boxes in for the night, Freya unfurled a simple cot near the radiator for warmth and laid down. It wasn't long before she was asleep.

As the frosty evening gave way to the early hours of the morning, Freya awoke to the sound of gentle tapping. Parting her eyelids, she caught glimpse of a speedy creature darting around her empty kitchen. Rubbing her face, she soon focused her eyes on a tiny mouse staring at her. Somewhat frightened, Freya froze as the minuscule creature slowly crawled towards her. Twitching its whiskers, the mouse didn't seem altogether scared of the little girl. Instead, it scampered up her blanket and came to rest on her chest. Unsure of what to do, Freya simply closed her eyes. Before long, she returned to sleep. Finally having found warmth, the petite mouse went to sleep as well.

The mouse returned the next night, though found that Freya was off the floor and had assembled her bed. Only somewhat fearful of the little rodent this time, she didn't tremble when the mouse came to sleep on her chest once again. Night after night, the mouse journeyed to sleep with Freya for warmth and comfort. As the weeks passed, the two became secret friends. Freya would even sneak away a piece of bread or bits of vegetables at dinner for her furry companion. She would carefully hold the food in her hand, allowing the mouse to eat freely before curling up to rest.

Freya and her mouse friend spent many nights together. As the months passed on, the bond between human and mouse grew stronger. The young girl was surprised one night when the mouse brought her a quarter. She didn't understand how such a tiny creature could comprehend the importance of the shiny object. This startling habit continued on and on. Each evening, the mouse would bring Freya a coin. She was very thankful for the money the mouse brought; every little bit helped with the challenges her family faced.

One night, anticipating the arrival of her friend, Freya sat awake for many hours. And yet, the mouse did not arrive. Disappointed that the mouse had not come, Freya felt a pit of worry form in her stomach. She hoped it would return the following night, but failed to do so. Freya's heart began to break. She missed her dear friend and wished for its safe return.

Three days following the disappearance of the mouse, Freya was walking home from school. As she passed her neighbors' front porch stoops, she took notice of a small mouse standing tall upon the steps of an abandoned home. As if to wave and say hello, it bobbed back and forth when Freya came near. Excited, she wondered if this was her missing friend, but soon came to realize that it was a different mouse. Bending over to greet the little beast, it immediately darted up the steps and into the dark house. Full of curiosity, Freya followed it inside.

Beams of light sliced through the boarded windows of the dingy house. A musty odor accompanied the tattered furniture and dust-covered rugs inside. Looking for the mouse, Freya soon caught glimpse of it zipping upstairs. Hot on its heals, she ran close behind. Hopping to and fro, the mouse bounced quickly as if on a mission. Sure enough, it was.

As Freya rose to the top of the stairs, she saw two mice nestled together. One was her new acquaintance. The other was her missing friend! Though, the circumstances were not the best. Freya's companion lay squirming, his tail caught in a trap. Nearly out of strength and quivering from hunger, its beady little eyes brightened with joy upon seeing Freya. She rushed over and flipped the trap open, releasing her comrade. Dragging itself on all four feet, the mouse was all but extinguished by its weakness. Freya picked her friend up and retrieved an apple from her school bag. She bit off a sliver, then fed her friend the first bite of food it had eaten in days. Nibbling on the apple, the diminutive mouse soon regained its energy. As Freya and the mouse finished eating the apple, they were elated to be together once again.

With a full stomach, the mouse leaped from Freya's lap onto the floor. Rubbing its nose against the other mouse's face, they both wriggled and squirmed with happiness. Freya marveled at how the two mice seemed to speak to each other, though without using words. Watching intently, the two mice whizzed towards a bedroom filled with hazy light and shadow. They approached a small gap in the bottom of a closet door and squeezed through. Freya made sure to follow them, hoping to see where they were going.

Placing her hand upon the closet's door knob, Freya couldn't have been prepared for what she was about to see.

Pulling the heavy door open, it creaked loudly from years of being unused. As the scattered sunlight in the room blasted the darkness of the closet away, an old wooden trunk came into view. A small hole had been chewed along the lip of the lid, just big enough for a small animal to poke through. Atop the trunk sat Freya's friend, as if beckoning for her to open the lid. Freya came to rest on her knees, to which the mouse climbed upon her shoulder and nuzzled against her cheek.

She pushed the lid open, only to find a mountain of coins, paper money and bits of gold and silver. Astounded at the wealth hidden within the trunk, Freya could only muster an inaudible squeak from her young frame. Even more surprising, a deluge of little mice emerged from the darkest corners of the room. Each dove into the trunk and retrieved one portion of the treasure. Piece by piece, they began placing their riches in Freya's backpack. Unable to understand what the creatures were doing, Freya sat there with her mouse friend in her ear. It chirped and peeped softly, then made a gentle humming sound as if to sing.

For the next few days, Freya would stop after school and retrieve a backpack full of treasure from the trunk. The wealth the mice provided changed Freya's life for the better. Her mother used it to start a small laundry business, to which she became a successful part of the community. And yet, no matter how better off she became, Freya would always welcome her mouse friend at night, a bit of food in hand.

As the mouse turned old and gray, it eventually passed on. Freya was saddened at the loss of her friend, but was so thankful for what it had done for her. Yet, as Freya grew into a young woman, the legend of The Mouse of Alistair Park continued on. She knew that the helpful group of mice were slowly amassing another small fortune in secret, looking for another young child to help.

Throughout her entire life, when Freya rested her head on her pillow at night, she'd sometimes envision her old friend once again. More so than any amount of riches, the greatest gift the little mouse had given her was its loyal companionship.

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