Sarah L. Miller


It isn’t true that mice prefer cheese. They would rather eat crunchy peanut butter or Purina brand dog food. I should never have told Don.

I work at Exxon. My grandfather has stock in Exxon. That’s why we buy our gas here. I’m on bathroom duty. December 14th, 2:04 p.m. My initials: JM.

My hands sweat as I poke the trap with the toe of my sneaker. The tail jiggles.

Toilet paper gets expensive, Don tells me. We can’t afford to keep donating it to the mice. His lips are stained blue from free raspberry Slurpees. He has zits on zits.

In gym class we had a visiting Tai Chi teacher. He tells us we should stand like sponges, hollow and absorbing. Absorbing what, I want to ask. We are straight lines from mouth to anus. I try not to laugh. He says this after Ellen farts. A long drawn-out fart. The kind that smells.

I think I should stand like that now. Deep breath, sunken chest.

No fart.

I bend and pull the lever back, the body jerking. Its whiskers are as thin as a spider web.

There is peanut butter smeared on its small paws.

I touch it with one finger -- still warm. I wonder how long does it take to get cold?

I wipe my hands on my jeans and pinch the tail between my thumb and forefinger. I dangle it over the toilet bowl, close to the water.

The neck is squished flat -- a joint with no bone. I feel a beat and a breath and the mouse blinks so fast I think I must have dreamed it.

I drop it into the water.

I am a sponge.

A whisker twitches.


The toilet handle is slippery like Don’s lips must be.

I flush.

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