So I almost broke my arm this week. Brace yourself – tissues at the ready.
Our house has been taken over by animals. Charlie, our little rescue cat, has always been the boss, Angel the seven month old ridgeback destroys things, Ben the rescue rabbit comes into the house on a twice daily basis and poos everywhere and now we have Rebecca – another rescue rabbit to keep Ben company – who also poos everywhere, except seems to cover a much wider area of carpet. You’d think that would be a fair listing, but there are also the ants which have invaded the conservatory and the swarm of honey bees that have moved to the roof. Our house has a buzz about it at night. I am waiting for the bears to arrive.
But none of the above are culprits in this tale. It was a mouse called Harry. Charlie went out one night and caught Harry. Normally, that would have been it, his fate sealed as he was brought back into the house - but on this occasion, Harry somehow escaped and made it into the playroom.
Good place to hide the playroom. Toys, sofas, bookcases – not a big room, but a room full of chaotic mayhem where a little furry brown body can hide quite happily. It’s the room the bunnies visit twice daily - great source of crumbs and spilt food. And despite concerted efforts by me, Charlie and Angel to capture poor Harry - regular fleeting glimpses of his happy little self indicated that this little mouse was a survivor. I’d handily screwed all the bookcases to the walls – a rare effort at health and safety – admittedly, they generally don’t hold when challenged, but still, it meant Harry had the place to himself. As a code to his endurance I pledged that no mousetraps, rat traps or poisons would be used – this was mouse versus man and he was winning.
Or he did for at least for two weeks. Harry had become a feature of many a family conversation and by the end of it, he had pretty much been granted amnesty. Like a gladiator of old, he had his stripes – he had survived numerous full scale attacks, completely out numbered and under equipped and the children were even at the point of leaving a little ‘Harry food’ around the place. He had made it into the Gamble fold – the sofa even had it’s own Harry hole by now and he was our free range pet mouse.
Sadly, it all went wrong this weekend. Harry had sneaked out to help me read a Peppa Pig story to Sheba – our two year old daughter. There he was, back of the sofa, lording it up, when I decided I should grab him and put him outside. I thought he missed his friends and I was worried about all the wires behind the bookcase – how very middle aged. Anyway, I predictably missed, Harry scampered under the sofa, I lifted it, twisted, dropped it on my arm and Harry nipped behind the bookcase.
At this point, I was in pain. My arm was limp, Sheba was bemused and Harry thought I had betrayed him. He had had enough and so he made a bid for freedom from the playroom. I had left the door open by about an inch. He saw the gap and went for it, he made into the hall, round the corner into the kitchen and was on the home straight to the backdoor when… Charlie did what Charlie does.
Grab that tissue. When I found him, his lifeless little body still warm, I felt genuine remorse. I cradled him and looked hard at Charlie who lifted her silky eyelids in cool acknowledgment.
“You’ve killed Harry!” I said accusingly.
“Did I?” her expression seemed to say, oozing indifference. She was over it.
Deep down, I knew she was right. I know Charlie would have been monitoring the situation and yet, I didn’t lock her away, I left the door open and I effectively chased Harry from the playroom and broke the bonded trust we had built up over the last two weeks.
Sheba came through and looked at the small furry body in my hand.
“Harry dead?” she said, sadly. “Daddy hurt Harry?”
“I didn’t mean to...” I stumbled, shaking my head. It was a bad moment.
My arm still hurts, I miss Harry, but it’s a poignant reminder I need to take responsibility for my actions and think ahead more. It also goes someway to explaining why dogs are my favourite animals.