My mother didn't catch the mouse in the house, but she caught its two front teeth

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

According to my mother, everyone has a mouse story, but hers is the best. I was about to tell her that not everyone has a mouse story, and then I realized I have one, too, but that's a story for another day.

My parents moved into a house that had a resident mouse. The mouse lived in their bedroom closet, and it made very disturbing noises in the middle of the night when my parents were trying to sleep.

My mother has never been a sound sleeper, and once she's awake, she's awake. The sound of the mouse skittering and squeaking in my parents' bedroom closet annoyed her until her nerves were on edge. Once she heard those telltale sounds, she could not sleep for the rest of the night.

When she couldn't take another sleepless night, she went to the hardware store to buy mousetraps. Unfortunately, back then, they sold only one type of mousetrap. There weren't mousetrap options for homeowners who wanted to catch and release the rodents in a grassy field somewhere. Her only option was an old-fashioned wooden mousetrap with metal springs.

My mother baited the mousetrap with cheese, slipped it into the bedroom closet, and prepared to do battle with her miniature rival. When she heard it snap shut in the middle of the night, she felt a shiver of joy and dread.

"I felt like I had hit the lottery," she told me.

Was the mouse dead? She would have to check the mousetrap if she wanted to find out. It couldn't wait until morning.

She squinted at the mousetrap in the semidarkness. There was no mouse. The mousetrap was empty. "It got away," she told my father.

Weeks passed without my mother catching the mouse. The elusive little pest filled those two weeks with midnight squeaks and squeals.

My mother was livid. She went back to the hardware store and bought a bigger trap. Then she set it with a bigger piece of cheese. This time, when the trap snapped shut in the middle of the night, she knew she would be victorious.

It was a mixed victory. The mouse had escaped the jaws of the trap, but it had embedded its two front teeth in the wood and left them behind. My mother said they sparkled bright white and shone in the light from the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling of the closet.

"I still don't know how it happened," my mother told me, "but the mouse never returned, and that was good enough for me." My parents could finally sleep soundly without interruptions.

My mother doesn't know where the mouse went, but she said you can recognize it from its missing front teeth. "It must have been ashamed after it lost its teeth," she told me, "because it never came back to our house."

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