Hawk and Mouse is a Modern Fable from Nature and the Otherworld, a special section of writing I call Welcome to the Green World.
Juliette played on the floor with her children like any other day. One had a wet diaper, the other had a trail of blocks across the living room floor. They laughed and romped and Juliette knew this was a good day. A great day. No one was arguing, no one was crying. There were just smiles and laughs, all on a recently vacuumed carpet.
Then she saw it, just as she hugged her youngest. The clock seemed louder somehow. Her kids’ noises no longer registered with her. All she saw was the black body and thin tail running under the kitchen counter. Mouse! Still frozen, she stared after it, as if it’s shadow would somehow discredit its existence.
Her first instinct was to get the children away. These precious angels of hers had no obligation to exist alongside such vulgar creatures. They could no longer romp on the floor five feet from a repugnant mouse. Loathsome. Diseased.
Her skin shivered as gooseflesh ran across her body. She was repulsed and tried not to show it to the kids. Play in your bedroom. Yes. Stay in there while I call Dad.
He arrived quickly, knowing his wife was terrified. As he walked through the door, Juliette could have sworn it was the head of a hawk on his shoulders. Yes. A man’s body and a hawk’s head. He held her and comforted her, his beak gently sidestepping her collarbone. It’s the mouse, she told herself. The mouse is making me see things.
Juliette stood back, biting her nails, while the hawk-hubby set traps around the kitchen. He was gone, back off to work as quickly as he had arrived, and she was once again alone to face the mouse.
You guys okay? she shouted over her shoulder. Muffled uh-huh noises told her not to worry. Still, she chewed a fingernail and stared at the kitchen floor like it could bite. Time seemed to stand still. Why did he have to go back to work? What if the mouse came back?
It could have been minutes or hours that she stood in that same position, locked in fear. Juliette never flinched, never moved a muscle once that last nail was done. She didn’t even blink when the trap went off, when a pool of blood flowed out from the first trap set. She stood motionless, thinking Die! Die!
In truth, she had been moving the whole time. She had been circling high above the mouse, watching his every move. She enjoyed the air as it hit her face, the feeling of gliding with little effort. The thrill of finding her next meal made her blood rush in ways she had not known in years. All while she stood there in pajamas and slippers.
Finally she realized what had happened. She heard the children laughing at their cartoon and remembered that her husband had set out traps. And for that split second, she wasn’t quite sure which world she preferred.