I heard the mouse scampering around in the eaves and decided to take action. Now before I go any further I should confess that I have an unreasonable, irrational, ridiculous and somewhat obsessive fear of attics. In fact, I have lots of unreasonable, irrational, ridiculous and somewhat obsessive fears: dogs, heights, small spaces, flying, fruit, belts, the dark, writing in public, falling off the planet, feet, my belly button being touched,spiders, bones in my food, wasting my life, and most recently, plugholes.
Some of those are understandable- heights, flying, small spaces, even dogs are all quite common fears. I was going to say spiders too but my spider fear has a twist. I hate them, I hate the way they appear suddenly without warning with their nasty pincers, bulging bodies and hairy legs, but I don't won't kill them. My particular fear is that I will pick a mug from the cupboard and find a meaty black spider in the bottom. This stems from an incident when I was a child when I found hideous aforementioned spider in the bottom of a stacking orange plastic picnic cup in our kitchen cupboard. I screamed, threw the cup in the air and the spider fell onto me whist trying to beat a hasty retreat. So I still cautiously check cups when I take them out. That was 1982. Obsessive or what?
The attic fear stems back to the eighties too- maybe 1988- when I was a dirty goth and my friends decided to watch Hellrasier one night. Therein lay the problem with my being a goth; I really wasn't cut out for it. I was quite cheery by nature, disliked graveyards, deplored lace and velvet, secretly listened to ABBA and hated horror films. I was so terrified of horror films that just describing one to me in vague detail was enough to leave me trembling in my bed at night. So there I was, peeping out from behind the sofa trying to give the impression that I was watching the film when I was actually staring at the TVs on/off button. As successful as this method sounds, you couldn't really avoid knowing what was going on and anyway, when something horrible occurred, you were naturally drawn towards whatever hideousness was going on onscreen. The gist of Hellraiser was that some guy was coming back from the dead and was reforming cell by cell by feeding on people. He lived in the attic and innocents would be sent up to their doom. It's as simple as that. Irrational I know, but the truth is that I have not been near an attic- haven't even thought about an attic since that fateful night, without the vision of this half-formed flesh eating man popping into my head. So, bearing this in mind, I'll get back to the mouse.
So, it's getting dark, my husband, M is away on his own in Seattle to check out one of his favourite bands (I'm a really really nice wife)and the kids are tucked up in bed. I know that in the dead of night I have enough to keep me awake without having to deal with the scurrying of the mouse. I know what it is that I have to do, I even stopped by the hardware store earlier in the day to buy traps. I have to go into the attic. As I have mentioned in an early post, our attic was converted into a big light room, so the actual attic space is the part above the sloping eaves, accessed by a board that I screwed securely to the wall the day we moved into the house.
I decide that I can't wait until M comes home- that I have to do this now, so I drink a glass of wine- something that I just don't do often enough these days. It tastes really good, and so I pour another, contemplating what it is that I have to do, step by step. By now, it's pitch black outside and the neighbourhood, which usually has lots going on in it is deathly silent. I finish wine #2 and start preparing. I do not know what is waiting in there for me, so I dress securely- wellington boots, jeans, a hoodie and for good measure I put on the heavy duty respirator mask we bought for painting when I was pregnant, and I now have to drink my wine with a straw. I slowly unscrew the board, and then armed with the screwdriver, I pull it away. There is no instant sign of the creature from Hellraiser nor indeed of the mouse- no droppings, gnawed electrics or fluffy nests. In fact, there is not much of anything, just dark eaves and pressing silence all around me. The floor is uneven, part planks of wood, part insulation and I realize that I need a different plan. I retreat, screw the wood back on and go downstairs where I gulp back my wine because I know that I have to go back in.
Twenty minutes later I am there again, this time with a large tray holding six traps set with delicious smoked Gouda as bait. I contemplate, just for one moment that perhaps I look like a waitress- yea, a waitress wearing wellington boots and a respirator. I go back through the same motions, back to having my heart in my mouth and the dark corners and screaming silence. I place the tray. I back out. I screw the board back in place and for good measure I push the heavy computer desk up against the wall. Mission accomplished.
A week later, after hearing no squeaks or struggles from the live traps M and I go back in, though without my home-alone-theatrics. The cheese is undisturbed, the traps are empty and there is no sign of activity. We haven't heard a peep from the mouse since and I wonder if I imagined it in the first place. Perhaps it was squirrels on the roof or a bird caught somewhere? Perhaps the mouse moved out because it didn't like Gouda.