“What’s in the box?” One of Charlotte’s teachers was curious about the metal box in my hand.
“Oh, it’s a mouse I caught in my kitchen.” She turned green. “Want to see it?” She let out an unintelligible sound, and ran away.
“I’d like to see it.” Charlotte’s other teacher had overheard. I knelt down so Charlotte could see too, and carefully opened the lid. I knew from experience that the mouse would freeze and try not to attract attention.
Charlotte let out a squeal of glee. “It’s a mouse!” she announced. She looked at me, full of excitement, an impression that was only heightened by her choice of clothing for the day: she was wearing her pink purple and silver superhero outfit, with the pink cape. She calls herself Super Elsa when she’s wearing it.
Her best friend came over to look too, but I didn’t particularly want to let the mouse go this close to the school. I closed the lid and led them to the edge of the school yard.
“Is it a real mouse?” asked Charlotte’s friend. She is fascinated by animals, although a little frightened too. Whenever she comes over to play with Charlotte, Eddie inevitably ends up playing the part of “the monster.”
“Yes, it is.” I replied. I could see that she was curious and excited about the thought of a real live mouse.
I got to the edge of the playground, and looked around. We were clear of any group of people by about 30 feet, with a wide open expanse of grass directly ahead. I thought this would be a good place to let the little guy go.
So I opened the lid, and we got a good look at the mouse. He was hiding under what little cover the live trap afforded, but his face was visible, as he glanced back and forth between the three of us.
“Now, don’t touch him. He is a wild animal, and he might bite. He’s not like Eddie, who is a pet.” I figured I might as well try to emphasize that while Eddie is only marginally larger than a mouse, he’s quite harmless.
Suddenly, the mouse bolted. But he didn’t head towards the open expanse of grass. He ran directly at Charlotte’s friend.
The mouse charged directly at a group of boys. Who screamed. And jumped. He kept running under back packs and jackets that were laying on the blacktop. More screaming.
The crowd of parents started to realize that something was happening, looking at their children to determine if there was a threat. I started to get a bad feeling…
The mouse darted under a golden retriever, who seemed completely oblivious to the mouse, but who started wagging his tail at the sudden attention that he thought he was now getting. He stood up, and the mouse darted out, closer to the school, further and further from the grass and trees.
A group of about 15 boys now were chasing the mouse, hooting with laughter. Mice don’t run very fast, and they kept surrounding him, but that mouse would just jump on a shoe, run across a foot, and keep on going.
They finally cornered him against the wall, and I was a little worried they might hurt him in front of the little ones, but my concern was misplaced. The mouse ran straight up the brick wall, and finally rested, sideways, at the top. I looked around at the crowd of 40 kids and parents who were now taking pictures with their cell phones of the mouse on the wall, saying things like “I didn’t know they could climb walls!”
Making sure the trap was still hidden, I asked Charlotte if she was ready to go.
“What about the mouse?” she asked.
“He’ll be okay. He’ll find a new home.” Just as long as it’s not mine.
And with that, Super Elsa climbed onto her scooter, and we flew all the way home.