Promiti Debi | Staff Illustrator
Ricardo the South Oakland House Mouse begins his day as all South Oakland mice do. He sits on my broken kitchen table — despite the hazard of the glass shards poking through the wicker — staring at me, standing his ground.
That’s right — all South Oakland mice, after years of knowing and living among you, will stand their ground.
I turn on the light, only looking to fill my water bottle and head to the gym and begin my day with the extra shot of endorphins my body so desperately needs, and yet I find Ricardo perched on the table, on top of the reusable Trader Joe’s bags.
He used to scurry away when I turned on the light. Now he looks at me, expecting that we will coexist. I fill my water bottle and, taking one last glance at him, still on the table, turn off the kitchen lights and leave the house. We do coexist, Ricardo and I. He used to run at the sound of footsteps on the hardwood, used to burrow himself behind the washing machine. Now there is a shared knowledge that we both live here. An intimacy, if you will.
I do not know when mice sleep, but I do know that they are usually awake by 6 a.m.
After this encounter, Ricardo goes about his day. He begins by climbing on top of the boxes of iced tea cans, hopping over to the bag full of bags we keep on the back door handle, launches himself onto the lunch box, which we do not know where we found or why we display, and continues on his way, walking around our exposed pantry shelves.
He spots a box of fire-roasted tomato Triscuits, which he must know are my favorite, and thinks to himself that today is a good time to put some more work into his project — chewing through the Triscuit box so that he may chew through the bag inside the box so that he may eat the fire-roasted tomato Triscuits and leave me with a tub of sun-dried tomato hummus and nothing to dip in it, ruining my dual tomato-flavored snack.
Ricardo is both quick and cunning. I believe he is a Slytherin. I do not know what he thinks he is, or if such arbitrary categorizations as Hogwarts houses are of any interest to him.
But as a Slytherin myself, I respect that.
After chewing at the Triscuit box, he leaves the pantry shelves and moves on to his next task — running between my dresser and my closet as I yell, “Ricardo!” at 7:30 a.m. to no one but myself and a mouse who may not be sure he has a name. This continues for about five minutes, until I leave him to wander through my shoes and long dresses while I shower.
Then I leave Ricardo and head to class. I assume he does not miss me, as he is a mouse going about his own life with his own prerogative, and may not understand what it means to “miss” someone.
I cannot be sure what he does while I am gone, though I have ideas.
Ricardo may return to the pantry and work his way into the knock-off Thin Mints I bought at Aldi. He may sit on top of the ramen packets. He may return to the broken table and navigate through the glass so he can hop on the counter. He may then hide behind the radiator in this weird hole we have between the cabinets and the dishwasher, which only contains a brick that came with the house and a small bin of dirty rags. He may play in the dirty rags. He may take a nap behind the radiator in the bathroom.
If I were Ricardo, I would want to take a nap behind the radiator in the bathroom.
When I return for the day, I see Ricardo staring at me from behind the bag of avocados on the counter. Ricardo the House Mouse does not care about the price of avocados, namely the two avocados sat on my kitchen counter, next to the stove, so that they could ripen and I could make avocado pesto. He doesn’t care that Giant Eagle has the audacity to charge $3 for 2 avocados, as though I will not still purchase these avocados even though I cannot afford them. But Ricardo, just strolling on past my avocados, dipping behind the stove, does not have any respect for the money I spend on needless fruits.
I fume. He is far too close to my avocados for comfort. I throw the avocados in the garbage. I eat pasta with pesto sauce from the jar and it is not as good.
I put aside my anger, reminding myself that it must be hard to be Ricardo, the South Oakland House Mouse, who just lost his other mouse friend, Jordan, who got stuck in a box of saltines and was then forcibly thrown, while still inside the box of saltines, out into the cobblestone street. He is going through the loss of a loved one.
It must be hard to go about your day without friends.
Then Ricardo hides under the couch and, I assume, falls asleep, exhausted by his antics, preparing for another day of slinking around the empty wine bottles next to the refrigerator and hiding behind the toilet while I brush my teeth.
Sleep well, Ricardo. Sleep well.
Allison Dantinne primarily writes satire and humor for The Pitt News. Write to Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.