The cold was so sharp and startling that it was mice all through the little blue house. Momma set traps for the mice along the edges of the room where they scurried, and gave Piper and Teagan thick wool socks to keep their toes warm when the mice ran over their feet. When they went for walks, the mice would jump from tree branches and light posts to kiss Piper’s nose and cheeks, and when they got back inside Piper’s ears would be red from their nibbling. The mice were very afraid of hot chocolate, and so momma would make them big steaming bowls of it, and Piper and Teagan drank it by the gallon, and watched as big oversized marshmallows dissolved into it.
When March came, the mice began to thin out. There were none in the traps for a week, and Piper could go for an entire walk and only have one or two make some improbable leap to kiss her nose. Momma told them the mice would die, but that next winter they’d be back again to run over their toes. But Piper thought she’d miss them and their clumsy jumps and kisses and scurries. So she went out to the garage wearing only her pajamas, and put her fingers on the cold concrete. She sat there waiting for a few minutes, when one of the mice darted out from beneath one of the cars to nibble her fingers. She grabbed it quickly.
The mouse was a lovely shade of dark blue, and he was freezing cold and extremely soft. Piper knew she’d get frostbite if she held onto it for a long time, and so she marched into the kitchen, opened the freezer, and chucked the little mouse in.
Every day after school she would let it run on the countertops, leaving trails of frost, and feed it bits of freezer-burnt broccoli. She named him Jack, and he was as fine a pet as she could ask for.
Written on 2/13/16 at RMSC for a little girl’s second birthday.