by Ann Zimmerman
Shortly before, or maybe after, he went mad, my grandfather blasted a hole in his bedroom ceiling with a shotgun. He wanted to kill the mice scratching in his attic.
Now there are mice in my attic.
“I heard them again last night,” she says.
I pour milk on Wheaties. “Didn’t hear anything.”
She often teases about my perfect sleep, says she could bring a lover into our bed in the middle of the night and I’d never wake up.
After she leaves for work, I dress and walk to the hardware store. I buy one mousetrap. That evening I prepare the trap. In the kitchen, I slice a chunk of cheese.
“I told you to use peanut butter,” she says. “You never listen.”
While I am in the attic placing my trap, she goes to bed. She has to get up early for work.
When I check my trap the next day, I find a tiny gray body, neck snapped, legs splayed, head twisted, eyes bulging, pink tongue protruding. I put on my gloves to carry it to the garbage can. I throw away the trap, too.
She works late that night. I eat Wheaties for dinner. I go to bed before she gets home. In the morning she shakes me awake. “There are more mice,” she says. I roll over and go back to sleep.
This time I buy three traps. She comes home while I am smearing peanut butter on one of the traps. She strolls through the dining room and points to the fist-sized hole in the drywall. “Are you ever going to fix that?” she asks.
“Sure, soon as there’s time.”
She laughs, her snorting laugh. Doesn’t she know her nagging caused the hole in the first place? “Get a job … Take your medicine … Catch the mice.” It’s a lot to ask.
Within a few days, I have killed two more mice. As I climb the ladder into the attic with my last trap, she walks into the bedroom. “I’m leaving you,” she says.
I almost fling the trap at her head. But I stop myself. “Why?” I ask. “Because of the mice?”
“God, no,” she says. “You are so clueless.” She hurries down the stairs.
My legs tremble as I jump off the ladder. I watch her join her lover on the front walk.
It is so quiet in the attic now. I can’t sleep. I wait for more mice. I have my grandfather’s gun.
Ann Zimmerman lives in the mountains of Colorado where she skis, hikes, golfs, and runs around trying to photograph Rocky Mountain goats and bighorn sheep. She’s a retired electrician from the Coors Brewery in Golden, so she can buy discounted beer, which she often consumes while trying to write flash fiction. A few sites that have published her stories are Long Story Short, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Antipodean SF.