My mother is a small woman, and on the morning she went to live in the kitchen cabinets my father laid mousetraps. He told me that I could only look, not touch, that even a whisper within an inch of the trap would activate the spring and hammer and my nose or lip or finger would be gone, history. But this did not stop mother from rolling the Lazy Susan open, nearly spilling its contents as she barreled out onto the floor, crawling, sidestepping the traps.
“What are you doing right now?” my father judged.
My mother shook her head. “Keeping the mice away!”
“It’s more like you’re the reason they won’t come to the traps.”
My dad reminded her of the crumbs, the droppings, the boxes of snacks thrown away, but this didn’t matter. We always had a TV in the kitchen, as far back as I can remember. It was barely afternoon by the time she carved out holes for cables—TV, Internet, laptop. She watched Ina Garten, checked her email, smoked. Mom said it could be done, getting the mice to come, by making a home where they “do their grocery shopping.”
“That doesn’t make sense.” I said.
“It does, though.” she said from under the sink. “Look at the people who live at the grocery store. Everybody’s heard the story of the guy sleeping on the lower shelves, behind cases of bottled water. Each store is home to at least four to six people. Managers are told to not even try. They always win.” I said to mom that’s all fine and dandy, but that doesn’t explain why living in the cabinets will solve anything. She drilled a new hole so she could clear the smoke, ash. She got really good at it, so good that she set off the smoke alarm. We had an evacuation plan for fires. Dad met me out front. We checked our clothes, patted ourselves down for soot and ash. We checked each other’s backs for wounds. We checked our arms, our legs, our feet, our heads, the sites of important vessels. We came back inside. I called for my mother and entered the kitchen. Mother was laughing at the TV, slapping her knees so hard the spray faucet fell into the sink. Once the smoke cleared, tiny crumbs were resting on the linoleum, the traps still set. I got close but did not touch.
Chase Eversole’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Gloom Cupboard, Burningword Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Danse Macabre, Medium, and other places. Follow him on Twitter: @ChaseEversole.