Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Mouse and the Beggar By Kezysblog

This is how it starts. You carelessly drop a crumb, forget to cover that hole, and they are in before you know it, clambering all over your food and your belongings before you wake. They huddle in the entrance of the pipe, eyeing you suspiciously as if you are the intruder. And you can see it in their black eyes dead on yours, that they would run if you so much as took a step in their direction. So you hold their stare, because that’s what you do when someone threatens your comfort, your space, you let them know they don’t belong, this is not their home to take. This is yours, all yours.

You have worked hard for this corner under the heater. Suffered the stench of the sewage below. Found a cardboard box big enough to feel like home. The hotel above threw it out, but you found it first before all the other scroungers.

You glare at their twitching whiskers, and your legs are shaking because there are so many of them, but you will not be your mother trembling on the dining table, you will be your father knife in hand ready to cut their throats. This is your home, and you will not be forced out by mice.

Their eyes lower to a chunk of cheese and they nibble away as though you are no longer there. Maybe it’s the stench of your clothes, or the holes in your shoes, maybe it’s the look of despair imprinted like a tattoo in your skin, but they are no longer afraid. You want to tell them that you once walked on the grey bricks above amongst the other matching grey suits. You too clutched your briefcase that little bit tighter as you rushed through the piss stinking underpass before the degenerates beg you for a penny, or ten if you have it. And you did have it, but not for them.

Now you stare longingly at the cheese, the tiny teeth marks indented into the corners. It has been some time since you had cheese. Real cheese that hadn’t turned green, that wasn’t drowning in leftover soup and mouldy bread.

“Huh” it hits you that you are no longer able to choose who you share your home with. Once, you could cross the street, move to another seat, close your front door, but not now. Now you are dodging the same traps laid out for them, now you are ducking the spit aimed so precisely at your head, cowering under the looks of disgust as commuters store their encounter to repeat later over French wine and cheese.

You crawl inside your home and settle inside the sleeping bag you used to take camping. Now you are no better than the mice in the gutter. Now you are them.

A shadow crosses your view, whiskers twitching, eyes glaring. He scuttles into your home, unafraid. He drops a piece of cheese at your feet. Then he is gone.

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