“Alas,” I said to the mouse. I had watched it for a month or more, ever since I found the room for let in a house that would’ve been nice if only the owner took better care of its foundation. Otherwise, it was spacious and had a good facade, and my housemates were nice when I spoke to them. But I mostly kept to myself, in my little attic room. More and more, I would spend my waking hours there. I don’t know why. As soon as I could afford my own room, I put everything that I needed inside it and didn’t leave. That is just how it went. And then one night, illuminated by my little desk light, I saw it skitter across the floor, from one corner of my room to the other and out the door. It was late, and I had been laboring over some pointless letter that would never see the light of day, so I imagined it might have been some hallucination. But then I saw it again, not another hour or so later. It squeezed beneath the door into the room and ran back across the floor. Although I couldn’t be sure, I could’ve sworn this time it was carrying a large chunk of cheese in its mouth. And because so, I again thought it had to be a hallucination. But as time went on, the mouse grew unafraid, tempting my attention evermore with each passing night. So, I baited a trap with cheese, set it in the corner, and waited. But the mouse never came. Eventually, I grew tired and drifted into a dream before something suddenly snapped me out of my slumber. Drool pooled on the pages on my desk, mixed with blue and red ink that stained my face. The cheese was gone, but the mouse had not set off the trap. I couldn’t decide whether the trap was faulty or the mouse uncommonly cunning. I decided to reward its prowess or abide by the law of luck and not bait the trap again. In truth, I don’t know what I decided. But I left it there, loaded in the corner, serving as some kind of relic. The mouse still comes and goes. Now and again, it pauses to give me a look of human understanding, challenging me to do the thing that both of us are thinking.
Anthony Miller divides his time between Chicago and his home in Colorado. He studied writing at Loyola University Chicago and received his MA from DePaul. His work can be found in After Hours: A Journal of Chicago Writing and Art, and The Crook and Folly.