Though I have been described as such multiple times in my life, I never thought of myself as brave. Like any good nerd, I absorbed epic fantasy, anime, and adventure novels in which I not-so-sublty envisioned myself as the main character. I even wrote a book doing the same. Ultimately I knew: in any of those situations, I would likely freeze up in absolute terror, and everyone who was depending on me would die.
I have a couple of fears. I am afraid of storms, owing to the fact that growing up in trailers makes them a bit more dangerous than they were to my house-dwelling peers. I am afraid of becoming like my parents, of losing my fiancé, of never achieving my hopes and dreams. Normal life fears.
It seems like I find a new fear every other week. I am used to living with them. Imagine my surprise, then, when, on a warm August evening as I sat in my desk chair, motion caught my eye. I turned just in time to see a gray blob scurry under my cabinet, a long tail trailing after it.
I jumped, every muscle tightening in my body as if I had been electrocuted. My feet seemed to hop up into my chair of their own accord. I turned to my computer, and, amidst the conversation with my friend about the death of her grandmother, I typed with shaking hands, “Holy fuck, there’s a mouse in my apartment.”
Yeah, a mouse. Not even a rat — a mouse. The one thing that turned my blood cold, that made me so terrified that I cowered in my bed all that night with the light on, that had me crying from sheer, unadulterated panic, was a mouse.
I stayed up into the morning, peering out into the kitchen of my apartment, eyes wide, ready for any bit of motion. The times that it caught me off guard, I squealed and convulsed. I broke down several times during my night of terror. It was just me in my dark studio, — me and the mouse. I don’t think I have been more terrified of anything in my life.
When the sun finally emerged to rescue me from my nocturnal intruder, I pulled myself from my bed. I was bleary-eyed, contacts sticking to my eyes every time I blinked. Before my feet touched the floor, I slid them into sneakers. I walked across my studio, hunched, like stalked prey expecting a pounce from its predator. It was so quiet, but I couldn’t be sure.
My foot squeaked on the hardwood floor, which I met with a scream of my own. I gathered my stuff for work as soon as I could and got the hell out of there.
But it didn’t stop there. Clearly the mouse was following me. It was every lump of trash in the street, every slight sound in my office. Movement at the corner of my eye had me twitching. Clearly, I’d lost my mind. My landlord wasn’t calling me back. At 5 that day I was walking back to a hostile home.
As absurd as it may seem, it was at this moment when I first displayed something that I would call bravery. Instead of sitting around for someone else to fight my battle, I took action. I spent at least an hour in a hardware store with a very nice man who helped me piece together my options. Four traps and $10 later, I was ready to face my foe.
(Stay tuned for Part 2!)