Do you remember that line from ‘Handsel and Gretel’? The story of a witch who built her house in the middle of the woods to entrap small lost children. Walls of gingerbread, windows of spun sugar, licorice trim and gumdrop flowers, what child can resist a nibble or two? As I child I had the ‘read along’ story on record. Yes, that is an actual vinyl disk that spun on a turntable with a needle to interpret the grooved lines into a story. I can still hear the scratchy sound of the narrator’s voice as the witch saying, “Nibble, nibble little mousy. Who is nibbling on my housy?” and Handsel and Gretel’s brave reply. “It is the wind.” It was very scary back then.
I may not have a gingerbread house covered in sweets, (my kids would have eaten us out of house and home long ago) but something is nibbling. I haven’t seen it, but I know it is here. I can hear it. That scratching sound like fingernails on the other side of the wall, but nothing is there. The dry rustling of paper where there is no wind, the crackle of candy wrappers that my children thought they had disposed of, all point to one conclusion. A mouse in my house.
It was confirmed when my sister came over to chat for a while. I noticed that although she was talking and answering questions, her eyes kept straying beyond me. I turned my head to look, but didn’t see anything. “What is it? what do you see?” I thought maybe it was my dirty dishes that I hadn’t made myself do yet. But no, of course not. “There is a mouse, right there next to the chair in your dining room.” I looked again but saw nothing.
Late that night, as I tried to fall asleep, the rustling and crackling came again. this time right under my bed. That’s it. That’s the last straw. I sit straight up in bed and, much to my husband’s dismay, flick on the light. All was silent. Had I been dreaming? Were the noises of the day haunting my nights? I flounder for a moment under the weight of my blankets while scrabbling for my glasses. I really hate not being able to see. I move the box that serves as a nightstand. Nothing. I peer cautiously under the bed. Nothing. Had it escaped, or was it really a dream? Unsure I climbed back into bed, glasses on, straining for any sound beyond that of my husband’s deep breathing. It is ages before I can join him in slumber.
I am the first to admit, I am not a great housekeeper. I hate to clean, but I do it. I try to keep up on dishes and laundry and try to keep the rest picked up. Sometimes it works, sometimes I get behind. However, as much as I hate cleaning, the next few days I will be a clean freak. There will be nowhere left for my visitor to hide. There will be no piece of furniture left unmoved, no scrap of paper left in it’s corner. I will find my nibbler, or at least his access point, and I will leave him out in the cold. If that fails, I will have to adopt my sister’s cat for awhile. Either way,
Beware little nibbler, I’m coming for you!