Pest Control by Yvonne Clarke

Crumbs on the floor and a pest in the pantry. ‘Not again!’ sighs Angela. 

‘Mother, it’s vermin, it’s a pest. It’s been in the pantry for three days.’ I was reluctant to kill the mouse, so we set up a humane mousetrap.

The mouse bypassed the trap in favour of a vertical ascent to my organic peanut butter on the second shelf. A mouse of impeccable taste. A mouse gourmand.

So that was that: traditional trap – snip, snap. But I still have the rat.

I’ve always loved animals. Father was a vet. As a child, I was never happier than when I was helping to feed the dogs and cats, cleaning out their cages, rejoicing in the happy endings and breaking my heart over the not-so-happy ones.

‘You can’t be too sensitive,’ father told me. Yet when I saw him sobbing over the death of our beloved spaniel I realised that, like a true professional, he had learned to mask his feelings.

The rat appeared after I started putting my kitchen scraps in a bag outside the back door. Rats are nature’s dustbins. They make a meal out of anything – stale crusts, Styrofoam, soap. He comes at night, and he’s used to my torchlight. I named him, but I’ve forgotten it. I forget a lot these days.

Angela’s now my ‘primary carer,’ but she says it’s too much for her. If only her father were still alive – he’d soon tell her what’s what. She always was a bossy little madam. She’s found me a nice little place – ‘warden assisted’ apparently, so I’ll have all the support I’ll need.

Animals aren’t allowed.

I don’t want to go. I’d be just fine here with my furry companion. He’s better company than my daughter.

But now, it seems I’ve become the pest.

Published in Issue #25

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