The Mouse in the Cupboard: A Short Story


A small rodent lies on a red surface. Photo labeled for reuse by Ranjith Jaya on Unsplash.

In these times It’s difficult to stay in a world surrounded in panic so I have decided to do the only thing a writer can: tell you a story. I hope that you can have a small escape from the pandemic, social-distancing, stay-at-home, and e-learning.

The Mouse in the Cupboard

He lived in the attic above the kitchen. It was a nice home for an uninvited guest. The roof was only a few feet above the ground, so much that only a child could occupy the room comfortably, but, for the mouse, it was as grand as a ballroom and he would dance across the floorboards whenever the family would listen to Sinatra on the old turntable that was beneath him and to the right.

The house as a whole gave off an impression of something out of the 1940s. Perhaps the owners were too poor to renovate it, or maybe they liked it the way it was. While the mouse had never had any interactions with the family underneath his home, he felt a strange connection to them. He had been there upon their arrival and he had lived with them throughout the various adventures a family of three experiences. A quiet observer, but present nonetheless.

There were two reasons for the mouse’s distance from the family. For one, he always felt as though he would not be so welcome into their home, being a mouse in all. He couldn’t help but be born two inches tall with a tail but he was aware of the assumptions made whenever a mouse is occupying the home of a human so he felt it best to avoid distressing his coinhabitants. The second reason for his apprehension towards the family was his eating habits.

The mouse had tried to found food outside of the old house but found no luck. The home was quite distant from any other house and the woods felt much too dangerous for the mouse to explore, thus, his only choice was to remain the hidden seat at the dinner table. He would try to only eat scraps of what his host had left behind that night but occasionally had to make visits into the cupboards.

This was one of those nights.

It was roughly 1:oo in the morning. The mouse had calculated that the family would regularly go to bed at 10:00 sharp and only occasionally come down for water at roughly 11:00. This was the optimal time for the mouse as he preferred to go to bed by 2:00.

There were many ways to reach the cupboards but the fastest was the hole. Hiding behind one of the cardboard boxes in the attic was crevice hardly any bit bigger than the mouse. This led into the walls of the house; a vertical maze of pipes perfectly designed for the mouse to navigate. He traveled over and under the metal corridors making sure to avoid tangling himself in the various exposed wires that blocked his path. The walls smelled of paint and dust. As he climbed, he could feel the dirt rise behind his paws as he scurried across the pipes.

At the corner of the wall laid another crevice. This led directly above the cupboards which were six inches from the ceiling. The mouse dropped from the hole and trotted towards the edge of the cupboard with a gleeful swing of his tail; he could smell dinner. Looking down from the ledge he could see the circular brass handles that would gain entrance to his feast. The mouse carefully climbed downwards utilizing the carved design as a grab for his paws to grip. Upon reaching the handle, he wrapped his tail around the handle and let himself hang upside down like a coat on a rack. Then he swung away from the cupboard so that the door opened slightly. He was in…

Kind of. The mouse still had to get inside the cupboard and currently he was still hanging from the ajar door. His only option was to drop to the kitchen counter below. Upon landing, he decided his best method of climbing back to the top would be the knife rack directly in front of him. He would have to climb the rack to the tallest knife and then leap up unto the opening of the cupboard. The mouse had never been much of a jumper but he had grown accustomed to this particular acrobatic on the times where the cupboard was his best source of food.

The leap itself was an adventure. The mouse stood atop the highest knife and looked up. From the instant that he pushed his paws off of the hilt, the world around him vanished along with his hunger. For that brief moment, all the mouse could feel was excitement and fear at it’s finest. The air was both guiding him and creating a wall through which he had to push through. It flooded around him and as his paws reached for the inside of the cupboard he could sense the swirling air around him begin to slow as he lost momentum. However, this feeling was one of comfort. His paws could feel the wood against them and the little mouse knew he had reached the cupboard again.

Now came the reward: The mouse surveyed the towers of choices. The cereal boxes that stacked high above his head were like walls though which he would only find comfort. Naturally, he went for the box with grand letters spelling out L I F E. His favorite cereal as it was neither too sweet nor too bland. He climbed to the top of the box and opened the lid. Utilizing his tail he reached down into the promised land and ate from the fruit it bore. Biting into the first piece was as rewarding to him as an Olympic runner receiving the gold medal. His taste buds roared as he nibbled away at the crunchy, salty, and sweet mixture of grain, sugar, and salt. The little mouse had become a king.

After finishing his meal, the mouse began his journey home. He closed the box, climbed the cupboard door (making sure to close it as he left), and went through the hole in the wall. He had arrived back in the attic with a sense of extreme accomplishment and fulfillment. The little mouse could never tell whether the fulfillment was his appetite or the pride he felt for completing his tiny adventure but nonetheless it was an encouraging moment and a perfect lullaby. The clock struck 2 and the thin-tailed hero closed his eyes and fell asleep.

The End

*Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the current environment we’re in. That is up to you to decide. Perhaps, the mouse is us. He creates his own adventure within the house and finds fulfillment in the simple act of getting food, so we too can find adventure anywhere. Maybe the story is a reminder that our life is indoors and so leaving the house would be a danger to both ourselves and our families. Or, it is quite possible that the story is just about a tiny mouse who is looking for something to eat that we can just read about and escape from our world to be a part of his for a while.*