Had that mouse been in our house forever? I remembered her tormenting our cats, dancing past them. In fact, she appeared just before we inherited Callie from my mother. “Ha,” I thought, “what horrid timing for the poor creature; our new cat will soon take care of her.” It turned out Callie was pathetic as a mouser, swift and aggressive, yes, but clumsy, pouncing blindly, swiping at empty air, as the little rodent dashed past. Even when we got Thelma, a more thoughtful and methodical hunter, the clever mouse continued to win their chess games, darting from some unexpected corner, or scuttering out from under the stove or refrigerator, taking strange, unexpected turns in mid-flight that defied the laws of physics.
My wife thinks it was not one mouse, but many, some small and bright-eyed, others browner, fatter, furrier. And there were months and years when the mouse did not appear. But I know better. If it was not the same mouse physically, growing older, more filled out, slower but wiser over the years, it was the same mouse spiritually. My wife is too hung up over the physical world, linear thinking, natural laws, to realize that the very same being has been tormenting our poor cats over all these centuries.
And now the mouse has appeared again, in the form of a cat, like a pawn that has advanced to the last row and been promoted to Queen. Now the mouse is the new Callie, small, energetic, calico yet darker, in tortoiseshell form. Instead of a filthy scourge that we fear will sicken us, she is now our best beloved. And now a new mouse—or is it the same old mouse?—has reemerged to torment her.