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MY BLOG: Every day for a year.
Day 115 ‘Of mice and me’
There’s nothing quite like the eerie quiet of a deserted school. I’d spent many days in the planning, but the unease still invaded every cell of my body. The science lab was always a cold, sterile, unwelcoming place to be, and I imagine its captives felt this keenly. Slowly peering over the window ledge from the outside of the building, I spotted the sock I’d removed from my shoe earlier in the day. Wedged in tightly, it acted nicely as a door jam and had gone unnoticed by the lockup crew. I’d never noticed how badly the window’s hinges needed oiling til that point. Squealing like a tattle tale stool pigeon, I found myself urgently hushing it. With the window wide open, I paused several moments to make sure the hinges belly aching had not alerted anyone to my presence. Reassured I was still alone, I proceeded to haul myself over the ledge. Gaining my balance at the top, I had a clear view of my prize. Brahms, Mozart, Verdi, and Puccini. They had spotted me too and became very excited. Noses twitching and little feet pressed against the glass, their pink eyes fixated on me. I had made my objections well and truly known about using animals in the science lab and whilst the experiments themselves were harmless, some of the boys in class, not so much. A few days before the great escape, one chap decided to swing Brahms by his tail. Slamming my hands down on the desk, I demanded he put the poor critter down. “Make me,” came the adolescent taunt. Rushing to meet his challenge, I invaded his space. Standing toe to toe he continued to thwart me, holding Brahms above my head. From the front of the class, an angry booming voice bellowed, “children, sit down!” A moment of vulnerability as Brahms’ tormentor was distracted by the teacher’s death stare, and I reached around him to find the back of his pants. On locating his underwear and I gave him a good old fashion wedgie that he would not soon forget. He yelped something fierce, dropping Brahms onto the table, where I hurriedly scooped him up into my pocket. A second thunderous blast from the front of the class and the entire room’s population froze. Miss Paige! Return that rodent to its cage, and report to the principal’s office, now! A command issued with such fury was not worth ignoring, so I quickly set Brahms down with his companions and began the trek to the office. With small dawdling steps, my plan was made before the impending punishment was metered out.
The drop from the window ledge to the floor seemed much higher from this angle and dithering over which limb to move next, balance was lost. Falling abruptly forward I was saved by catching my jumper on the hook lock. Acting like a pendulum, I swung forward then was abruptly brought back with a bone-crunching thud against the wall. Winded and in excruciating pain, I stifled my cries and let the moment subside. Still hanging like a yo-yo from the wall, I wriggled about until freedom was secured. Given the calamitous noise I had just made, I’m not sure why I tippy-toed across the room, but tippy-toe I did. Sliding back the latch, I laid my hands down in front of the four prisoners. They clamored aboard like tired souls catching the last train of the day. Brahms looked me in the eye with a “well get a move on before somebody catches you.” Scooping the treasure into my jumper which was tied firmly around my waist, I made a pouch-like container to keep them secured. Exiting a lot more delicately than I entered, my feet hit the ground, and I made quick work of our escape to the car park. I had timed it to perfection, as my father’s car came over the horizon. The front seat had never felt so good, nor the diminishing view of my school in the rear view window. “How was school?” My father started.
Before I could respond, two little faces poked out from their woolly enclosure. “Arg!” my father exclaimed as the car swerved a little in surprise. Trying to disguise my deed as something totally normal, I reacted with “relax Dad, it’s just a few mice.” My dad wasn’t buying the “they needed homes” story and to my dismay, pulled up by the side of the road. “And that’s why they are wrapped up like stolen goods in your jumper, is it?” In the interests of getting as far away from school as possible, I decided to come clean. With a mixture of pride and disapproval, he sat there in self debate as to the next move. “Fine, we’ll say I brought these home from work for you.” A lecturer at a Melbourne college at the time, this was perfectly plausible. Arriving back at school the next day, the morning assembly was about as uncomfortable as it comes. I felt the red hot stares at me, as the break-in and theft of property from the science lab was reported. The dark droning voice of our principal continued, ” the privilege of having animals at school will be suspended until the culprit is found.” Everyone knew I did it, but I held my steadfast denial and nothing was ever proven. Mice don’t live a very long time, but needless to say, I was heartbroken when they each eventually passed some years later, but they were well lived little lives.
Thank you for listening.