If you find a mouse on a glue trap, he’ll eyeball you with one black shiny eye while breathing in and out faster than you have ever seen anything breathe. You will panic, though you know the mouse is panicking harder. When your husband points out that the mouse is not alone in the furnace room, you will notice a second glue trap, stuck with the coiled carcass of a garter snake. When the mouse starts to struggle, you will tell your husband to kill it, no save it, and you will run to your phone and search “how to remove a mouse from a glue trap.” Articles will tell you to use oil, so while your husband brings the glued mouse out to the back walkway so that your three young sons, in jammies and waiting with popcorn bowls for a Saturday-night Christmas movie, don’t see it, you will hunt for the carafe. Outside, the mouse will sniff and stretch from the trap. Wearing snow boots over your own jammies, you will, for a moment, think he can free himself. But he won’t. You will cover his body with an old tri-fold cloth diaper and douse his legs with olive oil. Your husband will say, “He’s going to smell too good to predators,” and you will tell the mouse, in all honesty, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry you smell delicious.” You will dig under his legs with a plastic paint scraper. When his front feet clear the glue and hit the cold slate, the mouse will yank his back legs so hard you’ll think he’s pulling them clear off. The rear left foot will pop free. When the mouse stops reaching for a moment to rest, you and your husband will peer at his rear right leg, which is now bent like a wishbone. You will dig under it with gusto. The leg will stretch again, like nylon. You will sob and apologize to the mouse, because you knew the glue trap was left in the furnace room by your home’s previous owner, but by the time you remembered to remove it, it will have served its purpose, her purpose. You will tell your husband, the mouse, and yourself, that you are the kind of person who rescues stinkbugs, who found a hopping frog in the kitchen and talked it into a cup, who feeds the chipmunks and squirrels and made friends with the garter snake before finding it perished. Resolved, you will say to your husband, we have to kill the mouse, it’s only humane, and he will say, “I’m not a person who kills things!” And yet here you are, two people who don’t believe in glue traps and who don’t kill things, kneeling on their new walkway and killing something, killing it slowly. You will free the mouse’s back right leg. He will try to scurry on the mangled stick, land in a hump of snow, and spin round and round, toiling to get somewhere but too broken to go. You will collect yourself. The mouse will stop circling and lie still. You will dig a hole around him and say, “The furnace room is so warm, isn’t it? That’s why you found your way in there.” You will hope for hypothermia. Your husband will throw out the paint scraper, the diaper, and the entire bottle of olive oil. You will retrieve from the kitchen pretzels, granola, chia seeds, and a piece of cheese and sprinkle a snack circle around the mouse. You will say goodbye, then tell him to surrender. You will return to your family and watch a holiday movie as the boys munch on popcorn and ask for more. When they are in bed, you will not take any more chances and will search the furnace room, garage, and crawlspace for more glue traps. In the morning, you will find the mouse’s frozen body, graying and covered in frost, still in the snow grave, all the snacks gone except for the seeds.

Suzanne Farrell Smith is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her work explores memory, trauma, education, parenthood, and the writing life, and appears in numerous literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of The Memory Sessions, a memoir without memory, forthcoming from Bucknell University Press. A Connecticut native, Suzanne graduated from Trinity College and moved to Manhattan, where she taught elementary school. With master’s degrees from The New School and Vermont College of Fine Arts, she now teaches writing workshops and literacy education. After sixteen city years, she moved back to Connecticut, where she lives in a creek-cut valley with her husband and three sons.

Photo by Therese Brown