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Maus Freepick

A mouse under the bed

It's spring at last. Purple and yellow crocuses are blooming in grandma's garden behind the house. The first daffodils are sticking their heads up in the sun. Grandma and I sit on the garden bench and watch a pair of finches, who frolic through the air. "How's it going?", grandma waves to Mrs Battleford over the garden fence. "Tha mi gu math. Ciamar a tha thu?" Mrs Battleford is from Scotland and answers, as usual, in her secret language. Just as Grandma is about to step up to the garden fence to hold a lengthy secret conference, as Grandpa always calls it, with Mrs Battleford, the doorbell rings at Grandma's front door.

I run ahead and tear the door open. Uncle Joseph is standing on the landing with a large jute sack over his shoulder. "What have we here?" grins Grandma, laughing at me with her big green eyes. Uncle Joseph puts the sack down in front of Grandma in the hallway and immediately the sack starts to move. "Meow, meow," it sounds. "A kitten," I exclaim, beside myself with excitement.

"Is it for me?" I shout. "It's for all of you. For you and your sisters. Well, let's let it out of the sack." With these words, Grandma loosens the cord holding the sack together and a tiger kitten jumps out. It hides under Grandpa's shoe stool in fright. "Grandma, it looks like one of Mrs Beasley's kittens!" I babble, trying to coax the kitten out of its hiding place with a "kitty, kitty, kitty". "Who is Mrs Beasley?" asks Uncle Joseph curiously. "That's our big cat. You know that. We got the name from a TV series. The girl Buffy has a doll. Her name is Mrs Beasley." "Then why don't you call the little girl Buffy," my uncle suggests. Grandma and I, however, think that my siblings should have a say too. "Will you stay for a cup of coffee, Joseph?" "Well, sure, there must be that much time." And Uncle Joseph traipses through Grandma's polished hallway into the kitchen in his field boots. Grandma serves homemade apple pie and coffee. I sip a cocoa. It makes me giggle. "Do you know what Mrs Beasley used to do?" I ask Uncle Josef and deliver the answer straight away: "When she was very young, she caught lots of mice and sometimes birds." I feel sad at the thought of the birds. Grandma notices immediately and strokes my hair, "That's the way nature is, sparrow." "Anyway," I continue to explain to Uncle Joseph, "Mrs Beasley usually caught mice. Quite often she put the mice on the doormat in front of the front door. Sometimes she even carried some into the house. Dad always says that Mrs Beasley is proud of the loot and wants to give us a treat. Once Mum thought my sister Lisa's room smelled strange. We were supposed to tidy up our rooms so that she could clean them. That's what we did. When Mum held the trunk of the hoover under Lisa's bed, it sucked up something grey. It looked like a piece of mouldy bread. Everyone screamed in disgust. Dad then threw the decayed mouse on the compost heap." "You know," Grandma said, "after an animal dies or a plant dies, decomposition sets in. Decomposition happens through bacteria and fungi. Corpses can only decompose when there is oxygen and then it stinks. If you had buried the mouse in the garden as soon as it died, it would not have decomposed so quickly because there is only little oxygen under the soil. Even on grandpa's compost heap, the dead plants decompose. The remains are then eaten by worms and insects or it turns into good soil after a while." I don't really understand Grandma's story and I believe Uncle Joseph didn’t either. He looks so funny. Grandma wants to explain it to me again later when I'm older. I don't feel like sitting at the table any more and prefer to go and see what the kitten is doing in the hallway.

Copyright Birgit Floßdorf