I'm calling this Historical Fiction because it technically qualifies, due to the setting being on a ship. There are few details to prove it, but it is a merchant vessel, circa 1780. So, it counts. Anyway, this is a short story that I cooked up about an hour ago and, unlike a few on my others, it will stay a short story, due to the nature of the twist. So enjoy.
Of Men and Mice
I woke one morning and the sun shone bright and hot across my black hair. Oh! the morning light is glorious. I rolled around in the warmth and fell back asleep. Unfortunately, my nap didn’t last long because my boy, Richard, came in and began to tickle me. I sat up and smacked him across his face but he only laughed and buried his face in my stomach. I struggled to get out from under him so I could scurry away and look back at him reproachfully but his head was heavy and he wouldn’t let me go. I cried out and he giggled and picked me up. I hate it when he picks me up; I am not a toy. He snuggled me close and held me on his lap. It is not so bad when he just holds me. Sometimes I just want to roll in the sun away from people but I don’t mind sitting with him so long as he doesn't pick me up. I really love it when he strokes my hair and tells me that I am pretty.
Then one day, as I lay in my patch of sun, Richard came to me and stroked me like he usually does. “Oh, Mary. You’re such a pretty girl. Won’t you come away with me?” I looked at him blankly like I do when I ignore him and began to preen myself. He giggled again then swooped a burlap sack over my head. I kicked and screamed and scratched and howled as loud as I could but no help came. “I’m sorry, my pretty,” he cooed through the bag, but I was not consoled. I felt him move, swinging my bag ever so gently, as he walked. I noticed after some time that I could smell salt and I wondered what he had gotten himself into. He was young, I could tell, younger than he seemed to know himself. Nevertheless, I refused to stop screaming, despite his desperate pleas. “Shh…please, my pretty. It will be over soon. Oh, please be quiet!” No.
Soon however, like he said, it was over. I felt something hard and flat beneath me and I saw the puckered top of the sack widen and open, though no light shone through. I stood, but my steps were unsteady, and I glared at him as I crawled, disheveled, from the loose mouth of the sack. We were surrounded in darkness and my sack was set on top of a crate. Gracefully, I jumped down, but was toppled as the rocking compartment heaved. “Oh, Mary,” he whispered, pleading, “don’t be angry with me. I couldn't’t live without you.” That’s probably true, I thought, and began preening again. I may have been miserable, lost and unbalanced, but I was not going to be seen as untidy while being so.
Once I got used to what Richard called “the hold”, life was much easier. I was allowed to go above and lay in the sun. The men, hairy and smelly and fixated though they were with picking me up, were, for the most part, very nice, though they did make annoying catcalls at me every time I passed. But then they’d stroke my hair and tell me how pretty I was and I forgave them their gruffness.
I don’t know why men hate mice so much. They really are very good, if done right. I love to catch them and the men make a very good sport of watching me. They cheer and laugh, and pat me when I flounce past with my prize and sometimes they give me fish on my very own silver plate. I am the only one on deck with a silver plate.
No one on deck does anything right. It is clearly my duty to tell them what they need to do or else nothing will get done. If I see one slacking, I go right up to him and let him know that I am displeased. He will look at me sheepishly and get back to work. I am constantly climbing the ropes because these incompetent men can never stay on task. It does not do for Richard to spend so much time with them; even he must be reminded. My job is a thankless and tiring one, but someone has to do it.
Now, after a long, hard day of chasing mice, gracing the men with my presence, charming them out of their fish, keeping them on task, and napping, I will curl up on Richard’s pillow, wrap my tail neatly around my paws, and drift into sleep.