October 5, 2017
I listen to them tap along the hard floor of the kitchen at night. This is to be expected. With much more relish do I listen to the sort of hollow thuds which accompany their footsteps across the green carpet in the early morning hours. I don't mean to imply that I hear them more than I actually do. They are careful. But it's their voices, their whispers I most admire.
I've matured a bit over the years in relation to them. I used to thrive on their fear. At least, I thrived on what I perceived to be their fear. I imagined the way their muscles would tighten up and how they would shake behind their holes, inconsolably. As I've come to observe them, however, I've developed a level of respect for them which is hard for me to grasp. I hear the way they move; it is one part stealth, two parts cunning. Whatever is leftover is, perhaps, something like fear, but to the detriment of my enormous ego (at the time, at least) I realized that they behave little to no different than I do. I twist and dart and lower myself at every noise, whether slight or burly, and I feel no shame in doing so. It is no matter that I am cared for; that I have masters. One can't so easily shed one's nature, even if I never knew that nature properly in an environmental way.
And how embarrassed do you think I was when I finally realized what was right in front of me all along? That I have no immediate threat that I'm aware of in this old house, that to my knowledge, there is no greater predator than myself stalking the halls, waiting for me to emerge the way that I do for the mice, and yet, it could be said by no large stretch, that they exhibit the same degree of caution that I do. What's my excuse? There were nights of soul searching, certainly. But with time, my humiliation turned to admiration.
Was theirs a plan of endurance, hoping that someday I would grow impatient with my inability to catch them and move on, or were they somehow planning to overthrow me? Whatever their course of action would be, it was certainly braver than anything that would have warranted my ill-founded egotism; the pitiful, lonely story I had been telling myself about my own sadistic glory.
I often wondered and still wonder, what do they say to one another with their cautious little whispers? Do they mock me as I once did them for the fear I supposed they had? Do they tell each other tales of their own bravery in the face of the menace just beyond them? Or are they huddled up together on dark nights, shivering through the terror and cold, squeaking to each other with apocalyptic hope, waiting for the moment they will be released from the grips of fear, whether through death or a chance escape?
With so much uncertainty as to their nature, I no longer get any pleasure from feeding off of their fear. It is enough to hope for the prospect that one day I'll be feeding off their flesh. And on that day, there will be no taunts from me, nor will there be torture. I will have only to pick one of them up by the tale, examine it in my paw and look upon it, not with hunger or with any sort of gloating glimmer in my eye, but with immense gratitude, love even. And though my choice victim will not be in the position to accept my thanks, repay my respect or come to an understanding with me, we will have been linked by this one moment of necessity which both of us were born to face at some point in our lives. Life offers peculiar rewards when we are patient with our own shortcomings.