I've had people ask me if I see lions and tigers and elephants in Africa (definitely not tigers, as they don't live in Africa, I often have to explain). The answer is that I do see animals, but it's probably not any more exciting than the animals that you see. Then again...maybe my evening last night accounts for an exciting African animal encounter.
After a busy evening out at the mall and movies with our friends, Matt and I made our way over to the place where we were house sitting. The mall had been packed that evening, and we walked around quite a bit, so we were both ready to settle into bed. I stayed awake a little longer than Matt, thoroughly engrossed in my book. Finally, as sleep overtook my eyes, I settled in and turned off the light, snuggling in close to Matt.
As soon as the room turned dark, I heard a small crunching noise. I froze...was someone in the back yard? The dogs didn't seem to rustle, but I was sure that I had heard something. Then, I heard it again, its duration lengthening this time. Surely this was something that my valiant husband, not me, should deal with. I shook him lightly, but he continued sleeping. Finally, overtaken by fear, as I realized the sound was much closer than I initially thought, I poked him repeatedly in the collar bone as hard as I could.
"Matt...are you awake?"
"Yeah...that hurt," he mumbled.
"Do you hear that?"
There was the crunching noise again. It sounded almost as if a small creature was gnawing on a piece of wood.
"Rachel, it's just a mouse and it's probably in the roof somewhere," he said as he turned over to go back to bed. I was not about to settle for that explanation.
"No, Matt. It's not in the roof. It's in this room!" Matt turned on the light and got up for what I thought was a diligent search of the room. Instead he stumbled to the bathroom in a semi-conscious state to use the toilet, leaving me alone with the mysterious crunching sound. Images of a rogue rat climbing up the covers and biting me filled my mind. What if it was infected with the Black Plague or rabies or something?! I didn't move. I heard the sound again and said in desperation, "Matt, the sound is in this room, and I think it's behind the chest of drawers beside my bed."
The chest of drawers is probably less than two feet from where my precious head sleeps. I was not about to doze off into slumber, knowing that there was some sort of animal inches from my bed. It was like those childhood fears of monsters under your bed, but real this time. Matt returned from the bathroom and decided to move the chest of drawers out. On his second attempt to move it forward, the culprit showed his face. Faster than my drowsy mind could comprehend, I saw the little brown body of a mouse zoom out from behind the drawers and under our bed. I shrieked and jumped from the floor to the bed, distancing myself as much as I could from the foreigner.
The good news was that I wasn't crazy, but now this mouse was seeking refuge under the bed. This was not a good enough solution. Matt started pressing the mattress down with his elbow to try and oust the mouse. Suddenly, it zoomed out from under the bed and scurried under the crack between the bedroom door and the floor. We were safe, for now.
Matt began to crawl back into bed.
"Are you serious Matt?! If the little guy can get under the crack between the door and the floor, he can surely get back into the room." I looked for anything small that I could stuff between the crack. Finally, I found a pile of magazines and began stuffing them in the crack.
"You're crazy. It's not going to hurt you."
"Well, I don't want to find out if the thing is a nice mouse or a mean mouse. I just want him to leave me be."
A couple of seconds of silence follow...
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Rachel, they (the owners of the house) told me that they thought there was still a mouse in their house." We knew that they'd previously had a mouse, but we thought he had left the premises for good.
"And how did you manage to remember to tell me only now?"
"I don't know, I guess it just slipped my mind." He sort of smiled and then rolled over and turned out the lights.
So, my husband did defend me from the African beast, albeit quite reluctantly, and it seems that no matter what country you call home, mice can still be pesky little creatures.