To celebrate Easter (in a non-religious way) – and because I have important writing work I am expertly avoiding – here is a little fable, based on a true story.
Today Lily (cat) captured a little vole. Usually she brings them in when they’re already dead, thank goodness.
This time though, I spied her outside batting one around in what were the beginning stages of her long drawn-out Roman colosseum-style execution.
Seeing this, I leapt up, threw open the door and scattered out, clad only in my PJs and floppy grey socks.
Lily froze mid-stride and glared at me with her murderous black eyes, the vole clamped loosely between her jaws wriggling and squeaking.
As I crept towards her, she dropped her victim in confusion. The vole galloped away as fast as its tiny legs would carry it.
Lily gave chase. I intercepted. The vole scurried under a pile of autumn leaves and Lily was marched back inside.
Job well done, I thought.
I reasoned that an hour in jail (the house) for Lily would give her victim enough time to get away to safety.
So I let her out again and got back into bed to continue my binge-watch (The Bridge, Scandinavian version, not American).
But the vole had failed to do the sensible thing and leave his hiding place. He was still cowering under the leaves, and Lily wasted no time in getting back to her colosseum.
Up I leapt again, out of the door and over to Lily, who once again had the unfortunate squeaking vole in her mouth. This time, she threw me a very menacing look and darted gracefully away.
The chase was on.
I, in my now very muddy socks and PJs, running circles around Lily like a true madwoman. Triumphantly, I caught her.
The vole dropped limply onto the lawn and I escorted Lily back into jail.
I returned to the scene of the crime, dreading what I’d find. It would be mangled, wouldn’t it? A limb dangling off? Pleading for the sweet relief of death? And then I’d have to somehow kill it. AWFUL.
Mercifully, the vole was not injured, but was clearly in shock, just sitting there hunched up and quivering. I sat down cross-legged beside him and waited to see what he’d do.
After a while, he started ambling off, terrified, back in the direction of the fucking colosseum. Not the smartest vole. In rescuing him, I would definitely be interfering with natural selection.
But I was committed by this point.
So I ran inside, grabbed a mug and a tea-towel, and returned to the vole, who hadn’t got very far at all. Lily was watching all this from the window, her tail flicking furiously.
Again, I sat down and observed the vole, hoping he’d start making better decisions. Before long, he had found a new hiding place. A really, really shit one.
“Right vole,” I actually said out loud (madwoman). “That’s a shit hiding place. You’re never going to survive this unless you get far, far away.”
So I ushered him gently into the mug using the tea-towel and paused to have a think. He was still in shock, poor little bugger, so if Lily didn’t get him, something else would.
Clearly he needed time to recover. If he were human, he’d need a cup of tea.
The horse barn! Perfect, I decided. Not downstairs, where Lily the supercat could find him, but right up at the top behind a closed door.
So off I went, over the lawn, down the path, into the barn and up the creaky stairs, muttering encouraging things to the vole as I went.
There I released him into a nice warm clump of hay and bid him farewell and good luck.
It must be weird, mustn’t it? Being a tiny rodent in the process of being killed by a giant predator, and then falling out of its mouth to face an even more enormous predator (me), who chases and captures you (shit!), but then boom – for no reason – it vanishes and you’re saved, sitting alone in a bundle of hay.
So I suppose the moral of the story (a fable must always end with a lesson) is to always find a good hiding place.