Something from "What the Mouse Knew," which will be in The Solution to the World's Problems: Surprising Tales of Relentless Joy. I'm still working on this story. It's gone on for a while now. This is the beginning. It borders on the unbelievable that someone was writing this and "Finder of Views" at the same time. Among others.
A mouse has saved a fragment of a quill, which was itself part of the feather of a blue jay who is dearly missed by the brood she left behind.
They’ve been flying for two years now on their own, those blue jays. That’s just how it works. They understand that they won’t see their mother again in the place where they live. They’re not sure where she is, if she’s anywhere.
But that can’t stop them from going from tree to tree and taking their baths and finding seeds and arguing with other birds. Even those younger blue jays know that you have to keep doing it, and now they’re not just young anymore.
Late one evening, the mouse dips the quill in some dirty rainwater from a leak—which has been mixed with a bit of mold, too—that she’s collected in half a walnut shell.
For paper she has the back of a ripped price tag from the dollar store that she found in a corner of the house after a long search.
Finding what you’re looking for can take a while when you’re a mouse. You really have to care.
“I regret that there are things I will never be able to do,” the mouse begins to write, “no matter the extent of my desire to communicate my feelings.”
The mouse has thought about these words of hers for some time. How to best get her meaning across. But now that she can delay no longer, they don’t sound exactly the way she’s thought them.
It’s hard to say how you feel. But the mouse keeps trying.
“I will not be able to lie down and give in, which would be the same thing as to venture out in the open when you are present,” she writes, and then reads the words back, nodding her head.
That’s fair, she thinks. And if we can’t be fair, what can we really be?
“I respect you. I respect you for challenging me and making me more than I would have been on my own. For helping me to better understand courage. We have never been close, the two of us, but you have made me reevaluate the meaning of closeness. Perhaps there are more varieties than we normally think, unless we know someone as I’ve known you, and maybe as you’ve known me. I hope so. I have always believed in you. And in believing in you, you’ve helped me believe in myself.”
She’s a smart mouse, you see, and this is a difficult thing to do. She knew it would be, much as she didn’t like to think about this day when the cat would be too old and too sick to keep being the cat.
But that’s the thing about days, the mouse considers. They all get there in the end.