Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It Started With a Mouse

There are two types of writers: writers who have always loved to write, and writers who can remember the year, the day, the moment that the passion of putting pen to paper became their own.  I have to say that I belong to the latter group.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that I remember how I came to the decision to write a story for fun, because I honestly don't know.  All I can say is that I was ten years old, that I was sitting on the couch with my brother's laptop, and that I remember as if it were yesterday the exact moment I tapped out my first sentence.

Lily, the main character, is a mouse who lives in an abandoned barn shared by rats, snakes, weasels, porcupines, other mice, and a rooster.  Her one desire is to explore the outdoors, but the only exit is through the territories of the rats and snakes.  After finally getting up the nerve to try and make it out, she plunges into an adventure full of danger, narrow escapes, and new friendships.

Here is an excerpt from near the beginning of the story.  Lily has just started her journey and is daydreaming about leaving the barn.

Lily walked and walked, her daydreaming having taken her into a new world. Suddenly she opened her eyes at the strange sounds she heard.  Not mouse voices, but cruel, cracked voices that belonged to an enemy all too familiar.  Rats.  Lily opened her eyes and gasped.  There were ugly rats and dirty rats pushing by her, too busy to notice she wasn't one of them.  Most had missing body parts, like only one eye and also some with half-bitten ears and skinny, wounded arms and legs.  It made a shiver run up her spine.

A stench, a horrible, gut-wrenching smell, filled the air.  Lily felt like vomiting.  She hadn't realized that she had walked through all the mouse streets and into the first rat streets.

In the middle, Lily has befriended another mouse named Clover, and they have been captured by the cruel leader of the barn creatures, a rooster named Cocker.

"Good evening," he said with a slurred voice.  "I am the judge and I am also the jury."

Clover leaned over to whisper in Lily's ear, "It seems that Judge Cocker has a strange understanding of a judge's voice."

"Yeah," Lily whispered back.  "Everyone knows that judges never sound like that."

"Everyone, that is, except Stupid Mr. Cocker!" Clover joked with a giggle.

"Ahem!" Mr. Cocker said to Clover in his normal voice.  "A trial is a time of worry and anxiety, not laughter and happiness.  I intend to make this trial one that is actually like a real trial.  Is that understood?"

Lily knew that this trial was going to be nothing like a normal trial.

At the end, of course, they make it out of the barn, but not before they have to battle a stray cat.

It slid and worked its paw into the hole, grabbing the air, trying to feel a piece of food.  But the mouse family pressed themselves against the far end, out of reach. Presently, the cat gave up on that and tugged its paw out.  At least, it tried to.  The study's entrance was a little bit small, and the cat's white paw was stuck.

As it pulled and grunted and meowed in eagerness, as if to call for help, a plan began to form in Lily's mind.  She pulled herself free from Mama's hold and jumped on the cat's paw.  And bit down.  Hard.  The cat nearly exploded.  It meowed and pulled more fiercely, finally managing to pull out the paw, with Lily on it.  Smiling cruelly, the cat, mouth open, lunged for the finish, oh how delicious a finish, it thought.  But at the last second, Lily leaped off, and the cat got a taste of its paw instead.

Little did I know it then, but this story would be the first of many more writings to come, each better in structure and style than the last.  And while I don't think about Lily and Clover and their adventures very often, I will never forget them.  Their story will always be a special part of my writing life.  

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