This came from a memory of me and my best friend and it came out a little weirder and less effective than I had hoped, but I suppose that’s the way to learn by accepting your better and worse pieces. So here is today’s story for the prompt: Youth.
The warm day was losing its intensity and with the mellowing of movement in the garden and the cooling of skin, two friends turned their thoughts to memories they had not touched for decades.
“Kids really do some strange shit don’t they?” Michael chuckled as he watched his daughter pick up a stone and a stick and speak to them as if they were people. “They don’t even realise.”
Sam nodded and focused his eyes on his son who was running away from some imaginary monster. “Yeah, don’t you miss it though? I don’t know, it’s easy to laugh but I reckon everything means so much more to them.”
“Yeah I suppose. Man, I definitely remember some embarrassing times for us, some that I haven’t even told my wife.” Michael replied, looking at the sky trying to suppress fits of embarrassment, a smile forced onto his face.
“I wonder if you are talking about what I think you are… The mouse by any chance?”
“Jesus, how did you know. Was it really that weird?”
“Nah, if I’m honest- Now the kids are growing up and doing the same sort of shit I find myself thinking of it more and more, why did we do that?”
The two friends paused for a short while and replayed the memory in their heads, distorted with time and their own preferences but more or less the same.
“Hey Sam, now you pretend to be Daddy cat and I’ll be a kitten again, okay?”
The boys had an obsession with cats, pretty natural for children of their age. They would play this game almost every day and seemed to never tire of it. They were mid way through trying to find a way to carry the other like cats do, yes by the scruff, when they heard a distressed yelp and hiss from outside the back gate. Curious as children are they followed the noise. The two boys conversed in hushed tones,
“Sam, what was that? Sounded like a monster to me.”
“Shut up Mike, it must have been a cat or something, we’ve got to go and help. I am Daddy cat so do as I say.”
Sam was a year older than Michael and would often take liberties ordering him around but Michael didn’t mind, Sam was his courage when he had none.
They had arrived at the gate and Sam started to unclasp the lock when they heard another sound directly behind the door, it was a strange bubbling sound, low and loud as if it was bellowing from the back of the throat. Startling from the noise, Sam let go of the latch and jumped back into Michael who, convinced there was a monster, stood frozen with fear. The commotion made enough noise for whatever was behind the door to flee. Once Sam and Michael plucked up the courage to open the gate, all they found was a small mouse, unmoving and contorted on the floor.
Immediately the boys looked at each other with their mouths agape and eyes wide. They had never once seen death so personally, they wouldn’t even kill spiders in the house. Michael picked up a stick and lightly prodded the mouse on its back. He did not mean to be disrespectful or grotesque but he could not tell whether the mouse was dead or just sleeping. As Sam was a year older and had often watched nature documentaries with his mum he had a little more of an idea of what had happened and told Michael to stop. He would not stop, he was immensely curious so Sam snatched the stick from his friend’s hand and shouted for him to stop.
“Mike, you can’t just do that, it’s gross.”
“Sorry, Sam I just- what’s wrong with it?”
“I think it’s dead Mike.” Both boys sighed and continued to stare at the mouse.
“We need to bury it.” Sam concluded.
Michael chose a spot in the flower bed and Sam helped him to dig a small hole.
“Why on earth did we bury it in mum’s flower bed?” Michael asked.
“I haven’t a clue, if one of my cats brought home a dead mouse now I’d probably pop it in a bag and put it in the bin.” Sam said rather coldly.
“Yeah same probably, but kids are just kinder aren’t they, every detail matters to them. The weirdest thing for me though- I wasn’t even sad. Like yeah, it was dead but I didn’t really know what that meant, I just knew we had to be careful with it and bury it. Don’t you think that’s special?”
“I suppose so, I still think it was messed up, we definitely shouldn’t have been touching that shit.” Sam replied defensively.
“No probably not, but I reckon we could learn a lot from kids.” Michael said, attempting to persuade.
“Maybe you’re right, but if he ever carries a rat into the house, I think i’d lose my mind.” Sam said, gesturing to his son.
They didn’t see much point in dwelling on the topic further, they had made peace with that time and now even found it funny, even if after a little thought it seemed much deeper than it was on the surface. They looked back at the kids playing in the garden, covered in chocolate and mud, unsure of which stains were which. They called them in for dinner and contemplated the pieces of themselves they owe to that poor mouse outside the back gate.