Barking dog, with insistent eyes fixed on me. Means no menace. But a communication with intent. A statement of purpose. Can you interpret it? Likely not. You are lying on your back, immobile. Your tongue hanging out of your mouth. Your hands sprawled on the floor, like the gloves of a doll or mannequin.
But what happened? You were doing so well. So incredibly well. It was the last rung on the indoor climbing-wall that was too far. You aimed for a hold that was beyond reach and your limbs couldn’t match your desire. Your arms tried, but missed the grip. And so your body fell with gravity, to the floor. No safety harness, no net, no ropes. Just you, on the mat, after the impact of the ground, hitting your skeleton at fifty miles an hour.
But you cannot make sense of any of this. Not the sensation of pain, not the sound of Millie the dog, nor the smell of rubber and fear and blood. You do not register the sight of the ceiling above you, nor the whiskers of a caring guard dog, looking down at you and who knows a disaster when she sees one.
But Millie is barking at me, not you. She stares at me, eyeball to eyeball. Her eyes are really able to speak to my soul. They are telling me, “This is serious. You need to do something.” Her barks are sharp, rapid and loud.
I am frozen to the spot. I am a small, brown mouse. Yes, a literal mouse! And I am trapped in a corner of this gym, with a dog staring at me and a human being looking very disjointed on the mat, just near my current home, in the corner of the gym. My heart is racing fast, but my muscles have just seized. And I can’t run or fight. All I do is stare back at this dog, called Millie. Millie is obviously looking for help from anyone. She must in in a similar state as me. She is asking a mouse for help. Poor Millie.
Maybe she can read my aura. I hear that dogs can sense from a person’s energy, if they are trustworthy. Perhaps Millie gets a good vibe from me. Yeah, generally I am a reliable friend. But right now, I’m no use, and maybe even a liability. Until a bark, even shriller than the others, pierces my brain through big ears and I am catapulted to action.
I scurry over to this sprawled mass of limbs. I nuzzle your fingers and move them gently, so that each finger moves up and down tapping the mat. I try your other hand and do the same routine. I go back to the first hand again a get it tapping and with a touch of my tail on the space between forefinger and thumb, you hand keeps up the tapping independently.
I move to your ear and run the perimeter of your ear lobe, like I’m on a race track. I run gallantly round and around. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just following an instinct, an instinct to keep something alive. I’m doing the things I’ve see momma mice do to newborn mice. Tapping and touch and rhythm. Ears hold the sounds of the world. And sound is made from energy waves. So, I think I am trying to generate some kind of sonic energy wave in your ear, which might awaken your brain.
I am getting dizzy, doing my ear laps, when Millie again barks, signalling a development. Millie takes over and begins the most delicate licking of your face. With the love of a most tender friend, she licks your eyes, your nose, your cheeks and chin. I can feel the love and hope in each tongue’s touch. Looking at this display of affection, has me swelling with emotion.
And then you sneeze! Your eyes flicker open.
Now, you see your dear Millie, standing over you, with concern in her eyes. You feel a tickle in your ear. To rid yourself of that discomfort, you flick your hand to your ear. And I run. Back on instinct, I run for cover. I make for the tiny hole under the skirting board, the place into where I can squash my flexible spine and wriggle out of this gym.
When I get to safety, inside the wall, I listen. I can hear Millie’s bark of delight and your groans of pain and awakening. I hear you thank Millie. I hear you shout for help and slowly pull yourself up to all fours, before, collapsing again, I’m guessing, with the drumming of blood in your temples.
After the medical help arrives and takes care of you, after the checking and stitching and lifting is done, I wonder, will you dream of me later tonight? Will you find yourself tapping the blanket and feel the sensation of circles around your ears? Or perhaps, in the future, will you tap your baby’s fingers at birth and kiss her ears, with the instinct memory, not of your own species? All speculation.
What I do know, is that I will remember you. My life changed that day. I’ve become an outdoor-only mouse and I avoid climbing-walls and gyms, at all costs. And, I’ve earned a name in my family and extended clan, as a healer and rescuer. These days, I spend my time tapping life back into injured mice. For this service, I get paid in mounds of hazelnuts, cheese, crumbs and seeds. So, no more foraging in dark corners for me. That’s my story.