1 comment


She was set up for failure. Anyone who looked closely could see it, but most people didn’t have their seeing eyes on. (And if they did, she didn’t have her hearing ears on). Without looking too closely, Delilah Reddy was evidently a mouse. She disliked the moniker. She rejected it at her boldest…which, admittedly, was not very often and not very bold. To that end, the moniker stuck to her like gum to your used-to-be favorite left shoe. 

An eighteen-year-old on the precipice of her college years, Del believed in the myth of a voluntary “fresh start”. Her parents watched her eyes glow with promise and chose not to taint her with cynicism. She had them believing that she could be different. They didn’t think she was set up for failure, and they were afraid to look too closely because they knew that either way, she would not have her hearing ears on. It was a Catch-22, really, which started and ended and continued with someone’s failure. But Del liked to think she could steer herself out of a paradox, despite possessing no evidence that she was capable of such a feat. Because she was going to start over. Future Del would be an expert captain.

She just needed to switch ships. Out of this one and onto the vessel that was college. Far away from parents who wormed their way around her thoughts and a brother who…

“Dellllllll!” came Adi’s voice from outside her closed bedroom door. Her head pulsed. Her brother. Who prevented her from being mature.

“What?!” she screeched back.

“You’re so old!”

Ah, what wisdom he had come to share through her closed door. 

“Thanks!” she called back, always striving not to let him think he won. Which he always does. That didn’t mean she had to let him know.

“Old!” he called again, before running off down the hall, sounding as though he weighed two-hundred pounds instead of ninety.

“Ughhhhhh!” Del groaned, throwing her head back against a pillow. “Four. More. Fucking. Days,” she whisper-screamed. She would never say “fucking” in front of anyone else. It even sounded gross to her own ears.

“Dell?” her mom’s voice called from downstairs.

“What?!” she didn’t screech this time, but she made sure not to sound happy. Was it legal for her mother to demand the attention of an adult? Could she refuse to answer? 

No, she couldn’t. She huffed, and plastered a pleasant look on her face before opening the door. “Yes?” she said sweetly to her mother, who stood at the bottom of the staircase.

“Do you want to help me assemble the table I bought?”

Does she want…Del closed her eyes for a second. “Do you need my help?” Del rephrased the question through a clenched jaw.

“Would you?”

“Do you want me to?”

“Yes. Yes. Please help me assemble the table, unless you’re busy.”

“Not busy,” Del gritted out, and ran back into her room to pause the music playing on her phone. Four more shitty days on this torture boat.

 So Del helped her mom assemble a table that would only be in her parent’s room and therefore would provide no value to Del. As she turned an Allen wrench, the word “mouse” crept into her head. Mice didn’t have it easy. They had to avoid cats, and the cats couldn’t even hear them when they declared, “I surrender”. They kept on running. Kept on squeaking. Kept on being overlooked until someone needed something to step on. Del pulled the wrench around one final time, violently twisting the screw into place.

At dinner, Del didn’t want to talk. Her mind was three-hundred-and-twenty-four miles away from here. Thirty-thousand people who didn’t know anything about her. Except the six people who were attending from her high school. She’d avoid them at all cost. 

“Del’s going to be so far away,” Adi opined. She wasn’t sure if this was him saying that he’d miss her. Logically, she hoped her brother would miss her. But she couldn’t find it in herself to say the same. Not until she’d experienced the separation for herself. No, for now, she craved those three-hundred-and-twenty-four miles more than the dinner in front of her (they were eating her favorites this week). 

In response to her brother, all Del said was, “Indeed,” in a poorly veiled sarcastic tone.

“Delilah,” her father warned. “Your brother’s going to miss you.”

“Yeah,” Del said, poking at her sweet potatoes. 

“You’ll miss your brother,” her father informed her.

“I’m sure I will,” Del responded, not wanting to sound cruel. She was never cruel to her brother. Only the other way around. 

The next morning, she and her mother were the first people awake. When the sat down for breakfast, her mother looked at Del with the sad eyes she’d become way too familiar with in the past few weeks. The my daughter is going to be three-hundred-and-twenty-four miles away eyes. 

Del put her hand over her mom’s, but she couldn’t think of what to say. Staying home would make her mom happy, and it would make Del miserable. Going away was a step away from the mouse and a step toward…

“Waffle time!” Adi’s voice pirouetted down the stairs. Going away was a step toward the cat. Adi had always been a cat. Maybe she envied him that. “You won’t have waffles at college.” Adi reached the bottom of the stairs and shoved her shoulder on his way into the kitchen. In four days, no one would be shoving her. 

“I don’t like waffles,” Del pointed out. She was a pancake girl.

“That’s because you’re lame.”

“Right,” Del deadpanned. 

This time, her mom put a hand on Del’s. “Let me talk to you after I make Adi’s breakfast, okay?” Del just nodded numbly.

Her mom met Del in her boxed-up bedroom. There was hardly room to walk, but there was still a bed—still a safe haven. “I know you’re excited to be somewhere new,” her mother said. “Just think about a few things for me, okay?” Del didn’t want to think about a few things. But she nodded. Per usual. “When you go someplace new, you’re still the same you,” her mother patted Del’s knee. “And darling, I just want to tell you the truth, so that you’re aware of it…you don’t take up a lot of space. Do you know what I mean? You’re always shrinking away, always agreeing, and honey, well I know you don’t have a lot of friends, either.” Del looked away from her mother and said nothing. “I just want you to understand who you are before you try to change who that is.”

“A mouse,” Del mumbled.


“Some of the kids at school have said that. Supposedly they’re my friends, but…”

“Kids can be blunt,” her mother patted her knee again. 

“You didn’t say they’re wrong.”

“They see you, sweetie, when you don’t really see yourself. ‘Mouse’ is an unkind description, but, well…have you thought about what it would be like…”

“To be a cat?” 

Her mother smiled. Laughed a little. “Why don’t you give it a try?”

Del pursed her lips. She thought a little—not much, just a little. 

Then she quirked a smile. 

Del bared her teeth and hissed.

August 08, 2020 00:56

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

1 comment

Deborah Angevin
12:00 Aug 08, 2020

This is a unique take on the prompt, Anisha, using mouse as the character. I enjoyed reading it! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "(Pink)y Promise"? Thank you :D


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.