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Anyone who has ever lived with me will have become familiar with my intense mouse and rat phobia. Although over the years this has faded significantly in that I can now handle said rodents on film, in pictures and safely locked in cages it remains an ongoing issue and the only thing I hate about cat ownership.

But I strive to grow more resilient, even as each year brings some fresh new horror to test me with. In the last few years I have overcome:

*the trauma of spotting a something small and grey in the garden and saying to Z with determined optimism "I think the cats have killed a bird" only to have him brightly respond with: "No, it's a mouse! Look!" and proceed to lift it by its tail and dange it in front of me before throwing it over the fence. Actually I infer that last part because by then I was in the process of running into the house as fast as possible and find a lockable room I could hyperventilate in and refused to let Z touch me until I'd seen him scrub himself from fingertip to elbow with the thoroughness of a surgeon.

*watching the cats play frisbee in the garden with the dead rodentia

*my inability to leave the house when there are small grey bodies left on my doorstep without screaming or having an anxiety attack shortly afterwards.

I was feeling pretty good about all of this. So much so that when I discovered a small dead mouse not far from my front door I managed to be very calm about it until Matei spotten the same thing and became giddy with enthusiasm.

"It's a mouse! Can I stroke it?"
"Absolutely not."
"Can I touch it?"
"No."
"What about with the edge of my shoe?"
"No!"
"What about with a stick?"
"No!"
"Can I take it inside and keep the bones?"
"Just &^%$£# leave it!"

And after I had finished locking and barring the door and wiping the cold sweat from my forehead I had to have a quiet lie down until the urge to rub my skin off passed.

I guess George the cat had realised that he was pushing me too far too fast with his desensitisation agenda and decided to ease me into the process instead, because the next time I opened the door the mouse was gone and the next day in its place was half a mouse.

"There is half a mouse in front of the door," I said to Z, with what I felt was admirable restraint and presence of mind.
"Oh yes," he replied. "That happens. One time I found just a mouse head. It was like a warning message from the cat Mafia."

And once I had succesfully cleansed those images from my mind I reminded him about the part of our marital agreement in which I keep track of people's birthdays and he is in charge of disposing of dead bodies.

He agreed, except the next day the same 0.5 mouse body was still there. Only now someone had trod on it so it was splattered and welded to the flagstones, its curling tail like the string of a tiny, grotesque balloon. Two days later, it is still there.

Is this an attempt to strengthen me through adversity? A new category of spousal abuse? Revenge for that time that I shrunk his sweater in the wash?

I am not sure I am cut out for psychological warfare although I am considering the beginning of a guerilla campaign in which I begin by putting salt in his coffee and then progress to shrinking all his sweaters in the wash.

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rainsinger
deep sky, firefly

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