Writing Prompt: The mice moved in once the place was left standing empty.

Good morning. I hope everyone slept well. I actually did. I think part of it was that the air vents were actually circulating the air through the house. I also had strange dreams. I had one about a troupe of vampires who travelled around like door to door car salesmen offering pest control. They cleared out squirrels, rabbits and mice from your yard. Yeah that was a strange one. But for now, it is time to jump into our morning prompt. Are you ready? Excellent. Let’s go.

It took me a while to get into this one. I’ve noticed that tends to happen with longer sentences though. This one I really didn’t get a feel for the story until close to the end of my time. I think it is something I will have to think about though before I decide if I like it enough to continue writing.

Tuesday, January 4th: The mice moved in once the place was left standing empty.

The mice moved in once the place was left standing empty.  That much was clear from the gnawed edges of things and the droppings sprinkled around the baseboards.  What was worse was the smell.  It smelled of rodent.  It was an indiscernible scent, a mixture that somehow came together to shoot the word rodent into my brain. Until we stepped into the house I hadn’t known that rodents had a scent or that I would actually be able to identify it.  I suppose if I thought about it hard enough I would have come up with the thought that rodents had a scent.  I could certainly picture myself nodding to someone who said such a thing.  It made sense for them to have a scent. 

It didn’t make sense for me to be able to identify it.

In my world rodents fell into two distinct categories; those that featured in science books as part of basic education and those that featured in children’s books.  The later generally were cartoons and tended to wear clothing cleaned from some sort of colonial era mouse shop.  Never once had I seen cartoon mice dressed in modern clothing.

And the thought of seeing a mouse in person was practically unthinkable.  The world I lived in smelled of lemon scented cleaners carrying an antiseptic back note. Occasionally there was a floral scent but it came from plugged in air fresheners rather than living blossoms.  Our classrooms were located on the floor below our living quarters and all sixty of us would troupe from one floor to another in timed sequences. 

Second floor by night, first floor by day.  When the weather was nice and the sun was shining, we were allowed out on the playground.  It too had been sanitized in its own way.  It smelled of antibacterial rubber and plastic left out in the sun.  The plastic tubes for crawling in were made of recycled plastics that were presumably used elsewhere. 

They would grow hot in the sun and gave of the scent of fry oil. I only knew the scent from my occasional visits to the large kitchen when I was tasked to serve as runner. The duty was passed among us and I only served once every couple of months and even then it was rare for runners to be sent to the kitchen.  The headmistress didn’t care for the kitchen staff and liked to think they didn’t exist.  Contacting them for any reason meant that a dire emergency was on the horizon and no other method of thwarting it was currently available. 

On the playground it was the rubberized scent that dominated.  There was a thick carpet of the pellets underneath our feet made from tires that were ground up when they could no longer be used.  There were a couple of tires hanging from rubber coated chains that we were allowed to swing on.  If I had any childhood scent memory it was the scent of rubber in the hot sun.  I was somehow amazed that I was able to even detect the scent of mouse in the abandoned house. ‘Perhaps someone mentioned it and I don’t recall,’ I justified.  I kept my surprise to myself.  Most people didn’t like to be reminded of children like me.  It brought up other, darker thoughts for them.  I learned early on it was better if I pretended my childhood was closer to their own experiences.

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