Sometimes life is unfair- I think we are all living that at the moment- and all you can do is make the best of it. Perhaps that’s why so many of us are baking so much at the moment….
In this, the fourth chapter of Wire: Messenger Mouse, Ario, our earnest banana-slug hero, has a heap of lemons before him. He had a dream, and that dream was squashed. Or was it?
Inspired by dinner with the lovely Brown family, Ario comes up with a new plan, and recruits young Wire to help him.
Dinner was as chaotic as it always was, with little Clover spilling her dandelion milk all over Ario and Aunt Violet having to institute silence at the table so the mouselings would stop talking and put the food in their mouths.
“I am so sorry. They’re in rare form tonight,” Wire whispered to Ario as Violet scolded the errant youngsters. “You must be ready for quiet now.”
“Nah, bro. They’re awesome.” The sounds of smacking and chewing filled the air, the mouselings now devouring their dinner. “Thanks again for inviting me, Mrs. Brown. This is the best mushroom casserole I’ve ever had. I’d totally crawl over blackberry spines to get it.”
“It’s Cobble’s specialty.” Violet said, smiling at her husband.
“Old family recipe,” Cobble said as he dished out seconds to Bran and Pansy.
“It’s the best!” Bran declared around a mouthful.
“Chew with your mouth closed please,” Violet said. “Oh, Wire dear, did you remember to post Gran’s package today?”
Wire swallowed hard and focused on his plate. “I forgot. I can take it with me on my run tomorrow.”
“All right, you rowdy rascals, it’s time for bed!” Cobble announced once they had finally finished their dinner. The mouselings scrambled, shrieking, away from the table and towards their rooms, as their father chased them.
Wire hopped up to help his aunt, while Ario helped the best way he could by pushing in chairs.
The noise coming from the bedrooms gradually diminished. A few minutes later, Cobble came out with a satisfied smile on his face.
“Best bedtime in a long time. You tuckered them out, Ario.”
“No prob. Glad to help.”
Wire moved out of the kitchen. “Aunt Violet says to go to the family room. Dessert and tea will be ready in a minute.”
Cobble lead the way to the cozy family room, with its scattered floor cushions and mouseling art proudly displayed. The older mouse settled into his favourite chair with a sigh. “So, Ario with all the excitement at dinner I didn’t get the chance to ask you how your try-out went today.”
Wire jumped into save his friend. “It went, great. Right Ario?” Violet entered, the cups of the tea set tinkling as she set them down on the low wooden coffee table. Everyone looked towards the banana slug who had settled his yellow bulk onto a large brown floor pillow.
“Dude, thanks for saying that, but it was a disaster Mr. Brown. Mr. Blanco said they’ll never hire a slug like me.” Ario said as his eyestalks drooped.
Wire’s stomach squelched and he felt his face grow hot beneath the fur when he remembered how they’d treated his friend. “You did the best you could, Ario.” Wire turned to his aunt and uncle. “It was awful. Mr. Blanco was so mean to Ario.”
Violet and Cobble shared an understanding look, then Violet sat next to Ario, giving his mantle a pat. Uncle Cobble caught Ario’s eyestalks.
“I’m sorry Ario, that sounds terrible. When things have been one way for a long time, it can be hard for rodents to change their mind.”
“It doesn’t excuse the way they treated you Ario,” Violet added. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”
“It’s so unfair!” Wire said, jumping up from his spot on the sofa to pace the room. “Isn’t there something you can do?”
“Me?” Uncle Cobble asked in surprise. “I don’t make the decisions at M.P.S. I’m just a messenger.”
“But you’re the union rep, Uncle Cobble. You could get them to change their hiring practices.”
Uncle Cobble scowled. “Maybe, in time I could get them to look at things. I don’t know if there’s much I can do to change how they feel about slugs, or other non-rodents.”
“Cobble! What a thing to say!” Violet said as she poured out the tea. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. It’s what my mother always said. Your mother too, if memory serves.”
Cobble focussed on stirring his tea to avoid Violet’s glare.
“No worries, Mrs. Brown,” Ario mumbled. “I totally get it. It was dumb of me to think I could do it, anyway.”
Violet fixed her gaze upon the lemon-coloured slug. “No dream is ever stupid. Sometimes you have to compromise, but you shouldn’t be forced to give it up. Especially just because you’re a different species.”
Ario glowed in the low-light of the family room. “Aww, thanks, Mrs. Brown. With that, I think I will call it a night.”
Everyone moved to the burrow door to see their guest off.
“Goodnight Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Thanks for dinner.” Ario waved and eyestalk and lowered himself down the step into the yard.
“I will walk him to the bottom of the hill,” Wire said, stepping over the glittering trail of slime on the step.
“Don’t be long,” Uncle Cobble said. “Lots of dangerous creatures out this time of night.”
Wire’s brow furrowed, but his uncle had gone into the burrow.
“Don’t worry little dude, I’ll keep you safe,” Ario said, his radula turned upward into a wide smile.
Wire laughed. “Thanks, I appreciate it.”
The two friends made their way down the hill to the crossroads, Ario shimmering in the moonlight. Wire looked up into the sky, one lone star winking in the western sky.
“It’s kind of pretty out, this time of day,” he remarked.
“This is nothing, bro. You should see it on a full moon night. Sky glitters with a thousand points of light.” Ario stopped, lifted his head and stared at the sky. Wire paused as a rustle in the underbrush beyond the path caused his heart to race.
“That’s it, dude!” Ario exclaimed, causing Wire to jump.
“What’s it?” Wire squeaked, moving closer to Ario. He could just see Ario’s eyestalks in the closing darkness.
“You and I should set up a night delivery service, little dude. We could be the change together!” Ario started swaying side to side in his excitement.
“Night delivery service?” Wire asked with a frown.
“Exactly! There are so many creatures who could use a service like that. Whether they’re diurnal or nocturnal. I’m sure it could work.”
“Wouldn’t M.P.S., be mad?”
“Nah, bro. They don’t deliver at night. How could they be mad?”
Wire’s paws twisted paws around and around as the thoughts swirled in his head.
“Come on, little dude. It’s brilliant! Your experience, my night knowledge and enthusiasm. We’d rock Balsam Creek!”
Wire had a sudden vision of Mr. Blanco, yelling at Ario and kicking him out of try-outs just that morning. His stomach burned with anger.
“I guess…” Wire waffled. “I don’t have any experience at night, Ario. How would this even work? What if M.P.S. finds out? I could lose my long- distance route.”
“Okay, little dude, I hear you. How about you sleep on it?” Ario suggested. “Meet back here tomorrow night?”
Wire nodded, a paw nervously stroking his ear.
Ario let out a whoop. “I could just hug you little dude!”
Wire jumped back. “Uh, that’s okay.”
Ario chuckled, then waved an eyestalk. “See you tomorrow, partner!”
“See you tomorrow,” Wire sighed, watching his friend head up the hill to his home in Tanglebank. How could he let his new friend down?