There’s the vile smell of dead mouse in the house. It’s emanating from somewhere in the kitchen but has no respect for boundaries. Inexplicably, it’s particularly stomach churning by the front door and there’s a strong nauseating waft of it every time I approach the top of the cellar stairs with my arms laden with clean laundry.
Husband says there’s no point pulling the kitchen to pieces to look for it. We tried last time and had to give up concluding that the poor creature met its demise behind the fridge. It’s warm and completely inaccessible there because the knackered old fridge is built in to the cupboards in classic eighties style (don’t get me started). I’d like to look under the food cupboard where we found mouse droppings last winter but that too is screwed down. Husband says there’s no point looking at all. We should just give up and put up with it until it goes away.
“Living with this smell is child abuse,” says Eldest, “and unhygienic. You shouldn’t make us eat in this kitchen.” He has a point. I take to leaving the back door open as much as possible, even when it’s freezing. I buy pots and pots of hyacinths to try and drown it out. I boil up strange medieval-style concoctions involving honey, lemon and vanilla pods and leave them by the front door so they're the first thing the children smell when they come in from school. Friends begin to give our house a wide birth. Husband’s weekend jogging companion declines the invitation to wait in the hall. Lovely Friend over the road refers to it as “your dead rat.” It goes on and on.
I moan about it to everyone. I write about it on Facebook. The smell evolves. It morphs from rancid rotting manure, to high old fruit and nappies. It is our constant companion. It seeps everywhere. It contaminates everything. It makes me loathe the house. The days turn into weeks. By the middle of week three I crack. “It’s definitely under there! under the food cupboard! Unscrew the base! Now.”
“Now?” says Husband incredulously. It's evening. He has only just plonked himself down on a comfy chair in the living room.
“Yes. This minute! Get the screwdriver. I think it’s under there!”
Reluctantly he abandons his slump. He comes into the kitchen and immediately and effortlessly lifts the bottom of the cupboard out. It wasn’t screwed down.
“It wasn’t screwed down!” I yell.
“No, I didn’t screw it back last time,” he replies, while shining the torch underneath.
I wait. He makes a sound. It is something between a gasp, a sigh and a cough but it is also unmistakably the sound of someone coming across the remains of a very decomposed mouse. It took him seconds to find it. I could kill him. Or I could laugh hysterically.
Which would you do?