I have a story to tell you, young readers. This is a long story, one that occurred when I was a mouse your age. It has been a very long time, so I might not remember everything. But if you listen carefully and quietly, I will tell you about the time when the moon really was made out of cheese.
In the olden days, it was easy for us to live. There were few humans to disturb us, and they left us in peace. We built our homes out of old wood strips, and shredded fabric was used for bedding. Every home was large enough to hold ten mice, but discreet and small enough to be hidden from passing humans. We spent much of our time indoors, taking care of siblings, gathering fabric to shred for bedding.
One day, I decided to explore the great outdoors. I had heard from family members that everything was different.
“It’s dangerous, you know,” my sister said. “You never know what’s out there!”
Shrugging off her concerns, I prepared to leave, packing a bag full of food, wood strips, and fabric in case I needed to shelter in an emergency or lost my way. For the rest of the day, I was extremely restless, eager to get outside. I tried to pretend everything was the same, trying to keep a nonchalant attitude. My strategy didn’t work.
“You’re awfully quiet tonight,” my mother remarked as she passed me a bowl of soup. “It’s minced morsel stew, your favorite, and you haven’t said a word!”
“Yes,” my father added. “Is something wrong? Is there anything troubling you? If so, you can always ask your mother and I for advice.”
“No, it’s fine. Everything’s okay. I guess I’m just tired,” I say, hoping the conversation will end soon.
“Charles has been thinking about-!” I cut my sister off with a warning glare.
“Thinking about what, darling?” my mother intervenes.
“I-I didn’t really mean that,” my sister says. “I think we should all sleep early tonight. We all seem tired.” Kayla lowers her gaze, picking up her spoon, gesturing to everyone to do the same.
“Let’s eat!” my mother says, rubbing her hands together. “The stew’s getting cold. Charles, if you’re not going to eat that, dump it back in the cooking pot. Otherwise, stop playing with your food and eat a decent meal.”
I decide to leave the dinner table, and brush my teeth for bed. However, I don’t sleep. I spend my time planning my escape into the outdoors world. Hours pass. Night falls. I hear Kayla come upstairs, stepping softly, trying not to “wake” me. She tucks my blankets more firmly around me then closes the door and leaves.
I wait three long, excruciating hours in bed, until the clock chimes. Midnight. I know Mother and Father must be asleep, but I stand up to check. Pressing my ear to the door, I listen. Not a single squeak. I grab my bag, check my inventory, then scribble a note to my parents telling them of my decision to explore the outside world. I stick the note to my bedroom door, and creep down the stairs, silent as a shadow. I am looking back at my home for the last time. I turn around, my hand firmly around the doorknob. I am turning the cold, smooth handle when-
“Charles!” my father’s voice comes to me. I start, my hand releasing the doorknob. My father comes racing down the stairs, stumbling and tripping on the last four in his haste to reach me. “Wait, son! Don’t go!”
“Father?” I say, my confusion evident. “How did you know I was leaving tonight?” Suddenly, I realize. “Kayla! She told!”
“Yes, she did, Charles. And she did so for good measure. Kayla didn’t want you to go alone. We arranged a way to help you during dinner,” he says calmly.
“But you can’t stop me from going on the adventure of my life, Father! I’ve been dreaming of it! Besides, you and Mother can manage without me just the same. Kayla can cook, and Sarah can sew! You don’t need me here!” I protest, whiskers twitching in frustration.
A sad expression crosses his face. “Charles, I don’t want you to go alone. You’re my only son. Just let me go with you,” he says.
“No, Father. I’m sorry, but this is my mission. I promise to return as soon as possible. I just don’t want to leave Mother with Kayla, Sarah, and Baby Nellie to take care of. Please let me go alone. Please!” I beg, awaiting his decision.
We stand in silence, until Father straightens, opening the door. “Good luck, Charles,” he says, “and I wish you the best on your journey.”