“You’ll get stepped on, Squeaky,” said my sister Marcia, all smug as usual, “and then Mom will cry.”
“Bullshit. She’ll probably cry for like a second and then have another goddamn litter.”
I knew I shouldn’t have said it, but I said it anyway. Sure enough, my little brother Billy piped up. “You said a bad word! I’m telling Mom.”
“Tell her, then. What do I care?” Billy started crying.
I don’t know why I got stuck with a stupid name like Squeaky when all my other brothers and sisters have totally normal names. I mean, Squeaky’s not my real name. It’s Jacob, to tell you the truth. It really is, if you can believe it. Jacob. How funny is that? I’ve heard lots of different stories about why I’m called Squeaky. Mom says it’s because I was so cute—which I have a hard time believing, honestly. I imagine that I probably just looked like all other babies look, shriveled and pink and hairless. Babies are kind of gross, when you think about it. You can’t really blame them, though. It’s not their fault they look so weird. And they can be nice to have around. I liked it when all my little siblings were born. It was fun to watch their whiskers grow in and all. But they’re still kind of gross.
Marcia says I’m called Squeaky because when I was little I was scared all the time and I squealed a lot. Goddamn Marcia. She’s always saying stuff like that, trying to make you feel bad about yourself. She wants to be perfect, but she’s not, and the only way she can make herself believe that she’s perfect is by being a real bitch to everybody. Which is so stupid, really, because she’s close to perfect anyway. I mean it. She’s got all this pretty gray hair that never seems to get dirty, and her nose is rosy pink, and she’s damn intelligent. She’s right about me, too—I was scared a lot as a kid. But that doesn’t mean she has to go reminding me about it all the time.
She can’t say I’m scared now, though. There’s no way, because I’m the only one that’s brave enough to go out and have a look at them. The humans, that is. That’s what we were talking about that day. I wanted to see the big ugly things for real. Humans—how funny are they? In all their stories and stuff, mice are all cute. I’ve heard of Cinderella, mice helping her out and all that. But then when they actually see us, they go nuts. Absolutely nuts. They scream, and they lay out all these traps. They’re such hypocrites. It makes me sick.
I wanted to see one even though they make me sick. I’d seen them from far away, of course, lots of times. But Mom usually keeps us inside the walls, and we’re only allowed on the track sometimes. From down there you can look up and see them waiting for the trains. I always think it’d be crazy fun to crawl up one of their legs and totally freak them out, but then they’d probably kick me off and I’d get hurt. I’d probably deserve it.
I've been re-reading The Catcher in the Rye, so when I saw a mouse yesterday I started picturing a mouse-as-Holden-Caulfield. My brain does bizarre things sometimes.