We meet all relevant characters in the first section: our first-person narrator along with her boyfriend, Eddie, and Eddie’s mother (Susan). We’re also introduced to a mouse along with the home in which this story takes place. It’s Susan’s home located in sprawling bucolic Maine where everything is quaint and perfect and people keep tea times (and probably tee times). We’re also “two hours north of [the couple’s] cluttered apartment in Boston” where they probably don’t attend open houses just to see “decorated parlors” and “underground entertainment systems” which is Susan’s idea of an ideal afternoon.
The story deftly juxtaposes the narrator’s modest upbringing (with the “broken-down Mazda…in the backyard”) and Eddie’s mother’s tea time expectations (not that the two are mutually exclusive). And this alone would be a compelling story full of conflict and compelling situations between the three characters, but the event that propels this piece forward is a game of cat and mouse. Remember that pesky mouse we meet upon arrival from cramped Boston to sprawling Maine? Susan says, “…something has to be done about this mouse.” Susan is not keen on keeping company with rodents, but instead of using a traditional mousetrap, the narrator convinces them to use a live-catch trap. The next morning Susan fetches a “box trap” so the narrator won’t “feel guilty.”
With this goal of catching the mouse, a series of extraordinary—though bizarre—events take place. I won’t mention any of them to you. They’re just too good to name on this page, and so you’ll have to read them for yourself. A small clue: the events in question show in clear detail how out of touch with reality the potential future mother-in-law has become.
This is a fascinating story. I couldn’t stop reading.
Amelia Brown’s essays and reviews have been published at the Masters Review, CRAFT Literary, Full Stop, and the Ploughshares blog. She lives and writes in Boston.