Funny… the things that can trigger a memory.
I had a mouse in the house yesterday. It was a little field mouse. I think he might have come in through the garage, we see them outside all of the time.
He ran across the living room and then doubled back to sit in front of the TV set. Foolish little fellow considering that I have three cats in the house.
My cats did NOTHING – the three of them, they just watched! I really don’t think that they know they are cats.
I went and got a big-mouthed glass and a hard piece of thin cardboard and caught the little critter. He was actually cute. Then I walked him outside and let him go near a storm drain where he could find shelter. I certainly hope he had a safe night.
When I came back into the house I suddenly thought about my childhood friend Donna. When we were kids in grade school our science teacher encouraged us to raise and observe pet mice as a science project. Donna, another mutual friend and I bought three white mice at a pet store. Donna’s mom was cool about it and let us keep the cage with our mice at their house. (The other two moms were not so thrilled about having mice in the house.)
The mice were fun to watch and play with and the three of us took serious notes on the behavior for class. They became more pets than just a school project. Several weeks into the project the mice got out of the cage (I think one of D’s brothers left the cage door open). We never saw the mice again… I hope they made a break for the outside and got away, we never could get a straight answer from the little brothers.
I thought of Donna, she died a few years ago in a car accident. I miss her. Funny that a little field mouse would make me think of her. I miss her, but I didn’t feel like crying. I thought of the fun times we had and I chuckled at some of the mischief we got into. This little mouse actually made me happy.
The unexpected trip down memory lane made me think of how I have used memory flashbacks in my writing.
I thought of Tom Hughes, the hero of Within the Law. Tom has many poignant moments when he remembers the past – like the time he found his cousin after she ran away from home, the last time he saw his high school sweetheart before she died, or his memories of a brief love affair with the woman who taught him to love again. What triggered his memories? How did those memories affect the man he had become?
I’ve used flashbacks in other stories too, such as with Samantha Chaunce in A Chaunce of Riches. She had memories of Ben, a man she thought she would never have to see again after she left him in his hour of need. Sam had tried to suppress those memories along with the love she still had for him. Seeing him again and hearing his voice haunted her with those agonizing memories and all that she had given up.
Many things can trigger a memory and our minds wander. Sometimes the nostalgia brings us laughter and sometimes it brings us tears. A favorite cooking aroma, a perfume, a photo, a song we once danced to – they all seem to have the power to reach back into our subconscience and bring the memory to the forefront.
But a mouse on my living room carpet, that’s a first.