Fiction by Judy Loose
Millie hummed as she cruised up I-75 on Friday morning, headed for Busch Gardens with Brian and Becky secured in the back seat. She enjoyed these outings with her grandchildren, driving her Grand Marquis. She’d had the car for fifteen years, and it still purred.
As much as the kids at five and seven enjoyed these trips, Millie enjoyed them more. Right now, Brian and Becky had their heads together, giggling, looking at something on the seat between them.
“What is it, Becky?”
“It’s the mice from my school project.”
Oh no! What was Becky planning to do with mice? “You were supposed to leave them with your neighbor.”
“She doesn’t even like mice. She screamed at the babies,” Becky whined.
“Joe and Jim had babies,” Brian answered.
“Joe and Jim?”
Joe and Jim were obviously Joe and Jill. Should she turn the car around and take the mice back to Fort Myers? She pointed the car toward the rest area.
“Oh, Nana. You’re not gonna take them home, are you?” Becky pleaded.
Not far to Tampa. The round trip to Fort Myers would take a couple of hours. The kids would be hungry and cranky long before they arrived. So would Millie. She avoided the rest area.
“No, Becky. But they are not going in the room with us.” It was January and cool. They could leave the mice in the car. Would she regret that decision?
When Becky went out to feed the mice that night, Millie peered into the cage. The babies were tiny, pink, squiggly things, like ugly gummy bears. Becky held one up for Millie. No way! She backed off and shook her head; a shiver of disgust ran down her spine.
Saturday, Busch Gardens was great; no one threw up on any of the rides. Brian petted the giraffe; he loved giraffes. The children wanted to take the mice to see the other animals but accepted Millie’s firm, “No.”
On Sunday, after dropping her grandchildren at home in Fort Myers, Millie sang with the music in her car. She adored Becky and Brian, but she was glad to take them home. As she stopped for a red light, she opened the front windows for fresh air and something crawled across her shoulders — must be a bug. She reached up and flicked it off. A mouse flew out the window and into the next car. A woman screamed, the light changed to green, and Millie stepped on the gas.
When Millie traded in her old stand-by Grand Marquis a month later, she didn’t tell the salesman about the mice that kept appearing — on the dash, in the back seat, in the trunk, or the one that had crawled up her leg the day before.