The Mice Step Out!



Mice love storytelling. On stormy November evenings, they gather around the fireplace and tell stories. Sometimes, those are old stories of mice long ago. And sometimes they make up stories for each other, like this one:

“There was once a little mouse who read a book about all the animals that fly,” LadyMouse began.

“How little was that mouse?” ToddlerMouse asked.

“I think he was older than you,” said his mother. “But maybe not that much bigger.”

“Someday I will be big,” said ToddlerMouse.

“That’s true.”

“What did he do?” ToddlerMouse asked. “The mouse who read the book.”

"That is the story," LadyMouse said. The mice children sat very still so they could listen to the story.

Little Mouse read about bees,” LadyMouse said. “And about hummingbirds. And other birds, too. And bats. But the ones he liked the most were butterflies, because they had such pretty wings. Little Mouse wished he could fly. He wished he had pretty wings like a butterfly. But he did not.

"Why can't mice fly like butterflies?" Little Mouse asked.

"Butterflies don’t have nice tails like we do,’ said Little Mouse's sister.

Little Mouse agreed. Tails were fine things. But he didn’t see why he couldn’t have wings, too. After all, they were in a different place. Why couldn’t he have both?

But no one knew.

“Time to buy some new clothes for Little Mouse,” said his father. "Those trousers are much too short."

So he took Little Mouse shopping. They tried on clothes. Little Mouse thought the blue trousers and the red ones were nice enough. But nothing in the clothing store looked like the wings of butterflies.

They went home with red trousers and blue trousers, and Little Mouse went back to his book.

The more he studied the pretty pictures, the more he wanted wings.

"I’ll just try some on,” he said. “Like those red trousers and blue trousers.”

So he took his book to his mother’s big mirror and stood in front of it, looking first at his reflection, and then at the beautiful butterflies. And before long, he could almost see the two things come together. He could picture how he’d look if he had beautiful wings.

Little Mouse was excited. He jumped up and down and squeaked. But then he thought, that even though he could picture himself with the beautiful wings, he still could not fly.

First he was sad. Then he thought, “If I could try on the red trousers and the blue trousers, if I could try on the wings, maybe I can try on flying.”

What would it be like to fly? “Everything would be lower,” he thought. “Like when I ride on Daddy’s shoulders.”

So he thought of everything, being lower. His house—he would only see the roof, which was green, so he put that in his picture. And the trees—they would be green blobs, but it wasn’t the same green. And the street in front of his house, and that was gray.

He pictured something like a map, like Daddy’s map that he frowned at when they went somewhere in the car. Only Little Mouse’s map was all colors, and it had everything Little Mouse knew in it. All the mice in his neighborhood and their houses and gardens, and everything he’d see if he could fly.

He swooped, like he’d seen birds swoop, and hovered the way bees did. And fluttered with his butterfly wings, and did everything he wanted to do.

And when he came down again, right there in front of his mother’s big mirror, he saw a huge smile on his face. And he ran and told his mother all about it.

“That sounds wonderful,” his mother said. “Your imagination makes you fly, Little Mouse.”

“Even when I get big?” Little Mouse asked.

“Always,” said his mother.