Hamilton shuffled to the door of his apartment quietly, trying to stop the keys from rattling as he fitted them into the locks. Miss Dorton was one of those inquiring creatures who enjoyed nothing so much as stopping a neighbor on their way home and getting as much out of them by way of gossip as mousely possible. Since she was his landlord he was often placed in the position of having to politely answer (as little as possible) whilst still appearing to politely answer all her intrusive questions.
He thought he spied the curtains of her window twitch and hurried his fingers, cursing inwardly the need for 3 locks on his apartment door. Miss Dorton claimed it was to make all her tenants feel safer, but Hamilton was of the mind to think it may have an added benefit (or two) of slowing down her quarry for subtle interrogation. “She is old” his inner chiding goody goody mouse reminded him. “Yeah, but she was also nosy”, the less than goody side of his brain responded, and “she smells like moldy brie”, it added unkindly. Hamilton shook his head and banished the voices as he struggled and finally succeeded in getting the locks open.
Quickly, he entered his apartment, and not a moment too soon, as he heard the distinct sound of Miss Dorton’s door opening behind him. He none too gently slammed the door and leaned against it sighing. He really ought to get over his fear of the woman and her questioning ways. She was not a monster after all, merely a gossip and an adept one at that. Hamilton knew he was not her only victim and smiled slightly to himself. He had noticed many a mouse darting looks toward her door as they hurried to enter their homes on more than one occasion. Sometimes unsuccessfully. Which, he would have felt bad about, had it not given him the freedom to enter his own home un-accosted.
He pushed away from the door and set his groceries on the counter-top. Distracted he began putting things away. His hand stilled when he encountered the softness of a feather and remembered. He had placed the fan on the counter upon getting home the day of the museum. He picked it up and placed it on the shelf above the counter. He gazed at it. “Olivia Templeton” he thought. What was she doing right now? Was she getting Braxley out of another spot of trouble? Or was she gently but firmly catching him before he could enact a mission to discover the reason a radio worked the way it did, or what made a washing machine go only in one direction? Was she thinking about her day at the museum, when she found a young librarian sprawled inelegantly at her feet? “Oh bosh!” He muttered loudly. “She probably thought you a complete clumsy idiot!”
He had tried not to think about her, but found his thoughts returning to her bright twinkling eyes as they gazed down at him concerned. Her small dainty fingers when he placed his hand accidentally over hers on the floor. He was quite honestly befuddled and turned about. Since meeting her he had taken to daydreaming about seeing her again. Of bumping into her unexpectedly. “Oh, hello! It’s you again” he would say with a rakish smile. “Fancy meeting you here, isn’t it funny how we keep meeting each other unexpectedly? Maybe it’s fate?” Only, he was not sure if he had the courage to do such a thing. He was not the type of mouse that did such things successfully. Generally, when he tried to appear cool and calm, he came off rather nervous and stammering instead. He had even looked up the feathers from her fan just to feel like he knew more about her. Only, the feathers used in her fan has been quite your common goose feathers dyed to a blue to match some ensemble or other. He sighed.
There were times when he realized quite unexpectedly that he was lonely. Meeting Miss Olivia Templeton, had been one such moments and he kept waiting to get over it, but somehow, though the day had eventually passed on, he still was not back to normal.
Hamilton took out a can of acorn soup and placed it into a small saucepan to heat. He cut a slice of crusty bread, some crumbly cheese, and placed both under the broiler to melt. Nothing beats a good slice of melted cheese and some good hot acorn soup, he thought. He wondered if Miss Templeton liked acorn soup, or did she prefer good old squash with a bit of fresh fruit instead? Realizing he was doing it again he slapped himself on the forehead and gathered his plates onto a wooden tray. Waiting for the food to finish cooking, he walked to the bookcase and selected a worn leather book. He hefted it, allowing for the weight, and placed it carefully on the side table near his comfortable reading chair, along with a nubby ink pen.
He looked out the window and noticed the moon in full glory. It is really rather beautiful, the moon, he thought to himself. It’s like a nightlight in the sky for readers sitting in chairs to glance at and feel comforted. He turned up the wick on the lamp so as to ensure that his eyes did not strain and then went back into the kitchen to check on his meal. Finding the food ready, he placed it about the tray in their proper places and made his way gingerly over to the chair, where he made himself comfortable. He sipped his soup from a mug and contemplated the entries from the last several days in his leather journal. Saturday’s got the longest entry. He described the paintings he had seen, and the way they made him feel. The excitement he felt at standing there overwhelmed but intrigued. He described falling over Braxley and how he reminded him of himself at that age. How his eyes had met Miss Templeton’s in silent smiling over Braxley’s little head. He sighed. Yes, he was most definitely doing it again. Thinking about her.
He put down his mug, picked up his pen, and started a new entry. Turning several pages to get to a clean un-inked page and purposely not staying on the page from Saturday. He considered his day for a moment, then began to write:
Today was Monday. It was the same old thing.
He paused. No no no..this would not do. He set the pen down and gazed about himself. Not such a bad room, he thought. He contemplated the worn carpet and the mismatched chairs. Certainly it didn’t scream fashion-place but there was something rather comforting about it. He liked that the chairs didn’t match. That the curtains didn’t completely do their job keeping the light out and that it peeped around the edged of the cloth saying a hello each day. He liked that every surface seemed to be covered with precariously leaning books rather then knick-knacks and other fragile things. He liked this room. It suited him just fine. He sat back in his big leather chair and wondered why he felt restless in his bones. Like there was fur under instead of on-top-of his skin. He frowned for a moment. Then decided to be honest with his journal. After all, if one could not be honest with oneself, where could one be honest? He turned back to the Saturday entry and read it again.
Saturday, June 29th
Today was quite the adventure. I walked around that art gallery until my tail was sore. There were lots of people all such differing personalities. I couldn’t wait to come home and tell you about them. There was one mouse, quite tall and just that little bit shuffling, you know the sort, they just never seem comfortable in their own skin until they are doing something that makes them forget to be nervous. I knew you would know what I mean, anyway, he was dressed from head to paw in black with the most unusual slash of red across the shoulder. It looked like a bit of paint and I am sure he didn’t know about this. As he was the sort that would have had serious fits about anything interfering with complete perfection in his personal dress. I couldn’t help but be amused the whole time I stood there knowing that this slash of red was there and that he did not and this fact was something I found rather touching and mousy. I was glad he didn’t know somehow it was better knowing he didn’t it made him more than he knew he was somehow. I knew you would understand what I mean.
There was also this young mole there. A pretty little thing with the nicest mole nose twitching in her excitement. It was her first showing and she didn’t care a bit about acting jaded. She was excited and didn’t care who knew. In fact, her whole body shook with it, that glee and joy of having done something others found deserving of notice. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her art was odd, lots of twine and paint. Perhaps a more citified mouse would eventually buy it, as for me, I was rather entranced by a watercolor painting I saw.
The painting subject was a mouse sitting very still in a room, with a book perched on his lap. He had huge spectacles perched on his nose, impressively in fact, since the glasses were quite as big as his face. I felt such a longing to join him there in that painting. He was someone I think I could have quite cheerfully spent an hour or two with.
Something else happened. I fell down. When I looked up, I found myself falling again, only of a different sort. Her name was Olivia. I must admit, I flushed from my head to my tail. Never a lovelier sight did I ever see. She was blindingly white with a pink nose and sweetly pink paws. I blush now to even write about that first glimpse of her. She smiled right at me. I was completely confused by this feeling that came over me. It was a lifetime before I could breathe. After she had gone, taking Braxley with her, I stood there, completely at a loss as to why I could not move. I was so confused I rushed away without speaking to anyone else.
I will end with gladness, just as always.
I am glad for crumbly cheese that sinks it’s essence onto a tongue as it satisfies hunger.
I am glad for slashes of paint and very mouse-like moments.
I am glad for excitement and twinkles, most especially twinkles.
I am glad for beauty and those that create it unknowing of the lovely things they are birthing.
I am glad also and lastly, for books, for wonderful amazing books, that inspire, transport and complete, all at the same time.
Love, Hamilton E. Clendon.
Hamilton sat back in his chair and considered. How could he meet her again and not make a complete fool of himself. He had already decided he must try, even if he shook from head to foot. He must try. Miss Olivia Templeton was someone he wanted to know, to understand. To talk to and make friends with. How could he do this without further embarrassing himself? Then he remembered, the fan. What could be more acceptable. Hamilton slowly felt himself smile. He would return the fan to its owner, and in doing so, perhaps invite her along to have a cup of tea? Yes, he liked that idea. He liked that idea quite a lot.
Hamilton was so relieved he picked up his toast in celebration and crunched down with his teeth.