A True Friend
It was a pleasant spring day, and I was in one of my cheerful moods. I was going to play tennis with my three favorite friends, Michele, Marie, and Marcia.
We were known at
Sportime in East Quogue, as the ‘Four Musketeers.’ Our tennis game was scheduled for Fridays. After our game, we always went to Ekhart’s for lunch, in Westhampton Beach. It was so much fun.
That day, I opened the front door singing away joyfully, tennis racket in hand, and prepared to walk to my car. I had hardly taken a step out, when suddenly I froze in place. Soon, I rushed right back into the house, and slumped into the armchair in the hall, holding my head between my hands with great despair.
“Oh, no dear God!” I panicked, feeling miserable. “Why do these things have to always happen to me?”
Well, maybe tennis was out for me that day. I thought that I had no choice, but to stay at home and wait for my husband to return in the evening, and help me out with my problem. However, giving it a second thought, I realized that it would be very selfish of me to opt out of the tennis game at the last moment. It would create problems for my friends who were counting on me to be their fourth. Indeed, I would be spoiling their game and our lunch. So, what was I supposed to do?
Despite all the logical reasoning, I told myself that there was no way I could go out that door, and by no means I could deal with this big problem by myself. There was a dead mouse in the driveway. Funny, right? But, not for me. I am horrified of mice. In fact, I have a phobia. It doesn’t matter whether the mouse is dead or alive… I can’t take a look at either one! I’ll faint… I’ll die. I am not as scared of snakes, as I am of mice. Something must have happened to me as a little girl to have made me so fearful of those little, creepy rodents. And, wouldn’t you know, with my bad luck, I always seem to come across one. I’ll give you an example. Last year, my husband and I were waiting in Manhattan at a garage for the garage attendant to bring up our car. As we were waiting patiently, suddenly, I noticed a mouse zooming by at the speed of lightning. I yelled, and turned my head away, in order not to look at the mouse. Of course my husband could immediately tell the reason for my despair. It was nothing new to him. He didn’t have to see the mouse to know the reason for my loud scream. He was familiar with the, let’s call it, my mouse yell. Meanwhile, people standing by, and waiting for their cars to arrive, looked at me sideways. Possibly they thought that I was crazy. Naturally, because they had not seen the mouse. Yes, I am always the only unlucky person who has to see those horrifying, speedy creatures. So, regrettably, that day, it had happened to me again. And, I was caught up alone with my big problem.
The more I thought about venturing out of the house to get to my car and drive to the club, the less I could bring myself to do so. To make matters worse, I was feeling nauseous. Each time I saw a mouse, I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t even have a cat to carry the mouse away, but even if I had one, I don’t think I would be stupid enough to allow it to save me from my misery. For, the dead mouse could be the end for a cat. Often mice die because of eating poison left out for them. So, what could I do…? How could I get myself to the health club from my home in Westhampton?
I thought and thought, and paced the length of the hall at least 50 times, as the look of the scary mouse, which was engraved in my mind, terrified me. Suddenly, I heard myself saying loudly, “But of course, I know what to do. I should shade the left side of my face with my left hand to help block the sight of the mouse from my view!”
I smiled triumphantly, being happy for having finally solved my terrible dilemma. So that’s exactly what I did, and then I scurried into the car, and drove away as fast as I could.
After the game was over, before going out for lunch, I turned to Michele and said, “My lovely Michele, I have a big favor to ask you.”
She looked at me anxiously. “What’s wrong?”
I smiled bashfully, and answered, “There’s a dead mouse in my driveway.”
I bit my lower lip with embarrassment, as I answered, “Do you think you could drive with me to my house, before we go to Ekhart’s, and get rid of it for me?”
Suddenly Michele’s smile faded away. Her face dropped, she looked really pale, and her eyes lost their luster. She said with a cold tone of voice, “Okay. I’ll follow you in my car to your house.”
As we drove away from Sportime, I wondered about Michele’s sudden change of mood. I asked myself if she was mad at me for having asked her for a favor. Then I thought that it was not like her. She was such a kind person… Anyway, it was too late, and we were about to arrive at the house.
When we entered the driveway and I got off the car. This time, I held my right hand against the right side of my face. I passed the mouse from a different angle this time. So, quickly I ran toward the garage door, where a broom, dustpan, and a garbage canister lay. Picking up the broom and the dustpan, I passed them on to Michele. I, myself, stood far away from her, covering my eyes with my hands. This way, I could not see my friend scooping up the mouse. As I stood there, I heard Michele yelling and screaming with fear and disgust.
“Oh dear,” I called out. “Don’t tell me you are scared of mice, too!”
“I am horrified,” she answered, “but I couldn’t refuse you when you came to me for help.”
“I’m so sorry… I’m really sorry.” I kept repeating, as Michele dumped the mouse in the garbage can and closed the lid. She then took a sigh of relief and said, “You know what my friend?”
“What?” I asked.
“The fact that you came to me, and not the others for help with the dead mouse, means a lot to me.”
I hugged Michele hard to thank her for her heroism, and thought to myself, what do you call my lovely friend’s action, if not total devotion and loyalty?