‘I’ll be back tonight.’ Piedro said at the front door.
‘I hope you can have a good day at work.’ Mouse said.
‘Thanks.’ he said and waved goodbye as he walked to the trainstation.
She closed the door when she couldn’t see him anymore and prepped herself to do the household chores. He had explained quickly how the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, stereo and tv remote worked so she turned on the stereo before starting the laundry. Piedro told her doing chores with music makes it less of a hassle.
By the time she was done with vacuuming kaundry was done and she hung the clothes to dry on the rack outside she heard a child cry and someone laughing. She didn’t like the way it sounded and looked down to see what happened.
A couple of young guys were harrassing a little girl and her dog. They took the leash and pulled up the dog with it making it dangle on its hind legs. The girl cried out to let it go but the guys were just laughing and bullying her.
She hesitated to go down and help the girl. Piedro said she should not let herself get seen for now because it might get her into trouble. She turned her back to it at first, but then she couldn’t ignore it and hurried out the door and down the stairs to the courtyard.
‘Let that dog go!’ she growled as she ran out the door downstairs.
The guys looked surprised at her and when they saw what they thought was a huge wild animal running towards them they let the dog go and ran off as fast as they could.
Mouse hurried to the dog which was trying to catch its breath.
‘Are you okay?’ she asked it while she checked the collar and stroked its head.
The dog coughed but carefully wagged its tail as it looked at her.
‘How could they do such horrible things to you?’ she said and received a lick.
Mouse looked at the little girl who watched her. ‘Don’t worry, she’s alright now.’
The girl still looked nervously at her and Mouse suddenly realised what she had done. ‘Ah, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.’ She prodded the dog to go back to the girl. ‘Go on. Get back to your owner.’
The dog looked once at her, then walked over to the girl and licked her face. The girl hugged the dog and Mouse walked back to the front entrance. She wanted to open the door but it was locked. She looked around if there was a way to open it, then sighed.
‘First day and I’m already in trouble.’ she said and leaned against the door.
She felt a tug on her t-shirt.
‘Can’t you get in?’ the girl asked.
Mouse looked back and smiled softly. ‘It seems I didn’t think about getting locked out when I came down.’
The girl held up a key. ‘I can open it.’
‘Then you saved me.’
The girl unlocked the door and they went inside.
‘Thanks.’ Mouse said.
The girl bowed. ‘Thank you for saving Yuuna.’
Mouse smiled. ‘You’re welcome. I hope those guys don’t dare to come back again.’
‘You live here?’
Mouse nodded. ‘I live here with my owner.’
The girl pondered for a moment. ‘Can we visit you?’
Mouse felt a little surprised. ‘If my owner doesn’t mind.’
‘Then I will visit.’ the girl smiling.
‘I look forward to it.’
‘My name’s Tomomi.’
‘I’ve got to go home now.’
‘Then I’ll see you later.’ Mouse said and waved at the girl as she walked down the hall to the other side of the building.
When Piedro came back home she told him what happened that day. ‘Are you mad I let myself be seen?’
He smiled and stroked her head. ‘No, I’m proud you stood up for them.’
She smiled and leaned her head against him.
‘If there’s trouble we’ll deal with it as it comes.’
He cooked dinner and they spend the evening watching tv.
When it was late he stretched and yawned. ‘Time for bed.’ he said and truned off the tv. He stood up and wanted to leave the room when he looked back at Mouse. She fiddled with her fingers.
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.
‘Can I sleep with you?’
‘Sure, why not?’
‘I’m not a little plush anymore.’
He smiled. ‘I wouldn’t be able to sleep without you next to me.’ he said and held out his hand. ‘Come.’
She hopped off the couch and wagged her tail taking his hand. They crawled into bed, snuggled up and soon fell asleep.
The next day she was bringing the dry laundry back inside when she saw Tomomi outside. She saw Mouse and waved. Mouse waved back and Tomomi beckoned her to come down. Mouse let her know she would in a few minutes and finished putting away the laundry.
When she went outside she saw Tomomi with a few friends.
‘My friends wanted to meet you.’ she said.
‘Hello.’ Mouse said to the other girls.
‘Wow, she’s real.’ one of them said.
‘Told you.’ Tomomi said.
‘Can I touch you?’ another girl asked.
Mouse smiled and crouched down. ‘Sure.’
The girls touched her arms carefully, then stroked her fur.
‘You’re so soft.’
‘Are you a dog?’
‘I’m more like a wolf.’
‘Will you play with us?’
‘I’ve got some time.’
‘Let’s play hide and seek! Then you go find us.’
‘Sure. But I’m good at smelling you.’
‘Then you can’t use your nose!’
Mouse laughed a little. ‘Okay, I won’t use my nose.’
The girls ran away to hide but Mouse soon found and caught them. The girls ganged up on her and tickled her while she tickled them back. When all were exhausted they sat in a circle.
‘Where’s your owner now?’ Tomomi asked.
‘He’s at work.’
‘What does he do?’
‘He writes stories for children like you.’
‘Really? What kind?’
Mouse thought for a moment about the couple of stories she had read so far. ‘I could read you one if you want.’
‘Yes please!’ they said.
‘Okay, let me get one of his new ones.’ Mouse said and went up to get one of the printed manuscripts.
When she got back they sat down on the grass in one of the corners of the courtyard. The girls sat down around her and she started reading a story about a ghost and a young boy becoming friends. The girls listened intently as Mouse read and played out some parts of the story. The girls enjoyed it and hugged Mouse when she’d finished.
‘Will you read more?’
‘I will if I can.’ Mouse said and stroked their heads.
‘Ah, mommy!’ said Tomomi.
Mouse looked around and saw two women standing a little way off.
‘Ah.’ she said and tried to make herself small.
The women smiled. ‘We heard you reading that great story.’ one of them said.
‘Isn’t she great?’ Tomomi asked.
Her mother nodded.
‘You’re not afraid?’
She shook her head. ‘It seemed weird at first, but when we saw how close the children were to you as you read to them we understood you wouldn’t harm them.’
A couple of girls stood up in front of Mouse. ‘Of course she wouldn’t do anything! She’s our friend!’
Mouse smiled. ‘Thanks.’
The second mother came closer and stroked her daughter’s head. ‘Say, would you mind reading a story at school? I’m sure the kids would love it.’
‘I’m a teacher at the elementary school down the block. And it would be great to have you visit us.’
Mouse pondered for a moment. ‘I would have to ask, but I think I’d love to.’