Wilde Blue Sky
Wilde Blue Sky on Shakespir
Copyright © 2014 by Wilde Blue Sky
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The author would like to thank Louise for her support.
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Rolo tossed and turned, his dreams haunted by fragments of childhood.
He was small – happily munching toffee coated popcorn surrounded by vague family images. A fatherly figure glanced at him reproachfully, he stopped eating and his ears sagged.
Instantly his body tensed, a huge evil eye drilled into his soul.
A snarling one eyed white weasel snapped at Rolo.
He sensed his mother grabbing his siblings and fleeing. His whole being ached as he snatched at her disappearing tail.
He screamed, ‘Mother don’t leave me! Please don’t leave me!’
His heart thumped his ribcage as the viscous animal advanced on him, running its tongue over razor sharp teeth.
He stumbled backwards into darkness as the white devil lunged at him. Snapping teeth reached through a crack and took a chunk out of Rolo’s thigh; he recoiled in pain and squeezed through a narrow opening.
The next moment Rolo was lost in a crowd of people, tears streaming down his face.
He saw a pallet full of brightly coloured boxes and jumped on board.
Instantly he was in the back of a van.
A sense of abandonment filled his heart.
He saw a bag of toffee coated popcorn and dived in – comfort filled him as he tasted the treat.
Abruptly he was in a big bright building.
He burrowed deeper into the sweets. A reassuring voice came to him, ‘You’re safe now. You’re safe.’
Rolo jolted awake. Squeak’s paw was on his shoulder.
Louise appeared. ‘Was it the same dream?’
‘Yes.’ He shook his head and wiped the sweat from his brow. ‘Did she really abandon me?’
The only response was a heart broken look on Louise’s face.
Rolo turned and buried his face a pillow.
That evening as Rolo gazed at the stars, a recurring thought haunted him, ‘Did my mother really desert me?’
Squeak nudged Rolo and pointed at a huge chunk of toffee coated popcorn. ‘I thought you might be hungry.’
Rolo stared into space. ‘Thanks but I can’t face eating anything.’
Squeak shuffled his feet.
Roger cooed. ‘He can’t stop thinking about his mother.’
Roger ruffled his wings. ‘There’s an old mouse in Southmouse hospital who keeps telling everyone about losing her son during an attack by a white one eyed weasel and how it broke her heart.’
Rolo stifled a tear. ‘It’s the same as my dream.’ He lifted the fur on his hind leg and showed a small mark. ‘See the scar.’ Rolo wiped his eyes. ‘I only have distant memories of my family. I never saw or heard from any of them after I came here.’
Squeak rested his paw on Rolo’s shoulder. ‘I’m sorry.’ He glanced away.
Rolo shrugged. ‘I always thought I’d been abandoned.’ He nodded towards Roger. ‘But now I’m not so sure.’
Squeak looked around. ‘Are you going to see her?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You should. You need to know if it’s her. If it is you could find out what really happened.’
The next day Squeak and Rolo jumped off the number 76 bus. They both rubbed their ribs – Louise had given them a super hard goodbye hug. Rolo looked around. ‘Our hospital is supposed to be underneath the human one.’
The air was filled with the sound of flapping wings as Roger descended. ‘I thought I’d come and help you. One of the pigeons that roost here gave me directions.’
Roger lead Squeak and Rolo down a ramp then gestured to a small wooden door. ‘It’s through there. I’ll see you when you’re finished.’
Squeak knocked on the door. A little eye appeared at a peep hole and a muffled voice asked, ‘Can I help you?’
Rolo wiped his eyes. ‘I’ve come to see my mother. I think she’s a patient here.’
‘Name?’ Said the muffled voice.
Rolo and Squeak stood and listened to heaving and scrapping noises then the door opened. The mouse orderly pointed to a large stone. ‘Sorry about the delay it takes a bit of time to move. We have to barricade the door for security.’
Squeak examined the clean grey concrete walls. ‘This is impressive.’
The orderly nodded. ‘When the human’s built their hospital they left loads of materials behind, so our engineers used them.’
The orderly turned to a white board. ‘Mother Mouse. She’s just under 4 years old. That’s a very good age for a mouse. She’s on the fifth level down, where all our elderly patients are.’
Rolo scratched his head. ‘How do you know which mouse I’m talking about?’
The orderly looked Rolo up and down. ‘We all like Mother Mouse. She’s one of a kind, sweet, gentle and doesn’t complain when we have to treat her, which can be painful. We’ve all heard her story and one of the pigeons said you were coming.’ The orderly stared at Rolo’s face and patted his arm. ‘Plus you look exactly like her.’
Rolo smiled. ‘Are the rest of my family here?’
‘They’ve visited, but they can’t come much – they’ve got their own families and live far away.’ He gestured down the corridor. ‘If you follow the yellow paw prints, you’ll get to the lift. Take it to the fifth level down. When you exit the lift go right, through the doors, and then take the left. She’s in ward 5D.’
Rolo and Squeak made their way to the centre of the hospital and were greeted by an open tin can guarded by a small mouse with a “Helper” t-shirt on.
Squeak asked, ‘How do we get to level 5?’
The helper gestured to the open tin can. ‘Enter and I’ll work the mechanism.’
A few moments later Squeak and Rolo were being gently lowered.
As they left the lift, Squeak marvelled at the technology. ‘This place is impressive.’
Rolo was lost in thought.
They made their way to a small alcove and Rolo quietly asked, ‘Is Mother Mouse here?’
A nurse gestured. ‘Follow me.’
Soon Rolo and Squeak were in a small room. Rolo, stomach churning, approached a mound of soft bedding and peered in. A set of small frail features looked back at him then a smile broke out on Mother Mouse’s face. ‘My son!’
Rolo stifled a tear then hugged his mother.
Squeak looked up at the ceiling then shuffled out the door – he missed his own mother.
Within minutes Rolo and his mother were chatting as if they they’d never been apart. Rolo asked, ‘Why am I called Rolo?’
His mother chuckled. ‘You always had a sweet tooth. When you were young I brought back a round chocolate coated toffee sweet. Everyone else sniffed at it, in case it was poisoned, but you just wolfed it down.’ She held her hand just above the floor and smirked. ‘You were only tiny. As soon as the sweet had disappeared you had your name.’
Rolo licked his lips and they both laughed then Mother Mouse winced. ‘Ouch.’ She rubbed her shoulders. ‘Some times my arthritis plays up.’
Rolo gulped. ‘Should I call for help?’
Mother Mouse patted his arm. ‘Don’t bother them. The hospital is low on drugs. The doctors need to save them for mice in real pain.’
Rolo’s shoulders and tail sagged.
Mother Mouse laid her paw on his arm. ‘I’m just happy to see you. I’ve had a good life and have wonderful children. What more could I ask for?’
Mother Mouse stroked Rolo’s head. ‘Every time I saw one of those sweets I thought of you.’
Rolo beamed then Mother Mouse and Rolo spoke about their love of sweets and treats, until midnight.
The next morning Rolo woke as Squeak gently shook him.
Rolo yawned. ‘What time is it?’
Rolo looked across at his mother who was tightly curled into a ball deep encased by soft bedding. ‘I’m glad I came.’
Squeak smiled. ‘Is there anything we can do for her?’
Rolo scratched his ear. ‘She mentioned she was in pain, but they don’t have enough drugs.’
A sound at the door made the two mice turn. A small female mouse with a white coat entered the room. ‘Hello. I’m the doctor, please call me Frankie.’
Squeak gestured at the fast asleep Mother Mouse. ‘Is there anything you can do for her?’
‘She has problems moving around, washing and feeding, all of which we can help with.’ Frankie gestured around her. ‘But even with all the technology the best we can do is make each mouse as comfortable as possible so they can face the end in peace, hopefully surrounded by loved ones. We aim for quality of life not quantity.’
‘She was in pain and mentioned the hospital was low on drugs?’
Frankie nodded. ‘We can always use more medicines. We used to get them from the human hospital but there’s a new super fierce guard dog, so they’re much more difficult to get.’
Squeak and Rolo looked at each other. Squeak asked, ‘Do you have a list of what you need?’
That evening Louise, Froggy, Squeak, Roger and Rolo huddled around a small map. Squeak pointed down the ramp to the basement of the human hospital. ‘Let’s go.’
Half way down the slope the gang hid under a heavily laden laundry trolley. Squeak held up his paw. ‘We’ve timed the security guard rounds and have 60 minutes once he passes here. Everyone stay quiet and stay together.’
The air was filled with out of tune whistling. The security guard chatted away, ‘Well Killer, it’s just you and me to guard the grounds tonight.’
Killer sniffed the air then snarled.
‘What’s up boy?’
The dog snapped at the trolley, straining his lead.
The guard looked around. ‘There’s no one here.’
Roger darted out from under the trolley and flew around the corner. The guard yanked the dog’s chain. ‘It’s only a pigeon. Come on boy we have to patrol the rest of the site.’
As the pair disappeared the friends let out a collective sigh and Roger flew back. ‘The incinerator room is just around there.’
A minute later the gang watched as Roger, under instruction from Squeak, punched the correct code into the keypad with his beak and the door swung open. The gang entered and were confronted by hundreds of thick yellow bags.
Squeak gulped. ‘There are a lot of them.’
As Louise stood on look-out duty, Squeak issued instruction, ‘If Froggy drags the bags to the centre of the room, the rest of us can prod the bags – we’re looking for is anything in a packet or bottle.’
Thirty minutes later Squeak looked at the team, all of whom were covered in a thin layer of brown crud. ‘There are simply too many sacks, they’re too thick and the child proof packages mean we’ve got to chew for ages.’
Froggy asked, ‘Could we close the door?’
Squeak shook his head, ‘No. The keypad is high up on the wall outside. If we shut the door it will automatically lock. There is an intercom for people to get help but they would be shocked if we called. Roger can’t handle the keypad without instruction and I need to be in here to read the labels.’ Squeak shouted out, ‘Louise come and help open some sacks. We need to get quicker.’
Twenty five minutes later, the air was filled with the sound of off-key whistling.
Squeak pointed at a carry bag, ‘Fill that with what we’ve got. Froggy are you OK to carry the bag?’
Moments later the incinerator door was closed and the team were scampering back to the ramp.
Suddenly Roger let out a screech. ‘Look out.’
The security guard was standing open mouthed looking at the animal squad. ‘I don’t believe it!’
Killer strained at his lead. The guard reached down and unclipped him. ‘Get them boy!’
Froggy dropped the bag and shouted, ‘Run for it. I’ll hold him off.’
The next instance Froggy and Killer were locked in deadly struggle. Killer’s fangs were snapping inches away from Froggy’s neck. Froggy rolled over and Killer was thrown clear. Froggy brandished his claws.
The two circled each other then the security guard ran at Froggy thrashing his nightstick. Squeak jumped on to the laundry trolleys foot brake. ‘Rolo jump on here!’
Rolo did as he was told, the brake released and the trolley slowly trundled down the ramp. Killer and Froggy rolled out of the way but the security guard was knocked flat out.
Killer and Froggy continued to struggle. Froggy lashed out with his claw and slashed Killer’s face. Killer sank his teeth into Froggy’s neck and Froggy cried out in pain. Killer shook Froggy like a rag doll.
Rolo looked at Froggy and the bag of medicines. An image of his mother came into his mind. He jumped off the trolley, ran up to Killer and punched his nose with all his strength.
Killer released his grip on Froggy and snarled at Rolo.
Rolo shook like a leaf as the dog’s nose poked his chest. Rolo summoned all his courage and punched Killer a second time.
Killer stepped back then leapt forward letting out a blood curdling growl. ‘You’re dead mouse.’
Rolo yelled out, ‘Come on!’ He waved his fists, mimicking the people he’d seen in Westerns.
Killer grinned and bared his fangs. ‘What do you think you’re doing mouse? I’m the fiercest guard dog in the whole city. Everyone is scared of Killer!’
Rolo gulped but stood his ground. ‘We need the drugs for my mother!’
Killer stopped snarling and raised his head. ‘The medicine is for your mother?’
‘Yes! My mother is old and sick and we want to make her comfortable.’
A small tear appeared to form in Killer’s eye then he looked away and sniffed. ‘When my mother was old they simply took her out and shot her. We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.’ Killer glanced at the bag of drugs. ‘Are they what she needs?’
Rolo smiled. ‘Thank you.’
Squeak and Louise rushed over to Froggy. Squeak looked at Froggy’s wounds. ‘He’s badly hurt. He needs medical treatment.’
Killer stared at Froggy then down at Rolo. ‘Was he helping you get the drugs for your mother?’
Killer shook his head and huffed. ‘I suppose I’ll have to help him too.’ He looked across at the unconscious security guard. ‘He’ll be out for hours. You lead the way. I’ll bring the cat and the medicines.’
Ten minutes later Squeak thumped on the hospital door. The orderly opened the door and then immediately tried to slam it shut. Squeak put his paw in the way. ‘What are you doing? We brought the medicine!’
The orderly shook with fear. ‘There are a cat and a dog!’
Squeak pushed past the open mouthed orderly as Frankie walked along the corridor. ‘What’s happening?’
‘We’ve got some drugs, but our friend has been badly hurt. He’s outside.’
Frankie looked through the doorway. ‘It’s a cat!’
‘Yes, but he’s our friend. He helped us get the drugs.’
Frankie breathed in deeply and then advanced on Froggy.
Twenty minutes later Killer had made his goodbyes and Froggy was being tended to by five mice.
Frankie turned to Squeak. ‘He’s too big to get into the mice hospital, so we’ll need to drag him into one of the small rooms the people don’t use.’
After many hours of heaving by a huge team of mice Froggy was laid out on a bed of straw.
Louise stifled a tear. ‘I hope he’ll be OK.’
Frankie patted her arm. ‘We’ve done everything we can for him. He’s young and strong, I’m sure he’ll be OK. We can use some of the drugs you brought to help him.’
The hospital mice gathered around Rolo, Squeak and Louise. One of them shouted out, ‘Three cheers for the heroic mice!’
The crowd cheered and hugged the three mice.
That evening Mother Mouse was sitting up in bed. ‘Those pills made a world of difference. All the mice in the hospital say you and your friends are heroes.’
Rolo beamed. He offered his mother a chunk of toffee coated popcorn. ‘Squeak brought this from the movie theatre.’
The two of them sat chomping on the treat, then Mother Mouse started to convulse. ‘Get me the small bowl.’
Soon Mother Mouse was being sick as Rolo silently helped her. Tears rolled down her face. Mother Mouse leant across to Rolo, ‘I don’t want to live like this.’
Rolo stifled a tear.
Then suddenly Mother Mouse slumped down, Rolo panicked. ‘Help! We need help!’ A team of mice rushed in and began working on Mother Mouse.
Frankie pushed past Rolo, ‘Please leave – you’re in the way.’
As Rolo left the room he cursed, ‘There’s nothing I can do. I’m useless.’ For a few moments he stood breathing deeply, images of childhood and the loss of his mother filled his mind. He walked out of the hospital trying hard not to cry. ‘I don’t want to lose her again.’ Suddenly there was a whooshing noise and a winged mouse like apparition appeared. Rolo stared in disbelief. ‘Are you an angel?’
The figure shook its head. ‘No I’m a bat.’
They stared at each other for a few moments. Then the figure asked, ‘Are you visiting a relative?’
Rolo nodded. ‘My mother.’
‘It’s important that the sick see their loved ones, say their goodbyes and fulfil any last wishes.’
Rolo stifled a tear.
‘My advice is to make her last few days as comfortable as possible.’
Rolo wiped his face. ‘I suppose you’re right.’
The bat looked into Rolo’s eyes. ‘You have to be strong for those that can’t be strong for themselves. It is the circle of life, when you’re young your parents take care of you, when they’re old you have to take care of them.’
Rolo stood slightly taller.
The bat flapped its wings. ‘You should sort out any past differences and make your peace.’ Then it turned and flew into the night.
Rolo whispered, ‘Maybe you’re a guardian angel.’
Soon Rolo was back at his mother’s bedside as the nurses packed up medical equipment.
Frankie spoke to Rolo, ‘Your mother gave us a bit of a worry then, but we’ve made her stable.’
After everyone had left Rolo and his mother looked into each other’s eyes. Rolo held her hand. ‘Is there anything that you want to do?’
Mother Mouse scrunched up her nose. ‘I want to sit in the sun and see the trees.’
Rolo smiled. ‘We can do that.’
Mother Mouse moved awkwardly then stared into Rolo’s eyes. ‘I want the pain and suffering to stop. I don’t want to live like this.’ She held his paw. ‘I want you to help make it end.’
Rolo mumbled. ‘I couldn’t do that.’
Mother Mouse sniffled. ‘There was an elderly mouse in here that suffered a stroke. He didn’t want to carry on so he refused to eat. It took two weeks for him to die. I don’t want to have to do that.’ She stared into Rolo’s eyes. ‘I need you to be strong for me and to help me. Squeak knows all about drugs.’
‘But a mouse shall not take another mouse’s life.’
‘This isn’t about taking a life – this is about dying with dignity.’
‘I could take care of you or you could go into a home.’
She cradled Rolo’s face. ‘I love you. But that won’t cure me. You have to live well while you can, die well when you can’t’
‘But I’ve only just found you!’
‘I know and it has taken away my loneliness, but I can’t do anything I used to take for granted, I can’t read or listen to music, walk around or go and see friends.’
‘But what about me?’
‘You’ll be fine, you have friends, I’m old my only future is suffering and death.’
That night Rolo drifted in and out of sleep. Suddenly he was trapped in a container full of water. He saw an escape hatch and swam for all his life. As he struggled through the hole he heard his mother shout, he turned back and reached out for her, but she was too far away. He swam towards her with all his might but she just kept getting further and further away.
She called out, ‘There is nothing you or anyone can do for me. Don’t make me suffer. Simply breathing isn’t the same as living.’
Rolo shook his head.
Mother Mouse whispered, ‘I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to live in pain.’
Rolo desperately tried to grab her and then woke with a jolt; his fur was wet and clammy. He looked out at the dawn sun. ‘I need to talk to Squeak.’
Thirty minutes later Rolo was pushing his mother along on a small trolley, on his back was a rucksack containing a piece of toffee coated popcorn coated with a deadly drug. Rolo thought about his whispered discussions with Squeak and the assurance that she wouldn’t suffer then shuddered.
They stopped in a beautiful sunny spot and Rolo sat down next to his mother.
‘Rolo, this is a perfect day. Thanks for bringing me out here.’
‘I just want you to be happy.’
Rolo’s mother clutched his paw. ‘I always felt guilty about leaving you behind.’
Rolo sniffed. ‘Don’t worry about it.’
‘No. I need to explain. When the weasel attacked, me and your father grabbed all your siblings, but we couldn’t carry everyone.’
Rolo shuffled his feet.
‘I wanted to go back for you, but your father said no. He was a logical mouse and said there was no point. If we went back we’d just be killed by the weasel then who would look after your brothers and sisters?’ She looked up at the sun. ‘He did love you in his own way, but he never really understood motherly love.’ She sniffed. ‘A mother’s job is to protect her children.’
Rolo held her paw. ‘Don’t worry about it. He was probably right. Anyway I turned out OK.’
‘You turned out better than OK. The way you and your friends risked your lives to get medicines made me proud.’ She chuckled. ‘Especially the way you stood up to the fierce dog. But I always felt ashamed, like a coward, for not coming back to save you, not knowing if you were alive but always secretly hoping you’d escaped.’
Rolo held her paw. ‘You did everything you could.’ Rolo prodded his belly and thought about his comfort eating then remembered the bat’s words and held his tongue. ‘It’s OK Mum, everything is good.’
‘Mice rarely live up to their own expectations.’
‘We all do the best we can that’s all anyone can ask of us.’
Mother mouse smiled. ‘You don’t understand how precious and short life is until it’s the end and it’s too late to do anything about it, so forget the things that catch your eye and pursue the ones that catch your heart.’ Rolo’s mother shuddered and winced. ‘Did you bring the medicine?’
Rolo nodded, hugged her and then slowly reached into the rucksack.
Gently his mother held his paw. ‘I don’t need it son. I never meant to abandon you. It broke my heart to leave you behind.’ She stroked his hand. ‘I’ve asked Squeak to look after you. It’s warmed my heart to see you.’ Then she closed her eyes and drifted off.
Rolo carefully, as though she was most valuable thing in the world, wheeled his mother to a clear spot just under a tree. ‘You said this was a beautiful tree’. Then he started to dig, as the minutes passed he thought of his friends and family. He didn’t feel tired even after he dug for an hour as the single thought, ‘My Mum didn’t want to abandon me – she only did it for the best, she loved me’, kept him energised.
As the sun beat down, Rolo looked at the grave, a solemn expression etched on to his face. ‘I’m going to forget my childhood feelings of abandonment and seize my life with both paws and live it to the full.’
He brushed down his fur then stood tall and breathed in. ‘I’m not a child anymore.’
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