A Less-Traveled Story



“Mom, will they ever write a book about a family like us?” Sonoma battled the urge to sneeze as her mother brushed through her dappled whiskers, weeding out cobwebs. “Will they ever write a book about a Mom and an older sister and younger brother mouse living in a wine cellar in the Willamette Valley and preparing for a Shabbat celebration with cheese lanterns for the lunar New Year because their cousin is married to a Chinese-American bisexual who leads bike tours of Portland?”

“I think you just answered your own question,” Sonoma’s mother said mutedly. “Think how long it would take a poor author to explain all that to the readers. Think how many pages of unusual religions and names they’d have to slosh through before reaching the good solid cheese of the story.”

“Every book I ever pick up is about an English mouse with her older brothers and a mum and dad, who live between the crumble-down walls of a cottage in Norfolk or some shit – ”

“Don’t use bad words, it embarrasses the challah.” Sonoma’s mother glanced at the braided bread in the corner of the burrow that served as kitchen and meditation room in alternation. The bread seemed unperturbed under its white cloth, just glistening and waiting to become a feast for a crowd of unconventional talking mice.

“But why does it always have to take place in the land of crystal snowfall and Turkish Delight, with tea and scones and mums and tots and blokes and loos? If you look at the map, there’s lots more places for mice to live that don’t even have snow. England is just one little island.”

“True, true,” Sonoma’s mother agreed. “I think I nibbled it off for a snack on Thursday.” She wandered over to the table where the challah lay and began setting out plates for the sabbath meal. “Sometimes you’ll come upon special magazine articles about exotic cultures. I even watched a nature documentary one time about mice that wanted to make soup, in some human kingdom in ancient Britain. Ridiculous, huh?”


The sneeze Sonoma had thought she’d evaded was now on the brink of expelling the most unladylike snotty snort she had never read about over tea and scones.

Perhaps her mother noticed her fidgeting uncomfortably. She sighed, “If you want to read a story about unusual mice who live in unusual places, or celebrate different holidays, or follow untraditional storylines or whatnot, well, why don’t you write one? Then there will be at least one.”

One of the few moments where Sonoma’s mom succeeded both in stimulating her daughter’s intellect and in getting her to be quiet for a minute had arrived. Satisfied, her mother bustled about, shining the grape juice glasses.

Meanwhile, Sonoma mused. She didn’t have much of a story to tell yet, so she decided to start with the first chapter. Maybe one day, after she’d explored her untraveled path a bit further, she’d write some more. She wouldn’t have to explicate every tidbit of  terminology of the spiced colors that had throbbed throughout the lifeblood of all her days – it would all come out naturally on the page, natural as cream and sugar or meeting the Queen. Natural-er, because it was really hers. Meanwhile, readers wouldn’t mind a little break from scones for some challah. She grabbed her straw-bound spiral notebook.

What happened to the manuscript, you ask? She’s not done with it yet. The first chapter is hanging around somewhere, just waiting to be enjoyed by any literate pair of eyes. In fact, you may just have finished reading it! (Oh, I hope that’s not a cliché way to end a chapter!)

At any rate, Sonoma hopes you keep on reading, even if it leads you in a different direction altogether.




Image credits in order of appearance:

Christmas Mice saved by Karen on Pinterest



By Lewis Carroll – pdf from gasl.org, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1491649


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