Andy didn’t feel the day had started until he’d had his first cup of coffee. He always rose at roughly the same time, even on the weekends. Sometimes he’d rise just a teeny-weeny bit later because he’d lie in his warm bed for those extra few minutes after the alarm had gone off.
His coffee machine would automatically start brewing just a few minutes before the alarm went off, so by the time Andy had dressed the coffee was ready. All he need do was add a spoon of sugar to the mug, pour the coffee (he had it black), then sit at his computer and ruminate in the early hours of the morning. He would still be half asleep, but this half hour of sitting each morning without a thought, and only coffee for company, was a daily necessity. If he didn’t have that half hour, then for rest of the day he’d be moody and miserable.
Andy poured a second cup, and then a third. He usually did that. He was ready to start his day! A quick rinse of the coffee jug and into the shower!
But on this particular day, when he rinsed the coffee jug, a dead mouse fell out.
Natalie had a precious procession. She kept it in a cupboard and rarely looked at it. In fact she saw it only when she went to that cupboard to get her silver teapot if a special visitor called for a cup of tea.
Her precious thing was a little exercise wheel for a pet mouse. The mouse had long gone, but she kept the wheel. It was plastic, and green. She’d had it since she was a little girl, when her pet mouse, Frederick, used to run around and around the wheel. He loved it!
And then a real live wild mouse came into the pantry and Frederick escape and got caught in the mouse trap Natalie’s father had set.
WHOOMPH! Natalie could still hear the sound. WHOOMPH! She knew the trap was there, but she didn’t know that Frederick had escaped his cage. Nothing would replace Frederick. The WHOOMPH! in her head stopped her from ever getting another pet.
Natalie was now ninety-four. She took out the little exercise wheel and looked at it. How different things might have been if there had been no WHOOMPH! She had never married. She had never done much with her life. The silver teapot in the cupboard hadn’t been used for years. In fact, she had become the little mouse running in circles of shyness.
It was Susannah’s eighth birthday. She jumped out of bed and put her feet into her slippers. There was a mouse in one of them.
Today she turns ninety-seven. She has checked for a mouse in her slippers approximately thirty-two thousand five hundred and seven times.
Allowing for one minute for each checking, that comes to roughly forty-five days.
She could have gone on a forty-five day wonderful vacation somewhere that provided a life time of happy memories and photographs, but, oh no! the time had to be wasted by checking for a mouse in her slippers. Or conversely, she could have gone on a forty-five day wonderful vacation and been killed in a helicopter crash or something. Or she could have met her husband on the wonderful forty-five day vacation and had kids. Or…