If you give a mouse a cookie,
your life will no longer be your own.
You will never again know peace;
you have already given in.
He’s going to ask for a glass of milk
and you will give it to him,
because you are incapable of acting in your own best interests.
When you give him the milk (just say no, no is a perfectly reasonable response; why won’t you say it?)
he’ll probably ask you for a straw.
And you will give him one, you disgusting, craven clot of weakness.
When he’s finished, he’ll ask you for a napkin.
Then he’ll want to look in a mirror
to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache.
If you were to look in the mirror,
you would see nothing; you barely exist.
When he looks in the mirror,
he might notice his hair needs a trim.
(The mouse is real in a way that you were never real.)
So he’ll probably ask for a pair of nail scissors.
Get them; that is all you are good for, to fetch and be asked to fetch.
When he’s finished giving himself a trim,
he’ll want a broom to sweep it up.
(You have always brought him a broom when he asks for one.)
He’ll start sweeping.
(Was this house ever yours?)
He might get carried away and sweep every room in the house.
He may even end up washing the floors as well!
He is a good homeowner; he washes his own floors.
You are a shadow; you do not exist without him.
When he’s done, he’ll probably want to take a nap.
You’ll have to fix up a little box for him
with a blanket and a pillow.
You are a pair of hands and nothing more.
He’ll crawl in, make himself comfortable
and fluff the pillow a few times.
He’ll probably ask you to read him a story.
(He will never thank you for this, if thanks be what you are waiting for.)
So you’ll read to him from one of your books,
(they are not your books, they never were)
and he’ll ask to see the pictures.
When he looks at the pictures,
he’ll get so excited he’ll want to draw one of his own.
Do you remember excitement? (You do not.)
He’ll ask for paper and crayons.
He’ll draw a picture.
When the picture is finished,
he’ll want to sign his name with a pen.
He has a name; you have nothing; you deeded the house over to him years ago. You sit in the walls uselessly and you wait.
Then he’ll want to hang his picture on your refrigerator.
Which means he’ll need Scotch tape.
why did you ever let him in to begin with
He’ll hang up his drawing and stand back to look at it.
Looking at the refrigerator will remind him that he’s thirsty.
So… he’ll ask for a glass of milk.
You’ll sob a little, or choke on a sob,
But you’ll say nothing, and you’ll get it for him.
And chances are if he asks you for a glass of milk,
he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.
It will never be over. He will never go.
He will never sleep. You will not say no.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.