And so to grandmother’s house they went. Because that’s where Cynthia’s aunt lived of course.
“Nonna, Auntie Shayshay, we’re here to prevent murder, come out come out wherever you are!” Cynthia called as she walked into the house with the pink walls. The door was already unlocked, as it always was.
“Nice house,” Kalil muttered, glancing at the knick knacks and miscellaneous papers hoarded high enough to almost hide the garish paint job. Almost.
“Thanks!” Cynthia’s response was enthusiastic, as if this was a completely normal looking home. But then again, to her, it was.
Kalil stopped in the middle of the hallway and glanced over his shoulder. “Art, you’ve already come down from the tree, may as well come in.”
Art crept into the doorway, as if he was safer outside than in Cynthia's grandmother’s home. “Well, you never know.” His words were hesitant but he took a step into the house nonetheless.
“Nonnaaaa,” Cynthia chirped, pushing open a door. A short hunched over figure jumped out, hands outstretched and made to grab for Cynthia’s throat. Kalil screamed and Art, who had barely made it into the living room, dove behind the couch, knocking over a towering pile of old newspapers in the process.
But Cynthia just laughed. “Nonna, you pulled that same trick last time. If you're gonna repeat your gags, at least give more space between repeats." She then bent over and looked under the bed inside the room. "Auntie Shayshay, I can see you."
A grown woman slid out from under the bed. "Rats, I didn't have enough time to find a good spot, what with you coming unannounced."
"Rats…" Art whimpered from behind the couch.
Nonna patted Cynthia's shoulder. "We're always glad to have you here child. What brings you by?" her voice was rough like sandpaper.
"We need Auntie's help! I brought some friends." Cynthia indicated Kalil who still stood frozen in the hallway, and Art who was still behind the couch.
Cynthia rolled her eyes. "Stop being babies and come out already."
"Someone is literally trying to murder me; I have a right to be a baby!" Art called back.
"I suppose he makes a fair point. What's your excuse Kalil?"
Kalil cleared his throat and straightened his clothes. "Ah nothing. Nice to meet you ma'ams." He tilted his head towards Nonna and Auntie Shayshay.
A bit of mirth sparked in Nonna's eyes at Kalil's formal address, but she said nothing.
"Well I'm happy to help. Come sit, children. We can discuss." Auntie Shayshay waved them in.
Cynthia walked in easily, sitting down in an egg swing and Kalil followed after only a moment's hesitation, sitting cross legged on the ground.
"Art?" Cynthia called.
There was some shuffling and he finally appeared in the doorway. "I can hear rats in the walls." He shuddered and glanced around as if he could see through said walls.
"Well then, it’s a good thing that mysterious mice and not rats are the problem!" Cynthia chirped.
Art frowned but sat on a nearby chair. Nonna and Auntie sat on the bed.
"Mice?" Auntie Shayshay asked. A note of something indescribable colored her voice.
Cynthia nodded solemnly. "It sounds like you might have an idea of what this is about? I'll skip the preamble then. How do we save Art?"
"Well dear," she sounded a little bewildered. "If this is about the mice, then you just have to tell them to stop following your friend."
Only Cynthia wasn't at a loss for words, as if this was a perfectly reasonable suggestion. Perhaps to her it was.
"She really is the mouse lady, I suppose," Kalil thought to himself.
Cynthia tugged on one of her earrings, the only indication that she was feeling a little uncertain herself. "Do you have any ideas on how though? Oh, and also how I might have gotten this?" she gently tugged down the collar of her shirt. Her mouse tattoo was fully exposed now.
"Oh!" Auntie Shayshay gasped and stood up at once. "Child, how could you bring that in here and then ask me that?"
Kalil and Art turned to look at her at once, before glancing over at Cynthia and the tattoo. Their gazes ping ponged between the two, unsure of what to think.
Cynthia herself looked rather bewildered. "Auntie, what do you mean? I don't even remember getting this tattoo! And well, it's on my skin, so I didn't have much of a choice on whether I 'bring it in here' or not."
Nonna chuckled, interrupting for the first time. "Go on now, show them." She inclined her head towards Auntie Shayshay.
Auntie Shayshay licked the front of her top row of teeth then reached out towards Cynthia. Unsure of what was happening, Cynthia kept still.
With nimble fingers, Auntie Shayshay simply plucked the mouse tattoo right off of Cynthia's skin. They all stared agape.
Cynthia's collarbone was now clear and ink free, and in Auntie Shayshay's hand was now a live, wriggling mouse.
"Well there you are," she said smoothly. "I think this should solve all your problems."
"Oh!" Cynthia clapped. "That's good, I didn't like the style of it all that much. Maybe I'll get a little ferret tattoo instead!"
"Ferrets are very cute," Nonna said sincerely.
Art blinked. "So…so I'm safe now?" his voice gave away his obvious confusion.
Kalil felt just as lost. "I don't understand what's happening."
Auntie Shayshay laughed. "No need to worry your little heads, children. It's all over now. Well, besides this little guy here of course, we'll have to find a nice home for him far away from here. But I'll handle that." She gently petted the mouse, still squirming in her hands.
Art still was struggling to comprehend what had just happened. "Sooo." He stretched out the word. "Am I really safe? It's over?" he repeated.
"Yes, it's over," Cynthia said with finality, her trust in Auntie Shayshay absolute.
"So, this is the end?" Kalil asked, unable to understand that things could end so quickly after everything.
"Yep, the end," Auntie Shayshay confirmed.
And so there they had it. The end!
she/her | writer | programmer | images that i don't know how to copy and paste and resize sorry sani but here's the twitter @mhevarujta