A Friend In Need

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Stephen Whiteside
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A Friend In Need

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:45 am

A Friend In Need

© Stephen Whiteside 18.10.2011

Why did I save you? That’s a very good question. Let me think, now. Why did I save you?

Well, what I mean is, rats aren’t exactly friendly to mice. You took a big risk. I mean, I’m not going to regard you as my servant, or anything.

You’re not? How nice of you!

No need to be sarcastic. All I’m saying is, it could have gone very badly for you, drawing yourself to my attention, and nursing me back to strength, the way you have.

Yes, I suppose that’s true. To be honest, I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I saw you blundering along the creek bed, and it was clear you were in a really bad way. You obviously had no idea where you were. You were not in your natural environment. Bumping into things, seemingly oblivious to most of what was going on around you. Pretty much on your last legs.

That’s true. I was.

I guess I was just reaching out to a fellow creature in need. And we’re pretty similar, you know, rats and mice. Even though we don’t treat each other especially well, we are very similar animals.

In what way? I don’t know what you mean.

You’re kidding me? Well, we’re both rodents for a start. And we look pretty much the same, except that rats are a lot bigger.

Do you think so? I’ve never thought about it like that.

So maybe I thought that you would be my friend. Because I needed a friend. Badly. Especially a big friend.


Magnifico paused, as if he was struggling to make a huge decision. If I answer your question, do you promise not to tell anybody?

Who would I tell?

That’s not the point. You have to promise.

All right, I promise.

Magnifico paused again, as if he still could not bring himself to trust Horatio. Finally, he began.

I am not a very brave mouse. I’m strong, but I’m not brave. I thought I was, but I’m not. I’ve been here for a week now. Eaten half my cheese. I came down this little creek, here, and when it reached the bigger creek, I just freaked. I didn’t know what to do. The world seemed so enormous and dangerous, I just burrowed under this root here, and hid. When you came stumbling down the bank, you were the first half-friendly looking animal I’d seen for days. What was it? Well, let me think. First, there was the fact that you were a rat, like I’ve already said. Then there was the fact that you were obviously a stranger, like me, so you’d probably be in need of a friend also. Then there was the fact that you are so much bigger than me. I need a BIG friend, somebody who will help me cope with this big, bad world I seem to have found myself in. Finally, to be honest, there was something about you that I trusted. I don’t know exactly what it was. And I’m still not sure. But from the moment I first saw you, I had a sneaking hunch that, even though you were a rat, part of the OPPRESSOR SPECIES, natural enemy of the mouse in so many ways, I could still trust you, and you would be my friend.

Quite a speech.

For an unimaginative mouse.

Well, yes.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer

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