The rat I had feared but not seen (for two years) decided to make me dinner. The beans he had stolen and hoarded in the walls, re-appeared one by one. He added them to the turquoise microwave-safe bowl, bean by bean, over the course of several weeks. At night, in the dark, still unseen. I’d find them each morning and count them as they accrued in the bowl. First there were three, just kidneys, then seven. The next day, 20, with the addition of navy beans, my favorite. Sometimes I’d guess how many and if I was close, reward myself with coffee sweetener or avocado on my toast. This went on for a couple of weeks. Soup preparation for rats, is a slow process.
You might think I’m kooky. And if I didn’t see him, how could I know it was a rat and not a goblin, a poltergeist, a hairy man in a dirty apron, or someone’s insomniac grandmother? Sometimes you just know things. Trust me.
The bean accruals continued for days until late one night, I heard rustling, the kettle whistling, and the hairs stood up on my arms. Did he know where the bullion was? The dried garlic and onions? Would he add some ajwain to reduce gas and bloating? Did he like the new magnetic spice racks stuck hard to the refrigerator? Did he follow my grandmother’s recipe, use my cookbooks, or just improvise? How would he know what I like in my soup? I suppose I should trap him, see what he looks like at least, or chase him with a broom or large vase, but I didn’t have the balls, the heart, the something. In the morning I woke to the savory smell of soup, it lifted me up out of my bed, I floated through the kitchen on the rich aroma remembering what it was like to be pampered, cooked for, cared for. It had been so long. Then I drifted towards the door, grabbed the house keys hanging from the wall, tossed them on the counter, and whispered, “here, it’s all yours now” as I wafted out the door into the frigid air.