6. Catch – A Wild Baker Appears
Sort of doing these out of order, but I’m determined to do them all
Simon Baker rapped gently on his youngest brother’s bedroom door. “Suppertime! Get it while it’s hot!”
These days, Simon thought to give Stan whatever space he needed. School had always been a rough time for the kid, even more so now that he was a teenager. Even so, Simon tried to keep spirits light in the hopes of cheering Stan up.
Simon’s brow pinched when there came no answer. Usually, even on the worst days, he’d get a grumble in response at least. Stan would never turn down a meal.
“C’mon Stanley, don’t want it to get cold without you,” he called through the door as he made a move to open it. He went slow, not one to burst in on anyone, and he listened for Stan to correct him.
It wasn’t that he hated being called Stanley, but he did prefer ‘Stan’.
Only when Simon still didn’t hear a peep out of the room did he open it all the way. Now he was concerned.
His frown deepened as he stepped into the room and found it empty. Stan wasn’t in bed, but his schoolbag was still there and the window was securely shut. Simon knew Stan came home earlier, so where did he–?
A light skittering on the floor by his feet interrupted Simon’s thoughts. He looked down; when he didn’t see anything, he took a wary step closer.
In the corner of Simon’s eye, he noticed something quick and tiny dashing into the open. He didn’t get a good look before it took shelter under Stan’s dresser.
Simon sighed and strode over to shut Stan’s door. If his brother brought another mouse in the house, he’d better take care of it before it got into the walls. Then he could resume figuring out where Stan went.
Grabbing one of Stan’s jars and a ventilated lid from the desk, Simon lowered himself to the floor to peer under the dresser. It was too dark to see in any detail, but a small shape hurried to the far side. Simon sat up and reached around to snatch it before it hid under the bed.
In his hurry to get his catch into the jar, Simon didn’t notice that it didn’t quite feel like a mouse in his grasp.
He made sure to tilt the jar so the little thing would slide safely to the bottom. Simon was used to this habit of Stan’s, and he knew it came from a well-meaning place. Their youngest brother was never one to walk away when anyone or anything needed help. Even a lost, injured mouse.
So it was a complete shock to Simon when he lifted the jar to find something that definitely wasn’t a mouse.