Rattus rattus

The pump for water, the mossy step. The door we couldn’t close in damp weather, the screen coming loose from its frame. The landlord warned about the basement: how the laundry machines were in the far corner, but there might be loose hardware strewn across the floor. We tried to clean as best as we could, thought it was hard to see by the light from one dim bulb hanging from the ceiling. Winter mornings, we’d wake to find bread bags chewed through on the counter— crumbs trailing toward the gap at the bottom of the kitchen door. Maintenance crew came by to set some bait on a flimsy trap; they returned a day later when we phoned. It had caught something— Roof rat, they said, donning rubber gloves to pick up the creature taking shallow breaths in the corner. Its nose was a pink nerve twitching, its small dark eyes signaling that it knew now we could not live together.

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