We come out at night to scurry from between the cracks in your foundation. We explore every crevice in search of crumbs, a warm place to rest, or to infest. We never go near the traps your husband placed in the corners, and though we would love to lick the peanut butter he positioned just so, we like our necks intact even more. We’re certainly not afraid of your ancient cat who is too lazy to chase us and only squints a jaundiced eye in our direction when we dart past her in the small hours.
We squeezed ourselves into the bottom drawer of your abandoned dresser, filled with bits of fabric from your dead grandmother’s sewing room. We remember she used to bring you things, pillowcases and extra sheets and leftover quilt squares. She doesn’t come anymore so we nestle amongst the soft cloth and chew holes until only patterned bits remain. We love the cotton batting she stored snugly inside little plastic bags, balls of white fluff like heavenly clouds. We don’t care if you saved these scraps with a plan of creating a memory blanket, we don’t care that we’ve ruined them because we know you; you will never get around to doing anything with them.
We didn’t care about the garland your children made either. Even though they selected the loveliest oranges and spent a whole afternoon slicing them evenly and baking them dry, even though they threaded them carefully on brown twine to string across your fireplace mantle. As soon as the scent of citrus wafted along the cement floor, we knew you accidentally stowed them down here because you are totally distracted around the holidays. We followed our noses through a stack of cardboard boxes. We scampered among ornaments and beads and tulle and when we found the delicacy tangled in a heap we nibbled the dried fruit down to the rind, leaving you with curls of hard peels that you wouldn’t find until a year later, causing an argument about who would be careless enough, stupid enough, to put fruit where we could get at it.
Sometimes we leave droppings on piles of old books, on stacks of outdated CDs and on broken-down furniture. We dance when you discover our misdemeanors, and we snicker to hear you curse us. We want to remind you that nothing of yours is sacred. That we are stronger than you, that your children will leave you as soon as they can, but ours will stay with us forever. That we were here first and will remain when you are gone. We will make nests of your belongings, and flourish while you rot.