It was the full moon streaming through the bedroom window that woke her up.
Or maybe it was the loud thump against the side of the cabin.
Or the scratching at the walls.
Whatever it was, Nellie sat upright in her bed and clutched the empty mattress beside her. Where was Joe?
Something scratched again in the darkness.
Nellie shrieked — “Joe, help! Joe, where are you?”
Scuffling on the plank flooring, and something else … a low growl?
“Joe!!” It was a full on scream now, and Nellie pushed herself hard into the corner, pulling the covers up around her neck.
The darkness at the edge of the moonlight pulsed with heavy breathing, and Nellie thought she might faint. Just when she couldn’t take one second more, a muscular, hairy arm jutted into the yellow glow. The hand held a tiny rodent by its tail.
“It’s only a mouse,” Joe said, his voice husky and thick with sleep. It sounded like a growl.
Nellie pressed a hand against her chest, then let out a relieved breath. She began to tremble but managed a smile.
“Just a mouse?”
“Just a mouse,” Joe said, disappearing back into the darkness. “I’ll take him outside.”
Nellie never did hear her husband leave the house, but she felt him slide into the bed beside her a few minutes later, after clouds had swallowed the moon.
She nuzzled in close to him, surprised at how thick his beard was. The hair on his arms and legs felt stiff and wiry. Poor thing must have been worked up over the mouse, too.
“I can’t believe I was afraid of that silly little mouse!” she whispered.
“It’s OK, Nellie” Joe said, his voice muffled. It almost sounded like he was … chewing. “This full moon probably just has you spooked.”