The combination of late-night shadows, a jutting door jamb and a hunk of black plastic on the bottom of the refrigerator made it seem like something my brain might have stewed up.
But it was so real! I saw the texture of the fur.
Listen. Orin died about a month ago. It was horrible and sudden and deserves more words than I'm giving it right now. The gist: He was a cuddly little lover who used to put his little paw on baby Chach when she sneezed. We called him Empathy Cat.
So when I saw the swish of black fur, I assumed it was Orin. And when I remembered Orin was dead, I thought it was his ghost. I'm like this. Here's how I prioritize theories: 1. Supernatural; 2. Everything else.
After staring at the ground and walking in and out of the kitchen about a dozen times, I finally explained myself to Chuck.
He gave me a look, his face shifted a certain way.
"... but it wasn't a mouse tail," I explained, reading his mind. "It wasn't thin like that."
He stood half in, half out of the kitchen and explained that he had seen a mouse fairly recently on the front porch. It was nibbling at some leftover bird seed following The Great Bird Feeder Assault By Bad Birds of 2017.
Cut to an hour earlier when he came home from work and mentioned that I'd left the front door open.
Cut to winter when the bottom of our storm door got stuck on a snow pile and fell off, leaving a mouse-sized gap straight from the wilderness to our inside scrap heaps.
"I'll go get traps," he said.
I turned on the TV to create the illusion of a high-traffic area, just in time to catch Melissa McCarthy say "... like a mouse caught in a kitchen!" on some dumb sitcom.
I shivered. I ran upstairs.
Chuck returned later with the details the variety of mouse traps available to a human at midnight, then we went back downstairs to watch Season 2, Episode 9 of "Game of Thrones." While Joffrey's domain was under attack, so was our kitchen. Less than halfway into the episode we heard the trap snap. Chuck took the trap outside and I squealed under a blanket. Animal Allies, for the record, has this adorable litter of little kittens with the cutest faces right now.
Here we go again.