‘So much for writing today.’ The nasal-pitched chiding came from under the desk.

Blinking out of her reverie, she glanced down to see a small white mouse peering up at her. His pink ears were perky, in stark opposition to his drooping set of whiskers. ‘Yeah, I’ve slacked off a bit today.’ She conceded the point to the mouse.

‘I’ll say. Now lets talk writing.’ The mouse stated, forepaws working away at grooming himself.

‘If we must. I’m not exactly sure what qualifies a mouse to be a literary critic, though.’

‘I’m Critmaus. It’s what I do.’ Critmaus said with a slight shrug, an odd gesture for a mouse. Then again, critiquing was an odd vocation for one.

‘Alright, Critmaus. Go ahead.’ Her voice was resigned, making a little ‘carry on’ gesture with her hand as she focused her attention away from screens and keyboards to the small, speaking animal.

‘Dentists? Really?’ If he had eyebrows, she was sure Critmaus would have raised one.

‘The notion came to me of a dentist looking like that, so I decided to write a story about it. I thought it came out okay.’

‘Okay isn’t perfect though, is it?’ Critmaus pressed the issue, jabbing at the air towards her with a pointed claw.

‘Well of course it isn’t. But it’s a subjective term, and it was done in an attempt to exercise my creative muscles. If I went over it again at a later date, I’d look into what I could change and tweak, see if I could improve it.’

‘Heh.’ The mouse snorted derisively. ‘Far cry from the days of old. “I don’t want to proof-read it too much, I’m afraid if I do I’ll just delete the whole thing and leave it.”‘

She chuckled. ‘Thanks. It is a far cry from those days. Yes, I had a fear that over-editing would result in never getting anything done, and it’s still something I worry about. I have people to proof-read things for me though, as well as going through it myself. I’ve grown from that point.’

The mouse tutted. ‘We’ll see.’

‘I look forward to proving you wrong. Anything else, Critmaus? I’ve got this story to work on, and I’m a little stuck with finding the voice of its characters.’ She asked the creature. He gave a curious twitch of his whiskers, mulling this point over.

‘You should just stop. You’re not talented enough. Go back to your silly dentist stories and character pieces and… rambles about rituals.’ The suggestion came.

‘Mind if I answer those points backwards?’ She asked, thoroughly amused.

‘No fur off my back.’

‘Good. Alright, yes. Looking back at that piece, it was a bit of a ramble. I’ll try again later I think, with a bit on tea.’

‘How very British of you.’ Critmaus sniffed.

‘The character piece? That was just that, a character piece. I wanted to get a bit more of a handle on the character and the troubles they might face, and while it’s best if people reading it come with knowledge of the City of Heroes setting, it’s a good exercise to try and include details for those who come with no foreknowledge.’

Critmaus had no response for that. He just gazed up, waiting for the rest of it.

‘We covered the dentist story already, so regarding this current little thing?  It’s a good exercise to improve on things with. I hope it will be a nice gift for someone. If I can work through the main parts of it, I’ll still have some time to go over other pieces of work, and tone the character’s voices up.’ She explained patiently to the small mouse.


‘Are we done now?’ The inquiry came. Dejectedly, the mouse nodded, tucking his paws against his sides. If he had had pockets, she was fairly sure that’s where they would have been. Sinking onto all fours, Critmaus started to slink off, pausing just once by the doorway to look up at her.

‘I’ll be back.’ He informed her in that pitiful little voice.

‘I know. Bye bye for now though.’ A smile crossed her face as she waved the small being off, before opening up the file with her current work in. ‘Cup of tea and writing time, I think.’


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