I Am The Rat

I am the rat on Noah’s ark, one of two to be exact.  When me and the missus showed up, Noah’s wife looked at us as if we were getting ready to spread the plague right then and there.  What made her all high and mighty?  Who was she to judge whether or not we should be saved?  It’s not our fault we didn’t get to be bunnies or kittens.

The day I got the call from on high, I was busy gnawing on some dead guy’s toe.  It was a big toe, nice and juicy.  Sorry.  Noah’s been teaching us social skills, so I’m aware this sort of talk is offensive.  Deep breath.  Just forget I mentioned it.   Like I was saying, I got a message from above.  This is the way I remember hearing it:  World to end SOON.  Get your rat’s ass down to Noah’s Ark NOW.  Take Mrs. Rat with you. I said to myself – that hussy?  She ran off with a river rat years ago.  Wasn’t sure what happened to her when all the rivers dried up.  Didn’t care.  Not having a current missus, I went out to find Noah on my own.

Noah was a favorite topic of conversation in that cozy little den of iniquity I called home. He’d stand outside preaching and yelling about a giant flood washing away every sinner on earth.  Everyone laughed, but to my thinking those gypsies, tramps and thieves should have been at least a little worried.  They were the sinniest of sinners. They lived filthy lives, which I totally supported, but if I’d made the mistake of creating them, I’d want a do-over.

And if I were Noah, I’d want a new wife.   That woman’s high strung – goes hysterical every time she sees me.   Those night crawlers back in the city didn’t flinch at the sight of my beady eyes or long pink tail.  It was like they were begging me to hang out.  It was like a dream…rotting food all over the floor, the stench of human misery hovering in every corner.  Just thinking about it makes me homesick.

Now I’m stuck here with a crazy woman who keeps trying to scrub away stink of the place. I swear she tried to sweep me overboard.  If my dear missus hadn’t pinned my tail between her pointy teeth and heaved me back on deck, I’d have been down at the bottom of the sea with all the other rats.  That’s right.  The missus and me are back together.

You might look at her and go – really?   God called her?  She curses like a sailor, something she picked up from her river rat, drinks and smokes too.  She’s been forced to give up her filthy habits since coming here, but I guarantee she’ll backslide the minute she gets half the chance.  That’s my woman.  But hey – did she even think to find me when she got the call?  No.  She tried talking some other loser into making the trek.  Not that I thought to look for her either, but at least I didn’t try to bring another rat to the party.

It really messes with my mind to think we’re the only two rats left on earth.  What’s the meaning of this?  The wife says don’t worry about it, but I can’t help wondering.  I’m deeper than she is –more sensitive.  Can you believe that after all those years apart we found each other again?  There I was, following that voice I heard telling me to go find Noah and then – out of nowhere – there she was.  I thought I’d want to kill her if I ever saw her again, but instead I said to myself, we’re both rats, she’s my rat, let’s do this.

Before long, hundreds of shapes and sizes were closing in on us, huge gray monsters with wrinkly skin and floppy ears, fierce sleek cats – some with spots, others with stripes.  All of us creatures scuttled, scurried, waddled, pranced and strutted our way onto the ark two by two, while mobs of people stood around laughing and calling Noah a fool.

You can bet those people stopped laughing when it started raining.  The ground was dry, bone dry, too dry to soak in all the water falling from the sky.  Raging rivers sprang up in an instant, knocking people down.  They clawed at each other, trying to climb into the ark. But the door slammed shut and they started sinking down.

There I was, the lowliest of creatures, rising above the rich and strong and there was Noah, the man they’d been calling a fool, looking down at them from the deck of his boat.  Every man, woman, and child cried out to him for mercy, but mercy wasn’t up to Noah, it was up to God, and God was done with these people.  They’d had their chance.  They’d disappointed him.  Now they were sinking to the bottom of the ocean, gasping for air that was no longer theirs to breathe.

Even I, a rat, felt sorry when they saw it was over and slid silently into a dark, wet grave.  At what point does the world become so wicked it deserves death?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I can’t wait for the rain to stop.  I can’t wait to get off this damn boat.  And I can’t wait to get back to the business of being a rat.

Merrill Farnsworth 2010


About Merrill Farnsworth

Merrill was declared a poet in 6th grade by Sister Mary McDonald and kept writing. In addition to being named an ASCAP songwriter of the year for her work with Michelle Tumes on the single, Heaven’s Heart, she has written lyrics for various artists, worked on animation projects for Sony Wonder and Columbia Pictures and written numerous stage, video and radio scripts. Her current project is a collection of stories and paintings titled Jezebel’s got the Blues…and other works of imagination (slated to be published in 2012). This work has been performed several times with an outstanding cast that includes performances by Chip Arnold, Bonnie Keen, Nan Gurley, Robert Kiefer, Jon Royal and features the blues guitar of Phil Madeira. She collaborated with Phil on his new project Mercyland, which features artists Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Shawn Mullins, The Civil Wars and others. She is also in the early stages of working with writer and actor Chip Arnold on a new musical. Along the way, Merrill has discovered the healing power of art in her own life and now integrates the arts into her work as a therapist. After earning a graduate degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University in 2000, She has created Writing Circles to help others discover the healing power within their own authentic voices. Merrill has worked as a therapist in corporate, clinical and educational settings. She currently has a private practice on 21st Avenue near Hillsboro village, where she works with groups and individuals. For more information contact her at merrill.lpc@gmail.com or visit www.writingcircle.org -- Merrill Farnsworth, LPC, MHSP Convent Place (formerly St. Bernard's Convent) 2021 21st Avenue South, 430 Nashville, TN 37212
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