(IP) Muriel Mouse

“Will you come back inside, child? You’ll catch your death in this cold,” Muriel’s mother’s gentle, chiding squeak of a voice brought her back to herself, one arm resting against her chest, her other hand cupped over her eyes, squinting out into the white landscape that the snow was painting. She heard her mother, distantly, over the moaning howl of the wind. She glanced back into the dim, golden light of the cavern, frowning slightly.  She couldn’t figure out why, but something deep inside was telling her that there was something out there, hidden by the storm. Despite it, she reluctantly turned her back on it, moving back to her family and the cozy warmth.Her mother was sitting in a tiny armchair, Muriel’s baby brother cradled against her chest, his bright, keen eyes glimmering slightly in the firelight. “Honestly, child. Your wanderlust is going to be the death of me, someday,” “I’m sorry, Mother,” Muriel responded, feeling her cheeks warm. Her father was in the kitchen, tending to a simple meal of winter vegetable stew, dark, grainy bread, and crunchy seeds and fat, red cranberries for dessert. Nonetheless, he emerged from the tiny warren, grinning, his whiskers quivering.“Oh, come now, Flora,” He said, smiling at his mate. “You can’t expect the poor girl to stay in this cave with us and her baby brother forever.” “Standing at the mouth of the cave in a snowstorm isn’t an idea that’s very wise,” Flora retorted, standing slowly and placing the baby on her hip. He squeaked, reaching for Muriel, who took him without complaint, cheeks burning with silent embarrassment.They’d had this talk almost every day since she knew of the world outside of their tiny mountain home, and it never failed to make her angry. She loved her family, to be sure, and all of the cousins and friends that lived in the pass, mostly hidden from large predators and birds of prey, but she couldn’t deny that she was restless, even if her loved ones couldn’t understand exactly why. And how could they? They’d been in this same place for a long time, long before their children were born, and they were content, eking out an existence here. Muriel couldn’t begrudge them, but she was privately grateful for her father defending her. Even if he didn’t understand, he loved her, and for the moment, that was enough.“I just want to see something different. Something other than gray mountains and snow,” Muriel mumbled, wincing inwardly when her voice came out sullen. “Why is that an issue?” The baby reached for his sister’s face, and she kissed his claws, unable to resist grinning down at him.“Oh, darling, it isn’t!” Flora cried as her father disappeared back into the kitchen to check on their meal. “Of course it isn’t. I just don’t think you’re ready just yet. Perhaps you could wait a few years before you go on an epic quest? Stay here and help your father and I with the baby, and be open toward people in the village?” Her tone was kind, but nonetheless, her daughter squirmed; why couldn’t her mother just understand that she wasn’t content here? She wanted more than her parents, a mate, a family. A simple job in their village. Something out there was calling to her, and she wanted to answer it, go out and adventure until she found it.