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This is my Midwestern adaptation of an old pre-Aesop, Jataka Tale, Two Friends, retold.

My mother grew up in a large family with twelve kids. She was the youngest. My Aunt Clarabelle was the oldest. When my mother was a little girl, three years old, Clarabelle was like a second mother to her. 

They lived on a farm in rural Ohio. Anyone who has lived in the country knows: no matter how clean your house, in the fall when it starts to get cold outside, rats and mice move inside looking for a warm place to sleep and something to eat.

Early one morning, my mother woke up before anyone else. Instead of waking up her mother she woke up her older sister. The two of them quietly went downstairs to the kitchen for an early breakfast. When they opened the kitchen door, there was a huge ugly rat in the middle of the kitchen table eating the butter that somewhat had left out over night.

AAAHH! My Aunt Clarabelle shrieked! She freaked! She ran upstairs as fast as she could abandoning her little sister. My mom simply passed out. She fainted. She fell flat onto the kitchen floor.

My Aunt Clarabelle was feeling a little guilty. She tiptoed back downstairs to check on her little sister. She did not burst into the kitchen. First she wanted to see if the rat was gone. She opened the kitchen door a little crack, peeking in just in time to see the rat crawl down off the table. The rat climbed down a chair onto the floor. The rat crawled up over my mother and plopped down on her shoulder. It began to lick its paws, cleaning off the butter. Just then my mother woke up with the rat inches from her face. She froze with fear.

My Aunt watched as the rat crawled down and disappeared into a hole in the wall behind the icebox. Only when the coast was clear did my Aunt rush in and pick up her little sister, my mother. My mom began to scream, to cry, to wail; she was only three! 

Clarabelle scooped her up and carried her into the living room sitting down on the couch. Clarabelle began to rock her little sister. Trying to soothe her she made a little joke, “That rat looked like he was whispering in your ear! What was that rat whispering in your ear?”

My mother stopped crying. She sat right up. She turned to her oldest sister. Looking her in the eye she said, “What did the rat say to me? He said, ‘a good sister does not leave her little sister alone when she is in danger!”

(c) Brian "Fox" Ellis 2015 All Rights reserved.

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