Sausage and Mouse were the best of friends and were inseparable. They were poor but happy and lived together in their tiny little flat. Once a week they would set up two large vats of hot water by the fire, one to bathe in and one to cook their weekly supply of boiled cabbage. One week Mouse would bathe and then go to church while Sausage stayed home and boiled the cabbage, the following week Sausage would bathe and go to church while Mouse stayed home and cooked. It was an unusual arrangement, to be sure, but one born of time and familiarity and mutual adoration.
One week after Mouse had bathed and left for church Sausage accidentally dumped the weekly cabbage in the bath water. Afraid that too much of the flavor had already transfered from the cabbage to the bath water Sausage decided to leave it there and hoped Mouse wouldn’t notice anything was wrong. But Mouse did notice.
“This is the most delectable cabbage ever,” Mouse said.
“I accidentally cooked it in your dirty bath water,” Sausage said.
“It was a most fortunate accident!” Mouse said. “We should repeat this accident every week!”
And so the next week when it was Sausage’s turn to bathe Mouse stood by with the cabbage. As the surface of the bath water started to show oily pools Sausage decided it was time to get out.
“First let me taste the water to make sure there is enough flavor.” Mouse tasted the bath water. “It’s good, but perhaps just a little bit longer.”
So Sausage stayed in the bath water. As the water continued to warm by the fire Sausage began to sweat and could feel its body tighten beneath the skin. Mouse tasted the water again.
“Almost,” Mouse said. “Perhaps if you dunked your head beneath the surface and counted to one hundred that would be enough time.”
“Trust me, Sausage, this will be the best tasting cabbage ever.”
And so Sausage went under the surface. Before Mouse could reach even half way to one hundred Sausage floated to the surface.
“Poor Sausage,” Mouse said. “Well, nothing to be done about it now.”
Mouse removed Sausage and laid it out on the cutting board. Then gently, lovingly, Mouse sliced Sausage into coins and slid them into the bath water with the cabbage. That night Mouse lit a candle and toasted Sausage’s memory in feast.
“Although you are not alive, dear Sausage, you can at least participate fully in this wonderful meal you helped create.”
Afterward Mouse curled up in the corner next to the fire and slept long and hard. In the morning Mouse felt a little sad to not find Sausage nearby but the feeling didn’t linger.
There were other Sausages in the world to be had.
c. 2011 david elzey
Another of my weekly exercises in re-imagining and adapting tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.