The mouse twitched under the cover of dead leaves. Jezebel leapt and struck the mouse. It struggled and screamed. Jezebel quickly bit into the neck. The mouse twitched and gurgled, then relax. Jezebel retracted her claws, and walked between the tree trunks to her favorite spot on the hill overlooking the village. She laid down and started tearing off the mouse's fur, and stared off at the rooftops and their dormant chimneys.
"Would you like to share your meal?" asked a sickly sweet voice from up in a tree. Jezebel did not need to look to know who it was.
"Not with you Tom," she said before spitting out some mouse hair.
"Oh, come on love. Have a heart," said Tom.
"You're completely capable of finding your own food," said Jezebel.
"Yes, yes, but it's so hot these days. I don't particularly fancy the excercise," he said.
"Not my problem."
"Come on, I'll make it worth your while," he said, leaping off his low branch. He landed nimbly next to Jezebel. He circled her, making sure to show off his silky coat.
"You 'try to make it worth my while', and I'll tear your face off," said Jezebel. She sunk her teeth into the mouse's skull with a crunch. Tom stopped in front of her and looked her in the eyes.
"There's no need to get snippy," he said. He sat down right in front of her, looking towards the village, and blocking her view. "I could give you the honor of my company." His tail swung back and forth in the air like a cobra.
"Go away," said Jezebel.
"Do you miss her?" he asked. Jezebel did not answer. "I miss mine," he said.
"Of course you do," said Jezebel. "You got to lay in the sun all day."
"And you didn't?" he said, turning his head to look back at her. "Come'on just the feet. You can spare the feet?"
"No," said Jezebel.
"Hmmmm," muttered Tom. He turned back to the village. "It's a shame isn't it? Where do you think they all went?"
"I don't know," said Jezebel. "But maybe you could leave and find out."
"Nice try," said Tom, chuckling.
"I bet you miss her. Otherwise you would have said something to the contrary."
"You don't know my mind."
"You do, don't you?"
"Leave me be, please!" Jezebel stood up and arched her back.
"Now, now," said Tom turning around, and briefly eyeing the remains of the mouse. "Can't we be civil?"
"Rrrr," said Jezebel. Tom widened his eyes and cocked his head. "Ugh, I can't believe you get through life acting like that." She sighed and sat down. She looked at the mouse, with its innards splayed out, and kicked it over to Tom.
"Oh, love, thank you," said Tom with a grin. He snapped up the mouse and started crunching down, closing one eye and keeping the other on Jezebel.
"I didn't do it for you," said Jezebel. "I just lost my appetite."
"Mmm-hmmm," said Tom. "It...was...her," he said through bites. Jezebel turned away.
"I tried not to get attached, but it happened anyway."
"And now she's gone. And now they're all gone."
"I can still remember her voice calling me in at night. It breaks my heart."
"I used to roam the village at night," said Tom. "I'd go from house to house in the evening."
"Begging for food I presume," said Jezebel.
"No, I was satisfied by what I got at home. No, I listened to their conversations. I listened to their music. I watched their fires dance in their hearths. I smelled their cooking stews. Now it is so quiet."
There was a long silence between them. Tom finished off the mouse and set about licking his paws.
"I went down there a few days ago," said Jezebel.
"Oh?" he said. "And what did you find?"
"The roof of my house leaks. There's leaves inside. The food she was cooking in the hearth was moldy and dried up. There was a person in there."
"I think it was a child. Dead for a long time. Curled up on her bed. I think he froze there when winter came, just after everyone left. I've been thinking of what that might mean."
"And what do you think it might mean?" asked Tom.
"Our villages would never leave a child behind. That means they didn't want to go, but had to."
"And they're not coming back."
"No, they're not coming back," said Jezebel. She stood up and turned away, walking into the forest. Tom watched her until she disappeared into the undergrowth. He turned back and looked at the decaying roofs, and listened to the silence.