Cezarija Abartis ~ Lost & Found

It’s a large uni­ver­si­ty library, many cor­ners to hide in. I lost my purse there.

All kinds of things get lost.

Even libraries dis­ap­pear. The Great Library at Alexandria burned, but one has hope that frag­ments will sur­face in some cave or shop or attic. Or maybe we’ll build a machine to take us into the past and see what it was like. Wait, we already have that: books, doc­u­ments, art. The paint­ings in the caves at Lascaux, for exam­ple.

Unfortunately, under­ground isn’t always safe–too moist in some places, too dry else­where. But I have hopes that we’ll find more lines by Sappho and Euripides. Maybe even unknown writ­ers. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

One of my friends has demen­tia with anx­i­ety. He believes some­one is drain­ing his bank account. That his wife is not his wife, her eyes are dif­fer­ent. That there are no peo­ple in the neigh­bor­ing houses–it’s a Potemkin Village. All the eyes, side­ways, sus­pi­cious,  fol­low him. Next step: Memory Care Unit. Mine is milder. I’m lucky.

What’s the old joke?  “Okay doc­tor, give me the good news first.” “You have can­cer.” “Oh, no! What could be worse than that?” “You have Alzheimer’s.” “Well, that’s not so bad. At least I don’t have can­cer.”

I can still read. I can lose myself in Erich Remarque, Jane Austen. She’s fun­nier, so I’ll read about Lizzy Bennet again, though I know–I remem­ber–the end­ing. When it’s inevitable, the book is even bet­ter. Life too. My progress is cer­tain: for­get­ful­ness, demen­tia, and death. The only thing that might inter­rupt that is if death comes ear­li­er. A swell sur­prise!

Here’s my cat. He sneezes; I hope it’s not a cold.

Years ago, I brought my stu­dents to the uni­ver­si­ty, where my hus­band worked as a librar­i­an. The stu­dents liked see­ing a big­ger library. I liked see­ing him. Hormones, I guess.

I find myself mov­ing toward the lik­ings of my hus­band. I used to like movies, and now I like base­ball; I used to like quiche and now I like meat­loaf; I used to like skirts and now I like blue jeans.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, every­thing changes, right from the first change, from chaos to cos­mos, from tur­bu­lence to plan­ets and gods.

Wild cats, too, changed to hang around humans and get snacks. There is no sta­bil­i­ty, just bal­ance, toe on a rolling ball. My hus­band and I could dance in the library, now that it’s closed for the night. We could twirl between the tables.

Here at home there are mice. We start­ed with one mouse in the house, but of course evo­lu­tion, love, growth, more, more, more. The mice nib­ble at the clothes and the books, I hear their scritch­ing and scur­ry­ing. There are holes in my coat, in my slacks, in my head. We will not hire an exter­mi­na­tor because we have cats who might eat the poi­son.

Here comes my hus­band hold­ing my purse and the book. I’m not lost. I’m found by my old friend.

Our house­cat Barney meows, sneezes, lum­bers through the house, look­ing for some­thing. Maybe mice, maybe trolls, mon­sters, food, love.

Barney doesn’t care about his looks, though he is hand­some, as are all cats. We sur­vived the win­ter and are in spring and, in the day­time, lis­ten to the birds. Barney stares at them too.

Barney is in my lap. He stretch­es and extends his claws into my blue jeans, catch­es on a thread, makes a hole.

When I took a nap the oth­er day, Barney lay next to my shoul­der. He wheezed but I could hear his heart beat­ing.

~

Cezarija Abartis has pub­lished a col­lec­tion Nice Girls and Other Stories (New Rivers Press) and sto­ries in Baltimore Review, Bennington Review, FRiGG, match­book, Waccamaw, and New York Tyrant, among oth­ers. Recently she com­plet­ed a crime nov­el. She lives and writes in Minnesota.