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.