Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places.
This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon, to great reviews.
by Cathy MacKenzie
“Bob, did you see my book?”
“The one I was reading. I had it a few minutes ago.”
“Which one was that?”
“Candace and Bernie,” I shouted back, exasperated. “Did you see my book or didn’t you?”
“I had it a few minutes ago.”
“Don’t know. Haven’t seen it.”
Was I losing it? Books I had been reading had mysteriously disappeared over the last little while. Is this what the Golden Years bring us seniors? Sure, I was forgetful but no more than the average person; at least, I didn’t think so.
I’ve lost other things in the past, like my reading glasses, only to find them perched on top of my head or dangling from the beaded chain around my neck. One time I found them on the bathroom counter, where I’d forgotten them after plucking that unsightly and hard-to-grasp silvery, spidery hair from my chin.
And then there were the car keys. Easy to misplace those. Voila, they turned up on the foyer table even though that wasn’t a place I’d ever leave them. I’m always extra careful to put my keys back into my purse because I’ve returned into the house too many times after forgetting them on the kitchen counter. Once, after looking for hours, I found them in my coat pocket.
But this missing book was another matter, one far removed from the usual, everyday age-forgetfulness. Math has never been my strong point, but this particular book has been lost at least six times—all during the past week. Was dementia setting in faster than expected? And was it dementia—or something worse?
I was into the third chapter earlier in the week when it first went missing, but I later found it in the guest bedroom. The next time, I discovered it in the closet in the side porch. I'd never leave a book in those places, let alone read there, so I was mystified. The third time, it turned up in the refrigerator. I wasn't aware the book was missing then and had breathed a silent prayer that Bob hadn’t found it first. What would he have thought?
The other places were just as silly. Stupid, silly places.
And now, missing again, and I was positive, as I'd always been, that I had left it by my chaise lounger in the living room.
I sauntered to the bedroom and plopped to the bed. Tears cascaded down my face. Too many instances of misplaced objects lately, and I was sick of Bob nattering at me about being so forgetful. He had put his mother in a home when she developed Alzheimer's. “I can't handle her anymore,” he had said. He was an only child; there was no one else. I offered to take care of her since I was home all day, but Bob wouldn’t hear of it. “She has plenty of money. She can afford to go to a home.”
Stashing a human away, never again to see the light of day, was cruel. And everyone's heard horror stories about those places. Bob’s promised daily visits turned into weekly visits that soon morphed into monthly. The month before she passed on, visits had become almost non-existent. Bob seemed grateful at the end as if he'd been absolved of guilt. And duty.
Would Bob do that to me? I’ve always dreaded going into a senior’s home. We’d made a pact when we married thirty years ago that we’d never do that to the other. Instead, we’d care for each other in sickness and in health—‘til death do us part.
But if I were losing my mind? What then? I’d eventually be unaware of my surroundings, and Bob could easily deposit me in one of those institutions. Without a functioning mind, how would I know?
I dried my tears and picked up the phone. I must see my doctor. Luck was on my side. She had an opening on Monday. I didn’t tell Bob. No sense worrying him. He wouldn’t know anyhow; he’d be at work.
Four months until he retired. We’d enjoy the good life then, travelling, dining out, enjoying each other’s company. Bob was excited and eager for that day.
“Did you find your book?” he asked when I returned to the kitchen.
“Yes.” For the first time in my marriage, I lied to my husband.
Minutes later, I found it in the laundry room on top of the dryer.
Hours later, while trying to concentrate on Candace and Bernie—a not-so-happy life for either of those fictional characters—I devised a plan. I’d keep a small notebook in my pocket and when I finished reading, I’d jot down where I left my book. That way, I’d easily find it. Bob would be none the wiser.
The plan seemed ideal to me (as long as I remembered I had a notepad!), yet I shivered despite the hot summer day. Is this what my life had reverted to? Losing one’s mind wasn’t pleasant.
Bob seemed distant in bed that night. When I questioned him, he claimed work issues. I returned to my side of the king-sized bed.
On Monday, my doctor assured me I was fine. “Advancing years,” she said. “I’ve experienced the same issues.” She was ready for retirement, too, but I bet she hadn't experienced missing books that turned up in odd places.
When I returned home, I decided to start the week fresh. A new week. A new notepad.
The notepad didn't help. Most of my days were wasted while I continually searched for my book. I felt like a child hunting for Easter eggs. I didn’t get much reading done. But I knew one thing for certain: I wasn't going crazy; I hadn't lost my mind. But what was going on?
And then, mid-week at noon (Bob always came home for lunch), I caught him scurrying off with my book.
Aha! The mystery was solved. But why?
The next evening, I followed Bob when he was purportedly going to the Silver Seniors' Centre down the road. Supposedly, guys played crib there once a week.
But he didn't go to the Seniors' Centre.
And then it all made sense. He wanted to get rid of me, probably wanted to commit me to an insane asylum (did such institutions still exist?) or, at the very least, toss me into a home as he had his mother. If it weren’t for my trusty notepad, I’m positive I would have turned into a crazy.
Yep, you guessed it! (Didn’t you?) Bob, my dear sweet (ahem!) husband, was experiencing itchiness.
Bob had found a young thing to cavort with.
I immediately transferred half of our investments into my name, cleaned out our joint bank account, and left him to his sweet honey. He never contacted me. He knew I had the goods on him, so to speak.
I don’t know what he’s doing now, but I’m enjoying my books in my solitude. And they don’t go missing any longer!
The Spot Writers—Our Members:
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/
Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/
Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com
Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/