One night last week, after I had watched as many of the recorded Jimmy Fallon shows that I could manage in one sitting without learning to hate him, I began my usual rituals for going-to-bed. I do the same thing every night: flick off TV; bung the Magic Bag into the microwave for 2 minutes; turn on a light upstairs and turn off all the lamps downstairs; tune the radio to the most-boring-no-talking classical radio station and set the timer for 90 minutes; get Magic Bag out of microwave and grab whatever book I’m reading; sing “Goodnight Sweethearts” to the cats who moan with disgust for my efforts and because I woke them up; and, finally, climb the stairs for what’s probably the 75th time that day. Upstairs, I put the Magic Bag under the covers to warm things up, throw the book on the bed, fold up the spread and brush teeth, wash face and pj the body. Then, the best part, I snuggle in for a half-hour or so of reading and stretching and then slipping into sleep before the hairy beasts decide to come up and hog all the space on the bed.
On the night in question — I read far too many mysteries — everything was going according to my boring routine but, when I got into bed and positioned the Magic Bag and reached for my book, There Was No Book! “Drat,” I thought, “I left it downstairs and have to go down, yet again, to get it.” But it wasn’t there. I looked everywhere, even the microwave, just to make sure I hadn’t unconsciously put it there when I took the bag out. It was nowhere to be seen. Upstairs, I looked in places where I knew for a fact I had not been. I opened closed drawers just in case it had somehow managed to slip out of my hand, open the drawer and sneak inside. Nothing. I would have blamed the cats but, as clever as they are, I didn’t think they could pull this one off. It just disappeared. I decided to sleep on it, after I climbed down the stairs yet again to get another book to lull me into sleep.
Next morning, I looked all over this bloody house yet again for that blasted book. I wouldn’t have been so concerned about it except I was 3/4 of the way through and wanted to know the ending. And, here’s the real reason I was upset, it was a library book. Oops! It’s one thing to lose something of your very own, but to misplace a book that the Toronto Public Library graciously let me take out, for free, from their collection is another kettle of fish, or words.
When I was little I lost a library book once. It was not a pretty scene when my father received that postcard in the mail that said, Missing Book with my name attached to it. Each of us twelve kids had our own little card. I loved having that official-looking document with my own name on it. However, when my dad read that card and yelled my name, I sort of wished I had used someone else’s card for that book. He was very, very upset with my little self. There were no excuses. I had to find that book or figure out a way to pay for it. To a skinny, little, six-year-old, neither of those options seemed doable. But I knew better — sometimes — than to open mouth and plead with my father for mercy. But, the worst part of his order, was that if I didn’t find that book, there would be no more books taken out by Annie Elizabeth Eyerman ever again. I could tell he was serious, too. The task of finding it was overwhelming. With 14 people living in very cramped quarters, there was a certain amount of chaos and mess where anything, including one of us kids, could have been lost for weeks. Needless to say, I never found the book. My mother, not wanting any of her kids to lose the privilege of the library, took me and that postcard down to the library to pay for the lost book. There were many words of warning about not ever letting it happen again. When I got home, I found the book under the big double bed where my sisters slept. I don’t remember if my mom got her money back or not.
My mattress sits on top of the boxsprings on the floor so I knew this current book was definitely not under the bed. Later that day, Social Media and All Things Technical Guru, Sarah, came over to help me with this new laptop, I told her the story of the missing book. Being a no-nonsense type of person, she said, “I’ll find it.” She opened cupboards, drawers, looked behind curtains and even checked out my shopping cart with the disgusting number of empty wine bottles waiting to be taken back. No book was to be found. She was perplexed but decided that if she couldn’t find it, it just wasn’t here. But it had to be somewhere. I hadn’t carried it outside the house, had I? Did it get thrown away by mistake and was now sitting in the big recycling bin outside? No, couldn’t be.
My other guru friend, Judith, solved the mystery without a second thought, “The fairies have taken it and will bring it back when they’re finished.” It seemed as good an explanation as anything else. Certainly better than thinking that my aging brain was starting to atrophy and forgetfulness was moving in. (I hate the term “senior moment.”) I just hoped those fairies finished it pretty soon so when they returned it, I didn’t forgot what I’d read and have to start reading it from the beginning again.
The fairies must have heard my plea because, later that day, the book appeared, well not exactly appeared, but dropped out of the spread from the bed that I had folded up the night before. I could choose to believe that it was just my mindless routine that prevented me from noticing the book in the spread when I folded it or, and I prefer this, those little fairies slipped it off the bed the night before and hid it in the spread. I think they just wanted to remind me to shake things up every once in a while in this life of mine.