When I woke up I groped – as I do every morning. I groped among the ointment pots and pens and books and hankies for my spectacles. They weren’t there. I stumbled out of bed and got down on my hands and knees and swept my paws across the carpet. All I picked up were dustballs. I found an old curtain rod, knocked over a lamp, gouged a hole in the wall, swiped it back and forth under the bed. No spectacles.
Why today of all days? If you note an edge of petulance it is because yesterday, after years of neglect, I gave my myopic eyes loving attention; I ventured far from my burrow and visited an optometrist. I sat on a stool. A large machine loomed towards me. A voice behind it said, ‘Chin up’, as if I were about to collapse into a puddle of velvety tears. The machine and I breathed in the remains of each other’s lunches while I peered at the blur of his ear. First left, then right. I was subjected to guessing fuzzy hieroglyphics on the wall. I was moved from machine to machine. One puffed Tropicamide into my eyeballs. It peered into my ocular fundis and took snaps. Finally, with pupils the size of saucers, I was launched into the dazzling brightness of the shopfront and chose a pair of spectacle frames by feel alone. I crept home averting my gaze, shielding my eyes with my hand as if I were being pursued by the paparazzi.
So this is why, this morning, it felt so unreasonable that my spectacles were not where they always are. I take them off last thing at night and there is nowhere else for them to go. Spectacles, I told myself, did not have feelings. They did not leave home because they felt they were about to be usurped by new young things.
The quest became more and more hopeless as I crawled around the rest of my house, emptying waste paper baskets, opening filing cabinets, pulling flowers out of vases and plunging my paws into the water. No cushion remained in position. Every book was upended and shaken. But all the while another me was whispering, ‘Look in the bathroom, look in the bathroom’.
I took no heed. I would have rather upended my compost heap than go and look in the bathroom. The other me injected a small memory. Something about putting the spectacles on the basin while I tried to see if my pupils were contracting again. But still I continued to rifle through cutlery drawers, inside gumboots, in the bag of cat biscuits.
What if they hadn’t been there? What then?