Erm. It was here. Or maybe there. Or in that. But I’m sure I had it at least er, three years ago?
I’m packing, and I’ve just discovered that I’m missing a book. Since I have enough of the damn things to build a luxury outdoor privy and supply it with sufficient paper for a 5 year-long case of dysentery, you’d think I wouldn’t miss one itty-bitty book. But I am. Waaaaaahhhh! Where my book? I WANT MY BOOK!!!!
Several hours of searching through boxes have edged my thoughts with panic, and I'm now desperately trying to recall its book-life. I can remember telling several people how wonderful it is, how interesting it is, how it gives so much and makes life a better, richer thing. But I can’t remember lending it to anyone in particular. I can’t remember all the people to whom I might have recommended the book. I don’t think I’ve read it for a good three years myself, and I’ve moved a lot in this time. It could have fallen into an as-yet undocumented black hole. My bookcase is black. It had a black spine. Maybe it’s hiding? Maybe it’s camouflaged somehow? Maybe it doesn’t want to be read? Maybe it’s a reverse poltergeist?
This vague panic is horribly like a nightmare I had once. In it, I had a very pink baby, but since I couldn’t remember it existed* I kept forgetting it in different places. I left it in a café, on an escalator and on the pavement outside an old-fashioned row of shops in a navy blue padded picnic basket. I think I took the silverware with me, but left it with a tub of wrinkly dry black olives marinated in chilli, orange and garlic** for comfort.
Yes, I could buy another copy. Probably a more up-to-date, shiny new edition with an uncracked spine, no dog-eared pages, a new book smell and brand new foreword. Or I could pick up a cheap second-hand copy somewhere. But it won’t be the same book. I’ve had this one for years. I can remember where I first bought it, where I first read it. It’s part of my life. So any replacement will always remind me of the one that I lost.
I’m a terrible book mother.
*Or how it came into my possession. Not birth, not doorstep arrival. No clue. It was the most secret of secret babies. Even I was only dimly aware of its existence.
**Hey, don’t knock 'em ‘til you’ve tried 'em. They’re like little exploding bombs of flavour. And at least they don’t have sharp edges. What do you take me for?