I couldn’t find my phone. I knew I’d just used it to call the landlord and now it was gone. My first instinct was to check the couch cushions where I’d been sitting. All I found were some Cheerios, a pen, two blue monkeys from the Monkeys in a Barrel game my daughter was playing with earlier in the day, and a random assortment of crumbs that jammed in under my nails. I tried back-tracking to the bathroom. Not there. Nor was it on my desk, on the kitchen counter or in the laundry room.
The next logical conclusion was that I’d lost my mind. It’d finally happened. Without any warning I had begun the steps to insanity that I’d witnessed in my mother ten years ago. I’d first started noticing that she couldn’t find anything. The spaghetti strainer mostly. Regularly, even. That red, dented spaghetti strainer with the paint wearing off around the bottom. My mother would scream Where the fuck is it? Someone stole the spaghetti strainer again! I could hear her slamming cabinets, roughing-up the dishwasher, and opening the fridge before starting to cry. I’d wait until her tears stopped before going into the kitchen. I knew her sadness could easily turn to anger and didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that.
“Have you seen the spaghetti strainer? I think someone took the spaghetti strainer.”
I’d open the cabinet next to the sink and pull out the strainer. “This one, or the little one with the handle?”
“Mother fuckers!” Her screams were shrill. “I looked there. They took it out and put it back to make me look crazy. I’m not crazy!”
Then her beads started going missing. The pearls she’d just bought at the gem show, the molds for her island charm collection, her needle nose pliers. She would scream and tear her workbench apart looking for what she knew had been stolen only to find it sitting in plain sight a week later.
I figured my mother was just getting older. My grandmother will use a ladle to stir soup then walk over to change the volume on the TV and return to the stove ladle-less. Then I started noticing the notes. The hand-written notes in the bathroom, under the mirrors and by the windows. Stop spying on me you perverts! You have no right!
As I opened the dishwasher my heart was pounding. No phone. It wasn’t in the fridge. I even opened the tupperware lid to the salad to make sure it was phone-less. Then I had an idea. I ran to my computer and pulled up iMessage. I fumbled my fingers over the keys and send “lsdfj” to my phone number as a text message. Nothing. I started to sweat. Could someone have taken it? Holy shit, it’s happening. Did someone take the spaghetti strainer to fuck with my mother? Is someone fucking with me? My breath was coming quickly now. I could feel a hot fluttering in my chest and I thought about what the doctors had said about stress. About what my husband had said. I needed to calm down if we were ever going to get pregnant again. I started to get dizzy and tears came to my eyes. They burned like vinegar. You need to be calm. If this is happening you can get help. This isn’t the end. You aren’t your mother. I told myself and collapsed in full panic-attack onto the couch.
“Ouch!” I yelled out and a wave of realization and shame washed over me. I reached my hand into the crease in the top couch cushions and pulled out my phone that had been weggied in there.
I don’t know if or when I will start to loose my mind. And if I do, I don’t know that it will look like my mother’s decent into madness, but I do know that I am terrified of it happening to me. What will happen to my marriage? My daughter? What will happen to me if I loose touch with reality? It’s this constant weight thats hanging over my head. But, at least for now I found my phone.