“Disappearing Act” by Juliana Flynn (2009)

The cat was gone. He lied and said he didn’t care because he held a deep conviction that his words could take shape into honest sentiments, if only he gave them the slightest push. This was most simply not the case.

He had locked the thing in the bathroom (to teach it a lesson because it had just knocked over his already-lopsided cactus, which would incidentally be the final blow to its feeble ambitions to stay alive). The bathroom window was of course closed and neither was there any possible escape from the walls or cupboards. There was just no explanation for its disappearance.

Every few minutes he would check the bathroom again, nervously pulling the curtains back from the bathtub, checking the cupboards, and pulling out the drawers, as if it would even fit in a drawer. Nothing.

Many weeks passed, and during these weeks he would sometimes see other grey and furry kitties across streets, in other yards, around corners and bus-stops and behind bushes, but none of them were his. It seemed like every single one should (and would) realize that it was his and patter quickly towards him, tail up and quivering in purrs.

But nothing.

He was just a stranger among strange cats with eerily faint resemblances to the one that he had once called his, and he was intangibly reaching out to every one of them. It simply made no sense to him that it could have been in the bathroom one moment and gone the next.

Until other things began disappearing as well. First, it was just unimportant things like empty cereal boxes, or sometimes he would spill water and then upon finding something to clean it up would discover it to be already dry. But then it began to encroach into holes in his sweaters, vanishing bottles of shampoo, socks and pencils and spoons. Left and right he would find himself in a confused fury of loss, until he could be sure of nothing. Nothing at all. Except when sometimes he would look at his hands straight through to the bones, through the flimsy film of his skin to see it stretching apart helplessly.

And dangerously close to disappearance.


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