The cat had entirely, utterly disappeared. There were three of us looking for him, running through the three-level house and checking all the rooms as quickly as we could, and he was nowhere to be found.
We were preparing for an inspection of the house by the landlords, and already relatively excited, by which I mean stressed and exhausted; although we were pretty confident that everything would be fine — we take really good care of this house! We make small repairs ourselves, without complaint! —there was just a feeling of, listen, you never know when things can go south unexpectedly, that made us nervous. Both Chloe and I have become suspicious of relying on good feelings and good fortune over the past year or so.
With the landlords due in thirty minutes or so, the plan was for her mom, visiting from out of town, to take the cats during the inspection to ensure an orderliness and calm that wouldn’t otherwise happen; but one of the cats had utterly vanished. He’d been around for a first attempt to go in a crate to be carried out, but he’d resisted and run upstairs; we watched him go… but he was nowhere to be found upstairs. Nor, it turned out, was he downstairs, either.
We searched the house maybe four, five times with no luck. He was simply gone, but that was impossible, too — he couldn’t get outside because doors and windows were shut. Things had reached the point where we were starting to find it simultaneously funny and genuinely insane-making; how can a cat disappear so completely? Did he even exist in the first place, or have we been hallucinating him all these years? Was this the end of a cat version of Fight Club? All the while, the clock is ticking down and the landlords’ arrival is getting closer.
Reality was restored when he was discovered inside a box spring, having burrowed himself in there at some point without anyone noticing. The inspection went well, and all was good in the world, but for the rest of the day, I kept remembering what it felt like when he was simply nowhere, as impossible as it was.