Already there are moments of panic with Maple. The Mapes is nowhere to be found when I arrive home from work. I look everywhere—my place is small, so it doesn’t take long to look under the bed, in the wardrobe, behind the bookshelf. I scan the tops of furniture to make sure she isn’t posing as a still life. I look in cabinets I know she couldn’t possibly open. She has vaporized.
Eventually, she comes trotting out—soundlessly, from somewhere. The next time she scurries off, the fluttering curtain covering the wardrobe is askew, giving her away. Upon first glance, it still looks empty, but she’s burrowed into a warm spot behind the vintage linens and on the chenille summer bedspread, eyes unblinking, like ET hiding amongst the stuffed animals.
We play that game again the next day, but when I draw back the curtain to the wardrobe in a gotcha moment, she’s not there. She’s small enough to lie curled up, undetected, under the duvet, which is where I find her, in the dark, cozied up in the warm flannel, an imperceptible lump. Note to self: do not flop on the bed without checking.
Last night, I had my first houseguest for dinner, and he was excited to meet Maple. Maple, however, did not feel the same way and hid immediately upon hearing a scary male voice. We looked in the unlikeliest of places; I put a plate of food on the ground; I called her name, as if she would come like a dog. We gave up and ate dinner. Still no Maple. Concerned, we scoured the place in earnest. There, in the tiniest sliver of space behind the wardrobe, and raised up on the baseboard heater, as if hiding in a bathroom stall, she sat with her paws tucked under her, in a neat little ball. And there she stayed for hours.
I understand, Maple. Everyone needs their alone time. But do you have to spend it crouched on a heater, collecting dust bunnies?