As we moved away down the road from Charlie's house, my partner clung to me, sobbing over and over again about how much she'd missed me, how she thought she'd never see me again, how much she loved me, etc. Personally, I was divided between feelings of utter elation and total wretchedness. We arrived at the home of my partner's parents, as my partner's mother was concerned for her daughter and wanted to make sure she ate some breakfast (my partner had previously 'phoned her place of work, explaining the situation and informing them that she would not be in that day. Her colleagues were full of kind concern).
On entering the house, I suddenly realised how tired I was. I also learned of the endeavours that had taken place the previous evening to try and locate me.
A search party had been formed. Some scoured the place where I had last been sited. Others drove slowly along local roads, seeking any sign of me. The details grew more chilling by the moment. At length, the deeper waters of the river had been probed as searchers wondered if my drowned and bloated body would float to the surface. One of the drivers (my partner's father) had driven at a snail's pace along the dual carriageway (notorious for traffic speeds and numerous fatal accidents) at the other end of the fields, looking to see if my mangled and bloody remains lay at the side of the road.
After several hours, and way past midnight, the search was abandoned. My partner's mother fetched blankets and pillows and spent the night at my house, comforting my distraught partner as she telephoned the police, the vet and the dog warden, before retiring to pass a sleepless night alone in our bed.
Whilst learning of all this, I was stricken with guilt and lay mutely under the table. My partner's mother persuaded my partner to accept a slice of toast and a cup of tea, which she did her best to swallow. After slipping most of the toast to me, my poor partner fled upstairs to the bathroom and I heard the sounds of her being violently and copiously sick. I crept up the stairs after her and sat quietly beside her while she vomited and wept.
Following this unpleasant episode, we got in the car again and my partner's mother drove us home. I was transported with joy at seeing my own dear house again. I bounded happily into my garden, anxious to reacquaint myself with all the familiar smells, feeling as if I had been away for a year, as opposed to just one night.
I felt that I wanted to dash about and kiss all who were familiar to me. But there seemed an embargo on each and every one:
- Chloe - No, for obvious reasons;
- Milo, Zac, Sophie - No, they were too young for it to be appropriate;
- Peaches - No, as he would rip off my face. Plus he smells unacceptably of pilchards;
- Eddie - No, as he would think I had switched to the Pink Side and initiate mating procedures.
That left Starsky and Archie (the Jack Russell at the end of the road). I did think about it - but then I decided that it would be too embarrassing to face either of them after snogging them. So, in the end, I gave my partner a really big kiss instead.
My partner was so exhausted that she went to bed. I followed her, and we slept the ENTIRE day. And that was the end of the whole sorry episode.
Well - not quite. One mystery remains. According to my partner, I was last seen before events unfolded at approximately 6.45pm. Charlie's partners picked me up as I was walking towards home at 11.10pm. My partner has repeatedly questioned me as to my whereabouts in the interim.
The fair Dolores, as well as my partner's other friends and work colleagues, suggested that I had been propping up the bar in the pub nearest to my house. I had been picked up whilst walking the relatively short distance between the pub and my house, some ten minutes after Last Orders. But no. My snout is sealed - a gentleman never barks. My partner now refers to that period of time as "The Lost Four Hours".
Apart from being distressing all round, I am now annoyed at the incident. Just prior to the event, I had been putting finishing touches on a blog entry describing a highly similar situation, involving kitten Zac and his brother Milo, which occurred at the end of the summer. I will now have to wait a for a suitable length of time to pass before posting it, or it will make me look even more foolish than I already feel.
And now, I daresay you would like to hear some positive news after all this trauma. I have several items for you. Firstly, my partner's lump is a GREAT DEAL smaller - in fact, it has almost gone. She still experiences pain, but it looks increasingly likely that she will not have to have her drastic operation after all! Fingers and paws crossed... Secondly, our New Teal Megane passed its MOT without needing any work! Hurrah!! My partner says that this is the first time that such a thing has occurred for her. This has helped us to forgive the car for being in a higher road-tax bracket than our late, lamented Little Green Corsa. And, thirdly, my partner and I celebrated our birthdays a week or two ago. Among other gifts, we received five rose bushes for our garden. My partner's mother came over today to help us plant them. We have also installed a nice bird-feeding table, to attract winged friends to feast over the winter months (strategically positioned so as to be inaccessible to my many feline neighbours).
Happy days are here again.