I found a yellow plastic toothbrush in the depths of my least favourite armchair. My brother telephoned this morning to ask if he had left his keys at The Peach last night. He bade me look for them and I obliged unwillingly. Removing the seat cushion from the armchair and plunging my hand into three decades of crumbs, coins, dead things and anonymous detritus was not one of the things I had thought to do today, before I was halfway through my first cup of coffee.
The Thursday before Easter I was somewhere in Spencer’s house when I thought ‘this is the closest thing you can experience to plunging your hand into a sack of grain, when you live in the city’. Spencer was not in the room at the time. I do not recall which room, which level of the house, whether inside or out. Since that night I have been trying to remember what that ‘thing you can do’ is. It is not plunging your hand into the depths of a least favourite armchair that is in every way identical to the other armchair, except in rank of favour. Spencer’s house contains no large jars of buttons, no small sacks of slipping particles cool and willing to part for the casual plunging of flesh. It has become my second most recent mystery.
The yellow plastic toothbrush is problematic. I have never seen it before, I can not attach its ownership to any known face. It is impossible that is owned by the cat, who also favours the other chair. The handle of the toothbrush is translucent. The bristles a usual kind of white. The yellow is heavy, saturated, unpleasantly reminiscent of the first passing of water after a night spent drinking gin. The ability to pass water was one of my first and earliest mysteries, since solved by the clockwork power of science.
I left the toothbrush in the chair, not back in the depths but underneath the seat cushion. It seems important that it not be entirely removed from its chosen home but left almost where it was, where I can lift the cushion and observe its journey through time.