This week two stories have formed a backdrop, or more, they’ve been twisting and turning in and around my life, my blood and bones, defining me, in a way, like all good stories do.

The first story:

A week ago, on a Sunday night, I was reading a locally-produced collection of essays when I was reminded about a magazine for young women called Lip, which, if my memory serves me correctly, was established by USA national Rachael Funari when she lived in Canberra some years ago.  Lying in bed I wondered about that magazine because it was a good idea done well.  According to its masthead, Lip is a magazine for girls who ‘think, feel, create, speak out, live’.  It’s a professional publication.

The next morning, via Facebook, I discovered that Rachael had recently gone missing while bushwalking on Bruny Island off the south-east coast of Tasmania.  The Facebook page, called ‘Rachael Funari missing.  Heard from her?’, had been established by a group of people concerned about their friend’s welfare.  Was this true?  Yes, this was true.

Rather inanely, I ‘liked’ the page and for the past seven days have been receiving updates in my ‘news feed’.  Friends have posted their love and worries; maps of the parts of Bruny Island where Rachael is thought to have gone walking have been uploaded; there have been updates from the police about the search, the fact that a dog trained to find bodies has been flown in from the mainland.  It’s been harrowing, even for me who never knew Rachael, in fact I haven’t even read a copy of Lip Magazine, just knew her to be someone who pursued an idea.

A moment ago I checked the Facebook page and the most recent entries tell me that Rachael’s sisters have flown from New York to Tasmania then Bruny Island and have received a briefing from the police.  The chances of finding their sister alive are very slim, the rescue is being scaled back but it remains an active investigation.  It seems that Rachael may have fallen from a cliff while walking, probably tumbling into the ocean.  It might be as simple as that: a misplaced footing.

I’m not sure why I’ve dwelled in Rachael’s story.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been able to follow her disappearance through the prism that is Facebook.  Or it might be because I’ve watched as the story (is it right to call her disappearance a ‘story’?) has gone from hope to despair in the space of a few days?  Would I have been as interested if I’d not known about Rachael and her good idea, the idea she followed all the way through to implementation?  Probably not – people go missing all the time.  The people of Japan would know a thing or two about missing people at the moment, and so would the people of Libya.

Maybe it’s just because no one really knows what’s happened to Rachael.

How devastating that is.

The second story:

This week I’ve been away from my little house for longer than usual.  Cat the Ripper, who is twelve years old now, had to stay home and guard my – correction: our – place, except he does nothing of the sort, he just sleeps and sunbakes and gives the sparrows that share this rickety joint the most deathly of stares, though he does nothing about these tiny nervous birds, because he’s retired from his hunting ways.  It’s a small garden I have these days – it’s not much bigger than two car-park spaces – but there are plenty of shady spots and sunny bits for him to enjoy.

This week, however: would he be alright while I was away?  Would he cope with being alone for those two extra nights?  His feeder is only meant to last forty-eight hours, not the four days required, so I had to over-fill the trays, and include dog food, which he likes but only once he’s knocked off the official cat food.

So it was with trepidation that I came round the corner and pulled into the lane that runs down the side of my house.  Ahead: the driveway gate was open.  This wasn’t good.  The garden gate: this too was ajar.  How could this be?  I secure both gates when leaving, especially the driveway one which has two latches.  This really wasn’t good.

But there he was, Cat the Ripper, my mate (though he can also be a shit, this is true), walking up to me, meowing, curling his body around my ankles.

Together with the Old Lady of the House, we checked all the doors and windows, the computer and printer, the stereo, and the CD and record collections.  All was okay.  Best of all, despite the gates being open, CTR had decided to hang around, and how this humbled me.  Sure he needs the food I give him, but perhaps he also needs me, which almost makes me cry.

Hundreds of kilometres south of here, and in other places around the world, people wonder what on earth it is that’s happened to Rachael Funari.  They miss her, they’re grieving already.

But here, in Goulburn, I listen to my cat purring on my couch.

There’s no sense to this.

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