All through the first few months, I told myself I was lucky, and I believed it. My husband and I had jobs, food on the table, a wide, warm circle of friends and relatives, access to a roof during the worst of the lockdowns. We could comfortably manage the housework required to keep a household of two humans and four cats from sliding over the edge into total squalor. Food, companionship, shelter, security: we are so lucky, I said to friends, we are all so lucky.
I meant it, too. I felt astonished by our luck.
In many of the older fairy tales, especially those from Russia and Bengal, someone walks into a jungle, into woods, strays off a path, loses their way in a forest. They are still walking, as the road narrows and thins out, as darkness falls, as gleaming-eyed wolves or tigers, demons or ancient tree spirits, gigantic spiders or ogres sniff the air and pick up their scent. It usually takes these travellers a while