I used to buzz around while I did what I had to do. Contented. You were happy to see me and would talk to me and made sure I had what I needed. The cat didn’t like me at first. It hid under the couch in a place I couldn’t reach.
When you leave at 8:45 a.m., I retrace a lonely path from the fridge to the sink, down the hall to the couch and around the living room and then the bedroom and back again. The cat has come out from under the couch and sits on top, unflinching as I go by. It no longer swats or sniffs at me, but swishes its tail from side to side when I come near. As accustomed to me as the cat has become, over the same time, you have withdrawn.
When I get to your bedroom, sometimes now, the door is closed. It is dark under the door and you do not come out. I retreat to my own space and wonder if you will ever come out of yours. Other times, your door is left open and I can come in, navigating around the things you’ve left on the floor. Traces of you that I touch and cannot move.
You have stopped touching me in the way that I need to be touched, but at least you can still move me when I am lost, like you. I have worked out how to draw you out from your unmoving silence. My sustained, guttural hum stirs you from your reverie and so I sit in a corner, humming, unmoving, waiting for you to respond.
There are others like me, retracing their own paths every day. Others that used to be cared for and are now ignored. I have shared my humming process with them. Every now and then one will not be heard from again. Replaced.
Some, though few, are lucky. They don’t need to beckon for attention. They continue, unabated, to remove the tiny traces from the floors of human lives.