Sabrina Orah Mark’s column, Happily, focuses on fairy tales and motherhood.
“I can’t find my plague doctor.” “Your what?” says my mother. “My plague doctor.” “I don’t know what that is,” says my mother. I text her a photo of my plague doctor in his ruffled blouse and beak mask sitting on my bookcase a few months before he disappeared. “I still don’t know what that is,” says my mother. “Forget it,” I say.
“If you want to find it then look for it.” “I am looking for it.” “Then look harder.” “I am looking harder.”
“It’s the strangest thing,” I keep saying. But I know it isn’t the strangest thing.
I tell everyone who will listen that I’ve lost my plague doctor. Nine months ago I wrote about seeing the small porcelain doll in a shop in Barcelona, and wanting him immediately. If he had been real his beak mask would’ve been filled with juniper berries, and rose petals, and mint, and myrrh to keep away a plague I thought belonged only to the past. This was ten years ago. My husband and I were on our honeymoon, and I thought I only wanted the plague doctor. I didn’t know I’d eventually need him, too. “You can’t be serious,” says my brother. “Who loses a plague doctor during a plague?” “I guess I do,” I say.
“We’ll find him,” says my husband. But we never do.