Approaching school this morning, I reached in my backpack to fish out work keys, my hand executing the familiar journey without my eyes even looking. I felt past some pens, a thin plastic badge, a few stray paperclips, but disconcertingly never touched the ring of keys anchored by their plastic fob-lozenge. I tamped down a bubble of panic, fumbled around again. No keys in the larger compartment, I confirmed, nor in a seemingly handy sub pocket.
I retraced a mental map through Friday afternoon and evening, the last time I remembered using the keys. Maybe they're still languishing in a pants or jacket pocket, I surmised, or maybe I plopped them carelessly at home, disoriented after a day extended by student conferences. I vowed shakily to check those hypotheses when home and stumbled through the school day, relying on the utilitarian kindness of others' keys.
Once home, I pawed through pockets, checked tell-tale drop spots. Nothing. My mind cast a wider net: What if they fell out when I clambered into my wife's car Friday night? Before that search, though, I went back to my backpack. Some mental itch compelled me, perhaps. I gave the bag a shake, heard a telltale key-like jingle that I hadn't registered before. I eyed the small zippered compartment more closely. While I still didn't see my keys, I did notice a network of sewn-in plastic sleeves -- slots for pens or other small trinkets; micro-pockets, really. I dipped into the largest of these where my fingers triumphantly seized my keys.