Friday, October 12, 2012

Lost and Found

Posted on my hitRECord account :) (for this week's "Key" contest)

I was walking towards my apartment, thinking it was just another day. I got shouted at by my boss again this morning but it's no big deal. Everything goes wrong anyway, I said to myself, but there will be a time when the odds will finally be in my favor. So there I was, a normal guy, just walking and maybe whistling a little tune (I forget, sorry, but it was probably a guitar rift from one of Eric Clapton's old songs), when I kicked a small metal object across the hallway. Curious, I got my hands out of my pants pockets, kneeled down and gingerly picked it with my left. Standing up, I saw it was a silver key, with a big J carved into it. I wondered if it dropped out of it's unfortunate owner's pocket and if it was from any of my neighbors. J, j, j.. I tried to remember if I knew anyone around whose name starts with a J. There's old Mrs. Fitzpatrick in 102 with her collection of taxidermied animals (Peter the parrot, Gwynn the poodle and Flinty the fox. I loved Flinty, and one time she told me I could get him once she passes away. I replied that it's far off and could she not say that because she's like a grandmother to me), there's Barbara and her kids from 103 (Tommy, Finn and Kirk, I believe? He was born just a few weeks ago), and there's Layla. Layla, the girl I've liked ever since she moved into 104. Layla with her easy laugh and lopsided glasses. Layla, the girl I can barely talk to so I just smile and nod my head when I see her going out in the morning.

First stop: 102. "No, dear, I'm still capable of not getting my things lost. Would you like to say hi to Flinty today?" said Mrs. Fitzpatrick as I showed her the key. I of course said yes, and 30 minutes later I waved goodbye and said thanks for the cookies they're delicious. I shuffled my feet over to the Morgan's, rapped my knuckles on the door (I do not trust their rusty knocker). Barbara appeared and I asked if it was hers, to which she told me that it wasn't and could I maybe tone down with my guitar playing at night with the baby and all. I said yes, sorry about that, my headphones finally died on me and I'll make sure to buy a new set tomorrow. Then Layla. She was always home by 6, I could tell by the smell of delicious whatever-she's-cooking food that wafts out of the small spaces around her door. This time there was no scent, which was weird, I heard her say to Barbara last night she was going to try to cook lobster for the first time tonight. I knocked louder, then stopped, thinking maybe she's asleep. She opened the door, eyes red and puffy, a truly sad sight. "What's wrong, Layla?" I immediately asked, surprising us both.

"You can talk!" She said, giggling, then sighed. "I'm.. I was.."

"Someone hurt you?"

"I was.. watching a movie.." and her cheeks reddened a little. "It's embarrassing.."

"Don't worry," I shrugged, "I won't tell and I'm not going to ask about it. But I do have an unrelated question"

"Sure, John. That's your name, right?"

"Hey, you know my name!" I think my eyebrows shot upwards but I quickly tried to hide my shock.

She laughed while wiping her glasses clean. "Yeah, I do."

I cleared my throat. "Anyway, I found this key and wondered if it was yours, I already asked the others." I handed it over to her.

"No," she said, turning it around and around in her hands, "I don't know who owns this. Sorry!" She threw it a little in the air and I caught it, then put it back in my palm.

"Oh ok, I have to keep searching then. Don't want this to be in the wrong hands. Sorry for bothering you!" I scuffed my shoes on the floor, not knowing what to say next.

"No, no, no, it's fine, that's actually pretty noble of you, trying to find the owner" and she smiled at me.

"Thanks, I guess." Awkward silence. I prepared to bid her a good evening.

"It's so nice to finally talk to you," she said, sniffing a little. "I've seen you everyday for, like, 2 years and we never say anything past good mornings and hellos, but I hear you talking to Mrs. Fitz and Tommy sometimes. Do you not like me?" She cocked her head, waiting for an answer.

"Hmm.." I racked my brain for something not embarrassing, "I guess I find you a smidge intimidating.." She narrowed her eyes at me.

"Intimidating, huh? I find you intimidating too. Which is why I will never tell you that I'm crying because I just watched Snape die for the 14th time." She looked at me defiantly, and crossed her arms across her chest as if expecting a chortle of disguised laughter. Or maybe a blank look.

Before I could stop myself, my voice cracking, I said "A ninja cuts an onion beside me every single time I watch the scene where Dobby dies. I have to stay strong." I pound my right fist to my chest. I don't know why I did that. She gasped, and her eyes widened. I never knew how big her eyes could get until then.

"Fellow potter freak!" she screeched, and with that she promptly dragged me in to her apartment, where I watched and did a commentary of the rest of the movie with her. She finally cooked her first lobster later that night, and it was good. Thus was the beginning of our friendship, which slowly and eventually turned into a relationship. At around the same time, my boss got fired for disorderly conduct, and they hired Martin, who often tells me I'll be replacing him soon if I continue working at the pace I'm at right now.

After 8 months of carrying the key around and asking tenants from the other floors, I gave up and simply taped it to our apartment's mailbox with the sign "To whoever owns this, thank you. Sincerely, John F." The next day, it was gone, and someone wrote underneath "You're welcome, I knew it would help, couldn't stand to see you just looking at her everyday. -x"

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